Large Homes and Lots
Check out Be Heard Boulder to take a questionnaire and share your feedback:
City Council identified Large Homes and Lots as a priority item for Land Use Code updates in 2018. Council has since held two study sessions in September and December 2018, and received feedback from the public during a discussion about a potential emergency development regulation for large homes and lots – no action was taken and there is not a moratorium or emergency large home ordinance in effect at this time. The Planning Board also provided feedback on Nov. 15, 2018. The meeting can be viewed here.
The Large Homes and Lots project includes the study of potential land use and energy-related regulatory tools to address large homes being constructed within the residential zoning districts of the city, including but not limited to the Residential – Estate (RE) and Residential – Rural (RR) zoning districts, that may be incompatible with the existing neighborhood character, and the city’s energy-efficiency and affordability goals. The project will explore regulations related to:
- Form, bulk, and intensity standards of the Land Use Code.
- Incentives or disincentives, to encourage the construction of smaller energy-efficient homes and/or the preservation of existing homes.
- Creative infill standards to consider multiple smaller-units on large lots (where appropriate), including the subdivision of large lots into two or more smaller lots.
The preliminary goals of the project are to study and consider :
- Creative solutions to potentially allow infill redevelopment of large lots into two or more houses / units – additional units may be allowed where appropriate, provided they are more affordable and designed in such a way as to be sensitive to the neighborhood context.
- Potential hard cap on floor area for single family residential development.
- Incentives / disincentives for preserving existing housing stock, and creative infill solutions that are also affordable.
- Potential strategies and phasing for adjusting the Land Use Code’s size, form and bulk compatibility standards.
- Updates to the city Energy Conservation Code to accelerate the city’s energy conservation goals.
The project is in the initial scoping phase, and the community engagement phase will be begin in late January/February of 2019. The draft strategy for the project can be viewed here. The project and recommendations to council are anticipated to be completed during the Fall of 2019 after the community engagement phase.
Stay tuned to this webpage for upcoming outreach events.
The city’s residential neighborhoods are experiencing a dramatic demographic and economic shift with the replacement of modest more-affordable homes with larger more-expensive homes. These large homes are often inconsistent with the existing character of the neighborhoods, and are an inefficient use of land that has exacerbated the city’s housing / jobs imbalance and the high-cost of housing. In addition, large homes do not align with the city’s energy-conservation goals and policies as they consume greater amounts of energy, both in operation and construction, than do modest-sized homes. To address these shortcomings, smaller home sizes and creative infill solutions that consider the potential for multiple smaller-homes in large lot areas (where appropriate), should be encouraged to foster a more efficient use of land, energy and resources, and to support a broader housing and economic diversity in the city’s residential neighborhoods.
Consistent with newly updated Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) policies (see below), staff will amend the Land Use Code to require smaller homes in residential zones that are consistent with the character of the existing neighborhoods, and that advance the city’s energy-efficiency, climate sustainability, and housing affordability goals and policies. This includes creative solutions for both the preservation of existing homes and the development of more small houses (rather than fewer large houses) in residential zones.
Depending on recommendations and the public’s input, potential changes may include adjustments to the permitted new home size and floor area regulations. It may also provide creative regulations to permits more smaller homes and potentially additional housing types. In addition, incentives and Energy Conservation Code updates are also possibilities to encourage more smaller homes. Please note that there is not a moratorium or emergency large home ordinance in effect at this time. The existing regulations continue to apply, and any legally existing use or structure may continue to be legally maintained and operated as prescribed by the Land Use Code.
Engagement activities will kick-off in early 2019 where community members will be able to share their feedback by participating in events and online. Community feedback will be presented to City Council and will help inform recommendations from city staff. The Project and recommendations are anticipated to conclude by during the Fall of 2019.