Sunday, January 08, 2006

What was all the hubbub, bub?

Blake tells us today about how, after having portions of the rental regulation ordinances ruled unconstitutional and others preempted by state law, it appears that the sky has not fallen and our neighborhoods have not burnt to the ground. Despite appearances to the contrary, it actually seems that, for the most part, students (even more than 2 unrelated ones) can live in relative harmony with family homeowners in our subdivisions and neighborhoods. This is not really news to your AthPo editors, both of which have lived on each side of that white picket fence.

This startling revelation leads me to ask the question: was there ever really a problem? Don't get me wrong, I can be as ornery as the next person when a neighbor's house looks like a travelling carnival gone horribly wrong. And I certainly have no problem believing that students have been the culprits in some of these scenarios. But was the problem beyond the enforcement reach of existing ordinances? If so, why aren't the Cedar Creek sticks-in-the-mud screaming their heads off now? It is because they're too busy opposing LPDS? Or have students suddenly gotten the message and straightened up their act? Is it because UGA is no longer a top 10 party school, and students are actually studying now (my anecdotal evidence would certainly not support this theory)?

Fact is, other than a few bad apples, there never really was a problem to be solved. It was a made up issue to score political points at the expense of students. And why not? They're politically expendable.

Andy was right the other night when he called the Commission out on this. But what's the solution? The practical truth is that each individual student is only here for a short time (an even shorter time now that people are actually graduating in 4 years), and it is difficult for them to form their local political roots in that time. As a result, the students as a political body rarely demand that their voice be heard, and those in power don't strain themselves to listen.

Any thoughts on changing this, or on whether it needs to be changed?

11 comments:

gap said...

Students will always be convenient targets and regardless of whether this should change, it wont. Most students are not homeowners and don't pay property taxes. They don't often vote in local elections. Many students don't really actively participate in their communities outside of their small world. If students start giving a crap about what's going on in Athens and view themselves as members of a community, then they will not be such easy targets. Unfortunately this will never happen.

monticello_pres said...

Are there sticks-in-the-mud in Cedar Creek? Yes. Are there sticks-in-the-mud in every subdivision in A/CC? Probabaly so.

I might like it if CCCA had the political clout that we are given credit for. Unfortunately, or fortunately for those of us who love the democratic process, that just isn't the case. We are not the deciding factor in issues nor were we the creator of the rental registration concept (to my knowledge). Many in CCCA are rental owners and were opposed to such legislation.

What may separate us from the rest of the neighborhood associations in town (other than Green Acres/Crestwood) is our attempt to stay current on issues and to voice our opinions. The others have that opportunity... they just don't. So I suppose our voice makes us a lightning rod.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I apologize for using the CCCA as an equivalent for "those in favor of the rental registration" (although I'm sure many there favored it). I'm glad to hear that many there opposed it. The invokation of Cedar Creek was ancillary to my actual point, however, which I stand by.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I'm sure that many students don't "give a crap" (neither do many full-time residents, incidentally); I'm also sure that many do. Even those that do, however, don't really have a political voice in this community, because they are presumed to not give a crap (your assessment above being a prime example).

Perhaps some students don't "view themselves as members of a community" because they are not welcomed as members of the community. The rental registration is a prime example, but not the only one. It works both ways.

JB said...

The rent rule has more to do with people not wanting gay couples to live togather.

monticello_pres said...

I do not disagree with your original point... and I don't necessarily disagree with the assessment of some Cedar Creek residents supporting the law enthusiastically... I just don't believe the blame (or thanks) for A/CC ordinances and/or legislation starts or stops at the doorstep of Cedar Creek. Many supported this outside of Cedar Creek and outside of D-8 even. Matter of fact, I was not under the impression this was a States McCarter issue. I thought this was a Carl Jordan proposal... looking back at the root. I could be dead wrong, though.

As for gay couples, I disagree. I think it was a primary target at students living in neighborhood homes. The perception that students party, students don't maintain the residence, and students are terrible neighbors (drive fast, create noise, etc.) led to the rental registration. And while that is true in many cases, we already had quality of life ordinances that - if enforced - accomplished what the rental registration was hoped to do. It's a matter of enforcing what we've already got.

Fishplate said...

"Most students ... don't pay property taxes."

Huh? Who do you think pays taxes on the property they live in? If A-CC doubled property taxes next year, don't you think rent would go up? If all the renting students moved to Oconee County, do you think A-CC's budget would remain unchanged?

This is one of those statements people endlessly repeat without thinking of what they're saying. Students may not think about property tax, but rest assured they have an impact on taxes, and if a tax change were announced that would have an adverse effect on them, they would do something.

monticello_pres said...

Property tax is certainly an embedded cost to rent - but the students do not write the check nor are they accountable if the bill goes unpaid. So while you are right on a technicality, I personally prefer to consider the person (or entity) who pays the tax as the the payor of the tax.

gap said...

You are right that students would indirectly pay for a property tax increase in the form of higher rent, but that does not really relate to my point of student apathy. A LARGE percentage(not all) of students I know have their rent paid directly by their parents or indirectly through an allowance that their parents give them. When I wrote that "most students don't pay property taxes" I was right.

Fishplate said...

So you don't think their parents would look for less expensive lodgings elsewhere if A-CC taxes doubled, raising rents by ten or twenty per cent?

The students in this town, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly, contribute a huge amount to the budget of A-CC. If you do something so egregious as to piss off a large enough portion of them (or their daddies), they you are going to seriously reduce the services A-CC can provide. All it takes is a spark...

gap said...

You do have a point. If the average rent went up drastically over 20 per cent, people would start looking elsewere. Unfortunately, there aren't too many options outside of ACC. Most likely, renters and their parents would absorbe the increase as the cost of going to UGA. Gas prices have increased tremendously but people aren't taking significant measures to drive less, carpool, or drive smaller more fuel efficient cars. I've heard people say "when ciggarettes cost $3 per pack, I will quit smoking." Instead they keep smoking, driving, and paying more for gas without thinking about it. I wish people would be more aware about what they pay in taxes but the sad truth is most are to lazy to care.