DENVER (CBS4)– Some residents describe the city and county of Denver as “insincere” for making proposed changes to their group rules of life. This after the court ordered the publication of documents relating to the origins of the proposal.

The 200-page proposal would allow five unrelated adults to live together, and it would allow homeless shelters and community correctional facilities – or shelters – to be in some residential areas.

(Credit: CBS)

“I think Denver residents need to know what this proposal is really about,” said Florence Sebern, who filed – and won – the lawsuit against the city in order to gain access to the above documents.

According to Sebern, the documents show that the proposal, which has been the subject of much controversy over the past few months, was launched by the mayor’s office to specifically target the homes halfway in Denver.

“A 2008 moratorium on new correction facilities in the community will expire in May 2018,” says one of the 2017 documents. “A public discussion of the current regulations is needed to identify any changes before the moratorium on correction facilities in The community expires. Service providers and zoning agents have identified several examples of language and regulations that should be considered. “

The document goes on to say that nonprofits have identified “flaws” in the zone code for homeless shelters and that the community has been asked to reconsider the number of unrelated people who can live in a single family home.

However, Sebern believed that the city did not mention the halfway house component of the proposal in public gatherings, but instead advocated the rules as a way to provide affordable housing.

“The change to group living was suggested to the public in open houses and presentations as a simple example: ‘Let’s let more unrelated adults live together. ‘In fact, the mayor’s office priority has been first to make corrections in the community, second to eliminate homelessness and shelter, and third to increase the number of unrelated adults, ”Sebern said. “The first two components, which had a higher priority than the third, were obscured in the campaign that introduced community planning and development. And I find it insincere, I find it dishonest. “

City Park (Image credit: CBS)

However, according to the city spokesman, the public feedback was crucial in shaping the proposal.

“Community Planning and Development employees met with thousands of residents over the past year to refine this proposal,” said Laura Swartz, communications director for Denver Community Planning and Development. “Now, eight months after the last advisory committee meeting, the proposal for a public hearing on February 8th is very different from previous drafts, as our staff worked with residents and their elected representatives on these amendments. ”

Proponents of the proposed changes also say it is important to establish community corrections and homeless shelters in areas where grocery stores, public transportation and other vital resources are easily accessible.

However, Sebern says the new rules could make the neighborhoods more crowded and dangerous, and points out that the rules wouldn’t require a buffer between intermediate houses and schools.

“It’s not so much that I disagree with badly needed homeless shelters or badly needed community correction facilities, as much as I question the wisdom of putting them in stable single-family homes, do you know neighborhoods that destabilize the stable part of a city or town, ”said Sebern.

However, the city says there are already a few schools in the vicinity of intermediate houses right now. “Buffers weren’t a functional way to regulate these facilities, and they don’t prevent new schools or childcare workers from opening up within a buffer zone.”

(Credit: CBS)

The city council will vote on the proposal on February 8th.

While city officials were unavailable for an interview on Friday, Swartz made the following written statement and information on the group life proposal: “This was a three year public trial that was well documented and recorded. All sessions were open to the public. You can find summaries on the group living website. The city asked for input from those who would be regulated by changes to the code, including service providers, as well as from the thousands of residents who had helped refine this proposal over the past year. The proposal, which goes to the city council on Feb. 8, is a balanced package of changes that will improve the Denverites’ ability to seek care and share housing costs while also making it easier to regulate these land uses. “

Whenever the city updates the zone code to keep up with social change and new land uses, it requires significant contributions from people and businesses directly regulated by the changes, as well as residents who may be affected. For this reason, the Group Living Advisory Committee comprised more than 40 people who represent different perspectives and areas of life. This included people who had experience with existing Denver cooperative housing codes, group life service providers and customers who best understand their industry, elected Denver officials and residents from across the city. Each meeting of the committee was open to the public and is documented with summaries and presentations in the Project Archives section of the city’s Group Living website.


In terms of corrections in the community and household size, both issues were critical to this work from the start. You can view the original “problem statement” from the beginning of this project on our website, but here it is also for convenience:

General problem

Evolving Housing Needs: Different ways of living together are desirable to meet new challenges, circumstances and lifestyles. Outdated or unclear regulations or the lack of applicable usage definitions and building types in the Denver Zoning Code (DZC) limit these possibilities.

Difficulty meeting increasing demand: The demand for some group groups exceeds current supply, but the expansion or establishment of new facilities is partially restricted by the DZC.

Unintended Results: Current regulations have produced unintended results, including:

  • Disproportionate concentrations of social services and resources in some parts of the city
  • ongoing use of elderly care facilities
  • Demand for extensive transport services
  • Concentration of vulnerable populations

Unclear Regulations: Some regulations are unclear or inflexible when it comes to expanding or locating new or innovative facilities.

Unnecessary or outdated language: Some languages ​​in the DZC are redundant, inconsistent, or conflict with state and / or federal regulations and guidelines.