Four’s a Crowd

Jun 212005
Authors: Kate Dzintars

Sharing a house with enough roommates to make the bills affordable may no longer be a possibility.

Fort Collins City Council decided June 14 that some form of an occupancy limit is here to stay.

The current "three-unrelated" ordinance limits occupancy to no more than three unrelated adults, and has been on the books since 1964. A City Council study found that 1,070 households are in violation of the largely un-enforced law.

Some CSU students feel the law unfairly targets college students, because they are most likely to live with roommates rather than family members.

"I think the three-unrelated law is ridiculous because it makes college kids feel like they are not a part of Fort Collins," said Brandon Bianco, a senior speech communications major.

Other students believe the problem really lies in a lack of renters' responsibility.

"It's not the number of people living in a house that matters, it's the people," said Sabrina Sanderson, a senior technical journalism major. "There are five people living in my house and we have never had a problem. What if four adults wanted to live together? I mean, how do you define a family?"

Part of the problem with the ordinance is defining family or relatedness. Another question is how the law would apply to blended families or homosexual couples who have children.

Fort Collins residents cite excessive noise, crowded parking and unkempt properties as reasons to keep and enforce the law.

Council members are still debating several ordinance options.

One option is to enforce the existing ordinance citywide. Other choices are to create a permit process to allow up to four unrelated adults to live together in certain houses or neighborhoods

Some students support the zoning option.

"In other parts of Fort Collins, like down on Harmony, sure," Bianco said, "but to try and enforce in on like, Whitcomb, that's not going to work. It's a college town. Who lives with their families?"

Currently, violating occupancy limits is a criminal offense. All three options that the council has discussed would change occupancy violation to a civil offense. Civil offenses do not require as much evidence to prosecute, so they are easier to enforce.

Council members scheduled another work session to discuss possible ordinances for Aug. 23.

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