BARHA Question 1: Occupancy - Boulder Area Rental Housing Association

BARHA Question 1: Many candidates have expressed desire to increase the amount of affordable housing in Boulder.   What is your opinion on allowing more occupancy of unrelated persons as a tool to reach that goal?

Aaron Brockett: I don’t believe we should repeal occupancy limits entirely, but I would like to remove dependents from the occupancy count. Currently, if you have a blended family of two unmarried individuals each with two children, it violates the occupancy limits. I think the limits would be more fair if dependents were never counted towards the occupancy limit. This would allow for the flexibility for different family types to live together in a house.

Rachel Friend: I support removing our anachronistic unrelated-persons occupancy limits, to reach our affordable housing, as well as additional social justice goals.  I understand that there is some trepidation about change in general, and housing / neighborhoods in particular; so if/when we make this change, I support robust community engagement around the change.  That will enable us to identify, and address, underlying concerns. I do not believe most Boulderites fear the notion of a few unrelated people cohabitating; rather, we have concerns with things like noise or parking issues – and we can address those.

Bob Yates: By liberalizing our co-op rules in 2017 and our accessory dwelling unit (ADU) rules in 2018, city council allowed greater occupancy of unrelated persons in rental properties, while respecting the rights of neighbors. We will re-visit the ADU rules in 2020 to determine whether further changes are appropriate, based on two years of experience.

Junie Joseph: Boulder limits occupancy to 3 or 4 unrelated persons per unit, based on zoning. I find this rule burdensome both in its restrictions on how people are allowed to live and is implications for defining who constitutes a family. But I would also like us to consider other approaches. We should consider the current separation rule on co-ops that says they need to be at least 500 ft apart. Additionally, we should reconsider our current ADU policies and make it easier to divide existing houses into multiple smaller units.

Mark Wallach: To me, changing occupancy limits is not the appropriate tool to provide more affordable housing in Boulder, particularly because it doesn’t address the needs of working families who work here, but cannot afford to live here. The impact of changing occupancy limits would be to create a great deal of stress in most of our neighborhoods without addressing our core need to house in-commuting families.

Adam Swetlik: I could be open to this if there is  a  permanent  affordability  component  involved.  Right now occupancy limits are already difficult to enforce,  so  until  that  issue  is  addressed  I  think  it’s  right  to  keep  them  as  is.  If members  of  the  city are  interested  increasing  occupancy  limits  we  have  a  great  ballot  initiative  process  that  could  address  it.