BNA’s Positions on the Co-op Ordinance 3rd Reading Jan. 3, 2017

BNA maintains that co-ops should be limited to only private equity co-ops and/or limited to high-density, mixed-use, and converted commercial/industrial/office zoning districts.  However, we understand that the City Council is determined to move forward with sweeping legislation to allow rental and non-profit co-ops, and co-ops in low and medium density residential zones. We wish to offer some ideas on areas that are still open for input from the public, in hopes of moderating the impacts of this ordinance.

Maximum Occupancy Caps by Zone:

We strongly recommend lower limits on the allowable number of co-op residents6 residents in Low Density Zones, 8 residents in Medium Density, and 12 in all other zones. These limits would come much closer to being consistent with neighborhood character than the numbers currently proposed.

Limit impact on specific neighborhoods:

There should be a way to prevent the likely concentration of co-ops in a few specific neighborhoods.  The 500 foot separation requirement helps limit the impact on a block or small area, but would still allow most new co-ops to locate in a few specific neighborhood areas – especially those areas near the university campus. Some form of yearly per-neighborhood or per-grid square limit would ensure that the impact of co-ops is spread out more evenly and more fairly across the city, and provide some small relief to the campus-area neighborhoods. Dispersal would be consistent with section 7.13 of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.

Occupancy Cap adjustment based on Lot Size:

There are many factors in addition to total lot size that determine the impact on neighbors, such as side-yard setbacks.  However, in the interest of simplicity, an adjustment could be based on the lot size alone. The nominal occupancy cap should apply to any lot size from 7,000 to 7,999 square feet.  The nominal occupancy cap should be reduced by one person for any lot size less than 7,000 square feet, and increased by one person lots greater than 8,000 square feet.

Minimum Dwelling Unit Size:

The minimum requirement of 2,000 square feet of habitable space is an acceptable compromise for many neighborhoods, provided that the five-year modification embargo clause is retained (10-11-3(g)). This limitation will allow smaller homes to remain available to the single-family “starter home” and rental market.

Minimum Habitable Space per Person:

We would prefer to see a minimum habitable space requirement of 300 square feet per person in low and medium density residential zones.  However we would accept the currently drafted formula of 250 square feet per person in RR/RE/RL zones, and 200 square feet per person in all other zones, provided that these limits are strictly enforced.

Sleeping Accommodation Plan:

We appreciate the requirement for a co-op to prepare a plan showing legal bedroom spaces sufficient to accommodate the number of residents requested in the license application.  This plan should also include sleeping accommodations for anticipated overnight visitors.

Occupancy Cap variation based on co-op type:

There is no rational basis for allowing more people in a non-profit or equity co-op.  The impact of a number of people on neighborhood density is the same regardless of how the co-op is financed. The same formula for maximum occupancy should be applied to all three types of co-op.

Separation between Co-ops:

The 500 foot property-line to property-line separation requirement is adequate for limiting the impact on individual blocks, provided that there are also per-neighborhood limits in place. We note that this separation distance allows for as many as 30 co-ops per square mile, or well over 500 co-ops throughout the entire city.

Parking Management:

The parking management plan that a co-op is required to prepare should limit the number of vehicles to those that can be parked off-street plus no more than two vehicles on the street.

Temporary Co-op Licenses:

There should be a maximum duration of no more than two months specified for the granting of a temporary license in the event of inspection deficiencies.

Annual Review:

We support the establishment of an annual review process, which should include community input. Perhaps a citizen review panel could be established for this purpose.


Addressing the issues noted above will go a long way toward mitigating neighborhood impact and potential for conflict, while still allowing the co-op community to substantially achieve their goals.