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Hobbs won't say if she'll sign bipartisan Arizona housing bill that municipalities oppose

Gov. Katie Hobbs won’t say whether she will sign a bill designed to lower the barriers to entry for first-time homebuyers. 

Supporters said House Bill 2570, also called the Arizona Starter Homes Act, would lower the cost for new home buyers by stopping cities from requiring homeowners to form HOAs or purchase various items related to a home’s aesthetics.  

“I'm 30. College-educated. Worked full-time my entire adult life. No debt. I still can't afford to own a home in the state where I currently govern,” Rep. Analise Ortiz (D-Phoenix) wrote on social media. “HB 2570 is the only bill moving  that will help people like me achieve the American dream of homeownership.”

But Hobbs, also a Democrat, declined to say on Thursday whether she will sign the bill into law. 

“What I have been very clear about is that when it comes to housing, I want to see a package that is negotiated and that has bipartisan support and is a compromise with local jurisdictions,” Hobbs said.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers voted for the bill in both the Arizona House and Senate. But the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, an influential group that represents municipalities across the state, opposes it. 

Nick Ponder, a lobbyist with HighGround Inc. that represents the League, told lawmakers the legislation would strip cities of their ability to ensure developers don’t build unappealing projects opposed by existing residents. 

“Design is oftentimes ... the best thing we can do to turn these so-called NIMBYs into YIMBYs,” Ponder told lawmakers in January.

He also said the bill wouldn’t solve underlying problems leading to a shortage of starter homes, like land costs and an influx of investor-owned properties.

“The Legislature needs to understand that local governments are the most popular form of government in our state because they are the government closest to the people,” HighGround wrote on social media. “A city or town can adjust to the changing dynamics of our economy nimbly and without the need for inefficient top-down intervention from the state.” 

Hobbs appears sympathetic to that argument, though she denied that she is doing the organization’s bidding.

“I think we need to do some things to get housing built more quickly, and I think that our local elected officials are the closest to their constituents and best positioned to make those decisions,” Hobbs said. ”And that’s why I’ve said I want to see legislation that is negotiated as a compromise that everyone can agree on that can get us to a solution.

The Legislature has not yet officially sent the bill to Hobbs’ desk. Once that happens, she will have five days to either sign or veto the bill. If she does not act within that time frame, the Arizona Starter Homes Act will become law without her signature.  

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Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.