Zoning for ADUs in East Colfax area

East Colfax map

Councilwoman Sawyer and Councilman Herndon's offices are considering putting forward legislation to allow the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) throughout the East Colfax neighborhood.

An ADU is small, single apartment located at the back of a property separate from the main house, or built adjacent to a main house such as a basement unit with a separate entrance. ADU's are also commonly known as granny-flats, in-law units, casitas, carriage houses or guest houses. We have already had several successful single property rezonings to allow ADUs in the East Colfax neighborhood. By rezoning the entire neighborhood at once, it would save residents time and money, and create the ability to add additional housing stock in a neighborhood that needs it.

Current Zoning: Single Unit Dx (E-SU-Dx): a single unit district allowing suburban and urban houses with a minimum zone lot area of 6,000 square feet. 

Change to: Single Unit D1x (E-SU-D1x): a single unit district allowing suburban houses, urban houses and detached accessory dwelling units with a minimum zone lot area of 6,000 square feet. Setbacks and lot coverage standards accommodate front and side yards similar to E-SU-Dx and allow a detached accessory dwelling unit in the rear yard. 

  • To learn more about the rezoning process, check out the Rezoning Page
  • If Councilwoman Sawyer and Councilman Herndon move forward with the rezoning to allow ADUs in East Colfax, you can check for upcoming hearing dates, review the staff report, and read about other ongoing rezonings on the Proposed Rezonings Page

Important: The only change this rezoning would cause would be to allow ADUs to be built on properties zoned E-SU-DX. It would NOT change anything else about how much, how high, or what types of other buildings can be built, and it would not rezone any other property that has any other type of zoning. For example, it will NOT allow duplexes, row homes or townhomes (slot homes), or commercial development.

The facts

  • Code regulates height, overall size, setbacks, occupancy, and more.

  • ADU must look “compatible” with the main house. It must be smaller than the main house and fit in with the neighborhood.

  • Owner of property MUST live on the property, either in ADU or main house 

  • The proposed rezoning is sponsored by Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer and Councilman Chris Herndon, meaning there would be no cost to the neighborhood. (When individual owners want to rezone, it costs $1,000 each time.)

  • The ADU cannot be sold separately and the property can’t be divided.

  • The single family zoning does not change or allow different uses. The only change is that you can create an ADU. 


The benefits of ADUs

• Neighborhood Character: ADUs allow for preservation of existing neighborhood character while allowing a growing city to accommodate increasing density.

• Family Strength: ADUs provide existing residents the ability to house additional family members, allow older generations to “age in place” and keep families together, which can also save on senior living and/or childcare costs.

• Neighborhood Stability: Extra income from ADUs can help people stay in their homes despite rising housing costs. 

• Neighborhood Vitality: More people living in East Colfax increases the likelihood of stores, restaurants, and other neighborhood-serving retail locating in existing commercial areas. 


Common misconceptions about ADUs

Misconception: Zoning for ADUs changes single family zoning.
Fact: The single family zoning does not change. The only change is that you can create an ADU. 


Misconception: ADUs are difficult to access for first responders.
Fact: The Denver Fire Department has no concerns and any design issues are caught during the permitting process.


Misconception: ADUs can negatively affect property taxes.
Fact: Property taxes are calculated based on a variety of factors. The City Assessor’s office notes that rezoning for ADUs will likely not have an impact on property taxes.


Misconception: ADU zoning attracts developers and scrapes.
Fact: Developers and West Denver Renaissance Collaborative shared that ADU zoning is not significantly attractive over other neighborhood qualities; as more areas allow ADUs, any effect lessens.


Consistency with existing plans

Consistency with Blueprint Denver
Page 148: Low Residential Areas
Page 43 & 44: Increase housing and job diversity
Page 78: Land Use & Built Form: General, Recommendation 11
Page 84: Land Use & Built Form: Housing, Recommendations 4 & 5


Consistency with East Area Plan
Zoning and Regulations:
Page 39: Land Use and Built Form, Zoning and Regulations, Recommendation L6

Land Use:
Page 171: East Colfax, Land Use, Recommendation EC-L1
Page 52: Affordable Housing, Recommendation E1
Page 54: Affordable Housing, Recommendation E4

Page 172: East Colfax, Economy, Recommendation EC-E1
Page 175: East Colfax, Economy, Recommendation EC-E7