Unrelated to Nuisance

Nov 132005
Authors: Ben Bleckley

City Council Meeting

6 p.m.Tuesday

300 Laporte Ave.

Tuesday the City Council will further discuss a number of ordinances relating to the three-unrelated ordinance.

Fort Collins Land Use Code states no more than three unrelated adults can live in the same residence. The ordinance is rarely enforced.

That could change Tuesday when City Council votes on changes to the Land Use Code and as many as five additional ordinances.

"I am concerned for other students who are looking to live off campus," said Courtney Przybylski, Associated Students of CSU director of Community Affairs. "It might be more difficult as the housing market changes for them to find adequate housing."

Enforcement of the three-unrelated ordinance could result in higher rental prices for students.

Four students occupying a $1,600 per month rental property would each pay $400. If only three were allowed to live there, the price per student would increase to $533 if the total rental price did not change, a difference of more than $100 a month, more than $1,000 a year, even if the student lives at home over the summer.

"That's one of the downsides," said Ben Manvel, City Council member for district one. "The low rents will be harder to find."

This issue has been addressed to some extent by City Council and ASCSU.

"We've had moderate success dealing with City Council members," Przybylski said. "While three is still a number that is being considered in these ordinances, and it's not a number we're happy with, we are excited to see there are boarding house provisions in (the ordinances)."

"Boarding houses" would simply be regular properties under a different registration with the city allowing them to house more than three students. They would be exempted from three unrelated, but required to have 350 square feet of living space per unrelated person or family.

Yet, the City Manager's office estimates the most sweeping changes could result in a need for as many as 595 additional rental units for students displaced from residences forced to comply with three unrelated. Rental prices per student could increase in single-family and duplex living units due to the decrease in the number of students per unit.

And City Council still has to decide how many boarding houses would be allowed per block in some districts. This could vary between one and five boarding houses out of 16 on a block. Some districts will not allow boarding houses at all.

Some Council members believe boarding houses will make the situation worse. Yet there are many houses with more than three bedrooms that could only be rented out to three people if the boarding house provision does not pass.

Some are nonetheless unsympathetic.

"The discussion has been going on now for three years," said David Roy, Council member for district six. "If someone doesn't see it coming, they really haven't been paying attention."

Two years ago Mayor Ray Martinez called the three-unrelated ordinance unconstitutional. And he had good reason.

If three-unrelated was in effect purely to promote healthy, adequate living areas for students, it would be a different matter.

But instead, council and community members are assuming there is a correlation between the number of students at a residence and the number of nuisance violations that residence makes.

"I think there is a tendency that as the occupancy goes up for the number of violations to go up," Manvel said. "In the single family neighborhoods we're trying to keep a certain area quieter than most students or some students would enjoy."

Council members believe they are addressing every side of the issue.

"It's very emotional because it's pitting single family neighborhoods somewhat against student populations," Roy said.

Despite the fact everyone is being careful not to generalize in language, these ordinances do generalize and stereotype students.

Individual students, independent on their nuisance to neighbors, will be forced to live with fewer roommates, dividing the cost of housing among fewer tenants. And it's happening after a 15 percent increase in tuition.

The Fort Collins community is passing sweeping judgment on all students for the continued lawlessness of a few.

Community members aren't to blame. City Council and the Fort Collins community have little or no positive view of students to compare bad experiences with. City Council hears complaints from political minded individuals in the community who have time to attend council meetings. They are not hearing the other side.

"I want (students) to come out and make their voices heard," Przybylski said.

We have to show City Council and Fort Collins that neighborhood-friendly students, the majority, exist. Go to the City Council meeting Tuesday and speak up.

Ben Bleckley is a senior English major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

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