- Housing is the predominant
developed land use in the County. This dominance is even more
pronounced in many unincorporated areas because of the role they
play as bedroom communities for the Countys municipalities.
- Housing types are ordinarily
classified within a number of sectors or submarkets. These include
the single-family, multifamily, mobile homes, group quarters
and specialized housing
classifications. Within these broad categories are a variety
of sub-categories. Manufactured housing represents a growing
trend within the single-family market.
- As noted in Table 13.1,
the single-family submarket accounts for the majority of all
housing in the County. Due to combinations of zoning regulations,
infrastructure availability and market preferences, housing in
some large areas of the County (e.g. the Black Forest) is almost
exclusively limited to the single family sector.
- Table 13.1
- Summary of County-wide
and Unincorporated Housing Submarkets 1995
- Sources: County-wide figures
from Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments 1996 Housing Market
Analysis; unincorporated figures derived by the El Paso County
Planning Division using 1990 Census data as a base.
- While multifamily housing
accounts for approximately 27% of the County-wide housing stock,
only about 11.4% of unincorporated housing falls within this
category. Multifamily housing is largely confined to those areas
of the unincorporated County which have a full range of urban
services, and only then in those specific areas where it is allowed
through zoning. Multifamily occurs in the Security/Widefield
area, and to a more limited degree in Cimarron Hills and Tri-Lakes.
- Mobile Homes
- Estimates of the total
number of mobile homes in the County are somewhat inaccurate
due to data limitations and the often transitory nature of this
sector. Within the unincorporated County, mobile homes are predominantly
located in either mobile home parks or as single or small clusters
of dwelling units on rural or rural residential properties. In
most cases, County zoning does not allow mobile homes on small
lot residential properties. In some parts of the eastern County,
mobile homes constitute upwards of 50% of the total housing stock.
- Manufactured Housing
- Manufactured housing is
an affordable alternative to site-built homes. Manufactured homes
are built in a factory environment and in most cases, cost less
than similar site-built homes. Factory built housing is one of
the fastest growing segments of todays housing industry.
Manufactured housing can range in price from fairly low cost
to relatively expensive homes and are readily available in many
styles. Many factory built components and panels are also used
in the construction of site-built homes.
- Due to the recent growth
there may be discrepancies between the Countys and the
Industrys definitions for manufactured housing. For the
purpose of the Policy Plan, "manufactured housing"
refers to factory built homes that are built to UBC and HUD specifications,
attached to an engineered permanent foundation and may have exterior
features that can be found in site built homes.
- Group quarters and other
forms of specialized housing
constitute the balance of available housing options in the County.
Group quarters include military barracks, dormitories, hospitals
and detention facilities. Other than the military barracks associated
with Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy
dormitories, this type of housing has a limited occurrence outside
of the municipalities. The proportion of the total population
in group quarters continues to decline in comparison with total
population. Specialized housing
includes assisted care facilities for various populations with
special needs. The relative role of these other specialized
housing facilities in the unincorporated County is limited,
but growing in response to needs associated with changing demographics.
There are still other housing arrangements such as campgrounds
and motels or hotels, but these are considered to be more in
the commercial or recreational categories.
- Home Ownership
- The County-wide rate of
home ownership was 57.4% according to the 1990 Census. Ownership
rates in the unincorporated County are assumed to be substantially
higher due to the preponderance of single-family units. For example,
in 1990 owner-occupancy in the Black
- Forest and Woodmoor stood
at almost 90%, while the rate was over 75 % in Security/Widefield.
- Housing Trends
- Housing construction in
El Paso County generally follows the highs and lows of the economic
cycle in response to changes in population and employment. One
major long term trend has been a proportionally larger increase
in the number of units in comparison to population growth. The
cause of this has been a continuing decline in the average household
size. Over 20,000 new units have been added in the County over
the period from 1990 through 1996. Most of these have been single
family homes. Between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s
multifamily construction had been almost non-existent. This was
due to a combination of over-development in this sector during
the prior period, unfavorable changes in the tax structure and
lack of available capital for this purpose.
- Home prices, home ownership
and rental costs have also cycled up and down with general economic
conditions, specifically in the balance between supply and demand
in the various submarkets. The recent upward surge in prices
of new and existing homes has made home ownership less affordable
for the median wage earner. Due to a very tight market, rental
costs have also increased at a rate much greater than income
growth among the segment of the population in the rental market.
- Another trend in the housing
market has been a relative increase in the size of residences.
Where the average size of a new single family home in the 1970s
was about 1,500 square feet, this has escalated to over 2,000
square feet in the 1990s.
- Military Role
- The military population
plays a unique role in the overall County housing market. Due
to the limited availability of on-base housing the majority of
enlisted personnel live off of these installations. As military
assignments rarely exceed a duration of four years, this population
tends to be very transitory but their demographic profile remains
relatively constant and provides a steady supply of renters and
purchasers for the local housing market. Although there are plans
to add approximately 2,600 units of privately built and managed
on-base housing, these additional units should not have a measurable
effect on the local housing market.
- County Housing Programs
- Traditionally, the County
has played a limited role in the subsiding of housing. Currently,
the County neither operates low
income housing units nor does it directly subsidize the housing
costs for individuals on a continuing basis as provided by Section
8 of the Federal Housing and Community Development Act (rental
subsidies). However, for several years the County has participated
in a variety of bond programs intended to provide lower interest
mortgages to qualifying home buyers in selected target areas.
The County has also participated in programs in which the buyers
of apartment complexes are afforded lower mortgage rates in return
for maintaining the rent on a certain proportion of their units
at a prescribed level.
- Issue 13.1 accommodate
- As has been described
in the Background Section, in aggregate the unincorporated areas
of the County have been and will likely always be most conducive
to the traditional single family submarket. However, there is
evidence that demographic trends (particularly the aging of our
population and increase in single-parent households) will create
a demand for variations from the traditional model of a 3-bedroom,
2-bathroom, 2-car garage single-family detached house.
- Within the single family
submarket there has been a trend in recent years toward factory
built structures of various types including modular. Factory
built housing is an affordable alternative to site built homes,
although conformity with public zoning or private covenants sometimes
is an issue.
- Covenants are essentially
private deed restrictions placed upon a property, usually by
the original developer. Among other things, covenants often dictate
specific criteria related to housing types and styles. For example,
it is quite common for covenants to preclude mobile homes and
manufactured housing even though these uses may be allowed through
the applicable zoning. Because both the development and enforcement
of covenants are a civil matter (typically between the individual
lot owner and either a homeowners association or a developer),
county government has no authority in these matters.
- Factory built housing,
panels and components are rapidly changing and gaining a larger
share of the housing market. With the recent changes, the manufactured
housing industry has developed new housing standards and definitions
that may now be inconsistent with the Countys definitions
and zoning codes.
- Although there are several
areas of the unincorporated County which are potentially available
for multifamily housing, opportunities in many sub-areas are
limited. Reasons for this include lack of appropriate infrastructure,
limited market incentives over the past decade, dependence on
reliable transportation, and resistance by many residents of
the County to the increased densities associated with multi-family
- Mobile homes present a
particular housing challenge in the unincorporated County. While
demand has increased, essentially no new mobile home parks have
been developed in the County. Exceptions to this are several
smaller parks which have been developed in the eastern county.
The county has a mobile home subdivision zone district within
its regulations, but no projects of this type have been developed
- A common impediment to
the approval of new mobile home developments is that they are
often proposed for rural areas which do not have the full mix
of urban services necessary for their proper functioning. Conversely,
in more developed areas, these projects either are not economically
feasible or meet opposition from surrounding property owners.
- Because of their unique
and variable characteristics, many types of specialized
housing can also raise planning issues. Often these uses
are proposed within more traditional residential neighborhoods.
Some of the issues, such as service capacity, parking and traffic,
are largely physical in nature. Other issues are less tangible
but may be no less important. These include real and perceived
concerns with factors such as public safety and property values.
In some situations, the compatibility of specialized
housing proposals may not be a significant issue, however
its fit within the existing regulatory framework may present
- Goal 13.1 Encourage an adequate supply of housing types
to meet the needs of county residents.
- Policy 13.1.1
- Encourage a sufficient
supply and choice of housing at varied price and rent levels
through land development regulations.
- Policy 13.1.2
- Support the provision
of land use availability to meet the housing needs of county
- Policy 13.1.3
- Recognize the need for
housing alternatives that provide for the countys special
populations. (Special populations may include low income, elderly,
physically and mentally impaired).
- Policy 13.1.4
- Recognize the changes
occurring in the factory built housing industry and where appropriate,
consider modifications to the Countys definitions and zoning
code to accommodate these changes.
- ISSUE 13.2 meet Affordability
- The "affordable
housing" issue is an important one because housing costs
constitute the single largest budget item for most households.
Due to the substantial and widening variance of income among
different socioeconomic groups, acceptable housing needs to be
available across a wide price range in order to supply an affordable
alternative for the majority of the areas population.
- For a variety of reasons,
an overall decrease exists in the affordability of housing throughout
the 1990s as measured by the inability of median wage earners
to purchase a median-priced home or afford median rents charged
- It should be recognized
that the housing market as a segment of the overall market economy
is subject to cycles that influence housing prices and availability.
- Some of this affordability
crisis is a largely unavoidable by-product of a boom and bust
supply and demand market cycle and can be expected to compensate
for itself as the market adapts. Other aspects, such as the low
pay scales associated with many unskilled service-sector jobs,
represent obstacles which cannot easily be addressed at the local
government level. However, factors within the public domain do
influence housing affordability and these can be addressed.
- Communities benefit from
having a wide range of affordable
housing options which allow people to live in close proximity
to where they work. Affordability problems arise because households
do not have enough income to pay for available housing, or because
there is an insufficient supply of housing, which tends to raise
prices due to the law of supply and demand. When either or both
of these conditions apply, local workers are dislocated and/or
employees are imported from across the region. Several related
problems may result including the following:
- 1. Increased traffic congestion and
- 2. Poor air quality due to increased
- 3. Loss of long term residents
- 4. Loss of sense of identity
- 5. Employment related problems, e.g.,
- Goal 13.2 Encourage
a diversity of affordable
housing types throughout the unincorporated county to meet
the housing need for the people who work in our communities.
- Policy 13.2.1
- Encourage incentives,
such as flexible development standards through logical modifications
to zoning, subdivision regulations, building codes, water/sewer
fees, etc., as market incentives to provide housing that fall
within the housing affordability index of 100.0 to balance the
discrepancy between the cost for affordable
housing and average annual wage.
- Policy 13.2.2
- Encourage a Simple Needs
Assessment as indicated in Table 13.3 of the Technical Appendix,
for housing in sub-regions of the County as part of developing
or updating the Countys Small Area Plans.
- Policy 13.2.3
- Encourage the consideration
for affordable housing
when reviewing proposals for major employment centers.
- Policy 13.2.4
- Consider ways to encourage
affordable housing such
as community land trusts or other methods referenced in Table
- Policy 13.2.5
- Educate the general population
as to the importance of maintaining a housing balance within
the sub-regions of the county.
- Policy 13.2.6
- Consider higher densities
for affordable housing
when located in association with available services.
- Policy 13.2.7
- Periodically review the
Land Development Code and other pertinent regulations to ensure
that they adequately address changing technical and market conditions.
- Policy 13.2.7
- Encourage the issuance
by the County of tax-exempt bonds to provide lower interest rates
for first-time homebuyers or developers of multifamily projects.
- ISSUE 13.3 consider
Low Cost Housing
- Although the City of Colorado
Springs, through its Housing Authority, has established programs
to address housing problems faced by low-income families, low-income
elderly, and the handicapped, the County has in general not been
involved in this area of housing assistance.
- One program the County
has participated in is the Mortgage Revenue Bond Program. This
Program has issued tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds since 1979
to provide low to middle income residents with first mortgages
for the purchase of a home. The interest rate differential provided
by these bond programs results in a lower monthly payment and
provides those with lower income the opportunity to qualify for
a loan. However, in times of lower interest rates, the ability
to achieve a substantial interest rate reduction is unrealizable
and the effectiveness of the program lessened.
- Goal 13.3 Encourage the provision of low cost housing
without direct County involvement whenever possible.
- Policy 13.3.1
- Consider market driven
approaches and land use plans that provide for low
- Policy 13.3.2
- Support the low cost housing
efforts of private and non-profit organizations.
- Policy 13.3.3
- Support government low
cost housing assistance programs as appropriate.
- ISSUE 13.4 consider
- A critical two-way relationship
exists between housing and transportation systems. As more residents,
who are willing to commute long distances in order to enjoy more
personal space, disperse to more remote locations within the
unincorporated county, travel demands increase and an additional
burden is placed on the network of regional roads. However, the
ability to commute long distances relies on the ability of State
and local governments to provide and maintain the network of
roads necessary to support this practice.
- Reasonable dispersion
of housing choices throughout the County may contribute to more
efficiency in the job-housing mix. When a variety of housing
type and affordability choices are available in proximity to
employment and commercial centers there can be an effective reduction
demand on transportation infrastructure.
- Goal 13.4 Encourage
a positive relationship between housing development, land use
planning and transportation systems.
- Policy 13.4.1
- Consider the impact of
housing density on the transportation system.
- Policy 13.4.2
- Consider the cost of upgrading
and maintaining roadways for dispersed large lot subdivisions.
- Policy 13.4.3
- Encourage incorporating
accommodations for alternative transportation modes such as pedestrian/bike
routes, express bus service and small park and ride lots when
- See Tables 13.2 referencing
Alternatives" and 13.3 "Simple Needs Assessment"
- in the Technical Appendix,
page ___ .
- Housing Market Analysis
for the Colorado Springs MSA;
Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments
- El Paso County Department
of Economic Development and Public Finance.