Superior Board of Trustees passes new ordinance
Superior Board of Trustees passes new ordinance

During their virtual meeting on Oct. 12, the Superior Board of Trustees passed an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requiring 15% of new housing developments to include an affordable component. The ordinance passed 4-2.

This ordinance will require 15% of any proposed residential development projects of 10 units or more in Superior to be leased or sold at 80% of the area median income. This requirement will be enforced through deed restriction that would be recorded and remain in perpetuity.

“Passage of the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance is a very big deal for Superior,” said Mayor Clint Folsom in an email. “I’m very proud of our Board of Trustees and the community of Superior for making this commitment to address the affordable housing challenges we are facing throughout our region.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis stated in an email the Town currently has no affordable housing units and needs to find solutions as the price of residential real estate continues to rise.

The board members agreed to raise the required minimum floor of affordable housing units from the initially proposed 10% to 15% in order to meet the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership’s goal of 12% permanently attainable housing county-wide by 2035.

“If we stay at 10%, I don’t think we’ll be able to actually get to 12%,” said Lacis.

A fee in lieu would be allowed under the ordinance for residential developments of less than 10 units. According to Trustee Neal Shah, this means if a developer is building less than 10 units and cannot build the necessary attainable units, they can choose to pay the Town of Superior a fee in lieu of building.

Restricted units and free market units would need to be comparable in design and be available for sale or rent in the same proportion, read the ordinance.

Housing Division Director for the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services, Norrie Boyd, led a presentation and discussed how the ordinance can be used to reach the region’s housing goals.

“I think that the demands of the pandemic have really increased the demand for affordable housing,” said Boyd.

According to Boyd, some of the numbers in the presentation were a little bit out of date due to the increase in the need for affordable housing and rent assistance. She indicated right now, they only have 5% of existing housing in Boulder County considered affordable and Superior’s median home sale price as of Aug. 2020 is $630,000.

Multiple scientific surveys have shown the lack of housing affordability is the top challenge county residents want to see addressed.

The home sale prices are far expanding what people can afford who want to live and work in Boulder County and, in particular, Superior. Boyd stated this ordinance would help bring greater affordability and allow people to live in the community in which they work.

Shah, who voted in favor of approving the ordinance, said the board appreciates this as the first step of a long process to add more inclusionary housing units.

“I am really excited that Superior passed an inclusionary housing ordinance and even more excited we acknowledged our severe lack of attainable housing units,” said Shah in an email. “It is important that we recognize the net benefit to the community as a whole and take the necessary steps to meet the challenge.”

While all trustees were in favor of creating affordable housing units in Superior, Trustee Ken Lish and Trustee Laura Skladzinski ultimately voted no on this one. Skladzinski stated in an email she sees the provision of deed-restricted units to essentially be a tax on developers.

“This ordinance essentially creates a limited pool of resources for us to provide inclusionary housing — and I want to see our finite resources used in the best way possible,” said Skladzinski in an email.

She believes if they were to remove the requirement for deed-restricted units to be comparable, the board could potentially create many more affordable units with the same developer investment.

Similarly, Lish feels the adopted ordinance was narrowly scoped and limits the means with which they can contribute to the regional goal of Boulder County.

“This was an influential ordinance that will reshape the future of housing development in Superior,” said Lish in an email. “It deserved a more robust public process than what was afforded.”

Lacis, who voted in favor of approving the ordinance, said in an email that while it’s not the perfect solution, he doesn’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

“With the adoption of this ordinance, we’re making significant progress on a problem that needed addressing and I’m really pleased that my fellow board members decided to finally address it,” said Lacis in email.

While the board may differ on how best to realize the goal for their community, Shah said he’s convinced they all agree that this is their problem to help solve.