Questionnaire: NOCO Home Builders Association

Let’s start with a general question about housing in your community. What steps, policies and procedures, do you feel have been and can be successful in promoting Attainable and Affordable housing.
Given the severe lack of attainable and affordable housing in Erie, no steps, policies, and procedures have been successful thus far. I feel aggressive public-private partnerships will be key to adding attainable/affordable options to Erie, in conjunction with state and federal funding from the CARES Act and Building Back Better Act. I’ll be looking to leaders in the home building community to bring forth innovative ideas, projects, and funding mechanisms to begin closing the gap towards our 12% goal of attainable housing in Erie.

The Median Listing Home price for a home in Northern Colorado is $555,540 and has been trending up over the past three years according to the stats from Colorado Board of Realtors and is currently +19.5% . What can we, as the building community, and you, as elected officials, do to achieve attainable/affordable housing and assist in maintaining successful home ownership?
First, we need to establish a diversity of product offering in Erie to balance out the supply/demand curve. There is a glut of large single family detached housing product in our community; with additional inventory of apartments and paired homes, we can alleviate some of this pricing pressure. Second, we need to ensure our permitting and tap fees are equitable to maximize opportunities for first time buyers. Finally, we need to maximize the support from state and federal programs to assist our communities; it is not a problem we can solve alone.

What do you think are the most impactful Missing Middle housing concepts up for adoption in your area? What is the biggest obstacle in obtaining Missing Middle Housing?
I’m inspired by our engagement with DPZ CoDesign in planning the Town Center project to provide a diversity of housing and live/work situations, but the missing middle housing concept is best shown in in the Westerly development by Southern Land at Erie Parkway and CR5. The biggest obstacle is unimaginative home builders that segregate inclusive housing to the far corners of developments, as is the plan for Colliers Hill. We need developers to do better. I’m not aware of any restrictions in our building codes, but if they do exist, I’ll work diligently to remove them.

Do you see a future potential for Metro Districts to play a part in helping to develop the infrastructure and bring more new housing to Northern Colorado? And do you feel they can play a part in achieving the goal of affordable and attainable housing? Or should the municipalities be the ones to develop the infrastructure first? How would that effect the consumers potential end price point?
It’s possible, but I have recently seen a diminishing return/value of the metro district proposals brought before the Town in the last years, and have not seen any that include attainable housing. I’ll look squarely to the homebuilding industry to bring innovative projects for us to consider that meet the true intent of metro districts rather than being used to provide basic infrastructure. We’re using our Urban Renewal Authority to establish new planning areas (such as the Erie Gateway project) and using tax increment financing to fund infrastructure improvements, which should minimize any increases in potential end price point.

Please give us a little perspective of how water will continue to impact housing costs and what would you encourage your community to do in order to position itself to explore water resources for the future?
Water tap fees are a substantial part of home building costs; we have recently adjusted them to be more equitable for the small home category. I am impressed with the Town’s work to secure a diverse set of water rights, as well as a myriad of conservation efforts to ensure we have enough water for Erie at build-out.

What do you think the pros and cons of Inclusionary Zoning are? Do you feel it promotes or hinders attainable housing?
In the past, mandatory inclusionary zoning policies have been the only way that inclusionary housing has been built in and around Denver. I’m very much open to hearing from home builders on how they can accomplish this voluntarily, but feel that a mandatory inclusionary policy will most likely be required.

How about Impact Fees?
Impact fees allow the Town to embrace the “development pays its way” model of infrastructure improvement and maintenance. This is especially important for transportation, parks, police, and public impact fees to ensure our infrastructure is properly maintained into perpetuity. On the negative side, these fees add an incredible cost load to a home before any building activity begins and represents a significant barrier to adding attainable/affordable housing to our community. I look to other sources of funding (state/federal programs, sales tax increments, etc.) to offset these costs for inclusionary housing.

Do you foresee the front range of Northern Colorado continuing to be one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas into the foreseeable future; and if so what plans are in the works to increase infrastructure, housing and job market to support the growth?
Yes, I do. By pursuing innovative projects like Town Center, Westerly, and Erie Gateway, we are making substantial long-term investments in Erie’s future that will secure our economic and environmental sustainability.

What changes has your community experienced in the areas of traditional revenue streams as a result from the pandemic, energy industry shifts, sales/property tax, etc.? Are there plans to offset these changes?
The Town has done incredibly well through the Covid-19 pandemic; housing starts were well above expectations, sales tax revenue is robust and diverse, and we’re nearing pre-pandemic levels of commercial activity. The Town has benefitted greatly from a fiscally conservative approach for many years; we have one of the healthiest general fund balances of any municipality in the region. Revenues from oil & gas extraction are negligible, only expected to decline, and do not cover the costs for air quality monitoring nor staff time to deal with oil & gas issues. I’m looking to the passing of HB22-1244 to eventually fund air quality monitoring and enforcement.

Do you feel natural gas still has an important role to play in maintaining affordable energy sources for new homes, as a choice for homeowners?
No. I’m frustrated by legislative bills like HB22-1020 (previously introduced as HB21-1034) which attempt to prop up the fossil fuel industry at the expense of moving to a just and equitable transition to a renewables future. I’m also shocked and saddened by the fossil fuel price gouging during the 2021 Texas power crisis and at the gasoline pumps today. These instabilities in weather and geopolitics, along with the impending climate crisis, underscore the need to make this transition as quickly as possible.