Friday, Sept. 7, 2007 | Fall classes began last week for 35,000 students at San Diego State University. And as those students returned to classes, they returned to a roiling debate over their place as tenants in the neighborhood.
The fight continues for scores of university neighborhood residents and activists rallying against what they call mini-dorms — usually houses holding a half-dozen to 10 students and their accompanying noise, trash and cars.
“It’s probably more of the same,” said Alice Buck, director of a redevelopment project committee in the area. “The parties really do a spike this week. And with the heat, they have all their windows open, [the neighbors] are really attuned to it.”
As the school year heats up, university officials and students, lawmakers and the mini-dorm fighters are back on the ground in a battle that intensified in the summer. The debate re-entered the public consciousness in fall 2006 after reaching a fever pitch.
A law enforcement project to fine tenants and owners for noise and behavior offenses (out-of-control parties) has been picking up steam since it was implemented in April, with police issuing $1,000 administrative citations to at least 55 people in 22 properties since then. Chronic party houses have been banned from throwing parties. In July, the City Council passed a number of measures related to parking, the number of bedrooms and driveway widths designed to limit the development of mini-dorms.
SDSU has announced additions to its master plan that would add nearly 3,000 beds to its on-campus housing stock, nearly doubling the current number. That would corral a sizable herd of students out of surrounding neighborhoods and into on-campus housing, where many residents want them.