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IN FOCUS - Mar 15, 2024

All eyes are on Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs as we await the fate of HB 2570, high-stakes and highly controversial legislation aimed at addressing Arizona’s worsening shortage of affordable housing.

Whatever her decision - and she has until Monday to act - the bill’s unlikely path to the Governor’s desk is a fascinating demonstration of populist power at the State Capitol and how it is redrawing traditional partisan lines. Consider the unlikely legislative coalition backing HB 2570. Think, MAGA Sen. Wendy Rogers and progressive Rep. Analise Ortiz.

The so-called “Arizona Starter Homes Act” attempts to create more entry-level and affordable housing by overriding local zoning regulations that govern minimum home and lot sizes and other community amenities.

Arizona now ranks among the nation’s least affordable places to buy a home, and the issue has led free market conservatives and social justice advocates to blame a common culprit: local zoning and regulation. Free marketeers argue municipal overregulation discourages or outright prohibits affordable housing options, while SJAs say “racist” local zoning rules prevent working-and middle-class families - especially Arizonans of color - from finding a home of their own.

The legislation has met near universal opposition from mayors and councilmembers, who say HB 2570 essentially silences their voices - and those of local residents - when it comes to the housing built in their community. The League of Arizona Cities & Towns has fallen out of favor with the progressive Left and MAGA Right, but remains influential at the Capitol and is sure to have Governor Hobbs’ ear.

What the Governor will do with HB 2570 is anyone’s guess, but don’t be surprised by a veto accompanied by a stern letter calling municipal and legislative leaders back to the negotiating table. Because bipartisan pressure is only growing to do something big on home affordability.


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