Zoning Code Audit and Rewrite

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Consultation has concluded

Public Engagement Kickoff - Golden Building Blocks

Greetings Community of Golden! It is time for the City to kick-off the public engagement effort for the Zoning Code Rewrite with a fun, new community-driven exercise titled, Golden Building Blocks. The City is asking you, the residents of Golden to help identify elements of the built environment that you feel best represent the community of Golden and its character. Over the next several months we want you to take pictures of buildings, roadways, city blocks and any other elements that can help City staff better understand the community's perspective on this topic. Through this understanding we will be better able to preserve the character of Golden through future city initiatives and specifically, the code rewrite.

Is it a roof, a yard, a porch, a building’s orientation? Is character best reflected by the sum of all the houses along a city block? Is it the landscaping? You tell us!

Click on the link below to be taken to the main Golden Building Blocks page for more information. In addition, If you click on the image below, you can download a flyer that has more information about the project.

Golden Building Blocks Webpage


The Zoning Code Audit Report Is Now Available

Over the past several months the consultant team has been hard at work analyzing the existing City of Golden Zoning Code for deficiencies and areas of improvement. As this process is now coming to a close, the consultants are required to deliver a report of their findings to City Council for discussion. The audit document, titled the Diagnostic Report, is now available on Guiding Golden. On May 21st, the consultant team discussed with City Council and Planning Commission the findings of the report as well as the tasks for the rewrite of the City of Golden Zoning Code. A copy of the slide deck from that presentation is available in the document library on this page. You can also review that discussion in full through the City of Golden Website.

Please see our FAQ for more information related to the audit and rewrite of the City of Golden zoning code.

*Due to issues with the current pandemic of COVID-19, it is possible that this meeting will be rescheduled to a later date.


Next Steps

  • Please read the report and provide your comments and any questions, below.
  • City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint study session on May 21, 2020 to review the Code Audit Report
    • Council will discuss and finalize the scope of the planned Code Rewrite, including the priorities and tasks of the rewrite and the public engagement process
    • On May 21, 2020 or soon after, Council will make the formal decision on when and how to move forward with the Code Rewrite
    • Once the scope of the rewrite is agreed upon, a more complete timeline will be available and posted here on Guiding Golden. There will be a number of opportunities for public input during the rewrite phase of the project, and those will be shown within the timeline and promoted via the City web site, social media and other communication methods

Code Audit Description

The City issued a Request for Proposals for firms qualified to conduct a zoning code audit and zoning code rewrite. Four submittals were received and, after an interview and background check process, staff selected a consultant group comprised of Pel-Ona Architects and Urbanists, Peter Park Planning and Design, and Metta Urban Design. Staff met with this team in the first week of September to discuss the scope of the project in more detail, and then with members of City Council and Planning Commission to share and discuss the draft scope before moving forward with approval of the project contract.

The zoning code audit is the initial phase, and is essentially a diagnosis of the current code and its shortcomings, before then moving on to the code rewrite process. The intent of the audit and rewrite of the zoning code is to streamline and modernize it, make it more user friendly, and bring it into better alignment with GV2030, the Comprehensive Plan and neighborhood plans, as well as the recently finalized Transportation Master Plan.


Public Engagement Kickoff - Golden Building Blocks

Greetings Community of Golden! It is time for the City to kick-off the public engagement effort for the Zoning Code Rewrite with a fun, new community-driven exercise titled, Golden Building Blocks. The City is asking you, the residents of Golden to help identify elements of the built environment that you feel best represent the community of Golden and its character. Over the next several months we want you to take pictures of buildings, roadways, city blocks and any other elements that can help City staff better understand the community's perspective on this topic. Through this understanding we will be better able to preserve the character of Golden through future city initiatives and specifically, the code rewrite.

Is it a roof, a yard, a porch, a building’s orientation? Is character best reflected by the sum of all the houses along a city block? Is it the landscaping? You tell us!

Click on the link below to be taken to the main Golden Building Blocks page for more information. In addition, If you click on the image below, you can download a flyer that has more information about the project.

Golden Building Blocks Webpage


The Zoning Code Audit Report Is Now Available

Over the past several months the consultant team has been hard at work analyzing the existing City of Golden Zoning Code for deficiencies and areas of improvement. As this process is now coming to a close, the consultants are required to deliver a report of their findings to City Council for discussion. The audit document, titled the Diagnostic Report, is now available on Guiding Golden. On May 21st, the consultant team discussed with City Council and Planning Commission the findings of the report as well as the tasks for the rewrite of the City of Golden Zoning Code. A copy of the slide deck from that presentation is available in the document library on this page. You can also review that discussion in full through the City of Golden Website.

Please see our FAQ for more information related to the audit and rewrite of the City of Golden zoning code.

*Due to issues with the current pandemic of COVID-19, it is possible that this meeting will be rescheduled to a later date.


Next Steps

  • Please read the report and provide your comments and any questions, below.
  • City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint study session on May 21, 2020 to review the Code Audit Report
    • Council will discuss and finalize the scope of the planned Code Rewrite, including the priorities and tasks of the rewrite and the public engagement process
    • On May 21, 2020 or soon after, Council will make the formal decision on when and how to move forward with the Code Rewrite
    • Once the scope of the rewrite is agreed upon, a more complete timeline will be available and posted here on Guiding Golden. There will be a number of opportunities for public input during the rewrite phase of the project, and those will be shown within the timeline and promoted via the City web site, social media and other communication methods

Code Audit Description

The City issued a Request for Proposals for firms qualified to conduct a zoning code audit and zoning code rewrite. Four submittals were received and, after an interview and background check process, staff selected a consultant group comprised of Pel-Ona Architects and Urbanists, Peter Park Planning and Design, and Metta Urban Design. Staff met with this team in the first week of September to discuss the scope of the project in more detail, and then with members of City Council and Planning Commission to share and discuss the draft scope before moving forward with approval of the project contract.

The zoning code audit is the initial phase, and is essentially a diagnosis of the current code and its shortcomings, before then moving on to the code rewrite process. The intent of the audit and rewrite of the zoning code is to streamline and modernize it, make it more user friendly, and bring it into better alignment with GV2030, the Comprehensive Plan and neighborhood plans, as well as the recently finalized Transportation Master Plan.


CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Please leave any comments you may have regarding the diagnostic report here

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    I find this entire zoning audit is freighting, it’s overreaching in soo many ways, it scares me and make me believe that my rights as a home owner are going to be vastly limited, and that zoning of lots purchased 30 years ago will somehow now be changed to suit whatever the current city’s leadership thinks is ideal for our neighborhoods. I live in an R3 neighborhood in the historic district, zoned that way for forever, forever, a multi family unit, and my house is highlighted and pictured in this report as already being in violation of bulk planes and setbacks with its current build. This report essentially says to me you are going to completely reorganize the current zoning and start to clamp down design principles to fit a completely new mold and limit any future building on my properties. Numerous neighbors have built large carriage houses on the same multi-family unit R3 zoneed lots on my street, totally fine by me and totally fine by current zoning regulation. Will I be able to do that after this rezoning? Probably not if you mandate new setbacks as outlined in this report. And thinking long term, re-zoning as portrayed in this document vastly limits the potential future value of my property for my kids and future grandkids, whether I ever build I carriage that house or not, maybe they will. I understand the city’s need to tackle slot homes and overbuilding on lots, its a problem that needs to be addressed and I applaud leadership starting somewhere by taking a survey, but having this data lead to rezoning, as illustrated in this report, is NOT the answer, and bad for everyone. I am 100% against it. No rezoning in Golden.

    justinr asked about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comments. This information will be passed on to City Council ahead of their May 21st study session.

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    Very interesting. This report identified a number of issues that should/could be delved into. Amazing the number of non-conforming lots there are within the zone districts. No wonder redevelopment outcomes are often perceived as "not fitting" into the existing neighborhood. Page 7 and 22 re downtown historic infill: Inaccurate statement in that infill is generally well articulated and fits into the context: in practice height is usually 2-3 stories too tall and the stories above the 2nd story do NOT architecturally fit into the historic context regarding design and materials. The building at 700 12th St. (Golden Diner location) is OUTSTANDING and should be identified and used as the architectural example to emulate for historic infill. Does the Traditional Neighborhood Design Context have to rely on alleys: who owns and maintains these? Are alleys a financial burden to the City or to homeowners to maintain and replace? Historic architecture with variation in style and details, as well as use of expensive building materials are overlooked in the report and are integral to the example area cited. Areas for expansion of TNDC need to be identified: perhaps a new zoning category needs to be created for TNDC. A city wide residential application for TNDC may not be appropriate. There is a obvious disdain for the car and provision of parking- in both residential and non-residential applications and in both the existing code which has minimal and some outdated required parking standards to start with AND in this diagnostic report. Not providing adequate parking is bad for business, liveability and land values. Codes and incentives should not under-provide for parking. If developers don't pay for it upfront, the community pays for it later- in one way or another. Reflect reality. (Continue to provide for walking, biking and mass transit.) Thank you for the opportunity to review and make comments/suggestions.

    Terri Hamilton asked about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comments. This information will be passed on to City Council ahead of their May 21st study session.

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    In the report it says, “We have also heard that negotiations go beyond the scope of code” Who are the negotiations between, that go beyond the scope of code? I’m assuming between our staff and developers? What does “beyond the scope of code” mean? I’m assuming it mean our staff is allowing things that our codes do not?

    Bryank80 asked about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comment and question.  Architects and developers sometimes feel that Planning Commission tries to  place additional design requirements on a project during a hearing that goes beyond their authority in the Design Guidelines and Standards in Chapter 18.40 of the zoning code. However, no one has the authority to require anything beyond the scope of the code, including Planning Commission, and I think that has been a frustration for many residents who feel that the current code is not useful in maintaining Golden’s character. They often want to know why the neighborhood plans and GV2030 are not requirements during the review process and cannot be enforced.

    Thank you again for your comment.

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    I don't see the value of distinguishing between suburban sprawl and suburban compact. There may be subtle differences even in planning guides, but the added need to keep two contexts doesn't seem worth it from what I see so far. This quote, "With the introduction of minimum lot size requirements in 1949 and lot frontage in 1956, as well as the creation of the PUD zone districts in 1973, we observe how the code shifted toward the creation of more generic context types," has me wonder about cause and effect. Did a lack of creativity allow people to build tract homes with easy financing and to accommodate faster growth? Did they do what was expedient because they were not challenged and these pockets of growth (particularly compact) did not have any adjacent context? In other words did the code create the sprawl and "anywhere USA" issues, or were outside forces at play instead/too? Can Golden address this effectively with growth pressures? Where is the balance? This quote was interesting, "We conclude that the issues of incompatible scale and character are significant and should be addressed during the rewrite phase." Good luck getting this past the lawyers who will consider any alignment of existing lot size and building to future lot size and building as a taking. In other words the fact that much of our R2 and R3 areas are built at SFR density now means that keeping small SFR style comes with the perception that property rights are being taken away. Where will the money come from to compensate owners? Or can you fix it with bulk plane restrictions? In CMU, this quote comes to the fore, "The building form enforced by the current build-to zone is appropriate for a “main street” formation, where the building comes close to the sidewalk with shop windows and activities that are of pedestrian interest. However, when a building with all ground floor residential use is placed on the front property line, the resulting relationship between sidewalk and the building is usually problematic and surely unprecedented in Golden’s context." Of course this brings to mind 19th and Ford St, with its substandard setbacks, but also the development at 24th and Jackson (triangle) and the proposed (what ever happened to it) boutique hotel on Jackson and 20th. All of these are not easily fixed by code, unless you change lot coverage requirements when things are residential. Also disallow balconies for open space calculation. But still, better architecture and style discussion and a real push by the city for what we want for character is key. We are not Stapleton. I am still concerned that all firms associated with this review are "urbanists", but you did at least capture the challenges in the diagnostics. With regard to culture this comment is made, "there is a lack of acceptable by-right options.". I have over time developed a mistrust of the planning department, not an increase in trust. So more acceptable by-right options could be more transparent than the current process, where yes, I believe that multiple meetings with developers ends up having planning staff work on behalf of the developer. But those "by-right" options better be tied explicitly to character and compatibility in ways that are clear to all parties. Saying that you got design ideas from CSM architecture and applied it to the Central Neighborhoods is a non-starter for example, so build by-right either is really well defined, or we need much more transparency during the design process. The variance review process is particularly problematic when a hardship is self created. The recent case on Washington Circle was the best example, but the Buffalo Rose did something similar. Variances should be for hardships created by geography (slope) but not because you want to build bigger than allowed. All in all the diagnostic report is better than I expected, but the code rewrite is not the be-all-end-all. Process changes to include more mandatory neighborhood meetings and ability to truly provide input that is able to change an outcome is key. The current process has resulted in a lot of Anywhere USA and some of that is encroaching on areas that define our downtown and historic neighborhoods. Failure to figure out that interaction and fix it would be disappointing. A major contributor to this is lot combinations that are allowed and could radically change the character of 8th and 9th streets. We should pressure test any new code against that neighborhood to see what the expected outcome is. Likewise we should pressure test the code in the CMU area and see if we are going to have a new urban core, and if that is what we want in Central neighborhoods.

    camerdb asked about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comments. This message will be passed on to City Council and Planning Commission, ahead of their May 21st study session.

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    The Diagnostic Report highlights an eagerness of many residents to hold city planning and its codes accountable to established community desires and vision plans. The planning process and the code *must* adapt and be more flexible in order to meet the needs and desires of the citizens; anything less is negligent and (at best) smug behavior on the part of city planning and governance. It makes clear the need for a collaborative approach, as opposed to the current "the code rules all, even when it makes no sense and violates what Golden citizenry want" approach. It points out the variable and unique character of structures within the city, and a need to accommodate variances where appropriate. It points out the need for consideration and understanding of intent -- and its critical importance -- as that is paramount when rigid and outdated codes run up against modern and ever-changing situations. The "build what I/we want because it is acceptable by right" may be defined in the code, however it is far from "right." If you're going to allow public input for the process, and know a priori that citizen-driven vision plans exist, there exists no rational reason willingly disregard both. The self-righteous attitude toward citizenry must cease. There are plenty of statements made in the report that bear repeating, and demand adherence: "We conclude that the issues of incompatible scale and character are significant and should be addressed during the rewrite phase." "We believe that both minimum lot size and frontage requirements should be calibrated according to the current fabric. This is needed not only to create a more consistent code, but also a code that encourages the regeneration of the desired scale in new neighborhoods." "...current code (a) encourages and guides generic context types, and (b) permits large and overwhelming infill structures..." It is high time to recognize that a "one size fits all approach," whether for residential or commercial purposes, has not ever worked and must change; it is what citizens want. The "Conclusion: Issues and Challenges" section of the report lays out broadly but clearly that existing processes and documents are in need of repair, and require modernity. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    rickgrubin asked about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comments. This message will be passed on to City Council and Planning Commission, ahead of their May 21st Study Session.