Response to Councilwoman Kniech's Claims | October 5, 2020

We appreciate Councilwoman Kniech’s openness to “find more common ground” between the opposing positions regarding the Group Living Text Amendment.

Councilwoman Kniech was appointed by the Mayor to the Group Living Advisory Committee and is using her legal education and training to guide the Group Living Amendment.  

 

We want to clarify several of points raised in her recent email to residents. We'll address Household Definition first.

"Because they didn’t realize they couldn’t share a 3 or 4 bedroom house with 3 or 4 roommates, a situation that would be legal in almost every one of Denver’s peer Colorado cities or nationally."

CPD cited 38 peer cities; the average number of allowed adults is only 4.4 in all the cities studied. The average is only 3.9 for Colorado peer cities (pg 24). Why is Denver proposing between 5 and 10 unrelated adults plus an unlimited number of relatives?
 

CPD states that despite laws allowing for more occupants, many peer cities have average household sizes remaining between 2 and 3.1 people.

 

Why is Denver proposing 5 to 10 unrelated adults, plus unlimited relatives, when a much lower number appears to be the norm both in legislation and in practice in peer cities?

“Many components of this policy have changed to directly respond to feedback coming from single family homeowners."
 
The Group Living Advisory Committee consisted of 48 appointees, of which only 8 represented neighborhood organizations. Only 15% of Denver's Registered Neighborhood Organizations had presentations from CPD.

 

Many neighborhood organizations have indicated they are either opposed to the current legislation or did not receive adequate notice regarding the legislation. Many have not been able to meet, due to COVID conditions.

 

CPD and Council's response in drafting the current proposal still falls far short of authentic public engagement and addressing the concerns of a majority of Denver's 700K+ residents.

"It is important to listen to those who may not have as much representation in city conversations such as renters or low income residents or people of color."
 
The Group Living Advisory Committee (GLAC) had 35 members who were owners/operators/advocates for emerging uses/tiny homes, cooperatives, transitional, and artist/DIY. It appears there was adequate representation at that level.

 

As to neighborhood representation on GLAC from people of color, Councilman Flynn stated at a LUTI meeting, that only one of the 8 neighborhood representatives was a person of color, someone the Councilman had appointed from his district, and that person gave up on the process early on.

 

CPD admitted they did not conduct authentic outreach to communities of color. Councilwoman Gilmore specifically criticized CPD for its lack of outreach to the communities of color in her district. When Montbello RNOs -- who represent these needed voices -- were made aware of the Amendment, they explicitly stated their objection to this legislation.

 

Safe and Sound Denver's petition signatures reflect a variety of surnames and zip codes across the city. 

 

 

“On household size - reducing the number of related adults...from the original proposal of 8 to 5." 

 

This is a misrepresentation. The Group Living Text Amendment states that 5 to 10 unrelated adults with an unlimited number of relatives may live together, depending upon the square footage of the house.

 

As Councilman Kashmann stated at LUTI, "I'm...stunned...really, there is no limit."

“Establishing a maximum cap of 10 in houses 2,600 feet or larger, where there was previously none.”
 
The current proposal does not state a maximum cap. The Amendment allows 10 unrelated adults plus an unlimited number or relatives. This could allow up to 30-40 people living in a house together.

 

Many residents would be supportive of a maximum cap, but most likely at a number in line with Denver’s peer cities, which is around 4.

 

Is the push for a large number of unrelated adults result from the influence of the cooperative business model on the Group Living Advisory Committee? Queen City Cooperative had 2 of 48 representatives on the Advisory Committee.

 

“Prohibiting rent-by the room models."
 
The proposed Amendment states that a household is defined by “not-for-profit” but what does that really mean?

 

Councilwoman Kniech is supportive of a rental registry or licensing program and she indicates that such a program is in the works, but how will this rental program ensure that all those living in a home share a common lease and are living as “one household" in a single family residential neighborhood?

 

Many peer cities have rental license programs but they do not necessarily address single family homes as rentals.

 

If a licensing program applies to single family homes of any size that are used as rentals, what assurances do we have that licensing will be implemented and adequately enforced after this legislation passes?

 

What assurances do we have that investors will not take advantage and buy up the limited single family housing stock in Denver -- leading to an even greater affordability problem? (See our Map of Single Family Homes in the Resources tab.)

“Planning department will track concrete metrics on implementation" and “Neighborhood inspection."
 
Metrics, developed after the fact, is simply not sufficient.

 

Currently, neighborhood inspection enforcement is complaint-driven and that won't change. It will

pit neighbor against neighbor.

CPD confirmed there is no "ask" for additional staffing in Neighborhood Inspections, fire, or police departments.

Drastic budget cuts due to COVID make it highly unlikely staffing will increase. It's also very likely problems will increase if the Amendment passes.

The Group Living Advisory Committee Charter outlined three deliverables:

 

  1. Problem definitions to be published on the city website

  2. Strategies to address the identified problems, including consideration of potential unintended consequences, to be published on city website

  3. Committee-approved revised code language to be published on city website

The second deliverable -- potential unintended consequences -- was never produced.

Safe and Sound Denver will continue to highlight potential and actual consequences.

 

Safe and Sound Denver 

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