“Group living” is going to be teed up at Denver City Council on Monday. Will it be OK’d easily, with who knows how many hours of discussion?

Snacks will be by my side. Some of this group living plan makes sense, but then it gets a little more complicated.

For three years or more, Senior City Planner Andrew Webb in Community Planning and Development has been putting a plan together. I watched two of the city council committee meetings, one in September and one in December. Going back through my notes brings it all back, but still more changes. (The slide above was part of the meeting in December.) But now, this is how the city is putting this on the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting:

“Tonight (i.e., Monday, February 8), there will be a required public hearing on Council Bill 20-0888, relating to the Denver Zoning Code updating household regulations, consolidating residential care uses, and establishing a new congregate living use category – also known as the ‘Group Living Text Amendment’. Anyone wishing to speak on this matter must go online to sign up during the recess of Council.”

To begin, there are areas in Denver that have a different zoning code than the predominant zoning code. One might think that needs to be done fairly soon, because if this city wants an equitable zoning code to support this new concept, it’s time to get this in line with the predominant zoning code.  

But back to the housing. Denver’s real estate market for several years was up and down. Now, the market is up and up and up. In a recent Westword story, what can you say, except, Whoa! How much affordable housing is out there? Not much. That is the big worry for many people.

This was the beginning of the story:

“The February Denver Metro Real Estate Market Trends Report, released this morning, February 3, by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, reveals that detached single-family homes in the area set yet another record for average price, exceeding $629,000 in January.

“That’s a nearly $100,000 increase over the same period a year earlier.”

I find that totally scary, and because these sky-high prices are still selling like crazy, there aren’t enough homes and condos to satisfy those who want to buy. And during / after the Great Recession, real estate groups swooped in to purchase foreclosures, and turn them into rentals. Also, of course, there are people moving into Denver who sold a home elsewhere and came here with a bunch of cash. Whenever I read a story like this, it is clear to me that I could not buy my reasonably priced condo from the late 1990s, and could not afford to purchase this same condo today. 

And that’s one of the reasons the city is changing the zoning code to allow (generally) five people living in one house and not because they are relatives. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that, since larger homes can house more people. But finding a place to live in 2021 Denver, yes, there are zillions of new apartments, but some of the rents are hard to swallow, even though some of the prices apparently have dipped. 

The “consolidating residential care uses” and “establishing a new congregate living use category” may possibly more time for comments during the public hearing. If there is one thing I wonder: This plan began to form something like three years ago, but now we are living in a time of a pandemic as more people may move in to share in the expenses of a rental or purchased home. (I would assume there are already numerous instances of people sharing an apartment because of finances. Denver is expensive.)

As well, these homes to be discussed last December needed to be licensed (apparently 54,000 licenses will need to be created – not a snap-your-fingers-and-it-is-done moment). If someone in a home is not behaving well, they can be evicted. And neighbors may be complaining about more cars on their streets, well, they will need to discuss this.

A group called Safe and Sound Denver is trying to stop this plan for various reasons, and they have been vocal. And, let’s be honest: Just as the area plans shifted to virtual meetings after March 2020, the Group Living process faced the same situation with people not showing up to discuss the pros and cons and make sure that all representatives were heard.

In September, there was a majority of City Council members against the plan, wanting to slow this down, and the concerns about the pandemic situation. 

But by late December, with adjustments, the City Council members voted to send it to the full City Council. And there also have been more work done on this, and that’s where we are now: waiting for Monday. 

There are many links below but only recently, since media outlets this week have been previewing what will happen on Monday: Tiny LetterDenveriteWestwordColorado Politics, and The Denver Post









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