Longmont leaders to dig back into affordable-housing mandate

If you go

What: Longmont City Council

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St.

Further information: The full agenda, including attachments for items up for council action or discussion, can be viewed through a link at

Longmont‘s City Council on Tuesday night is to resume discussions of what specific requirements the city should include in any reestablishment of an “inclusionary housing” requirement for new residential development.

A council majority indicated in a March 5 meeting that it supports such an affordable-housing mandate, but did not reach a consensus about many specific details, such as exactly what percentage of a housing project‘s units should be required to be affordable, what range of household incomes would be eligible to buy or rent those homes, and how or whether developers would be given other alternatives to actually building such units.

During that March meeting, six of the seven council members said they support some combination of mandates and incentives to increase the city‘s stock of housing affordable to low-income residents, as well as workforce housing for families with higher household incomes but who have difficulty buying or renting homes in Longmont — the city where their jobs are.

The council in March sought more information from the city staff and Economic and Planning Systems Inc., a consulting firm that‘s been studying the issue for the city, before deciding on what specifics the council wanted drafted into an inclusionary-housing ordinance for formal consideration.

The staff and Economic and Planning Systems Inc. are to present their latest reports to the council on Tuesday night.

Under a program adopted in 2001 but repealed in 2011, Longmont required that all new residential development getting preliminary plats or site plans approved by the city after July 10, 2001, have 10 percent of all of the residences affordable.

However, rental apartments could only be required to be affordable if they were under an annexation agreement that had that as a condition.

At the time the council repealed that inclusionary housing requirement in 2011, Longmont had received a total of 142 affordable for-sale homes and 503 affordable rental units, the city staff reported to the council earlier this year.

Among the directions the city staff is seeking from the council on Tuesday night, according to a memo to the council from Kathy Fedler, Longmont‘s housing and Community Investment Division manager:

• What should the city‘s affordable-housing percentage requirement of developments?

• What affordability levels — percentages for home ownership by people in affordability ranges based on the Area Media Income for Longmont-area residents — need to be addressed in a resumed inclusionary-housing program?

• How can the program help address rental costs and needs that would be affordable, again in various levels based on the Area Media Income? The city staff has reminded the council that under Colorado law, which prohibits rent control, Longmont cannot require rental developments to provide affordable-housing units, but can require them to make payments in lieu of such construction, or the city can provide incentives or variances.

• What are the options for providing affordable housing units on the site of a private development, or off that site in another location? What options could the program contain for developers to make cash payments or donate land in lieu of providing a specific percentage of affordable housing units in the development site?

• What size developments should be covered by a new inclusionary-housing requirement? Longmont‘s former program applied to all developments of five or more units rounded up to the nearest number, so its 10 percent requirement meant that a 105-unit development had to include 11 affordable units — or for the developer to make a payment in lieu of providing those units.

• When, in the development process, should the resumed inclusionary-housing program requirements apply?

• How long should affordable homes, whether provided under an inclusionary-housing requirement or other Longmont affordable-housing programs, be kept affordable for future renters or buyers? And when those homes are sold, how much market appreciation should they be allowed to receive?

• Should the city consider imposing residency or employment preferences for people who might be eligible for buying or renting inclusionary housing units, or any other affordable-housing units?

The city staff said that in its memo for Tuesday night that based on data provided to the council in January, Longmont is projected to have a total of 45,739 housing units by the end of 2035. Subtracting the current 1,511 existing homes that are now in the “affordable” category, the city needs to provide a total of 3,063 to 3,978 affordable housing units by 2035 to meet local and regional affordable housing goals by that point.

The staff aid that would translate to about 170 to 220 new affordable homes that would need to be provided each year from 2018 to 2035.

Thus far this year, projections indicate a total of about four new for-sale affordable homes will be provided in Longmont this year, as well as 81 total affordable rental units, the city staff said.