Boulder City Council To Impose House Size Limits


The Boulder City Council is expected to impose interim home size limits in the City of Boulder. The council will then take time to study and implement a permanent solution. The idea brought forth by council member Macon Cowles, is designed to prevent large houses being built without regard to lot size and neighborhood character.



Real estate in the City of Boulder is a limited resource. Land surrounding the city is not open to development for a number of different reasons including zoning and vast open space holdings. This has caused the land within the city to become very valuable and has limited many homeowners in their choices. Many homeowners have decided that the best use of their outdated homes for a personal use and investment purpose is to expand the current home (pop’s) or tear down and build a new home (scrape’s). This practice has increased the value of the housing stock of Boulder, produced some beautiful homes, increased prices and changed the “feel” of some neighborhoods.



The tool of limitation the City Council is using for their crusade is the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). This ratio measures the finished square footage of structures (including garages) on a lot and compares it to the size of the lot. Currently the FAR is .8. The interim solution is to limit the FAR to .35! What a huge jump! This breach of personal property rights is going to be a huge burden for homeowners who just want to improve their home, put in a garage etc. The council’s reasoning is that most existing houses fall under .35, so it must be acceptable for everyone.



Take for example a typical 7,500 square foot city lot. The current regulations would allow for 6,000 square feet if all other approvals (view corridors, set backs etc.) are met. Under the proposal the size of the structure including garage would be 2,625. This is not a lot of square feet given the prices paid for in town lots. If this proposal sticks, the prices for homes whose best use is to be totally remodeled or torn down would need to drop in order to make the math work for developers and homeowners alike. The prices for those large homes already built would fetch a premium.



I love Boulder and want it to retain its character but I urge the city council to be reasonable in their deliberations.


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