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.

  1. Plan

    Quarter 1, 2020

  2. Community Engagement

    Quarter 2/3, 2020

  3. Design

    Quarter 3/4, 2020

  4. Complete

    Quarter 4, 2020 - Quarter 1, 2021

Completion Date
Quarter 4, 2020 - Quarter 1, 2021
Current Phase

Project Overview

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. City Council provided input on Phase 2 during a Study Session on August 25, 2020.

Boulder City Council Study Session 8-25-20

Phase 2 Project Timeline*

  • Quarter 2/3 2020 - Community Engagement and Option development
  • Quarter 3/4 2020 – Preferred option identification and additional public feedback
  • Quarter 4 2020 and Quarter 1 2021 – Recommendation to City Council for consideration, and potential adoption of code changes.

*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 (Chapter 9-6, B.R.C. 1981), and any ancillary sections as may be necessary.

  • The Use Table, Schedule of Permitted Uses (9-6-1)
  • Specific Use Standards such as conditions and criteria for use reviews
  • Includes ancillary sections of the Land Use Code as may be necessary, e.g. Definitions
  • Does not include Form and Bulk or Intensity chapters (setbacks, floor area, etc.)

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.

Project Improvements

Project Aims

  • Align the Use Table and Standards to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan - potential to revise the Use Table categories and Standards to further implement the community’s policies and goals; and
  • Streamline and update the Use Table and Standards to correct discrepancies and make the Land Use Code more readily understandable.

Project Goals

  1. Encourage 15-minute neighborhoods through use table changes in all types of districts (residential, commercial, industrial), acknowledging transportation barriers may exist.
  2. Support a “string of pearls” consisting of mixed-use nodes along corridors, and support walkable neighborhood centers of varying scales.
  3. Incorporate administrative and structural updates to the Land Use Code’s Use Table and Use Standards for clarity, legibility, and usability.

Project Background

Phase 1 - Adopted October 2019

On Oct. 29, 2019 City Council adopted Ordinance 8337 to update the Use Tables to be more consistent with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) for zoning districts within the federally designated Opportunity Zone (O.Z.) (Census Tract 122.03). The focus of these changes has been to follow BVCP goals of reducing non-residential capacity through restricting office, incentivizing residential in appropriate locations (preferably permanently affordable housing) and protecting and creating more opportunities for retail. While the changes reference the O.Z., the changes would apply to the respective zones city wide.

The changes re-designate certain uses as “Limited Uses” that would be one specific standard that could be verified through building permit and would reclassify some uses as conditional or Use Review uses. Most of the limited uses are existing regulations that have been restructured to be limited uses. The most substantive change relates to office uses in the Business Zones (BT, BR and BMS) (termed L17) where up to 20,000 square feet of office use is permitted by-right, but over that amount would require a Use Review with a specific criterion requiring it be part of a mixed-use development. There is also an option for building up to 40,000 square feet on the site as a conditional use (C) if permanently affordable housing is included in the development or if the proposal is part of a mixed use development. The Oct. 29, 2019 memo and ordinances can be found online. Video content of the council meeting is also available to view.

Boulder City Council Special Meeting 10-29-19

Relatedly, City Council also adopted Ordinance 8358 that creates an O.Z. overlay district that would prohibit demolition of attached dwelling units in federal Census Tract 122.03 for the period the tract is a qualified O.Z. Ordinance 8358 also repeals the development moratorium ordinance that was adopted in late 2018 by council. Visit the  Opportunity Zone program webpage for additional information.

Project History

In 2018 the Planning Board identified Use Tables and associated code revisions, as a priority item for Land Use Code updates in 2018. The preliminary goal of the revisions included:

  • Simplify the Use Table and streamline the regulations where possible, making the Use Standards & Table more understandable and legible.
  • Create more predictability and certainty in Chapter 9-6 Use Standards of the Land Use Code .
  • Align the Use Table and permitted uses with the BVCP goals, policies and land use designations.
  • Identify any community-desired land use gaps in the Use Standards &Table, and better enable the desired land uses in the identified neighborhoods as well as in commercial and industrial districts.

The Planning Board appointed a subcommittee comprised of Planning Board members, who guide the project and make recommendations on potential changes to the Use Table and associated standards of the Land Use Code.

A summary of the Phase 1 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)

How does the Use Table work?

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 specific Zoning District has corresponding uses of land that are generally either Allowed, Limited, Conditionally allowed, require a Use Review, or are Prohibited (additional degrees of allowance may exist, such as uses allowed at specific locations or on ground floors).

This use and allowance information is then tabulated into the Use Table (Table 6-1, B.R.C. 1981) that displays the uses 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.

What are Land Uses?

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.

What are some examples of potential changes?

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

What is a 15-minute neighborhood?

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.

How could this affect me or my property?

Potential changes have yet to be determined. Depending on recommendations and public input, potential changes may change the types and degree of allowed uses in a given Zoning District. Conversely, it may not affect the uses in a given Zoning District at all. Legally existing uses could continue to be legally maintained and operated as prescribed by the Land Use Code.

What is this process and how can I provide feedback?

Community engagement activities will kick-off in in the second quarter of 2020 where community members will be able to share their feedback by participating in events and responding online. Community feedback will help inform recommendations made to City Council later in the year.