Goodyear leaders shut down state bill relaxing city zoning codes


Editor's note: This article was amended Jan. 11, 2023 at 10:45 a.m. to reflect comments made by a city of Goodyear spokesperson.  

 Leaders at the city of Goodyear were apparently “instrumental” in stopping last year’s bipartisan House Bill 2674, aimed at increasing the state’s affordable housing supply by cutting red tape associated with building and permitting. 

Government relations manager Ginna Carico briefly mentioned the ill-fated bill during a Monday presentation about Goodyear’s 2023 legislative priorities.

“In this last year, we saw the infamous House Bill 2674, the by-rights zoning bill that all of you were instrumental in killing,” Carico said at the council meeting. 

The bill was introduced last February, sponsored by then-state Reps. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, and Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix.

During the council meeting, Carico revealed the city’s elected officials had reached out to the bill's Republican co-sponsor Kaiser to express their concerns. 

In its original form, the bill would have overridden most cities’ zoning requirements and permitting processes, replacing them with laxer measures. For instance, the bill’s proposed “by-right” zoning would allow property owners to continue with multifamily housing projects as long as they met certain density requirements and height thresholds outlined in the legislation.

The bill would have also allocated $89 million to the Arizona Housing Trust Fund, targeted toward helping homeless Arizonans find permanent housing. 

“The state right now is facing a housing crisis…and we need a statewide response to this crisis,” Kaiser said to media outlets at the time.

But according to cities like Goodyear, HB 2674 would have done little more than cut residents out of the city planning process, give preferential treatment to residential developers, and wouldn't ultimately lead to more affordable housing. 

Mayors across nine Arizona cities, including Goodyear, memorialized their opposition to the bill in a letter dated February 2022 addressed to state legislators. 

 "Our cities have worked very hard to build quality communities for all of our residents,” the leader read, adding that HB 2674 is “bad public policy” that will not solve the problem of affordable housing. 

“It will harm Arizona as a place to raise families without lowering the cost of housing for anyone.”

In an email response to the Independent’s article, city spokesperson Tammy Vo wrote that the bill would have been detrimental to Goodyear residents as it would have eliminated their ability to provide input on the zoning process. 

“This bill would’ve eliminated key aspects of the citizen review and resident involvement process by violating voter-approved general plans, and eliminating the citizen review process for residential and multifamily development,” Vo said. “Multifamily projects would have been…approved administratively with no public process whatsoever.”

Vo added that HB 2674 didn't require developers to build affordable housing. 

“The topic of affordable housing is the centerpiece in your article, but you didn’t mention that there’s nothing in this bill that would require housing created under these lax “by rights” guidelines to be affordable,” Vo said in her email.

In a win for cities like Goodyear, the bill’s by-rights zoning element proved too controversial for legislatures and HB 2674 morphed into a bipartisan study committee examining the state’s housing crisis.

The study committee has since heard from more than 70 presenters, including staff from the city of Goodyear. 

In her presentation to council, Carico stated over the last few years, there have been a number of bills out of the state legislature pushing for city permitting offices to meet what she called “arbitrary deadlines” to speed up permit reviews for projects that would beef up the state’s affordable housing supply. 

Carico also called out what she characterized as "anti-city narratives" being floated in the new housing committee.

Committee members have alleged that cities are "slowing down review timelines or creating barriers to different types of development," Carico said. "We have communicated to many legislators that this is not the case in Goodyear," she added. 

Last year, Kaiser estimated the state’s housing supply is about 270,000 units short of meeting Arizona’s growing demand. 

And the housing stock that is available is simply not within reach for many families in Goodyear and Valleywide.

In 2021, the Independent reported that housing costs in Goodyear have climbed even faster than the Valley average. In a city where housing was once cheap and plentiful, today it is nearly impossible for renters to find a unit for less than $1,000 a month. 

In 2010, the majority of housing stock in Goodyear was under $200,000. Today, the median sales price for homes in Goodyear is just under $500,000.  

The city asserts that affordable housing is a priority, and that leaders have been working to ensure homes are within reach for Goodyear residents of all income levels. 

In December, the city approved a resolution acknowledging the housing shortage and affirmed its commitment to developing solutions in Goodyear. 

The city also approved a grant application to the county to receive up to $4 million in federal ARPA funds to be applied toward the proposed Suncrest Vista senior housing development, which has been advertised as affordable. However, the city has said that the rents charged at Suncrest Vista are up to the developer, not the city. 

Madeline Ackley Salazar can be reached at mackley@iniusa.org or found on Twitter @Mkayackley.

Goodyear, city of Goodyear, affordable housing, Arizona State Legislature, housing, development