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Bill to spur ‘starter home’ construction passes, amid concerns it strips too much control from cities

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Bill to spur ‘starter home’ construction passes, amid concerns it strips too much control from cities

Feb 22, 2024 | 6:35 pm ET
By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
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Bill to spur ‘starter home’ construction passes, amid concerns it strips too much control from cities
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Photo by Spencer Platt | Getty Images

A Republican measure dubbed the “Arizona Starter Home Act” passed out of the Arizona House of Representatives with bipartisan backing.

The proposal would bar cities and towns from forcing a homeowner into an HOA interfering with the “right to choose the features, amenities, structure, floor plan and interior and exterior design of a home.” And any city larger than 70,000 people would be prohibited from regulating the size of lots for single-family homes.

But stripping these abilities from cities gave heartburn to some Republican and Democratic members who felt that the bill could have “unintended consequences.” 

“Unfortunately, I think this one is a wide net that would have too many unintended consequences that would destroy the charm and character of many local neighborhoods,” Rep Matt Gress, R-Phoenix, said as the chamber voted on House Bill 2570. 

Gress voiced similar concerns during a House Commerce Committee meeting last month where some of his colleagues, as well as representatives of cities and towns, said its provisions give them heartburn. 

Former Republican lawmaker Steve Kaiser, who resigned his seat last summer, introduced a similar measure last legislative session, but the bill failed to gain support and ultimately died. 

During a press conference announcing the bill earlier this year, Senate President Warren Petersen said this year’s effort is different because more lawmakers understand the issue and some Republicans may have been opposed to provisions that are no longer a part of the bill. 

The bill went through several amendments so that the bill’s sponsor, Lake Havasu Republican Rep. Leo Biasiucci, could get bipartisan support. The version passed by the House notes that the prohibitions are to apply to future projects. 

“We’ve been trying to make some sort of housing available for five years down here,” Biasiucci said when explaining his vote Thursday. “We have listened to everybody on this.” 

Biasiucci’s colleagues did not all share that belief. 

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, said he wished that lawmakers would have reached out to constituents more about how the bill could impact the look and feel of their neighborhoods, adding that he agreed that the state’s affordable housing crisis needs to be addressed. 

“But we cannot do it heavy handed from above,” Kolodin said. 

Some Democratic members also voiced their opposition to the bill Thursday. 

“I know this goes against some of my own caucus,” Rep. Keith Seaman said. The Casa Grande Democrat said that smaller communities he represents could see their growth hampered by these kinds of restrictions. “Let’s not hinder the growth of Maricopa and other cities like that.”

But Rep. Quantá Crews, D-Phoenix, said she shared many of the concerns echoed by her colleagues and “creative solutions” are in dire need. 

“We can’t continue to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting things to change,” she said. 

The bill passed 33-26, with a mixture of Democrats and Republicans both in favor and opposed. It will head to the Senate for consideration.