In 2019, Lakewood residents voted to enact a Residential Growth Limitation Ordinance, found in Chapter 14.27 of the Lakewood Municipal Code. The ordinance limited building permits for new residential units to no more than 1% of current residential housing stock per year.

In the Jan. 3 Lakewood City Council study session, Travis Parker, Lakewood Planning Director, gave a presentation on LMC (Lakewood Municipal Code) 14.27 to City Council, laying out how many new housing units will be allowed to be built this year, and explaining how the allocation system works. 

Parker said each January, allocations are approved by Council and divided into three different pools — the Open Pool, the Affordable Pool and the Hardship Pool (which is in reality, a discretionary pool for Council members to use).

In theory, he said, every residential unit requires an allocation, although there are some exceptions including replacement units, blighted properties, university housing, nursing homes, hotels and hospitals. Projects with over 40 allocations in a single calendar year require city council approval.

This year, the 1% number equates to 705 allocations. Of those, the City’s Planning Department recommended 90 allocations go to the Hardship Pool, 300 to the Affordable Pool and 315 to the Open Pool. In the Jan. 10 City Council meeting, Resolution 2022-6, establishing residential dwelling unit allocations for 2022 and assigning allocations to pools pursuant to chapter 14.27 of the Lakewood Municipal Code, was passed by a vote of 9-2 with new Councilors Rich Olver, Ward 4, and Mary Janssen, Ward 5, voting against.

What the pools mean

Open Pool allocations are available for anyone to apply for. There are no restrictions on how those allocations are used or the type of units that can be built with them. The Affordable Pool is for affordable units — units that are restricted for use by people making less than market rate (for housing) income. The Hardship Pool is undefined as to use, in the ordinance. Parker said in the past, City Council has used the Hardship Pool to hold allocations for projects that have vested rights to build residential units. 

The Open and Affordable pools created in January, are good until May 31. The Hardship Pool lasts through Oct. 31.

Any allocations from the Open and Affordable Pools that remain unused after May 31 are moved to a second round of Open Pool allocations that last from June 1 through Oct. 31.

Allocations from the second Open round and Hardship Pool that remain unused after Oct. 31 are transferred to a Surplus Pool, and are considered for projects that can fulfill building requirements by the end of the calendar year.

Since the Ordinance was adopted

In 2020, the 1% allocation number equated to 693 units. That year, the City issued 184 allocations. In 2021, the 1% allocation number equaled 701 units of which 163 allocations were issued. Parker said of the 163 allocations issued in 2021, none were affordable units and none were multi-family units. They were all single-family attached or detached units. 

Parker clarified in his presentation that Council had lowered the number of allocations created in 2020 and 2021, to ensure the city could stay beneath the 1% growth cap if 1004 units approved prior to the ordinance taking effect were built, which it did.