Ballot Measure 2F: Safe and Sound Denver

 

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver repeal Ordinance No. 2020-0888, regulating residential care facilities, such as elderly residents and people experiencing homelessness, by size rather than use; allowing community corrections facilities to locate in commercial and mixed-use zoning districts and removing the buffer from residential zones and schools for such facilities; and increasing the number of unrelated adults who can live together in a household from two to five with up to one licensed car per adult plus one additional vehicle per household?

Comments For and Against

Summary of Comments FOR

The Zoning Code governs every building in Denver and affects every neighborhood.

In February 2020, just before the COVID lockdown, the 180-page Group Living Zoning Code Amendment (GLA) was introduced.

As we struggled to keep our jobs, school our children, and manage our health, this massive amendment entered the legislative phase, grew to over 200 pages, and passed City Council in February 2021. Public record showed 88% opposition.

The GLA was marketed as “just a couple extra roommates.” It’s much more than that. DETAILS MATTER.

The GLA originated in the Mayor’s office and was sponsored by both at-large city councilpersons. The GLA committee was comprised of 40 service providers, who benefited from the ordinance, and 8 neighborhood representatives.

Here are some DETAILS:

• It allows a 150% increase to occupants in any single-family home

5 adults plus any minor children can occupy any single-family home. Our homes are not one-size-fits-all. Why isn’t this number proportional to the size of the home?

• It uses single-family homes to increase density

Density = more congestion, trash, and parking issues. Why are we compromising the well-being of our neighborhoods?

• It allows new 1–10-person 24/7 homeless shelters in all single-family neighborhoods with no buffer zones

Shelters were previously sited in industrial and urban centers. Why are we injecting instability into our neighborhoods?

• It increases halfway house locations by 492% to 19,000 acres throughout the city in mixed-use, multi-unit and commercial corridor zones, which are often adjacent to single-family homes

Denver’s recidivism (re-offense) rate is 41%, which means 4 in 10 will likely re-offend. Shouldn’t improvements be made to rehabilitation programs first?

• It removes historical 1,500 foot buffer zones between schools, residences and halfway houses

Where is the protection for Denver’s children?

• It allows all family members to live together, intergenerationally

The previous Zoning Code also allowed unlimited family members to live together, so a repeal would not affect families.

• It commercializes single-family neighborhoods as service providers and investors buy single-family housing

There are 134,000 single-family homes in Denver and the current owner-occupant-to-investor rate is 50/50.

• It redefines housing uses

These uses require services as a condition of residency: halfway houses and shelters;

These uses do not require services: transitional/supportive housing (e.g., transitioning from camp, shelter or halfway house), tiny homes and sanctioned camps.

All of these housing uses serve populations that need services to stabilize and be successful;

Why are services only required for some and not others?

There is no increased budget for neighborhood inspection, fire, and police resources. Currently, there are 24 inspectors for Denver’s 155 square miles.

The GLA Committee charter stated zoning does not and cannot affect housing affordability. This is a huge experiment with our neighborhoods and our lives and no guarantee of affordability.

Similar policies were implemented in Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco. Do we want that for Denver?

Denver neighbors should have a voice and a choice about housing in our neighborhoods. VOTE YES ON 2F!

Summary of Comments AGAINST

Teachers. Nurses. Grocery Workers. These are the neighbors who would be affected by the repeal of the group living measure, by taking away housing options from those who give the most to our communities. Voting NO on 2F will keep Denver housed.

The group living ordinance was passed after a three-year process and had the support of 11 Denver City Council Members, over 50 organizations, and over 1,000 residents whose input helped shape the final package. The group living ordinance was a necessary update to our city’s housing zoning. Denver was a 21st century city adhering to housing codes from the 1950’s. After six months as law, most people continue to live as they did before, but the few households who need to share housing to get through Denver’s housing crisis can now do so without fear of being forced to leave their home in the middle of the on-going pandemic - unless 2F passes.

If it passes, the 2F repeal would make Denver’s housing laws among the most restrictive in the state. Cities like Colorado Springs, Arvada, and Lakewood all allow people to have more than one roommate – and Denver should keep doing so too (by rejecting 2F).

If 2F passes, it will also take away tools Denver needs to better serve those experiencing homelessness: it could result in having to cut the number of beds at existing shelters, and it would limit the ability of those shelters to renovate or expand services such as health, mental health or housing counseling.

Here are the facts on some misleading claims:

• The group living ordinance does NOT allow any community corrections facilities serving people coming out of prison in single-family residential areas.

• Denver’s zoning code has always allowed buildings like churches to provide emergency indoor shelters for those experiencing homelessness, even in residential areas and even if 2F passes.

• Not all families will be protected if 2F passes, Denver will go back to very outdated family definitions and married couples with one or more adopted adult children would be against the law because they aren’t “blood relatives”

• The group living ordinance actually expanded public notice of new residential care facilities and put more limits on how many could be in any one area to avoid concentration.

• The group housing ordinance does NOT govern any aspect of outdoor spaces or sanctioned camps

Denver needs affordable housing options now. We need to vote no on 2F to protect housing options for hardworking Coloradans, many of whom have struggled to pay their bills due to the pandemic. We can’t build back better by taking away housing options. Vote NO on 2F.