DU Neighborhood Averts Group Living Proposal For Now

With the ever-increasing cost of homes in the City and County of Denver and changing lifestyles, city planners went to work to create a plan to allow for a more flexible ‘group living’ zoning plan. A proposed plan, allowing up to 10 unrelated adults by law to live in a single residence, was held at bay by the City Council.

No doubt, the current Denver residential zoning requirements are outdated allowing “only two adults who aren’t blood-related to live in a house (blood relatives are uncapped).” But the jump to 10 unrelated residents was what brought the swift, negative reaction to the proposal. Many local residents believe that the change will lead to unsafe neighborhoods, overcrowding, noise, inadequate home maintenance, scarce parking, unfamiliar neighbors, and negative impacts on property values.

Most structures around DU can be defined as Denver Bungalows. According to History Colorado, the typical craftsman Denver Bungalow is a one or one-and-one-half story, clapboard wood or masonry structure with a gently pitched, front or side gable roof, overhanging eaves, broad porches, and simple horizontal lines. The typical Denver bungalow features 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2 bathrooms along with a living room, dining space, and a sunroom or craft area.

The proposed group living plan has been circulating around the city for several years before going to City Council for a vote. The proposal was met with stiff opposition, especially from local councilman Paul Kashman from District 6 who represents the DU area. According to The WashPark Profile, Kasman called the proposal ‘unclear’ while the DU “community has struggled for decades to keep student housing under control because ‘students tend to cram as many as they can and arent always the best or most considerate neighbors.” If advanced, “…we’ll have a defacto fraternity and sorority houses frequently through the neighborhood, and historically, they have proven to be problems for the community.”

Soaring housing costs and changing lifestyles are going to continue to stress Denver neighborhoods. But the question remains, how much ‘flexibility’ can neighborhoods accept without drastically changing their character?

The current proposal is not dead yet. The proposal will go back to Denver’s land use committee again on September 29th and re-reviewed by the committee again on October 6th when members will decide whether to advance the proposal to the full City Council for a vote.

One thought on “DU Neighborhood Averts Group Living Proposal For Now”

  1. Preserving neighborhood character, worries about unfamiliar neighbors, and protecting property values were the same reasons given to oppose integrating neighborhoods…

    State and federal law already requires cities to allow up to eight unrelated persons that are federally protected by virtue of age, race, disability (which includes people with mental health and substance abuse issues), and other factors to be allowed anywhere a typical single-family home is permitted. This change helps bring Denver into compliance with the law.

    The author also fails to note that the proposed change only guarantees up to five unrelated persons can share a home, but additional residents are allowed based on the size of the home. That’s a meaningful difference than what is provided in the post. This is also based on state law and guidance from the federal government.

    During my time at DU, I had friends become de facto homeless after a neighbor reported them in for having more than two unrelated adults living together (they had three in a three-bedroom house). Few students are ideal neighbors (I sure wasn’t), but people who rent or buy in the neighborhood have themselves to blame if they don’t think they could have students as neighbors around DU.

    I’d rather see our city work towards addressing homelessness and the housing shortage (including among DU students!) than protect people afraid of “others.”

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