Land Use Reports

Land Use Reports

Quarterly Reports

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A total of 15 requests were processed and approved during the 1st quarter of 2019. A noteworthy trend, no requests for review of local short-term rental regulations. This is notable because in the first quarter of 2018, there were nine requests for this issue. Environmental related issues came up in Sandwich, Massachusetts with proposed beachfront regulations. And in Birmingham, AL a storm water management ordinance was reviewed. Several requests were made by state REALTOR® associations for example, land bank legislation in Nevada, housing transfer agreements in New Jersey, solar systems and restrictive covenants in Delaware.

Key Highlights
In Somerville, MA, located northwest of Boston, a “Condominium Conversion” ordinance was introduced that would significantly alter the rules regarding condo conversions and specific tenant notifications, tenant or city ability to purchase, relocation costs, and obligations of a landlord to find comparable housing for elderly, disabled, or low/moderate income tenants. The analysis provided by Robinson & Cole focused on the provisions that would make condo conversions unreasonably difficult, if not infeasible (ii) vagueness of a Review Board’s authority to deny or impose conversion permits (iii) tenant notice and relocation requirements (iv) the unintended consequence of discouraging the production of rental housing and (v) a flat fee for relocation benefits.

Two projects of note
Land Installment Contracts in Youngstown, Ohio: What is a land installment contract? A company (vendor) retains title to property as security for buyer’s (vendee) obligation. A vendor is defined as “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, trust or any other group of individuals however organized making a sale of property by means of a land installment contract.” The Youngstown Columbiana Association of REALTORS® is working with the City to change the ordinance that has been termed “predatory.” Companies offer land installment contracts to people as an alternative to traditional financing (bank, credit union, mortgage company). Once the agreement is in place, the company retains all property rights while the buyer has to make all payments, property improvements, etc. with vague protections and high risk of default.

Right to Survive Ordinance in Denver, Colorado: Ballot measure would create an ordinance that would establish rights for all people in public spaces. While the initiative is intended to address homelessness it does not take into account the root causes of homelessness. The ballot measure would establish five “rights” to rest and shelter in public spaces for all people whether or not they are homeless or visiting the city. The analysis provided by Robinson & Cole focused on the challenges and applications of the proposed measure.

Key Highlights:

A total of 13 requests were processed and approved during the 4th quarter of 2018. Short-term rental type regulations continue to be a top issue reviewed under the LUI. Other issues that were consistent are zoning regulations that enable property inspections. For example, in Greensboro, NC, the city is looking to reduce blight by inspections whereas San Antonio is seeking additional authority for inspections of Senior Housing. Inclusionary Zoning measures were introduced in two cities New Orleans and Longmont, CO. A Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) proposal was reviewed from Rochester, MN.

Key Highlights

Inclusionary Zoning (IZ): Generally there are two approaches to inclusionary zoning laws: mandatory or voluntary. If IZ is required for new development there are certain specifications that a project must follow to provide affordable housing units although there may be a fee-in-lieu or off site development of the affordable units. If IZ is voluntary, developers are incentivized to build affordable units by offering a density bonus, flexibility in zoning restrictions (such as reduced parking or setback requirements), fee waivers, exemptions, favorable real estate tax treatment, favorable financing terms, and/or expedited permit review.

  • Louisiana: In May 2018, Governor Edwards vetoed SB 462 which would have preempted locals from adopting mandatory IZ measures. The Governor’s veto occurred because no municipality has adopted mandatory IZ but the Governor said “if local governments in LA do not pursue” IZ policies, he may sign similar preemption legislation in 2019. In essence encouraging locals to utilize this type of affordable housing development tool.
  • New Orleans: In an effort to avoid preemption, NOLA released a set of proposed mandatory IZ programs in Oct. 2018. The LUI analysis highlighted several factors. The mandatory nature of the proposals were not offset by any incentives to the affected developers which would likely have to pass the costs to buyers of market rate units. If market factors do not allow for an increase in costs, developers may be forced to reduce the amount of land costs, reduce quality of housing product, build elsewhere, or not build at all. The LUI analysis raised additional concerns and the need of the City to provide a thorough analysis of the economics of the local housing market. The analysis referenced an empirical study of affordable housing mandates in California, that concluded (i) “from an overall production standpoint, IZ has not been effective” (ii) “IZ translates into significant higher prices for market-rate homebuyers” and (iii) in addition to increasing prices, IZ leads to a decrease in new housing.”

Transit Oriented Development: The City of Rochester introduced a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) ordinance to link private land use and public transportation. This is in response to “community growth issues” such as encouraging land use patterns that support cost-effective transit, reduce need for high cost road improvements to alleviate traffic congestions, denser development to grow tax base and increase revenues, and development patterns that are energy efficient with reduced climate impact. The proposal consisted of transit corridors/walkable districts with sites of dense mixed use development. TOD ordinances include form-based code development regulations which move land code from designated uses to building form. The Rochester proposal would expand the uses in the TOD District, impose minimum and maximum setback requirements, and establish neighborhood protection standards. The proposed height bonus and mixed use development were recommended for the association’s support. However, the proposed City review process for larger lot development projects (10 acres or more) would have to undergo additional scrutiny so the LUI recommended areas to improve the ordinance for long-term success and implementation of the TOD ordinance.

Blighted Areas/Property Inspections: In Greensboro, NC the City introduced amendments to the housing code that would expand the City’s authority to inspect residential dwellings targeting “blighted areas.” The City’s proposal to designate areas of blight may cause unnecessary harm to properties that are not vacant or blighted which would negatively impact property values and may harm residents in close proximity to “blight” even if their property is maintained. The association was advised to resolve ambiguities of the “blighted areas” prior to adopting the law. The proposed amendments also indicated that the “top ten percent of properties with crime or disorder problems” obtain a permit from the City. Landlords with tenants associated with crime or disorder would be required to evict a tenant-which raises concerns under the federal Fair Housing Act. Finally, the proposal places policing and enforcing the law on rental property owners rather than the City because of the responsibility for conduct that takes place on rental properties. The LUI guided the association in requesting further consideration by the City before implementing the law.

For an in-depth review of these proposals see, Land Use Memo Database.

Key Highlights:

A total of ten requests were processed during the months of July through September.

  • Three jurisdictions proposed short-term rental regulations (State of Nevada; City of Salem, MA; Summit County, CO). The NV regulation came from the State Fire Marshal. Within the proposal, newer building codes were being considered. This included vague language that any short-term rental could be classified as a “lodging house.” The potential change in classification of short-term rentals would enable local governments to impose mandatory inspection or permit requirements.
  • NOTE: Keep an eye out for additional resources on short-term rentals that will be released before Annual: advocacy tips and a compilation of state laws on taxation and regulations.
  • Two jurisdictions proposed regulations regarding stormwater management (Greenville County, SC and City of Fort Worth, TX). In Fort Worth, the city is considering a floodplain policy that would change the city’s stormwater development review process. Flood hazard areas are identified through the city’s drainage criteria manual not Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mapped floodplains. Initial feedback suggests the areas identified will involve more uncertainty and less precision identifying flood risks than the approach used under FEMA’s NFIP program. This proposal is in the early stages and the Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS® has a seat on the Advisory Committee. Concerns discussed are: potential adverse impact on property values, application of development standards, potential increases to flood insurance premiums, seller disclosures, impact on city resources, confusion for lenders, etc. The City appears to be very open about the process and consistently communicating with community members and stakeholders.
  • In Colorado, ballot initiative #108 proposes to amend the Takings Clause of the Colorado Constitution to require that “just compensation” be paid when private property is “reduced in fair market value by government law or regulation.” Initiative #108 is in response to ballot initiative #97 which proposes a statutory change to the setback requirements for new oil and gas development from 500 feet to 2,500 feet. Ballot #97 is spearheaded by environmental groups whereas ballot #108 is backed by the CO Farm Bureau and the oil and gas industry. If ballot measure #108 were to pass, it would apply to all government laws and regulations without exception for laws or regulations enacted for the protection of public health. Further, ballot #108 would add six words to the CO Constitution raising several questions as to how it would be implemented. The CO Municipal League Executive Director said, if initiative #108 passes, “my advice to counties and municipalities, don’t do anything – no zoning, no ordinances.” This is a huge red flag for the potential cost to cities (i.e. taxpayers) to defend lawsuits if initiative #108 were to pass.

Key Highlights:

A total of fourteen requests were processed during the months of April through June. There were a mix of proposed ordinance issue areas: short-term rentals, vacant properties, comprehensive plans, to name a few.

  • Three jurisdictions proposed short-term rental regulations (Indian Harbour Beach, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; State of Massachusetts). In Massachusetts, a piece of legislation (H.4327) passed the House that included a liability insurance mandate for hosting platforms of short-term rentals. The hosting platform definition could include real estate brokerages, particularly if they offer online bookings for short-term rentals. Further, the legislation included a requirement that hosts make short-term rental records available to the MA Dept. of Revenue. In addition, the bill included significant restrictions: limiting the number of days hosts can rent units, a requirement for hosts to obtain a business license and only units owned by primary residents to offer short-term rentals. A stripped down version (S.2400) passed the Senate. A conference committee formed to work out the differences.
  • Two jurisdictions proposed vacant property type ordinances (Oakland, California and Cleveland Heights, Ohio). The City of Oakland proposed a vacant property tax on property that is not in active use for at least 50 days per year. The tax rates ranged from $3,000 to $6,000 depending on property type. The taxes collected would be deposited in a vacant property tax fund to provide services and programs to homeless people and support affordable housing. The other city, Cleveland Heights, proposed a measure that would require a cash bond of at least $15,000 when the property is in foreclosure. The purpose of the bond is to secure continued maintenance of the property during its vacancy. Robinson & Cole recommended that the REALTOR® Association discuss the ramifications of the bond requirement for the borrower and how financial institutions recover costs and/or fees from foreclosures so the bond requirement would place additional financial burdens on property owners.
  • Local governments in historical or unique areas use design standards to ensure consistency in the look of homes or buildings within the community. A city in Illinois (Oak Park) proposed design standards in response to resident complaints about newly constructed homes that are “out of character” with the existing homes. The proposal included specific compatibility standards for new roofs, dormers, upper-story additions, windows and siding. In general, there are pros and cons to design review. If carefully implemented in an area it can enhance property values. On the other hand, design standards can be costly and may exclude affordable housing development that cannot comply with the standards.


Key Highlights:

Twenty requests were processed during the first three months of 2018. Of the requests, 55 percent were related to rental regulations, primarily short-term/vacation rental regulations.

  • Short-term rental (STR) regulations include rental registries and/or specific zoning areas where STRs may be permitted or prohibited. Of significant note, two communities proposed registration fees that were unreasonably higher than other jurisdictions, $1000 in Orange Beach, Alabama and $904 in Walworth County, Wisconsin. Presumably, the high fees are an effort to deter property owners from renting units on a short-term basis. Typically these fees range from $100-$250. The Baldwin County Association of REALTORS® was able to reduce the $1000 fee to $500. Further, there are two pending ballot measures in California that would ban STRs. NAR’s Issues Mobilization is also involved with efforts to prevent the STR ban in Palm Springs and South Tahoe.
  • Affordable housing regulations were introduced in Telluride, Colorado. The average sales price for a townhouse/condo is over $1.1 million. Within the affordable housing package, a proposed housing mitigation fee for residential development would increase from 60 percent to 90 percent. While keeping the commercial mitigation rate at 40 percent. Housing mitigation rates are comparable to impact fees, the mitigation percentage determines the fee amount based off the new development project’s size/square footage. While the Telluride Association of REALTORS® recognize the need for affordable housing, the calculation of the mitigation fee is arbitrary, ultimately serving as a punitive measure to residential development. Not only could this proposal deter residential development in Telluride but drive it to other communities with significantly lower impact fees.
  • A Formula Business Ordinance (FBO) proposed by the City of Holmes Beach, Florida was reviewed for the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee. FBOs have come up in other communities as an effort to protect the unique character of a community and local small to medium business owners. FBOs generally seek to prohibit group or chain stores from dominating the market. The Holmes Beach proposal is notable for two reasons: (i) FBO was targeted for a specific commercial zone rather than a broad FBO applicable to all land use zones that have been proposed in other communities and (ii) an unintended consequence would have banned real estate companies with more than 11 offices in the world, such as Keller Williams. The Sarasota REALTORS® were able to amend the adopted ordinance to specifically exclude real estate franchises from the FBO, which is considered a huge win for the association.
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Corporate Ally Program FAQs

What is the Corporate Ally Program?

The Corporate Ally Program (CAP) was launched in 2015 as a campaign to raise corporate, soft dollar contributions to protect and promote our mutual business interests and strengthen our industry. The program provides funding for federal, state, and local advocacy campaigns and supports public policies that are important to real estate.

Who can invest in the Corporate Ally Program?

Any corporate entity may invest in the Corporate Ally Program.

Who typically invests in the Corporate Ally Program?

Organizations that invest in the Corporate Ally Program are typically REALTOR® industry partners such as Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), real estate technology vendors, real estate service businesses, NAR business affiliates, NAR vendors, NAR Institutes, Societies and Councils, REALTOR Benefits® Partners, real estate brokerages , title companies, state and local REALTOR® associations and state and local association business affiliates.

How do our Association’s investments in NAR’s soft dollar Political Advocacy Fund apply toward our 2019 NAR RPAC Fundraising Goals? What about our MLS Corporations’ annual investment to the Corporate Ally Program?

Beginning in 2019, all investments of $1,000 or more annually to BOTH the Political Advocacy Fund and the Corporate Ally Program will count toward your state’s overall fundraising receipts and Major Investor goals.

How does recognition for the Corporate Ally Program work? There are five investor recognition levels within the Corporate Ally Program:

  • Sterling R: $1,000 – $2,499 annually
  • Crystal R: $2,500 – $4,999 annually
  • Golden R: $5,000 – $9,999 annually
  • Platinum R: $10,000 – $24,999 annually
  • Platinum Diamond R: $25,000+ annually

Once you are recognized as a Corporate Ally Program investor, you will receive an email from NAR outlining your benefits at your Corporate Ally Program investor level, and your corporation/association will also receive a Corporate Ally Program lapel pin in the mail.

Are there sustaining investment rates for Corporate Ally Program investors like there are for RPAC Major Investor levels?

No, in order to sustain your Corporate Ally Program status annually you should invest at an amount within the range of the Corporate Ally Program investment level you wish to be recognized for each year.

Is the Corporate Ally Program restricted by campaign contribution limits?

No. Issue advocacy campaigns are not subject to federal or state spending limits.

How will my investment be used?

Regardless of how you invest in the Corporate Ally Program, your investment is put to work at all 3 levels to advocate and support issues, candidates or both.

If you choose to invest in the Political Advocacy Fund, 70% of your investment funds NAR’s Opportunity Race Program at the federal level and 30% is used back at the state and local levels to host meet and greets with Congressional candidates in their home districts. To make an investment in the Political Advocacy Fund, make your corporate check payable to “Political Advocacy Fund.”

For Investments to Issues, 50% of your investment will help provide funding for federal issues advocacy campaigns and 50% stays at home to support or defeat state and local REALTOR® Party issues. To make an investment to issues advocacy, make your corporate check payable to “NAR – Issues.”

Are contributions to the Corporate Ally Program tax deductible?

No. Contributions used for political purposes are not tax deductible on your federal income taxes.

What is the difference between soft and hard money?

Soft money is raised from corporations, associations, unions and individuals. Federal candidates cannot accept soft money. There are no limitations on the amount of soft money a corporation or individual can contribute, nor is there any limitation on the amount of soft money an organization can spend. Unlike RPAC, NAR may accept corporate contributions through the Political Advocacy Fund or the Corporate Ally Program, which can then be used to communicate with our membership about a candidate through opportunity races or used for issue advocacy. Hard money has many restrictions on how it is raised and spent and must be fully reported to the Federal Election Commission. Hard money is raised from individuals, who can contribute up to $2,400 directly to a federal candidate per election and $5,000 to a Political Action Committee, like RPAC, per year. RPAC may contribute $5,000 to a federal candidate per election. RPAC may only accept money from individuals.

How do I invest?

To make an investment in the Political Advocacy Fund, make your corporate check payable to “Political Advocacy Fund.”
To make an investment to issues advocacy, make your corporate check payable to “NAR – Issues.” All checks should be sent to:
430 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Where can I learn more about the Corporate Ally Program?

To learn more about the Corporate Ally Program, visit or contact Allyson Nelson, NAR’s Political Fundraising Manager, at or (202) 383-1156.

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Corporate Ally Program Talking Points

When speaking with affiliates/non-members

  • It has never been more important for organizations thriving in the real estate industry to invest in REALTOR® Party advocacy through the Corporate Ally Program (CAP).
  • The Corporate Ally Program launched in 2015 to raise corporate, soft dollar contributions to support REALTOR® Party advocacy campaigns from town halls, to state capitals, to Washington, D.C.
  • This corporate, soft dollar fundraising campaign provides a critical revenue source for the issue campaigns REALTORS® wage at all three levels of government to protect our mutual business interests.
  • How can your organization afford NOT to invest? When REALTORS and our industry partners work together, we protect and promote our mutual business interests and strengthen our communities.
  • On a national level, NAR will continue to be the leading advocate for efforts that enabled real estate professionals to benefit from the Section 199A 20 percent pass-through deduction. This allows REALTORS® to expand operations and provide improved services to consumers and potential homebuyers across the country, which also means more work for you.
  • NAR will continue to work with Congress to secure responsible, long-term reform to the National Flood Insurance Program, which is a hot topic in much of the nation.
  • NAR continues to prioritize proposals that provide liquidity and secure a deep and affordable market for creditworthy Americans, all while maintaining an explicit government guarantee.
  • With your support, CAP has the resources to speak for the real estate industry in an engaging, powerful and authentic way.
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Community Planning Grant Evaluation: Opportunity Zones

Self-Evaluation Form

Self-evaluation form must be submitted with request for reimbursement.

As part of our ongoing effort to monitor and improve the effectiveness of our grant program, we ask that you complete this evaluation and return it within 30 days. Please note that failure to return this form in a timely manner will prohibit your association from being awarded future grants.

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Community Planning Grant: Opportunity Zones

2019 Theme: Helping Your Community Make the Most of Opportunity Zones

The Opportunity Zone Community Planning Grant is designed to support association and commercial overlay board efforts to work with public officials and other community leaders exploring ways for your community to make the most of Qualified Opportunity Zones in their Advocacy Territorial Jurisdiction. Thirty grants will be awarded in 2019 for up to $5,000. Application deadline EXTENDED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 30, 2019. Awardees must seek reimbursement from NAR by December 15, 2019.

Questions? Contact Hugh Morris at 202-383-1278.

Grant Specifications & Requirements

Grant may be used to fund:

  • Content/speakers (including honorarium and travel)
  • Materials
  • Tours of Opportunity Zones in your Advocacy Territorial Jurisdiction
  • No more than $1,000 of the grant may be used for food and beverage
  • No more than $1,000 of the grant may be used for a venue

Grant may not be used to fund marketing of Opportunity Zones.

Grant Rules:

  • Events, efforts, and targeted Opportunity Zones must be completed within the Advocacy Territorial Jurisdiction of your association
  • Your effort should have at least two other partners, one of which may be an adjoining local association or commercial overlay board
  • Your effort should have at least one other financially contributing partner
  • Must hold activity and submit for reimbursement on or before December 15, 2019

Grant Reimbursement


Grants are paid on a reimbursement basis. To receive reimbursement, submit a PDF containing :

    1. A cover sheet listing each expense (vendor and amount) with total at the bottom. All expense documentation should be provided in the same order as listed on cover sheet
    2. Invoices, contracts signed by both parties, receipts
    3. The agenda of your event
    4.  Submission of a completed grant evaluation form

Reimbursements should be emailed to Hugh Morris.

To get the the conversation started within your association and among your partners consider the following:

  • What kind of development does the community need?
  • Is the proper zoning in place?
  • What will the public space look like?
  • Discussion of the public areas within the Opportunity Zone(s).
  • New zoning for the Opportunity Zone to encourage high density/mixed-use development.
  • Discussion of housing (affordable and otherwise) with the Opportunity Zone(s).
  • Discussion of displacement of existing residents/gentrification.
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President’s Circle

The President’s Circle is a group of REALTORS® who contribute directly to REALTOR®-friendly candidates at the federal level. Political Action Committees, like RPAC, can only legally contribute $10,000 per election cycle to a congressional candidate. The President’s Circle Program supports REALTOR® Champions—members of Congress who have made significant achievements in advancing the REALTOR® public policy agenda. The President’s Circle Program allows REALTORS® to contribute beyond RPAC dollars and increase the strength of the REALTOR® voice on Capitol Hill.



View the 2019 President’s Circle Roster. (Updated 10/15/2019)

 View the 2017-2018 Federal Election Summary.

Questions? Contact Avery Walker at 202-383-1268.

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State Key Contact Grant

The State Key Contact Grant will provide resources and consultant expertise to help states create, grow or revise a REALTOR® grasstops advocacy program much like the Federal Political Coordinator program.


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Top 10 Things Hill Staffers Hate to Hear

10: But I thought my appointment was with the Senator.
Never indicate that you are disappointed to be meeting with a staff person. On Capitol Hill, having a good relationship with staff can make or break your cause.

9: Here’s some reading material for you – our 300-page annual report.
When meeting with a member of Congress or staff person, try to limit your leave behind materials to one or two pages, and include details on where this information can be located on the Web, if appropriate.

8: How much of a campaign contribution did your boss get to vote against (or for) this bill?
Believe it or not, most staff have no idea who contributed to their boss’ campaigns. Not only is this question insulting, but even if it were accurate, the staff person isn’t likely to know.

7: I assume you know all about HR 1234.
With thousands of bills being introduced during each Congress, no staff person will be able to keep them all straight. Always provide information on the bill title, number, and general provisions.

6: No, I don’t have an appointment, but I promise I’ll only take 30 minutes of your time.
If you weren’t able to get an appointment, it’s OK to stop by, drop off some materials and let them know of your interest in the issue. It is not OK to camp out in their doorway and demand that someone talk to you.

5: No, I don’t really need anything specific.
If you don’t ask for something – a bill co-sponsorship, a congressional record statement, a meeting in the district etc.– staff will wonder why you came by. Updates on your issue are fine, so long as they are accompanied by a request.

4: We have 10 (or more) people in our group.
Congressional offices are tiny. If you have more than 5 people in your group, you’ll be standing out in the hallway. Plus, having so many people talking at once can dilute the impact of your message. Try to limit your group to no more than 5. If you do have a large group, assign a few people (specifically constituents) the responsibility of delivering the message.

3: What you’re telling me can’t be right. I heard Stephen Colbert on the Late Show say otherwise.
Congressional staff, or Members for that matter, won’t lie to you. Sometimes, they may see things differently than you do, but if they say a bill definitely is not going to be considered on the floor, or if there is no such legislation, you should believe them.

2: What do you mean we have to stand in the hall?
See number 4. A request to meet in the hallway is simply an indication of space limitations. Nothing else.

1: No, I don’t represent anyone from your district or committee interest. I just thought you’d be interested in what I have to say.
Members are elected to represent their constituents. Period. If you are not their constituent or you are not connected to their constituents, you are not very relevant to them. Your time is always best spent working with your own elected officials and turning them into advocates for your cause.

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