A planning view of issue 300
By Crystal Gray
Issue 300, the Neighborhood Right to Vote on Land Use Regulation Changes, is really a very simple, and limited, concept despite all the aspirations for it or the hand-wringing against it.
It says very clearly in the ballot language that a neighborhood can only petition to have a vote if a land use regulation is being changed and if it pertains to a residential zone within that neighborhood.
So the first test is to determine if a land use regulation is being changed in a “residential zone.” That is relatively easy since the municipal code has a whole section, Title 9, that defines the zoning districts in the city as well as the regulations that govern those zones. Title 9 also outlines how you can ask for a modification, reduction or increase to a standard. Yes, if issue 300 passes you will still be able to ask for a height modification or a parking reduction or setback reduction because that is currently allowed in the code in most residential zones.
If there is a redevelopment project within a neighborhood that does not ask for a change to the land use regulations — even if it is requesting a height increase — it can not be called up for a vote because it is asking what is allowed in Title 9. Development projects in the city usually do not ask for land use regulation changes — they will ask for modifications that are allowed in the code and Title 9 outlines a process to do that.
Changing a zone within a neighborhood, changing the uses within a residential zone can be called up for a vote.
The second test is to see if the land use regulation change occurs within a neighborhood “reasonably demarcated by the city” that contains a residential zone. The residents would ask the city to reasonably demarcate their neighborhood. Determining a neighborhood is exactly what the City Council did on Oct. 20 when it passed an occupancy code enforcement ordinance and applied it to three neighborhoods. It took the council all of five minutes to define the three neighborhoods.
I served on the City Council for eight years and am currently on the Planning Board and have a well-used copy of Title 9, so if anyone has questions about issue 300 just give me a call at 303-449-9680. I am more than happy to talk about it over a cup of coffee!
Crystal Gray is a member of the Boulder Planning Board.