Louisville, Lafayette councils compare notes on affordable housing, transportation issues

Anthony Hahn, Colorado Hometown Weekly

As cities throughout east Boulder County continue to see rapid growth — Superior’s population has grown 38 percent since 2000, while Erie’s has doubled — community leaders have been forced to grapple with changing trends.

With Lafayette and Louisville facing similar issues, leaders from both cities met Tuesday night to discuss shared interests that have emerged throughout eastern Boulder County as a result of the region’s unprecedented growth.

At the forefront of Tuesday night’s discussion was the lack of affordable housing throughout the region in the face of such booming populations.

In December, the Lafayette City Council approved an affordable-housing fee for residential developers that will feed a city fund to supplement future projects. The fee of 30 cents per square foot was placed in as a “mini strategy” to produce funding for affordable housing projects that would propel the city’s “grand strategy” forward.

As of last year, Lafayette had 413 affordable housing units, including 257 rental units operated by Boulder County Housing Authority. The majority of the Housing Authority units were located at Josephine Commons, where rents started at $500, according to representatives from the agency.

“We put in 30-cent-a-square-foot program,” said Lafayette City Administrator Gary Klaphake. “But just a project in Louisville and a project in Lafayette isn’t going to fix the larger problem. Anybody that knows about this real estate thing, knows you have to find the land and reserve it.”

In Louisville — for years named one of the best places to live by CNN and Money magazine, among others — median home prices passed $500,000 for the first time last fall.

Louisville saw a 31 percent home-price increase, from $397,000 in 2010 to $520,000 last fall, according to officials. Though the city has a slightly more affluent population than neighboring Lafayette, 55 percent of residents do not earn enough to buy a house at those prices.

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