We’ll start in Boulder and with commercial development. In February, the Boulder City Council directed city staff to draft an ordinance that would raise the city’s affordable housing linkage fee on new commercial development from $12 per square foot to $25, $30, or $35 per square foot. Boulder’s current $12 linkage fee is the highest such fee of any city in the country between the two coasts, with Palo Alto the highest in the country at $35. Even so, City Council members expressed that the current fee is still low enough vis-a-vis fees on residential development to incentivize commercial development over residential development. And more commercial development without new housing only exacerbates the city’s acute jobs-housing disequilibrium. City Council did indicate, however, that certain applicants such as small businesses and nonprofits would not have to pay the higher fee. The final linkage fee amount will be decided after the ordinance’s first scheduled reading on April 17.
Boulder wasn’t alone last month in moving towards doubling its affordable housing fees. Looking to capitalize on the exploding construction in the city, the Lafayette City Council approved the first reading of a measure that would increase its affordable housing fee on new residential development from 30 cents per square foot to 60 cents per square foot. This fee funds a trust that is used to supplement future affordable housing projects in the city. The measure is expected to receive final approval in the coming months. Lafayette is also considering an ordinance to enact an affordable housing fee for new commercial development.