Text Amendments to the Zoning Code

Current Regulatory Projects

The projects listed below will lead to updates (also called "text amendments") to the Denver Zoning Code. The Denver Zoning Code is a living document that must be periodically amended to keep it current and relevant. Amendments are based on recommendations from adopted city plans, industry changes, process improvements, and similar needs to ensure that zoning outcomes match the code's intent.

All amendments include public feedback and must be adopted by City Council before taking effect.

Bringing Plans to Life

Community Planning and Development (CPD) collaborates with communities through citywide and neighborhood planning. These plans offer community-driven policy guidance for the city. Zoning code amendments help put those policies into effect.

Citywide PlansComprehensive Plan 2040 and Blueprint Denver are long-term plans that establish a vision for Denver to be inclusive, connected and healthy. The projects listed above will implement specific policy recommendations from these plans and ensure that the Denver Zoning Code reflects the city's adopted values.

Neighborhood and Area Plans: Neighborhood and area plans address citywide goals at the local level, to ensure they are applied in a way that makes sense for each neighborhood and that they meet individual neighborhood needs. Zoning code amendments help implement these recommendations for communities.

City Council Initiatives

Projects are listed here when a City Council member requests a text amendment, sometimes accompanied by a legislative rezoning. Council offices usually do preliminary work and outreach before making the official request and are the best sources for background information on the project.  

Safe Outdoor Spaces – Councilmembers Robin Kniech (At-Large) and Chris Hinds (District 10)

The Safe Outdoor Spaces zoning code update would change the use of managed camping to a temporary, permitted use and make minor changes based on lessons learned from the past two years of administration.

Safe Outdoor Spaces webpage

Sunnyside Conservation Overlays – Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval (District 1)

An amendment to the Denver Zoning Code is proposed to establish two conservation overlays for the Sunnyside neighborhood. A conservation overlay is a regulatory mechanism that modifies design standards for buildings in a specified area to facilitate protection of the area’s existing character. This draft follows a multi-year overlay development process led by Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval (Council District 1) in close coordination with a neighborhood working group and Sunnyside residents. Councilwoman Sandoval has requested this text amendment to establish two conservation overlay zone districts and a map amendment to apply them as follows:

  • The Sunnyside Conservation Overlay (CO-7) would apply to portions of the neighborhood. The CO-7 overlay district would include design standards to ensure that development that occurs in Sunnyside is more visually compatible existing neighborhood design patterns.
  • The Sunnyside Conservation and Brick Overlay (CO-8) would apply to portions of the neighborhood. The CO-8 overlay district would include design standards to ensure that development that occurs in Sunnyside is more visually compatible existing neighborhood design patterns, and would include requirements that a minimum percentage of exterior walls on new buildings utilize brick materials. The CO-8 overlay is identical to the CO-7 overlay except that it contains this building material requirement not included in CO-7. 

Two overlays are needed to separately address areas of Sunnyside where brick building materials are consistently present today and areas where brick is a less common. While two separate overlays are proposed, it is important to note that the design standards in the two overlays were developed in a unified manner for the Sunnyside neighborhood as a whole. The areas designated on the map as CO-8 were determined to have a generally consistent pattern of brick buildings. Please note this text amendment also includes minor, non-substantive edits to the existing CO-4 and CO-6 conservation overlay zone districts to improve clarity and consistency.

Read the Planning Board Hearing Draft(PDF, 4MB)

Questions and comments may be submitted to Brad Johnson, Senior City Planner (brad.johnson2@denvergov.org). 

Next steps:

Denver Planning Board will hold a hearing on January 4, 2023. A hearing before the City Council is tentatively scheduled for February 27, 2023. 

Cherry Creek East Design Overlays – Councilman Chris Hinds (District 10)

Two overlays are proposed for the Cherry Creek East neighborhood, bounded by S. Steele Street, E. Cherry Creek North Drive, E. Alameda Avenue, S. Colorado Boulevard, and E. 1st Avenue.

The Cherry Creek East Commercial Mixed Use Design Overlay District (DO-9) seeks to enhance and promote a quality urban en­vironment with a vibrant sense of place. DO-9 would apply to Mixed Use (MX) and Residential Mixed Use (RX) zone districts with requirements that allow for wider sidewalks and more landscaping, additional open space, and new structured parking standards.

The Cherry Creek East Residential Design Overlay District (DO-10) seeks to promote pedestrian-friendly street frontages and enhance neighborhood safety. It includes standards applicable to the Row House (RH) zone district with requirements for an unenclosed porch, enhanced landscaping, and additional lighting.

The proposed overlays follow a multi-year process led by the Cherry Creek East Association with assistance from City Council District 10 and consultants, and input from area residents, businesses, and the development community. Councilman Hinds has also requested a rezoning (map amendment) to apply the proposed overlays to subject properties in the Cherry Creek East neighborhood. 

Read the City Council Draft(PDF, 2MB)

Questions may be submitted to Senior City Planner Libby Kaiser (Libby.Kaiser@denvergov.org).

Next steps:

A hearing before the City Council is scheduled for February 6, 2023. 

Mobile Homes Unit Replacement and DO-8 Design Overlay Update Text Amendment – Council President Jamie Torres (District 3)

The Mobile Homes Unit Replacement and DO-8 Design Overlay Update Text Amendment combines two zoning updates. The first would update use limitations applicable to mobile home parks and the second would update the Active Centers and Corridors Design Overlay (DO-8) to allow consistent use of an existing upper-story setback alternative and ensure that street frontages are property designated to promote street level activity.

Read the Planning Board Draft(PDF, 568KB)

Mobile Homes Unit Replacement

The Denver Zoning Code currently regulates mobile home parks as a nonconforming use, meaning they should be phased out over time and are not allowed to expand. Specifically, the zoning code prohibits the replacement of mobile home units built before 1976 with newer units certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, since allowing newer units would extend the lifespan of mobile home parks. However, this prohibition on newer units means that several older mobile homes have become unsafe and unlivable, displacing residents. In addition, when a mobile home park is listed for sale, potential buyers interested in continuing to operate the mobile home park have difficulty obtaining financing because of the zoning code’s restriction on unit replacement. This is placing pressure on Denver’s five existing mobile home parks, which are a source of unsubsidized, naturally occurring affordable housing for many households. 

To address this issue, Councilmember Jamie Torres is leading a text amendment to the zoning code in partnership with Councilmembers Candi CdeBaca and Jolon Clark. This proposed text amendment would allow older mobile homes in the city’s existing mobile home parks to be replaced with newer mobile homes. However, newer units would have to meet today’s building and fire code standards for life safety, which require homes be 10 feet apart, although this separation could be reduced with fire-resistive construction.

Comments or questions may be submitted to Libby Kaiser, Senior City Planner (Libby.Kaiser@denvergov.org).  

Next steps: 

A Planning Board hearing will be held on January 4, 2023. Questions and comments on this portion of the text amendment can be sent to Libby Kaiser, Senior City Planner (Libby.Kaiser@denvergov.org).

DO-8 Design Overlay Update

Current zoning rules in the Suburban and Urban Center contexts allow buildings that are 5 stories or 70 ft. tall and larger to reduce their upper story setback to 15 ft. when the building is placed right at the front of the lot. The existing DO-8 overlay requires buildings to be placed at a minimum of 2 ft. from the front of the lot. The DO-8 overlay update would allow the 15 ft. upper story setback reduction to apply to these buildings.

This amendment to the DO-8 overlay also authorizes the Zoning Administrator, rather than the applicant, to decide which street acts as a main street for a corner lot. This update will allow for building in accordance with adopted plan guidance.

Councilmembers Torres and Clark have also requested a rezoning (map amendment) to apply the DO-8 to the Santa Fe Blvd. Corridor between 3rd Ave. and 13th Ave.

Questions may be submitted to Senior City Planner Libbie Adams (Libbie.Adams@denvergov.org)

Next steps:

A Planning Board hearing will be held on January 4, 2023. Questions and comments on this portion of the text amendment can be sent to Senior City Planner Libbie Adams (Libbie.Adams@denvergov.org).

Modernizing Zoning Variances – Councilmembers Robin Kniech (At-Large) and Amanda Sandoval (District 1)

Learn about how the city is updating how it offers exceptions from zoning requirements. 

What are Zoning Exceptions?  

There are two ways to request an exception from zoning standards.   

  • An administrative adjustment can be approved by city staff and is limited to minor deviations from standards.  

  • variance can only be granted by the Board of Adjustment, a citizen volunteer board appointed by the Denver City Council and Mayor.  All variance decisions are made only after a public hearing.    

Why is this Project Necessary?  

In February 2022, the City Council approved changes to the membership of the Board of Adjustment as well as the minimum qualifications needed to be appointed. In the same way these key qualities of the Board of Adjustment required updating, the criteria and procedures for granting exceptions to zoning standards also need updates over time to keep up with changes and priorities in Denver’s land use goals and policies. A review of other cities’ practices and recent surveys of city staff, applicants, and external stakeholders confirm that the variance and administrative adjustment procedures should be revisited. Specifically, this project will take a critical look at the thresholds for eligibility and approval criteria for both zoning exceptions.  

What Changes are Proposed?  

The proposed changes to the Denver Zoning Code would create new or expanded review criteria that apply in many common situations and would allow for more flexibility or simpler processing. The proposed changes to the administrative adjustment and variance include:  

  • Processing claims based on federal law (such as the American Disabilities Act and Federal Fair Housing Act) as administrative adjustments, rather than variances. 

  • Allowing approval of a variance or adjustment if the request would result in an increase of income-restricted units.  

  • Addressing minor errors in permitting and construction through an administrative adjustment or variance.  

  • Expanding the definition of unusual physical circumstances to support preservation of existing buildings and mature trees. 

  • Updating the allowances for certain administrative adjustments to allow less impactful changes to be approved at the staff level, rather than a Board of Adjustment hearing. 

Proposed changes in the form of text amendments to the Denver Zoning Code will go through a formal legislative adoption process.  

Project Timeline 

This project has two outcomes: a charter amendment and zoning code text amendment. Denver’s Charter currently describes in detail the Board of Adjustment, its powers, and how zoning exceptions should be made. To make comprehensive changes to the Denver Zoning Code related to zoning exceptions, the Charter must be amended to allow the Denver City Council to modernize and revise zoning exceptions by ordinance. Charter amendments must be approved by City Council and then approved by Denver voters to go into effect.  

On December 19, 2022, Denver City Council voted in favor of referring a Charter amendment to the April 4 municipal election. If approved, this Charter amendment will allow for text amendments to the Denver Zoning Code to change the administrative adjustment and variance procedures. 

The Denver Zoning Code amendment is in the early stages of the legislative review process and any changes to the Code would be contingent upon the approval of the Charter amendments in the April 4 election.  

Public Review Draft

A Public Review Draft is now available and public comment will be accepted through Monday, February 27, 2023.   

Read the Public Review Draft(PDF, 3MB)

Read the Proposed Amendment to Denver Revised Municipal Code Section 59(PDF, 621KB)

Read a Summary of Key Changes Proposed(PDF, 222KB)

Next Steps 

A Planning Board informational session is tentatively scheduled for February 15, 2023. Comments will be accepted on the public draft through Monday February 27, 2023. Please send all questions and comments to Alek Miller, Senior City Planner, at alek.miller@denvergov.org

Read the project background report(PDF, 428KB)

Code Maintenance Bundles

Just like infrastructure needs maintenance to stay in top condition, the Denver Zoning Code also needs regular maintenance to continue to respond to the needs of the city, while remaining modern and flexible.  Periodically, CPD proposes amendments to keep the code modern, clear and user-friendly. 

Recently Adopted Text Amendments

Text Amendment to Reestablish the Board of Adjustment with Updated Board Requirements and Procedures

City Councilmember Robin Kniech and City Councilmember Amanda Sandoval proposed a text amendment to reestablish the existing Board of Adjustment with updated requirements and procedures, including new professional qualifications and training requirements as well as adjustment to the authority and process for appointing board members.

  • Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee: Tuesday, January 18, 2022: Presentation(PDF, 1013KB)
  • City Council public hearing and adoption: Monday, February 22, 2022


Maximum Building Footprint Correction for Detached Accessory Dwelling Units in E-SU- Zone Districts

Community Planning and Development proposed a correction to two discrete numerical errors adopted with the 2021 Bundle of Denver Zoning Code Text Amendments on June 28, 2021. The error had resulted in a misstatement of the maximum building footprint for a detached accessory dwelling unit building form on some lot sizes in single-unit Urban Edge Neighborhood Context (E-) zone districts.


 2021 Bundle of Text Amendments  

This package included more than 160 proposed code changes to correct and clarify existing zoning rules or make small adjustments for consistency with adopted policy. The proposed changes included making off-street parking requirements more flexible for affordable housing, and updates to where detached accessory structures can stand on a lot, rules of measurement and more. 

Effective Date and Grace Period

The bundle of text amendments was adopted by City Council on June 28, 2021 and became effective on July 1, 2021. The following key dates determine how the update affects projects under review at the time of adoption.

  • Applicants who submitted zoning permit applications before June 30, 2021, may request to have their projects reviewed under the version of the zoning code effective on March 31, 2021. To make a request, contact your reviewer.
    • In such cases, the zoning permit must be approved by February 2, 2022.
    • If the zoning permit is not approved by February 2, 2022, the current rules would apply.
    • For those zoning permits approved by February 2, 2022, modifications to plans are allowed under the version of the zoning code effective on March 31, 2021 until December 30, 2022. For modifications made after December 30, 2022, current rules would apply.   

See previous versions of the Denver Zoning Code in the Legislative History section of this page. The current code is available at DenverGov.org/zoning.

Legislative History

All Adopted Denver Zoning Code Amendments

The Legislative History of Denver Zoning Code Text Amendments(PDF, 413KB) outlines zoning code changes adopted by City Council to date. The legislative history includes ordinance number, effective date, applicable Denver Zoning Code provisions, and keywords. Text amendments to the code follow the procedure set out in the Denver Zoning Code, Article 12, Section 12.4.11.

Strike-through Versions

The documents linked below show a marked-up version of the text amendment showing what changed.

 The Denver Zoning Code was originally published on June 25, 2010. The following are amendments to the original version of the code.  

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on April 7, 2014. The following amendments are to the updated 2014 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on July 6, 2015. The following amendments are to the updated 2015 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on May 5, 2017. The following amendments are to the updated 2017 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on May 24, 2018. The following amendments are to the updated 2018 version of the code.

The Denver Zoning Code was restated and republished on July 1, 2021. The following amendments are to the updated 2021 version of the code.

Page Replacements

The Denver Zoning Code was originally published June 25, 2010. It was re-published in its entirety including the 2021 Text Amendment Bundle on July 1, 2021.

 

If you use assistive technology and would like to access the content in these documents, please contact planning@denvergov.org.