Blog YIMBY Denver Positions on 2024 General Assembly Legislation

Jan. 25, 2024

YIMBY Denver is proud to see state legislative leaders taking bold strides to solve Colorado’s most pressing problem: the lack of housing affordable for all. We see Colorado’s leaders recognizing that the current housing crisis has been devastating for many of its residents, and threatens to weaken Colorado’s economy and harm its environment if decisive actions are not taken.

These positions were informed by YIMBY Denver’s assessment of each policy proposal, conversations with stakeholders, and our values.

Each status will be updated as the session progresses, should any amendments adjust our position on the bills.

SUPPORT: HB24-007: Prohibit Residential Occupancy Limits

What this is about: The bill prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing residential occupancy limits unless those limits are tied to a minimum square footage per person requirement that is necessary to regulate safety and health.

Why we care:

  • Many Colorado cities reduce the capability of existing homes to house residents by placing arbitrary bans on the number of unrelated persons that may live together.
  • The bill will decriminalize the common practice of co-living with unrelated housemates, whether in simple roommate arrangements or formal co-operatives.
  • Many tenants already safely live in multi-resident situations, but where these are not currently legal, tenants cannot be formally on leases, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by their roommates and landlords.
  • These bans also typically prevent the creation of single-room occupancy developments, which have historically been an important strategic tool in housing lower-income residents.

Status: Passed House Committee, on to Floor

SUPPORT: HB24-1304: Limiting Minimum Parking Requirements

What this is about: The bill requires local governments to ensure that there are not minimum parking requirements within the boundaries of a metropolitan planning organization.

Why we care:

  • Cities are for people, not cars.
  • Requiring more parking spaces than residents need makes development more expensive unnecessarily and drives up rents and home prices.
  • Parking minimums run counter to environmental and urbanist goals because they make walking and biking more difficult, and reduce demand for transit.
  • Car-oriented density is unpleasant to live in and can give new development a bad name, making it harder to build the housing we need to achieve broad affordability.

Status: Introduce in House

SUPPORT: HB24-1098: Cause Required for Residential Evictions

What this is about: The bill establishes a set of allowable reasons for tenant lease non-renewal and eviction and expands the framework by which a tenant can challenge an eviction in court. The allowed causes include the most common reasons tenants are evicted (such as not paying rent or violating the lease) as well as typical reasons landlords may not want to renew, such as a renovation or sale. However, it protects tenants from arbitrary or discriminatory decisions by landlords to discontinue a lease.

Why we care:

  • Unstable housing, and evictions in particular, can generate negative health outcomes, worse educational outcomes for children, higher poverty rates, exacerbation of historic racial inequities, and increased homelessness.
  • It’s already against the law to discriminate against tenants based on their race, disability, source of income, or the fact that they asked the landlord for repairs; but because landlords almost never state discriminatory intent explicitly, it’s very hard for tenants to prove it. For-cause eviction laws give effect to these vital pre-existing laws.
  • While we recognize that the most effective anti-displacement tool is housing production, a review of the evidence suggests that for cause eviction policies are an inexpensive, attainable, and effective anti-displacement solution for the limited number of evictions where they are relevant.
  • Case studies from around the world demonstrate that these tenant protections do not disincentivize the development and maintenance of new housing. Cities like Jersey City, NJ have maintained high levels of housing production with just cause policies in place, while simultaneously holding one of the lowest eviction rates in the country. In fact, Jersey City produced more housing permits with Just Cause in place from 2010-2018 than did Pueblo, Jefferson, Mesa, Boulder, and Arapahoe counties in the same period.

Status: Introduced in House

SUPPORT: HB24-1152: Accessory Dwelling Units

What this is about: The bill requires most Colorado cities to allow, as a use by right, one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in any zone where single-unit detached dwellings are permitted by right.

Why we care:

  • ADUs allow adult children to live independently at home, allow aging parents to live in multigenerational households, allow seniors to age in place, and provide an affordable housing option.
  • This historic building form often provides affordable residence near opportunity, and can stabilize the finances of families who might rent them out

Status: Introduced in House -

SUPPORT: HB24-1239: Single-Stairway Multifamily Structure

What this is about: The bill requires municipalities to allow up to 5 stories of a multifamily residential building to be served by a single stairway in their building code.

Why we care:

  • Allows small-lot development for finer-grained urbanism, leading to more dwellings per lot and more small retail spaces, which are better for small local businesses trying to get a brick-and-mortar foothold in the community
  • Allows smaller local developers to build apartments and condos in places where we would currently only see duplexes and townhomes being built
  • Makes it easier for family-oriented apartments to be built, including multiple bedrooms with windows, cross-ventilation, and varied floorplans
  • Makes it easier to fit fully-accessible buildings on small lots.

Status: Introduced in the House

SUPPORT: SB 24-036: Vulnerable Road User Protection Enterprise

What this is about: It raises money for pedestrian safety improvements by assessing a small, graduated fee on the largest and heaviest private vehicles.

Why we care

  • In 2022, Colorado hit record numbers for gruesome traffic fatalities and injuries, and the following year, pedestrian casualties hit an all-time high. Cutting-edge research proves that this rise is largely due to the increasing size of private vehicles: It's simple physics that taller and heavier vehicles do more damage. This danger discourages people from using low-polluting ways of getting around, and causes a huge drain on municipal and state budgets - over $4 billion for Colorado alone (for all crashes). But vehicle-manufacturing corporations, financiers, and salespeople have incentive to push this trend, because more dangerous vehicles are more profitable.
  • This bill would help protect people from traffic carnage and deadly air pollution. It internalizes clear externalities and improves state finances. But the clearest benefits are even more serious: fewer "ghost bikes," more parents returning safely to their children after work, and more children with the confidence and security to reclaim public spaces.

Status: Introduced in Senate

SUPPORT: HB24-1107: Judicial Review of Local Land Use Decision

What this is about: The bill causes attorney’s fees to be awarded to the prevailing defendant if an appeal contesting a land use decision fails. Attorney’s fees will not be awarded if the appeal is brought by the land use applicant/developer.

Why we care:

  • Colorado is in the middle of a housing crisis brought about by more than a decade of underinvestment in a diverse housing stock at every price point.
  • Lengthy and unsuccessful Rule 106 appeals increase the cost of housing that is needed to address the housing affordability crisis and to meet our climate targets.
  • Project delays are expensive and ultimately increase costs or even kill projects entirely, especially at a time when interest rates and the cost of construction materials are high.
  • Dissuading Rule 106 appeals that are likely to be unsuccessful will protect legally-approved developments while maintaining protections against improper decisions.

Status: Introduced in House

SUPPORT: HB24-1313: Housing in Transit-Oriented Communities

Why "Tentative"? The draft of this bill that we have reviewed was not complete enough to complete a comprehensive assessment of its value. However, its intended contents suggest the adoption of a support position.

What this is about: This bill makes good on state-supported transportation infrastructure investments by setting minimum average residential density standards across all transportation corridors and at transportation centers. Local governments maintain control of their planning as they choose where zoning for these developments should be increased or decreased.

Why we care:

  • Accelerated production of dense housing forms enabled by this bill will help slow the growth of rents and home prices, making housing more affordable to all. This will let more Coloradans stay in Colorado, make Colorado residents more prosperous, and keep Colorado’s economy strong and thriving, while expanding the rights of property owners.
  • When housing is abundant and rents are more affordable in a city, fewer people fall out of the housing market and become homeless each year. Getting access (or never losing access) to permanent housing is fundamental to reducing homelessness in Denver and Colorado. This bill is crucial if we are to implement Housing First policies to address homelessness.
  • Compact development in the state’s population centers is a necessity if Colorado is to achieve its environmental goals. Preventing sprawl in favor of dense infill development reduces the emissions required for individual travel by making non-automotive forms of mobility a practical and inexpensive alternative. It helps keep our wilderness wild by helping human habitation grow up instead of out. If passed, this bill will make major strides to reducing sprawl and carbon emissions in Colorado, while ensuring our already-spent capital dollars on transportation stretch further.

Status: Introduced

MONITOR: Housing Planning

Why "Monitor"? We have not yet seen a draft of this bill, and thus are not confident enough in its intended contents to complete an adequate assessment of its value.

Status: Not yet introduced