Tablet Opinion

TCU-area zoning overlay must include strong rental registration plan

The mediation group formed to sort out the thorny issues related to a city-proposed occupancy overlay in the TCU-area has reached a compromise.

And some parties — mostly neighborhood residents — are going to be unhappy.

On Wednesday, the assembly of community leaders, developers and investors, and university representatives agreed not only to the proposed ordinance, which will reduce the number of unrelated residents that may live in a single-family home from five to three, but to “complete” grandfathering of existing rental properties.

That the groups’ members, who represent a diversity of concerns and issues, were able to reach a compromise is commendable.

Only weeks ago, there was little hope that homeowners, who have long-complained about the spread of “stealth dorms” would accept a grandfathering provision at all, let alone one that preserves grandfathering in perpetuity.

It’s worth noting that when city staff first presented to the council possible grandfathering options, the suggested middle-ground position was one that included some limitations — grandfathering that would end either with a change of ownership or after a set period of time.

Now the compromise position seems to be that the overlay is married to a strong rental registration policy. Such a policy would provide occupancy and enforcement information to the city code compliance office and should provide residents some additional fodder when lodging complaints about offending properties.

Rental registration could be one time, renewed with a change of property ownership or renewed annually. The latter would make for the strongest plan.

But rather than a concession from developers, a registration plan in the TCU neighborhoods is just responsible policy — regardless of the overlay.

In many ways, the mediation group epitomizes how good government should work. Stakeholders worked together to find a solution to a community problem. Although it’s fair to say that some parties, namely residents, are making larger concessions than others.

Assuming a muscular rental registration agreement is reached, the compromise will also provide the Zoning Commission and the City Council the cover they need to approve an ordinance likely to be unpopular with the majority of homeowners.

A commission hearing is set next week, with a council vote Dec. 2.

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