Denver’s Regis neighborhood gets green light to build “granny flats” for family members, renters

Another Denver neighborhood is now zoned to allow homeowners to build accessory dwelling units on their properties without special approval from the City Council.

Regis, in the far northwest corner of the city, joined East Colfax, Chaffee Park and Sloan’s Lake as neighborhoods where putting an extra dwelling unit on a single-family lot can be done without a public hearing. With a unanimous vote Monday night, the City Council gave the owners of some 1,025 parcels there permission to build that particular type of housing without getting a zoning change approval from the council itself.

Accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as ADUs or granny flats, are smaller, second residences on a lot zoned for a single-family home. Homeowners seeking to build them often want the added space to accommodate aging parents or family members or to rent them out for additional income.

A recent survey of roughly 300 Regis residents found that 89% supported a blanket rezoning allowing the use. Thirty-seven letters were sent to the city staff about the rezoning. Of those, 35 were supportive while two opposed the idea, largely over concerns about increased on-street parking, according to a staff member summary.

Anna Domenico, a neighborhood resident whose grandparents also grew up in northwest Denver, spoke in favor of the rezoning during a public hearing.

“I hear these competing concerns about a lack of affordable housing as well as the neighborhood changing too much and too quickly,” Domenico said. “And I feel like this is a great way to address both where you can add additional housing but you don’t have to change the neighborhood much at all. I would love for my neighbors to have that as an option.”

It was the third mass rezoning to make way for ADUs in Council District 1. Amanda Sandoval, who grew up in and represents that district, estimated that about 65% of the area now allows ADUs by right. She hears the concerns some have about parking and other issues around the special housing units but said all of that is being considered by a city task force taking a deeper look at ADUs now.

Torres, Sandoval elected to council leadership

Monday was the last meeting during which Stacie Gilmore served as the City Council president. After two years of leading the body, Gilmore handed her gavel over to council president pro-tem Jamie Torres. Torres was elected president by a unanimous vote to start the meeting.

Several council members spoke about Gilmore’s leadership amid a tough tenure during which the council had to adapt to holding meetings online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Councilwoman Kendra Black said she often referred to Gilmore as “mom” because of her role in leading a group that didn’t always get along.

In taking the gavel, Torres thanked her family, constituents from west Denver’s District 3 and her colleagues for their votes and their partnership.

“We cannot deliver for the residents of Denver without working together,” she said.

Sandoval was unanimously elected to serve as the new council president pro-tem.

“I know that I am standing on great shoulders and I vow to continue to work tirelessly for our Denver community,” Sandoval said of her predecessors.

Council meetings to start at 3:30 p.m. 

The council also voted unanimously to “modernize” how it conducts its weekly meetings.

That means an earlier start time.

Meetings will now begin at 3:30 p.m. During that portion of the meeting, council members will handle announcements, proclamations and other portions of the agenda that do not require public participation.

Council will then recess to allow for its weekly public comment period to remain in the 5 p.m. slot. After a 30-minute general comment window, the body will then reconvene at 5:30 p.m. to handle public hearings and other unfinished business.

The changes take effect for the July 25 meeting, according to council staff.

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