City of Denver’s Group Living Code Amendment
For the past two years, the City & County of Denver has been working to update the current zoning codes for residential use. These codes oversee everything from conventional households to group homes, shelters and assisted living facilities. The current group living proposal is an attempt to increase flexibility and housing options for residents, streamline permitting processes and help those experiencing homelessness, or who have special needs, access critical services. It focuses on three key areas:
- Group living (how many individuals can live in a household)
- Congregate living (regulations re: rooming and boarding houses, dormitories, etc.)
- Residential care facilities (regulations re: shelters, sober living, halfway houses, etc.)
Because Denver is in desperate need of creative ways to provide additional housing opportunities for all residents today and potential Fair Housing issues should current policy go unchecked tomorrow, DMAR, through its member-led Government Affairs Committee- is generally in support of the City’s current proposal. However, we would still like to see additional changes made.
We have already successfully advocated for several changes to the proposal including:
- Reducing the number of unrelated individuals allowed to occupy a home.
- The inclusion of off-street parking requirements for homes of five or more unrelated individuals in certain zone districts.
- Eliminating commercial, rent by room scenarios in all single-unit, two-unit and row-house zone districts.
What other changes to the proposal does DMAR want made?
- We are advocating for the City to separate group/congregate living from the residential care discussion.
- Cognizant of the impact of certain types of care facilities have on residential property value, we’d like to see the City further restrict zone districts where they could be allowed.
- Despite significant budget challenges due to COVID-19, we continue to make sure the City allocates ample resources for compliance with current and future regulations.
- We are also advocating for City staff to gather additional input in underserved communities, which we view as essential to the success of this process.
What is the timeline moving forward?
On September 1st, Community Planning & Development (CPD) staff presented the current proposal to Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (LUTI). This was an informational presentation only. CPD staff continues to gather feedback and there is no set timeline on when the proposal will go back to committee and before the entirety of Council for a vote. We will continue to keep our members informed and updated as the process moves forward. With continued input from the community and our Association, we believe the City can bring forward a proposal that meets the needs of all Denver residents.
Want to learn more?
This is an important and complex issue that we’d encourage our members to research further. Below you’ll find a variety of helpful links that provide further detail on the proposal.
- Brief overview of proposed amendments
- Detailed overview of proposed amendments
- Frequently asked questions
- Map of existing residential care facilities
- Peer cities review of unrelated individuals allowed single-unit zoning
REALTOR® and DMAR Government Affairs Committee Chair Richie Averill’s take:
"Fears regarding these kind of policy changes are understandable but largely unfounded. Dozens of other cities in Colorado and across the country allow significantly more individuals to live in a household than is currently allowed in Denver. Here, like in those cities across the country, building and fire codes, housing regulations and noise/nuisance ordinances address concerns expressed by the community and industry, alike. As we help the City shape this policy, we will look to those cities for best practices and engage with other stakeholders in the industry locally to address equitable housing issues here in Denver, which is at the core of what we stand for as REALTORS®."
If you have questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to reach out to Peter Wall, DMAR’s Director of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.