LTTE: A balanced approach to U+2 for our community

Guest Author

U+2:  A Balanced Approach for our Community.  

By Paul L. Anderson, Fort Collins Resident


There has been a lot of talk in the Collegian lately about U+2 and how unfair and prejudicial it is toward the students of CSU.  Even our Representative Polis weighed in on the side of eliminating it.  Well, Mr. Polis, I may have voted for you, but on this issue you are wrong and so would be eliminating U+2.

Maintaining U+2 is all about balancing the needs of the communiy – the whole community. And that includes students, single families that wish to buy homes, single families that wish/need to rent, downtown business whose economics rely on families that live nearby, developers that want to build student housing and the green community that looks to reduce driving and air pollution.  Let’s look at these communities.       

Let’s start with families who rent and looking for affordable housing.  CSU students cry foul that the 3-unrelated rule is unfair.  Well, raising the number of persons allowed in a house will be unfair to families who rent as they will see an immediate increase in their rental rates.  More persons being allowed in a house equates to overall higher rental rates. And the group that can ill afford to be
hit with higher rates is families who rent. Especially in these economic times as many families who rent are a result of foreclosure and or loss of employment. Let’s keep this city family friendly.

Developers: If you haven’t noticed, there are many new student housing developments near CSU, along the Mason Street Corridor, and along or near The Max for easy transportation to CSU.  As plans for CSU’s growth continues where will these new student live. Well you can stop the concrete and bricks if we abruptly change the U+2 rule. It’s all about numbers of beds. Open up housing to more CSU students in family neighborhoods and you reduce the demand for student apartments. Regulating rentals is actually the best way to create a economic climate for development of student housing.

Let’s give them the signal they need: The city and its people stand behind the U+2 rule now and in the future.  

The green community: If you want to talk about our Choice City being green, and CSU being the green University, and others like Fort ZED, you can throw it all out the window if the rule gets changed. Putting more students in single family homes is not green friendly. Dispersing students into homes throughout the city rather than into adjacent student apartments further promotes more driving and air pollution.  Plus, the energy foot print per person is less for apartment dwellers compared to those living in homes.  

Single families that wish to buy: Another consequence of an occupancy change is that it will make the conversion of single family home to rentals more financially advantageous for the investor as rental rates for a house will go up. The result is more houses in the core city converted to rentals.  The effect…drive out working families from the core city to neighborhoods further away from their employment.  Neighborhoods have a tipping point in their mix of rentals to home owners.  Too many rentals and you drive out the home owners to live further away from the core city.  
Further away means more driving, more smog, more sprawl, less green. CSU, the Vet school, PVH Hospital, the City and Foothills Campus are huge employers in our core city.  To be green we need to have plenty of family housing available nearby for these employers. (CSU has 6000+ employees alone.) Run the numbers. The U+2 rule promotes a green city. Is CSU listening?

Homeowners need to know where they stand so they can invest in the community. One of the most important things for a community is for homeowners to know that if they make an investment in a house it will not be destroyed by the arrival of a basically unregulated boarding house next door.  To buy in a single-family neighborhood means just that.  The city defines that as U+2.  Zoning is as old as our nation.  It is what protects every citizen from loss of property. Since the enforcement of the U+2 we have seen a turn around in our neighborhood. Yes, it still has it mix of student rentals, but it includes many family rentals and owner occupied homes. Families are returning to buy these homes. Schools that were seeing a drop in their enrollments due to the flight of core residents are seeing their numbers return after the city started enforcing the U+2. It’s about finding a balance – a balance that works for the whole community. Plus, the city does have a mechanism for creating boarding houses in areas zoned for it.        

Downtown businesses: It’s all about having an economic base that supports your downtown businesses. How many people left the core city to live outside of town because of unregulated rentals in their neighborhood?  I can personally name five neighbors. These are people with buying power that are no longer visiting downtown businesses. They shop at the malls on the outskirts of town. Strong core neighborhoods are essential to the economic stability of our vibrant downtown. 

So I urge the students of CSU and those like Mr. Polis to step back and look at the big picture. What’s best for all in our community? Town and Gown is a balance. Eliminating U+2 shifts the balance. It shifts the balance to landlords, many from out of our city, that do not have the city’s best interest at heart. It shifts the balance away from developers of critical student housing. It shifts it away from those who strive for a green community. It shifts it away from those looking for affordable housing.  It shifts if away from those who want to live in single-family neighborhoods near key employers. Keep the balance. It’s working. Support U+2. Support the whole community.