For Denverites who didn’t know how many non-relatives they were allowed to live with, don’t worry! That number may change. Again.
A local group that formed to challenge the so-called group living amendment says it’s submitted enough signatures — more than 18,000, or nearly double the necessary amount — to the Office of the Clerk and Recorder that would put the controversial change to the zoning code up for a vote by the people of Denver in November.
City Council passed the new rules in February. Among other things, they allow up to five unrelated adults to legally live together in a home. Previously, the number was limited to two. The changes also make it easier to set up residential-care facilities, such as halfway houses, sober-living residences and homeless shelters, in more parts of Denver.
Florence Sebern, a member of Safe and Sound Denver, the group that opposes the zoning code change, said their goal is to open up the conversation on the amendment and for others to “properly understand the impact” it has on the community and the quality of life in the affected neighborhoods.
“The goal of the referendum is to facilitate authentic public consideration and genuine public engagement regarding housing uses in our city,” Sebern said. “We support the stability of our neighborhood communities and policies that support Denver’s long-term growth. We object to our unique and diverse neighborhoods being used as an experiment for unproven agendas.”
The group hopes to eventually repeal the amendment.
Laura Swartz, a spokesperson with Community Planning and Development which worked on the amendment, says the previous ordinance was antiquated and put Denver behind other cities.
She added that the amendment received support from 50 organizations in the area.
“Denver’s previous rules on how many people were legally allowed to live together were among the lowest in the nation and had not been updated since the 1980s,” Swartz said. “Keeping outdated rules like this on the books harms our residents who deserve the same choices afforded in other cities.”
Alton Dillard, communications director with the Office of the Clerk and Recorder, said the office received the signatures from Safe and Sound Thursday. Dillard said the office has 25 days to review the signatures to “confirm that the signers are voters in the City and County of Denver.” They do so by matching the signatures to the statewide voter registration system. Safe and Sound won’t have the opportunity to “cure” the petition if they are short of the needed signatures.