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McDorms happened because idiots restricted apartments

Austin Contrarian makes a good point about student rentals which further supports the contention that it's better for surrounding neighbors if students rent individually rather than sharing a big house. My argument (re-expressed through comment to his post) was based on landlord's disincentive to penalize tenants in a big house versus in a fourplex or apartment/condo building; his adds a point I've not discussed before - the "party house" factor.

Yes, all college towns have students sharing houses, but we've got a lot more than you would expect, given the size of our city, health of our central-city residential economy, etc. We have so many (disproportionate for a 'college in healthy big city') bad student rental houses because people like my neighborhood association fought true multi-family development even on Guadalupe for decades - meaning that students who want to live near campus get artificially incented to live together in houses. Many of the students sharing these houses, in other words, would have been just as happy (or more so) in an apartment - where you can count on more amenities and less hassle - but have been forced to choose between jamming into a house or moving to Far West or Riverside.

I've addressed this before:

The McMansion ordinance further exacerbates the problem. The "highest use" for small single-family houses in my area particularly has now shifted much farther towards student rental and much farther away from "sell to a family that wants to live central" since the expandability of these properties has taken a drastic hit. The too-little too-late West Campus upzoning isn't going to help now that we've thrown another obstacle in the way of families wealthy enough to buy entry on a small lot property but not wealthy enough to live on the bigger lots that the Karen McGraws and Mary Gay Maxwells can afford (or were able to buy back when they were merely expensive, not astronomical). In other words, despite what you heard about the ordinance protecting families, actual central Austin owner-occupant families like me and my neighbor are just getting screwing out of a future in Central Austin - when my neighbor goes, and he's currently looking, he'll be renting to students).

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , I Told You So , When Neighborhoods Go Bad


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Dammit. Fixing now. My stupid brane.

Once again you hit the nail on the head. This is ridiculous exclusionary zoning that could be remedied if they actually thought about what they were doing. The problem is that they don't.

Followed your mcmansion link in the article. Good points. As you said, people in existing homes on narrow or small lots lose out. But the real losers are east austinites. So many lots over there are 50' wide or less. The corner lots with their increased setbacks have taken a dagger to the heart.

The McMansion ordinance wasn't written with the ability to redevelop a small lot with a 600sf shack in mind. Many of those extremely small homes in poor condition are on a cruel form of life support. In a time when a family would've made good money for the lot so they could move into better conditions. Horrible....

Sorry to harp on the McMansion thing, but it is all related.

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