This year, the Associated Students of Colorado State University have made reforming Fort Collins’ U+2 law one of their primary goals. Edward Kendall, ASCSU’s director of community affairs, explained how the student government is approaching reform and what solutions to the ordinance could be in the future.
Collegian: How has ASCSU been formulating the plan to reverse or revise U+2?
Kendall: The people that designed U+2 had good intentions. They wanted to preserve the quality and character of the neighborhood while ensuring the safety of the occupants. That’s what you’ll always hear from them. We think that is a noble cause, and as we go about this, we will keep that in mind, but we don’t think U+2 is the way to do it.
How did your proposals come about, and what solutions are you currently considering?
We considered everything from no change on U+2, to Me+3, to U+N, to rental registration and just throwing U+2 out the window. We looked at each of these options very systematically and thought about how this would impact students and how this would impact the community.
We found that no change is unacceptable. This is something that broadly impacts students on a very fundamental level. We also found that there are some intentions behind U+2 that we as a community want to preserve.
We have U+2, and Boulder has Me+3. (Me+3) may help in the short term, but it is not a solution in the long term. As an organization, we found that we should be looking at solutions that work (both) in the short term and the long term. Me+3 was just not going to cut it. By looking at other cities, we can avoid some pitfalls, and it also gave us some ideas on what we might do.
What are some of the details and parameters you are considering for rental registration?
Rental registration is the idea that we look at properties and start judging not based on the people living there, but on the actual uses of the property. Judging a property based on the people living there is when a law can become discriminatory. As a community member, that is not something I feel is acceptable.
In evaluating the rental, the city would check to see if the rental had basic proficiencies that we would expect for a place of living. Maybe you shouldn’t rent out the closet or the living room. But if you have four bedrooms that are perfectly capable of holding people in a safe manner, then you should in all rights as a property owner be able to rent those out.
I think people have gotten to a place where they think we can use U+2 to solve issues of behavior like partying or riots. If we don’t address the core of those issues, which is the behavior, then we aren’t actually addressing the problem. As a result, we are having detrimental impacts on the students and the community.
We want to provide tools for community members to deal with behavior, but we also want to say that we don’t stand for what is happening, and we don’t stand for the fact that (U+2) is discrimination.
While it applies to all people, it does not affect all people equally. It is not just about finding a student solution. It’s about finding a community solution as well.
What parameters are you looking at other than the number of rooms?
Parking can definitely be an issue, especially if we were to increase the number of people in the house, like U+N. We are going to look at incorporating parking limits. One of those options is if the property has a certain number of bedrooms on site, it should also have that many parking spaces.
What will be the course of action ASCSU takes to revise U+2?
One of the options we have at our disposal is to present a solution to the electorate of the City of Fort Collins. That would either go on a special election by itself in 2016 or into the 2017 regular elections.
If council decides that they want to turn around someday and actually put forward a solution, then we would be happy to work with them. Unfortunately, the initiative and the referendum process is a place to go when we cannot go to anyone else.
What effect did the town hall meeting have on what ASCSU is planning?
I actually think it reinforced some of the things we are pursuing. That was really important because it means we are headed in the right direction, and we will pursue it even more vigorously now.
Why now? What made ASCSU decide this was the issue to tackle this year?
Coming into this position, I knew there were some concerns about U+2, so I spent a considerable amount of time looking to the issue and seeing if it was something we should address. I think the ruling has been yes, it is a worthwhile initiative. It is something that is important to the students, but also to the broader community.
Now is the time to act, and it is also something that we cannot do alone. It has to be important enough to the students to act as well. It takes a lot of sleepless nights and caring about something to actually change a law in the city, but I think U+2 is one of those things.
Collegian Reporter Erin Douglas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @erinmdouglas23.