2021 election guide: Boulder voters to consider raising occupancy limits
By Faith Miller. Originally published in Colorado Newsline on October 30, 2021.
"Supporters, opponents of Question 300 argue over which result would exacerbate housing crisis
A Boulder citizen-initiated ballot question asks voters whether the city should increase the number of unrelated adults who are allowed to live in the same home. It’s an issue that came up recently in Denver, where the City Council moved in February to let five unrelated adults live in the same home, up from two — and it’s an issue put in sharp focus by the ongoing housing affordability crisis across Colorado.
Boulder’s Ballot Question 300 would permit one unrelated adult per bedroom in a home, plus one additional unrelated adult. So, if a home had five bedrooms, the measure’s approval would allow six unrelated adults to live in that home. City code currently permits up to three or four unrelated adults, depending on the area of the city, living in the same house.Ballot Question 300’s supporters say its approval would legalize what many Boulderites are already doing to remain housed in one of Colorado’s most expensive communities.
The occupancy limit 'has been around for over 50 years in Boulder, and so it’s really been an issue the entire time,' said Eric Budd, co-chair of Bedrooms Are For People, the group that collected signatures to put the measure on the ballot. People have been getting evicted for exceeding the occupancy limits since the law was put into place, Budd said.
'What’s changed is that really in the past 10 years, Boulder has gotten so much more expensive,' he added. 'It’s been so unaffordable, and there’s been a lot of organizing that really started almost 10 years ago around allowing cooperative housing and shared housing.' That eventually led to Ballot Question 300.
Raising occupancy limits would benefit families by making it feasible for them to purchase a home, said Chelsea Castellano, the other co-chair of Bedrooms Are For People.
'The only young people I know who can buy a house in Boulder are able to do so because they can rent out a few of the rooms that they have, but in a lot of cases this is illegal,' Castellano said. 'If we care about bringing in families and forming families in Boulder, then we need to create laws that make that possible in a legal way.'