Arizona is currently facing a housing crisis. Part of this crisis is due to a lack of buildable land across our state in certain communities. HCM2002, a Memorial that I voted for, passed and encourages our federal government to sell underused federal lands to state and local governments for the purpose of residential builds.
The full text of the memorial is below:
To the United States Secretary of the Interior and the Congress of the United States of America:
Your memorialist respectfully represents:
Whereas, the federal government’s ownership of large amounts of land in the western United States hinders the ability of communities in these areas to expand; and
Whereas, the constrained supply of housing does not meet the current level of housing demand, which has led to an exorbitant increase in home prices over the past two years; and
Whereas, the federal government’s extensive land ownership in states such as Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming is a significant reason for the ongoing housing shortages in these areas; and
Whereas, increased housing prices, in conjunction with historic inflation, has made life less affordable for citizens in the western United States; and
Whereas, in the last session of Congress, legislation known as the Helping Open Underutilized Space to Ensure Shelter Act was introduced, which would have amended the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to allow the United States Secretary of the Interior to sell specific tracts of public lands at the request of state and local governments for them to build residential housing; and
Whereas, this prudent legislation would have required the Interior Secretary to establish a formal process for applicants to nominate underused federal lands for purchase while exempting from nomination federally protected lands such as national recreation areas, national monuments and congressionally designated wilderness; and
Whereas, under this legislation, monies from the sale of federal lands could have been used by the Interior Secretary to make capital improvements in units of the National Park System, to preserve or restore critical habitat and to develop and implement plans for wildfire prevention and hazardous fuels reduction; and
Whereas, in Nevada, where federal land ownership is approximately 80%, the federal government in recent years sold parcels of public land for residential development, and other states should have the same opportunity to alleviate their housing shortages by purchasing underused federal land tracts; and
Whereas, implementing a commonsense and responsible process to free underused federal lands for residential and other development will go a long way in making affordable housing more accessible for all and allowing western communities to grow and thrive.
Wherefore your memorialist, the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring, prays:
1. That the Congress of the United States enact the Helping Open Underutilized Space to Ensure Shelter Act, or similar legislation, to allow the United States Secretary of the Interior to sell federal parcels of land to state and local governments.
2. That, on passage of such legislation, the United States Secretary of the Interior immediately implement a process for applicants to nominate federal lands for purchase.
3. That the Secretary of State of the State of Arizona transmit copies of this Memorial to the United States Secretary of the Interior, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and each Member of Congress from the State of Arizona.
PASSED BY THE HOUSE FEBRUARY 21, 2023.
PASSED BY THE SENATE APRIL 5, 2023.
FILED IN THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE APRIL 6, 2023.