Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will changing a definition really solve the UK student housing situation?

The UK housing situation has been gaining steam in the past few weeks with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government attempting to limit the number of students who can live together in a "single-family" home near campus.  This was brought about due to some complaints by non-student residents who were concerned with the amount of trash in the neighborhood, the number of cars on the street, and fear of declining property values.

LFUCG's possible solution: change the definition of "family".  The would prohibit anymore than four unrelated individuals from living together under one roof.

Besides the obvious property-rights-trampling going on here by dictating who property owners can have on their property, perhaps there is something else wrong with this approach.

Will changing the definition of the term 'family' effectively solve the problem?  I would argue no.  Sure, it will greatly reduce the number of students in an area but that's not the problem.  Here are some things to think about relative to that:

  1. Reducing the concentration of students living in campus-area neighborhoods will only displace more students into other neighborhoods. With UK enrollment increasing each year, this means we are sure to see this problem pop up again, just in other neighborhoods.

  2. Students are going to congregate no matter where they live.  There will still be parking problems in UK neighborhoods simply because students will drive in to see their friends and attend class. 
  3. Forcing more students to live farther away from campus will result in more commuters.  Is the city really prepared for a dramatic increase in in-bound traffic in the mornings?
  4. Why can't the LFUCG work with property owners and tenants on solutions for parking and garbage collection rather than attacking property rights?
  5. This change in definition will affect ALL residential zones in Lexington, not just campus area housing.  This has a huge impact on all of Lexington property owners.
You can view some of the discussion on this issue from recent city council meetings here. Discussion on this issue begins on page 63 of the document.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points. There are real challenges with a large university surrounded by neighborhoods. Would the city be taking the same stance if the more than 4 in a house consisted of UK basketball players or cheerleaders?