Citywide Initiative Targets Expanding Housing Options with ADU Expansion Project

In continuation of the city’s commitment to broaden housing options, the Department of Community Planning and Development (CPD) in Denver has initiated the Citywide ADUs project today. This collaborative effort involves Mayor Mike Johnston and Councilmembers Sarah Parady (at-large), Chris Hinds (District 10), and Darrell Watson (District 9).

Following the recommendations of Blueprint Denver, the city’s land use and transportation plan, this project will look at potential updates to the Denver Zoning Code, zoning map, and Former Chapter 59 zoning to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all residential areas of the city.

Mayor Mike Johnston said: “I’m delighted to see the Citywide ADUs project kick off. We know that the rezoning process can be cumbersome and expensive, limiting Denverites’ ability to create their own affordable housing. One of our top priorities for the year is to build or preserve 3,000 units of affordable housing, and making it easier for neighbors to build ADUs is a great first step.” 

Acting Community Planning and Development executive director Jill Jennings Golich said: “After successfully working with city residents to revise building standards for ADUs to ensure they fit in a variety of neighborhoods, the next step is to allow them in all residential areas of the city. Not having ADUs allowed through the city has put the burden on individual homeowners to change their zoning so they can build ADUs, as well as Councilmembers who have sponsored rezonings in their districts. With this project, individual homeowners won’t have to rezone anymore, and we’ll be able to slowly add gentle density housing to Denver’s neighborhoods.” 

Denver councilmember Darrell Watson said: “I am excited to sponsor along with my colleagues the city-wide ADUs project that will allow ADUs in all residential areas of the city. This project will implement the clear community recommendation in Blueprint Denver for citywide ADUs. We are facing an attainable housing crisis. This project will deliver on providing additional housing options to residents in District 9 as well as across the city.”

Denver councilmember Chris Hinds said: “Denver’s housing crisis demands action. This legislation cuts red tape, promoting gentle density citywide to address the issue. I’m proud to co-sponsor this important bill.”

Denver councilmember Sarah Parady said: “I’m excited to be a part of the final step of Denver’s careful work to define how ADUs can fit into each type of residential zone district throughout the city. In a housing crisis that has many Denverites feeling trapped, this little piece of flexibility in our zoning will go a long way.”

Allowing ADUs in all residential areas of the city would expand housing availability and choice through gentle density without significantly changing how neighborhoods look and feel. It would also remove barriers for homeowners who would no longer be required to undertake a lengthy and expensive rezoning process before building an ADU.  

The project builds upon the ADUs in Denver project, which updated building standards for ADUs to make them better fit in different neighborhoods. Prior to the code changes approved through the ADUs in Denver project, the zoning code considered ADUs through a one-size-fits-all approach with little variation by neighborhood.  

This project implements proposed state legislation (House Bill 24-1152) by allowing administrative approval of ADUs in all residential districts.

If approved by City Council, the project would result in an update to the language of the Denver Zoning Code as well as a change to the city’s zoning map. The proposal is expected to go to City Council for a vote this summer.  

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