Presentation of Survey Results of University Communities on Rental Property Issues such as Parking in the Yard and Curbside Trash Containers and other Related Topics

 

Prepared by

Sam Nevels

City Managers Office


Introduction:

This is a survey of thirteen cities whose demographics are similar to Stillwater's but not a mirror image thereof. The main criteria for choosing a city was the presence of a major university. The population of the cities chosen ranges from 94,020 to 20,744. The reason for this is so the Commission can get a sense of what is prevalent in middle sized American cities. This allows you to get a comparative feeling of where and how on a wide spectrum. There were eight specific questions that was asked of each city, these questions will act as headings throughout the presentation. The questions pertained to issues such as: Code enforcement staff, city beautification ordinances, rental property and rental zoning. Simply, this survey addresses issues that are characteristic of cities with major universities.

The chart below allows you to see what cities were chosen along with some basic information about each.

Town

Percent Students

Population

Starkville, Ms

72.3%

20,744

Pullman, Wa

68.9%

24,650

Stillwater, Ok

51.9%

37,500

Ames, Ia

49.2%

48,691

Manhattan, Ks

45.5%

44,000

Iowa City, Ia

42.6%

60,000

Logan, Ut

40.0%

50,000

Lawrence, Ks

32.9%

85,000

Columbia, Mo

32.4%

78,299

Fayetteville, Ar

28.3%

52,976

Corvallis, Or

27.6%

51,145

Norman, Ok

26.6%

94,020


  1. What is the total number of unrelated people allowed to live in one dwelling?
  2. Town

    Max.Number of Unrelated People Allowed In One Dwelling

    Starkville, Ms

    3

    Pullman, Wa

    4

    Stillwater, Ok

    5

    Ames, Ia

    3

    Manhattan, Ks

    4

    Iowa City, Ia

    5HD,3LD-MD

    Logan, Ut

    3*

    Lawrence, Ks

    4

    Columbia, Mo

    4MF,3SF

    Fayetteville, Ar

    3

    Corvallis, Or

    5

    Norman, Ok

    3

     

    As this table shows, Stillwater is on the high end of how many unrelated people are allowed to live in a single family residence. The number of unrelated people that are allowed to live in one dwelling no doubt directly effects issues such as parking in yards and affordable housing. In Starkville, Ms there can be no more than three unrelated people allowed to live in one dwelling and that depends on the square footage and number of bedrooms the house has. *Logan, Utah allows for 6 unrelated people to live in a dwelling in a zone that is four blocks surrounding the University of Utah. After talking with Columbia, Mo and Iowa City, Ia, their method seems to be the most logical. There is no doubt that residents in single family(sf) neighborhoods are alarmed when a large number of unrelated people move into one dwelling. So the answer could be that of the path these two cities have taken and limit the number of unrelated people allowed to live in a dwelling according to how it is zoned. Both cities insist that this helps maintain the integrity of historically single family residence neighborhoods.


  3. How many people are on your code enforcement staff?
  4. Town

    Code Enforcemnt

    Population

    Relation to Population

    Starkville, Ms

    2

    20,744

    0.964

    Pullman, Wa

    2

    24,650

    0.811

    Stillwater, Ok

    2

    37,500

    0.533

    Ames, Ia

    6

    48,691

    1.232

    Manhattan, Ks

    6

    44,000

    1.363

    Iowa City, Ia

    6

    60,000

    1

    Logan, Ut

    3

    50,000

    0.6

    Lawrence, Ks

    7

    85,000

    0.823

    Columbia, Mo

    8

    78,299

    1.021

    Fayetteville, Ar

    6

    52,976

    1.132

    Corvallis, Or

    0*

    51,145

    0

    Norman, Ok

    4

    94,020

    0.425

     

    As you can see Stillwater is in the bottom quarter when it comes to how many people they have for Code Enforcement officers. The Relation to Population number is simply the number of code enforcement officers divided by the population multiplied by 10,000. This enables you to quantitatively compare where Stillwater stands in comparison to the other cities surveyed. The higher the number the better. In relation to cities with similar populations i.e. Ames, Ia and Manhattan, Ks the relation number for Stillwater is considerably less. Corvallis, Oregon is 0 because they split code enforcement into multiple departments such as police and fire. Code Enforcement is essential to maintain city beautification and other inspection programs such as the Mandatory Rental Inspection program mentioned later.


  5. What percentage of property is rental property?
  6. Town

    Percent Rental

    Stillwater, Ok

    60%

    Iowa City, Ia

    60%

    Logan, Ut

    60%

    Corvallis, Or

    56%

    Fayetteville, Ar

    55.3%

    Starkville, Ms

    54%

    Columbia, Mo

    53%

    Ames, Ia

    50%

    Lawrence, Ks

    <50%

    Norman, Ok

    <50%

    Pullman, Wa

    45%

    Manhattan, Ks

    45%

     

    As you can see Stillwater has one of the highest percentages of rental property out of the cities surveyed. These percentiles show the commission that Stillwater has a very large number of rentals which directly ties in with issues such as the number of unrelated people allowed to live in a dwelling which directly effects the parking in yards issues. The high number of rentals coupled with a large number of students has an enormous impact on affordable housing which is also discussed later in this presentation. I use the word students because they are primarily a transient part of the population. They move quite frequently which effects every issue that is being discussed in this presentation.


  7. Do you have a mandatory rental inspection program?
  8. This question was a question that was not initially to be asked. However, as the survey progressed other cities were asking me if Stillwater had one. The answer to that is no. Therefore, I began asking cities this question. Only four cities stated that they had any program of this type: Norman, Oklahoma; Ames, Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa; and Columbia, Missouri. The state of Iowa mandates that any city with a population over 15,000 have a mandatory rental inspection program. Norman has an annual rental inspection program for boarding houses only. I have given the commission a copy of Columbia's mandatory rental inspection program ordinance. This ordinance was deemed legal by the Missouri Supreme Court, so there has been precedent set. It has also been in place since 1978. Columbia and Ames' programs require rentals to be inspected every three years. Both programs charge the landlord a fee each time their property is inspected. Ames charges landlords an annual fee, regardless if an inspection took place. I have enclosed a copy of Ames' sliding scale that they use for structures. Pullman, Washington has thought about installing such a program. Yet, like most cities that I talked to there is strong opposition to such a program by rental owners. However, the cities that did have this type of program said the results are amazing because it keeps the quality of life and neighborhoods up. Other cities only inspected rentals on a complaint basis. Logan, Utah performs spot checks on repeat offenders.

    The issue of a mandatory rental inspection program has a direct affect on the City of Stillwater, because of its high percentage of rental property and transient population. When I pressed a city planner of Columbia, Missouri about opposition to their program, he stated that it was one of those issues that "you just had to take head on in order to keep the city a better place. No matter how hot the fire." My intention here is not persuade the commission to do anything. I am simply reporting what the responses were that I received. I say that because this issue is one that is extremely controversial.


  9. Does your city have an ordinance that deals with parking in yards? Curbside trash containers?
  10. Town

    Parking in Yard/Curbside TrashOrdinance?

    Starkville, Ms

    No/Yes

    Pullman, Wa

    No/Yes

    Stillwater, Ok

    No/Yes

    Ames, Ia

    Yes/No

    Manhattan, Ks

    Yes/Yes

    Iowa City, Ia

    Yes/Yes

    Logan, Ut

    Yes/Yes

    Lawrence, Ks

    Yes/Yes

    Columbia, Mo

    Yes/No

    Fayetteville, Ar

    Yes/Yes

    Corvallis, Or

    Yes/Yes

    Norman, Ok

     

    This issue is one that has gotten a lot of attention in Stillwater. As the table shows Stillwater is one of three cities that does not have an ordinance that prohibits parking in yards. There is no doubt that this issue has an adverse immediate impact on maintaining the integrity of neighborhoods. However, most of the cities that do have a no parking in yard ordinance enforce it mainly on a complaint basis. A planner from Fayetteville, Arkansas used the term "auto salvage yards" when describing what her city looked like before the ordinance was passed. In Lawrence, Kansas if the landlord does not provide adequate parking, the city will reduce the density in which the property is zoned. In Columbia, Missouri they do not enforce the ordinance on Saturdays when there is a home football game. In Ames, Iowa the police department is the one who enforces their no parking in yards ordinance. However, the most effective way that I found seems to be the way in which Manhattan, Kansas deals with this issue. At the beginning of each semester code enforcement officers run a route and ticket violators who are parking in the yard. This is done to let people know that the city has an ordinance that prohibits parking in yards. Throughout the rest of the year they also enforce the ordinance. I have attached a sample ordinance from the city of Ames, Iowa.

    The issue of curbside garbage is that most cities surveyed require that container be removed within 24 hours of pickup. Also, most cities state that the garbage cannot be set out more than 12 hours in advance. I have attached a sample ordinance from the city of Joplin, Missouri. Even though Joplin was not surveyed I used their ordinance because it was the easiest to find on www.municode.com.

    The city of Stillwater requires that the owner not put the container out more than 12 hours in advance and must be put up by the end of the day the trash is picked up. Stillwater also requires the container to be placed at least 5 feet from the curb. This distance is consistent with other cities surveyed.


  11. How is your town dealing with affordable housing?
  12. This is an issue that Stillwater has been dealing with for some time now. All of the cities surveyed except Logan, Utah and Pullman, Washington said that affordable housing is a problem in their city. The reason identified is that a large number of students compete directly with permanent residents for housing that is deemed "affordable housing." Houses that are in the $60,000 range. Another reason is that developers are electing to build higher priced houses because the profit margin is higher. The city of Pullman went out and found a developer that was building affordable housing in other communities. They showed the developer that there was an enormous need for affordable housing. So, the developer came in and built a subdivision of affordable houses. Interestingly, the city of Pullman did not subsidize the developer and the developer still had to comply with all of the zoning and building regulations. The most fascinating way that a city dealt with affordable housing comes from Logan, Utah. The city of Logan owned some land that was not being used. So, they went in and developed the land into a subdivision of affordable housing. The city paid for the process then turned around and sold the houses for profit. The houses are the older style houses with the garage unattached and in the back of the house. The city has set strict regulations for this neighborhood. The homebuyers have to agree not to rent the house out. The city even makes the homebuyer agree as to what color of paint the owner can use on the outside of the house.

    A lot of cities are using federal grant money to try and ease the strain of not having adequate affordable housing. The city of Ames, Iowa stated that they could not get enough people that qualified for this money even though the people could only afford "affordable housing." They have an annual housing fair in the hopes they can help people find homes. A lot of communities expressed that there has been a boom in the construction of 4-plexes. Similar to a duplex except there are 4 units. These seem to alleviate the problems that the lack of affordable housing presents.

    Logan, Utah and Pullman, Washington seem to be the most progressive in the area of affordable housing.

    When I first starting thinking about affordable housing I assumed that any community with a high percentage of rental property would have an affordable housing problem. However, as Logan, Utah has shown with their 60% percent rental property (compared with Stillwater's 60%) that this does not have to always be the case.


  13. How active are college students in city government? Are they actively included and formally invited?
  14. This question was a question that arose out of some miscommunication that took place between the city of Stillwater and the Oklahoma State University Off Campus Student Association involving some wording in the proposed Comprehensive Plan. However, this question seemed to be logical since all cities surveyed are major university towns.

    Surprisingly, cities such as Corvallis, Oregon; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Ames, Iowa expressed that there is apathy on the student and the cities part when it comes to involvement in city politics/government. There was no real involvement to actively involve students. However, some cities have some very noticeable ways in which students are included. For instance, the city of Pullman, Washington, which is divided into wards, has an area that is called College Hill. This is an area that is almost entirely college students. The city purposely made this area a ward to enhance the chance a college student would be elected to the City Council. They stated that it has been a great success. The city also held a neighborhood meeting at Washington State University's Student Union when they were drafting their Comprehensive Plan. Similarly, in Lawrence, Kansas a student is allowed to sit on the City Commission, that student can debate but not vote. Also, in Lawrence every board has a reserved seat where a student is a member. In Manhattan, Kansas a spot is reserved for a student on the steering committee.

    Stillwater is not as progressive as some of these towns mentioned but they are inclusive of Oklahoma State University students.


  15. Any particular zoning that tries to limit single family/students to rentals? Any particular rental zones?
  16. This question came out of a conversation that took place at an OSU/City Relations Focus group meeting in which someone mentioned the city of Santa Barbara, California has a student rental zone. In fact it is not the city of Santa Barbara but the County of Santa Barbara where the University of California at Santa Barbara is located. Land adjacent to the university approximately 10 blocks are zoned particularly for students. It is not a rental zone. The zones are Medium Density Student Resident and High Density Student Resident. These zones are particular to students and the zoning is almost entirely made up of rentals. The word is that it has caused a "student ghetto". However, I have not witnessed the area firsthand so I cannot comment on that statement.

    On the other hand, no other city surveyed has any particular rental zones. Yet, Corvallis, Oregon has a stated effort in their plan to restrict students to housing adjacent to the university for traffic easement. But there is no student zone. Obviously all cities have zoned high density around universities. Interestingly, in Logan, Utah in single family zones a builder cannot rent the house he builds, he has to sell it. Still, the buyer can elect to rent out the house if they wish to do so.

    As mentioned before this was an issue that I found intriguing. Therefore I elected to find out more about rental zones.