Boulder won’t look at occupancy limits until after election
By Deborah Swearingen. Originally published in the Daily Camera on January 23, 2021.
"After committing to looking at occupancy limits in 2021, the Boulder City Council now says it will wait until after the November election to do so.
During the second day of the council’s annual retreat on Saturday, councilmembers Aaron Brockett and Rachel Friend requested that occupancy limits be added to the 2021 work plan, considering a council majority agreed to do so last year when the city shared incorrect information that prevented an occupancy limit-related initiative from making the ballot.
'The idea here would be to look at ways that we could potentially reform our occupancy limits to make them… more accommodating of different kinds of households and to maybe make some more housing available to more people who could then afford it,' Brockett said.
Ideally, it would be a holistic approach that also considers residents in University Hill and other neighborhoods that might have a different perspective of occupancy limits, Brockett added.
However, since the Bedrooms Are For People initiative, which seeks to change Boulder’s occupancy limits to allow more unrelated people to live together, submitted its petition to be included on the November ballot earlier this week, other councilmembers argued it made more sense to begin preliminary research on the topic instead of having staff postpone other projects.
Mayor Sam Weaver agreed that occupancy limits must be addressed but said there will be a fork in the road after the election. If the Bedrooms Are For People measure passes, the city will begin work implementing it. If it doesn’t, the new City Council will be tasked with deciding how to move forward.
Instead of displacing other projects, Weaver recommended including it as a new discrete task so staff could begin establishing baseline information about occupancy limits that would be helpful no matter what happens in the election. Ultimately, the council and staff agreed with Weaver’s proposal.
Brockett agreed to Weaver’s idea but still saw a benefit to working on occupancy limits in tandem with Bedrooms Are For People.
'My idea is that it would be complementary to the work that they’re doing, whether it passes or not,' he said. 'So that the work that we do would be worthwhile in and of itself whether or not the Bedrooms Are For People measure is passed.'"