"As a licensed professional engineer, I am charged by oath to protect the life, health and safety of the public. Therefore, I support a YES ON 2F for health and safety reasons.
I retired from the City and County of Denver in 2006 as the Director of the Design and Construction Management Division. During my sixteen-year tenure with the City, I held a temporary position as the Acting Director of the Building Inspection Division, more commonly known as the Building Department, for ten months. The Building Department is charged with enforcing the building code as well as occasionally interfacing with the Zoning Department.
While serving at the Building Department, on several occasions, my field inspectors would report to me that, even in homes abiding by the zoning limitations on the number of occupants, individuals were living in unheated garages and basements without the building code required number of exits.
The Group Living Amendment (GLA), authorized by City Ordinance Number 2020-0888, would allow as many as five unrelated adults and all of their children to occupy a single residence. The ordinance makes no distinction regarding the size of the home; any size home is allowed five unrelated adults and all of their minor children related to any adult. The provision for an unlimited number of children living in a single residence exceeds even the standards set by Denver in regulating home day care centers. The GLA makes no mention of the allowable number of occupants per bedroom, nor does it prohibit people from living in basements or unheated garages.
Here's an article about how crowded living conditions adversely affect human health in England: The Impact of Overcrowding on Health and Education (ioe.ac.uk) This article states that overcrowded conditions affect mental and physical health; childhood growth , development, and education; personal safety; accidents; and child maltreatment. The upshot of this article is that living in overcrowded conditions is both physically and mentally unhealthy for children as well as their parents.
A related article, also from England, states what is considered acceptable living space for occupants based on what one bedroom can accommodate: a married couple or co-cohabiting couple; a single person over 21 years old, pairs of children under 10 years old regardless of gender, pairs of children aged 10 to 21 years old of the same gender, and a person aged 10 to 21 with a child under 10 of the same sex. Any occupancy level per bedroom greater than this constitutes overcrowding. As you can see, this analysis is not based on the number of square feet of the home, but by the occupancy in a bedroom. The GLA does not address occupancy by the number of bedrooms in a home or the occupancy level by bedroom.
The GLA has several more issues that were not addressed, specifically:
Trash Based on say a household with two adults and maybe two children, there would be an increase in the amount of solid waste when the occupancy more than doubles, from two adults to five. The EPA has reported that nationwide per capita generation of solid waste is 4.51 pounds per person per day. For a family of four, this equates to 126 pounds per week. With five adults plus any number of children occupying a residence, the solid waste generation would likely exceed the amount of trash that fits into the City-provided 65-gallon trash carts that are typical in my neighborhood. This means that the surplus trash will have to wait for the next “large item pickup“ day, which now is scheduled for every eight weeks. In the interim, any bags of trash stored outside will attract insects and vermin, such as skunks, raccoons, mice and rats. These animals transmit diseases such as leptospirosis, salmonella, rabies, roundworm, fleas, ticks, lice, mites, plague, hemorrhagic fever among others. The infections spread by raccoons through their urine and feces are particularly dangerous to young children as they usually play outdoors where they can be in direct contact with racoon excrement. Even if a vigilant homeowner promptly removes racoon feces, many may forget that the location of the feces must be further sanitized with boiling water.
Fresh Air Ventilation The GLA makes reference to fresh air ventilation requirements via the Denver Rules and Regulations for Housing. These rules require a window or other means of ventilation. Opening a window for fresh air, when the outside temperature is around 20 degrees does not seem like something that residents are likely to do. Forced mechanical ventilation through an air-to-air heat exchanger would most certainly be better. However, this type of "other means of ventilation" is not addressed in the Denver Regulations for Housing. Adequate fresh air is essential for reduced transmission of disease. During this Covid pandemic, it has been noted that a large part of Covid transmissions occurred in private residences.
Hot Water The GLA only requires a 35-gallon water heater, which is totally inadequate. Even a 50-gallon water heater would not be sufficient to serve a household of five adults and any children. Based on a water heater’s first hour rating calculation, a 50-gallon water heater could only serve eight occupants. A lack of hot water will discourage personal hygiene, which may lead to various types of skin diseases and infections. Clearly, crowded living conditions are detrimental to a quality life especially for children. It is unfortunate that the advocates for the GLA have overlooked these issues. I highly advocate a YES ON 2F vote."
David J. Bufalo Denver, Colorado Licensed Professional Engineer
VOTE YES ON 2F Safety and stability in our neighborhoods -- details matter! SafeandSoundDenver.com
Authorized and paid for by Safe and Sound Denver Issue Committee