Back to School: What you need to know about rental regulations, parking and code enforcement

IMG_2123Neighborhood integrity concerns are a hot topic in College Station, and rental development in our neighborhoods has raised several questions. Here’s what you need to know as we head into a new school year.

What’s considered a family?

The city’s Unified Development Ordinance defines a family as “one or more persons occupying a single dwelling unit, provided that unless all members are related by blood, adoption, guardianship, marriage, or are part of a group home for disabled persons, no such family shall contain more than four persons.”

As an example, four friends living together in a home are complying with the ordinance. Four siblings living together are also complying with the ordinance, but if an unrelated friend moved in, it would be a code violation.

This definition has remained the same – always limiting the number of unrelated individuals to four – since at least 1972, when Texas A&M was still adjusting to allowing women to enroll and not requiring students to be in the Corps of Cadets. The non-reg students needed housing and some was provided off campus.

Homes occupied by student renters are still classified as single-family structures. The city can’t regulate the end user of a structure – student renters or a traditional family –  but as part of the plan review and inspection process, staff works to ensure that all building code requirements are met.

What’s being done about parking issues?

To reduce neighborhood parking problems, the College Station City Council recently approved regulations for new construction. Developers are required to pick one of the following parking solutions:

  • Wider streets, which allows for safer passing of cars parked on either side of the street.
  • Narrower streets, which disables the option to park on the street.
  • Parking removal with platting, which allows no parking on one or both sides of the street.
  • Visitor alley-fed off-street parking, which allows parking in the back of lots.
  • Wide lot frontages, which allows more space for parking on the lot and out of the street.
  • Visitor parking areas, which are a designated visitor area in the development.

BeFunky_Parking2.jpgIn addition, the minimum amount of off-street parking for new construction has increased from two total spaces to one space for each bedroom, with a maximum of four required spaces. Since this could increase the amount of paved surface in front yards, paving is also limited to no more than 50 percent of the front portion of the lot.

If a street is congested and the Fire Department determines it’s impassable, the city council will consider removing on-street parking for safety reasons.

How does the city handle code enforcement?

The city takes a three-pronged approach for code violations:

    1. Code Enforcement Division: If you suspect a property is in violation of any regulations, please contact Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363.
    2. Police: The College Station Police Department has several programs designed to protect citizens and help them report noise and parking violations:
      • For code violations, contact the Community Enhancement Unit.
      • The Party Patrol is typically activated during football season when call volumes for loud parties are high. It allows other officers to focus on larger safety concerns such as traffic accidents.
      • Beats are designated patrol areas that are the main point of contact regarding safety concerns in neighborhoods. You should avoid contacting them about code violations such as parking or trash in yards.
    3. Rental Registration: The city council recently strengthened the rental registration ordinance by providing the option of assessing administrative penalties for code violations and authorizing the city to review a copy of the lease.

For more information, contact Planning & Development Services at 979-764-3570.

Lance Simms
Lance Simms Director

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