- I will support eliminating single-unit zone districts as a means to increase housing options and employment options in Denver
- I will support improving access to walking, rolling, using transit and biking through efficient land use.
- I will support quality, safe and attractive building standards by strengthening the permitting and inspection processes.
- I will work with jurisdictions across the region to improve housing options so people will have the choice of living near where they work.
Housing is a tough issue to tackle. A growing population means increased housing costs and more job opportunities. A declining population means lost value and fewer job opportunities, and often higher taxes to maintain the infrastructure that was built for the larger population.
I believe Blueprint Denver and the Denver Zoning Code should be amended to eliminate single-unit zone districts. To be clear, I like single-unit housing. I also prefer existing houses over scrape-offs. However, eliminating single-unit zone districts will give property owners the option to build multi-unit structures. Approximately 75%-80% of Denver is zoned for single-unit buildings. That housing type will not go away, nor should it. Housing diversity is good, but the effect of so much land devoted to single-unit buildings has been new development and increased housing costs in areas where residents are most vulnerable to displacement. Development standards, like minimum lot size, maximum height, and setbacks, can still regulate the form of what can be built. However, eliminating single-unit zone districts opens more housing options for buyers and renters, which should bring down – or at least slow the increase of – the cost of housing.
A March 2, 2022 article in the Denver Post cited a study that shows nearly 200,000 dwelling units were built in Metro Denver between 2010 and 2020. That was not enough judging by the cost of housing. The Denver Housing Authority stated in February 2022 that 50,000 units are needed to meet current demand for affordable housing. I will emphasize current demand. It can take close to one year to construct one house, and that’s after nearly one year to permit that house – if everything goes right.
Most of the people I’ve talked with who are opposed to higher density are mainly concerned with increased traffic and parking problems. That’s understandable. However, reducing or eliminating parking minimums can have the effect of making walking/rolling, transit and biking more viable mobility options. The vast majority of Denver was built for drivers, but there’s no room to expand these city streets without damaging the neighborhoods they serve. Denver’s population is expected to increase by over 100,000 in the next few years. The only way to have a chance at improving the affordability of housing and increase mobility options is to build more units.
Despite the need for so much housing, design is still important. Quality and quantity can exist together. Thoughtful, respectful, safe housing is the goal.