Bedrooms Are For People Case Headed to Colorado Supreme Court

A Boulder judge says it doesn’t matter that the city gave a local group exercising direct democracy bad information, the city doesn’t have to place the group’s measure to reform housing occupancy limits on the November ballot. But as KGNU’s Roz Brown reports, the group “Bedrooms Are For People” isn’t giving up.

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Eric Budd says there was only one conclusion after last week’s hearing before a Boulder judge.

“The judge was very clear that the city messed this up,” said Budd.

Nonetheless, the judge ruled that a ballot measure by Bedrooms Are For People to alter housing occupancy limits does not qualify for the November ballot. Budd along with Chelsea Castellano and many other volunteers collected nearly 8,000 petition signatures during the pandemic that would have asked voters to amend Boulder’s occupancy restrictions preventing more than three unrelated people from living together in most parts of the city. But as Castellano notes, the group was the given the wrong date for turning in signatures by the city attorney.

“If the city had given us correct guidance, we would have complied with that,” said Castellano.

Boulder City Council had the option to refer the measure to the ballot, but a majority of council members declined to do so. Budd feels the odds were stacked against the group early on.

“Our measure is one that council has been explicitly against,” said Budd. “Even during a study session in 2019 with the Housing Advisory Board, council said they didn’t want the board to study occupancy limits, so it tells you where they are negotiating from. We would still like to get this in front of the people.”

It may yet go to the people. Castellano says the citizen-led campaign will appeal the Boulder’s judge’s ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.

“It’s really unfortunate that we have to file a lawsuit against the people who are supposed to represent us because they’re not doing the right thing,” said Castellano. “Which goes to the point of why that it’s so important that the guidelines people are given to participate in direct democracy are accurate.”

Budd believes an appeal to the state’s highest court is the next step in a historic march toward housing equity in Boulder.

“We believe its possible for the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the case and put it on the November ballot,” said Budd. “We believe the court should consider the fairness of this decision.”