Housing meeting at start of break left students out

On Nov. 20, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council discussed the possibility of a plan that would regulate the availability of off-campus housing for students at UK.

Although members of the University Area Housing Association, a group of landlords who own property around campus, met with students a week prior to the meeting, it is troubling that the city council scheduled its meeting the day before Thanksgiving break, when many students were traveling home.

This disregard for the voices of UK students is unacceptable — they make up the population that would be most affected by the implementation of such a proposal.

Students should not have had to choose between going home on Tuesday afternoon and being able to voice their opinions about plans that could dramatically raise the cost of living for the UK community. Future meetings about campus-area housing regulations should take place on dates that are more convenient for all people involved.

Despite being held at an inconvenient time, Student Government President Nick Phelps, along with other SG members, attended the meeting to ensure that student voices would be heard. Their efforts, which made certain the opinions of the student body would be represented, should be commended.

The proposal being considered is similar to regulations in place at Pennsylvania State University that prohibit more than three non-related students from living together in an off-campus house. Student residential units are also restricted from being within approximately 180 feet of each other.

If lawmakers brought such a plan to Lexington, the worst-case scenario is that 75 percent of the students living near campus would be displaced, forcing them to relocate in areas that are not within walking distance of campus or possibly even in surrounding counties, according to the UAHA.

During the meeting, a committee of 90 residents, students and landlords was formed to evaluate the proposal. The committee should act quickly to dismiss such a radical proposal as adopting the Penn State plan and begin working toward a real solution.

Currently, UK does not offer enough parking to support a drastic increase in commuter traffic. Nor is Lexington’s public transportation system equipped to handle a dramatic increase in student passengers.

As it stands, UK cannot offer a reliable alternative for students who would be displaced by the Penn State proposal.

Lexington is a community that profits immensely from having a major research university at the heart of the city, and it seems that many have forgotten this. Those living in areas highly populated by student residents have a right to be concerned when couches are being burned in yards, but Penn State-style regulations would be an unreasonable response to a few isolated events.

Hopefully, this proposal will be quickly dropped, allowing both students and local residents to work together for a reasonable solution. This will not happen, however, if the Urban County Council does not take positive steps toward reaching out to students — such as making sure meetings do not take place during academic breaks.