Homeowners Fight Back Against Student Renters

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas South Knoll residents said homes converted into rental properties, then packed with college students is a problem they're seeing far too often in their neighborhood. Now a group of homeowners are fighting back.

Charles Barr has lived in the South Knoll subdivision just off Southwest Parkway for 31 years. He said the problem there is so bad, he and his wife are making plans to get out of town.

"Ten years ago, I could have spent my last days here," Barr said. "Now, we just can't wait to get out, to be honest."

Barr said the neighborhood used to be filled with families, but the children in those families have since grown up and moved out. Now the parents decide to sell and move on.

"Instead of new families coming in to replace them, investors are coming in and buying the houses and using them as rentals, primarily for college students," Barr said. "And the two lifestyles just don't mesh very well."

Barr said he and other homeowners in the neighborhood are tired of the continual parties, bad traffic and unkept yards. He said he's even seen students urinating in public.

Barbara McCannon has lived in South Knoll for 45 years. She watched her children grow up and move out. An oak tree she planted in the yard soon after she moved in is now fully grown. She said she loves her neighborhood and has no intention of leaving, but it breaks her heart to see things the way they are now. She said students will park their vehicles along the street, causing a traffic mess and potentially hindering emergency responders.

"They don't care that they're parking in front of someone's house," said McCannon. "It's dangerous. Fire trucks can't get through because there are cars parked on the side of the street."

Now, with a little help from College Station's planning and development team, Barr, McCannon and several others from the neighborhood are fighting back.

The city has been reaching out to neighborhoods like South Knoll, asking residents to come together and talk about things they'd like to see changed. The South Knoll group agreed this was their biggest issue.

Barr and his group put together an extensive list of recommendations. City officials wrote up a list based on those recommendations for the Planning and Zoning Commission to review at Thursday night's meeting.

"We don't necessarily want to see the college students out. They have a right to live in a neighborhood too," Barr said. "They need to realize they're living in a neighborhood. They need to think, would you do this where you grew up? Would you want this going on next door to you?"

If the Commission recommends the list, it could go before council as soon as next week. Tops on the list are issues like parking restrictions and enforcement of codes already on the books. Barr and the others are hopefull this will be a big first step in treating the problem.