I hope you are enjoying the flowering of concerts, parades and festivals that mark the imminent arrival of summer. This week’s letter discusses the condominium proposal at 150 Lloyd Avenue, the proposed amendment to the student housing ordinance and the regulation of short-term rentals such as Airbnb.
Tomorrow (Monday) night, Councilwoman LaFortune and I will host a neighborhood meeting to discuss ideas to regulate short-term rentals through such platforms as AirBnB. It will take place at the Rochambeau Branch Library Conference Room on Monday, June 25 at 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. At that time, the City Council policy staff will present their research concerning regulations in place in other communities. We are interested in hearing your comments about their research, as well as your thoughts about the issue more generally.
Last Tuesday night, the City Plan Commission reviewed an Amended Ordinance that would extend the scope of the current student housing ordinance to include 2-family homes in R-1 and R-1A zones. This represents a modest extension of the student ordinance passed by the City Council two years ago (which applied only to single-family homes), and became necessary after some College Hill residents learned of a lease for a 2-family six-bedroom home to thirteen student tenants, which could significantly change the character of that neighborhood, and could lead to similar changes across the City. The City Plan Commission correctly noted that this represented a modest step in addressing a much larger issue. In addition to approving the ordinance and recommending City Council passage, the Planning Commission expressed interest in studying the broader issue of off-campus college student housing, which is creating increasing stress across the City. The City Council’s Ordinance Committee will hold a public hearing on the ordinance on Wednesday, June 27 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, Third Floor. That committee may vote on the ordinance after the public hearing, so please consider attending if you would like to share your views on this subject.
At the same June 19 meeting, the City Plan Commission reviewed a proposal to change the zoning around 150 Lloyd Avenue to accommodate the development of up to 10 condominium units on that property. A large delegation of neighbors testified against the proposal, expressing concerns about the resulting density in that neighborhood and the precedent of introducing such a dramatic zoning change to the City’s zoning program more generally. The condominium proposal was presented as an alternative to the current stated plan to house a doctor’s office at that location at which prescriptions for suboxone may be issued. (The current zoning does not permit the opening of a clinic where the drug would be dispensed onsite.) Residents testified they would prefer a suboxone office to the proposed condominiums, which proposal they viewed as being forced on them by scare tactics. The City Plan Commission voted against City Council approval; however, the developer retains the option to seek such approval notwithstanding the Commission’s recommendation. Having listened to the unanimous hearing testimony from neighbors and reports from community groups against the zoning change, I plan to vote against it should it go further before the City Council. I will inform you if and when the City Council conducts any hearings on this proposal.