Metro, News

City Council dismisses student housing ordinance

Ordinance limiting undergraduate students to four per home removed from consideration

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Providence City Committee on Ordinances voted down an amendment that would have restricted the number of students that could live together in various types of homes.

Providence City Committee on Ordinances voted Jan. 29 to “continue indefinitely” a previously proposed amendment which would have restricted housing to no more than four undergraduate students per home across the city.

The ruling “kind of kills” the amendment, said Tina Mastroianni, first deputy city clerk. “(The committee) can’t take it up again.”

The amendment had been introduced in July 2018 by councilman Seth Yurdin and Samuel Zurier, adding language that would restrict more than four undergraduates from living together in two-family, multi-family and various other types of homes.

Yurdin later withdrew his support out of concern that the amendment discriminated against students.  “A law that reduces the scope of discrimination, but still allows it to apply to others is not acceptable,” he wrote.

A previous housing ordinance amendment that was passed by City Council in 2015 limited the number of college students per single-family home to three, whereas the amendment discussed Tuesday would limit the number to four in various types of homes, such as multi-family. The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island later challenged the 2015 amendment in the Rhode Island Superior Court, which upheld the ordinance. Following that decision, the ACLU of Rhode Island appealed the case to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, where it is awaiting a decision on whether it will be heard.

The amendment was initially proposed after many homeowners living in neighborhoods surrounding the University’s campus pushed for student housing limitations. Spurred by complaints of disruptive parties, concerns about rising housing costs and a desire to preserve “neighborhood character,” residents began a campaign in support of more extensive zoning rules, according to The College Hill Independent.

Robert Azar, deputy director of the City Plan Commission, advised that the amendment is “superfluous” due to a third ordinance that has yet to be heard by the Committee.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Robert Azar, deputy director of the City Plan Commission, advised that the amendment is “superfluous” due to the ordinance currently awaiting hearing in the Rhode Island Supreme Court. In fact, Azar advised that the amendment is “superfluous” due to a third ordinance that has yet to be heard by the Committee. The Herald regrets the error.