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Me+3 petition expected to fail, needs over 1,000 more signatures

The petition to change the Fort Collins housing occupancy ordinance is not expected to reach the required number of signatures to be put on the 2017 ballot, according to The Associated Students of Colorado State University President Jason Sydoriak.

“There was not enough volunteers from ASCSU, the student body or the community,” Sydoriak said while addressing senate Wednesday night. “There was not enough engagement from the community and student body to get those signatures. This issue needs to be addressed if you wish to tackle Me+3.”

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The ordinance limits residential occupancy to three unrelated adults, regardless if the property is owner occupied or rented. Only a handful of exceptions are made throughout the city, in particular for student housing apartment complexes, and active enforcement of the law began in January in a neighborhood west of campus.

ASCSU wrote the petition, with legal guidance, to change the ordinance to allow one more unrelated adult to the occupancy limit. Commonly known as “Me+3,” the initiative would go to the ballot on 2017 if it receives 3,400 signatures by April 22. Currently, Sydoriak estimates the petition has 2,000 signatures, and is quickly nearing the time limit of 60 days.

“I’m going to continue collecting signatures because that’s the duty that I chose,” Sydoriak said. “Whether or not I can get them all doesn’t matter.”

For a signature to be considered valid, the person signing must be registered to vote in Fort Collins, and the signature must be consistent with the voter’s signature on file with the state. The student organization began collecting signatures in February. 

“We had to turn a lot of people away (because they were not registered to vote in Fort Collins),” Sydoriak said.

Sydoriak said student engagement with ASCSU contributed to the lack of signatures on the petition.

“I overestimated the student’s willingness to engage and participate with their community and their city,” Sydoriak said. “I feel like this is something the students want, but they’re not coming to us. Maybe that is an issue (ASCSU) has communicating with the students.”

According to Edward Kendell, the former ASCSU director of community affairs, the number of legitimate signatures is estimated to be significantly lower than 2,000. From previous petitions, there is an average invalidation rate of 30 percent, according to Kendall. This petition will mostly likely have a higher than average invalidation rate due to frequent moving common of student populations Kendell said.

Of the 23,9901 voters registered in Larimer County, 15 percent are between the age of 18 to 25, according to the Secretary of State website.

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“It’s probably not going to go through,” Kendell said. “The numbers are impractical and unrealistic. The numbers that we have are probably a little over-estimated.”

The lack of volunteers to collect signatures was a driving factor of the inability to validate the petition, Sydoriak and Kendall said.

“Maybe we wrote the ordinance in such a way that it wasn’t palatable enough for traditional residents to help us,” Sydoriak said. “But, it’s like pulling teeth (collecting signatures). Everyone says it’s a great idea to include outside organizations and students, but (no one has) stepped up.

Kendall attributed the lack of volunteers to the chaos within the student organization this year.

“U+2 is a very big project and a very ambitious project,” Kendall said. “We tried to tackle that project when we didn’t have our home in order.”

Kendall said many of the internal initiatives took student representative’s time away from collecting signatures. 

“We were trying to make sure the ship was still afloat,” Kendall said. “The the holes within ASCSU like sexism, the diversity bill and records, makes the organization working in an effective manner almost impossible for a city level event. Not that those holes were things we couldn’t patch, but the challenge we faced (Me+3) just wasn’t realistic.”

Collegian ASCSU reporter Erin Douglas can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @erinmdouglas23.

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