I am writing to alert you to a newly introduced bill that poses the most serious threat to our community’s property values and lifestyle that I have witnessed in the past 16 years as your state legislator.
The bill is HB2674 Municipal Zoning; By Right Housing. HB2674 is so extreme that it would allow anyone to construct eight one-family homes or 12 two-family homes per acre on almost any lot in any town, even in areas zoned for single-family homes. The bill further allows multi-family buildings up to 75 feet high in some areas. But that’s not all the bill does.
The bill would also:
*Preempt municipalities and charter cities in all housing matters, violate voter-approved general plans, the general plan statute and the Voter Protections Act.
*Eliminate the citizen review process for residential and multifamily developments.
*Provide residential developers special treatment and the right to ignore local requirements such as setbacks, maximum heights and requirements regarding building materials, exteriors, roofs, patios, garages, landscaping, common areas, open space, parking and architectural elements.
*Prohibit any lot coverage maximums and side setback requirements greater than five feet on single family lots.
*Prohibit planning commissions from reviewing housing projects, getting community input and providing recommendations to local councils.
*Override all locally adopted residential building codes. As a result, municipalities would be required to follow generic national building codes that do not apply to the locality’s needs, wants and geotechnical conditions.
*Disrupt state or municipal economic development plans by converting commercial zoned property for economic development for housing without regard for a town, city or county’s economic development plan.
Many of you are probably thinking that no bill so extreme could ever pass out of the legislature and be signed by the governor and I hope you are right. However, bills that preempt local control to the detriment of established community lifestyles are not without precedent. One that comes to mind was the recent Airbnb law that allows individual homeowners and companies to buy one-family homes in residential areas and operate them as hotels. At the time, I was your state senator and I was the only one to vote against that law. That law has destroyed the peace, serenity and character of many residential areas, some in Fountain Hills.
One of the ironies of HB2674 is that while it is being sold as a cure for Arizona’s lack of affordable housing, it does nothing to ensure that these new units will be affordable. Fountain Hills allowed high-density development near the Bashas’ Center and the units will be renting for over $2,000 a month. Clearly, density does not automatically equal affordability. In addition, nothing in HB2674 would stop investors from buying lots to construct high-density multi-family homes and buildings and converting them into short-term rental hotels. That is one of many unintended negative consequences a law like this could create.
My fear is that a hybrid coalition of Democrats eager to promote affordable housing at any cost and libertarian Republicans who oppose government regulation will coalesce to pass this bill. Rest assured that I totally oppose this measure and will use all of my influence and authority to stop it.
AUTHOR: John Kavanaugh