Denver, CO, Zoning Code

Updated September 2020

By:

https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/community-planning-and-development/zoning/denver-zoning-code.html

Table of Contents

Accessory Dwelling Units

The city's zoning code permits internal, attached, and detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by right in most zoning districts that permit single-family dwellings (§11.8.2). Use-specific standards address general building requirements, structural and location requirements, special allowance for ADUs on existing carriage lots, and additional standards for suburban districts.

Form-Based ZOning

The city’s zoning code is a mapped mandatory form-based code. It includes six neighborhood context areas consisting of zone districts all with different permissible land uses, form standards, building frontage types, façade design standards, parking standards, and landscaping standards.   

Group Housing

The city's zoning code defines a number of group living uses, including residential care uses (§11.12.2.2.A.5). Small residential care uses are those with 8 or fewer residents, and large residential care uses are those with 9 or more residents.

The code categorizes residential care uses, small and large, as group living uses permitted with limitations in all districts except open space districts (§3.4.4 et seq.). The zoning code provides standards for a number of different group living use categories, including small and large residential care uses (§11.2.8), that include statements of intent as well as owner/operational, property/building, and spacing/density limitations for large residential care uses, and owner/operational and property/building limitations for small residential care uses.

The code also allows for administrative adjustments to ensure compliance with federal law, including reasonable accommodations under the FFHA (§12.4.5.3.B.2).

Short-Term Residential Rentals

The city-county’s zoning code addresses short-term rentals. This use is a permitted accessory residential use with limitations in all districts in the suburban neighborhood context (§3.4.4), the urban edge neighborhood context (§4.4.4), the urban neighborhood context (§5.4.4), the general urban neighborhood context (§6.4.4), the urban center neighborhood context (§7.4.4), the downtown neighborhood context except the CV district (§8.11.4), the industrial context (§9.1.5.5), the campus context (§9.2.8.5), the master planned context (§9.7.9.5) It is not permitted in the open space context (§9.3.4.5) or the airport zone district (§9.5.5.5).

The zoning code offers a section on use limitations for short-term rentals in all zone districts that addresses primary residence requirement, maximum length of stay, signage, and maximum occupancy (lack of) (§11.8.10). It also provides a definition (§11.12.7.7).

Solar Energy

The zoning code permits flush-mounted solar and PV systems as accessory structures in all districts and exempts them from height and yard restrictions (§3.3.7.1.B, §4.3.7.1.B, et al.).

The Cherry Creek North Zone District is subject to the 3rd Avenue CCN Solar Access Bulk Plane, which regulates allowable building shape (§7.3.2.4.B.2, §7.3.3.4.D).

Urban Agriculture

The city's zoning code addresses urban agriculture. It permits agriculture use urban gardens as limited uses with zoning permit review in all districts, and gardens as accessory to residential and nonresidential uses are permitted with limitations in all districts (§3.4.4 et al). Standards for agriculture use urban gardens allow accessory beekeeping with limitations (§11.6.2). Standards for accessory gardens address the growing of marijuana and prohibit on-site sales of produce unless part of a permitted home occupation (§11.8.4, §11.10.10.1.A). The code provides definitions for agricultural use urban gardens (§11.6.2.1) and accessory use gardens (§11.8.4).

The code also defines "fresh produce and cottage food sales" as a home occupation of sales of products grown in urban or accessory gardens (§11.8.4.2). This accessory home occupation use is permitted as a limited use with zoning permit review in nearly all districts (§3.4.4 et al.). Standards limit hours of sales and require the permittee to have grown all produce for sale (§11.9.4.11).

Urban Livestock

The city's zoning code allows the keeping of household animals, including domestic honey bees, chickens and ducks, and dwarf goats, without a zoning permit (§11.8.5.1.A; §11.10.10.1.B). Hives are limited to 2 per zone lot, chickens and ducks combined are limited to 8 per zone lot, and dwarf goats are limited to 2 per zone lot. Standards address location on lot, screening, storage, setbacks, and prohibit slaughtering.

A city animal control website offers information on obtaining permits for food-producing animals (chickens, ducks, and goats), as well as other fowl and livestock.

Wind Energy

The city’s zoning code distinguishes between wind energy conversion facilities located within and outside of low-density residential districts.

It permits wind energy conversion systems (WECS) on all zone lots not adjacent to a single- or two-unit residential use, subject to use-specific standards (§11.5.13.1.B). It allows WECS on zone lots containing or adjacent to a single- or two-unit residential use, with a discretionary use permit, subject to use-specific standards (§11.5.13.1.A).

All WECS must conform to setback, height, safety, and siting standards (§11.5.13.1).

Zoning Reform and Code Writing

The city adopted a new zoning code in 2010. It includes a mix of use-based and form-based zoning standards. It defines and regulates uses based on broad categories, with select specific use types, and includes use-specific standards to minimize reliance on discretionary use permits. And it includes building form standards for each district. It is richly illustrated and uses tables to organize use permissions and dimensional standards.

Its general intent statements address balancing conservation and development; achieving design excellence; and guiding the city’s prosperous and sustainable future (§1.1.2).


Denver, CO

2010 Population: 600,158

2010 Population Density: 3,922.60/square mile


Denver, CO

2010 Population: 600,158

2010 Population Density: 3,922.60/square mile