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Gov. Hobbs vetoes bipartisan housing bill, could affect students

HB 2570 would have allowed developers to build modest-sized housing units instead of larger ones, making them more affordable

Senior Reporter-hobbs-vetoes-housing-bill

Gov. Katie Hobbs speaks to the press during a press conference at the University of Arizona campus on Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2024 in Tucson.

On Monday, Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bipartisan housing bill that would have made it easier to build affordable housing by changing existing regulations that force developers to build large units on large lots. 

HB 2570, also known as the "Arizona Starter Homes Act," would prohibit municipalities from requiring homeowner associations. This would have made housing units more affordable by eliminating HOA fees. Arizona's average monthly HOA payment is $448, the second highest in the country. 

Existing zoning regulations allow municipalities to set minimum lot sizes for single-family homes so they can require the houses to take up more space, according to Trevor Malzewski, a senior studying economics and mathematics and a worker for the Arizona Neighborhood Project, an organization registered in support of HB 2570.

"So if the house needs to occupy 80% of the lot, then you can't really build the same kind of small little starter homes that we're talking about," Malzewski said. "Zoning laws make it really hard to build certain types of homes, and in single-family homes in single-family areas, what you usually get is McMansions."

READ MORE: Students worry about on and off-campus housing availability in Tempe and Phoenix

The bill states that Arizona is going through a housing crisis that it attributes to "highly restrictive regulations imposed by municipalities," which its provisions attempt to correct. 

In her veto letter, Hobbs explained her decision to kill the legislation by citing public safety concerns of firefighters and Department of Defense concerns about potential increased density in residential areas and military installations. 

"We're talking about more houses, which technically is more density, (but) it's a gentle increase that would happen over time," Malzewski said. "I don't think that it would have been the safety kind of hazard that they claimed."

However, according to Hobbs' letter, the League of Cities and Towns and over 40 mayors and city council members wanted the legislation vetoed. Those against the bill cited concerns about land use planning and infrastructure impacts. 

Hobbs concluded her letter by stating that the "status quo is not acceptable" and voiced her support for other affordable housing measures in the legislature. Carson Carpenter, the vice president of College Republicans at ASU, said her veto is a sign that housing is not prioritized enough.

"There definitely has to be more affordable housing for students and around this area. I mean, the prices are just insane," Carpenter said.

Albert Plantillas, the ASU campus organizer at the Arizona Students' Association, said that Hobbs' veto is "a very personal affront on the student movement."

"She's actually making it harder for students and all Arizonans in general to have access to affordable housing," Plantillas said. "We think that that's a huge problem, especially when she was the one that promised that her administration would create more housing for us."

He said that the Arizona Students' Association supported HB 2570's amendment to zoning laws so that "more housing stock" would be available near campus.

"We also want to focus a lot on how students end up being dispersed further away from their communities because the only housing that is being built is luxury housing," Plantillas said. "At the moment, we're just very disappointed. This (veto) is only justifiable if she will pass something very similar or even more progressive."

Edited by Alysa Horton, Walker Smith and Grace Copperthite.

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