If you have been following local politics here in Aggieland, you have probably heard about the proposed Restricted Occupancy Overlay (ROO) going before Planning Commission this Thursday, April 15th and City Council the following Monday, April 19th. As an individual with close relationships with those passionately for and against this overlay, I am going to do my best in this and subsequent posts to be as fair as possible in outlining and assessing the current situation.
What It Is: To start, College Station’s Restricted Occupancy Overlay would further restrict the number of unrelated people permitted to occupy a living unit in the single-family zoning district from the current number of four to two as explained in the City’s graphic here:
How It Works: Should the Restricted Occupancy Overlay pass, individual subdivisions zoned for single family would be eligible to apply to opt into the overlay. To do so, property owners in a subdivision would organize and go through a petition process to gain support for the Restricted Occupancy Overlay from 50%+1 of their fellow property owners. They would hold neighborhood meetings and go through the regular rezoning process. Resident renters within the subdivision would not be able to participate in the 50%+1 petition process but could make their voices heard at subsequent required neighborhood and public meetings. The process for this petition and meeting for a subdivision to adopt a Restricted Occupancy Overlay is outlined by the City here:
What Areas are Eligible: According to the City of College Station’s 2018 Existing Conditions Report, approximately 76% of College Station’s Residential Land is zoned “Single-Family” and all of this land would be eligible for the Restricted Occupancy Overlay.
Who Would Be Most Directly Impacted:
- Those Who Use Roommates to Offset Housing Costs – For the adopting subdivision, the ordinance effectively limits the number of unrelated roommates allowed in a house from four unrelated to two. As roommates are a primary means for certain populations (such as students, lower & moderate income residents, and, increasingly, elderly wanting to live in community) to use the rental market to achieve quality housing in areas they otherwise couldn’t afford without government subsidy, these populations face an increased likelihood of being priced out of neighborhoods that adopt the overlay.
- Neighborhood Property Owners – By reducing the number of roommates allowed per unit in Single Family Neighborhoods, the Restricted Occupancy Overlay would serve as an effective means to combat the spread of student housing in single-family neighborhoods, reduce traffic and on-street parking. It would also likely increase the affordability of home ownership opportunities for single or dual income households that might otherwise be priced out by real estate investors. Per the ordinance, landlords currently renting to 3 or 4 unrelated individuals would be allowed to continue to do so but would now be subject to limits on their ability to expand their existing residences as they would now be considered operating under a “non-conforming use.”
- Real Estate Investors, Developers & Builders – If adopted, the Restricted Occupancy Ordinance would restrict the ability of investors, developers, and builders to respond to market demand for denser housing options in single-family neighborhoods without first rezoning the property to a more intense use. Currently, builders have been able to build units for up to four unrelated roommates without needing to rezone the property.
In an upcoming post, we will dive into the concerns that are driving the demand for College Station’s Restricted Occupancy Overlay as well as concerns regarding the request itself. In the meantime, you can find more information about College Station’s proposed Restricted Occupancy Overlay and how to participate in the upcoming pubic meetings virtually from the sources below.
Upcoming Public Meeting Information: April 15th Planning & Zoning Commission and April 19th City Council Virtual Meetings
City of College Station Restricted Occupancy Overlay Information – Background, Information and Updates
City of College Station Restricted Occupancy Overlay staff report – April 15th P&Z Commission Agenda Packet
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