Wow, sounds like the zoning is a big issue in San Marcos. My daughter is a college student, and we are moving there in the fall so she can attend. I can understand the frustration of not being able to have several roommates to keep costs down. However, as a homeowner myself, I can surely say that I worked my butt off to get my property and am very glad I worked as a strong neighbor to keep my property values increasing. I need that money to buy a new house in San Marcos. I would not be able to make the move if, due to neighbors "trashing" the street, the values went down. I live on a street where 2 houses are owned by college students (2 per house - and it can be sold after they graduate so they can take advantage of the property increases) and 2 rented homes and all is well. I think the fines come in because the neighbors, fellow students, and homeowners (renting to college students) aren't doing what they should. Fines of such a high amount discourage people from putting 3-4 per house. I was in San Marcos this past week, and noticed great groups of college students enjoying 4th of July. I also noticed some party flyers and loud college students. It was my impression (and based on my experiences in college) that the loud, drinking college students will be leaving after a few years and don't care (which causes trash, excessive noise, vandalism, and crime). If you disagree w/me, perhaps you are a more respectable student than some that are causing the zoining needs, or you plan on staying in San Marcos, were raised by your parents to care about your education and have respect for others, or were too drunk to recall what you did last night. Perhaps other alternatives would be to double the tax for the homeowners who rent to three or more students (to create a pool of money to maintain roads and properties) and yes, that would increase your rent. Or fine those who attend the parties, the host, and the homeowner that rented the home. Seems to have done its job here. And, your neighbors and neighborhood play a major piece of property values. I can pull comps of 3 houses that are the exact same style and size and they will range from $70k to $150k to $300k.
How about Single person, no roommate, in One House
Ok I'm not in San Marcos but taking an interest on the subject of living there, I love proximity to Austin and I like the music in San Marcos too, I LOVE the whole aquarina/river thing as well, San Marcos almost has a Florida feel, which is where I lived near for a while but don't know if I'd wanna move there, I'm in San Antonio.
Anyhow I write music and would like to what the zoning thing says about just 1 person living in a house by themselves. There are areas where you can do this right? And also in the single family districts is it cool to just be one single person renting out a 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom house or whatever. I have really good intentions and will noninvasively soundproof any room so as not to be too loud, and I'm not into irresponcible partying, I just wanna write music, have some work to pay rent, play in Austin/SanAntonio/Corridor/San Marcos and just BE.
So are there zones to do the single person/no roommate thing, and is this ok to do in the single family zones as well. Any responses appreciated. Thanks.
You can rent anything you want. The ordinance prohibits large groups of unrelated people from renting a single-family home. Even at that, it is not universally enforced. We have houses in our neighborhood with multiple unrelated renters. They do not speed through the neighborhood, or throw beer cans and garbage out in the yard, or cause any problems and nobody says anything.
There are others in town, where they have tried to put up fraternity letters in the yard, party all night with drunks passing out in neighbors' garages, "parking" in neighbors' yards, etc and they get turned in.
I'm sure there are instances of people getting turned in who are good neighbors and I am sure there are instances where people are complete jackasses and deserve to get turned in, but swear they did nothing wrong.
At any rate, one person can rent a house anywhere and if you're a good neighbor, it will go a long way toward helping out the kids who want to share a rental between three or four roommates.
Incidentally, they have these sorts of ordinances everywhere. Most towns have single-family zoning and multi-family zoning. It is only an issue here, because there are so many renters. If the renters took better care of the properties, there would be even less problem.
I know, I know, lots of renters take care of their property. I did when I rented, so I am not disputing it. The fact of the matter is if you take care of the place you rent, you ought to be just as pissed about the idiots on Sagewood as I am. And it isn't just Sagewood.
Every time you pass a trashed house with a for rent sign, or 5 cars with Texas State stickers on them, or anything else that leads you to believe that renters are the ones trashing the place, you ought to think "Jesus F-ing Christ, those are the guys who are f-ing it up for me!"
Thanks Semi-Native thats what I figured just wanna get accurate info from those who are there. I'm gonna invest some money here and San Antonio for a while and see what happens. In San Antonio its cool with its architecture and vibe, and Austin is amazing, there was just something about San Marcos, it still reminds me of a kind of Floridian atmosphere, yet in Texas.
I am a 26 year old graduate student that lives in San Marcos. The zoning issues are intriguing to me because I see both sides of the issue. Yes, many college students are not responsible and allowing them to quadruple-up, etc. seems to be a poor option for houses in many residential neighborhoods. I also see the other side. It is not the zoning restrictions themselves that are the issue in some ways, it is that they are so widespread. My boyfriend (a fellow graduate student whom I live with) recently purchased a house in San Marcos. We discovered that it is nearly impossible to find houses that are not single-family zoned. This, I believe, is one problem. The next is that I believe the all-encompassing "no more than two unrelated persons" is a bit restrictive. This is for multiple reasons: (1) Young adults or the vast impoverished population in San Marcos are restricted to buying low-value or small properties. For example, we live in a three bedroom house. Luckily, my boyfriend's sister lives with us to help with bills, but if she were ever to move, we would need to take on another roommate until we finish our graduate degrees. This would technically be against city ordinance. (2) Unfortunately our laws have not quite caught up with non-religious lifestyles and therefore this ordinance can be prejudicial for those of us that either don't want, or are not legally allowed, to marry. For example, a gay/lesbian couple, although in a long-term committed relationship, are not seen as family in the legal sense. Thus, they would not be able to allow a third unrelated person to live with them while a married heterosexual couple would. I feel that there are relatively simple solutions to these issues. My suggestions would be:
(1) Increase the allowed # of unrelated persons to 3 AND/OR create a process by which homeowners residing on their own properties can apply for a conditional exemption.
(2) Increase the # of houses zoned for multi-family use outside of "college slums" and apartment complexes.
(3) (This could replace part1 of 1 or 2) Create a third tier of residential zoning which is moderate. No more than three or four unrelated persons. You get the idea.
These seem like reasonable solutions to me and I definitely don't think this issue is black and white. Any thoughts?
Single-family zoning is not unique to San Marcos, or even uncommon. It is pretty standard.
Also, what do you mean by "college slums"? How did they become slums? Why would the problem not follow the tenants, if there were no zoning restrictions? Some dirtbags tried to turn a home in a residential neighborhood into a frat house a semester or two ago, complete with giant ******bag letters on the lawn, cars parked everywhere, garbage all over the place and kids passed out in neighbors' garages.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, we have people violating the zoning regs in our neighborhood and nobody says a word, because they are good neighbors. If they trash the place, we have some recourse.
Also, you and your fiance would likely be covered by common-law marriage.
semi-native, you seem to have posted more of the same. I don't mean to be confrontational, but let me clarify a few things for you. First, when I refer to "college slums" I am referring to neighborhoods like Craddock (where I have rented in the past) with run-down rental properties that haven't been cared for in the same fashion as most homeowners care for property that they live in. Saggy/torn-up roofs, cracked foundation, rotting porches, peeling/cracked paint, etc are all characteristic of these properties. While trash and some superficial things are contributed by the tenants, the landlords also slack on the general up-keep that keeps properties looking nice. These things feed back on each other and that is how they become slums.
Second, I don't think that zoning is uncommon or unreasonable. In fact, I support the overall idea of it. What is unusual in this town is the fact that there are virtually no homes (especially not well kept ones) that are not single family zoned. I have lived in towns with zones, but typically there is a wider range of options for both homeowners and tenants when it comes to zoning. Here, if you're not living in a single-family zone, you are living in an apartment, townhouse, duplex, or crappy rental house in a bad neighborhood. As you've mentioned, not all tenants are bad.
Third, I was really hoping for some feedback on my suggestion of conditional exemptions for homeowners who live in their homes, but also have roommates. Homeowners residing on their own property are more likely to keep it looking nice and to play nice with the neighbors, much like ourselves. You say that you have renters in your neighborhood that are in violation of the ordinance, but no one complains because they are good neighbors. I believe you and know that normally, that is the case. That being said, all someone has to do is complain for no other reason than that there are more than two unrelated people living there and they don't like that. Technically, like you said, they are violating the ordinance and would receive a hefty fine and be forced to move. Hopefully no one decided to get nosy or unnecessarily miffed for those tenants' sakes. I'm just not sure that this ordinance should have no wriggle room when it comes down to it.
As a side note on the common law marriage issue: Notice I said boyfriend and not fiance or partner. Common law marriage, while recognized in Texas, has a few requirements attached to it. First, you have to present yourself to the public as spousal units. Second, you actually do have to go to a city office and sign a piece of paper indicating that you are common law or wish to be recognized as common law. While this seems an easy solution, couples should keep in mind that once you are recognized as being married, whether common law or not, you have to go through the legal and financial headache of getting a divorce should you split up. So common law would not work for my boyfriend and I because we do not consider ourselves married. Also, while common law could work for some heterosexual couples, what about those with alternative lifestyles?