Jan 272004
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Buried within Fort Collins city zoning code is a restriction on

the number of unrelated persons who can live under the same roof –

three. The ordinance has little support in city council.

“Why do we have an unconstitutional ordinance without sufficient

data to back it up?” said Mayor Ray Martinez.

Similar laws in other states have been both upheld and stricken

by state supreme courts, according to Bill Bertschy, district one

representative and Mayor Pro Tem.

The ordinance places many students in a position where they must

choose between living with three or more friends and violating a

rarely enforced law.

While the majority of council members agree the ordinance is

outdated, they hesitate to remove it without implementing new laws

to meet current complaints concerning the quality of living in


“If we remove (the three-unrelated ordinance), the neighbors in

all of these communities will feel abandoned,” said Marty Tharp,

district 5 council member. District 5 includes the area generally

southeast of College Avenue and Drake Road and northwest of Harmony

Road and Timberline Road.

Associated Students of CSU unanimously passed a resolution last

week stating their opposition to the “Three-Unrelated


The ASCSU resolution, endorsed by the Committee for Student

Empowerment, points out that laws are already in place to prohibit

noise and parking violations. It also emphasizes the relationship

of tenants does not determine their behavior.

ASCSU representatives presented the resolution to city council

members Tuesday night.

“There is no need for a law in Fort Collins restricting the

relationship of people that occupy a household,” said Derek Brier,

ASCSU director of community affairs. “It is very hard for us to

find someone who can give us a straight answer to the question of

‘why do we have this ordinance?’ and ‘why was this ordinance put in

place in the first place?’ It makes me really curious as to why we

have an ordinance we don’t know the history of,” he said.

The city has already begun with a Neighborhood Task Force

charged to address the problem of noise, parking and improving the

overall quality of living with new ordinances.

But the task force has yet to recommend action to specifically

replace the three-unrelated ordinance.

Daren Atteberry, head of the Neighborhood Task Force, reported

2003 statistics to the council showing that while the police

received 4,175 calls for noise complaints, only 714 citations were


It was this statistic that Tharp felt needed to be changed

before the removal of the three-unrelated ordinance.

One possibility the task force mentioned is for the city to

license renters before they are able to rent within city limits. A

rental licensing system run by the city could both ensure tenants

are living in safe housing and that they obey the law.

“Jesse and Derek and I have a big concern when they start

talking about a rental licensing because most students do rent,”

Clausen said. “And so what we’re going to get into, is they’re

going to have to put a price on someone going out there to inspect

those homes.”

Clausen is concerned this could lead to higher living expenses

for students.

While the ordinance still remains on the books after Tuesday

night, Breier was pleased with the meeting’s outcome.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations with the council members and

they’ve said a lot of the same things on a one on one basis,” he

said. “But it was nice to see them say the same things on record,

in a public forum, on television. I think we’re really close to

seeing this thing gone.”

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