Commentary

Reader: Denver Should Recognize That Not Everyone Lives in a Nuclear Family

What's wrong with this picture? Too many adults for one Denver household, at least today.
What's wrong with this picture? Too many adults for one Denver household, at least today. Courtesy of Mac Liman
On February 8, Denver City Council will vote on a major update to the group-living portions of the Denver Zoning Code. Among other things, the proposal would allow up to five unrelated adults to live in a household — right now, that number is capped at two — and open more areas of the city to residential facilities, including halfway houses and sober-living homes.

The plan has been in the works for three years, and as Conor McCormack-Cavanagh reported this week, the fight will go down to the wire, with Safe and Sound Denver fighting the proposal while a slim majority of councilmembers appear to favor it.

Meanwhile, as evidenced by the comments on the Westword Facebook posts of our stories, many Denverites sharing housing are suddenly learning that they've been violating the law by living more than two to a household. Says Oak:
Thank you for your coverage of the group living decision coming up in Denver City Council. We must support people’s needs and/or choices to live with multiple unrelated people. Even the term ‘unrelated’ is offensive to me. We are all connected, and I don’t think any government or corporation should be able to decide with whom I *relate* and share my private life. I think it’s as bad as anti-miscegenation laws.
Counters Helen: 
Everyone seems to miss the fact that the new zoning would be 5 unrelated people and each could have any number of family members living with them also. It could rapidly become 10 people.
Wonders Jane:
So you couldn't film Three's Company in Denver? What a stupid rule.  Let people live the way they want to as long as it doesn't hurt other people. Live and let live!
Comments Bogey:
Good thing to change, since it takes five salaries to afford a house anywhere along the Front Range.
Adds Christine:
Who checks? I think people living together is a good idea—especially these days!
Responds John: 
If the rundown rental on your block isn't bad enough, just wait.
Asks Joe:
So, two unmarried couples cannot live in a two-bedroom, two-bath home? That would be four unrelated people living together. Hardly unreasonable. No wonder housing is unaffordable; the current restrictive rules don’t accommodate reasonable occupancy. The group opposing this likely just wants to see housing shortages persist so their own values increase. How selfish.
Replies Randy: 
What an unbelievably ignorant idea. Increasing the unrelated people that can live in a home!!!
Welcome to the ghetto. This can really ruin a street, neighborhood and a city. Better pay attention!!!
Comments Rose: 
What is this, the ’50s? Time for Denver to officially recognize that not everyone lives in a nuclear famiily, and that there are less fortunate people who need a place to live, too. Time to do better.
Counters John:
The process of approving this ridiculous proposal highlights the dishonest and shady dealings of Denver's City Council....polling shows that over 65 percent of Denver residents do not support this reckless proposal, yet the council members refuse to listen to the voters. Denver parents are united to start recall efforts for any council members who vote in favor of this dangerous proposal.
Concludes Lance:
How do we as U.S. citizens allow any government agency to dictate who we allow to live in our homes?
What do you think about the group-living zoning changes? How many unrelated adults do you think should be allowed to live in a household? Post a comment or email [email protected]
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun