Sep 272009
 
Authors: Kevin Hollinshead

The student backlash over 3-Unrelated, or U+2 rule that has occurred thus far is justified. The Fort Collins ordinance has proven discriminatory in nature against the major driving force behind the city’s economy: Us.

For those who haven’t followed the Collegian’s ad nauseum coverage of this issue, here’s a quick recap of the policy:

The rule was implemented in the late 1960s after community members called for an umbrella policy that would cut down on parking violations and excessive noise.

It prohibits more than three unrelated individuals from living in the same residence (with some exceptions).

Households found in violation of the ordinance have up to seven days from the date of citation to relocate enough occupants to comply with the law.

In the spring, City Council voted to tighten enforcement by implementing an immediate fine of $1,000 with every citation, in addition to the warning period.

While the law was drafted to address a legitimate concern, it has thus far proven to be little more than a way for the city to flip the bird to us students, the hands that feed them. It unfairly targets students and has a number of adverse effects on the CSU community, including driving up the price of rent across the board and reducing the availability of affordable housing that is reasonably close to campus.

The Associated Students of CSU has voiced its opposition quite loudly since the policy’s renewal earlier this year. On Sept. 3, it released a proposal to change key elements of the ordinance, which houses points such as:

changing the 3-Unrelated clause to 4-Unrelated

extra-occupancy rental availability

extension of the deadline to correct a housing situation from seven to 30 days after the date of citation, and

increase in education and enforcement of other peace-keeping ordinances.

Efforts to reform this faulty legislation have been valiant so far, but now it’s time for everyone to kick it up a notch. Luckily, tonight’s ASCSU forum (4 to 6 p.m., LSC Grey Rock Room) on U+2 could serve to help meet that goal, as City Council members will meet with both ASCSU reps and regular students alike. The campus-wide letter writing campaign — for which students write letters to City Council about U+2 — launched last Thursday also serves as another way for us to fight for our civil rights.

While I live in an apartment complex exempt from U+2, I’ve talked with several friends about how their rent has skyrocketed over the last year, or about how there’s little to no housing within comfortable biking distance of campus, or near a Transfort bus stop. Yet, the fire in their bellies often sizzles out when I ask what we, as individuals, should do. A feeling of inefficacy seems to pervade much of campus; that is, many of us seem to feel powerless to help change the law. That’s simply not true.

With that in mind, I issue the following challenge to anyone free Monday night: Make your voice heard. The ASCSU meeting is open to the public, and a large student turnout would certainly send a message to the City Council (good luck getting prominent U+2 advocate City Council Rep. Kelly Ohlson, D-5, to care about us, though).

If you don’t have time to go to the forum, then gather a few friends to write a short but sweet letter to the council stating just how much the ordinance screws you over. You can pick up letter-writing packets that include a sample letter and an explanation on how to organize a mini writing campaign in favor of U+2 reform at the ASCSU office in the Lory Student Center.

While a full repeal of the ordinance would be ideal, we should jump at the chance to help change it. We as students have every right to voice our dismay over any law that discriminates against us, but talk is just that: Talk. Real change comes through action, and it’s time we exert our influence.

Kevin Hollinshead is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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