Colorado Governor Wants to Preempt Local Zoning Control

Colorado could be the latest state, following Oregon and California, to legislate statewide preemption of local zoning codes to allow for more housing development.

2 minute read

March 27, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

The Polis administration in Colorado has released a “More Housing Now” proposal to preempt local zoning codes and allow more density in residential neighborhoods.

The expected bill will be sponsored by Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora, and Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, with the support of environmental groups, affordable housing advocates, labor leaders, business interests, and some local government officials, according to an article by Andrew Kenney and Nathaniel Minor that broke the news.

Oregon was the first to use state preemption to overrule local control of zoning reform, in 2019. California joined the club in 2021. If Colorado approves the “More Housing Now” law, it would implement a tiered system of state-mandated residential zoning for the state’s communities.

“So-called ‘Tier 1’ cities would see the biggest impact from the Polis proposal. They include the state’s largest, such as Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Greeley, Boulder, Grand Junction, Pueblo and Arvada, plus smaller cities within large metro areas, like Castle Rock, Edgewater, Louisville, Windsor and Fountain,” according to Kenney and Minor. “Those communities would have to allow the construction of ‘middle housing,’ defined as townhomes and multiplexes with up to six units, as well as accessory dwelling units, on lots in all residential neighborhoods. (New single-family homes would still be allowed, too.)”

As for the cities not fitting into the Tier 1 bucket, “smaller ‘Tier 2’ cities and high country resort areas would have to create housing plans to detail how they plan to address housing shortfalls and keep current residents from being priced out, with goals identified by the state,” according to the article.

Additional coverage of the More Housing Now policy is available from a paywalled article published by Denver Post.

Read the article by Kenney and Minor, below, for more details about how the More Homes Now policy would remake growth management and long-term planning in the state of Colorado.

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