The city council has approved restrictions on student rental housing in the area around the University of St. Thomas.
The new ordinance sets a minimum distance requirement of 150 feet between houses that rent to three or more college students in the area surrounding the campus. Existing student rentals are grandfathered in.
Over the last decade more than 140 houses within a mile of St. Thomas have been converted into student rentals. Homeowners near the St. Thomas campus have complained for years about loud parties and the growing concentration of student rental houses.
The St. Paul City Council approved the restrictions on a 5-2 vote. Council members say they received record amounts of email about the ordinance over the last few weeks. The university and the city's planning commission opposed the ordinance.
"The ordinance will help to give some relief to homeowners who are wondering why to stay in a neighborhood that to them has felt like it's become an extension of a college campus instead of a neighborhood," said Councilmember Russ Stark, who represents some of the affected neighborhoods and championed the restriction.
"A ban or a restriction on student housing just isn't right. It may not be illegal. It may not be unconstitutional, but it just doesn't quite pass the smell test to say students aren't welcome, to single out students," said Councilmember Chris Tolbert, who opposed the measure.
"The universities and the college students who live in our community — they add a lot to the city of St. Paul, and I think this sends the wrong message to them and to the universities that they attend."