EDITORIAL: Don't zone out students

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A recent string of zoning complaints and the eviction notices that have followed have hit some Auburn students.

Unbeknownst to many, Auburn has a zoning ordinance that prohibits more than two unrelated individuals from living together in the same home across large swaths of the city.

Several complaints have been filed by some of the area’s older, long-term residents who want to maintain the character and quiet of the city’s more family-friendly atmospheres.

Once those complaints are filed, police and Planning Department officials begin investigating and often serve search warrants.

If a household is served a violation, the students are only given 30 days to resolve the matter, which almost universally means kicking out the extra roommates living in violation of the ordinance.

We believe the city should reconsider that enforcement policy and even reconsider the ordinance as a whole.

Auburn students shouldn’t be regarded as such a nuisance. We add value to many aspects and areas of Auburn, both economically and culturally.

But at the same time, we understand why families who have lived here for decades want to keep their neighborhoods quaint, safe and family-oriented. We understand why there should be restrictions and why zoning ordinances exist.

Regardless of whether the ordinance is right, it’s still the law. And you should respect the law.

On the other hand, many students appear to be unaware of the ordinance. While students have a responsibility to be informed, their landlords should not take advantage of them by allowing them to live illegally somewhere.

Landlords, including parents who buy homes for their kids and their friends, should face consequences for renting their property to students against the ordinance.

On Tuesday, SGA President Jacqueline Keck implored Auburn City Council to allow the students 90 days to leave.

“Students have no reason to know that this law is on the books until they are evicted,” she said.

We support Keck and her willingness to stand up for students. Others, including Student Affairs officials also went to support student voices.

While the City Council doesn’t appear poised to change the ordinance, they have agreed to meet with concerned students and SGA representatives.

That is a good move, and we hope positive change and discussion will come of it.

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