City Council December 6th Co-op Hearing

Boulder City Council once again debated the Cooperative Housing Ordinance on the evening of December 6th, 2016.   The ordinance will continue to a third reading in early 2017.

Video recording of the entire Co-op Ordinance portion of the meeting:

Daily Camera articles about the meeting:
Highlights of the meeting:
  • City Attorney Tom Carr gave a complete and accurate report of his town hall meeting with citizens that was held on November 30th.  He conveyed all of the comments and community sentiment as promised. Unfortunately, the City Council did not really discuss any of this feedback.
  • A lot of topics were brought up and had very little discussion – meaning that whatever is in the current draft of the Ordinance will remain “as-is.”
  • There was some discussion of rental co-op license inspections requiring a check on sufficient legal bedrooms for the proposed occupancy – Sam Weaver mentioned a “sleeping plan.”
  • Suzanne Jones requested that the ordinance mention SmartRegs requirements for rental co-ops.
  • Parking was left as is, but Tom Carr mentioned that the city needs to figure out whether it really wants to enforce co-op parking regulations.
  • A lot of discussion around Permanent Affordability requirements for non-profit co-ops.
    • Jones asked to change the terminology from “Group Equity Co-op” to just “Non-Profit Co-op” for the sake of clarity.
    • The idea of a non-profit organization having partial ownership of a private equity co-op seems to have come as a complete surprise to the Council (even though it’s been in there since June), and they asked to get rid of it.
  • Number of co-ops per year:  no change, still 14 per year, city-wide with no per-neighborhood limits.
  • Grandfathering: Okay, so it’s not really grandfathering. No change.
  • Minimum 2,000 square foot house requirement: no change (but see Occupancy Limits discussion)
  • Occupancy Limits: Council discussed this topic at great length.  The concept of a minimum square feet per person requirement came back.
    I'm shocked, SHOCKED!
    I’m shocked, SHOCKED! to find no square feet per person requirement in here!

    (They were shocked, shocked!, to find that it had been dropped from the current draft).  The discussion rambled around in circles for quite awhile, and came to no particular conclusion.  Some of the possible ideas mentioned were:

    • minimum 250 square feet per person in low-density zones, 200 sqft/person elsewhere
    • Maximum number of occupants to be based on some combination of zoning district, lot size, house size, and rental vs. equity types. Numbers between 8 and 20 people per co-op were tossed around.
    • Jones and Brockett repeatedly had to defend their high numbers by citing the fact that 50% of the emails they received wanted higher limits (Note that Tom Carr told us they don’t use email counts as votes!)
  • 500 foot separation distance – no discussion, stays as is.  At least they didn’t regress on this.  Bob Yates points out that this creates a 21-acre buffer zone for each co-op.   Another way to look at it is that this would allow 30 co-ops per square mile, which means that there is room in the City of Boulder for over 700 co-ops.
  • Prohibit additions to houses that are done for the sole purpose of getting up to the 2,000 square foot minimum for co-ops (from Andrew Shoemaker’s statement on co-ops 12/6/16).

At the end, a motion was made to move the ordinance to a third reading. The next hearing will be in early 2017, and it is not known whether there will be public testimony at that time.

The vote on the motion was 6-1 in favor, with only Lisa Morzel voting against.  At that time, Lisa gave an impassioned speech against this ordinance: “I think this is going to be a disaster!

Lisa Morzel’s speech: 

Some of what Lisa said had to do with occupancy limit enforcement. Unfortunately, Aaron Brockett seized on this opportunity to set the stage for City Council to renege on their promise to crack down on occupancy limit enforcement after the co-op ordinance is passed.

Aaron Brockett’s statement: