“Bedrooms Are For People” lost at the ballot box, saving months or years in court attempting to resolve the disparity between the title and the ordinance. But many on the new Council want to take up the occupancy issue anyway.  That’s fine, but this is not a simple issue, and I hope the council recognizes this.

The Council members need to start by discussing what they realistically want to achieve, and what they see as appropriate conditions and constraints on their goals. Having some reality in this discussion is critical, since the kind of one-liners tossed around during the campaign are not much use in doing good policy work. For example, there was the idiotic statement that, “Everyone who wants to live in Boulder should be able to.” But what if there are a million such people?

We don’t lack for legitimate issues to be explored: For example, it seems reasonable that two single women with two kids apiece could share the house that one owns that is currently zoned for a family plus two unrelated people. But there are some ideas that are just not OK, given that BAFP lost, like a dozen unrelated people living in a house split up into multiple bedrooms with an absentee landlord. Here’s an attempt to start organizing the thinking on the matter:

Money: Should rents charged for units with increased occupancy be restricted so that they are more affordable? (This was done, albeit inadequately, a few years ago with accessory dwelling units.) Should adding additional bedrooms to existing dwellings to take financial advantage of occupancy increases be prohibited?

Supply and Demand: Should the city push CU to cap enrollment in Boulder, and have CU do its growing elsewhere? What about limiting job growth to prevent any extra housing supply from being overwhelmed by increased demand? Is the additional demand, unrelated to CU’s and job growth, so big that increasing the supply won’t significantly affect prices? What about some overall limits given our finite resources – water, open space, street capacity, etc.?

Neighborhoods: Will the Council recognize that existing neighborhood residents have reasonable expectations that the type and density of the neighborhood that they bought into won’t be destroyed? What about the equity issue that exists because some areas of town are protected from densification because they have neighborhood covenants or homeowners’ associations? How much of Boulder’s housing stock is covered by covenants or HOAs versus without them? And will weak occupancy rules lead neighborhoods to create covenants, etc., to prevent or limit the effects?

On this issue, what’s happening in California is instructive. Per an article I just read in the LA Times, cities across California are attempting to blunt the impact of the new state law that allows duplexes and, in some cases, fourplexes in most single-family neighborhoods. This law was allegedly an attempt to deal with the state’s lack of affordable housing, even though the law did not require the new housing to be affordable nor limit commercial and office development to match housing supply. And in response to the local governments’ resistance to this law, one legislator is now working on a state constitutional amendment to restrain the state’s ability to override local development rules. Interestingly, the current law does require owners who want to split their lots to live there for three years afterwards.

This last point brings up what might be the most important issue for the Council to discuss: What rights do nearby homeowners have regarding increased occupancy in their neighbors’ houses? Even if the Council limits occupancy increases to existing bedrooms in owner-occupied dwellings and to a limited percentage of units on a block, and with rent control (all of which I hope they do), what if increased occupancy leads to excessive noise, traffic, parked cars, etc.? Will strong nuisance rules be enforced?

Clearly the approach that was used in the co-op ordinance won’t work. It only required mediation, and the co-op folks got to pick the mediator. Why not require any dwelling with excess occupancy to stay in the good graces of their neighbors, so that, for example, if more than 50% of the neighbors complained, then the excess occupancy is shut down? When I lived in a commune in the ‘70s right down the street from where I live now, we exceeded the occupancy limit. But we made sure all our neighbors had our phone number. And if there was ever a problem, they could contact us and we’d fix it. Simple and effective.

Steve Pomerance is a former Boulder City Council member. stevepomerance@yahoo.com

Source by [author_name]

“Bedrooms Are For People” lost at the ballot box, saving months or years in court attempting to resolve the disparity between the title and the ordinance. But many on the new Council want to take up the occupancy issue anyway.  That’s fine, but this is not a simple issue, and I hope the council recognizes this.

The Council members need to start by discussing what they realistically want to achieve, and what they see as appropriate conditions and constraints on their goals. Having some reality in this discussion is critical, since the kind of one-liners tossed around during the campaign are not much use in doing good policy work. For example, there was the idiotic statement that, “Everyone who wants to live in Boulder should be able to.” But what if there are a million such people?

We don’t lack for legitimate issues to be explored: For example, it seems reasonable that two single women with two kids apiece could share the house that one owns that is currently zoned for a family plus two unrelated people. But there are some ideas that are just not OK, given that BAFP lost, like a dozen unrelated people living in a house split up into multiple bedrooms with an absentee landlord. Here’s an attempt to start organizing the thinking on the matter:

Money: Should rents charged for units with increased occupancy be restricted so that they are more affordable? (This was done, albeit inadequately, a few years ago with accessory dwelling units.) Should adding additional bedrooms to existing dwellings to take financial advantage of occupancy increases be prohibited?

Supply and Demand: Should the city push CU to cap enrollment in Boulder, and have CU do its growing elsewhere? What about limiting job growth to prevent any extra housing supply from being overwhelmed by increased demand? Is the additional demand, unrelated to CU’s and job growth, so big that increasing the supply won’t significantly affect prices? What about some overall limits given our finite resources – water, open space, street capacity, etc.?

Neighborhoods: Will the Council recognize that existing neighborhood residents have reasonable expectations that the type and density of the neighborhood that they bought into won’t be destroyed? What about the equity issue that exists because some areas of town are protected from densification because they have neighborhood covenants or homeowners’ associations? How much of Boulder’s housing stock is covered by covenants or HOAs versus without them? And will weak occupancy rules lead neighborhoods to create covenants, etc., to prevent or limit the effects?

On this issue, what’s happening in California is instructive. Per an article I just read in the LA Times, cities across California are attempting to blunt the impact of the new state law that allows duplexes and, in some cases, fourplexes in most single-family neighborhoods. This law was allegedly an attempt to deal with the state’s lack of affordable housing, even though the law did not require the new housing to be affordable nor limit commercial and office development to match housing supply. And in response to the local governments’ resistance to this law, one legislator is now working on a state constitutional amendment to restrain the state’s ability to override local development rules. Interestingly, the current law does require owners who want to split their lots to live there for three years afterwards.

This last point brings up what might be the most important issue for the Council to discuss: What rights do nearby homeowners have regarding increased occupancy in their neighbors’ houses? Even if the Council limits occupancy increases to existing bedrooms in owner-occupied dwellings and to a limited percentage of units on a block, and with rent control (all of which I hope they do), what if increased occupancy leads to excessive noise, traffic, parked cars, etc.? Will strong nuisance rules be enforced?

Clearly the approach that was used in the co-op ordinance won’t work. It only required mediation, and the co-op folks got to pick the mediator. Why not require any dwelling with excess occupancy to stay in the good graces of their neighbors, so that, for example, if more than 50% of the neighbors complained, then the excess occupancy is shut down? When I lived in a commune in the ‘70s right down the street from where I live now, we exceeded the occupancy limit. But we made sure all our neighbors had our phone number. And if there was ever a problem, they could contact us and we’d fix it. Simple and effective.

Steve Pomerance is a former Boulder City Council member. stevepomerance@yahoo.com

, Commentary: Steve Pomerance: The occupancy debate , Steve Pomerance , 2021-12-02 19:25:03 , Boulder Daily Camera , https://www.dailycamera.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/20190411_12DCECOLw-1-1.jpg?w=1400px&strip=all , https://www.dailycamera.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/20190411_12DCECOLw-1-1.jpg?w=311&h=211 , [rule_{ruleNumber}] , [rule_{ruleNumber}_plain] , , , https://www.dailycamera.com/2021/12/02/commentary-steve-pomerance-the-occupancy-debate/ , https://www.dailycamera.com/2021/12/02/commentary-steve-pomerance-the-occupancy-debate/ , www.dailycamera.com , https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailycamera.com%2F2021%2F12%2F02%2Fcommentary-steve-pomerance-the-occupancy-debate%2F , Opinion,Opinion Columnists, #Commentary #Steve #Pomerance #occupancy #debate