The U+2 housing ordinance in the City of Fort Collins has been a subject of heavy scrutiny and disagreement among the Colorado State University community for quite some time.
Occupancy restrictions in Fort Collins have been around since the 1960s, and while the reasoning is understandable, I think it may be time to update the terms to fit today’s demand for off-campus housing with the increasing amount of students that CSU brings in each year.
I think it is counterproductive to limit housing occupancy with the U+2 ordinance, especially if the space allows for more people. Obviously, I don’t think it would be prudent to try to cram five or six people into a house that is really meant for four, because we all need personal space. But, there are houses that have rooms for more than three people, and failure to allow students to utilize that space creates a huge inefficiency and complicates the process of moving off campus after freshman year. Additionally, rent is expensive and seems to slowly increase each year, so financially-reasonable options must be available for off-campus students who need a place to live in order to attend school here.
Class schedules are already demanding, so once a job or two is thrown into the mix, students are more prone to experiencing high levels of stress on their physical and emotional states. I personally feel that a student’s living situation should be one of the least stressful parts about the college experience, because it is such a fundamental component of attending the University. We shouldn’t have to worry about picking up multiple jobs that don’t leave adequate time to focus on school and personal time during the week, only to just get by with paying monthly rent.
ASCSU efforts to negotiate a change in the ordinance, either by expanding the zoning limits or upping the restriction to “Me+3” have been ongoing since last spring semester. However, I think the best solution is to simply remove the ordinance and allow as many people to live in an off-campus property as the space will comfortably allow. In short, the number of bedrooms available should be equivalent to the number of students allowed to move in. This not only makes monthly rental costs a little less stressful, but it also eases the somewhat arduous process of finding off-campus accommodations in the first place. Properties fill up pretty fast when it comes time to search for a place to live, and the disparity between how many students could potentially live in a house versus how many are actually permitted to move in only works to complicate the procedure.
Throughout each year I’ve spent as CSU, I have seen quite a few posts on the Class of 2016 Facebook page as well as personal profiles asking the general student population if anyone is looking for a roommate or has an extra room in their house they are looking to fill. The answer a lot of the time is “yes,” however the U+2 ordinance often renders that irrelevant. Trying to find off-campus housing for the upcoming year is stressful, but trying to find a place to live once the year has already started and classes are just getting going is even more so.
Lifting the ordinance and allowing occupancy to match the space available within an off-campus property would lessen the intimidation factor of not only finding off-campus accommodations, but also the idea of paying rent each month, and would help to relieve a little bit of the stress that is already pretty heavy within the college community as a whole. We as students have a lot of things to worry about on a daily basis, and finding a reasonable place to live in Fort Collins in order to continue attending school should not be one of them.
Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.