Aug 252009
 
Authors: Matt Minich

So-called “neighborhood problems,” ranging from loud noise to loose animals, have decreased since the city began enforcement of the 3-Unrelated, or “U+2,” ordinance in 2006, according to a study presented to Fort Collins City Council Tuesday night.

The report showed improvements across the board on a variety of neighborhood issues, which was determined by conducting two identical surveys in 2005 and 2009.

The City of Fort Collins hired Denver-based company Corona Research in January to compile the report and to evaluate what, if any, effects the ordinance has had on the city since it began its two-year trial. The President of Corona Research Kevin Raines said the company was paid $30,383 to conduct the study, which it finished in April.

Corona Research concluded that the number of Fort Collins households in violation of the ordinance had dropped about 46 percent. This number was determined using a survey of 384 Fort Collins residents as well as census data and other figures, Raines said.

With this decrease in violating households, Fort Collins has not only seen a decrease in “neighborhood problems,” but also an increase in rental rates and a decrease in vacancy rates for rental properties, according to the study.

Corona Research could not prove that any of these were caused by enforcement of U+2.

The increase in rental rates, commonly touted as a negative effect of the ordinance by its opponents, was in line with increases in other communities in Colorado that do not have an occupancy ordinance, Raines said.

Annual rental prices have increased an estimated 7 percent in Fort Collins since 2006, only slightly above Pueblo’s increase of 4 percent and significantly below Grand Junction’s increase of 17 percent.

The increase of rates in Fort Collins is within the median for Colorado communities, Raines said, meaning it is likely caused by factors other than the ordinance.

Vacancy rates in Fort Collins have decreased by 3.8 percent since 2006 and now rest at 5 percent, a number that Raines described as being within a “healthy range.”

While the intention of Tuesday’s work session was simply to present the information so that the council could gauge what other information would be needed before their work session on the future of the ordinance in October, several council members used the session as a forum to voice their own stances on the issue.

Wade Troxel, the representative for District 4, which is largely south of Drake Road and west of College Avenue, adamantly voiced his opinion against the ordinance, which he said “pits neighbor against neighbor.”

Kelly Ohlson, the representative for District 5, which is west of College Avenue and between Drake Road and Mulberry Street and encompasses the CSU campus, said that the ordinance was necessary to respect zoning and protect property owners who purchased property in “single-family neighborhoods.”

Tuesday’s session came two months before the council will end its two-year trial of the current ordinance at a work session on Oct. 27, when the council will discuss the ultimate future of the ordinance.

Before the October session, the Department of Neighborhood Services will work to perform more community outreach, including a round-table style meeting on the CSU campus in late September, said Beth Sowder, the manager of Neighborhood Services.

Fort Collins residents can also share their opinions with the city online at http://fcgov.com/yourvoice.

Senior reporter Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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