Colorado and much of the Western U.S. suffer from a housing shortage. At its Sept. 25 council meeting, Wheat Ridge made two notable moves to ease its own tight housing market:
The council is updating laws to broaden which properties are covered by its short-term rental laws, seeking to rope in units that are currently unlicensed. The city currently has 242 licensed short-term rentals. The changes would also create an enforceable criminal penalty for violators.
Across the country, municipalities are struggling to recognize the scope of short-term rental activity within their borders, regulate and often tax it like other lodging, and to encourage landlords to instead rent these properties to long-term residents to ease housing shortages. Colorado has an acute shortage of housing units and thousands of residents are homeless.
“It has become apparent that there are some weaknesses in the existing code that make enforcement action against illegal STRs (short-term rentals) challenging,” said council member Janeece Hoppe. “Staff recommends a code amendment so that Council’s original intent, to ensure that only legally licensed STRs exist in Wheat Ridge, can be realized.”
A public hearing on the changes is set for Oct. 9, at the regular city council meeting. See Item 4 on WheatRidgeSpeaks.org for more information.
The city council also moved forward on The Ives, a 50-unit affordable housing development in progress along the Wadsworth Corridor. Notably, public comment on the project was favorable; in many cases, residents have opposed low-income housing construction, frustrating local governments’ efforts to ease the housing crisis.
The city moved to the next step in transferring the Bank of the West parcel over to Foothills Regional Housing for The Ives housing development. The council had a hearing on rezoning the 15,425 square foot parcel from commercial to mixed use. Doing so aligns with the zoning of surrounding property and it frees up the land for The Ives.
For more information, see Item 1 on WheatRidgeSpeaks.org.
In other news from the council meeting
Upgrading Landline-Based Telecom Provider Tax: Twenty-six years ago, the city of Wheat Ridge wrote the cutting-edge policy in Ordinance 1997-1072 Code of Law for Telecom Services. However, that was before Twitter, TikTok, and living one’s life through a cellphone. Now, in 2023, the current council realizes that changes are needed to actually catch up with modern telecom usage.
“The calculation is the tax amount of the the incumbent provider (Qwest/Centurylink) divided by the number of basic telecommunication lines that the incumbent has on July 1 of each year, divided by twelve, per line,” states the city’s current definition of the tax.
The proposed changes primarily affect providers of internet, cell phones, and media. It adjusts the basis for the telecom tax rate, which previously depended on the number of landlines that the company Lumen (previously US West, Qwest and CenturyLink) used. Since the types of media and delivery have changed, so must the language. For details on these language changes, go to Item No. 1 at WheatRidgeSpeaks.org.
More money ($55,000) approved for the Rec Center parking lot project: In June 2023, the council approved a bid by Sunland Asphalt to resurface the parking lot at the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center, 4005 Kipling St., Wheat Ridge. Three months later, the council passed a resolution to increase the original budget of $534,400.72 by $55,000. The additional funds are for ADA upgrades, striping for electric vehicles and drainage improvements. See Item 5 on WheatRidgeSpeaks.org.
Three proclamations: Mayor Bud Starker issued three proclamations that were approved by the council:
- Sept. 25, 2023 becomes Dr. Michelle Haney Day: The first proclamation honored retiring Red Rocks Community College President Michelle Haney, her 31 years of service to the Colorado Community College system and her many service awards and honors, such as Woman of the Year for Jefferson County.
- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The second proclamation recognizes 38 years of National Breast Cancer Awareness. The proclamation reminds residents “to celebrate the successes and memorialize lost battles,” said Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker. The mayor also recognized “award-winning services for women” provided by the Lutheran Breast Care Center at Lutheran Medical Center.
- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: The third proclamation from the evening recognized Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the impact that domestic violence has on families and even the community. Starker acknowledged the Wheat Ridge Police’s commitment to reducing domestic violence in the community. The proclamation also mentioned Porchlight Family Justice Center and the work the organization does.
Read the full proclamations at WheatRidgeSpeaks.org.
Watch the entire Sept. 25 Wheat Ridge city council meeting on Wheat Ridge Channel 8 on YouTube.