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  • Writer's pictureBedrooms Are For People

LWVBC Ballot Issue Guide for the City of Boulder

By League of Women Voters Boulder County (LWVBC). Originally published on the LWVBC website.

"'Shall the City of Boulder expand access to housing by allowing all housing units to be occupied by a number of people equal to the number of legal bedrooms, plus one additional person per home, provided that relevant health and safety codes are met?'


Boulder currently limits the number of unrelated household members living in a dwelling. The current limits are:

o Family members plus up to 2 additional people

o Three unrelated people in low-density neighborhoods

o Four unrelated people in medium- to high-density neighborhoods

o Two people and any number of their children...

Most of the city is zoned as low-density neighborhoods, shown in dark blue on this map. The light blue areas are medium- and high-density zones.

There are exceptions to these occupancy limits for grandfathered properties & cooperative housing.

...In recent years, a group of citizens has advocated for expanding the occupancy limit law since the current restrictions do not consider the size of the dwelling. Their proposal adds an option to set the limit based upon the number of legal bedrooms in the dwelling. The group organized and successfully petitioned to get this question on the ballot.

Major Provisions

The proposal is contained in Ordinance 8475. If the ballot question is approved, the occupancy law would be expanded to allow a maximum number of people equal to the number of legal bedrooms in the dwelling plus one additional person. For example, a 3-bedroom home could have up to 4 unrelated people living there, a 5-bedroom home could have a maximum of 6.

Additionally, the ballot question adds 'or' at the end of each of the existing occupancy limits listed above. So for example, a 1-bedroom condo in Table Mesa could be occupied by 3

unrelated people as is currently permitted using the 2nd limit criterion 'three unrelated people in low-density neighborhoods.'

The ballot question also includes criteria for legal bedrooms. 'Bedroom' must meet all

requirements defined in Title 10, Chapter 5.5, of the Residential Building Code, including but not limited to: minimum area of 70 sq. ft., access to a hallway or communal space, a source of heat, a minimum of 1 window, and 2 points of egress. Garages, kitchens, bathrooms and one living room per dwelling are not legal bedrooms.

Under Section 54 of the City Charter, City Council has the authority to amend issues related to this measure as long as the original intent is preserved and 2/3 of City Council members approve the amendments. Whether or not amendments could be made without violating the original intent is up for debate.

Those IN FAVOR say

• This is one way to help increase the supply of affordable housing.

• Some homeowners want to have additional housemates for social, financial or other reasons but are limited by the current occupancy limits.

• Parking, trash & noise issues should be addressed separately and are concerns regardless of whether unrelated occupants or a family resides in the dwelling.

• Increasing occupancy of existing homes makes better use of the current infrastructure and

reduces carbon emissions associated with commuting."

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