ASCSU fights Fort Collins on excessive U+2 enforcement, fines

Dallas Head

This year, the City of Fort Collins received 94 complaints about people violating the U+2 ordinance. This ordinance has been causing a debate between students and city officials since it was introduced in 1964, according to Compliance Inspector for the City of Fort Collins Dale Wood.

Wood, who enforces the U+2 ordinance throughout the city, said the majority of complaints filed are against students.

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“We don’t track by specific numbers of individuals, but 67 percent of complaints are usually validated, and about 70 percent of those (validated) complaints are CSU students or Front Range students,” Wood said. “This is city wide. This means that the majority of the complaints that we receive are usually students of some sort.”

In early August, all residents of the Avery Park community received a letter from the City of Fort Collins stating that there will be active patrol enforcing suspected violations of the U+2 law starting Jan. 1, 2016.

According to the letter, if any household is shown to be breaking the ordinance, they will receive a $1,000 fine per resident. Currently, the City of Fort Collins is only investigating households that are reported through complaints prior to Jan. 1.

“Because of the impacts Avery Park has had (on the city) with it’s close proximity to the school and its many students in the houses, the city has decided to take a more proactive position on investigating,” Wood said. “The plan is to proactively patrol and not wait for complaints to come in. There will be routine patrols during off hours looking for signs of over occupancy.”

Currently, the Associated Students of Colorado State University is focusing on how they can go to the Fort Collins City Council with data in order to reach an informed decision that would benefit the students. President Jason Sydoriak said the proposed alternative solution to U+2 will be presented to the City of Fort Collins this fall.

“We want to focus on a systemic solution; people are breaking the law in some sort of fashion already,” Sydoriak said. “So, ‘me+3’ may not suffice.”

U+2 was originally created for single family homes to be kept organized. Violating the ordinance was a criminal offense, punishable with possible jail time. In 2007, it was changed into a civil offense, punishable with fines.

“The sentence had never really fit the crime until 2007,” Wood said. “It was not enforced very much and it was originally passed without anything related to the University.”

Though it was not originally created specifically for students, many students may feel targeted by the ordinance. Wood said the most complaints for violators of U+2 was noted in 2012, when 157 notices were filed.

“The purpose of the ordinance is not necessarily to regulate body numbers,” Wood said. “It’s to maintain the quality of life in the neighborhoods, to keep a balance of families, senior citizens and students very diversified. We don’t want (the city) overrun by any specific demographic. We want to maintain the culture of the intended city.”

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In recent years, ASCSU tried going to city officials to change the law. But, no change or agreement with the ordinance had been reached.

“We are still in the infant stages,” Sydoriak said. “We want a solution that allows for people who own homes to be able to rent out as many rooms as they want in a regulated fashion that sustains the current atmosphere in the City of Fort Collins, this humble, pleasant town now becoming a city. We don’t want to become a detriment to the local populous, but with that being said, the students are being discriminated against because of this ordinance.”

Sydoriak said it is important for students to continue to voice their opinions on the ordinance.

“We do not, in any way, advocate anyone breaking the law, it is the law of the land,” said Edward Kendall, ASCSU director of community affairs. “But, we do think that if someone doesn’t like the law, say something about it. We don’t want people going to the city council and throwing a fit. We want to have a thorough process thought up. U+2 is a piece of gauze that has been bled through, and putting another piece of gauze over it, like me+3, is not going to stop the bleeding.”

Revising the U+2 ordinance is a main priority of ASCSU this semester.

“I think U+2 is the largest issue facing students,” Sydoriak said. “It’s an issue that needs to be tackled. It’s an issue that I don’t think any city leaders have thrown us a bone on. It’s time for the city to actually listen to the students.”

Collegian Reporter Dallas Head can be reached at news@colostate.edu or on Twitter @water4rams.