Major Colorado land use bill dies in last hours of legislative session
A view of the Colorado Capitol on May 5, 2023. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)
The Colorado Senate in the final hours of the state’s lawmaking session chose not take up high-profile legislation to alter the state’s land use policies.
Senate Bill 23-213, after being heavily amended, with different versions passing each legislative chamber, failed to move forward, as first reported by The Colorado Sun.
It was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, a Commerce City Democrat, Rep. Steven Woodrow, a Denver Democrat, and Rep. Iman Jodeh, an Aurora Democrat.
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The Senate had needed to consider House amendments to the bill on Monday, either concurring with them or calling a conference committee to iron out the differences. By Monday evening, after being laid over by the Senate multiple times during the day, it was clear the bill was headed toward defeat.
The original bill, a sweeping measure to address the state’s housing shortage crisis, would have effectively removed single-family zoning in many of the state’s cities, requiring local governments to approve more residential density and encourage more housing along key transit corridors. That version faced intense opposition from municipal leaders, who said it infringed on local control.
“Early in the legislative session and in testimony, (Colorado Municipal League) committed to a vision of affordable housing legislation Colorado municipalities could support and that would both preserve constitutional home rule and local control, as well as address the urgent need for affordable housing across the state. We still are committed to that vision,” CML Executive Director Kevin Bommer said in a statement. The group led the opposition to the bill.
It was first amended in its first Senate hearing to make carve-outs for rural cities. Then it was gutted by the Senate Appropriations Committee to revolve around a statewide housing needs assessment.
The House then restored some of the original bill provisions on allowing more accessory dwelling units and increasing the number of multifamily homes around transit corridors.
The House and Senate versions would have needed to be reconciled for a final version to be passed and sent to the governor’s desk.
Housing was a major priority for Democratic Gov. Jared Polis this session, and he rolled out SB-213 with fanfare in March. The bill’s defeat in the last hours of a session in which members of his own party command large majorities of both chambers is a loss for his agenda, though he has three more sessions to get housing legislation passed before the end of his second term.
“(Polis) is deeply disappointed that politics and special interests continue to delay delivering real results for aging Colorado seniors who want to downsize, young families who want to live close to their work and the communities where they grew up, and businesses struggling with workplace shortages because of artificially high housing costs,” Conor Cahill, a Polis spokesperson, said in a statement.
The session adjourns at midnight Monday.
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