Fort Collins City Council approves first reading of affordable, mixed-use housing ordinance

Audrey Weiss

Fort Collins City Council discussed affordable housing by means of the Land Bank Program Tuesday night.

Ad

Sue Beck-Ferkiss, a social sustainability specialist, introduced the topic, known as ordinance number 37.

The program itself proposes changes to the City code in order to improve flexibility to provide more affordable housing to the City of Fort Collins, according to the Agenda Item Summary.

The program was established in 2001, and by 2017, five properties were owned with one in Horsetooth just having been sold, according to Beck-Ferkiss who then proposed changes to the plan.

“A little bit of recalibration would be desirable and beneficial,” Beck-Ferkiss said.

The first change was the allowance of mixed-use development, or the construction of properties used for a multitude of resources, such as childcare centers.

According to Beck-Ferkiss, this would be at the discretion of the City, as properties may not have the ability to be converted to mixed-use housing.

In addition, the item agenda described this change as an opportunity to maximize affordable housing as a more readily acceptable option.

“Most people really felt that, for this specific incentive, we should not be using (mixed income) for market rate housing,” Beck-Ferkiss said in regards to outreach results.

Beck-Ferkiss also suggested that area median income, or AMI, levels be removed to promote a target income goal as a way of bringing the population closer together. AMI levels limited the ability of these parcels to be implemented in the best of ways, according to Beck-Ferkiss.

Lastly, Beck-Ferkiss asked the City Council to consider allowing some portion of the parcel to be sold without impacting or requiring the same of the entire parcel.

Ad

“Sometimes a parcel is not eventually appropriate for a program, and we wanted to be really specific about what to do if that were the case,” Beck-Ferkiss said.

Beck-Ferkiss also stressed the benefit of these sells as they have been used as a subsidy in the past.

City council member Ross Cunniff suggested a focus more so on the number of people served in each scenario.

Beck-Ferkiss said they aim to move homeownership from 60 percent to 80 percent in order to raise enough support for the communities to be receiving this support.

Councilwoman Kristin Stephens commended Beck-Ferkiss’ research and suggested even greater focus on mixed-use housing.

“What we’re doing with the ordinance change is just saying we’re allowing the possibility of mixed-use when it’s a subordinate supported use,” Beck-Ferkiss said regarding the ability of the City to prescribe mixed-use housing to the Land Bank parcels. “The City would be in the drivers seat.”

With a stress on the creative community in Fort Collins, Stephens asked that the ordinance include more of a focus on artists in the community.

“We want (artists) in our community, and yet I know the arts don’t pay as much as maybe they ought to,” Stephens said of the importance of creative focused housing.

Other members of City Council suggested greater communication with the public regarding affordable housing to increase local support, but City Council approved the ordinance’s first reading at the meeting’s conclusion.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article implied that the ordinance passed and would be implemented. The Fort Collins City Council passed the first reading of the ordinance, but City Council will have to vote on a second reading of the ordinance. This article has been updated to clarify the information.

Collegian reporter Audrey Weiss can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Audkward.