Denver Takes Living in Sin Out of Zoning Restrictions

From Associated Press

It still may be living in sin, but from today on unrelated people can live together throughout Denver after the City Council revoked a law that had caused years of controversy and forced some to carry marriage certificates.

The council late Monday voted 7 to 6 to abolish the law that had covered more than half the city.

“There are no longer any zoning districts where two people cannot live together,” said Councilwoman Cathy Reynolds, who worked to change the ordinance since she was first elected in 1975. “I’m delighted.”

Councilwoman Mary DeGroot also voted to abolish the law.


“Zoning, I believe, should be used to determine land use and density but not relationships,” she said.

Supporters of the law argued that revoking it could hurt family values.

“The family is the fundamental structure that preserves our society,” Councilman Bill Roberts said.

The vote is a “step toward destroying our city,” Councilman Ted Hackworth said. Councilman Bob Crider called the passage “a sad day in the city of Denver.”


The living-in-sin law had covered about 60% of the area of Denver, which has a population of more than 500,000.

Under the law, neither boarders nor unrelated people were allowed to live in the same house in areas zoned R-0. In areas zoned R-1, a homeowner was required to obtain a $20 boarder’s permit to cover a non-relative.

Cathy Donohue, another supporter of change on the council, said the law forced people to carry their marriage certificates with them, and zoning inspectors complained about having to count toothbrushes in homes.