Rows of tiny houses await final construction details from volunteers.
Rows of tiny houses await finishing touches from volunteers, which include future residents.

About two weeks into construction, the “Beloved Community Village” is taking shape on an otherwise vacant lot near 38th and Brighton. According to the group organizing volunteers for the build, the project for people experiencing homelessness currently has more volunteers than work, but encourages those who want to help to drop by with snacks, a donation, or just to say hi. As covered in an earlier blog post, the community will include eleven individual shelters, as well as shared kitchen and bathroom facilities.

Many of the residents selected for the Beloved Community Village have had issues getting into Denver’s shelters—there are a few couples who want to live together, a transgender person, a person in a wheelchair, and Sandra Herman, who has pets. Credit: Westword
Many of the residents selected for the Beloved Community Village have had issues getting into Denver’s shelters—there are a few couples who want to live together, a transgender person, a person in a wheelchair, and Sandra Herman, who has pets. Credit: Westword

Earlier this week, Denver approved a temporary zoning permit for a tiny-house community for homeless people, the “Beloved Community Village.” The community will include eleven 8-foot by 12-foot shelters, as well as shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, constructed for about $130,000 on Urban Land Conservancy-owned property at 38th and Walnut Streets in the RiNo neighborhood. Continue Reading Local Governments Making Room for Tiny Homes

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This past Tuesday evening, Boulder City Council voted 8-1 to extend the city’s existing moratorium barring the city from considering property owner requests to exceed the city’s building height ordinance. One of my prior posts summarizes Boulder’s building height restriction regime and the existing moratorium. The existing moratorium was set to expire on April 19, 2017; Tuesday’s vote extended that date to July 19, 2018 while keeping the existing moratorium’s other terms. In short, this extension means that unless a development is located in an exempted area or is part of an exempted project, Boulder won’t see a building over 40 feet tall constructed any time soon.

 

 

A photograph of Lot E, the parcel that is the subject of the Murrs’ dispute. Source: eenews.net.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court set oral argument for March 20, 2017 in the case of Murr v. Wisconsin, in which the Court is being asked to determine what constitutes the “relevant parcel” in determining whether a regulatory taking of private property has occurred.  The Court’s decision in Murr, expected this summer, may significantly affect private parties’ ability to bring takings claims when government actions render portions—as opposed to the entirety—of the parties’ property unusable or undevelopable.

Two parcels of property located along Lake St. Croix in Wisconsin are the subject of Murr.  The two waterfront parcels, each of which are just over an acre in area, were platted in 1959.  The Murr family purchased one of the parcels (Lot F), and subsequently purchased the other parcel (Lot E) in 1963.  The Murrs built a family cabin on Lot F, and Lot E has remained vacant ever since.  The Murrs held title to Lot F in their family business, while they held title to Lot E under their personal names.  In 1994, the family business conveyed Lot F to their six children, and in 1995, Lot E was also conveyed to the children.  Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Set to Hear Oral Argument in Takings Case

Of all the various restrictions on development in Boulder, among the most impactful—and, to citizens, important—is the restriction on building height.  Based on a joint study session between the Boulder City Council and the Planning Board last Tuesday, those restrictions may be changing.

The current height restriction regime is multilayered. Boulder’s charter restricts building height to 55 feet, except for buildings in the Twenty Ninth Street area. The city’s zoning ordinance further restricts building height to 35 feet in most of Boulder, to 38 feet downtown, and to 40 feet in industrial areas.

Up until April 2015, property owners could request a height modification of up to 55 feet.  But that’s when the city adopted a two-year moratorium that barred the city from considering such a modification request unless the subject property is in a select few areas of the city, including Boulder Junction, the University Hill commercial district, the Armory site in north Boulder, Gunbarrel Community Center and Twenty Ninth Street. (Certain properties and projects were also exempted from the moratorium, including, projects with at least 40 percent affordable housing and sites with slope challenges that affect how height is calculated.)  That moratorium is set to expire in April.

At the joint study session last week, four of the nine city council members supported extending the  moratorium, and four others were unsure. Planning Board members were more strongly in favor of extending the moratorium but had not determined the exact terms of a renewed ordinance.  The city’s interim director of planning, housing and sustainability indicated, however, that the groups did agree on this: “even if someone supports extending the ordinance, that there are some areas that it needs to be tweaked and amended.”