The City Council Monday will weigh a series of proposed changes that could stem the tide of converting homes to so-called mini-dorms — houses holding sometimes eight or nine students in a typically single-family neighborhood.

Neighbors have complained about such homes, saying that noise levels, parking shortages and trash from the mini-dorms are threatening, even destroying, the character of their neighborhoods. Students have said there’s not much they can do in a real estate market as prohibitive to college budgets as San Diego’s. The debate continues.

To address some of those issues, various city departments have identified a potential three-part strategy to combat the trend. The first part dealt with the behavior complaints; new nuisance violations and code enforcement fines were implemented in a six-month pilot program that began April 30. Under that program, police can issue citations of up to $1,000 to tenants and property owners in cases of mini-dorm related disturbances.

Monday’s proposed amendments the development code, as drafted and vetted in recent months in community forums and council subcommittee meetings, would limit the number of bedrooms, the percentage of hardscape (concrete-covered lawn) on a lot and driveway width. Mayor Jerry Sanders has identified these amendments as the way to prevent anyone from constructing these mini-dorms in the future. Some homeowners have called the amendments simply a Band-Aid.

At Monday’s meeting, the City Attorney’s Office will also present information on a potential rooming house ordinance, the third prong in the strategy. While the Development Services amendments address the development of the houses, the rooming house ordinance would require code enforcement for the “practice” of mini-dorms.

We’ll follow this Monday; check back for more.


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