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  • Bedrooms Are For People

Twice-bitten by occupancy limits

By Kevin McWilliams. Also published as a letter in the Boulder Weekly on October 14, 2021.


"Boulder has a housing crisis due to restrictive zoning and occupancy limits, and it has been hurting poorer and single people like me in the community for decades. I’ve been a resident of Boulder since I moved here for college in 2001, and have been living here almost continuously since that time. For nearly that entire period, I’ve had to live llegally in the town I call home because of the discriminatory three-person occupancy limit which Bedrooms are for People, Ballot Measure 300, would change to allow higher occupancy in larger residences.


In 2014, I was living with several friends in a five-bedroom in Martin Acres, when the dreaded yellow code enforcement notice appeared on our door. A neighbor, who had never spoken to us, and with whom we had no recourse, reported us because they were angry about our cars parked on the street. We were left with no choice but to break our lease and move out before the city started legal proceedings against us, and it was devastating both personally and financially. A nearly identical sequence of events occurred again in 2018 at another four-bedroom house in North Boulder: a complaint about parking, then a police search of our home, followed by a painful forced breakup of my community.


This ordinance has disrupted my life twice now and I am far from the only law-abiding, taxpaying Boulder resident who has had this experience. It forces people to live in the shadows in a supposedly progressive city, upends the lives of people who are already struggling, and forces more people to commute into Boulder—worsening traffic and pollution. The three-person occupancy cap causes more harm than it prevents. Voting yes on 300 is the right thing to do."


Kevin McWilliams / Boulder

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