Boulder City Council next month is poised to approve changes to accessory dwelling unit regulations, relaxing the rules so co-ops and ADUs can exist on the same lot.
The changes, proposed by the Planning Board, are in opposition to a staff recommendation that the two types of residences not be allowed to locate together.
Speakers at Tuesday’s Council meeting said allowing both types on the same property could make living in a co-op more attractive to a broader section of the community, especially families, seniors and those who prefer more privacy. Those who live in co-ops now tend to be single young adults, they noted.
Adding an accessory dwelling unit on a property with a co-op also wouldn’t change the limits on the number of residents or parking spaces. Co-ops are capped at 12 residents in low-density zoning districts and 15 in all others. No proposed co-ops are in the pipeline for approval, city staff said.
Several council members said they were convinced by the Planning Board’s 7-0 vote in favor of the change, as well as by the potential for more housing options that could be affordable.
“I’m particularly swayed by the affordability for families,” said Councilmember Rachel Friend.
Council also agreed with a recommendation from both Planning Board and staff to remove a requirement for architectural design consistency for existing structures that are detached from a main home, such as a shed or garage, that a property owner wants to turn into an accessory unit.
Another change supported by Council is more flexibility in roof heights for property owners looking to convert existing detached structures to accessory dwelling units. The change could help property owners avoid extensive renovations.
The changes would make it easier to convert an existing structure and eliminate “unintentional barriers,” according to staff.
The architectural design and roof height requirements would remain in effect for new accessory dwelling unit construction.
Along with moving forward those changes, council members said, they want more time to consider a possible change to prohibit accessory dwelling units to be converted to a condominium and sold separately from the main house.
Councilmember Mark Wallach supported the proposed prohibition: “At the end of the day, this is mostly a boon for the property owner and doesn’t do much for the affordability housing crisis,” he said.
Other members said allowing that kind of sale could potentially provide a small condo that’s more affordable for home buyers in the city, but the idea needs more exploration and public outreach.
“It could be another way to provide access to home ownership,” Councilmember Mary Young said.
The regulations will go back to Council for a third reading on Feb. 4.