We are here in
And this, also from Lexington:
I happened on your blog… this afternoon. We have exactly the same problems here in
Anyway, I notice that a fair amount of talk on your blog centers around the definition of "family." That's the case here as well. My contention here is that the term "family" is part of the problem. One argument about student rental houses used to be that "...these are single-family houses, and the people living in them are clearly NOT members of the same family..." The result was that the definition of family was expanded to include any number of unrelated people who customarily live together (or words to that effect). So helpful.
I don't believe the purpose of any zoning ordinance is to support a given view of "family," whether traditional or nontraditional. We make the mistake of calling our "houses" by the name "single-family dwellings," and by doing so suggest that the underlying intent of a residential zone has something to do with encouraging families to live in the neighborhood.
The small houses in the neighborhoods that surround the
That's what the ordinance intends: owner occupation. As it turns out, it's also the easiest thing to determine, as the publicly-accessible property valuation website lists who owns what, and where they reside relative to that. If an owner doesn't resides in a house he owns, it should (I argue) be considered a lodging house (an illegal use in our R1 and R2 zones) by default, and should be either regulated appropriately or shut down.
I'm having one hell of a time getting any traction for that view here, which either means that I'm wrong or that I'm right.
Anyway, thanks for the blog.
This is the reply I sent to to Dennis: Thanks again for your comments. … The family definition issue is a contentious one, no doubt. … Maybe we ought to just eliminate the word and replace it by a term like "single social group" while keeping the same definition. Zoning, as I see it, is for limiting uses. For single family/multifamily areas it is density. Families, for planning purposes, tend to average out. In this town, family units are less than three on average. So, families are somewhat self-regulating as they average out. Singles renting homes are not self-regulating in that way. The economics drive maximum occupancy. As for owner occupancy, 50% of Bellinghams' single family homes are rented, most by students from
As for Kate's comments, she has raised a good point. Dealing with the turnover of thousands of student renters annually means that enforcement efforts across the board must be constantly and evenly maintained. The university must accept a major role in educating students, not only about behavior but also on the laws pertaining to home rentals. One home-owner here, who has made it a point for years to meet with and engage students moving onto his street, said to me, "I am tired of training these puppies."