Off-campus residents may see limitations if city ordinance passes
THE SANTA CLARA
September 25, 2014
Students, landlords and residents voiced their opinions on a controversial proposal that would limit how many tenants can live in certain single-family homes at a Santa Clara City Council committee meeting on Monday.
The Neighborhood Protection Ordinance Committee presented their most recent draft of a housing ordinance affecting homeowners in the residential zone of the greater city of Santa Clara.
The updated version, released at the committee’s fifth and final meeting, would require local property owners to apply for boarding house permits in order to lease homes to five or more adults who pay rent separately. This would affect fraternities, sororities and others currently living in homes meant for single families.
The ordinance was created to address excessive partying near the university, the high concentration of individuals living in single-family homes and the lack of street parking.
Monday’s meeting pushed the ordinance forward to the Planning Commission, the last group slated to review the ordinance before it is presented to the City Council for a vote.
“The meeting went poorly for us and our campaign to save student tenant rights and property owner rights,” said junior Chuck Hattemer in an email.
Hattemer is the co-founder of One Rent, an online platform that will allow students to submit deposits and pay rent to their landlords online. He said there was a lack of students voicing opposition to the ordinance at Monday’s meeting. Three Santa Clara students spoke about the ordinance during the meeting’s public comment period which lasted approximately two hours.
According to Hattemer, if the ordinance passes, many landlords will choose not to rent a single home to more than four students because of the “unruly gatherings” clause. The clause in the ordinance states that landlords risk getting their boarding house permits permanently revoked if tenants repeatedly host “unruly gatherings” of 10 or more people.
Without the permits, students will be displaced from homes, Hattemer said.
However, at the Monday meeting, City Attorney Richard Nosky, a member of the Neighborhood Protection Ordinance Committee, said, “It’s not our intent to cite property owners for each and every party that occurs.”
Since the release of the original draft in July, many have questioned if the ordinance will solve the issues it was written to address.
Margaret Slivinske, who lives in the single family residential zone, said the ordinance will not help regulate partying because property owners can obtain a permit to continue to rent properties to students as boarding homes.
However, she said she is in support of the ordinance because if it is passed, it will prevent real estate developers from turning single bedroom houses in the residential zone into boarding houses.
“There’s nothing against students, that is not the issue,” said Slivinske. “The issue is with the city allowing these developers to come in and turn this neighborhood into high-density housing.”
Michael Hindery, Santa Clara’s vice president for finance and administration and university spokesperson on the housing ordinance, said he met with the city manager and two city council members to discuss the ordinance, but that the university has yet to take a stance on the ordinance since it is still being drafted.
The university has not discussed the possibility of providing additional housing for students if the ordinance is passed, Hindery added.
The university does, however, have the Santa Clara Integrated Strategic Plan, aimed at expanding the university’s facilities and bolstering the university’s reputation, among other objectives.
The plan calls to increase the university’s undergraduate population from 5,400 to 6,000 in the next five years. Hindery said the university will build housing to accommodate the 600 additional students.
City council member Teresa O’Niell, who also serves on the ordinance committee, said that before the law was drafted, the committee did not conduct any research on how many houses the new policy would affect and how many people it could potentially displace.
“Even if we do not think this is the right answer, having a document to work from helps the discussion,” O’Niell said. “It could be a couple of months before it gets to the city council.”
Contact Mallory Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.