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Other Regulations

In addition to zoning, other city ordinances, rules and regulations may affect land use or development. 

Design review is required through the establishment of design standards and guidelines through several zone districts. Learn more.

Subdivision, Land Use, Urban Design

The  Subdivision Rules and Regulations (PDF) and the  Guide to Subdivision Rules and Regulations (PDF) provide guidance on the process and requirements for dividing or separating a parcel of land into two or more parcels, lots, blocks, tracts, or sites.

General development plans (GDPs) establish a framework for large or phased projects in mixed-use zone districts. The GDP process provides a conceptual plan for integrating land uses with infrastructure. 

For more information, view General Development Plans.

Zoning ensures proper placement, height, bulk and use of a structure, but does not regulate aesthetics, which can be subjective. Some parts of Denver have additional design review through design standards and guidelines or zoning overlays; many were created by and are administered by a community group.

Projects in design review districts require additional review and approval.  View  Design Standards & Guidelines for more information.

Landmark Preservation was established through the Denver Landmark Preservation Ordinance in 1967 in order to help preserve Denver's history and character. 

Landmark Preservation staff perform the following services:

  • Assist with designation of historic districts and landmark structures
  • Conduct design review of exterior changes (including windows)
  • Help historic property owners with state income tax credits for preservation
  • Reviews demolition requests

For more information, see Landmark Preservation.

Denver has height restrictions in several areas to protect views from certain points in the city. To find out if your site is affected by these restrictions, review the  view plane ordinances.

Certain designated parkways and boulevards are regulated to preserve their unique character. Each parkway has its own right-of-way width, distance for setbacks of structures and regulations governing structures and signs. 

Learn more about designated parkways and setback requirements.


View  Equipment Standards for Bicycle Parking Areas (PDF) for rules and regulations establishing the dimensional and equipment standards for bicycle parking areas (bike racks).

View  Rules and Regulations for the Landscaping of Parking Areas (PDF) for rules governing the appearance of surface parking areas.

The Denver Zoning Code provides that up to 40 percent of provided parking stalls may be small (compact) spaces, so long as the owner/manager is able to limit such parking to employees or residents, assign such spaces appropriately, and enforce such restrictions. Compact spaces must be specifically requested in writing and including a detailed, scaled parking plan, a justification and a $100 fee.

For more information, view the small car stalls document (PDF).


A planned unit development (PUD) is a custom zone district used to address a unique site, or a unique proposed development, when standard zone districts are not applicable. The PUD/PBG Development (Site) Plan Rules and Regulations contain the standards and approval process applicable to development plans (includes PUD site plans; planned building groups, mixed-use development plans, and planned developments).

For more information view Development (Site) Plan Review Regulations (PDF).

The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires private developers to provide a certain number of affordable homes within developments of 30 or more homes.

For more information, view inclusionary housing and required forms.

Site Engineering staff performs comprehensive plan review for all new development and redevelopment within the City and County of Denver for transportation, drainage and sanitary sewer uses.

For more information on these requirements, view Site Engineering.

The Denver Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau reviews some types of zoning applications to ensure consistency with fire and building codes.

For more information about these reviews, view the Denver Fire website.

A regulating plan is a tool in the Denver Zoning Code (section 12.4.13) used to narrow the broad flexibility otherwise allowed in some zone districts, as site-specific development proceeds. Commonly found in form-based zoning codes, regulating plans are used to designate pedestrian-priority streets, and apply allowed building forms, form standards, and land uses to specific sites. Regulating plans can ensure plan-recommended features like building height transitions; building scale and separation; winter solar access for pedestrians; active storefronts and ground floor uses; high-quality design; charm and viability.

A regulating plan may be used when clear adopted plan recommendations cannot be fully achieved with an existing zone district, or when seeking greater predictability about future development than a zone district offers.  A regulating plan can bridge the gap between an adopted plan and future zoning of the area. It prescribes and regulates certain elements of a specific project, but does not alter the official zoning of the property. In most zone districts, a regulating plan is optional.

“Tiny houses” are not prohibited in Denver per se, but there are aspects of some tiny houses that do not align with city codes. Each tiny house is different, and there is no industry-standard definition of a tiny house.

In general, smaller dwelling units offer myriad benefits to individuals and the community at large including sustainability, affordable housing and accommodation for shifting demographics (like single-person households and downsizing retirees).

But like any other structures built in the city, a small dwelling must meet health and safety codes to ensure the safety and quality-of-life of all city residents — current and future.

Here’s an overview of a few of some common tiny-house features that may clash with local health and safety codes. Just as there is no standard definition of a tiny house, there is no one code or regulation that addresses all tiny house considerations. The mobile aspect of many tiny houses may be the biggest obstacle for those who wish to occupy these types of mobile homes in Denver.


Not hooking up to the municipal water system:

International Residential Code (building code)

  • R306.1: Every dwelling unit shall be provided with a water closet, lavatory and bathtub or shower. R306.2: Each dwelling unit shall be provided with a kitchen area and a sink.
  • R306.3: All plumbing fixtures shall be connected to a sanitary sewer or an approved private sewage disposal system.
  • R306.4 All plumbing fixtures shall be connected an approved water supply and shall be provided with hot and cold water.

Denver Housing Code: Water

  • Dwellings must be connected to the municipal water system or other approved system (sec 2-203). (For details contact Denver Environmental Health.)

Not hooking up to the municipal sewer system:

Denver Revised Municipal Code: Disposal of wastes and use of public sewers

  • The owner of any building situated within the city and abutting on any street or alley in which there is now located or may in the future be located a public sewer of the city, is hereby required, at his expense, to connect the building directly with the public sewer designated by the manager of public works.  Sec. 56-102., F.

Home on wheels:

Denver Zoning Code: Mobile homes

  • The Denver Zoning Code allows a residential property to park or store a trailer or RV on an improved surface (asphalt, for example … not grass) on the rear half of the lot if the trailer or RV is less than 22 feet long and is operable. The trailer or RV may not be lived in or otherwise occupied.

Size of home:

International Residential Code (building code): Minimum area

  • R304.1 Minimum area. Every dwelling unit shall have at least one habitable room that shall have not less than 120 square feet of gross floor area.
  • R304.2 Other rooms. Other habitable rooms (does not include bathrooms, closets, etc.) shall have a floor area of not less than 70 square feet. Exception: Kitchens.

Denver Housing Code: Minimum area

  • A minimum of 150 square feet of habitable space for the first occupant and 100 square feet for each additional occupant (sec 2-201, Ch. 27 regulations). Habitable space would not include the square footage used for bathrooms, closets, halls or storage areas (Sec 27-18 [9]). (For details contact Denver Environmental Health.)


  • Reclaimed or recycled gray water systems require a permit from the state. (For details contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.)

Updated 10/21/2015