Text Amendments to the Zoning Code

Current Regulatory Projects

The projects listed below will lead to updates (also called "text amendments") to the Denver Zoning Code. The Denver Zoning Code is a living document that must be periodically amended to keep it current and relevant. Amendments are based on recommendations from adopted city plans, industry changes, process improvements, and similar needs to ensure that zoning outcomes match the code's intent.

All amendments include public feedback and must be adopted by City Council before taking effect.

Bringing Plans to Life

Community Planning and Development (CPD) collaborates with communities through citywide and neighborhood planning. These plans offer community-driven policy guidance for the city. Zoning code amendments help put those policies into effect.

Citywide PlansComprehensive Plan 2040 and Blueprint Denver are long-term plans that establish a vision for Denver to be inclusive, connected and healthy. The projects listed above will implement specific policy recommendations from these plans and ensure that the Denver Zoning Code reflects the city's adopted values.

Neighborhood and Area Plans: Neighborhood and area plans address citywide goals at the local level, to ensure they are applied in a way that makes sense for each neighborhood and that they meet individual neighborhood needs. Zoning code amendments help implement these recommendations for communities.

City Council Initiatives

Projects are listed here when a City Council member requests a text amendment, sometimes accompanied by a legislative rezoning. Council offices usually do preliminary work and outreach before making the official request and are the best sources for background information on the project.  

Sunnyside Conservation Overlays – Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval, District 1

An amendment to the Denver Zoning Code is proposed to establish two conservation overlays for the Sunnyside neighborhood. A conservation overlay is a regulatory mechanism that modifies design standards for buildings in a specified area to facilitate protection of the area’s existing character. This draft follows a multi-year overlay development process led by Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval (Council District 1) in close coordination with a neighborhood working group and Sunnyside residents. Councilwoman Sandoval has requested this text amendment to establish two conservation overlay zone districts and a map amendment to apply them as follows:

  • The Sunnyside Conservation Overlay (CO-7) would apply to portions of the neighborhood. The CO-7 overlay district would include design standards to ensure that development that occurs in Sunnyside is more visually compatible existing neighborhood design patterns.
  • The Sunnyside Conservation and Brick Overlay (CO-8) would apply to portions of the neighborhood. The CO-8 overlay district would include design standards to ensure that development that occurs in Sunnyside is more visually compatible existing neighborhood design patterns, and would include requirements that a minimum percentage of exterior walls on new buildings utilize brick materials. The CO-8 overlay is identical to the CO-7 overlay except that it contains this building material requirement not included in CO-7. 

Two overlays are needed to separately address areas of Sunnyside where brick building materials are consistently present today and areas where brick is a less common. While two separate overlays are proposed, it is important to note that the design standards in the two overlays were developed in a unified manner for the Sunnyside neighborhood as a whole. The areas designated on the map as CO-8 were determined to have a generally consistent pattern of brick buildings. Please also note that this text amendment includes minor, non-substantive edits to the existing CO-6 conservation overlay zone district to improve clarity.

Read the Public Review Draft(PDF, 3MB)

Comments on the public review draft may be submitted by November 20 to Brad Johnson, Senior City Planner (brad.johnson2@denvergov.org). 

Next steps:

After the review period ends for the Public Review Draft on November 20, 2022, staff and Council District 1 will assess feedback and determine potential revisions to the text amendment prior to proceeding to a Planning Board Public Hearing.


Cherry Creek East Design Overlays – Councilman Chris Hinds, District 10

Two overlays are proposed for the Cherry Creek East neighborhood, bounded by S. Steele Street, E. Cherry Creek North Drive, E. Alameda Avenue, S. Colorado Boulevard, and E. 1st Avenue.

The Cherry Creek East Commercial Mixed Use Design Overlay District (DO-9) seeks to enhance and promote a quality urban en­vironment with a vibrant sense of place. DO-9 would apply to Mixed Use (MX) and Residential Mixed Use (RX) zone districts with requirements that allow for wider sidewalks and more landscaping, additional open space, and new structured parking standards.

The Cherry Creek East Residential Design Overlay District (DO-10) seeks to promote pedestrian-friendly street frontages and enhance neighborhood safety. It includes standards applicable to the Row House (RH) zone district with requirements for an unenclosed porch, enhanced landscaping, and additional lighting.

The proposed overlays follow a multi-year process led by the Cherry Creek East Association with assistance from City Council District 10 and consultants, and input from area residents, businesses, and the development community. Councilman Hinds has also requested a rezoning (map amendment) to apply the proposed overlays to subject properties in the Cherry Creek East neighborhood. 

Read the Public Review Draft(PDF, 3MB)

Questions may be submitted to Senior City Planner Libby Kaiser (Libby.Kaiser@denvergov.org).

Next steps:

Denver City Council's Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on December 20, 2022. A hearing before the City Council is scheduled for February 6, 2023. 


Mobile Homes Unit Replacement and DO-8 Design Overlay Update Text Amendment – Council President Jamie Torres (District 3)

The Mobile Homes Unit Replacement and DO-8 Design Overlay Update Text Amendment combines two zoning updates. The first would update use limitations applicable to mobile home parks and the second would update the Active Centers and Corridors Design Overlay (DO-8) to allow consistent use of an existing upper-story setback alternative and ensure that street frontages are property designated to promote street level activity.

Read the Public Review Draft(PDF, 479KB)

Mobile Homes Unit Replacement

The Denver Zoning Code currently regulates mobile home parks as a nonconforming use, meaning they should be phased out over time and are not allowed to expand. Specifically, the zoning code prohibits the replacement of mobile home units built before 1976 with newer units certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, since allowing newer units would extend the lifespan of mobile home parks. However, this prohibition on newer units means that several older mobile homes have become unsafe and unlivable, displacing residents. In addition, when a mobile home park is listed for sale, potential buyers interested in continuing to operate the mobile home park have difficulty obtaining financing because of the zoning code’s restriction on unit replacement. This is placing pressure on Denver’s five existing mobile home parks, which are a source of unsubsidized, naturally occurring affordable housing for many households. 

To address this issue, Councilmember Jamie Torres is leading a text amendment to the zoning code in partnership with Councilmembers Candi CdeBaca and Jolon Clark. This proposed text amendment would allow older mobile homes in the city’s existing mobile home parks to be replaced with newer mobile homes. However, newer units would have to meet today’s building and fire code standards for life safety, which require homes be 10 feet apart, although this separation could be reduced with fire-resistive construction.

Comments or questions may be submitted to Libby Kaiser, Senior City Planner (Libby.Kaiser@denvergov.org).  

Next steps: 

A public review draft is available and public comment will be accepted through Friday, December 30, 2022. Please submit comment on this portion of the text amendment to Libby Kaiser, Senior City Planner (Libby.Kaiser@denvergov.org).

DO-8 Design Overlay Update

Current zoning rules in the Suburban and Urban Center contexts allow buildings that are 5 stories or 70 ft. tall and larger to reduce their upper story setback to 15 ft. when the building is placed right at the front of the lot. The existing DO-8 overlay requires buildings to be placed at a minimum of 2 ft. from the front of the lot. The DO-8 overlay update would allow the 15 ft. upper story setback reduction to apply to these buildings.

This amendment to the DO-8 overlay also authorizes the Zoning Administrator, rather than the applicant, to decide which street acts as a main street for a corner lot. This update will allow for building in accordance with adopted plan guidance.

Councilmembers Torres and Clark have also requested a rezoning (map amendment) to apply the DO-8 to the Santa Fe Blvd. Corridor between 3rd Ave. and 13th Ave.

Questions may be submitted to Senior City Planner Libbie Adams (Libbie.Adams@denvergov.org)

Next steps:

A public review draft is available and public comment will be accepted through Friday, December 30, 2022. Please submit comment on this portion of the text amendment to Senior City Planner Libbie Adams (Libbie.Adams@denvergov.org).


Modernizing Zoning Variances 

Learn about how the city is updating how it offers exceptions from zoning requirements. 

What are Zoning Exceptions?  

There are two ways to request an exception from zoning standards.   

  • An administrative adjustment can be approved by city staff and is limited to minor deviations from standards.  

  • A variance can only be granted by the Board of Adjustment, a citizen volunteer board appointed by the Denver City Council and Mayor.  All variance decisions are made only after a public hearing.   

These exceptions can only be approved if compliance with the code results in an “unnecessary hardship” or the exception is necessary to meet mandates under federal law. An “unnecessary hardship” includes presence of a disability, unique or unusual physical circumstances related to the lot or building, being a landmarked structure or being in a landmark district, operating a nonconforming use, or circumstances in which compliance could result in a design that is less compatible with the existing neighborhood. 

Why is this Project Necessary?  

In February 2022, the City Council approved changes to the membership of the Board of Adjustment as well as the minimum qualifications needed to be appointed. In the same way these key qualities of the Board of Adjustment required updating, the criteria and procedures for granting exceptions to zoning standards also need updates over time to keep up with changes and priorities in Denver’s land use goals and policies. A review of other cities’ practices and recent surveys of city staff, applicants, and external stakeholders confirm that the variance and administrative adjustment procedures should be revisited to better address Denver’s development challenges, affordable housing needs, and climate and sustainability goals. Specifically, this project will take a critical look at the thresholds for eligibility and approval criteria for both zoning exceptions.  

What Changes are Expected?  

City staff will draft text amendments to address some of the issues identified and confirmed in the research and will include the following:  

  • Eligibility and approval criteria updates to increase flexibility and the ability to grant exceptions when reasonable and in alignment with adopted city policies and objectives.   

  • Changes that add efficiency to the review and decision-making process and time frame.   

  • Solutions for specific problems that the available zoning exceptions do not currently address, such as preservation of existing buildings, environmental sustainability, and ability to weigh the overall reasonableness of an exception request.  

Proposed changes in the form of text amendments to the Denver Zoning Code will go through a formal legislative adoption process.  

Project Timeline 

This project has two outcomes: a charter amendment and zoning code text amendment. Denver’s Charter currently describes in detail the Board of Adjustment, its powers, and how zoning exceptions should be made. To make comprehensive changes to the Denver Zoning Code related to zoning exceptions, the Charter must be amended to allow the Denver City Council to modernize and revise zoning exceptions by ordinance. Charter amendments must be approved by City Council and then approved by Denver voters to go into effect. If the City Council votes to refer amendments to the Charter to the ballot, they would appear on the April 4, 2023 municipal election ballot.  If the Charter amendments are approved by Denver voters, the proposed text amendments to the Denver Zoning Code would proceed through the legislative adoption process, which is expected to begin in early 2023. 

Next Steps 

A public review draft will be available in January. 

Read the project background report(PDF, 428KB)

Code Maintenance Bundles

Just like infrastructure needs maintenance to stay in top condition, the Denver Zoning Code also needs regular maintenance to continue to respond to the needs of the city, while remaining modern and flexible.  Periodically, CPD proposes amendments to keep the code modern, clear and user-friendly. 

Recently Adopted Text Amendments

Text Amendment to Reestablish the Board of Adjustment with Updated Board Requirements and Procedures

City Councilmember Robin Kniech and City Councilmember Amanda Sandoval proposed a text amendment to reestablish the existing Board of Adjustment with updated requirements and procedures, including new professional qualifications and training requirements as well as adjustment to the authority and process for appointing board members.

  • Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee: Tuesday, January 18, 2022: Presentation(PDF, 1013KB)
  • City Council public hearing and adoption: Monday, February 22, 2022


Maximum Building Footprint Correction for Detached Accessory Dwelling Units in E-SU- Zone Districts

Community Planning and Development proposed a correction to two discrete numerical errors adopted with the 2021 Bundle of Denver Zoning Code Text Amendments on June 28, 2021. The error had resulted in a misstatement of the maximum building footprint for a detached accessory dwelling unit building form on some lot sizes in single-unit Urban Edge Neighborhood Context (E-) zone districts.


 2021 Bundle of Text Amendments  

This package included more than 160 proposed code changes to correct and clarify existing zoning rules or make small adjustments for consistency with adopted policy. The proposed changes included making off-street parking requirements more flexible for affordable housing, and updates to where detached accessory structures can stand on a lot, rules of measurement and more. 

Effective Date and Grace Period

The bundle of text amendments was adopted by City Council on June 28, 2021 and became effective on July 1, 2021. The following key dates determine how the update affects projects under review at the time of adoption.

  • Applicants who submitted zoning permit applications before June 30, 2021, may request to have their projects reviewed under the version of the zoning code effective on March 31, 2021. To make a request, contact your reviewer.
    • In such cases, the zoning permit must be approved by February 2, 2022.
    • If the zoning permit is not approved by February 2, 2022, the current rules would apply.
    • For those zoning permits approved by February 2, 2022, modifications to plans are allowed under the version of the zoning code effective on March 31, 2021 until December 30, 2022. For modifications made after December 30, 2022, current rules would apply.   

See previous versions of the Denver Zoning Code in the Legislative History section of this page. The current code is available at DenverGov.org/zoning.

Legislative History

All Adopted Denver Zoning Code Amendments

The Legislative History of Denver Zoning Code Text Amendments(PDF, 413KB) outlines zoning code changes adopted by City Council to date. The legislative history includes ordinance number, effective date, applicable Denver Zoning Code provisions, and keywords. Text amendments to the code follow the procedure set out in the Denver Zoning Code, Article 12, Section 12.4.11.

Strike-through Versions

The documents linked below show a marked-up version of the text amendment showing what changed.

 The Denver Zoning Code was originally published on June 25, 2010. The following are amendments to the original version of the code.  

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on April 7, 2014. The following amendments are to the updated 2014 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on July 6, 2015. The following amendments are to the updated 2015 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on May 5, 2017. The following amendments are to the updated 2017 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on May 24, 2018. The following amendments are to the updated 2018 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on July 1, 2021. The following amendments are to the updated 2021 version of the code.

Page Replacements

The Denver Zoning Code was originally published June 25, 2010. It was re-published in its entirety including the 2021 Text Amendment Bundle on July 1, 2021.

 

If you use assistive technology and would like to access the content in these documents, please contact planning@denvergov.org.