A few quick notes on the new portions of the Co-op packet which you’ll be discussing tonight.
The potential parking management policies that Staff has included are drawn from the existing co-op regulations (BRC 9-6-3(b)). We’ve highlighted those off-street parking requirements as untenable for co-ops from the beginning. Alone, they would preclude most properties from being used by co-ops.
Staff has suggested that EcoPasses could be done instead of requiring large amounts of off-street parking. Obviously this is less restrictive than requiring both (as the existing code does), but this combination would force virtually all co-ops to be located in the relatively small fraction of the city that has a neighborhood EcoPass program.
If limitations on transportation impacts from co-ops are deemed necessary, we stand by our recommendation of limiting the number of vehicles associated with a co-op, with lease clauses being the primary enforcement mechanism.
Grandfathering & the Occupancy Enforcement Moratorium:
Several members of Council have expressed concern about integrating existing cooperative households into whatever regulatory framework is eventually adopted. I’d urge you not to spend too much effort on grandfathering (which sounds very complicated), and instead focus on giving existing communities an opportunity to transition on their own. One thing that would be very helpful in this regard is to publicly extend the moratorium on enforcing occupancy limits against co-ops until the August 1st following the adoption of the new policy, with no less than 60 days notice (meaning if the new law were passed on, say, July 1st 2017, the moratorium would extend until August 1st, 2018).
This would mean that most existing co-ops would be able to complete their leases, and have at least two months to organize themselves and find a new property with a landlord amenable to the formal co-op arrangement. If the moratorium ends mid-lease, many co-ops will be left in a vulnerable position — subject to eviction, but unable to finish their leases legally before transitioning to a legal situation.
Additional Public Process:
Please remember that the existing, non-functional, co-op ordinance was the result of a homeowner & co-op advocate committee like the one suggested by Council member Young. We have a very good idea of what kinds of regulations will allow co-ops to exist, and what policies will end up precluding them. You know what the main homeowner concerns are. Enabling housing co-ops has been under discussion throughout Boulder’s housing policy discussions for almost 3 years. We’ve had a dysfunctional ordinance for 2 decades. It is ultimately a minor change, which will affect only a small number of dwelling units. The iterative legislative process is quite public — you would not be hearing from the public otherwise. What additional information are you hoping to get out of additional process? If you don’t think there’s additional information to be gathered that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise, then the additional process seems likely to satisfy nobody, while using up a lot of peoples’ time — potentially including Planning staff time which (as you are well aware) is in short supply, given the packed work plan.
Occupancy Limits in Different Zones:
To understand the potential impacts of the proposed different occupancy limits on co-ops, it’s informative to look at the existing legal cooperatives operated by the BHC.
- Chrysalis (2127 16th St.) typically has 200-250sf/person (depending on how many double-occupancy rooms there are at any given time).
- Masala (744 Marine St.) typically has 215-275sf/person.
- Ostara (2550 9th St.) has 265sf/person.
Thus under the draft variable occupancy limits, these co-ops would only be allowed in high density residential zones, excluding the vast majority of properties appropriate for a cooperative to inhabit (larger single family homes with a single kitchen). Are these well-tested cooperative households not exactly the kind of thing that we are trying to enable?
Intentional Community Legislation in Minneapolis, MN:
Finally, while speaking with other housing advocates at the YIMBY conference this weekend, I met someone from Minneapolis working on similar issues. It turns out that last summer Minneapolis was forcing intentional communities to disband, and this summer, they are considering a law that would allow intentional groups to live together as if they are a family. An FAQ and the draft ordinance is attached to that 2nd story. You’ll notice that it is far simpler and less restrictive than what you have before you.