Hancock urges lawmakers to stay at table, resolve impasse over construction defects legislation

Author: Ernest Luning - April 6, 2017 - Updated: April 7, 2017

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock addresses a banquet on May 25, 2016, in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock addresses a banquet on May 25, 2016, in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Calling bipartisan legislation aimed at tackling construction defects issues “critically important,” a spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Thursday said the mayor is urging negotiators to stay at the table and push through to find a solution.

“Addressing construction defects is critically important and Denver remains hopeful that meaningful action will move forward this session,” Hancock’s deputy communications director, Jenna Espinoza, told The Colorado Statesman. “We thank all parties involved for staying at the table and continuing to work toward a comprehensive solution.”

“More attainable home ownership options for our residents may depend on successful resolution of this legislative impasse,” she added.

Sponsors of House Bill 1279 on Tuesday delayed for the second time a scheduled committee hearing on the legislation, which would make it more difficult for homeowners’ associations to file legal complaints over defective construction in condominium projects.

Builders say the threat of protracted, multi-million dollar class action lawsuits has made it prohibitively expensive to build condos in Colorado. Groups representing condominium owners and lawyers who represent them, however, say they’re unwilling to bargain away the legal rights of homeowners to protect what’s often their most valuable asset.

The bill was originally scheduled for a hearing before the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on March 29, but the pair of delays have moved that initial hearing to next Wednesday, April 12.

Hancock, a Democrat, is part of a bipartisan coalition of 40 metro-area mayors that has been calling on the General Assembly to swallow their differences and repair the situation.

The mayors say problems with current law have helped fuel a housing crisis across the state in recent years as builders have all but abandoned the condominium segment of the market, pushing housing out of reach for first-time homebuyers and others.

This is the fourth year the Legislature has attempted to tackle the issue, and leadership on both sides of the aisle in both chambers called it a top priority when the session launched in January.

Lawmakers say they’re closer to a legislative fix than ever before, but last week they appeared to have hit a wall on a provision in the bill that would extend the statute of limitations for suing developers by several months — a process known as “tolling” — while homeowners hold a required election to decide whether to file a complaint.

This week, negotiators on both sides said the sticking point remained unresolved, but the bill’s key drivers in the House — including Assistant House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, House Minority Whip Lori Saine, R-Dacono, and Assistant House Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial — said they were hitting the pause button while House members prepared for marathon sessions to consider the state budget.

Negotiators were “still working” toward a solution, Garnett said late Tuesday, while Wist said he remained confident that lawmakers and stakeholders will find common ground and get a bill to a vote of the full chamber.

The bill’s prime sponsors in the Senate are Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and state Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.