Council approves crack-down on mini-dorms near SDSU

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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.


  • Sosa

    stupid. Who cares? You’re literally living in an area called “college area.” And the SDSU cops are idiotic. Can’t ever prevent a sexual assault or cell phone robbery but sure can wait in a church parking lot waiting on students to make an illegal left turn !! Nice job assholes

  • Steve

    Or a better idea.. Don’t let every landlord in the college area charge $5-10 grand a month for a 1700sqft residence. Also, there’s already not enough housing in the area. Where are all the kids from these 700+ houses full of kids supposed to live when they get kicked out. Moral of the story: don’t live in a college area if you don’t want to live in a college area.

    • Brittany

      How about you not move to an area named “college area”? That would save tons of headaches as well. Us college students will never understand why people will move/live in a college area and complain about the noise, parties, cars, etc. You signed up for it, so deal with what comes along with it.

    • Robert

      College students need somewhere to live, especially near the campus. If you don’t want noise and young people in your area don’t live by a university.

  • She

    It’s not going to do any good. You can have all kinds of kids living in a residence that aren’t on the lease. One thing you can be sure of is college kids getting around the rules. Proud to be a member of the COLLEGE community and on the side of people who are enjoying their lives. I’ll make sure never to live by a party school when choosing real estate= somethan I learned in college.

  • Kristine

    I’ll never understand why people want to complain when they literally live in an area called the “college area.” Honestly, what did you expect? It’s not like people buying homes there didn’t know this would happen. SDSU has been around since 1897. Of course you’re going to have students as your neighbors. Either move to another area or call the cops to shut them up. But if you really think you’re going to be able to kick out hundreds of students, you’re delusional. Even if you restricted it down to only 3-4 students allowed to live in a house, there’s nothing stopping them from inviting all their friends and throwing a party.

  • Sarah

    I’ve been in a situation where code enforcement came knocking on my door trying to get my landlord for doing this. The thing is, this does more damage to the students than the actual landlord. The reason college kids cram into a house is because the landlords charge an unreasonable price for rent! We can’t afford anything else but to split the rent 6 to 8 ways. When code enforcement came to our house, they required our landlord to knock down our garage, therefore kicking 2 people out of the house. Our landlord then refused to lower our rent (even though he KNEW someone was living there an had advertised it as an additional room). This left us struggling to pay the rent, and the people who were kicked out still had to pay. The real problem here is not enough affordable housing for students and landlords who take advantage of their tenants. SDSU itself doesn’t even provide affordable housing; dorm prices are rediculous. Anyone who has a problem with the noise/traffic in a college area probably shouldn’t be living there. We are students who don’t have the flexibility to move out of the college area, but many of the homeowners/adults who complain about us do. I think this problem needs to be re-evaluated.

  • Brandon

    The only way they can “crack down” is to force the home owners to cut down the ridiculous rates they ask for rent. I was living in an 1800 sq ft house last year, 6 rooms, costing $5300 a month. There’s no way you can expect 6 college kids to pay ~$900 a month on rent when we’re already the most in debt generation ever thanks to the skyrocketing prices of tuition. Not to mention these people complaining are living in “College Area” and SDSU is notorious for being a party school. You might as well move downtown and ask that the city remove all the bums from the streets.

  • Student

    This is the most inappropriate thing that the law enforcement and city council could possibly do. Not only is there minimal housing available, but like all the others before me have said – the rent is much too high to ask college students to not split rent with 6 other people. You are telling us that our education and our well being isn’t important in any way. When authority figures prioritize noise complaints from people who knew they were deciding to live in a COLLEGE AREA over theft, sexual assault, and the other hoards of violations against college students (that the police can’t seem to get a handle on) it tells us that we are not important. It makes me so angry to know how unimportant the previous generations think we are. This attempt is a blatant waste of money and time and is absolutely appalling.

  • Paige

    I feel sorry for future SDSU students, all they have to look forward to is more laws and regulations. How about you tell college area landlords to lower rental prices instead of creating more unreasonable regulations that just mask the problem.

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