Golden changing definition of a ‘household’

Roommate counts and Accessory Dwelling Units up for discussion

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/18/20

The makeup of typical households in Golden is changing and now the wording of the rules around housing will change with them. That’s the thinking behind two proposed ordinances that would change …

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Golden changing definition of a ‘household’

Roommate counts and Accessory Dwelling Units up for discussion

Posted

The makeup of typical households in Golden is changing and now the wording of the rules around housing will change with them.

That’s the thinking behind two proposed ordinances that would change definitions in the city codes governing how many people can live inside homes in the city.

The first of the ordinances, to be reviewed at a public hearing on Feb. 27, clarifies how many people can legally live together at a property. Golden Planning Manager Rick Muriby said the current code allows any number of people that are related by blood, marriage or adoption to live together.

However, the law gets murky when it comes to how many unrelated people can live together. Currently, a household may legally consist of “a group of not more than four related or related and unrelated persons living together.”

“What we are trying to do is clarify things because it gets mixed up quite a bit and our current definition is really hard to explain,” said Muriby.

The proposed ordinance’s new definition of a legal household is: “up to four adults and their dependents” or “any number of people related by blood, adoption, guardianship and up to two additional persons.”

The second part of that definition is important, Muriby said, because it allows a household to consist of both a family and unrelated people, which is something the old code did not allow.

“That old definition was really centered around the family unit so this (new ordinance) is saying ‘yes, the whole unit is, of course, still allowed to be there but if that family then wants to have a tenant who rents a room in the home or in a carriage house or something then this is saying that they can do that,” Muriby said.

Muriby wrote in a council memorandum that such a change makes sense since it is becoming more common for owners to rent space in their homes to tenants as the cost of real estate in Golden continues to increase.

ADU redo

That ordinance also contains another provision for homes with separate dwellings called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) that are either within or attached to another house. Under the proposed ordinance, up to three people can legally live in an ADU in addition to the number that can live in the main dwelling.

The second proposed ordinance also relates to ADUs. It would repeal existing requirements that required the ADU be smaller than the main dwelling. The new proposed ordinance would allow an ADU to take up an entire floor of a dwelling even if that means the ADU is the same size as the main floor of the home.

Muriby says that existing rigidity in the size of ADUs has resulted in the inability of a homeowner to create ADU’s and led to homeowners instead needing to section off small portions of a floor to meet those size requirements.

One controversial aspect of the second ordinance stems from the question of whether or not an additional parking space should be required for units that have ADUs, as city code currently requires.

The Golden Planning Committee has recommended that the parking requirement be removed from the ordinance.

“If we have minimum parking requirements in our code we will build a city that is increasingly less dense, more expensive and that contributes to climate change,” said Planning Commissioner Blake Mayberry at the September meeting where the committee discussed the issue. “Here we have the opportunity to adopt a rule that’s backed by research and will lead to better out comes for the city.”

However, the city council requested that the parking requirement for ADUs be maintained after reviewing the issue in November.

Mayor Laura Weinberg said she was against removing the parking requirement because the older parts of town where ADUs are most popular also have the most severe parking issues.

“Certainly we need to not be adding to those parking problems in the areas where people want to build ADUs at least lately it seems most of them are in the older parts of town so I am not in favor of getting rid of the off street parking,” she said.

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