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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Objectionable ordinance

 
 

Take four angry neighborhood associations and six willing councilmen, and what is the result? One flawed roommate ordinance and a whole mess of headaches for students.
Tuesday, the maximum roommate ordinance, as it is commonly referred, will go through its second reading. If passed, Bryan neighborhoods will be allowed to lower the amount of unrelated tenants in a single-family household from four to two. At the moment, four neighborhoods, Memorial Forest, Upper Burton Creek, Tejas and Sul Ross, back the ordinance. If passed, more will likely follow.
There are several problems with this ordinance. Chief among them is that the ordinance will not solve the noise, trash or parking issues that supporters claim is a problem. These issues are caused by students who regularly party. Setting a limit on how many people can live in a household does not limit the number of people that can attend a party.
The only thing that can curtail these problems is calling the police once the party gets out of control. Unfortunately, the ordinance adds unnecessary logistical weight to the Bryan police force, as it is not a blanket ordinance. The ordinance will only apply to neighborhoods that choose to adopt it. “Imagine a street where running a stop sign on one side of the street is illegal, and the other is not,” assistant chief of Bryan police, Freddie Komar said.
The concept of a roommate is ill defined. Only people who have signed a lease are considered roommates under current law. Visitors can stay indefinitely and not violate the ordinance. “At what point does he become a roommate?” Komar said.
Aside from the logistical problems, the impact on future tenants is obvious. Though most residents cannot be evicted from their homes under the ordinance, landlords will suffer from future leases. The financial hit that the landlords take from fewer tenants will be passed on to renting students.
As the number of available properties decreases, the demand for living space will increase, causing the local market to increase rent. This is inflamed by the fact that tenants will only be able to split costs two ways, instead of four.
The Planning and Zoning Commission spent four months reviewing the neighborhood’s complaints concerning the offending students. In September it recommended boosting enforcement of the existing ordinance and to quicken police response to neighborhood calls. As the proposed ordinance complicates things for both the police and students, it seems that the intended effect is to appease the neighborhood associations. There is no reason why increased police presence, regular enforcement of current laws and harsher punishments for repeat offenders could not mitigate the problems altogether.
The prevailing sentiment among city officials is that the ordinance is not a permanent solution. Councilman Mark Conlee, the representative for District 4 in Bryan, supports the ordinance, but said, “We need a solution, not just a knee-jerk reaction.”
Moreover, the ordinance can’t remove most current residents. Kevin Russell, Bryan’s planning and development services director, understands that this is clearly a temporary solution. “It’s going to take some time for this to happen, and it’s not going to be an overnight fix,” said Russell.
Instead of offering up a solution that will take years to pan out and may economically cripple students, the Bryan city council should take additional time to negotiate a better deal between compliant students and neighbors. Instead of burdening the police, the council should take the time to improve efficiency. Instead of harassing everyone, the council should take measures to punish only those who offend their neighbors.

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