Recently tensions between college area residents and students living in so-called mini-dorms have run high.

A decade ago, San Diego tried to legislate away the problem. The Court of Appeal struck down the ordinance — which limited the number of adults who could occupy a single family home based on the square footage of bedrooms, number of baths and amount of off street parking — because it was preempted by state law and violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution (it irrationally discriminated against tenant-renters versus owner-occupants). See College Area Renters & Landlords Ass’n. v. City of San Diego, (1996) 43 Cal. App. 4th 677.

The case contains a good description of what led up to adoption of the ordinance, including neighborhood surveys. Most surveyed did not respond, and the majority of those who did respond, reported no problem.

These days, efforts are directed at citing those who do create disturbances. This has the benefit of targeting the few who create problems, rather than eliminating housing opportunities for all students.

I know there are those who prefer to live around people of their one age and lifestyle. But I think the energy and life of a community come from the diversity of its people. I have opted to live in an older part of the city of San Diego, one that that has a mix of rentals and owner-occupied units; apartments and houses are mixed with shops and businesses.

When I went to college at UC Irvine, after one year on campus, I shared homes on Balboa Island with roommates. During the school year, roughly one-third of the residents there were students. I don’t know that we were any worse to deal with then the summer tourists who replaced us. Our neighbors there were friendly and helpful, sharing their barbecues and recipes. And my roommates from college remain some of my dearest friends.

Do you have any good neighbor stories to share about living with other students during your college days?

What are your ideas about how to make SDSU’s and other school’s good neighbor policies a success?


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