Letter: City should codify solar access

Posted 7/12/22

City should codify solar access Demand for housing in Englewood has far surpassed supply, driving up costs of both home ownership and apartment rentals. But a strategy of pursuing density alone will …

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Letter: City should codify solar access

Posted

Demand for housing in Englewood has far surpassed supply, driving up costs of both home ownership and apartment rentals. But a strategy of pursuing density alone will not help first time buyers and will turn Englewood into a city of mostly renters with out-of-state landlords that don’t have a stake in the quality of Englewood life.

According to the National Association of Realtors, sales to first-time homebuyers fell from 33% a year ago to 27% in January 2022. Under more normal conditions, first-time homebuyers would make up about 40% of sales. In Englewood, among the populace and city council, there is not a political will to require developers to build multi-family, affordable housing. On my MU-R-3 block (Multi-tenant residential), developers scraped the two-bedroom bungalows, formerly valued at $220,000 when it was sold in 2017, to build four-bedroom luxury townhomes selling at $660,000 each. They grew the market by a total of four bedrooms. We need single-home friendly building codes specific to multi-tenant residential zones.

Englewood is pursuing a review of the zoning code via a project called CodeNext. One update is a pathway for “slot homes”: a multi-unit residential structure consisting of attached dwelling units arranged side-by-side and primarily perpendicular to the street. Allowing this type of build is great for proponents of density, but not so great for the single family home next door, especially to the south of the tall, standing slot home.

I proposed to Englewood City Council and city staff that we can allow “slot homes” in multi-residential zoning blocks, but require builders to perform a solar access analysis: a municipal law that limits the amount that new construction and additions can shade adjacent properties. This is not solely for solar panels — many residents have told me they want to keep their south facing windows and gardens. While this may seem restrictive to developers, remember that they can always seek a variance (ask permission of the south neighboring property). There are some MU-R blocks with apartments that are welcoming of slot homes, while there are blocks (like mine) of single family homes with reasonable market prices — why drive them out for a few more luxury bedrooms or slot-home apartments?

Building codes and municipal laws exist for all residents of Englewood, especially those who purchased their homes that came with access to the garden and southern window sunlight; municipal codes should not aid the out-of-state investor community.

Brenda Hubka

Englewood

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