Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post
Two homes side-by-side show older housing next to newer development in the residential part of East Colfax near 13th Street and Verbena on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.
East Colfax is the latest neighborhood where homeowners in Denver will not have to seek city permission if they want to convert their garages into apartments or otherwise build second residences on their properties after the City Council on Monday voted to rezone 2,050 lots there for accessory dwelling units.
The mass zoning change, sponsored by Amanda Sawyer and Chris Herndon, the two councilmembers who split the East Colfax neighborhood between their districts, has been in the works since last summer.
It passed unanimously with only one public speaker commenting. That speaker, former council candidate and meeting fixture Jesse Parris, praised the efforts to expand the places in Denver where accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs or, sometimes, granny flats, can be built by right.
“I would love to see accessory dwelling units all over this city and this is just one step in getting this accomplished,” Parris said.
Herndon said the relatively light amount of public comment around the large zoning change is a testament to the outreach he and Sawyer did and the support in the community for more accessory dwelling units.
A survey circulated in the neighborhood between August 2020 and February of this year generated 139 responses. Of those, 106 supported the rezoning and 26 opposed it, according to a city staff report.
The East Colfax neighborhood is considered a high-risk area for gentrification that can displace lower-income residents. Allowing ADUs is viewed as a way to combat that by providing lower-cost housing options for renters and a means for existing homeowners to build more wealth on their properties, city planner Andrew Webb said Monday.
Denver council members want to encourage more granny flats on city’s east side
Denver to help homeowners in several neighborhoods build low-income “granny flats”
Home values are spiking wildly in west Denver. Are hundreds of backyard cottages part of the affordability solution?
It’s the third mass rezoning to accommodate more granny flat development in Denver. Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval spearheaded efforts to rezone 1,400 properties in Chaffee Park in November 2020 and then another 1,400 in Sloan’s Lake in August.
Rezoning doesn’t mean that ADUs will start popping up on every lot. Sandoval said she still has yet to see a permit pulled for any new units in Chaffee Park.
The planning department recently launched a review of the zoning rules around ADUs, in part to reduce barriers to more of them being built.