Boulder, CO

Initiative would change Boulder home occupancy

David Heitz

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Backers of an initiative that will be on the November ballot in Boulder called “Bedrooms are for people” may lead you to think the city is going to relax its housing limits.

The ballot initiative would limit the number of people living in a residence equal to the number of its bedrooms, plus one. That only allows for one doubled up room. The law does not apply to families.

"Our measure only expands access to housing and has absolutely no impact on the current policy that allows for families to live together in unlimited numbers," Chelsea Castellano told NewsBreak. "That will still be allowed when our measure passes. Our measure simply adds access to housing for unrelated people to live together. It is actually illegal to restrict housing for families."

The initiative wouldn’t affect wealthy families who can afford large homes. Some neighbors complain about noise and trash when there are houses on the block with several unrelated people living there.

In a college town like Boulder, you can bet there are hundreds of households that would be in violation of such an ordinance. Boulder also is one of the priciest places in America to live, forcing college students and even extended families to double and triple-up.

Petition double-checked for accuracy

“The petition committee to expand access to housing by allowing all housing units to be occupied by a number of people equal to the number of legal bedrooms, plus one additional person per home, submitted its petition on Feb. 1,” according to an executive summary for the City Council. “The committee elected to utilize the city’s electronic petitioning system, Boulder Direct Democracy Online. The petition became “live” and open for endorsements on February 8.

“On June 4, 2021, the electronic petition to amend the Boulder Revised Code closed. It contained 3,522 valid endorsements to meet the 3,336-signature requirement. An audit of the system was performed by the City Clerk’s Office to verify all signatures were valid, including by verifying that no duplicates were documented.”

Next, the council has 70 days to “determine whether to place a competing measure on the ballot if it believes an alternative could accomplish the intent in a better manner than the initiative,” according to the council’s summary. “Under Charter Section 53, the ballot question with the greater number of votes would become law in the event both were to pass.”

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best newspapers in the country. Today, I specialize in Denver local news, health reporting, social justice issues, addiction/recovery/mental health news, and topics surrounding homelessness and human trafficking.

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