Proposed zoning changes for more flexible housing head to City Council

Published on December 22, 2020

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City Council’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted unanimously today to advance a proposal that would modernize rules governing the residential sections of the Denver Zoning Code. The full council will review the proposed zoning code amendments and hold a public hearing and vote, tentatively set for February 8, 2021.

Today’s vote comes after the committee spent several months discussing various aspects of the project with city planners, who have been working with community members and local experts for the last three years to update the Denver Zoning Code’s residential use rules. These rules deal with everything from conventional households to residential care. During the committee's review of the proposal, city staff presented various alternatives to the original proposed amendments, which the Denver Planning Board recommended for approval in August.

The table below summarizes key features of the proposal now moving forward to City Council:

Key issues and goals

Communities being helped

Proposed changes to be voted on by City Council

Household living:

Outdated definition of “household” limits common living arrangements and reduces affordability, especially for people who could live with roommates. By allowing more unrelated people to live together, as is already possible in most other cities, we can improve flexibility and affordability.

- Multigenerational families

- Two families sharing housing

- Adults sharing housing as roommates

- Couples who want/need to take a roommate

- Anyone who needs to share mortgage or rent costs

- Allow up to 5 unrelated adults to live together (currently only 2 are allowed in a house and 4 in a duplex or apartment).

- Continue to allow any number of related adults to live together. 

Residential care:

Current regulations perpetuate inequity, effectively keeping some populations from living in residential neighborhoods and near jobs, transit, family and other services they need. By allowing residential care and group homes in more places, we will eliminate many barriers that facilities addressing community needs like shelters and halfway houses currently face. People who need support will be able to access the services and care they need with dignity.

- People who are elderly and/or living with disabilities

- People who have experienced homelessness

- People in recovery

- People transitioning back into the community after incarceration

- Categorize facilities by size instead of the types of services they offer.

- Expand the land area available for community corrections from ~3,210 acres primarily in industrial areas and downtown today to ~19,777 acres throughout the city, primarily along commercial corridors, where there is better access to transit and jobs.

- Cap the number of smaller facilities serving up to 10 people in a single area to avoid overburdening neighborhoods.

Additionally, the proposal will improve predictability for providers and neighbors by standardizing permitting processes and regulations, such as spacing between facilities, and requiring community information meetings for larger residential care uses to notify and educate neighbors and foster positive relationships.

Next Steps and Public Comments

Instructions for how to participate in public hearings are available on the City Council website,

Written public comments will be accepted up to and during the final public hearing on February 8. To submit written comments for inclusion in the final staff report, email them to Comments must be received by the Thursday before the public hearing to be included in the staff report. Comments may also be emailed directly to City Council members at

For additional information on the project, visit   

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