3’s company

Fort Collins currently has a law (created in 1964) that prohibits more than three unrelated adults from living in the same household. Ostensibly, the idea behind the law was to prevent large numbers of college students from living in the same place and disturbing the neighbors with raucous parties, etc.

Currently, the City Council has endorsed a study session to tweak the law and make it more enforceable. The proposed tweaks are to change the law to a civil rather than a criminal offense, and raise the limit to four unrelated adults.

While this is a step in the right direction, the proper solution is to eliminate this useless law altogether. It’s not the pure number of people living in a house that makes them bad neighbors, it’s their personalities. This law does nothing to help the situation of a single musician living alone who regularly invites his band members over to practice til all hours of the night. Similarly, it punishes a group of 6 studious grad students who have formed a cooperative and live quietly next door. When I was an undergrad, I lived in a house with 7 other people, and our neighbors never seemed to mind. In fact, one little old granny seemed to appreciate the fact that we would shovel her walkway every time it snowed.

People will be assholes, and we already have laws regulating that, such as noise ordinances, unkempt lawn ordinances, no parking on the lawn, etc. As long as those ordinances are enforced, neighborhoods should retain their property values. The three (or four) unrelated law is both unnecessary and unfair.