Boulder, CO, Revised Code

Updated April 2019

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Table of Contents

Accessory Dwelling Units

The city’s land use code permits internal accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and detached owner’s accessory units by right in multiple residential districts, subject to use-specific standards (§9-6-1). The general standards for both types of units address owner occupancy, application and review process, and the terms of the use permit (§9-6-3(a)(1)). The standards for ADUs address unit concentration by neighborhood area, parking, lot size, unit size, utilities, internal conversion, interior connections, permits for existing nonconforming detached units, and permanent conforming status for compliant ADUs (§9-6-3(a)(2)). The standards for owner’s accessory units address parking, lot size, unit size, internal connections, garage doors, roof pitch, height, private open space, architectural design, setbacks, and unit size (§9-6-3(a)(4)).

The city’s land use code also permits limited accessory units as conversions of existing nonconforming duplexes and lots with two detached dwellings in exclusively single-family zoning districts, subject to use-specific standards (§9-6-1). These standards address applicability, expansion, parking, and loss of prior nonconforming status (§9-6-3(a)(3)).

active transportation

The city’s land use code sets bicycle parking standards in a manner analogous to its automobile parking standards, as a minimum according to use (§9-9-6(g)). The code also has performance standards for bicycle racks and includes standards for bicycle sharing stations.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

The county’s land use code permits the protection of environmentally sensitive areas through a natural resource protection overlay district. The district protects wildlife habitats and wetlands. It includes information on which natural resources should be protected and references an environmental resource map and wetlands map to help identify the overlay area (§4-302). Additionally, it includes criteria related to exemption plat determination.

Food trucks

The city’s development standards define mobile food vehicles (§9-16), designates districts zoned for mobile food vending on private land and in the public way(§9-6-1), provides standards, scope, and operating requirements for mobile food vehicles (§9-6-5), and the licenses and permit fees code section provides mobile food vehicle annual fees(§4-10).

INclusionary HOusing

The city’s land use code addresses inclusionary zoning (Chapter 13). The chapter begins with a lengthy findings section and a purpose statement. It establishes a permanent affordability requirement of 20 percent for all projects, and establishes affordability level requirements that may be annually adjusted. Smaller projects (of one to four dwelling units) may use an alternative means of compliance.

The code establishes an affordable housing design review process and livability standards. Affordable units must be the same quality, size, and unit mix as market-rate units, distributed through the development, and constructed and marketed concurrently with market-rate units. It addresses initial sales and resale restrictions for affordable units, and provides for cash-in-lieu and off-site unit construction or land dedication alternatives for compliance.

The city’s Inclusionary Housing webpage provides additional information and resources, including administrative regulations and a unit/cash-in-lieu calculator.

Marijuana-Related Uses

The city’s health code permits multiple medical- and recreational-marijuana-related uses, subject to licensing standards. It defines three types of permissible “medical marijuana businesses”: “cultivation facility,” “medical marijuana center,” and “medical marijuana - infused product manufacturer” (§6-14-2). And it defines five types of permissible “recreational marijuana businesses”: “co-located marijuana business,” “cultivation facility,” “marijuana-infused product manufacturer,” “marijuana testing facility,” and “recreational marijuana center” (§6-16-2).

Its licensing standards for medical and recreational marijuana businesses address both locational and operational requirements.

The locational standards address operating from a fixed location; zoning use permissions; residences and residential districts; retail sales in association with cultivation or manufacturing; distribution by primary caregiver; separation from schools, day care centers, addiction recovery facilities, and other medical marijuana businesses; dual licenses; special conditions for medical marijuana centers; and street-level locations in specific areas (§6-14-7 & §6-16-7).

The operational standards address on-site use, access restrictions, display of licenses, conducting business within buildings, owners or keyholders, hours of operation, use of pesticides, ventilation, renewable energy use, inventory limitations, reporting requirements, delivery to patients, delivery between businesses, waste disposal, possession of flowering plants, advertisement, responding to city contacts, separation of cultivation and manufacturing, additional production requirements, packaging at marijuana centers, organization of cultivation facilities, confiscation of fraudulent IDs, and sale of immature plants (§6-14-8 & §6-6-16-8).

Rethinking Off-Street Parking Requirements

The city’s land use code includes multiple types of policy-driven off-street parking requirements (§9-9-6). It exempts all nonresidential uses from minimum off-street parking requirements in general improvement parking districts and exempts most uses from minimum parking requirements downtown and in several high-density residential or mixed use districts. It authorizes parking reductions for elderly housing, shared parking facilities, and mixed use development near transit facilities. And it includes maximum parking requirements for most uses.

Social Service Uses

The city’s land use code defines and regulations multiple types of residential and nonresidential social service uses. It defines “day shelter,” “emergency shelter,” “overnight shelter,” “residential care facility,” and “transitional housing” (§9-16-1). It permits day, emergency, and overnight shelters by right in certain districts and with a discretionary use permit it others, subject to use-specific standards. It permits residential care facilities and transitional housing with a discretionary use permit, subject to use-specific standards.

Use-specific standards for day, emergency, and overnight shelters address good neighbor meetings and management plans (§9-6-6(b)). Additional standards for day shelters address onsite staffing, waiting areas, outdoor areas, and parking. Additional standards for emergency shelters address criteria for waiving good neighbor meeting and management plan requirements, maximum occupancy, and review standards. Additional standards for overnight shelters address onsite staffing, waiting areas, parking, maximum occupancy and review standards.

Use-specific standards for residential care facilities address density calculations, separation from similar uses, and ground-floor locations in specified districts (§9-6-3(e)).

Use-specific standards for transitional housing address density, occupancy, and parking (§9-6-3(g)).

Solar Energy

Existing Residential Rental Structures Energy Conservation code offers points for solar thermal and PV (Chap. 10-2, App. C, Table 101.2).

Rooftop solar systems may exceed height limits with certain conditions (Sec. 9-7-7.c).

Solar access standards establish three Solar Access Areas with different levels of protections for different zoning districts using solar fence. The code describes processes for amendments, exceptions, and appeals (Sec. 9-9-17).

Solar siting requirements apply to all PUDs and subdivisions; they allow for roof and exterior wall surface placement (Sec. 9-9-17.g).

The solar access permit process is defined and described; it is intended for Solar Area III, which offers the lowest level of defined protection (Sec. 9-9-17.h).

Solar PV and hot water systems are exempted from building permit requirments (Sec. 10-5-2.h.14).

Passive and active solar energy features and systems, as well as pre-wiring and pre-plumbing for solar, earn points in the city's Green Points program, required for residential building permits (Sec. 10-7.5-4.f).

Student Housing

The city’s codified ordinances include regulations for student-housing-related uses, procedural rental restrictions, and residential parking permit areas.

Its land use code defines “boarding house” and “dormitory” (§9-16-1). It permits boarding houses by right in certain districts and with a discretionary use permit in others (§9-6-1). It permits dormitories, fraternities, and sororities by right in certain districts and with a discretionary use permit in others, subject to use-specific standards (§9-6-1). These standards require owners to prepare emergency management plans for dormitories, fraternities, and sororities located in the 500-year floodplain (§9-3-2(i).

All students occupying dwelling units must conform to the code’s dwelling unit occupancy standards (§9-8-5).

Its structures code requires landlords to register all rental buildings and submit to periodic inspections (§10-3-1 et seq.).

Its general administration and licenses and permits codes authorize the city manager to establish neighborhood parking permit areas following a resident petition (§2-2-15 & §4-23-1 et seq.).

Boulder, CO

2010 Population: 97,385

2010 Population Density: 3,948.31/square mile