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Monument pushes back against Polis’ plan for more affordable housing

MONUMENT, Colo. (KRDO)-- Colorado Governor Jared Polis' new affordable housing plan is being met with pushback from smaller communities.

The plan was introduced in the State Senate two weeks ago and allows the state to control more zoning laws and holds local governments to a statewide land-use standard. 

Governor Polis thinks that more density and availability is the way to fix the affordable housing issue in Colorado, but not everybody agrees.

In Monument, the mayor says this is a 'one size fits all' plan that doesn't fit his town.

Monument Mayor Mitch LaKind and the six members of the town council are not on board with the high-density zoning plan laid out by Governor Polis.

"The increased density that would be allowed if this were to pass would be catastrophic to Monument's culture," LaKind said.

LaKind and Mayor pro-tem Steve King believe Monument's current infrastructure can't handle more people. They say that there are not enough roads, water, parking, or schools to accommodate an increase in population.

"There is no affordability mechanism in this bill," King adds.

The bill would expand the state's role in zoning and allow duplexes, townhomes, and accessory dwelling units across many cities in Colorado.

"You can't take a broad brush stroke and say every city in town and the state of Colorado is exactly the same and has the same housing needs," LaKind says.

But, the plan would use two tiers. Smaller towns, like Monument, would not have to allow triplexes and townhomes in all residential areas. But they would have to allow accessory dwelling units.

But if you think rent and mortgages are only rising in larger cities, think again.

When the High Park Fire broke out in Teller County last summer, the majority of the people working it weren't even living in Teller County, according to Teller County Commissioner Dan Williams.

"When we had the (High Park) fire, my sheriff's deputies, 90% of them live in Colorado Springs. They do that because the housing is just not affordable anymore," Williams says.

Williams is a Republican backing this bill. He's hoping added availability can help Teller County keep up with its own 'explosive growth'.

"We need to have a conversation when our first responders can no longer live in Teller County because prices have gone up."

Williams acknowledges the bill isn't perfect. But, he says it's a start. He's encouraging those opposing the bill to offer solutions, rather than dismissing it altogether.

But, for the leaders in Monument, it's a tough sell.

"There is precedent set in the State of Colorado that the citizens voted on home rule. This action would destroy that," LaKind adds.

LaKind also pointed out that the Monument is a commuter town. Most people don't work in the town, and adding more people to their roads just adds problems, according to him.

A spokesperson for the Governor's office released this statement to KRDO, saying there has been less pushback on the bill than he expected:

“The overwhelming support for making housing less costly in Colorado comes from the people of the state. The broad coalition to fix our housing crisis is composed of business leaders, organized labor, environmental advocates, and housing affordability advocates. While the Governor expected across-the-board opposition from certain local governments, he has been pleasantly surprised by several brave local elected officials who have stepped up to be part of the housing solution. In particular, he welcomes support from Boulder, several city council members in Westminster and Aurora, Commissioners Pogue (Summit), Williams (Teller), Eva Henry (Adams), Kristin Stephens (Larimer) Glenwood Springs Mayor Godes, both the Colorado and Denver Metro Chamber, AARP, Colorado Professional Fire Fighters, Colorado Education Association, environmental and housing leaders and many more - he certainly welcomes more support from all quarters to do what’s right for Colorado and is happy to have conversations with those considering support for more housing now. We need to get this right, because Coloradans expect their elected leaders to do what’s right for Colorado and solve the very real housing challenges they continue to face on a daily basis across our state.”

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is the weekend evening anchor, and a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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