SAN DIEGO -- A proposal designed to help code enforcement officers crack down on so-called "mini-dorms" near college campuses in San Diego was passed unanimously Thursday by the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.
The proposal, which must be approved by the full City Council, addresses single-family residences that are rented out to large numbers of students and, in some cases, become a neighborhood nuisance.
Residents say baseball games on rooftops and large-scale parties have become common place around San Diego State University.
Members of the College Area Community Council said mini-dorms cause problems by bringing too many cars, which are parked on lawns or paved front yards, or take up curbside parking spots. The high occupancy raises noise levels just by people coming and going, and also increases trash and hastens wear-and-tear on the homes, according to their report.
Many blame the City of San Diego for allowing property owners to turn single-family homes into mass housing units.
Some landlords have been known to put in bunk beds to accommodate four people per room and mattresses in living rooms and garages in an attempt to fit as many tenants as possible, most of whom are students at the university.
In the College Area alone, there are 700 of these housing units.
"I would like to see the city enforce the laws a little bit more, crack down on how many people live in a house," said resident Jackie Hatcher.
The city says the reason it can't crack down is because the housing ordinance is too vague. This has led to some property owners taking advantage.
But changes are on the horizon. The city's Public Safety Committee has approved rewriting the ordinance to allow for better enforcement. In the coming months, the City Council will take up the matter, officially approve the new wording and begin a crackdown.
There are two sections of city law that define rooming houses. The proposed changes would narrow it down to one definition -- that of a residence where three or more rooms, excluding kitchens and bathrooms, are rented to multiple tenants under separate rental agreements or leases, either written or oral.
Housing regulated by state or federal law is exempt.