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Concerning real estate law, private property rights, and related matters with a focus on Colorado

Did Colorado’s Legislature Advance or Roll Back Property Rights this Year?

Answer: a little of both

Colorado State Capitol Building


Colorado State Capitol Building

In recent years I have watched the Colorado legislature’s activities concerning property rights in Colorado. The 2024 legislative session ended May 8, 2024. Generally, the Democrat-controlled lawmaking body is not exactly friendly to private property owners. However, state leaders’ justified fixation on addressing high housing costs represents a rare circumstance in which their efforts may actually align with private property rights, at least as far as their efforts focus on the “supply” side of the housing crisis. After all, increasing the supply of housing means, at least in part, giving property owners and developers options to increase density beyond what current land use codes would allow. That means loosening provisions of land use codes that constrain supply, as previously explained here. Below are the most significant examples from the 2024 legislative session.

Accessory Dwelling Units.

HB 24-1152 significantly curtails the ability of most local governments to prohibit or regulate the construction of “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs), also known as “granny flats.” ADUs are typically apartment-sized dwellings built on larger lots which already contain a house. The idea is to turn the “empty space” surrounding a house in a subdivision into a new housing unit. Once this law goes into effect, owners of properties in a typical subdivision will have much more freedom to construct ADUs if they so desire, which is a win for private property rights.

Density Around Public Transit.

HB 24-1313 is aimed at zoning near rail and bus lines. The law essentially requires that most cities and towns change their land use code to allow high-density residential development within a half mile of rail lines, and a quarter mile of bus lines. This will give property owners and developers the ability to construct apartments and townhomes if they determine that such makes economic sense.

Occupancy Restrictions.

HB 24-1007 severely constrains the ability of local governments to limit the number of roommates than can live in a single housing unit. I previously blogged about this new law here. It is a win for private property rights.

Minimum Parking Requirements.


HB 24-1304 will prohibit local governments from imposing minimum parking requirements for multifamily developments and certain redevelopments with housing. It only applies in areas within a “transit service area” map that will be prepared by the Department of Local Affairs. For new developments to which the law applies, developers will have the freedom to decide how many parking spots they want to build. This law may have unintended consequences, such as too few parking spaces to the point where parking for a new apartment building spills over into the surrounding neighborhood, with significant negative impact. That happened with this student housing development in Fort Collins. The developer ended up building a multi-level parking structure after the problem became apparent.

It is worth pointing out that generally speaking, Colorado’s municipalities don’t look kindly on the above legislation-it restricts their freedom to develop their own land use regulations. Also, other new laws purportedly aimed at the high housing costs curtail the rights of property owners. I hope to make those the subject of a future posting.