Large-scale rezoning to allow for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, on residents’ properties has come for the Villa Park, Barnum, and Barnum West neighborhoods.
On Monday, Denver City Council approved the zoning changes, allowing the construction of the small backyard homes without homeowners needing to request zoning changes.
Councilmember Jamie Torres began spearheading the process in October. In the summer of 2021, her west side district held several virtual and in-person meetings, surveying residents about the proposed zoning change.
Torres’ office previously said they received about 140 survey responses with 83% of residents supporting the change. About 13% did not support the proposed rezoning, and 4% were undecided.
Most respondents said they would build an ADU either to rent or to provide additional housing for family members, and speakers at council agreed. Five people spoke in favor of the rezoning, stating ADUs are a tool for residents to stay-in-place, promoting intergenerational wealth. This is also align with the city’s thoughts on ADUs.
When city officials discuss Denver’s housing crisis, the lack of actual housing and affordable options, ADUs are at the top of the agenda. According to Blueprint Denver, ADUs can help with growth, gentrification and displacement throughout the city.
Torres previously said ADUs on the westside were being used as “anti-displacement tactics,” as that area sees a rise in the cost of living and gentrification.
“This [rezoning] was in response to the community,” Torres said during the council meeting. “This doesn’t completely solve displacement but it puts a new tool in property owner’s hands.”
ADUs are already allowed in some areas of Villa Park and the Barnums, but the change allows ADUs on every property currently zoned for single families, which is about 3,000 parcels. Fully rezoning the neighborhoods eliminates a tedious and costly step in the already sometimes long and complicated ADU construction process.
Besides zoning regulations, there’s also the cost. Specifically, in West Denver, residents can look toward the West Denver Single Family Plus (WDSF+) ADU Pilot Program to assist in the process. The program, run by the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative, focuses on low- to moderate-income west Denver residents but assists all interested homeowners on the westside with developing, designing, financing and constructing detached ADUs.
The program’s 2022 goal is to double production, which aligns with the city’s goals on streamlining the ADU process. An ADU community advisory committee and project team was created by Community Planning and Development to work on streamlining the process and reducing the barriers to building ADUs. A meeting was held on May 5, and the group sent out a survey for community input on Sunday. The committee’s goal is to have a new set of regulations by the end of the year.
The three westside neighborhoods join Chaffee Park, Sloan’s Lake and East Colfax in full rezoning. Councilmember Amanda Sandoval is working toward rezoning two more neighborhoods: Regis and West Highland. Councilmember Jolon Clark is also beginning rezoning talk, in Valverde and Athmar Park.