Occupancy Bill HF 184 Updates


We should know in the next couple of days whether the Iowa House will take up for debate HF 184, the occupancy bill.  House Republicans talked about HF 184 yesterday in their caucus meeting, a closed session where bills are explained and discussed.


Printed below is an article which appeared in the Des Moines Register today.


Joe Kelly

Rental property proposals worry city

Bills advancing in the Legislature would restrict ability to regulate housing in Des Moines. 

By Katherine Klingseis  [email protected] 

Des Moines elected leaders and city staff expressed opposition last week to two bills currently advancing in the Iowa Legislature that relate to a city’s regulation of rental properties.

The bills restrict the city’s ability to regulate rental housing based on occupancy and the familial or non-familial relationships of the occupants. Des Moines City Attorney Jeff Lester said these city regulations “are nothing new.” “This is something that has been in existence for decades that cities use all across the state, and frankly, all across the country to regulate these types of high-occupancy, density uses,” Lester said. “It’s been upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court. It has reasonable municipal restrictions.”

Des Moines Community Development Director Phillip Delafield said the matter “is most severely a neighborhood issue.”

“It’s quite frankly quite devastating to the neighborhoods and how neighborhoods will be impacted by this change,” he said.

The Des Moines City Council voted unanimously last week to write a letter in opposition to Senate Bill 3068 and House File 184.

If the bills become law, neighborhoods accustomed to single-family homes would see more multifamily rental properties “and all the problems that come with that,” Delafield said. “It would increase the density of neighborhoods. It would have increases in traffic, noise, parking.

“This goes contrary to many of the activities, many of the efforts that people have taken to reduce the density of some of their neighborhoods,” he said.

Reducing density is particularly important in Des Moines areas such as the Drake, River Bend and Sherman Hill neighborhoods, Delafield said. He said those are areas where “you have the investment made with the anticipation it would be single-family occupancy.”

The bills in the Legislature decrease a city’s ability to control multifamily housing units, meaning fraternal organizations, shelters, halfway houses and other group facilities could move into the neighborhoods, Delafield said.

Mayor Frank Cownie suggested sending the letter to show legislators Des Moines “strongly opposes” the bills. Councilman Chris Coleman also suggested the council authorize the mayor to speak on its behalf and to send copies of the city letter to neighborhood associations for input.

City Manager Richard Clark encouraged residents to contact their legislators if they are interested in the two bills.

“I do know that it’s very impactful if our citizens, our residents, step up and talk about these issues directly with their legislators,” Clark said.

Read the full article here: