As we originally reported in our June 2022 Otten Johnson Alert, in June of 2022 Denver’s City Council passed a number of amendments to the municipal and zoning codes in an effort to expand affordable housing in the City. Denver’s Expanded Housing Affordability policy (the “EHA Policy”) included a period of time under which existing development projects could continue through the approval process under the prior regulations. On May 22, 2023, Denver’s City Council passed two bills extending certain approval process deadlines. While the concept plan submission deadline remains unchanged (June 30, 2022), the site development plan (“SDP”) approval process dates for projects to be evaluated under the prior regulations have been adjusted as follows:
- Basic SDPs and amendments must be approved by May 17, 2024 (the original date was August 30, 2023).
- Basic SDPs and amendments that have already received consolidated review comments and require a fourth (or more) round of review must be approved by August 31, 2024 (the original date was August 30, 2023).
- SDPs with a Subdivision or Large Development Review must be approved by September 13, 2024 (the original date was December 31, 2023).
- SDPs with a Subdivision or Large Development Review that have already received consolidated review comments and require a fourth (or more) round of review must be approved by December 31, 2024 (original date was December 31, 2023).
Additionally, Mike Johnston was recently elected in the Denver mayoral race and will be sworn in on July 17, 2023. The Mayor-Elect has made affordable housing a cornerstone of his platform and is set to continue Denver’s push towards affordability.
Johnston’s plan for affordable housing includes five elements. First, he intends to create 25,000 permanently affordable housing units in the next 8 years through new construction and conversion of existing market-rate units. Johnston plans to achieve this by expediting the permitting process to ensure that housing permits are approved within 90 days. Second, he intends to implement a wealth building program for renters that places a portion of their rent into a savings account. This program would essentially raise (or supplement) rents so that a portion of what renters pay could be set aside each month. The money would accrue and gain interest, but it is unclear what a renter would have to do in order to withdraw these funds. Third, Mayor-Elect Johnston intends to expand the reach of Denver’s down-payment assistance program in order to help working families purchase homes. Fourth, he plans on investing in innovation with the aim of reducing construction costs, by investing in efforts such as Oakwood Homes’ ON2 Homes pre-planning and measurement initiative and Vederra Building Systems’ integration of off-site fabrication for modular homes. Finally, Johnston plans to lower the cost of market rate housing in Denver by reducing parking requirements near mass transit and by increasing density allowances in “select” areas of the city.
During his campaign, Mayor-Elect Johnston promised to pursue a plan with these initiatives to continue to combat issues with housing affordability in the City and County of Denver. After he is sworn in, we will continue to watch and report on how these initiatives progress and unfold.
Tim Tamminga is a summer associate at Otten Johnson and contributed to this blog post. He will be entering his third year of law school at Berkeley Law, in fall of 2023.