Longmont City Council candidates were asked to answer a survey on affordable housing by the East County Housing Opportunity Coalition, or ECHO, — a nonprofit organization that educates, informs and trains East Boulder County residents about local affordable housing needs, according to the website.
On the site for the survey, ECHO announced that any candidates not represented did not return the questionnaire.
The following are the answers provided by each candidate along with the questions asked. To keep each entry short the responses are broken up by candidate through a series that will be published throughout the week.
1. What is your 10 year vision for affordable housing in Longmont?
I don’t know that I have a 10-year vision for affordable housing. The truth is, we can’t wait for 10 years to substantially and significantly address the housing crisis in Longmont. What I know is that we need to agree on a goal for development of attainable housing just like we did for affordable (subsidized) housing. We then need to utilize every single tool available to policymakers to pick up the pace to deliver housing stock to the Longmont market. This includes
• Partnering more effectively with Elevations Land Conservancy, Habitat for Humanity, and the Inn Between.
• Reintroducing reconsideration of Longmont’s ordinance on Metro Districts to amend a mindless restriction that limits residential property to no more than 50% of a mixed-use development. If a reconsideration occurs, we also need to agree on criteria we will use for evaluating and sorting quality applications from unacceptable ones.
• Making it easy to create Business Improvement Districts, along with Metro Districts, in mixed-use developments so that commercial property owners cover they share of infrastructure costs.
• Invite developers and home builders to partner with the City of Longmont in creating a public benefit corporation designed to secure funding for affordable housing and accelerate decision making timelines.
• Ensure that Longmont’s building codes and design standards allow for timely and seamless transition from traditionally constructed homes to next generation manufactured homes.
• Effectively engaging the community in a conversation that helps everyone understand that we cannot exclude Longmonters who aspire to some level of quality of life in deference to those who have already achieved it.
2. Longmont has a goal of achieving 12% affordable housing by 2035. Is this the right goal? What concrete proposals would you add to city policies to meet or exceed that goal?
Is 12% the right goal? It is certainly not a wrong goal. It is a defensible goal and, until we begin seeing our percentage of truly affordable housing exceed total growth in housing units, it is reasonable to continue pursuing it. We could set the goal at any percentage, but unless and until affordable housing units exceeds total new housing inventory, quibbling over some other goal is not the best use of our time.
3. What changes would you make to the inclusionary housing ordinance in Longmont, if any?
I am less concerned about what we add than what some Council members may want to delete. There is no question (in my view) that we need to align land use and building codes and design standards with the inclusionary housing ordinance. Inconsistencies or conflicts in code and design standards is currently adding far too much time and confusion to decision making and entitlement.
4. Will you proactively promote more affordable housing at transit stops designed to get people out of their cars, including greater density at those locations?
The best response I can provide is what I’ve already posted on my campaign website; https://timwaters4mayor.com/issues/#housing. Read what I am on the record for having already said and done should be a sufficient response to this question.
5. What does smart growth mean to you, and how would you ensure that all new developments are “smart”?
Proponents of smart, or managed, growth should be pleased with the city’s current approach to approval of new housing permits. The city’s approach is precisely what most proponents of managed growth recommend. All approved projects must align with zoning and development standards codified in Envision Longmont. Developers cover all infrastructure costs associated with their development. Eventually the roads, sidewalks, streetlights, sewer and water lines, etc. they construct are dedicated to the city.
6. What do you understand about the history of racism that has led to People of Color owning less property, and thus having less wealth than white people? What policies would you actively support to make up for years of racism in housing policy?
We’ve all learned much about redlining, zoning for single family detached housing units, lot sizes, and discriminatory lending practices in communities across the country. We must have transparency and clarity regarding Longmont’s ordinances and invite external review and evaluation of the impact of our policies. One way to both avoid racist policies is for them to receive scrutiny by experts before they are adopted and evaluated by expert external evaluators after adoption to ensure they are having intended effects.
7. Do you think neighborhood opposition should be able to derail development projects that are consistent with the pre-approved goals and values of the City? Please explain.
No, NIMBYism should not derail affordable housing initiatives. This said, every municipality gets what it deserves with their elected officials. If City Council members lack the courage to meet with concerned residents and listen to them so they know they are heard, then make decisions required to achieve housing goals, not much is going to change.
8. Do you see a role for the City in limiting vacation rentals and investor-owned property as a way of keeping housing costs down? Please explain.
I support Longmont’s ordinance limiting the number of short-term rentals permitted in a neighborhood. Allowing entire neighborhoods to acquired by investors serves the interests of investors, at the expense of everyone else in town.
9. Would you support lifting the state statute banning rent control. __X__yes ____no. Explain.
I voted my support for legislation that was introduced into the legislative session. This said, there is much I would need to learn about options, implications, and evidence of impacts in other communities that have imposed rental control before championing a specific proposal.
10.Is there a role for local government in enforcing Colorado’s warranty of habitability laws? ___X_yes ____no. Explain.
Our first responsibility as elected officials is the health and safety of residents. Every municipality needs capacity for holding landlords to health and safety standards and methods for holding them accountable. I am convinced Longmont’s current approach to doing this is a good one.