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Community Benefits Project

Where we are and what's next 

In April 2019, the Boulder City Council directed staff to accelerate a portion of the project this year and to complete the balance of the project in 2020. The accelerated portion includes an affordable housing requirement for projects seeking a height bonus (i.e. 4th and/or 5th story). The second phase will identify a full suite of community benefits, site review criteria amendments and design standards.  

The staff recommendation and supporting information can be found in the Resources column on this page.

News and Events

Community Benefits Project update

  • Oct. 1: The public hearing and first reading of the proposed Phase I Community Benefit Ordinance 8359 was heard by City Council. Phase I of the Community Benefits Project focuses on new permanently affordable housing requirements for height modifications involving requested 4th and 5th stories for buildings above the zoning district height limit up to the 55-foot maximum. Council unanimously passed the Phase I ordinance on first reading, but requested the following additional options be explored prior to final decision on the ordinance:
    • Determine whether the identified “Nursing Homes and Assisted Living” use could be limited to non-profit projects or those that ensure a level of affordability to residents, and
    • Consider if Appendix J (land use code map that determines where height modifications may be requested) should be modified to:
      • Include additional areas within the Boulder Valley Regional Center (i.e., the mixed-use, retail-oriented areas along 28th Street mostly zoned Business Regional – 1) for potential height modifications beyond the Twenty Ninth Street site, and
      • Include areas zoned for High Density Residential (e.g., RH zones)
  • Oct. 15: City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 8359 creating a new community benefits program in the form of new site review criteria related to height modifications. The criteria mandate additional permanently affordable housing requirements for proposals that request to build floor area above a zoning district height limit up to 55-feet in any fourth or fifth story. Such requests to build above the zoning district height limits will continue to require Planning Board review and decision at a public hearing. Appendix J, the map that specifies where height modifications may be requested will be kept in effect, but was updated by council to include the Alpine-Balsam Area Plan area and the Residential High – 3 (RH-3) zoning district.

This was a prioritized code change requested by City Council and termed the Phase I Community Benefits Project. Phase II will explore additional community benefit options beyond permanently affordable housing and revamped site review criteria into the 2020 timeframe. The ordinance requires final decision by council on Oct. 29 and if approved, would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

​Upcoming Meetings

Please note meeting dates are subject to change; this page will be updated as changes to the schedule are made.

  • Oct. 29: City Council to consider final adoption of the ordinance incorporating requested changes from the Oct. 15 meeting (no public testimony will be taken at that time); 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO

Why is the city undertaking this project?

A community benefits program has been discussed as one tool to ensure that new growth and development contribute positively to Boulderites’ quality of life. While higher quality of development is often attained through the Site Review process, in recent years community sentiment has expressed that more specific community benefits should be required in exchange for additional height, intensity or density.

What is the Community Benefits Project?

Community benefit programs typically include a suite of regulations and incentives that tie specific community benefits to requests for additional development rights (like building height, floor area and residential density). These programs identify the specific amount and type of community benefit required with specific development requests.

For example, some properties in Boulder are eligible to request a “Height Modification” to allow an additional one or two stories (up to 55 feet) when the zoning only allows three stories. Boulder’s Community Benefits Project would provide a menu of options – like affordable housing, affordable commercial space, community gathering space and public art – to be provided as part of the project. The specific amount of required benefits would be proportional to the bonus amount requested.



How can I get involved?

Stay informed of all things planning related by signing up for the city Planning bi-weekly email at the bottom of this page.

Please contact Phil Kleisler ( [email protected] ) to be placed on an email list specific to this project.      

Project Contacts:

Karl Guiler ([email protected], 303-441-4236)

Phil Kleisler ([email protected], 303-441-4497)


Purpose Statement

Identify new opportunities for attaining community benefit through development review projects or zoning changes that propose additional height or intensity by updating the Site Review criteria (and potentially other parts of the code) to be more attuned to city goals and increase the level of predictability in projects consistent with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) policies below:


1.11 Enhanced Community Benefits

For land use or zoning district changes that result in increases in the density or intensity of development beyond what is permitted by the underlying zoning or for added height that increases intensity, the city will develop regulations and incentives so that the new development provides benefits to the community beyond those otherwise required by the underlying zoning. Any incentives are intended to address the community economic, social and environmental objectives of the comprehensive plan. Community objectives include without limitation affordable housing, affordable commercial space, spaces for the arts, community gathering space, public art, land for parks, open space, environmental protection or restoration, outdoor spaces and other identified social needs and services. Community objectives also may be identified through other planning or policymaking efforts of the city.


2.35 Building Height

The city will review and update site review regulations to provide clear guidance on height and intensity of land uses and to address relationship of building height to aesthetics and view protection. The city will consider additional height (up to the City Charter 55 -foot height limit) as an incentive in exchange for community benefits that further other community objectives such as the provision of permanently affordable housing (as described in Policy 1.11).


7.11 Permanently Affordable Housing for Additional Intensity

The city will develop regulations and policies to ensure that when additional intensity is provided through changes to zoning, a larger proportion of the additional development potential for the residential use will be permanently affordable housing for low, moderate and middle-income households.




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