Colorado struggles to chart housing crisis solution

Major land use overhaul bill recently failed

Colorado Governor Jared Polis with Park Hill Golf Course
Colorado Governor Jared Polis with Park Hill Golf Course (Getty, Google Maps)

Colorado is hundreds of thousands of homes short of what it needs to provide to residents. A 2,500-unit proposal for a golf course in Denver encapsulates the issues in the Midwest state.

The internal struggle of where and when to build housing unfolded in recent months at the Park Hill Golf Course in Denver, The Atlantic reported. Voters easily rejected the lifting of an easement that would’ve allowed a 2,500-unit development on the course, despite being the same voters who support pro-housing mayoral candidates and governors in recent elections.

Westside Investment Properties purchased the defunct golf course several years ago for $24 million. Instead of eating into the 70,000-home deficit in Denver, the firm will be forced to reinvigorate the golf course.

Voters in the state have proven repeatedly that they want to see affordable housing in their state. They just don’t necessarily want it next door, a hallmark of the NIMBY movement.

Colorado weighed taking land-use authority from local municipalities and bringing it to the state level, a way of allowing the big picture focus of housing needs to remain where local antagonism opposes. While the local government had the jurisdiction in the Park Hill dilemma, the people moving into the proposed development may not have actually been locals, restricting their say in the manner.

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Gov. Jared Polis has been a big advocate for the creation of more housing in the state. His idea was to follow in the footsteps of California, Utah and others in having state officials compel local governments to change land-use politics to meet housing goals. The hope was to increase and preserve affordable housing, inspire development near mass transit and remove parking requirements.

The bill didn’t even get a final vote before the state legislative session ended last month. Polis vowed to continue the fight, noting that it took many defeats before a victory was scored in this realm in other states.

The great irony of the whole thing? In his former role as a representative, Polis argued for local government’s control of land-use policy.

Holden Walter-Warner

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