Home>Housing crisis>Hobbs Veto Count Grows After Affordable Home Act Reversal
State Representatives Analise Ortiz and Oscar De Los Santos speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, Arizona.
State Representatives Analise Ortiz and Oscar De Los Santos speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Hobbs Veto Count Grows After Affordable Home Act Reversal

Becomes the first Governor to oppose affordable housing solutions

By Steve Kirwan, March 19, 2024 12:47 pm

In what amounted to a surprise reversal of expectations, Arizona’s Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs extended her veto run yesterday. She apparently sided with the left-leaning Arizona League of Cities and Towns, quashing the Arizona Starter Homes Act and the cost-saving protections it afforded homebuyers (see Arizona Globe stories here and here). The bill, sponsored by Republican Senate and House majority leaders Sonny Borrelli and Leo Biasiucci (both from District 30), prohibited local governments from mandating a host of costly requirements (homeowners associations (HOAs), mandated amenities such as playgrounds, hiking paths, and such, plus aesthetics (paint colors, roofing designs, lighting, more) that add thousands of dollars to the purchase price. It also relaxed lot-size minimums that would have allowed greater housing density.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker Ben Toma (R-27), Hobbs complained that the legislation would “put Arizonans at the center of a housing reform experiment with unclear outcomes.” She argued that “90%” of the people reaching out to her office opposed the plan. She recounted a letter from the DoD expressing somewhat nebulous concerns the increased housing density could pose a security risk. She also advised that the Professional Firefighters Association of Arizona had suggested that the bill could increase safety risks due to excessive housing density and increased traffic.

The union stated, “Increased density without corresponding improvements to roads, utilities, and emergency services could lead to traffic congestion during evacuations or delays in emergency response times, which, as you know, have been challenging for many of the state’s largest fire departments.”

Her letter continued, expressing support for “other reforms that are still moving through the process including proposals related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs, also known as casitas), missing middle housing options, commercial repurpose and reuse, and streamlining local approval processes.” She also recommended that cities, developers and other key players “engage productively” to address the housing crisis further.

“I was elected on a promise to bring thoughtful leadership to the Governor’s Office and always do the right thing for the people of this state, even when it’s hard,” Hobbs said in her letter. “Unfortunately, this expansive bill is a step too far and I know we can strike a better balance.”

The veto brought some unexpected bipartisan dissatisfaction, resulting in a written expression of displeasure from Rep. Analise Ortiz (D-24).

“I am equally frustrated that while other states are proactively addressing housing in an urgent and deliberate manner, Arizona continues to kick the can down the road,” Ortiz wrote. Her statement added that the “status quo is clearly not working and believing that things will change without policies like the Arizona Starter Homes Act is, at best, wishful thinking.” She continued, advising that the bill “was a historic bipartisan solution to our state’s housing crisis, and it would have created a pathway to the American dream of homeownership that too many Arizonans find themselves locked out of.”

Hobbs’ veto adds to her already record-breaking count. In her first year in office, she vetoed a whopping 143 bills, the most of any Arizona governor. It’s unclear whether the legislature will attempt to restructure the bill. In the meantime, Arizona’s housing crisis continues, with prices soaring. Some argue that it’s a combination of the continued exodus from California’s unsustainable political climate and the Biden Administration’s unrelenting inflationary pressures.


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