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Land Use Code Amendment Projects

The City of Boulder has several code changes underway: Parking Code and Transportation Demand Management; Community Benefit (Phase 2), Oil and Gas Regulations (recent State Law changes have permitted more local government control) and Code Clarifications so the code will be easier to understand. These changes are in addition to code for Land Use Table and Standards and Community Benefit. Information about these changes will be provided here as it is available.

The city continues to review and update the city’s Land Use Code  consistent with City Council’s directives and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. Community engagement and public input will help inform potential outcomes for all projects. Follow the links below to learn more about each project. 

Below are the primary code change projects being undertaken by planning staff in 2020:


Use Table and Standards

The BVCP includes policies to create more mixed-use neighborhoods in appropriate locations and foster more walkable neighborhoods where people live, work and play. The Use Table and Standards project aims to align the use standards of the Land Use Code with the BVCP policies and explore more compatible and updated land uses. For example, the end result could pave the way for more corner coffee shops or small-scaled grocery stores in or near your neighborhood, making Boulder a more walkable city for residents’ everyday needs. The project also seeks to streamline regulations and create more predictability and certainty in the code. 


Community Benefit Phase 2

Community benefit has been a topic discussed in the community for several years, but in 2018, the community benefit project officially began with goals of exploring how benefits such as affordable housing, art space and transportation improvements could be obtained through development projects, particularly larger projects where extra height, not above 55 feet, or floor area are proposed. This project will determine the type and amount of community benefits that would be provided to achieve increased intensity (e.g. floor area), building height, density and zone district changes. In 2019, City Council adopted Ordinance 8359 , which established new Site Review criteria requiring community benefit in the form of additional permanently affordable housing requirements for projects that propose to build above three-stories as part of Phase 1 of the Community Benefit project. Now, staff is moving forward with Phase 2, which includes consideration of additional community benefits such as below market rate commercial space, space for the arts, social services and net zero buildings. The project also includes potential updates to the Site Review criteria, which are the detailed criteria that apply to larger scale development projects. 


Parking/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Code Updates

A comprehensive update to the city’s off-street parking standards, which determines the number of parking spaces required and minimum design standards, has not been done in many years. An  evaluation of those standards has been undertaken as a part of the Access Management Parking Strategy (AMPS) project , where  the city has been working with a transportation consultant to analyze the city’s off-street parking requirements (the land use code regulations that specify how much parking is required by use or by amount of floor area in a building). The parking supply and demand data that has been gathered since 2014 speaks to necessary adjustments to off-street parking requirements to reflect the city’s current parking needs. 


Oil & Gas Regulations

On April 3, 2019, the Senate passed SB 19-181. The Governor of Colorado signed SB 19-181 into law on April 16, 2019. SB 19-181 ensures that oil and gas development and operations in Colorado are regulated in a manner that protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources. SB 19-181’s amendments to the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (“Act”) are effective as of April 16, 2019, the date the Governor signed the bill into law. SB-19-181 allows local governments the right to regulate oil and gas development consistent with State Law. Many Colorado jurisdictions, including Boulder County and the City of Boulder, are in the process of development local regulations related to oil and gas. 


Land Use Code Clarification Project

Planning and Development Services staff are proposing updates and clarifications to the Land Use Code, that have been identified over the years through the development review process, as well as in discussions with applicants, the public and the design community. The changes that are proposed are intended to correct inaccuracies, improve or simplify the readability of the code language, make code language clear and explicit, update outdated graphics and improve consistency with text, and correct code language that has resulted in unintended consequences.  


Accessory Dwelling Units  (ADUs)

In early 2020, the following updates to the ADU regulations were made by City Council. An ADU, also known as an “accessory apartment”, “secondary suite”, or “mother-in-law apartment”, is an additional dwelling unit that has separate kitchen, sleeping and bathroom facilities, attached or detached from the principal dwelling unit on a single-family lot. An accessory dwelling unit is permitted only if it meets the requirements of Section 9.6.4(a) of the land use code. The owner must reside in one of the dwelling units.​ ADUs offer homeowners many benefits that can maintain and increase quality of life. Homeowners can either use the ADU for themselves, rent it, or move into it to free up their principal home for others. To learn more about ADUs, including recent code clarifications, visit the  project web page .