The proposed new Land Use Development Code for the city of Durango includes a provision that would allow construction of 500 more accessory dwelling units in the city’s two most beautiful and historic neighborhoods. The apparent goal in permitting all of these alley apartments is infill, allowing more people to live close to downtown. The problem is that Durango actually has been ahead of the curve on the idea of infill. These neighborhoods already have a significant number of apartment buildings, condos, duplexes and alley dwellings, plus numerous churches, schools and medical offices. They simply cannot absorb another 500 units.
This is an issue that affects everyone. The few remaining owner-occupied, single-family homes help these neighborhoods preserve their historical and residential character, and that, in turn, helps the entire city retain its unique, small-town atmosphere. It takes more than a nice Main Avenue and lots of outdoor recreation to create a city that consistently is named one of the top 10 places to live. People are drawn to Durango because of its charming residential areas, not because they have a burning desire to live in a small apartment in an alley over somebody’s garage.
We need to protect the integrity of these neighborhoods, not fill every square inch of them up with more rental units. I would propose a moratorium on construction of any more ADUs pending further study. We need to seriously consider the impact of 500 more alley apartments on our infrastructure and other city services, snow removal, emergency response and safety issues such as people walking down dark, unlit alleys at night.
We also need to consider the impact on the general quality of life of the people who currently are living in these neighborhoods; issues such as noise, privacy, blocked sunlight, trash, traffic, parking and animals. Furthermore, we should work to bring all of the illegal ADUs into compliance before we allow construction of more. The proposed LUDC does not adequately address any of these issues. Clearly, the section on ADUs requires more thought.