Off campus, council says, five's a crowd - The Boston Globe
This story pretty well sums of a variety of issues with City Councilor Michael Ross's proposal to limit the number of college students who can live together in a residential area to four. Overcrowding and the associated excess noise, trash, parking demands, etc. are all very real problems. Would this zoning change really do much to solve the problem? Where will these students live?
There certainly is an imbalance between what a family earning the Allston/Brighton median annual household income ($40,000) can afford to spend to buy a house and what a landlord can afford to spend on the same house, especially if the landlord can get $600+/month for each bedroom. So if you can only rent to 4 students (and collect $30,000/year of rent) instead of 5 or more, that seems like it could reduce somewhat the amount that landlord will spend to buy the house in the first place.
But this zoning change seems to be just a drop in the proverbial bucket. A lot of people in A/B would not or could not spend $2,000+/month on their housing (not counting insurance, real estate taxes, etc) so the absentee landlord still can afford to outspend most potential homeowners. And the overcrowding issues don't just apply when the 12 people living in a two-family home are undergraduates.
College students do need to live somewhere. The number of students and amount of on-campus housing are both relatively constant (at least in the short term). If we limit the number of students that can live in each unit that will mean that more units are needed to house the students. And spreading out the off-campus undergraduate population could cause a different set of issues.
I'd like to see the City doing more to deal with the effects of overcrowding, regardless of whether or not it is caused by students or others. Make sure that homes and businesses have clean and appropriate places to store trash, increase the frequency of trash pick-up, better rodent control, more resident permit parking (maybe not the exact program Boston currently has) with a reasonable limit on the number of resident stickers per housing unit, street sweeping with the needed parking bans so the sweeping can be effective, enforcement of existing parking regulations - these are just a few of the quality of life solutions the City could consider to help us live together in our densely settled neighborhood regardless of how many people of a certain age are living in a single housing unit.