Bedrooms Are For People
Senior occupancy proposal stymied amid Boulder housing debate
By Erica Meltzer. Originally published in the Daily Camera on September 2, 2014.
"On a night when the Boulder City Council was considering the next steps in its comprehensive housing strategy, the second 'early win' in an effort to add more diverse, affordable housing to the city met an early end.
The City Council decided to table an ordinance that would have allowed up to six seniors to live together in an exception to Boulder’s occupancy rule that says only three or four unrelated people can live in a single unit, depending on the zoning.
The move Tuesday night came after the council heard from homeowners that the ordinance would be abused to create exploitative, unsafe living situations, would change neighborhood character and would cause parking problems.
Last month, a change to density calculations that would have allowed developers to determine the number of units before setting aside land for roads and paths was reconsidered by the Planning Board after receiving initial approval from both that board and the City Council. The Planning Board changed its mind, and the proposal was dropped.
The senior housing and the density calculation were pitched by city planners as 'early wins' in a move to provide more affordable housing.
Neighbors of a proposed affordable housing 'opportunity site' at 4245 Palo Parkway, where Boulder Housing Partners and Habitat for Humanity would like to build 35 rental and nine ownership units, presented a petition with 148 signatures opposing that project and calling for the site to be turned into a park instead.
The stiff opposition at every turn portends a difficult debate over the Comprehensive Housing Strategy, which city planners — and the Boulder City Council itself at earlier meetings — hoped would address the declining number of housing units affordable to the middle class, to families with children and to seniors.
The goals of the housing strategy include diverse housing stock that provides for a range of incomes and that allows people to age in place.
Members of PLAN-Boulder County said the housing strategy had gone too far without sufficient public input and was shaping up to be a boon to developers who want to pack more units into each lot."