(The Center Square) – Denver City Council passed an amendment to one of its zoning codes this week that applies its new definition of a “household” citywide.
The "bridge" amendment applies to approximately 20% of the city that is zoned under “Former Chapter 59,” the city’s old zoning regulations that were left intact when Denver adopted its form-based zoning code in 2010.
Former Chapter 59 properties are primarily industrial and commercial, but also includes one of Denver’s wealthiest neighborhoods—Cherry Creek North.
No comments were submitted to Denver City Council in favor of the bridge amendment. Another 17 comments were submitted in opposition.
Council president Stacy Gilmore, District 11, sponsored the amendment.
“I appreciate my colleagues’ unanimous support to create equity across our city by allowing up to five related or unrelated adults to live together citywide,” Gilmore said in a statement.
“We have seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 on our Denver residents in regard to housing stability and this is an important policy to create more opportunities for housing equity,” she added.
The council updated the definition of “household” in February through a legislative package known as the Group Living Amendment. It allows up to five unrelated adults to live together in a single-family home, whereas the previous ordinance limited it to two related individuals.
On the night the amendment was adopted, over 1,300 written comments were submitted to City Council. A slim majority favored the bill, though many of the speakers at the hearing opposed it.
Paige Burkeholder, who lives in southeast Denver, attended both hearings to voice opposition to the Group Living Amendment and the subsequent bridge amendment.
“Not only was the Group Living Amendment a massive and aggressive change to the Denver Zoning Code, the process was disingenuous and the information from the City was limited and controlled,” she told City Council.
In January, a Denver District Court judge ruled that the City had violated the state’s open records act when it withheld information concerning the formation of the Group Living Advisory Committee, a stakeholder group tasked with designing and implementing the legislative package.
Samuel Hargraves, who lives in north Denver, said the bridge amendment will now impose the Group Living Amendment’s “terrible consequences” on the remaining parts of Denver that City Council originally “spared.”
He specifically took issue with how the amendment would increase density in residential neighborhoods, many of which already have limited parking options.
“Any questions or concerns about parking were immediately ignored or dismissed as racist,” Hargraves said.
“Higher density and more people equals more cars. You can’t 'racist' your way out of this simple fact, and I have yet to hear a reasonable response to these valid concerns,” he continued.