We are fortunate to live in Northern Colorado because we have everything — outdoor beauty, amazing amenities and a uniquely diverse economy. Northern Colorado is a great place to call home. As Realtors, we think the overall regional perspective is vital as we look to recover from the current situation we face. So much of our current conversations have been focused on assistance from the federal and state governments, but we need to remember that our local cities and counties can act more quickly to help businesses, especially in housing.
Local governments play a critical role in housing, particularly when talking about new housing, as well as affordable and attainable housing. There is no doubt at this point that our previous stock of affordable and attainable housing will not come close to the need of our communities. Cities need to take a serious look at the expense they add to housing.
We could start by reviewing codes and how we can streamline the processes, as well as ask what reasonable incentives are available. Furthermore, while many communities have started to do this, really looking at codes to address occupancy, lot sizes and uses, water allotments, landscaping requirements, tap fees and the like will all be critical to how and what will be built in our communities. Cities need to push themselves outside of their comfort zones.
In that same vein, the policies governments make, while well meaning, can have negative effects as well. A note of caution to local communities during these times, collaboration is crucial. Those of us in the housing world want to be part of the solution. Policies such as inclusionary zoning that push the real estate sector away from the table won’t encourage us to work together to address our housing challenges. Let’s have a conversation and get the best ideas on the table.
Additionally, we need to remember what makes Northern Colorado unique. Like all of us, governments are now facing revenue shortfalls and will force significant budget cuts, but let’s make them balanced. Clearly, public safety should always be at the top, but there are other elements to a community that make it just as safe and livable. While we don’t expect services such as libraries, museums, recreation centers and parks to be what they were before, slashing one for the other isn’t going to get us to where we want to go either. These are elements that make Northern Colorado a welcoming home, why people come here, and moreover why people stay. Protecting, at a minimum, the structure of these elements at this point will be key.
Together, we have weathered storms in Northern Colorado in the past, and this one should be no different. We will all have a role, but local governments need to stand up and lead the charge on things that directly impact our economies. The world we live in looks very different now, and codes and regulations that make it harder to move our economy forward will not be helpful. If local governments focus on collaboration rather than more enforcement, Northern Colorado will more quickly overcome the challenges we face as a region.
Brad Inhulsen is a Colorado native who relocated to the Greeley area in 2008 and has been selling real estate since 2012. He wrote this on behalf of NoCo Strong for Business, a group that brings local government officials together to discuss ideas for how they can support businesses, now and in the future.