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Group Living Rules Update

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How should Denver define "household?"

At a workshop on October 8, 2018, the Group Living Advisory Committee addressed the Denver Zoning Code’s definition of “household.” The committee recommended including foster and guardian relationships to the list of permitted residents, and increasing the number of unrelated adults allowed to live in a single-unit dwelling beyond the current limit of two. The committee has identified that limitation — which is lower than most peer and regional cities — as an obstacle to residential options like cooperative housing and intergenerational living. The project team and committee plan to continue this discussion at an October 30 meeting. Between now and April, the committee is expected to consider other updates to the zoning code in light of the problem statement (below), ultimately leading to a final set of recommended zoning code changes in spring 2019.

Denver Zoning Code section 11.12.2.1:  Definition of Household Living Use Category

A. Definition of Category

1. Household Living is defined as residential occupancy of a “dwelling unit” by a single “household.” Tenancy is arranged on a month-to-month or longer basis.

B. Definitions of Related Terms

1. Dwelling Unit -- One or more habitable rooms constituting a unit for permanent occupancy, having but one kitchen together with facilities for sleeping, bathing, and which unit occupies a structure or a portion of a structure.

2. Household -- A dwelling unit occupied by persons in any one of the following four categories living as a single non-profit housekeeping unit, including any permitted domestic employees:

a. A single person plus any number of persons bearing to each other the relationship of: parent, grandparent, child, sibling, step-child, step-sibling, step-parent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sibling-in-law, child-in-law, parent-sibling (uncle or aunt), or nibling (nephew or niece); or

b. Two persons living together as spouses, domestic partners, or civil union partners, plus any number of persons bearing to either the relationship of: parent, grandparent, child, sibling, step-child, step-sibling, step-parent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sibling-in-law, child-in-law, parent-sibling (uncle or aunt), or nibling (nephew or niece); or

c. In a single unit dwelling use only: One or two unrelated adults over the age of 18 years plus any persons bearing to either of the two unrelated adults the relationship of parent, grandparent, child, sibling, step-child, step-sibling, step-parent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sibling-in-law, child-in-law, parent-sibling (uncle or aunt), or nibling (nephew or niece); or

d. In a two-unit dwelling use or multi-unit dwelling use only: Up to four unrelated adults over the age of 18 years plus any persons bearing to either of the four unrelated adults the relationship of parent, grandparent, child, sibling, step-child, stepsibling, step-parent, grandchild, parent-in-law, sibling-in-law, child-in-law, parentsibling (uncle or aunt), or nibling (nephew or niece).

C. Specific Household Living Use Types and Definitions

1. Dwelling, Single Unit -- One dwelling unit contained in a single structure.

2. Dwelling, Two Unit -- Two dwelling units contained in one structure located on a single zone lot.

3. Dwelling, Multi-Unit -- Three or more dwelling units contained in a single structure.

4. Dwelling, Live/Work -- A combination of residential occupancy and commercial activity located within the same dwelling unit. In a “Live/Work Dwelling,” the commercial activity is a primary use in combination with a primary residential occupancy use, and the commercial occupancy shall not be considered a “Home Occupation” or other accessory use.

Advisory Committee next steps

  • October: Household definition
  • November: Shelter definition, community corrections rules and locations
  • December: Transitional and special care housing definitions, rules for assisted living and other housing
  • January: Shelter location and rules
  • February: Residential care public involvement procedures, and regulations for spaces that combine creative (performance, art production) and residential uses.
  • March: Tiny house village and co-housing building and design standards, locations
  • April: Full committee review and confirmation of recommendations

Problem Statements

To ensure any updates to the Denver Zoning Code appropriately address existing conditions and existing challenges of group living uses for residents, neighbors and providers, the problem statements lay out what those challenges are, as identified by city staff and a Stakeholder Advisory Committee. 

The general problem statements apply to overarching concerns with group living, while sub-group problem statements focus on issues related to specific uses. The statements are in draft form and will be updated and refined based on public input. Ultimately, the problem statements will guide the development of the draft amendments to the zoning code in the next phase of the project. 

Evolving Residential Needs: Different ways of living together are desired to meet new challenges, circumstances, and lifestyles. However, outdated or unclear regulations or a lack of applicable use definitions and building forms in the Denver Zoning Code (DZC) limit those possibilities.

Difficulty Meeting Rising Demand: Demand for some group living types exceeds current supply, but expansion or establishment of new facilities is constrained, in part, by the DZC.

Unintended Results: Current regulations have led to unintended results, including: 

  • disproportionate concentrations of social services and resources in some neighborhoods
  • ongoing use of legacy residential care facilities
  • need for extensive transportation services 
  • concentration of vulnerable population

Unclear Regulations: Some regulations are unclear or inflexible when considering expansion or siting new or innovative facilities.

Unnecessary or outdated language: Some language in the DZC is redundant, inconsistent or in conflict with state and/or federal regulations and guidelines. 

  • Zoning restrictions limit the number of unrelated individuals who can live together under the definition of “Household Living,” which reduces opportunities for intergenerational living and other desired uses.
  • Vehicle parking requirements for assisted living facilities exceed the vehicle parking demand.
  • The Denver Zoning Code regulates Assisted Living Facilities and Large Residential Care Facilities based upon zone district contexts creating confusion for city staff.

  • Demand exceeds current capacity
  • Limited space in applicable districts for new facilities
  • Many existing facilities are compliant or nonconforming uses, which have limited allowances for expansion
  • Vehicle parking requirements exceed demand and take up space
  • Population Density requirements need revision

  • The Denver Zoning Code’s definition of “Household” places limits on the number of unrelated individuals who can live together. These restrictions inhibit the development of nontraditional residential typologies like artist housing, cooperative housing and co-living. 
  • The Denver Zoning Code’s Household and Group Living definitions and use limitations make it difficult to establish creative spaces that combine low-cost housing with flexible performance venues, assembly and gallery venues, and the narrow “Live/Work Dwelling” category has proven inapplicable to such uses.
  • Key terminology used in the Denver Zoning Code is not always consistent with corresponding language in the Building, Fire and Health Safety codes. This leads to confusion in interpreting the correct language and regulations between the codes, causing delays and additional expenses as staff and property owners resolve the conflicts.
     

  • The zoning definition of “household” is too restrictive, limiting the number of unrelated individuals who can live together. 
  • Zoning does not recognize residential building forms that do not meet our current definitions for a “dwelling unit” such as co-housing and Tiny Home Villages. 
  • Single Room Occupancy is categorized as a lodging use which may be negatively impacting their development as an attractive group living option.
     

  • Current limitations on spacing, density, and size for shelters are difficult to administer and have unintended consequences, including overreliance on emergency determinations to expand existing facilities and continued concentration of legacy facilities in certain
    neighborhoods.
  • City Council districts are the wrong geographic units for regulating the maximum number of beds for shelters as permanent, primary uses. 
  • The terms “beds” and “residents” are used inconsistently, and the use of “beds” as a measure of facility size does not reflect best practices for limiting the size of shelters.
  • Definitions of shelter types are confusing, have ineffective and inequitable public involvement procedures, and make it difficult to combine a continuum of shelter to housing options in one facility.
     

  • Sober Living Homes are not clearly identified and regulated as a Group Living Use. 
  • The distinction between services provided in a Transitional Housing setting and a Special Care Home facility are unclear. 
  • Small Residential Care Facilities contribute to the concentration of services and “institutionalization” of neighborhoods but face far fewer requirements than Large Residential Care.
  • Establishment of new Large Residential Facilities near adequate transit and services is limited by zoning, spacing and density requirements.
  • Neighborhood role in permitting decisions is unclear and difficult to explain to the public, especially for Small Residential Care Facilities.
  • Minimum 6,000-square-foot lot dimension for Residential Care Facilities may have the effect of concentrating such facilities in suburban neighborhoods.
  • Section 11.2.9.1.F, specifying compliance with the Denver Building and Fire Code, is redundant, as all residential uses must comply with the Building and Fire Code.


Advisory Committee

The advisory committee will help evaluate existing regulations and provide insight into community needs and potential solutions. The committee represents a broad cross-section of community members, registered neighborhood organization (RNO) representatives, group-living service providers and clients, elected officials, design professionals and other stakeholders, to ensure an inclusive public process. The Denver Planning Board and City Council will consider advisory committee recommendations before City Council adopts any amendments to the Denver Zoning Code. 

NAME AFFILIATION SUB-GROUP
Paul Bindel  Artist Housing DIY Artist, Co-op and Boarding
Sarah Wells Queen City Cooperative DIY Artist, Co-op and Boarding
Louise Martorano Redline Denver DIY Artist, Co-op and Boarding
John Gross Rhinoceropolis/GLOB DIY Artist, Co-op and Boarding
Jamie Licko RiNo Business Improvement District DIY Artist, Co-op and Boarding
Shannon Carst CoreCivic Community Corrections
Kristen Lewis GEO Group Community Corrections
Frances Falk GEO Group Community Corrections
Rose Rodriguez Independence House Community Corrections
Roberto Rey AARP Adult and Elder Housing (55+, Assisted Living, etc.)
Kevin Priestly DRCOG Area Agency on Aging Adult and Elder Housing (55+, Assisted Living, etc.)
Vanessa Tucker Rosemark at Mayfair Park Adult and Elder Housing (55+, Assisted Living, etc.)
Vennita Jenkins Senior Living Options Inc. Adult and Elder Housing (55+, Assisted Living, etc.)
Amanda Lyall Beloved Community Village Emerging Uses (Tiny Houses, Single-room Occupancy, etc.)
Cole Chandler Colorado Village Collaborative Emerging Uses (Tiny Houses, Single-room Occupancy, etc.)
Rachel Keeven KTGY Architecture + Planning Emerging Uses (Tiny Houses, Single-room Occupancy, etc.)
James Ronczy KTGY Architecture + Planning Emerging Uses (Tiny Houses, Single-room Occupancy, etc.)
Debra Bustos Urban Land Conservancy Emerging Uses (Tiny Houses, Single-room Occupancy, etc.)
Robert Fisher Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Emerging Uses (Tiny Houses, Single-room Occupancy, etc.)
Mike Malloy Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Shelter for the Homeless
Mary Jane Carr Delores Project Shelter for the Homeless
Terrell Curtis Delores Project Shelter for the Homeless
Terese Howard Denver Homeless Out Loud Shelter for the Homeless
Josh Geppelt Denver Rescue Mission Shelter for the Homeless
Robbie Goldman Dry Bones Denver Transitional and Special Care Homes
Lex Papesh MetaRecovery Transitional and Special Care Homes
Brice Hancock Mile High Sober Living Transitional and Special Care Homes
Scott Kiger Mile High Sober Living Transitional and Special Care Homes
Daniel Fuchs Oxford House Transitional and Special Care Homes
Paul Scudo STEP Denver Transitional and Special Care Homes
Brendan Bartic Third Way Center Transitional and Special Care Homes
David Eisner Third Way Center Transitional and Special Care Homes
William Dolan Sobriety House Transitional and Special Care Homes
Artist, Co-op and Boarding
Artist, Co-op and Boarding
Artist, Co-op and Boarding

 

Along with the advisory committee members listed above, representatives from Denver's City Council, Planning Board, and selected registered neighborhood organizations are also part of the committee and will sit in on multiple sub-groups. They are as follows:

NAME AFFILIATION
Michael Henry Capitol Hill United Neighbors
John Hayden Curtis Park Neighbors
Loretta Koehler Denver Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation
Mimi Florance Swallow Hill Neighborhood Association
Michael Garcia Pinehurst Country Club HOA
Jim Lewis Pinehurst Country Club HOA
Chris Coddington Old San Rafael Neighborhood
Bill Rutherford Southmoor Park West Neighborhood
Joel Noble Denver Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation
Patrick Sutton Neighborhood representative
Robin Kniech Denver City Council (At-Large)
Deborah Ortega Denver City Council (At-Large)
Heidi Aggeler Denver Planning Board
Don Elliott Denver Planning Board

The advisory committee as a whole will meet on a regular basis, as will the committee's subgroups. Meetings are open to the public, and information on upcoming meetings will be posted here. Meeting materials for past meetings will be posted at the bottom of this page in the meeting archive.

Shelter Subgroup Committee Meeting #5
4-7 p.m., Tuesday, December 11
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.I.4, 201 W. Colfax Ave.

Agenda items:

Meeting Archive

Advisory Committee Meeting #1
Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Colorado Health Foundation
1780 Pennsylvania Street
Meeting materials linked below:

Advisory Committee Meeting #2
Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Webb Municipal Building, Room 1.B.6, 201 W. Colfax Ave.
Meeting materials linked below:

Open House #1
Tuesday, August 14, 2018, 5:30 - 8 p.m.
McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave.

Advisory Committee Meeting #3
Monday, October 8, 2018, 1 - 4 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 1.B.6, 201 W. Colfax Ave.
Meeting materials linked below:

Advisory Committee Meeting #4
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 4 - 6 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 1.B.6, 201 W. Colfax Ave.

Adult and Elder Housing Subgroup Meeting 1
Friday, April 13, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.I.3
Meeting materials linked below:

Adult and Elder Housing Subgroup Meeting #2
Wednesday, May 9
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 1.D.1, 201 W. Colfax
Meeting materials linked below:

 

Community Corrections Subgroup Meeting #1
Friday, April 6, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Fox Community Corrections, 570 W 44th Ave. (44th and Fox)
Meeting materials linked below:

Community Corrections Subgroup Meeting #2
Tuesday, May 1, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Williams Street Center, 1776 N. Williams Street
Meeting materials linked below:

Community Corrections Subgroup Meeting #2
Tuesday, June 5, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Independence House Main Office, 5590 Pecos Street
Meeting materials linked below:

DIY/Artist/Co-Op Subgroup 
Monday, April 9, 2 to 4 p.m.
RiNo Arts District Offices, 3501 Wazee St., Suite 109
Meeting materials linked below:

DIY/Artist/Co-Op Subgroup Meeting #2
Friday, May 4
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Queen City Cooperative, 901 N. Clarkson St.
Meeting materials linked below:

 

Emerging Trends Subgroup Meeting #1
Thursday, April 5, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Wellington Webb Building, Room 4.J.1, 201 W. Colfax Ave. 
Meeting materials linked below:

Emerging Trends (Single-room Occupancy, Tiny House, etc.) Subgroup Meeting #2
Thursday, April 19, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Wellington Webb Building, Room 1D1, 201 W. Colfax Ave. 
Meeting materials linked below:

Emerging Trends (Single-room Occupancy, Tiny House, etc.) Subgroup Meeting #3
Thursday, May 3, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Offices of KTGY Architects, 820 16th Street, 5th Floor
Meeting materials linked below:

Emerging Trends (Single-room Occupancy, Tiny House, etc.) Subgroup Meeting #4
Thursday, May 31, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 1.D.1, 201 W. Colfax
Meeting materials linked below:

Shelter for the Homeless Subgroup Meeting #1
Tuesday, April 3, 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Wellington Webb Building, Room 4.I.5, 201 W. Colfax Ave. 
Meeting materials linked below: 

Shelter for the Homeless Subgroup Meeting #2
Tuesday, April 17, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wellington Webb Building, Room 4.I.4, 201 W. Colfax Ave. 
Meeting materials linked below:

Shelter for the Homeless Subgroup Meeting #3
Tuesday, May 22, 5 to 7 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 4I4, 201 W. Colfax
Meeting materials linked below:

Shelter for the Homeless Subgroup Meeting #4
Thursday, June 7, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 4I4, 201 W. Colfax
Meeting materials linked below:

Transitional Housing/Special Care Subgroup Meeting #1
Monday, April 9, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Step Denver, 2029 Larimer St.
Meeting materials linked below:

Transitional Housing/Special Care Subgroup Meeting #2
Monday, April 23, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Step Denver, 2029 Larimer St.
Meeting materials linked below:

Transitional/Special Care Home Subgroup Meeting #3
Wednesday, May 23, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Wellington Webb Municipal Building, Room 4.I.5
Meeting materials linked below:

 

Get Involved

Check back for future meetings and opportunities to get involved. 


About the Project

Denver is seeing increasing demand for non-traditional housing. With the evolving needs of our residents in mind, along with recent changes to other housing regulations, city planners will work with an advisory committee to evaluate the Denver Zoning Code’s rules for “group living.” This evaluation will include a review of land uses and definitions for: households, community corrections facilities, shelters for the homeless, residential care homes, new uses like tiny home villages, and more. Based on this evaluation, planners will recommend updates to the zoning code for some or all of these housing types.

While the evaluation of the code should identify any and all relevant problems with the current rules, several have already become clear, including: 

Outdated or confusing language. The current Denver Zoning Code was adopted in 2010. However, some of its language came from the previous code, now called Former Chapter 59, which has its origins in the 1950s. This has resulted in regulations that may be confusing or contradictory, antiquated, or in conflict with current federal and state fair housing laws. Examples of these may include the current definitions of “households,” and complicated regulations for shelters for the homeless.

Emerging uses not considered in the code. In recent years, demand has emerged for new housing types that cannot be achieved using the zoning code’s use definitions or building forms. Examples include “tiny home villages” of detached single sleeping units that lack the amenities of a legal dwelling unit, and commercial buildings converted to live-work-performance art spaces. 

Changing needs. Recent efforts to address homelessness have highlighted zoning requirements that make it difficult to establish new shelters. The zoning code also imposes limitations on mixed uses in these facilities that could be beneficial, such as small-scale job training or storage for clients. 

Community corrections moratorium. A 2008 moratorium on new community corrections facilities will expire in 2018. This project will review current regulations for community corrections and identify any updates that may be needed to balance community needs with evolving strategies for reintegrating people back into society after incarceration. 

Federal regulations. Recent changes to federal fair housing regulations have resulted in some Denver regulations becoming non-compliant.

Generally speaking, the Denver Zoning Code breaks residential uses down into two use categories: Household Living and Group Living. These categories and their specific included uses are defined in the Use Definitions section of the Denver Zoning Code: Division 11.2. 

 

Household Living

Household Living is defined in Sec. 11.12.2.1 and includes:

  • Single-Unit Dwellings: a single dwelling unit in a single structure, such as a detached house

  • Two-Unit Dwellings: two dwelling units contained in a single structure, such as a duplex

  • Multi-Unit Dwellings: three or more dwelling units contained in a single structure, such as an apartment building

  • Live/Work Dwelling: a combination of residential and commercial activity located within a dwelling unit. Live/Work Dwellings permit commercial activity as a primary use, alongside the residential use – this is in contrast with the limited Home Occupations that are regulated as accessory uses and permitted in other types of Dwelling Units.  

Household Living uses limit the number of unrelated individuals that may occupy the dwelling units described above. In a Two-Unit or Multi-Unit dwelling, four unrelated adults and any number of relatives to each may occupy each unit. In a Single-Unit dwelling, the Zoning Code currently permits the following combinations of residents:

  • A single person, plus any number of relatives
  • A “husband and wife,” plus any number of relatives to either
  • Two unrelated adults over the age of 18, plus any number of relatives to either

The code specifically lists allowable relatives, which generally include parents and grandparents, children and step-children, siblings and step-siblings, in-laws, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. 

 

Group Living

Group Living is defined in Sec. 11.12.2.1 and includes:

  • Assisted Living Facilities: A residential structure licensed by the state that houses more than 8 adults with 24-hour non-medical supervision. Examples include homes for people with disabilities and the elderly who require assistance with daily tasks like bathing and dressing. 

  • Community Corrections Facilities: Residential structures for three  or more persons who have been placed in a community corrections program by city, state or federal judicial or correctional departments. Residents of these facilities are often transitioning from incarceration back into society. 

  • Nursing Homes and Hospices: State-licensed establishments that provide 24-hour skilled nursing care. 

  • Residence for Older Adults: Single- or multi-unit dwellings that house unrelated, mobile persons 55 years or older, in excess of the number of persons permitted per dwelling unit . Such facilities do not require 24-hour supervision, and residents typically receive fewer services than what would be delivered in an Assisted Living Facility. 

  • Rooming and Boarding House: A residential structure containing one or more guest bedrooms that are rented for permanent occupancy. Meals may or may not be provided, but cooking facilities are not provided in individual rooms. 

  • Student Housing: A structure related to a college, university or seminary with common cooking facilities and gathering rooms. These can include dormitories and recognized fraternities and sororities. 

  • Transitional Housing: A residential structure that houses unrelated persons in excess of the number permitted per dwelling unit, where occupancy is more than 30 days but less than 2 years and is intended to help residents transition to permanent housing. Transitional Housing is often a first step out of homelessness. 

  • Special Care Home: A residential structure that houses unrelated persons in excess of the number of persons permitted per dwelling unit that provides more than 12 hours per day of treatment or care to address mental illness, behavioral problems (such as addiction) or other conditions.

  • Shelter for the Homeless: A facility that provides overnight sleeping accommodations for people experiencing homelessness. 

  • Safe House: A residential structure that provides a refuge from dangerous social situations or abuse. Note: Safe Houses are unique in the Group Living category in that they are permitted in any zone district that allows Multi-Unit Dwelling uses. 

 

Large and Small Residential Care Uses

Large and Small Residential Care Uses: Transitional Housing, Shelter for the Homeless, Community Corrections Facility and Special Care homes are considered Residential Care Uses. Each one is subject to special use limitations (see “How these uses are regulated,” below). 

Transitional and Special Care housing uses are further broken down by size:

  • “Large” = facilities serving 9 or more persons

  • “Small” = facilities serving 8 or fewer persons

Shelters for the Homeless and Community Corrections uses are always considered Large Residential Care uses, regardless of the number of occupants.  

 


 

How these uses are regulated 

These uses are regulated based on the definitions described above and in several other parts of the Zoning Code. 

Use Tables: Residential uses listed above appear in the "Use Table " for each of the Zoning Code’s Neighborhood Contexts. The Use Table shows where each defined use is permitted by zone district, and it identifies the required zoning procedure for each use. Zoning procedures may require an applicant to obtain a zoning permit, a zoning permit with public notice, or a Zoning Permit with Special Exception Review, which is reviewed by the city’s Board of Adjustments and may be subject to special conditions to limit potential negative impacts. 

  • Note: Special Care and Transitional Housing facilities are listed under Residential Care Uses, and are not individually named. Safe Houses are regulated as multi-unit dwellings. 

Use Limitations: Each Neighborhood Context Use Table has a column listing any Use Limitations associated with uses permitted in that district. Use limitations are included in Article 11 of the zoning code, and limitations for the Group Living use category begin in Section 11.2.6 . 

Residential Care Uses (Large and Small), especially Shelters for the Homeless and Community Corrections Facilities, are subject to the most stringent requirements. Limitations on Residential Care Facilities are intended to balance several issues:

  • Need for humane, equitable housing for special populations, 

  • Compliance with federal and state fair housing regulations, 

  • Prevention of Residential Care use concentration in neighborhoods, and  

  • Effective regulation and communication processes to help ensure such facilities are good neighbors.

Use limitations vary extensively by zone district and are difficult to summarize. Key examples are highlighted below. 

  • Designated Contact Person: Operators of Residential Care uses are required to designate a staff person to address questions and concerns from neighbors.
  • Spacing and Density Limitations: Large Residential Care Facilities are not permitted within 2,000 feet of other such uses, and no more than two others may exist within a 4,000-foot radius of the proposed new use. In Impacted Neighborhoods, up to 200 feet of additional spacing may be required by the Zoning Administrator. (Impacted Neighborhoods are those neighborhoods with more than the city-wide average number of Residential Care Uses within their boundaries.)
    Shelter and Community Corrections uses are subject to the most stringent requirements. For example, Community Corrections facilities are not permitted within 1,500 of a school or within 1,500 feet of a Residential Zone District.
  • Special requirements for Shelters for the Homeless: Some Large Residential Care uses, such as Shelters for the Homeless, have additional use limitations that vary by operator or other criteria. In Sec. 11.2.10.1, the zoning code establishes three types of shelter uses:
  1. Shelter for the Homeless as a permanent, primary use
  2. Shelter for the Homeless as a primary or accessory use when operated by a place of religious assembly (such as a church)
  3. Shelter for the Homeless when operated in a building owned by a nonprofit corporation or by a government entity

    Permanent shelters as a primary use are permitted in higher-intensity mixed-use zone districts, industrial districts and others that are not solely residential. Permanent shelters are subject to the Use Limitations for Large Residential Care Facilities as described above and in Sec. 11.2.8. They also must meet special requirements for operations, including but not limited to mitigating the impact of waiting areas on adjacent public rights-of-way (preventing obstruction, etc.) and making restroom facilities available when the facility is closed.

    The Zoning Code provides more flexible options for shelter uses that are operated by a religious assembly. These include, but are not limited to, permission to operate in any zone district and looser restrictions on bed counts for shelters that operate for 120 days or less per year.

    Similarly, shelters operated by a government entity or nonprofit corporation, in which the Denver Department of Human Services plays some role in the operation, are also permitted in any zone district provided certain requirements for public notice and involvement have been met.  
  • Limitations on the Number of Residents: The Zoning Code’s Use Limitations limit the number of clients served by Residential Care facilities based on size, applicable zone district, etc. Shelters for the Homeless and Community Corrections Facilities are subject to the most stringent requirements. For example: 

Community Corrections Facilities are permitted in the I-MX zone district but are not permitted to exceed 40 residents, and they must provide 50 feet of gross floor area per person served. In the I-A and I-B zone districts, Community Corrections Facilities are permitted to have higher numbers of residents. 

Shelters for the Homeless established as permanent, primary uses are not permitted to have more than 200 beds, though some shelters with permits issued prior to Jan. 1, 2005, may have up to 350 beds. No more than 950 beds are permitted in any one city council district in homeless shelters that are permanent, primary uses. 

 

The project is expected to occur over several phases: 

  1. The first will involve working with the advisory committee to identify problem areas in the code. A public meeting will be held for public review and comment on the committee's draft definitions of the problems to be addressed in the code update.

  2. Next, the city, working with the committee, will develop proposed changes to the zoning code to address these issues. Another public meeting will be held for public review and comment on these proposed changes. 

  3. The proposed amendments will then be considered by the Denver Planning Board, Denver City Council subcommittees and ultimately, the full City Council for adoption. Finally, CPD’s Planning Services and Development Services divisions will collaborate to implement the amendments through training, updated forms, etc. 

 

The following links and resources have been provided by Advisory Committee members and project staff to generate ideas and discussion about issues related to this project. We’ll continue to add links to this page as we receive or find them in the course of our research.

Zoning Code Examples and Similar Projects

Articles and information on the Fair Housing Act and similar federal regulations

Articles and examples of unconventional and creative residential uses (Tiny Home Villages, Co-Op Housing, Artist Spaces, etc.)

Articles related to permitted unrelated adult occupancy

Ordinances (condensed) and reports related to regulations for shelters for the homeless in Denver

Contact Us

Andrew Webb
Senior city planner
Andrew.Webb@denvergov.org

Eugene Howard
Associate city planner
Eugene.Howard@denvergov.org