Item No. 2 - Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)

The topic of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) has been discussed periodically over the last six years. Most recently, at the strategic planning retreat on February 20, 2021, City Council identified nonconforming ADUs as a topic staff should address in the coming months with a study session. It was Council consensus at that time for staff to return later in 2021 to discuss this topic.
This is a recording of the November 15, 2021, City Council Study Session


Memo 2 - ADUs ( 0.37 MB )
Item No. 2 - ATTACH 1 ADU Checklist ( 0.12 MB )
Item No. 2 - ATTACH 2 Denver Metro Regulations ( 0.07 MB )

Comments & Feedback

This case is closed, online commenting is no longer available.
Online comments closed at 12:00 PM MST 11/15/21.
First, thank you for your commitment to our community in the work that you do. I have some thoughts to share as it relates to ADUs, which I support. Housing affordability and attainability is at a crisis in metro-Denver. We have public school teachers driving daily from Greeley because they can't afford housing here. Wheat Ridge has homes with spacious and often underutilized lots. This is the absolute perfect combination to allow ADUs. I've been a Wheat Ridge resident since 2014. I have an ADU which I am quite-confident was added in the early-1960s. My decisions to buy in WR was primary about having a place for my parents, should I ever need to have them live with/near me. My parents are 82 and 75. They live in TX now. They moved from Lakewood 20 years ago to take care of her parents. On my block, there are a total of 28 houses and we have this: o It appears to me that there are at least seven ADUs. Of the seven, at least two are rented full-time, with owner occupying residents in the main-house. Some are not in-use and some are occupied and used as if it was a traditional addition. At least several have/had separate gas and electric meters, despite the R-1 zoning. Of those that have ADUs, I am by-far the newest resident – in fact, only two houses on my block have sold since I purchased mine 7.5 years ago. o There are:  At least nine houses that have more than one generation of people living in it – and this is not counting kids that are 18 or younger. Three of these are original owners (pre-1960) and one of those has FOUR generations living in that house. I’m confident that at least three of those older residents with a younger generation there wouldn’t be able/comfortable to live alone without that younger relative there – meaning they would otherwise choose/need to move-away. More ADUs would allow more of this kind of familial care to occur.  The average lot size on my block appears to be substantially greater than 10,000 square feet. Its my guess that the footprint of the average house on my block is roughly 1,500 square feet – meaning that the lot coverage is quite low.  Many of these homes, including mine, once had horses or other medium/large animals. Today, none have them – with the largest being a roughly 90-pound dog. Yet, we have these vast lot sizes that are for many of us a burden to maintain. My next door neighbor uses obscene amounts of chemicals to keep weeds at-bay. My perspective as a Realtor: I’ve done about 600 transactions. More than a third of those have been in Jefferson County. Of my JeffCo transactions, there have been a notable number of parents moving to Denver to be closer to grandkids. Some are full-time and some are part-time residences for these buyers. Many of these possibly could have been ADUs. More than ten of my listings were people who downsized from a larger house or a non-ranch style home (with stairs) into a senior apartment. At least half of those would have considered building an ADU so they could downsize, but stay at the same property. And, this would often would allow family members to live in the main house. I have several clients with “total failure to launch kids”. Others have kids who have been able to complete college and in some cases graduate school ONLY because the parents were willing and able to provide housing long after the kids turned 18. Many did not have ADUs, but many more would have been willing and able to do this had they had an ADU. I know of several people with adult children who are developmentally-disabled. The kids are somewhat independent, but the parents are terrified of what life looks like after the parents are gone. Having an ADU in some situations can give these kids more independence – allowing them to learn important life skills and still have someone easily look-in on them. If there was an ADU for the developmentally-disabled person, and the option for a sibling or another relative to move into the main house, it could have profound impacts on several people in that family. I have now twice provided housing to older high school students who are in a housing insecure situation. The first was in an abusive situation by her mother’s boyfriend. When the school realized that she was in this situation, they intervened and connected her with us and she lived in our ADU. Without this option, there was almost no chance of making it to graduation. Even before COVID, I have many clients who are working from home. Studies very clearly show that “having a commute” is very good for a person’s stress and peace of mind. A home office in the main living spaces or in a bedroom is mentally horrible. Having an ADU can be incredible for a work-from-home situation. Guidelines needed: The surrounding communities have done this and seemingly with very few problems. Obviously there need to be rules. Possibly consider: - Denver’s rule that one or the other may be rented, but not both [to separate people/families]. - They should have three+ off-street parking spaces (two for the main house + one for the ADU) so that it’s not a burden to street parking in the neighborhood. - Setbacks and bulkplanes must be maintained consistent with the zone district.
November 15, 2021, 10:20 AM
Steve Kinney
Dear City Council, Please establish a supportive policy in favor of ADUs in Wheat Ridge. Given our city's late historical formation (1960s) and the prior construction of much of our housing stock please support and respect the value and presence of these existing, legally conforming ADUs. These structures have significant on-going value and opportunity to home owners and their existence may have weighed significantly in the purchase rationale for the home owner. Finally, given seemingly never ending house price increases the construction of reasonable new ADUs on homes with larger lots may provide opportunity for local residence in Wheat Ridge that many people would otherwise miss out on. I do not believe we should be one of the few Denver area municipalities that misses the opportunities for homeowners and residents by precluding reasonable and complimentary new ADU construction. Thank you for your consideration- Chris Mccune (7395 W. 32nd Avenue)
November 15, 2021, 8:25 AM
Chris McCune
I support legalizing existing ADUs in the city, and enabling ADUs by right in single-family zones throughout the city. Doing so is a low impact, small step to take to increase affordability in the city by allowing more households to share lots, and allowing homeowners on a fixed income to develop a new income stream that can help them stay in their homes. While households have tended to get smaller, our regulations have not kept pace to enable flexibility in our housing choices. Many households do not need the size homes or lots that Wheat Ridge has to offer, and could easily share a property with another household - my husband and I would love to be able to do this. Adding the type of "gentle density" that ADUs can offer (, has many benefits - increased spending at local businesses, increased tax base, lower energy and infrastructure costs, and lower per capita emissions and environmental impact.
November 14, 2021, 12:41 PM
Kelly Blynn
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