The Associated Students of Colorado State University are proposing an initiative to reduce student housing costs in Fort Collins.
The city’s current occupancy ordinance — the “U plus two” law — restricts the amount of people that can live together in one house. It limits occupancy to three unrelated people, or a family and one other person.
Because of the higher costs resulting from the law, many people choose to ignore it and risk potential legal consequences by living over occupancy, according to CSU sophomore Heather Dingbaum.
“I feel like it’s so disregarded now anyways,” Dingbaum said. “I think that it is really dumb, because it was created forever ago.”
After receiving feedback from students about increasing housing costs, ASCSU Director of Governmental Affairs Jake Christensen said amending “U plus two” was a possible solution.
“We’re not trying to get rid of ‘U plus 2,’” Christensen said. “We’re just looking for a student compromise with the city.”
After crafting three different approaches, Christensen and ASCSU Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs Sarah Bruce brought their ideas in front of the City of Fort Collins legislative review committee earlier this semester.
“We thought of doing possibly “Me plus 3” because a lot of the houses around the area have enough bedrooms for at least four occupants,” Bruce said.
Other ideas include a full bedroom policy, which would allow as many occupants as bedrooms, or lifting zoning requirements in certain areas that currently fall under “U plus two,” according to Bruce.
“There’s also some zones that are exempt from the ‘U plus 2’ policy, such as the District and different apartment complexes,” Bruce said. “We thought about maybe somehow expanding those to neighborhoods around campus where we have a lot of students living.”
Because students live all over Fort Collins, Dingbaum said she thought “Me plus 3” would a better option for ASCSU to pursue.
“If you only have certain zones, there’s inevitably still going to be people who live in the zones that are ‘U plus 2’ with four people,” Dingbaum said. “So I think it’d be smarter to just do ‘Me plus 3.’”
According to Christensen, some of the council members were concerned for their constituents, as they represent neighborhoods not affiliated with college students. However, he said they were still willing to work with ASCSU to come up with a solution that benefits all involved.
“They were receptive and they helped us out with certain ideas,” Christensen said. “They understand housing is an issue.”
Bruce and Christensen said they plan to attend the biweekly city legislative council meetings and continue to work on finding a compromise with the city.
“We’re trying,” Bruce said. “We understand that it’s a process. Right now, we’re just trying to get the discussion going, put it out there as a possibility and hopefully pursue something.”
There could be effects of changing the law that would need to be addressed, including increased parking and noise, according to Christensen.
“There are some effects, but I think it’s stuff that’s manageable,” Christensen said. He also said he thinks the benefits of increasing occupancy would outweigh any costs for students.
ASCSU will continue to work on the issue this semester, and thinks it will carry on through the administration change at the end of the year until something is decided, according to Bruce.
“This is one of our top priorities,” Christensen said.
Collegian Reporter Emily Vavra can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @vivalavavra.