Millennials, Mountains, & Mobility: The Impacts on Housing in Colorado’s Front Range
Denver is the second-fastest growing city in the U.S. Millennials, retirees, marijuana capitalists, IT professionals, people priced out of the coasts, and others are flocking to the region for jobs, access to the mountains, a perceived lifestyle, and yes, legal marijuana. The build out of the light rail system has stimulated development and investment throughout the region. However, this growth is creating pressures across the housing market—once-affordable central neighborhoods are being gentrified by millennials; since 2014 rental rates have increased by 20% and home values by 45%; mobile home parks in formerly forgotten areas are now in TOD zones; and only three of the 50 metro suburbs are still considered affordable. Planners and policymakers are seeking to create and preserve affordable housing within Colorado’s uniquely restrictive policy landscape, which includes budget and tax restrictions, constitutional prohibitions against inclusionary zoning for renters and tenant protections, and three failed attempts for a statewide housing trust fund. A fourth housing trust fund is working its way through the legislature, organizations are fighting to save mobile home parks through tenant buyouts, dozens of towns are supporting ADUs; densities are increasing; the Denver TOD fund has been expanded to the region; and the housing finance authority has initiated rolling 4% tax credit applications. Yet, these measures are not enough to meet the demand, and densification, traffic and NIMBY concerns are generating pushback from many neighborhoods. What else can be done to ensure that people across the income spectrum can find a place to call home in Denver?
The panel will include housing researchers from CU Denver, Jennifer Steffel Johnson and Carrie Makarewicz, and local housing advocates, policymakers, and funders.
Planning for Pot
Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states while 8 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use and sales for recreational purposes. Yet we know very little about the implications of this multi-billion dollar industry on urban economies, neighborhoods, and built and natural environments. Speakers in this local host session will address some of the most pressing questions facing urban planners attempting to accommodate this new and controversial land use. How does this burgeoning industry affect property values, industrial lease rates, housing prices, gentrification, and displacement of underserved residents? How do municipalities and environmental justice advocates ensure that nuisance uses are equitably distributed and environmental externalities are properly managed? How does dispensary and growhouse density affect personal and property crime? And what are the local and regional economic development factors associated with the industry, including its impact on tourism?
The panel will include researchers on marijuana planning, as well as representatives from state and local governments and non-profit organizations.