Key items to making a workable cooperative housing ordinance in Boulder

My email to Boulder’s City Council on Sunday, December 4th. Please considering writing the city council at and BCC’ing with support for a cooperative housing ordinance.

I support the proposed cooperative housing ordinance — as you’re reading lots of email on co-ops, I’ll keep this to what I see as the few most important items for council discussion on Tuesday 12/6.

1. Occupancy – The two main adjustments council could make to occupancy are in the range of total co-op size and square feet per person. In low-density zones, it’s critical that council enable co-ops of at least 12 people and/or 200 square feet per person. The main reason for this: existing legal and sub-legal communities have formed in the range of these numbers to get a workable scale and affordability.

An existing co-op of 14 people at 200 square feet per person, if moving to either 10 people or 250 square foot per person, would lose several members of their house and show an increase of rent by 40% in the former case and 25% in the latter case, seriously putting the economics of entire houses at risk—not only for rent, but for food, water, and energy purposes, which all decrease per capita in larger homes.

2. Minimum house size and concentration – Both of these adjustments have significant effects on the supply of available houses to create co-ops, so I would like to see great care in moving these numbers from the current proposed ordinance as written. In low-density zones, the current minimum house size at 2,000 square feet has uneven effects of limiting the supply of available houses across the city, which may be a desired outcome to limit co-ops in neighborhoods like Martin Acres, but combined with the current 500 foot separation, even more greatly restricts the number of available houses in parts of town with larger homes.

BoCHA’s analysis of the city housing data shows that only 28.4% of rental houses in the city are greater than 2,000 square feet, and only 53.6% of non-rental houses. I ask that council really dig into the relationship between these two pieces of data to ensure co-ops can actually be created with the proposed restrictions.
On a personal note, I think council has gone above and beyond in engaging with the community and housing advocates. Thank you for your hard work and effort to understand the important details required to get to a workable cooperative housing ordinance.
Eric Budd
3025 Broadway St. #38
Boulder, CO 80304

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