City to study U+2 after CSU student government approves funds

Stuart Smith

At their latest Senate meeting, the Associated Students of Colorado State University, the University’s student government, passed a bill advocating for $10,000 from the ASCSU discretionary fund for a study that would look at U+2.

Specifically, the occupational study will “focus on the city’s existing occupancy ordinance (U+2),” in an effort to determine if U+2 has had any impact on neighborhood quality or housing affordability.

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ASCSU President Josh Silva will also be allocating $3,000 from the President’s discretionary fund to the study, bringing the total to $13,000 from the student body.

Silva also said the University administration is willing to donate to the study.

U+2, originally called “three-unrelated,” has been part of Fort Collins since the 1960s, when the city passed the ordinance to fight what citizens then saw as growing pains.

In an interview with the Collegian in 2015, Dale Wood, the city occupancy inspector at the time detailed the history of the ordinance.

Previously, when Fort Collins was still mainly an agricultural town, European immigrants would come every harvest season for work, and residents were unhappy. Many of these families were poor and had large families and, because of this, the city council wrote up what was then a criminal level ordinance that would prevent them from housing multiple families in each household.

When the city shifted away from its agricultural roots, the ordinance stayed on the books, but was largely ignored by all parties involved.

When CSU decided to start expanding in the early 2000s, and the city began to see increasing problems of rowdy households, the law was brought back to the forefront of the city’s mind.

One of the earliest examples of police considering enforcing “three-unrelated” in the Collegian archives was an article from May 6, 2004, detailing a household that broke the record for most citations collected, with eight total tickets, totaling more than $2,000, and police had been called to the house more than 20 times. While the boys in the house bragged about their accomplishment, even hanging one of their public-nuisance tickets on the wall, the city and University began to suspect that “three-unrelated” might need to make a return.

In response to that, and many other instances, the City of Fort Collins asked Corona Research, a firm in Denver, to investigate the extent of violators, and any effect that enforcement could have.

The study, published in 2005, found that for properties in the lower and mid-range markets, where most college students reside, landlords would be better off because of enforcement, and tenants would be worse off, at least in the long term.

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That same year, in anticipation of enforcement beginning again, the city downgraded breaking the ordinance from being a criminal to a civil offense.

In 2007, the first citations were issued. The two years in between were used as an educational period for the public so that people knew about the ordinance.

It was during that period that the name “U+2” was coined for the ordinance to make it easier to remember. Since then, several hundred cases have been investigated.

ASCSU has been at odds with the ordinance since enforcement began again in 2007, but they started actively fighting it in 2015.

The Sydoriak administration was unable to do much on the issue, but Silva is hopeful that he will succeed.

“What we really need to be conscious of, as students, is thinking about U+2 not as a student issue but as an economic issue and an affordability issue,” Silva said. “It’s important to keep in mind that (the city cares) about maintaining the quality of housing and the affordability of it.”

Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached on Twitter @notstuartsmith.