On Student Residences Legislation in the University Neighborhood

I have been asked by Mike Stanton and Ross Andrews, the president and vice-president of SEUNA (South East University Neighborhood Association) to promise to support legislation concerning student residences in order to “limit conversion of owner occupied homes to absentee owned rentals” in the University Neighborhood. 

I have not seen any pending or draft legislation regarding Student Residences. It would not be responsible for me to promise to support legislation that I have not read, is not available publicly, and is still being vetted and going through the legislative process.

My understanding is that draft legislation was put before the Common Council last February and tabled due to a number of concerns, including fair housing, civil liberties, legal liability, environmental impact, and effectiveness in stemming the loss of homeowners in the neighborhood. I understand that the Common Council appropriated funds to hire a consultant to determine whether the legislation will require an environmental impact statement and that the legislation will not move forward until that question is answered.

I strongly support maintaining a balance of homeowners and renters in the University Neighborhood. The question is the best and most effective means.

Though it is too soon for me to take a position on legislation that is still being vetted and likely to be amended as it goes through the process, I do want to address what seems to me to be the strongest forces pushing homeowners out of the University Neighborhood (and other neighborhoods), which are the negative realities of poor schools, high crime, and inadequate enforcement of existing ordinances by codes and the police.

My central campaign theme has been that I will speak up for Syracuse for a restoration of previously legislated levels of state revenue sharing and school aid. Our fiscally impoverished city does not have the capacity now to provide the good schools, stronger code enforcement, sidewalks and lighting in good repair, more responsive community policing, and improved job opportunities and higher wages that will reduce the high poverty rate that is invariably associated with high crime. Improvement in these areas would increase the demand for and value of owner occupied housing in the University Neighborhood.

I addition to increasing demand for homeownership in the University Neighborhood, I believe we can take positive measures to reduce the demand for student housing in the University Neighborhood. We can encourage and reinforce the recent trend of increased housing for students in other neighborhoods, both on campus and in the Connective Corridor and Downtown. The I-81 Corridor and the South Side are also in close proximity to University Hill and could become neighborhoods with decent student housing. I want to see an I-81 fix that reroutes through traffic (only 12% of all traffic) onto I-481 and reduces traffic in, out, and around the central city and opens up the area between the Hill and Downtown for mixed-use, mixed-income, mixed-age development. I want to see the housing and living standards of South Side residents uplifted so those neighborhoods become safe and attractive for a diverse mix of residents, including students. The vibrancy from diversity that the University Neighborhood enjoys is something all neighborhoods should enjoy. Expanding that diversity in all directions around University Hill will help preserve it in the University Neighborhood.

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