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:
- Villas on Guadalupe-related
- Unintended consequences of irresponsible zoning
- 37th street lights, part one
- 37th street lights, part two
- Response to ANCTalk
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).