It has been over a year in the making. The Boulder City Council last night moved one step closer to implementing a new set of regulations designed to prevent overly large homes to be built or remodeled within the city limits.  The problem some see is that new large homes are being built that overshadow the rest of the neighborhood and are not built within the scale of the existing neighborhood. The argument has some merit on principle, but the policies proposed are much like setting a house on fire to get rid of a mouse.  In my opinion the policies are overkill and too broad based to make sense in every case.

The council has been spending an inordinate amount of time on this issue and last night was no exception. In a meeting that went beyond 11 pm, the council nailed down some principles of the new regulations which could be in place as early as the end of 2009. Here are a few of the details of the proposal which have been all but decided by the Council:

  • The footprint of a home shall cover up to but not exceed 35% of a lot.
  • The “floor-area ratio”, or total square footage of the home compared to the total size of the lot shall not exceed .45.
  • The total square footage figured in the second item above shall include that areas with ceilings above 16 feet be counted as twice the square footage and those areas with ceilings above 26 feet are to be counted as three times the square footage. (so much for vaulted ceilings).
  • Two allowances that were conceded were an extra 200 square feet for seniors and people with disabilities and special exemptions for those with very small lots.

These regulations are going to make it very difficult to add any square footage onto an existing home and will make a new home on an existing lot (a scrape and re-build) very difficult to make economically feasible.  The net result in the real estate market will to make existing large homes more valuable and make smaller homes that need work or whose highest and best use is a new home on the lot less valuable.

The video below shows members of the grassroots group ‘Leave My Home Alone’ in a peaceful protest outside the council chambers last night.


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