Boulder currently has an inclusionary zoning requirement that applies to new residential development. While new commercial development brings many benefits to the community, it does contribute to demand for housing, and should contribute to addressing the impact on affordability. There is a need for both an inclusive process and updated technical analysis to determine the level and structure of any fee. Council should also consider potential additional consequences, including higher commercial rents for local businesses. We could support a well-crafted linkage fee, however, linkage fees are one possible mechanism for addressing the impacts of development on housing affordability (and other community assets) and City Council shouldn’t just jump to one quick-fix solution, but instead take a more comprehensive approach.
We would also recommend coupling this to other changes. In particular, Boulder’s minimum parking requirements effectively function as a very large impact fee on new development, but unlike a housing linkage fee, which contributes to city goals, minimum parking requirements tend to drive up car use and congestion, and are in significant tension with city transportation and climate goals. We would recommend removing or reducing minimum parking requirements at the same time that the city imposes new linkage fees or assessments on development.