The radical and extremist Longmont City Council majority of Mayor Bryan Baum, Gabe Santos, Katie Witt and Alex Sammoury have not simply overreached politically but have shamelessly overstepped their legal authority in their decisions to eliminate Inclusionary Zoning from the city’s Affordable Housing Program.
They have not simply eliminated the program from this point forward. They have gone back and nullified annexation agreements and homeowner contracts to satisfy the developers, builders and the Longmont Realtors Association.
Their actions have enormous consequences, the worst of which is to homeowners who purchased under the program. It is their intention to immediately remove ALL homeowners from their deed restrictions (whether for the 10-year period of for the permanently affordable homes). By removing these homes from the Affordable Program, they will become subject to tens of thousands of dollars in increased property tax assessments and as a consequence increased property taxes.
Each home’s circumstance is different, but according to Kathy Fedler, CDBG and Affordable Housing Programs Coordinator, the average increase in assessment is $26,000. That’s an average. Some homes will increase by as much as $60,000 raising their taxes by one-third.
Adding insult to injury, The Baum Squad is claiming that their actions are meant to “help” the people that participated. (It’s unfortunate that I have to use this term Baum Squad to describe these people, but they are all that the name suggests.) To support this ludicrous proposition there is one person — one person — who has groused because she can’t sell her home except to someone who is able to participate in the program, and she hasn’t been able to find one in the current housing market. This woman is young and should have anticipated that she might marry and move elsewhere within the 10-year period. Now she’s complaining because she doesn’t like the contract she signed.
Council Members Sean McCoy, Brian Hansen and Sarah Levison were not in support of any of this majority’s actions or intentions. Council Members McCoy, Hansen, and Levison, you do the community proud. Thank you.
This council majority is likely corrupt — at least insofar as their belief system is concerned. They are fundamentalists. Market fundamentalists. It’s a bible to them. They would make Ayn Rand proud. And every thinking person knows that woman was the epitome of moral vacuity, if not purely evil.
Chances are that there are only two people who participated in this program who have any idea what is about to befall them. The rest are going about their lives not paying any attention to what their city council is up to. They are assuming the best about their council, when they should be assuming the worst. Elections have consequences. And in the case of 2009, the consequences have been horrendous.
Those who have participated in the program will find out the hard way when this council codifies into ordinance what they have given to staff as direction. and they either receive some sort of after-the-fact notice from the city or the county assessor’s office.
Who will tell the people? I hope it will be more than Free Range Longmont.
Bryan Baum has announced that he intends to run for re-election as Mayor of Longmont. I hope that the Longmont community will realize by November that this man is the most unsuitable candidate for this office since Longmont’s 1920s.
The following are my remarks to council during the Public Hearing on Second Reading. The remarks were made before council took their most devastating actions that constitute an abuse of their legal authority.
The termination of the Inclusionary Zoning provision of Longmont’s Affordable Housing Program is driven by political ideology and by the “wish list” of certain favored members of Longmont’s developer and real estate community.
Because of the “Great Recession,” which was triggered by abuses within the financial industry, there is little to no need for new housing in Longmont. The new housing market may be suffering from a market with a large number of “affordable” homes; but these homes became “affordable” from the housing crisis that resulted from the financial industry meltdown, not from Longmont’s Affordable Housing Program or it’s Inclusionary Zoning provision.
Inclusionary Zoning is based on the concept that clustering lower income homes in a geographical area is unwise and potentially leads to social problems. The intermingling of low and moderate incomes in all new subdivisions is the more desirable approach to community outcomes, indeed it is “best practices.” This approach was endorsed by previous city councils, councils that most in the community would consider conservative The current council majority has moved the goal post past conservatism to radicalism.
Builders of extremely high-end homes have always had the option to provide cash-in-lieu-of the 10% set-aside that could be used to further the programs goals elsewhere in the community. Rainbow Ridge is the perfect example.
The move to terminate the Inclusionary Zoning at this time, and might I add before this year’s elections, is intended to clear the requirement for a time when new-home construction resumes and in the event that the then-sitting council is not amenable to the idea. The arguments about securing construction financing are nothing more than a smokescreen to justify the change. The inability of local builders to secure financing has nothing to do with Inclusionary Zoning. With or without Inclusionary Zoning, financing and credit are tight. Bankers and investors know there is no real new residential market at this time.
With the termination of Inclusionary Zoning future home purchasers will face difficulties, perhaps insurmountable difficulties, to purchasing the home of their needs. A buyer’s purchasing decision is driven by a number of factors. Disabled purchasers may have requirements that demand certain design features. Older homes typically place a greater financial burden on buyers because of the need for repairs, either initially or more likely during the early years of home ownership before an individual or family is able to accumulate the resources to support the repairs. The assertion at an earlier council meeting that $20,000 is required to make a new home complete was ludicrous. My personal experience with a new home under the program proves that.
The decision is done – for now. But there will be other councils at other times. And eventually resentment by the few will be dismissed and good judgment will prevail.