For nearly 20 years, single-family homeowners in low-density neighborhoods have been asking the Planning Board and City Council to reform the 30-year old restrictions on creating an ADU or OAU. These restrictions are so tight that there are only 230 legal ADUs in a city with 47,000 dwelling units.

ADUs and OAUs are a way that additional unsubsidized affordable housing can be provided for people of modest means. In August, the council put ADU and OAU reform in the city staff work plan, for completion in May 2018.

A homeowner who receives a permit to have an ADU must secure a rental license for the unit within a short period of time or else the ADU permit expires. There is no path without a rental license for owners of small homes who want to create an ADU simply to use as work space and to accommodate young or old family members when living within the small primary home is cramped and infeasible.

While city regulations permit variances for height, setback, parking and density on large projects, they prohibit homeowners in single-family neighborhoods from constructing a little apartment on small properties. For ordinary people, there is no flexibility in the process and little chance for discretionary appeal. This is unfair, limiting people’s ability to shape their homes in a way that fits the needs of the people they love and care for.

After 20 years, it is time to change this. Many Boulder residents have been patiently waiting for the reform of these unreasonable and unfair restrictions. This issue will be discussed at the council meeting Jan. 4 and at the Jan. 19-20 retreat. Let us hope that council will maintain the current commitment to complete this project by May 2018.

Macon Cowles, Boulder