Dec 162009
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Two weeks after the City Council’s two-year comprehensive review of the Fort Collins occupancy ordinance, CSU student government officials said they are looking to form a new plan of action to fight the ordinance.

During its work session the City Council agreed to further investigate five possible changes to the ordinance, which limits occupancy to three unrelated people per house.

These possible changes, councilmember Kelly Ohlson, D-5, said would include:

*Rental licensing,
*Rental registration,
*Zoning districts,
*Redefining family and,
*Special exemptions for specific groups.

“See, the thing about work sessions, they’re conceptual,” Ohlson said, later adding that he “supports looking into those things” but couldn’t say whether or not he would vote for them after all the research had been done.

In response to the City Council’s decisions, the Associated Students of CSU is looking at a series of options for its plan of action, said the Director of Community Affairs Courtney Sullivan.

These options include:

*Reopening the letter writing campaign,
*A bumper sticker campaign,
*Utilizing Facebook and Twitter to increase student involvement,
*Conducting a student voice survey,
*Setting up a ballot box on campus, and
*Motioning to make U 2 a citizen ballot initiative.

Sullivan said her department intends to launch a “very public” campaign centered around awareness and education, and said without a citizen’s vote the ordinance will never see change.

“We need to hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they’re making and the fact that some of them support a city ordinance that blatantly discriminates against a certain population.

“It’s appalling,” she said, later adding that every voter in Fort Collins should think it’s appalling.

In September, ASCSU launched its campaign to promote reform to U 2, also known as 3-Unrelated, in an effort to make it more student friendly. With this, they presented a proposal to the City Council suggesting changes including:

*Changing 3-Unrelated to 4-Unrelated
*Extra-occupancy rental availability
*Increasing education and enforcement of other peacekeeping ordinances.

The proposal originally included changing the correction time from seven days to 30 days after a violation is confirmed, but this was independently implemented through an administrative change in late September.

In addition to its proposal, ASCSU launched a letter writing campaign that allowed students to either drop off individual letters to its office or to check out a packet with the materials to start a mini-letter writing campaign.

Students were also encouraged to sign a petition against U 2. From this initiative, the organization was able to give the City Council over 3,000 letters and signatures combined, Sullivan said.

Councilmember Wade Troxell, D-4, said ASCSU’s campaign could have been more effective if the stack of 95 letters he received hadn’t had so many duplicates. He said if he had received 50 unique letters, rather than 15, it would have had a larger impact.

Ohlson said over half of the letters he received were written by only a few individuals.

“I read every one of them, and there was a real problem. I had 40-plus letters from one person and 20-plus from others,” Ohlson said, later adding that the City Council has received an explanation and an apology from ASCSU.

Sullivan said since the City Council work session, ASCSU has yet to take a stance on three of the five issues being researched – rental licensing, rental registration and redefining family – because her department and the organization aren’t sure of the possible options City Staff will present. Sullivan did not mention the City Council’s potential special ordinance exemptions for certain groups.

“(Rental licensing and rental registration) have the potential to be very positive for students, but to be very negative as well,” Sullivan said.

“We are not abandoning anything in the ASCSU proposal, that still stands.”

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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