‘Stealth dorms’ bad for neighborhoods, say coworkers

So apparently I’m in the minority here in my office.  Upon mentioning that I was disappointed with Austin City Council’s vote to reduce the number of unrelated people living together from six to four persons, I was surprised at the way my coworkers responded.  Here’s a quick list of the arguments I heard from coworkers in favor of the occupancy limit reduction approved by Austin’s City Council last night (in no particular order):

  • People who can afford to purchase a home in a neighborhood should be able to decide the character of the neighborhood (in other words, renters don’t get to shape where they live)
  • Students are transient; therefore, they should live in transitional neighborhoods—not in those with a decidedly single family flavor
  • If you can’t afford to live in a neighborhood by sharing the rent four or fewer ways, then you shouldn’t live in that neighborhood (“Go live on East Riverside or Far West where you can take the bus,” as one put it.)
  • If a neighborhood is built as primarily single family in character, then that is the “intent” for all time—it should not be allowed to change unless all the neighbors want it to (“My grandmother who moved to Hyde Park in 1935 shouldn’t have to live next to someone who just built an apartment above their garage.”)
  • Homeowners shouldn’t have to deal with noise and trash—and alleviating those problems are unenforceable without reducing the number of people who can live in a structure
  • Streets with many cars parked on them are inherently unsafe for children
  • Reducing the occupancy limit to four doesn’t affect the affordability of the neighborhood
  • Owners of “stealth dorms” don’t care about the condition of their properties
  • The only way to densify urban neighborhoods is to acquire large swaths of land and build the desired density there—infill density is not appropriate
  • Renters are not invested in their communities
  • Single family means homes with parents and children
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