Dems try to ease costs of apartment screenings

DENVER — Landlords who charge for rental screening applications would be restricted on just how much they can charge under a bill the Colorado House is to debate this week.

The measure, HB1127, which has no support from House Republicans so far, is aimed at making it less expensive for low-income people to get affordable housing, said its main sponsor, Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Denver.

"The fact of the matter is, this is pretty common-sense stuff," Jackson said. "Everybody knows that we’ve got a massive affordable housing problem. If you can’t even get into a piece of property because you’re paying so much for application screening fees, the bill limits the amount that a landlord can charge to screen a prospective tenant to their actual cost of those screenings."

Jackson said many people can’t afford to spend money on multiple screenings at different apartments they are considering renting, and then come up with first- and last-month’s rent along with a security deposit.

Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Denver, who also is sponsoring the bill with Jackson, said he’s hopeful changes to this year’s bill will win the approval from the Colorado Apartment Association with some changes, which haven’t been worked out yet.

The duo tried to get a similar bill through last year’s Legislature, clearing the Democratic-controlled House on a party-line vote only to see it killed in a committee in the Republican-dominated Senate.

While affordable housing advocacy groups are supporting the bill, organizations like the Rocky Mountain Home Association and the Colorado Association of Realtors oppose it.

"We could be able to get the Apartment Association to neutral, so there’s a real chance that we can lock down some common ground and have some pretty strong bipartisan support," Kennedy said.

The measure cleared the House Finance Committee last week on a partisan 7-6 vote.

In a related matter, a measure introduced by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, that would require landlords to provide tenants with a copy of their rental agreements and a receipt for rents paid, edged out of the Colorado Senate on Friday.

Although that measure, SB10, was on the Senate’s "consent calendar," meaning it won unanimous support in committee and is generally considered non-controversial, 10 Republicans voted against it Friday, including Sen. Randy Baumgardner, whose district includes Garfield County.

Sen. Ray Scott was absent for the day and did not vote because he was attending a GOP luncheon with the Mesa County Republican Party.

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Proposal for Denver’s first marijuana club takes early steps | Miami Herald

Owners of a Colorado business seeking to be among the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs made an initial public pitch to city officials on Friday, laying out their plans to prevent underage and otherwise illegal use at the site.

The business owners reiterated their plan to charge an entry fee to the space where customers can vape or eat marijuana products.

The space is already open but is only selling coffee and pre-packaged snacks for now.

City officials put specific focus on how the business will train employees to prevent anyone underage from entering, keep customers from distributing marijuana and responding if someone has over-consumed.

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No opponents of the business spoke during the two-hour hearing and a representative for the Denver neighborhood where the business is located asked the city for approval.

"I have visited the facility, I’ve had numerous conversations with the owners and we’re really pleased to have them in the community," said Aubrey Lavizzo, a member of the La Alma Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association.

One of the owners runs a marijuana store next to the coffee shop. The co-owner also is a manager at that store. Neighbors are familiar with them and have no complaints about their marijuana retail business, Lavizzo said.

Rita Tsalyuk, one of the Coffee Joint’s co-owners, said they understand a license requires scrutiny.

"We want to be a good face for the community and the industry," she said. "We’re trying to make it as perfect as it can be."

A Denver attorney who oversaw Friday’s hearing will make a recommendation to the city’s top licensing regulator, who has the final say on whether to grant the license.

It’s not clear how long that process will take, but the marijuana industry in Denver and elsewhere is watching closely.

Colorado law doesn’t address pot clubs but bans public use, including outdoors. In some cities, unregulated clubs are tolerated, while others operate secretly.

Other states with legal marijuana are at a standstill for developing rules governing places to consume pot products, including Alaska, where state regulators delayed discussion of rules for retail shops until spring.

Denver voters approved the clubs in a 2016 ballot measure, but it took nine months for the city to start accepting applications. Advocates have complained that state restrictions preventing pot use at any business with a liquor license and the city’s own rules unfairly limited potential locations for the clubs.

For instance, the city required pot clubs to be twice as far from schools and anywhere else children gather as liquor stores.

The businesses cannot sell marijuana products; customers would have to bring their own.

Denver has received two formal applications but city officials expect more. The second application, which was submitted this week, proposes a cannabis spa where customers can take yoga classes or receive massages with marijuana-infused lotions or oils.

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Colorado landlord Aimco appeals verdict in its fight with Airbnb – Denver Business Journal

A Denver-based national apartment operator is battling online short-term real estate rental company Airbnb again in California.

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