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HOW CAN BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS DO BETTER? THE ROLE OF IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS IN DENVER’S AFFORDABLE HOUSING James Lieven Urban Housing Fall 2020 University of Colorado Denver


Business Improvement Districts

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Business Improvement Districts

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RINO Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017)

Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017) Projection Stateplane Units US Survey Feet Colorado Central Zone 502 Horizontal Datum NAD83/92 HARN Vertical Datum NAVD88

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MAP DATE: 9/8/2017 Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

COLFAX

Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

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Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017)

Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017)

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Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

Business Improvement Districts

Business Improvement Districts

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Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017) Projection Stateplane Units US Survey Feet Colorado Central Zone 502 Horizontal Datum NAD83/92 HARN Vertical Datum NAVD88

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Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017)

Data Sources: ADMN_BUSINESSIMPROVDIST_A (Policy, Planning, Sustainability, 2017)

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Projection Stateplane Units US Survey Feet Colorado Central Zone 502 Horizontal Datum NAD83/92 HARN Vertical Datum NAVD88

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Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

Disclaimer: The City and County of Denver shall not be liable for damages of any kind arising out of the use of this information. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the fitness for a particular use. This is not a legal document.

OLD SOUTH GAYLORD

Denver Business Improvement Districts

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Executive Summary

B

usiness improvement districts are contentious quasi-governmental tools that some have speculated can improve economic growth and/or been the vehicle of gentrification and displacement at the neighborhood scale. There has been little to no evidence discerning the tangible effects on communities. The City and County of Denver has a long history of competing BIDs, yet generally has contributed to the argument that BIDs have done more harm than good, despite being aware of the issues concerning affordable housing. By studying the Affordable Housing Zoning Incentive initiative, the structure and history of BIDs, and the collaboration of the two entities in Denver in 2020, this analysis proposes: •

The existing plan of including “as-is” BID focus groups in the city’s effort to incentivize affordable housing is great, but lacks the power to ensure developer compliance and accountability.

Incorporating Community Benefits Agreements into each of the BIDs in the city of Denver under the guidance of the AHZI as a means of ensuring developer compliance is a strategy that would likely yield results, but create political tension between BIDs and developers.

Retaining the superstructure of the AHZI, incorporating Community Benefits Agreements into each BID, and amending Title 31 to include grant money taken from a variety of sources to be used as incentives to pin-point and address urban dilemmas per district could balance community needs and developer restrictions.

With the proper policies, incentives, and municipal guidance, a mixed-method approach could focus the power of BIDs out of the hands of private interests and into the hands of a well-represented community.

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Problem Statement

B

usiness Improvement Districts (BIDs) are a type of quasi-governmental business association that joins public and private entities to maintain, develop, or innovate a commercial district by self-assessing property and tax

fees to fund local goods and services. Since their emergence in the 1960s to1970s, they have been a contentious tool in creating a range of urban transformations at the neighborhood scale in countries such as Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Throughout the decades, BIDs have generally aimed to use their extremely ambiguous structures to fuel local development and enhance the community quality of life for the areas that are served. While from a real estate and development standpoint BIDs have been a champion of raising property values and improving local economies (Armstrong, 2007), many planners and urbanists have contested that BIDs may have terrible consequences for the communities they supposedly serve. (Bowen, et al, 2019) “Previous research has shown that while BIDs can be [a] very useful tool for enhancing the physical appearance, bringing in more foot traffic and increasing the property value in the districts where are instituted, they can also be a driver for complete transformation of a neighborhood by raising the real estate value. In doing so, they increase residential and commercial rental rates in the area.” (Eldmedni, 2018) In essence, for the same reason that BIDs’ loose structures can attribute to the economic success of the businesses involved, BIDs can shift financial burden to low-income residents and small business owners. This phenomenon often can act as the vehicle of gentrification and displacement at the urban scale.

O

ne of the largest problems with BIDs and the analysis of BIDs is that they are inherently difficult to determine metrics of their diverse effectiveness and value. At their conception, their structures and boundaries are

defined firstly by the involved parties wishing to form the group. They are sanctioned by the local government because of their ability to utilize tax revenue, which ultimately is an ability that is authorized by state governments. Because these multiple overlapping authorities are juxtaposed with an element of small-scale local agency, the roles and powers of every BID greatly differ depending on the diversity of the stakeholders involved at the local level and the nature of the city and state government that houses them. For the first few decades since the conception of BIDs, there were almost no inquiries to study if there were any adverse community effects. In fact, Amy Armstrong’s analysis of BID benefits in New York City in 2007 noted that any prior analyses conducted on the successes of BIDs have primarily only focused on property values and economic growth because those metrics are far more tangible and measurable. (Armstrong, 2007) Notably using similar metrics, her focused economic analysis yielded

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an important set of key finding that, despite not stepping outside the lens of real estate in New York City, offer a set of contextual insights into the convoluted nature of community effects of BIDs. (Figure 1) The obvious point is that they have been extremely successful in raising commercial property values depending on the size and context of the organization. Large-office BIDs, more common in the Manhattan area, have obvious impacts whereas smaller BIDs appear to have very little impact. What is not obvious, and raises several questions, is the fact that BIDs don’t appear to have long lasting impacts on residential property values or spillover effects outside the boundaries of the district. Do these districts contain a history of residential property development prior to the existence of the BID? How has the local government categorized the self-imposed boundary

Figure 1: Amy Armstrong key findings

and its economic effects as a part of a whole? As more research emerges about BIDs and their broader community consequences it is essential to integrate a few critical factors into the way we think about them. In a report called, “Improvements for Whom? Business Improvement Districts and Their Impact on Communities” published by the University of California Berkeley in 2019, the authors reasonably assess five main points. (Bowen, et al, 2019):

Although BIDs are not the only contributors to issues concerning gentrification and “troublesome shifts in racial composition” the report strongly correlates an association with several of these issues for two primary reasons. First, that often there is a concentration of power to the property owners that “prioritize their interests and are often not representative of the communities governed by the district.” Second, that “BIDs supply what many consider public services but remain primarily instruments by and for private actors.” This structure of power, intended to bridge

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top-down and bottom-up urban development, is an extremely effective strategy that could benefit communities by broadening our collective definition of “improvement” to include more permanent solutions to affordable housing, access to urban amenities, or strengthening our urban connectivity. Yet, when public resources are used to further private interests, it not only disrupts and displaces small business owners (as even pro-BID constituents admit), but becomes a large cog in the mechanism that perpetuates issues like homelessness, inflated rent prices, systematic racism, and the widening of inequality gaps that ultimately shape our cities and ways of life. The authors of the analysis at Berkeley recommend limiting “BIDs’ ability to politically advocate” while involving excluded community voices and developing policies that require more adequate representation from the community. They admit each BID will have different conditions, and so more research should be done in different cities and types of special districts while maintaining a “mixed-method” approach. This analysis is an intelligent approach to understanding a highly contentious and complex set of issues that demand attention to detail at scale. In the next section, I will utilize this mixed-method approach, as suggested, to understand more about the structure of special districting in Denver, Colorado, as a means of identifying ways we can improve the condition of affordable housing.

D

BUSINESSES

enver is an excellent place to dissect the effectiveness of BIDs and special districts

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PROPERTY OWNERS

BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

because of its long history in the area and the range of

BUSINESSES

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

SPECIA APPL

PROPERTY OWNERS

CITY C APPRO CRE

data available. Currently there are twelve BIDs within ASSESMENT TAX FUND $$$

the city limits. Since 1988, after the passing of the Colorado Business Improvement District Act, BIDs were

ASSESSMEN BUSINESSES OWNED PARCE DIS

BID BOARD OF DIRECTORS

primarily implemented around the busiest commercial

BUSINESSES

PROPERTY OWNERS

FUNDS A

corridors like Downtown Denver or Colfax. “However, the BIDs established since 2006 have primarily been

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

BUSINESSES

PROPERTY OWNERS

IMPROVEMENTS

concentrated in historically low-income communities of color where gentrification is a contested topic

BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

BUSINESSES

and exponential rates of displacement are reported.”

ASSESMENT TAX FUND $$$

Denver has outlined their intent to use BIDs, Metropolitan BID BOARD OF DIRECTORS

BUSINESSES

promote economic growth, “sustain and enhance

SPECIAL DISTRICT APPLICATION EFFECTIVENESS CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BID CREATION

(Bowen, et al, 2019) Since then, the City and County of

Districts, and General Improvement Districts to

PROPERTY OWNERS

PROPERTY OWNERS

AGENCY

LOCA GOVERNM

ASSESSMENT (TAX) ON ALL OPTION 1 BUSINESSES AND PUBLICLY (EXISITING) OWNED PARCELS IN PROPOSED DISTRICT

FUNDS ALLOCATED OPTION2: 2 BID conception process Figure

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public assests…”, and “…enrich the quality of life for all Denverites.” GIDs and Metropolitan Districts are similar in nature to their BID forebearers. For the purposes of this analysis, however, it should be mentioned that BIDs are more focused on providing services unique to the commercial nature of these districts, while GIDs and MDs are primarily concerned with public utility infrastructure from a developer point of view. It can be assumed that when focusing the conversation on affordable housing, more agency is given to BIDs given the fluidity of their structure, so this paper will primarily focus on their function in Denver with the understanding that, as the Berkeley scholars ascertained, we must acknowledge that their overlap complicates the analysis. (Denver Department of Public Works, 2004) One example of the BIDs in Denver that attempted to address the state of affordable housing is the 38th and Blake Street Overlay Amendment implemented under the direction of the RiNo BID. Signed into law in February of 2018, the bill allows for greater density for transit-oriented development at integrates roughly 6 to 10% of its units to be affordable. Although the BID leaders believe this resulted in more affordable housing, the members of the community were furious that the bill had passed. “Candi CdeBaca, a Swansea resident and community advocate, testified about the lack of community engagement in the policy-making process, saying the bill invited developers ‘to more easily build in one of the more vulnerable areas.’” (Bowen, et al, 2019) In reality, the progressive part of the bill only requires approximately 10% of the total units to “serve people making less than 80% of the AMI, or about $60,000 for a family of three…” So despite the fact the RiNo BID addressed that there is an issue with incorporating affordable housing and other community problems, there is a significant disconnect between RiNo stakeholders and the needs of the community they serve. This is only one example of the shortcomings of the BIDs in the City and County of Denver. Other BID involved initiatives, like the Safe Occupancy Program, the Breathe Easy Ordinance, and the Right to Survive Initiative have all been instigated by these districts, yet seem to fall short by crumbling under the actuality of development, and a darker undertone of systematic oppression (as seen in Westwood Denver, for example.)

Alternative Solutions

S

o what can we do to ensure that BIDs and their initiatives with the development of new housing and the appropriation of existing housing are held accountable? Since the beginning of the year (2020), the City

and County of Denver has begun compiling a broad array of information in an effort called the Affordable Housing Zoning Incentive. The goal of this project, spearheaded by the Community Planning and Development (CPD) and the Office of Housing Stability (HOST) is to innovate the existing citywide plans and policies to address the rising housing costs and displacement occurring all over the metropolitan area. (City and County of Denver, 2020) Since

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Spring of this year this group has evaluated best practices of other precedents, potential alternative solutions, and confirmed zoning incentives to increase density, reduce parking, etc. A bill is currently being drafted, and hopefully by Spring of 2021, a legislative review with the Planning Board and City Council will take place to modify

Figure 3: AHZI Structure

the Denver Zoning Code and the Denver Revised Municipal Code. (Figures 3&4) One of the integral aspects of this initiative, in addition to Community Participation (including elements from Blueprint Denver, Comprehensive Plan 2040, and Housing an Inclusive Denver) and a diverse Advisory Committee (made up of a diverse set of community stakeholders and community organizers), the Affordable Housing Zoning Incentive has integrated a set of Focus groups that so far have included all the BIDs in the Denver area and local affordable housing developers.

T

he larger framework of this incentive program is exactly the kind of community-oriented incentive structure that can

facilitate or even integrate into the way BIDs function. This current

Figure 4: AHZI Timeline

strategy of integration of BIDs into a city-wide focus group while maintaining its existing structure is so far one solution to maintaining BID accountability and community engagement. If other incentive programs with other urban revitalization proposals are developed similar to this one at the county scale, the BIDs would continue to play its role as is, but would ultimately be apart of a larger, collaborative, and transparent effort to make long-term solutions to urban dilemmas. However, although this strategy brings many BID challenges to light, it does not absolve them. In a focus group meeting on May 19, 2020, the Denver BIDs gathered to discuss the possible barriers, solutions, and incentive ideas for the development and redevelopment of affordable housing. The stakeholders identified the primary barriers to developing affordable housings as parking standards, protected district standards, adaptive reuse standards, and rezoning processes. The restrictive nature of these standards, according to the developers and stakeholders, make it time consuming and expensive to attempt developing or redeveloping housing that could be considered affordable. Some of the solutions that were suggested were allowing parking reductions or creating a shuttle to promote multi-modal access to reduce parking necessity, having corridors adjacent to protected

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districts to allow ground floor residential uses or an easement of setbacks, and requiring a fully developed site plan to expedite the rezoning process. Additional incentives were discussed that mostly revolved around building trust with developers by reducing oversight for these types of developments. This strategy, considering the dangerous history of unsuccessful developments, is highly risky.

A

second strategy, in addition to the existing Incentive program effort, is to specifically work with the BIDs and their developers to make a series of neighborhood-scaled Community Benefits Agreements. A Community

Benefits Agreement (CBA) is a contract signed by community groups and developers that legally requires the developer to provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the community. It ensures that projects create opportunities for local workers and communities. Combined with the existing AHZI effort overseeing the impact of affordable housing on the community as a whole, and CBAs drawn between BIDs and their developers, this strategy would be a balanced way of ensuring the accountability of developers to contribute to community betterment. Using this strategy, they could require a certain percentage of the workers within the district to have housing provided to them, provide specific infrastructure to address precise homeless areas, or even start bridging diverse types of housing based on household income. However, according the focus group meeting notes, developers are already feeling constrained in the effort to rezone and address sustainable practices like adaptive reuse. The strategy of

Figure 5: Community Benefits Agreements framework

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legally constraining developers who are actively trying to assist in community engagement and are already feeling constrained would cause significant tension between the city, the BIDs, and developers.

A

third strategy, assuming the combination of the previous two, could be looking more closely at incentivizing the developers during the process of creating or joining a BID. In order create a BID in the City and County

of Denver, you must complete four steps. First, all applicants are required to submit a letter of intent to the Special District Working Group, a government entity specifically designed to review the applications. This group is made up of representatives from the Department of Finance, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Community Planning SPECIAL DISTRICT APPLICATION

and Development, the Department of Law, and the Office of Economic development. The letter must include the boundaries SPECIAL DISTRICT APPLICATION

of the proposed district, funding, a statement of intent, and outline

3. Creation Application Submission

CITY COUNCIL possible collaboration with neighboring districts among other APPROVES BID

CREATION things. Second, the Special District Working Group provides a ASSESSMENT (TAX) ONofALL written response to the letter intent within 30 days and have BUSINESSES AND PUBLICLY

1. Letter of Intent LOCAL GOVERNMENT

2. Response to Letter of Intent

BID APPLICANTS

OWNED PARCELS PROPOSED the option to meet and IN discuss the feasibility of the proposal. DISTRICT

Third, the applicants draft an ordinance for the creation of

4. Begin City Council Process

the district and provide feedback on the proposed schedule. FUNDS ALLOCATED Finally, the working group initiates the City Council process. This

Figure 6: Denver BID Application Process

existing process is straightforward, using multiple government entities to review and condone the existence and of local BIDs through Title 31 of the municipal code. In order to address the concerns of the developers and maintain participation in Affordable Housing Zoning Incentives, the city could potentially make an amendment to Title 31 that offers a funding incentive for addressing district-specific urban dilemmas like affordable housing, homelessness, work force housing, etc. The funds could come from a small portion of each of the government entities involved in the Special District Working Groups, and/or from a vein of tax revenue collected during the assessment process of BID participation. These types of funding incentives may or may not be enough to adequately respond to the POLITICAL COSTduring the BID process AGENCY DIVERSITY concerns of developers, but applying for these grants inherently requires a more detailed FEASIBILITY

submission in their Letter of Intent, which could be a major proponent in rolling back restrictive zoning standards or regulations on a conditional basis.

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IMPROVEMENTS

COST

POLITICAL FEASIBILITY

High

High

Medium

Low

High

High

Low

Medium

High

Medium

High

EFFECTIVENESS

AGENCY

DIVERSITY

Low

High

OPTION 2

Medium

OPTION 3

High

OPTION 1 (EXISITING)

Figure 7: Feasibility Matrx

Recommendation

G

iven the conditions from three possible solutions cited, I analyzed each from the standpoint of a Denver BID’s shown effectiveness, agency (or potential ability to make positive strides towards more permanent

affordable housings), its level of diversity and community inclusion, its cost feasibility, and its political feasibility. Option 1, the existing plan of including “as-is” BID focus groups in the city’s effort to incentivize affordable housing is great but lacks the power to ensure developer compliance and accountability. It relies solely on its inclusionary gestalt structure and the good will of the developers in question. Given that historically, as seen in the case of the 38th and Blake amendment, it would be unwise to be as lax with working with developers. Option 2, incorporating Community Benefits Agreements into each of the BIDs in the city of Denver under the guidance of the AHZI as a means of ensuring developer compliance is a strategy that would likely yield results. However, it passes much of the financial and time-sensitive burden to developers, who would be stuck between meeting the legal requirements of the CBA and maneuvering through zoning and cost restrictive regulations. It is a politically unfeasible move, and therefore may cause long term problems between the city, BIDs, and developers. My recommendation would be Option 3: retaining the superstructure of the AHZI, incorporating Community Benefits Agreements into each BID, and amending Title 31 to include grant money taken from a variety of sources to be used as incentives to pin-point and address urban dilemmas per district. The applications to create or join a BID would then be more detailed in their submissions, possibly resulting the foundational case in the roll back of specific standards and a supplemental

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fund for neighborhood implementation. This strategy, having taken a mixed-method like scholars at UC Berkeley suggested, works to keep BIDs and developers accountable from the top-down (AHZI) and the bottom-up (Title 31) to bridge the connection between community engagement and positive development strategies that ultimately would benefit everyone.

Conclusion

T

hough the City and County of Denver is just one example of the tumultuous nature of Special Improvement Districts and their functions, it provides invaluable insights into their ranging potential to harm or help the

communities they serve. We must keep in mind that if they are to work successfully, we must acknowledge and broaden our understanding of the historical failures of city planning in American cities that perpetuate racism, inequity, and the destruction of our urban fabrics, while locating their sources within the larger mechanism of publicprivate development strategies. With that understanding, we can focus on those sources within our local districts and, with the help of larger governmental guidance, begin to undo the damage that has been done. BIDs have enormous potential to leverage their ambiguity to advocate for unheard voices at the neighborhood scale, and implement long term strategies that benefit not just the private interests of business owners, but for the broader definition of community, by keeping our representatives and developers accountable at every scale of community engagement. I urge you to look for ways you can advocate for your communities, whether that means reaching out to your local BID, City Council representative, or the AHZI. Actively educating yourself on these complex processes is the first step in achieving positive change, and identifying policies for sustaining BID development in the long-term.

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Works Cited Affordable Housing Zoning Incentive. (2020). FOCUS GROUP: Business Improvement Districts Meeting Notes. 19 May 2020. City of Denver: Virtual Meeting Via WebEx

Armstrong, Amy, et al. “F u r m a n c e n t e r P o l i c y B r i e F The Benefits ...” The Benefits of Business Improvement Districts: Evidence from New York City, Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy, New York University, July 2007, furmancenter.org/files/publications/FurmanCenterBIDsBrief.pdf.

Bowen, Spencer, et al. Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, 2019, Improvements for Whom? Business Improvement Districts and Their Impact on Communities, wraphome.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/UC-Berkeley-5.20.19-Improvements-for-Whom_-Business-Improvement-Districts-and-Their-Impact-onCommunities-2.pdf.

“Business Improvement Districts Destroy Our Communities.” Denver Homeless Out Loud, 19 Sept. 2018, denverhomelessoutloud.org/2018/09/19/business-improvementdistricts-destroy-our-communities/.

City and County of Denver, 2020, Affordable Housing Zoning Incentive: Interim Background Report. denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/646/documents/Zoning/ text_amendments/affordable-housing-zoning-incentive/Affordable_Housing_Zoning_Incentive_Background_Report.pdf

“City and County of Denver Statutory Special Districts Rules and Regulations Title 31 Business Improvement Districts and General Improvement Districts.” City and County of Denver, 8 Apr. 2019. https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/344/documents/Capital%20Planning%20and%20Programming/Rules_SpecialDistrict_Title31.pdf

“Community Benefits.” The Partnership For Working Families, 12 July 2019, www.forworkingfamilies.org/campaigns/CBA.

“DISTRICT CHARACTERISTICS (WITHIN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER) .” CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER Department of Public Works – Infrastructure Planning & Programming, Dept. 509 , Oct. 2004. https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/705/documents/DistMgmt/District%20Characteristics%20(within%20the%20City%20and%20County%20 of%20Denver.pdf

Elmedni, B., Christian, N., & Stone, C. (2018). Business improvement districts (BIDs): An economic development policy or a tool for gentrification. Cogent Business & Management, 5(1), 1502241. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2018.1502241

“Gentrification Study: Mitigating Involuntary Displacement.” Denver Office of Economic Development, May 2016. https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/690/Reports%20and%20Studies/GENT%20STUDY%20051816.pdf

Grossman, S. (2008). The Case of Business Improvement Districts: Special District Public-Private Cooperation in Community Revitalization. Public Performance & Management Review, 32(2), 290-308. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20447720

Mac Donald, Heather. “BIDs Really Work .” City Journal, 1996, www.city-journal.org/html/bids-really-work-11853.html.

“RiNo Business Improvement District (RiNo BID).” River North Art District, 2020, rinoartdistrict.org/about/rino-bid.

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APPENDIX


AFFORDABLE HOUSING ZONING INCENTIVE

FOCUS GROUP: Business Improvement Districts Meeting Notes Tuesday May 19, 2020 4:00 – 5:30 pm Virtual Meeting Via WebEx

Meeting Objectives: •

Review project objectives, timeline, and scope

Discuss current barriers to the development and redevelopment

Discuss solutions to the development and redevelopment

Discuss ideas around incentives for affordable housing

Welcome, Introductions and Agenda Review The following organizations were present: Metro Denver Local Development Corporation (South Broadway), Downtown

Denver BID; West Colfax Business Improvements District, Bluebird BID; Colfax Avenue Business District; Mayfair BID; Fax Partnership; RiNo BID; Five Points Business Improvements District

Project/Focus Group Overview Barriers to Development/Redevelopment From the registration survey and prior conversations with stakeholders, the following have been identified as the top barriers to developing affordable housing: •

Parking standards o Often can become the greatest challenge on adaptive reuse sites where a change is use requires far more o o

• •

parking The small lot parking exemption was watered down when updated in 2016, need more standards like that to maintain the small lot character of these areas Tension between existing businesses and new businesses in RiNO where the overlay removes parking minimums, removing parking standards all together may not be the solution everywhere

Protected District Standards o Significantly impact the feasibility of development, especially on smaller lots o Many transit corridors are directly adjacent to protected districts Adaptive Reuse Standards

Rezoning Process o DDP has done a study to better understand the soft costs of the entitlement process which can be very

costly and add significant cost to a project Unpredictability of Council support for taller, high density projects that serve housing need

o Discussion Questions: •

Is there something that is not on this list that should be discussed today? o Community Pushback in Planning or Entitlement  Community pushback is an impediment. Never characterized as “against” affordable housing, but

o o

rather the other development impacts which are effectively against affordable housing  East Colfax: constraints that the area planning process has put on this neighborhood. Heights are insufficient, especially when combined with first floor retail requirements and parking requirements. Permitting and SDP process  Soft costs associated with permitting process and delays. Predictability in process would be helpful. Inconsistent interpretation of rules frustrating. Small Site and height limit challenges

I


AFFORDABLE HOUSING ZONING INCENTIVE East Colfax: small sites present challenges. Looking for support on alley vacations, etc. “Legacy uses,” such as used car dealerships and motels have “no place else to go” in Denver zoning. Where can we put them or partner with other adjacent cities to aid in relocation  There’s a whole world of small development that we need to figure out.  Broader support for alley vacations to enable for larger lot assemblage  MS-3 is not a viable district for redevelopment and housing, need at least 4 or 5 stories Maintaining Commercial Character  Broadway: How do we maintain an environment as a “boutique commercial area”? Commercial property taxes, lease and vacancy rates – how do these things impact neighboring residential areas? Commercial property tax issues.  Continued inequities exacerbated by COVID regarding small business owners with limited resources and access to capital  Supporting small and micro businesses, shared spaces  It’s important that housing can be affordable for the employees that work along these transits served corridors, they are the most vulnerable and impacted financially, especially due to COVID Infrastructure Needs  Some development areas such as RiNo, development has outpaced city infrastructure investment leading to challenges and the need for development to contribute more to these investments 

o

o •

Are these barriers unique to specific geographies to Denver? o RINO: Tension between historic neighborhoods and new development. o RINO: Not a lot of infrastructure in the area. “Archaic,” the city has difficulty keeping up with tall o o

development happening in the area. 2016 Small Lot Parking Work Group was a “disappointing process.” Single-family neighborhoods pushed back, valuing parking “above all else.” Look for “smart growth” by implementing smart city infrastructure to entice tech industry to invest in Denver.

Proposed Solutions to Development/Redevelopment Some of the following solutions have either been proposed by stakeholders and/or being explored by the city. We would like to know more about what solutions are most important and how they should be approached. Discussion Questions: •

What are some solutions the city and should explore to reduce parking standard barriers? o Parking reductions should be allowed o TDMs worth implementing/exploring o RiNo is exploring a circulator shuttle to promote more multi-modal access

What are some solutions that the city should explore regarding protected district standards? o Many centers and corridors such as Colfax, Santa Fe, South Broadway are directly adjacent to protected o

districts where additional standards (setbacks and setbacks) apply limiting redevelopment opportunity. Ground floor residential uses should be allowed. (note, currently allowed in all MS and MX zoning)

What are some solutions that the city should explore regarding adaptive reuse? o For example, the existing buildings along corridors such as Colfax, Santa Fe, South Broadway all contribute to the unique character of these streets and neighborhoods. However, the process to change a use can often trigger a variety of costly and prohibitive upgrades – both inside the building and on the property. o How can the city balance necessary upgrades to protect health and safety while promoting adaptive reuse? o Marcia Doyle Winter and CO report on barriers on the change of use of any existing building triggers

“avalanche” of new requirements.

What are some solutions that the city should explore regarding the rezoning process? o Developers sometimes “hide” behind rezoning process to avoid community pushback. A requirement for a

more fully developed site plan could help cut down on this.

What are other changes or incentives the city should explore to promote the redevelopment and the development of affordable housing?

II


AFFORDABLE HOUSING ZONING INCENTIVE o o

“Arbitrariness” of certain boards cited as a problem/challenge (e.g. LPC, BOA). Who has the “final authority?” Should focus on implementing Blueprint Denver which was visionary and a thoughtful document

Potential Incentives for the Construction of Affordable Housing (20m) The city has been working with an advisory committee, conducting developer focus groups, peer city research, to build upon citywide policy guidance set in Blueprint Denver and Compressive Plan 2040. Current incentives under exploration include: •

Density/Height Bonus o Projects taking advantage of these density and height bonuses for housing should be considered “by

right,” and not subject to rezoning requirements or additional public process

Expedited Review o Developers are looking for ease of process. “Give developers the benefit of the doubt” – don’t require

additional oversight

Parking Reductions/Waivers

Additional Financial Incentives*

Are there any other incentives that should be explored at this time? None mentioned

How might the incentives need to respond to the different neighborhood/market contexts? For example, market demand, existing entitlement, and transit access is very different for Downtown

What are some considerations that should be noted when exploring these incentives? o Take direction from Blueprint Denver o Predictability is critical o More incentive could help strengthen the 38th and Blake overlay o Five Points: What can be done to provide public funds to deal with issues of homelessness? Immediacy o o o o

needs. Would city allow for “shared facilities” (bathrooms, etc.) for smaller commercial uses? Only 30% of the land area in Denver can be used for multi-unit housing (the rest is single family only). Equity issue. Is there any work being done with brownfield sites? Coordination of this citywide initiative with neighborhood plans is very important.

III


Ver. 4-8-19

City and County of Denver Statutory Special Districts Rules and Regulations Title 31 Business Improvement Districts and General Improvement Districts

This document addresses the City and County of Denver’s rules and regulations only for Business Improvement Districts and General Improvement Districts created under C.R.S. Title 31. For information and policy statements related to local improvement and local maintenance districts created under the City charter, please refer to Denver Charter Sections 7.6.1 and 7.6.2.

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Ver. 4-8-19

Table of Contents CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER TITLE 31 BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AND GENERAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT OBJECTIVES ......................................................................................... 3 SPECIAL DISTRICT REVIEW COMMITTEE ..................................................................................... 3 STATE OF COLORADO REQUIREMENTS ......................................................................................... 3 CREATION PROCESS ............................................................................................................................. 4 FEE STRUCTURE............................................................................................................................................. 5 REPORTING REQUIREMENTS ........................................................................................................................ 6 Business Improvement District (BID) Budget Process: .............................................................................. 6 General Improvement District (GID) Budget Process: ............................................................................... 6

EXHIBITS .................................................................................................................................................. 7 Exhibit A - Proposed Special District Property Data Request Form .............................................................. 7 Exhibit B – Title 31 Business Improvement and General Improvement District Application Form ............. 8

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Ver. 4-8-19

CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER TITLE 31 BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AND GENERAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT OBJECTIVES The City adopts these regulations pursuant to Section 2.5.3(I) of the City’s Charter, Article VI of Chapter 2 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code, and Parts 6 and 12 of Article 25 of Title 31, Colorado Revised Statutes. These rules replace and supersede existing rules regarding Title 31 business improvement and general improvement districts. The Manager of Finance retains the authority to waive any regulation or fee, in whole or in part, contained herein. The City shall consider creation of districts under the provisions of C.R.S. Title 31 based upon the statutory provisions and the City’s objectives. The City’s objectives include fostering economic growth, improving and maintaining public assets, promoting the vitality of Denver neighborhoods, and improving the overall quality of life for Denver citizens 1. Districts will need agreements with the appropriate City department before providing any public services beyond infrastructure maintenance and marketing unless such services are otherwise authorized by a district’s creation ordinance. In addition to aligning with and supporting City objectives, Business Improvement Districts (“BIDs”) and General Improvement Districts (“GIDs”) within the City shall be established to serve unique purposes in conformance with the requirements set forth in state statute and should be created only when alternative structures are unable to accommodate the objectives of the proposed districts or when the alternative mechanisms are exceedingly burdensome. District organizers should be prepared to demonstrate why the creation of a special district is the optimal mechanism for meeting the identified objective(s) as part of the application process.

SPECIAL DISTRICT WORKING GROUP The special district working group shall review all applications requesting the creation of a district. The working group is made up of representatives from several City departments, including the Department of Finance, Department of Public Works, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Community Planning and Development, Department of Law, and Office of Economic Development. The working group will review district applications to ensure compliance with Denver’s Title 31 BID and GID Rules and Regulations and other City requirements or regulations.

STATE OF COLORADO REQUIREMENTS All districts must follow applicable state legal requirements including, but not limited to, audits, reporting, budget submission, debt issuance, election requirements, financial regulations, and other governance actions. State budget submission requirements can be found on the state of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs website. Audit submission requirements can be found on the Office of the State Auditor website.

1

Additional details on the City’s goals and objectives can be found on the City’s website http://www.denvergov.org/

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Ver. 4-8-19

CREATION PROCESS The City has established a process for the creation of Title 31 BIDs and GIDs to help streamline the district application process. The creation process includes determining a mutually agreed upon City Council calendar which aligns with future election dates or other significant milestones. 1. Letter of Intent – All applicants must submit a formal Letter of Intent (LOI) to the City providing highlevel commentary on the proposed district. The LOI must describe or include the following: a. Type of statutory district being proposed; b. Description of the proposed district structure, location, size, and primary objective or purpose of the district after creation; c. Overview of the district’s proposed sources and uses of funds; d. Whether the district will request debt authority, and if so, the approximate principal amount of debt anticipated; e. Identification of any overlapping or neighboring districts and the opportunity for consolidation or coordination with the existing districts; f. Identification of any services to be provided beyond infrastructure maintenance and marketing; g. Requested timeline for the District creation; h. Description of why creating the district is the preferred mechanism for meeting the identified objective(s) as compared to alternative entities or organizations; City staff will not provide comment on the feasibility of the district’s structure or the likelihood of approval until a formal LOI is received. Applicants can email LOIs to capitalplanning and programming@denvergov.org. A hard copy of the LOI should also be mailed to: Department of Finance Attention: CPP, 201 W. Colfax, 10th Floor Denver, CO 80202. 2. Response to Letter of Intent – Within 30 calendar days of receiving the LOI, the working group will provide a written response to the applicant. The response will provide high-level comments on the proposed district, along with specific questions or concerns the applicant should address in the formal application process. Applicants will be given the opportunity to meet with the working group after the written response is provided to discuss the LOI response if desired. 3. Creation Application Submission – Once all comments or questions related to the LOI have been addressed, the applicant must submit a draft ordinance for creation of the district. The working group shall review the ordinance and provide feedback within the agreed upon calendar milestones. City Council approval of the proposed district’s request for creation is not guaranteed. 4. Begin City Council Process – When the ordinance is substantially complete, the working group shall initiate the City Council process. The applicant and the working group will mutually establish a City Council schedule to approve the creation ordinance including submission of petitions and a public hearing.

4

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Ver. 4-8-19

FEE STRUCTURE Fees will be charged to BID and GID applicants in accordance with the level of City resources required to administer, monitor, and review the districts creation process and ongoing operations. No fee will be charged for the submission of the LOI. The required fees for BIDs and GIDs are described below and outlined in Table 1. No request to create a district shall proceed until the fees set forth herein are paid. Fees for districts are set by the Manager of Finance and are subject to change. Checks shall be made payable to the Manager of Finance and sent to: City and County of Denver Department of Finance – capital Planning and Programming Division, Department 1010, 201 W. Colfax Ave Denver, CO 80202. Table 1: Title 31 Business Improvement and General Improvement District Fees: Fee Type Application Fee Property Data Request Fee Late Budget Submission Fee Treasurer Collection Fee Costs incurred by City for legal, financial, or other external support 1

Fee Amount

Fee Frequency

$500

One Time

$551 $500 1% of Funds Collected Cost Incurred

Per Hour Per occurrence At Funds Disbursement Per occurrence

Time of Payment At time of creation application submission At time of data request As billed by City Deducted at time of fund disbursement to district As billed by City

Fee is a pass-through of Assessor's Office rates and subject to change.

Application Fee: The application fee shall be imposed on all applicants when the creation ordinance draft is submitted for either a BID or GID and shall be paid at the time of ordinance submission. Property Data Request Fee: The applicant may request property data information within the proposed District’s boundary to support the applicant’s petitioning effort. Applicants wishing to submit a formal data request should fill out the property data request form outlined in Exhibit A. Data requests should be directed to the Department of Finance Capital Planning and Programming Division. The applicant’s data request must provide a map of the proposed District boundary along with a description of the boundary and payment of the property request fee outlined in Table 1. The City shall provide real property data to the applicant within 30 days of receiving a completed request form and payment of the data request fee. If the request seeks personal property data, the City’s response will take longer. Budget Submission Late Fee: Districts that are unable to submit an annual budget and a completed annual operating plan (or work plan for GIDs) by the September 30th deadline shall incur a late budget submission fee. Treasurer Collection Fee: The City Treasurer shall withhold a one percent fee for property tax or fee collection on behalf of the District in accordance with state law.

5

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Ver. 4-8-19

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS Business Improvement District (BID) Budget Process: BIDs located within the City and County of Denver shall be required to file an annual operating plan and budget with the City Clerk by September 30th of each year. Duplicate copies shall be sent to the City’s Manager of Finance c/o Capital Planning and Programming Division by September 30th each year. The City prefers all BIDs to hold a public hearing for the proposed budget prior to the September 30th City submission, but requires a public hearing to be held no later than November 1st each year. C.R.S. Section 31-25-1211, as amended, outlines requirements of the annual operating plans and budgets for BIDs. The statute states that the operating plans and budgets shall specifically identify the services or improvements to be provided by the District, the taxes, fees, or assessments to be imposed by the District, the estimated principal amount of bonds to be issued by the District, and the City may require the District to supplement its annual operating plan and budget. After the City receives the District’s annual operating plan and budget, City staff will coordinate the City Council review and approval process. Representatives for each BID shall attend City Council committees and City Council meetings at the reasonable request of City Council or City staff. City Council will vote on all BID annual operating plans and budgets no later than December 5th each year. General Improvement District (GID) Budget Process: As required per statute and creation ordinances, GID Advisory Boards in the City shall submit an annual work plan and budget to the City Clerk by September 30th each year. Duplicate copies shall be sent to the City’s Manager of Finance c/o Capital Planning and Programming Division. The City prefers all GIDs to hold their public hearing for the proposed budget prior to the September 30th City submission each year. After the annual work plan and budget is received, City staff will coordinate the City Council review and approval process. Representatives from each GID shall attend City Council committees and City Council meetings as reasonably requested by City Council or City staff. City Council will vote on all GID annual work plans and budgets no later than December 5th each year.

6

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Ver. 4-8-19

EXHIBITS Exhibit A - Proposed Special District Property Data Request Form

Proposed Special District Property Data Request Form Proposed District Information Proposed District Name:

Date:

Submitter Name(s):

Neighborhood:

Submitter(s) Phone:

City Council District:

Proposed District Type Metropolitan District

Business Improvement District

General Improvement District

Property Data Request Market Value

Property Type

Exempt Amount

Total Assessed Value

Personal Property Value

Assessed Value of Improvements

Schedule Number

Owner Address

Assessed Value of Land

Site Address

Tax Rate

Assessed Value of Personal Property

Owner Name

Square Footage

Details Please provide a general description of the proposed district boundary:

Please provide an attached map of the proposed district boundary:

Signature of Submitter By signing this form, you confirm that the applicable data request fee has been paid and that in absence of a formal text description of the property boundary by a licensed land survey professional, the data provided by the City will be done based on the best interpretation of the map and/or description provided above. Submitter Signature

Date

Submitter Signature

Date

7

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Ver. 4-8-19

Exhibit B – Title 31 Business Improvement District and General Improvement District Application Form

Business Improvement District or General Improvement District Application Proposed District Information Proposed District Name:

Date:

Submitter Name(s):

Neighborhood:

Submitter(s) Phone:

City Council District:

District Information 1.

Include a copy of the petition and describe any variances from the petition.

Signature of Submitter By signing this form, you certify that you are the BID or GID applicant and, to the best of your knowledge, the information contained in this application is true. Submitter Signature

Date

Submitter Signature

Date

8

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CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER Department of Public Works – Infrastructure Planning & Programming, Dept. 509

DISTRICT CHARACTERISTICS (WITHIN THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER) BACKGROUND For many years the City and County of Denver has used its charter-mandated Local Improvement District (LID) process to construct neighborhood improvements: chiefly streets, sidewalks and alleys. In addition, the City and County of Denver has used its chartermandated Local Maintenance District (LMD) process to operate, maintain, repair, and replace a variety of streetscape improvements. Commercial areas such as Downtown Denver and Cherry Creek North have established Title 31 Business Improvement Districts (BID) to provide services unique to the commercial nature of these districts. The City has also approved the formation of Title 31 General Improvement Districts (GID) for the developers of the Southwest Commons commercial project and the Gateway Village project in Northeast Denver. Recently the City has approved a number of Metropolitan Districts (also called Special Districts or “Title 32” Districts) requested by developers.

LOCAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS Local Improvement Districts are authorized and prescribed by Sections 7.6.1-7.6.20 of the City and County of Denver Charter. These charter provisions appear to have been drawn primarily to allow the construction of improvements by petition of area property holders. For more limited purposes, the Manager of Public Works may unilaterally initiate an LID. Such districts have primarily been used to make improvements in already-developed areas. Important characteristics include: 1.

Legal authority: Denver City Charter.

2.

How initiated: By petition of property owners of at least 35 percent of area property, or for more limited purposes, by Manager of Public Works (Owners of 35 percent of property in a petition-initiated district may petition for remonstrance to stop improvements).

3.

Powers: To construct (but not to acquire) public improvements. No operational authority.

4.

Construction of improvements; All contracts to be awarded by mayor subject to City contracting procedures.

5.

Cost apportionment: Assessed in proportion to benefits received. Benefits must exceed costs.

6.

Cost recovery: By special assessment senior to all except property tax liens. Custom requires assessments be paid in full when property sold.

7.

Board of Directors: No governing board. Improvement construction supervised by Manager of Public Works. No ongoing authority of subsequent improvements or financings without creation of new district. Developer would have very little control. No new governmental authority created.

8.

Debt issuance: Inflexible requirement for public sale of debt. Term bond structure not to exceed 15 years required (no new debt can be issued unless a new district is created). Difficult, if not impossible, to refund debt.

9.

Dissolution: Extinguished with repayment of indebtedness.

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LOCAL MAINTENANCE DISTRICTS Local Maintenance Districts are authorized and prescribed by Sections 7.7.1-7.7.19 of the City and County of Denver Charter. These charter provisions appear to have been drawn primarily to allow the maintenance of improvements by petition of area property holders. For more limited purposes, the Manager of Public Works may unilaterally initiate an LMD. Such districts have primarily been used to maintain improvements in already-developed areas. Important characteristics include: 1.

Legal authority: Denver City Charter.

2.

How initiated: By petition of property owners of at least 35 percent of area property, or for more limited purposes, by Manager of Public Works (Owners of 50 percent of property in an initiated district may petition for remonstrance to stop the district).

3.

Powers: To maintain public improvements.

4.

Maintenance of improvements;

5.

Cost apportionment: Assessed in proportion to benefits received. Benefits must exceed costs.

6.

Cost recovery: By annual assessment to all benefitted property.

7.

Board of Directors: Five member board appointed by the Mayor. No new governmental authority created.

8.

Debt issuance: Not applicable

9.

Dissolution: Extinguished by ordinance.

BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS Business Improvement Districts are authorized by Sections 31-25-1201 through 31-25-1228 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. BID’s are initiated by petition of owners of at least 50% of the assessed valuation and at least 50% of the district’s land. BID’s have been used to construct and maintain public improvements in established commercial areas and to provide other business services. A municipality’s governing body sits as ex-officio board of directors for the district, but may appoint a Board of Directors . Characteristics of BID’s include: 1.

Legal authority: Colorado Revised Statutes

2.

How initiated: By petition of owners of at least 50% of the assessed valuation and at least 50% of the district’s land. Creating ordinance required. Powers may be circumscribed in creating ordinance or by separate agreement.

3.

Powers: To have the management, control, and supervision of all the business and affairs of the district and of the acquisition, construction, financing, installation, and operation of district improvements and the financing and operation of district services therein; Can acquire previously constructed improvements May levy ad valorem taxes and special assessments. Has operational authority.

4.

Construction: Must advertise and bid. No compunction to select lowest bid.

5.

Cost apportionment: Equal mill levy on all real property or special assessments.

6.

Cost recovery: Through levy of ad valorem tax or special assessments. Additional levy does not have to be paid off on sale of property.

7.

Board of Directors: Board of Directors approved by City Council. Must meet at least once a year as board to adopt budget, audit etc. New governmental authority and overlapping debt created.

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8.

Debt issuance: Vote required for issuance of general obligation ad valorem debt. No requirement for public sale of debt. No specific structuring requirements. Debt refundable.

9.

Dissolution: District has perpetual life. Can only be extinguished by ordinance and then only when debt retired.

GENERAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS General Improvement Districts (also called Municipal Public Improvement Districts) are authorized by Sections 31-25-601 through 31-25-633 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. GID’s are initiated by petition of a majority of registered electors of a city who own real property in the proposed district. While GID’s have been used to construct public improvements in established neighborhoods and to build and operate parking districts, they have primarily been used to build public infrastructure on raw land intended for commercial or residential development. A municipality’s governing body sits as ex-officio board of directors for the district. Characteristics of GID’s include: 1.

Legal authority: Colorado Revised Statutes

2.

How initiated: By petition of a majority of registered electors of a municipality owning real property in the proposed district. Creating ordinance required. Powers may be circumscribed in creating ordinance or by separate agreement.

3.

Powers: To acquire, install, construct and operate any public improvements except electric or gas systems. Can acquire previously constructed improvements. Can have condemnation power. May levy ad valorem taxes. Has operational authority.

4.

Construction: Must advertise and bid. No compunction to select lowest bid.

5.

Cost apportionment: Equal mill levy on all real property.

6.

Cost recovery: Through levy of ad valorem tax. Additional levy does not have to be paid off on sale of property. Also has power to levy fees, tolls and charges.

7.

Board of Directors: City Council is ex-officio board of directors. Must meet at least once a year as board to adopt budget, audit etc. Can appoint and pay staff (which could be City staff for Denver GIDs.) Can construct subsequent set of improvements and issue subsequent debt. Developer has limited control. New governmental authority and overlapping debt created.

8.

Debt issuance: Vote required for issuance of general obligation ad valorem debt. No requirement for public sale of debt. No specific structuring requirements. Maximum term of debt not to exceed 20 years. Debt refundable.

9.

Dissolution: District has perpetual life. Can only be extinguished by ordinance and then only when debt retired.

METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes authorizes the creation of special districts. The title specifically authorizes the creation of ambulance, water, sanitation, water and sanitation, fire protection, parks and recreation and metropolitan districts. Special districts are defined as “quasi-municipal corporations” and there has been a history of competition between special districts and cities in Colorado. We concern ourselves here with Metropolitan Districts (C.R.S. 32-1-101 through 32-1-1605). Metro Districts have substantially greater powers and autonomy than do LID’s or GID’s. Developers have often preferred to use Metropolitan Districts to construct public improvements in new developments because they October 2004

Page 3 of 4


have been able to exercise a greater degree of control. Metro Districts have an independent governing body (a board of directors). Salient characteristics include: 1.

Legal authority: Colorado Revised Statutes (Metro Districts are independent political subdivisions of the state).

2.

How initiated: Preparation of service plan. Resolution adopting plan by City Council, petition signed by at least 20% or 200 of taxpaying electors, public hearing, approval by district electors. Powers may theoretically be circumscribed by service plan. Enforceability of service plan not yet determined by courts.

3.

Powers: To provide two or more of the following services: fire protection, mosquito control, parks and recreation, safety protection, sanitation, street improvement, television relay and translation, transportation and water. To impose fees and charges, to issue general obligation bonds (with election) and revenue bonds; to operate and maintain improvements (no statutory debt limitation); to levy and collect ad valorem taxes. Has operational and maintenance authority.

4.

Construction: Can construct and acquire improvements. Developer control through board.

5.

Cost apportionment: Through levy of ad valorem taxes and/or rates, fees and charges. Additional levy does not have to paid off at time of sale.

6.

Board of Directors: Has own five person board of directors elected by qualified electors.

7.

Debt Issuance: Vote required for issuance of general obligation (ad valorem) debt. No requirement for public sale of debt. No specific structuring requirement. Maximum term of debt not to exceed 20 years. Refundable.

8.

Dissolution: District has perpetual life. Can only be extinguished by ordinance and then only when debt retired.

October 2004

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XV


AFFORDABLE HOUSING ZONING INCENTIVE

AFFORDABLE HOUSING ZONING INCENTIVE Denver Community Planning and Development (CPD) and the Office of Housing Stability (HOST) are looking for ways to encourage construction of affordable and mixed-income housing, particularly in transit-rich areas.

Why this project?

Why incentives?

As housing costs go up, more families in Denver are spending more of their budgets on where they live or finding themselves priced out of neighborhoods.

Currently, Colorado state law on rent control and related court decisions significantly limit Denver’s ability to address the need for affordable housing.

Citywide plans and policy documents reflect this need and call for new tools to create more housing opportunities.

Something we can do is create incentives through zoning. Increased density, reduced parking, reduced fees and other strategies can offset costs for developers and can be used as incentives to include affordable units in what may otherwise be a market rate development.

• • •

Comprehensive Plan 2040 calls for Denver to be an equitable, connected and healthy city. Blueprint Denver recommends addressing the community's strong desire for more affordable housing options. Housing an Inclusive Denver calls for the creation of housing to meet the growing housing needs.

What is affordable housing?

In 2018, Denver adopted a pilot program in the neighborhood around the 38th and Blake RTD light-rail station to direct growth around transit by allowing buildings to be taller in exchange for including more affordable units in those buildings. We’re looking at this program to see if it can work citywide.

Housing is considered affordable when no more than 30% of a person or family’s income covers the rent or mortgage. This leaves money to pay for other necessities like food, The city’s plans call for creating more housing opportunities healthcare, transportation, education, child care and savings. that more people can afford in areas near train stations and bus stops. We will also consider using potential incentives in Affordable housing can refer to properties that can only be regional and community centers and corridors where multirented or bought by people below a certain income family and mixed-use development is appropriate and where (dedicated or income-restricted affordable housing) or those people can live near jobs and amenities. priced so that more people are able to pay for them (attainable affordable housing). While both are critical to meet community needs, this project will focus on increasing the supply of income-restricted affordable housing for lowto moderately low-income households. Maintaining and growing dedicated affordable housing is essential housing stays affordable, especially in neighborhoods where market rents are rising rapidly and families are vulnerable to displacement.

Where will the incentive apply?

XVI


Project Process and Timeline The project is expected to last about 18 months starting in January of 2020. City staff will work with a volunteer advisory committee of community and industry representatives and the broader public to develop recommended changes to the Denver Zoning Code (DZC) and Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC). The project contains five key phases: 1.

Evaluating best practices and programs in other cities: We will research what cities similar to Denver are doing, analyze existing programs and establish criteria for evaluating an incentive system. 2. Evaluating potential alternatives: We will develop and evaluate different approaches to an incentive system, including testing financial feasibility and how well it produces the anticipated community benefit. 3. Confirming our strategy: We will develop a final incentive system based on the review and testing of the alternatives and report out on the final strategy. 4. Drafting: We will create an outline and draft code language of the proposed changes to the DZC and DRMC. 5. Legislative review: The Denver Planning Board will review, hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council, who will make the final decision. Community outreach will be integrated into each phase of this project.

How can I get involved? Every planning and implementation project is guided by community voices and the variety of perspectives and expertise you bring to each project. At each step, we will engage community members to address key questions, including identifying issues and selecting strategies to develop the incentive system. All content and opportunities to participate will be online.

XVII

Profile for James Lieven

How Can Business Improvement Districts Do Better?  

Business improvement districts are contentious quasi-governmental tools that some have speculated can improve economic growth and/or been th...

How Can Business Improvement Districts Do Better?  

Business improvement districts are contentious quasi-governmental tools that some have speculated can improve economic growth and/or been th...

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