A little sleet and chance of snow didn’t deter nearly 50 people from attending a town hall conversation in early November about whether the Chaffee Park neighborhood should rezone to allow accessory dwelling units in the community.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are secondary homes built on a residential property that already has one house. Seen by some as a solution that creates housing without vertical density, they have increasingly become part of the conversation about housing needs in Denver.
ADUs could be used as housing for an aging family member, as a long- or short-term rental, depending on the interests of the owner. Short-term rentals, like Airbnb and other vacation-style rental companies, have been the most controversial of the ADU uses, because of concerns neighbors have around parking, noise and behavior of intermittent guests.
ADUs are currently allowed in approximately 25% of the city, but no neighborhood has rezoned in the way being proposed for Chaffee Park: to allow them across the community without additional approval first. Jason Hornyak, president of the Chaffee Park Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO), is proposing to do just that.
“It’s a major win for the people who want to build them, for property rights, for housing and for the city,” Hornyak said after one of the two town halls he’s holding in conjunction with Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval. Hornyak believes allowing more ADUs will increase affordably-priced housing options and ensure the “small, natural, incremental growth” that he wants to see in Chaffee Park.
Several residents interested in building ADUs asked questions about building costs, whether an older garage could be repurposed, and expressed their support for the idea. Councilwoman Sandoval asked attendees to raise their hands to indicate whether they were supportive or opposed: 33 were in favor, 4 were opposed. Two of those four are longtime residents who are concerned about growth and more influx of people into the quiet North Denver community.
Linda Sandoval has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years. “Parking is a huge concern,” she said after the presentation, noting how many vehicles were already in the neighborhood. An increased population usually means more personal vehicles. ADUs can be built over a garage, which increases offstreet parking, or could replace an alleyway-facing garage, which results in more cars parked on the street.
Paul Lukosi, a 30 year resident, is upset with changes he’s seeing. “It’s all yuppies in this neighborhood,” he said. He believes ADUs are more appropriate for mountain communities than Denver.
Councilwoman Sandoval said her role at the town halls is as “a conduit” and she’s taking community input before making a final decision, which is likely to be early next year. The RNO has an online survey it is keeping open until Dec. 1. Chaffee Park residents are encouraged to visit chaffeepark.org/adu to express opinions about the proposal.