A Code Amendment Project
Aligning the Use Table and Standards to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and streamlining and updating the Use Table and Standards to correct discrepancies and make the Land Use Code more readily understandable.
The purpose of this project is to bring Chapter 9-6, “Use Standards” of the Land Use Code, into greater alignment with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan’s (BVCP) policies and the city’s priorities, to better enable desired development outcomes throughout the city and to more effectively support the goals and outcomes of the BVCP. The project was paused in Fall 2020 due to staffing challenges during the pandemic, but the work has restarted in 2022.
Phase Two Project Timeline*
The remainder of Phase Two will be completed in three modules:
- Winter/Spring 2022 - Module One: Functional Fixes
- During Module One, work will focus on undertaking a variety of improvements to the way that land uses are identified and organized. These changes will focus on the functionality of the use table and increasing its clarity and user-friendliness for the public, applicants, and staff. While the format of the table and standards will be modified and some uses may be consolidated, regulatory changes to the allowances of uses within districts will not be considered until later modules.
- Summer/Fall 2022 – Module Two: Industrial Areas
- Module Two will be a comprehensive review of all uses and their allowances in the industrial districts. The primary intent will be to modify the code as necessary to implement any use table recommendations of the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan, while also identifying other necessary modifications to uses in the industrial districts. There may be related necessary implementation steps that come out of the plan that may be integrated into this work.
- Fall/Winter 2022-2023– Module Three: Neighborhoods
- In Module Three, the focus will shift to implementation of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan policies. In particular, work will focus on the overarching goals identified by the Planning Board subcommittee, which include encouraging 15-minute neighborhoods, supporting mixed-use nodes along corridors, and supporting walkable neighborhood centers of varying scales.
*The timeline is subject to change due to impacts from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
What sections of the Land Use Code may change?
The project will consider updates to Chapter 6, “Use Standards” of the Land Use Code and any other use-related sections. Changes may include:
- Updating the Use Table, (Section 9-6-1, Schedule of Permitted Uses)
- Revising specific use standards, including conditions and criteria for use reviews
- Modifying other use-related sections of the Land Use Code, such as Chapter 16 - Definitions
- Note that this project will not include any changes to Form and Bulk Standards or Intensity Standards (such as setbacks, floor area, etc.)
- Incorporate administrative and structural updates to the Land Use Code’s Use Table and Use Standards for clarity, legibility, and usability.
- Encourage 15-minute neighborhoods through use table changes in all types of districts (residential, commercial, industrial), acknowledging transportation barriers may exist.
- Support mixed-use nodes along corridors and support walkable neighborhood centers of varying scales.
Updates & Community Engagement
Feb. 16, 2023 - City Council adopted Ordinance 8556 to update the use table and standards related to industrial areas and uses. These changes will support a more diverse mix of uses in the industrial areas. The ordinance changes go into effect on March 18. Module Three of the Use Table and Standards project will begin in the coming weeks.
Fall 2022 - During Module Two of the project, staff has been looking at ways to better align the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan guidance for businesses and housing in the city’s industrial areas with the uses that are allowed in the Land Use Code. On Oct. 18, Planning Board unanimously recommended a draft ordinance intended to offer a mix of uses, locate housing in appropriate places and support industrial businesses. View a summary of the draft ordinance and the full draft ordinance below. Contact Lisa Houde to share any thoughts you have on the proposed changes, or attend the City Council public hearing on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.
A BeHeardBoulder questionnaire was held related to the Module Two changes in industrial districts. A summary of the responses can be found here.
Oct. 18 - Planning Board unanimously recommended adoption of Ordinance 8556, with some changes to live/work units and policy language in the memo. A video of the meeting is available here.
Aug. 25 - The project was discussed at the City Council Study Session. The P&DS memo to council can be accessed here.
June 21 - City Council adopted the Module One functional fixes, which were technical updates to improve the user-friendliness of the use table and standards. You can find the updated code language here.
Watch the below video to learn more.
In 2018, the Planning Board identified Use Tables and associated code revisions as a priority item for Land Use Code updates. The initial goals of the revisions included:
- Simplifying the Use Table and streamlining the regulations where possible, making the Use Standards and Table more understandable and legible.
- Creating more predictability and certainty in Chapter 9-6 Use Standards of the Land Use Code.
- Aligning the Use Table and permitted uses with the BVCP goals, policies and land use designations.
- Identifying any community-desired land use gaps in the Use Standards and Table, and better enabling the desired land uses in the identified neighborhoods as well as in commercial and industrial districts.
Use Table & Standards Subcommittee
The Planning Board appointed a project subcommittee in 2018 comprised of three Planning Board members. The subcommittee developed the project's scope, goals, and areas of consideration, as well as ideas for changes.
The role of the subcommittee is to:
- Engage the public;
- Act as a sounding board for ideas; and
- Guide the project and make recommendations.
Meeting summaries are available online.
Phase One - Adopted October 2019
On Oct. 29, 2019, City Council adopted Ordinance 8337 to update the Use Table to be more consistent with the BVCP for zoning districts within the federally designated Opportunity Zone. While the changes reference the Opportunity Zones, the changes apply to the respective zones citywide. Visit the Opportunity Zone program webpage for additional information.
The Oct. 29, 2019 memo and ordinances can be found online.
Summaries of feedback received thus far can be found in the May 28, 2019 and August 25, 2020 City Council study session meeting materials.
A summary of the Phase One Community Engagement feedback received in Q1-Q2 2019 may be found online in the May 28, 2019 City Council Study Session meeting materials.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The City of Boulder consists of a variety of Zoning Districts with regulations regarding the allowed uses within each Zoning District. For example, Residential zones may allow only residential uses of land (such as houses and apartments), but Mixed-Use zones may allow commercial and retail uses as well (such as coffee shops and offices).
Each Zoning District has corresponding uses of land that are generally either allowed, limited, conditionally allowed, require a use review, or are prohibited. Other factors also limit where uses may be allowed, such as location, size, or ground floors.
The city utilizes a Use Table (Table 6-1, B.R.C. 1981) to display all of this information for each Zoning District. The Table quickly displays the uses that are allowed in each Zoning District. See the project flyer (PDF) under Quick Links for more information.
Functional or economic uses of land as may be specified in the Land Use Code. Examples of uses includes single-family residential, multi-family residential, restaurants, offices, and manufacturing.
Potential changes have yet to be determined. The goal of the project is to align the Use Table and Standards of the Land Use Code with important BVCP polices, including fostering more 15-minute neighborhoods – that is, enabling more mixed-use neighborhoods by fostering appropriate uses such as coffee shops, convenience retail, grocery stores, office, residential, child care and civic uses, within a 15-minute walking distance of where we live or work. Another main goal of the project is to improve the user-friendliness of the Use Table and Standards.
Neighborhoods where daily goods, services and transit are within a 15-minute walk from where people live or work. Types of uses could include small-scale grocery, cafes, dry cleaners or similar everyday uses. The uses should be incorporated into the neighborhood fabric in appropriate locations and contexts (such as street corners). Uses should be located in a way that creates a street presence that engages with the sidewalk and public areas with a focus on walkability.
Potential changes have yet to be determined. Depending on recommendations and public input, potential changes may change the types or characteristics of allowed uses in a given Zoning District. Conversely, it may not affect the uses in a given Zoning District at all. Regardless of any changes made as a part of this project, legally existing uses can continue to be maintained and operated as prescribed by the Land Use Code.
Check back for future engagement opportunities.