It was just over a year ago that Mayor Murphy led the charge for Metro Mayors by pushing through an ordinance that destroys the right of homeowners living in Lakewood to adequately pursue remedies for construction defects to their homes. Mayor Murphy argued that the right of HOAs, working on behalf of their homeowners, to hold builders responsible for their defective construction was hampering the development of condominiums in Lakewood and across Colorado. Mayor Murphy was adamant that his ordinance would spur condo development in Lakewood.
A year after Murphy was able to push through his "groundbreaking" ordinance, the Denver Business Journal has reported that Lakewood has not received even one application from a developer to build a condominium. While there has been talk by developers about building condos, no ground has been broken and no applications have been forthcoming.
Why is this? Because the worst kept secret about all of these ordinances is that they clearly violate home rule. In other words, the issue of how construction defects are addressed is an issue of statewide concern and is not unique to any particular municipality. As a result, state law is controlling on this matter and that law is Colorado’s Construction Defect Action Reform Act ("CDARA").
No developer wants to get involved in protracted litigation over whether the Lakewood ordinance, or any other ordinance for that matter, is controlling and will trump CDARA. As more and more municipalities jump on the bandwagon to destroy homeowner rights, they are proving that construction defects are an issue of statewide concern. What developer would want to get involved in litigation on home rule that they have no hope of winning? This is why Mayor Murphy’s ordinance hasn’t been the panacea that he so proudly proclaimed for condo construction.
Does CDARA need to be fixed? Yes. However, it must be fixed in a fair and balanced manner which does not destroy the rights of homeowners living in HOAs and is not unfair to developers. It’s time for the Metro Mayors Caucus and the Denver Chamber of Commerce to sit down with all of the stakeholders to discuss common sense approaches to fixing CDARA and spurring condominium construction. It is also time for the Metro Mayors to stop buying into the spin and to embrace and protect the rights of the citizens living in their communities.