This article has also been published as a Daily Camera Guest Opinion.
The glorification of the illegal co-op Picklebric by reporter Alex Burness in Sunday’s Daily Camera in conjunction with the simultaneous publication of Picklebric member Steven Winter’s guest opinion creates the impression that the co-op is being persecuted for speaking out in favor of co-operative housing and for being a “good neighbor.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the City is well aware of many of the illegal co-ops that exist (including Picklebric) and has affirmatively chosen not to enforce its over-occupancy ordinance. Mr. Winter seems to think that his neighbors were accepting of Picklebric’s existence until its members spoke out in favor of the proposed co-op ordinance. I would suggest that having 10+ residents and a revolving door of short-term “guests” has more to do with Picklebric’s current situation than its political advocacy. Add backyard concerts, dog parties, group projects and an exponential number of friends with cars and pets and you have created an untenable situation for the neighbors.
Just to be clear, nobody cares if the residents of Picklebric or any other group want to participate in an “intentional” group living arrangement. That is not the issue. What people DO care about is over-occupancy and the constellation of problems it brings to a neighborhood. It’s one thing to have an over-occupied house of four or five next door, but it’s quite another to have 10-15 people in the same space – as saint-like as they may be.
For people who haven’t been following this controversy you should know that your city council intends to allow co-ops in every neighborhood of the city and that the first iteration of the co-op ordinance written by our city attorney in consultation with co-op advocates would allow unregulated “rental co-ops” (i.e., revolving door boarding houses) in your neighborhood. If this matters to you, you need to contact City Council.
Attempting to couch this issue in terms of “classism” or “housing justice” deliberately distorts the real issue: unwanted over-occupancy and density and the burden they place on our neighborhoods.
The Daily Camera might want to send Mr. Burness back to j-school for a brush up course on how to research and investigate a story. This piece was sorely lacking in both.