Jul 13, 2022 - Politics

Denver's group living law curbs 311 complaints

Illustration of a house broken into mismatched puzzle pieces.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Denver law increasing the number of unrelated people allowed to live under one roof from two to five has resulted in fewer residential complaints, according to a city review.

State of play: The so-called "group living amendment," passed in February 2021, sparked pushback. Opponents claimed the law would negatively impact their quality of life, while supporters argued it was a sensible solution for a city with a growing housing crisis.

Driving the news: The city's planning department on Tuesday presented a one-year review to the Denver City Council, comparing data from April 2020 to March 2021, and April 2021 to March 2022.

  • The staff found that 311 calls with questions or concerns about unrelated occupants in single-family homes dropped from 128 to 75.
  • The number of zoning violation cases concerning unrelated occupants dropped from 46 to 23.

Between the lines: The law also expanded where residential care facilities, like halfway homes, could operate, increasing to 19,000 acres in mostly commercial corridors.

  • Opponents previously argued that proximity to halfway houses could endanger children.
  • But only two additional permits for residential care facilities were issued as of the end of March. One was for a youth shelter downtown, and the other for a sober living and recovery home in Whittier, according to the city’s planning office.

Yes, but: "I would say that the first year of monitoring is probably not the best year from which to draw a lot of conclusions," principal city planner Andrew Webb told Axios Denver.

  • Webb did say the drop in 311 calls likely means people are aware of new rules, so they're less likely to call their neighbors.
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