Boulder’s Active Community Members Ignite a Motion for Change in Cooperative Housing
Scott Rowland • November 17, 2015 • Lifestyle •
Boulder’s City Council passed Ordinance No. 8072 with “no comments or questions” during the first reading on Sept. 1. Not much changed during their third and final reading on Nov. 10, but the impact of active community members speaking out influenced further analysis of another set of regulations.
The underlying idea is that amending Title 9, “Land Use Code”, and Title 10, “Structures”, has a means to improve occupancy enforcement of rental units and, in turn, keep rates down. While the premise for concern is fair and a real problem, the ordinance has reinvigorated an ongoing discussion about limitations on the number of residents per home as it affects cooperative housing.
Over 90 community members took advantage of the public hearing on Sept. 15 and spoke against the changes of Ordinance 8072. Most expressed their love for communal living while others picked at the original argument: limiting occupancy to three or four unrelated individuals is an unreasonable expectation for many reasons. Boulder is a college town. Couples tend to share a bedroom for cheaper expenses. Five bedroom homes exist. Each person with their own perspective on how the rental restrictions could adversely affect their life and the lives of friends and family who want to remain in compliance with the law.
Now, renters and rentees alike are required to uphold the following provisions:
1. Landlords must disclose any tenants not conforming to the occupancy limits as stated in Title 9 Section 8-5, “Occupancy of Dwelling Units”.
2. Title 9 Section 15-9, “Multiple Dwelling Units and Occupancy – Specific Defenses” declares that landlords can no longer use the defense for “active and diligent” management practices when tenants are in violation of occupancy limits.
3. Homeowners must follow the provisions of Title 10 Section 3-2, “Rental License Required Before Occupancy and License Exemptions” by obtaining a rental license with the legal occupancy limit stated on the license.
4. Any property manager in violation of Title 10 Section 3-16, “Administrative Remedy”, must pay the increased fine for first and second violations.
5. Legal occupancy limit must be posted on or near the front door of all rental units according to Title 10 Section 3-20, “Occupancy”.
6. Title 10 Section 3-20, “Occupancy” also states that rental licenses and advertisements must clearly display the occupancy limit as determined by the city.
The City Council did not bat an eye when passing the adjustments to Title 9 and Title 10, but a thread of silver lining was brought to the table. The council decided that they are taking the time to reconsider the code provisions for cooperative housing.
“We have indeed directed staff to work on the cooperative housing code,” says Mayor Matthew Appelbaum. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done on this, but we are aware of that. We will be working on it and this is meant to be the first step of some changes being made to the existing cooperative code.”
The community’s united effort to express valid concerns about occupancy limitations in Boulder has been acknowledged. Even though Appelbaum’s assertion does not ease the regulations incurred by landlords and renters under Ordinance 8072, it leaves hope for an increase in the number of co-ops allowed within the city limits. Active community members have said their peace and stirred up the possibility of an amicable solution for everyone.
City Council meeting occurred on Nov. 10, 2015Recording of City Council Meeting