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Multiple Roommates - A Rant [Feb. 14th, 2014|01:03 pm]
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Our city is passing an ordinance that you can have no more than 4 unrelated people living together in a house. Previously the maximum was 6.

Supposedly "affordable housing" is a big goal in our city, but that's just a phrase they use to mean "subsidized housing." When people are making their own housing affordable by having multiple roommates, than apparently that's a bad thing. It's not called frugality, it's not called sharing, it's not called a wise use of resources. These are not coops, but "stealth dorms."

That's not even scary sounding.

Is it?

What the complainers really want is for students to be segregated and not mixing with "families." Why? Because some students are loud (practicing with their bands), they park their cars all over, and they have too much trash. Basically, many of them are obnoxious neighbors. But instead of making and enforcing rules against obnoxiousness, they want to ban certain kinds of people from certain areas. And they are doing it in a wacky way. They aren't referring to "obnoxious neighbors" or even "students," but "unrelated" people. (And of course you can't become related to more than one person through marriage and you can't even marry one person if you are both the same gender.)

Houses aren't just houses anymore, they are "single-family" dwellings. There are rules against tiny houses and rules against filling up big houses (at least in the "wrong" way). There are rules against parking in the yard, yet people don't want you to park in the street either. And people don't want to ride bikes and buses either.

The whole point of living in town is that you have easy access to all kinds of things. If people want some sort of sterile matchy-matchy environment, there are plenty of suburban HOA communities.

I'm getting very tired of this whole thing where certain people think that their lifestyle is not only the best lifestyle for them but also for everyone else. Let's not even get into Kansas' new anti-gay bill. What the?

I love living in town with an unrelated roommate, no children, no pets, and no mind-altering drugs (except sugar), but do I want to make everyone live like that? No, that would be horribly rude. Even for some of those things that affect me directly (such barking dogs, dogs who think they own the entire neighborhood and want to keep me out of it, screaming babies, and clouds of pot smoke).

The anti-stealth-dorm people have inadvertently shown me an awesome way to contact my city council members, so I sent my council members this:

Subject: Pro Stealth Dorms

A big goal in Austin is to have affordable housing. Sadly, "affordable" seems to be defined as "subsidized." When people are making their own housing affordable by having multiple roommates--and not costing taxpayers a thing--then that is called, not "affordable housing," not "coops," but "stealth dorms."

If there are too many cars, we should make more bike lanes and a better bus system, widen the roads, make rules about all buildings having big enough driveways or parking lots, and/or let people park in their yard.

If there is a noise problem, make stronger anti-noise rules or enforce them better. Same with overflowing trash problems.

Please look for ways to address the actual problems directly rather than making some rule that only stereotypical families with 1.3 kids get to live indoors. This is America. We are not all supposed to have to be the same.

Thank you for your concern!
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: llcoolvad
2014-02-14 10:39 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, college towns typically manage to pull off stuff like that because of the colleges, but it affects so many more than just college students. How about house sharing by immigrants? It's a direct attack on the poor. You can have a collection of unrelated people living together for any number of reasons. The instances that become problems should be dealt with on a very specific basis. Leave non-problematic people alone.

I love your response. I hope they listen.
[User Picture]From: livingdeb
2014-02-15 06:00 pm (UTC)

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I am generally for direct solutions. (This means I'm even against things like worse penalties for hate crimes. If you hurt someone, you should get a bad penalty, whether some weirdo definition of hate was in effect or not.)

And when you want people to quit doing something, I much prefer solutions that give people a better option rather than those that just try to block the unwanted behavior.