It is a battle between CSU students and Fort Collins residents. Although some residents and students do not intend for the tension to exist, Tuesday night's Fort Collins City Council meeting framed some opposition between community members and college students.
The city council has brought forth two new ordinances concerning boarding houses, rentals and occupancy limits. Although neither ordinance has been passed, the city council has opened them for discussion amongst both council members and the Fort Collins public.
Ordinance No. 123 would make various alterations to the Fort Collins Land Use Code regarding number of occupants in a rental.
Ordinance No. 124 is unique because it has two alternatives. The first would amend the City Code relating to rental housing and wouldn't require registration by the renters. The second option would allow for the same changes, but would require registration.
Students and residents alike participated in a two-hour discussion directed at council members, bringing concerns or offering support for 123 and 124. City council members listened to pleas and suggestions as some residents living in neighborhoods across Fort Collins urged a speedy enforcement of the ordinances.
Some were concerned for the "quality" of their neighborhood, while others were nervous about the increase in the number of neighborhood rentals.
"My husband and I bought a house in 2000 when it was zoned as a single family zone, but now the number of rentals has tripled," said Jacqueline Zipser, a Fort Collins resident. "I think those that need to live in the neighborhood need to be those who have a stake in the neighborhood and care what it becomes."
As a Fort Collins inhabitant, Zipser said she worries that as the number of Fort Collins rentals increases, along with the number of occupants, the quality of life in her neighborhood will inversely decrease. Zipser was among several who expressed the same distress for their own neighborhood quality.
"I don't think it's a student issue, but a quality of neighborhood issue," said Pamela Rees, a Fort Collins citizen since 1976. "We need to put something in place that really has some teeth."
One resident presented a petition to the mayor urging the local government to maintain current occupancy rules. The petition was signed by 82 Fort Collins registered voters all supporting the ordinances.
Although smaller in number, CSU students chose to present their side as renters and members of the Fort Collins community as well. Students verbally protested against the ordinances, suggesting that CSU students are more responsible than some residents believe.
"It's extremely unfortunate that a disproportionately small number of students are causing these problems for all renters," said Dan Palmer, a senior economics major and a liberal arts senator for ASCSU. "There's a problem, but this is not the solution."
Mark Settle, a junior economics major and liberal arts senator, said these ordinances would hurt more than just CSU students.
"This is a discrimination of people with lower incomes," Settle said. "The city did a study showing that these ordinances would decrease renters and create a new bureaucracy. That will cost everyone."
Palmer and Settle expressed frustration in the low initiative that some students have presented by not taking a stance in the matter. They believe that these ordinances will greatly affect those who remain silent: the CSU student body.
"It's frustrating students aren't locally, politically involved," Settle said. "It will impact them more than one vote for the president."