Colorado Senate committee advances marquee zoning bill, with significant changes |

Colorado Senate committee advances marquee zoning bill, with significant changes

Amendments carve out resort areas, trim back middle-housing plan

Seth Klamann
The Denver Post
A concrete worker at the site of a condominium construction in the neighborhood of Denver on Thursday, December 8, 2022.
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

Colorado legislators advanced a marquee land-use reform bill Tuesday night, but not before making changes to it that carve out resort communities from some parts of the proposal, scale back zoning reforms in the state’s larger cities and enact a 10-year sunset on the entire policy as supporters sought to shepherd the bill through a contentious first hearing.

The bill — SB23-213 — advanced out of the Senate’s Local Government and Housing committee on a party-line 4-3 vote Tuesday night, after more than three hours of debate on more than a dozen amendments. The meeting came fewer than two weeks after legislators heard 12 hours of testimony for and against the proposal, which broadly seeks to encourage density, faster building and better planning by significantly reshaping the state’s single-family zoning policies.

The bill’s received the backing of Gov. Jared Polis and a coalition of housing, business and environmental groups who say the measure is vital to kickstart housing, but it’s opposed by local government officials who castigate it as an intrusion on their authority. But supporters say state intervention is needed, given the scale of the housing problem — both in terms of supply and affordability — facing Coloradans.

Amendments made to the land-use bill excluded resort communities from the requirement that allows owners of single-family lots to build accessory dwelling units. Instead resort communities will choose five of 16 housing strategies to enact. (McKenna Harford / Sky-Hi News)
McKenna Harford /

“We’ve trusted local governments to represent the local community,” Sen. Tony Exum, a Colorado Springs Democrat, said before casting his aye vote. He also noted that city zoning has been used to displace people in the past, a nod to the discriminatory history of urban planning. “Sometimes they do well, sometimes they don’t. I think this bill gives them the opportunity to open up their eyes, open up different ideas of how it can be done.”

Still, despite the committee’s green light Tuesday night, the bill did not come out of its first vote unscathed. Prime sponsor Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Commerce City Democrat, came into the meeting with a slew of amendments in a bid to shepherd the bill through the process. All of those changes were adopted.

This story is from The Denver Post.

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