Via the BU Daily Free Press:
Ross defends ‘No More Than Four’
Although City Council President Mike Ross said he values students as constituents, he remained unwavering on his “No More Than Four” initiative, which restricts off-campus student housing based on quality of life concerns for residents.
Ross, who represents District 8, which includes Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, and Mission Hill, discussed the different issues affecting Boston on Monday at the George Sherman Union to an audience of 30 students in a discussion organized by the Roosevelt Institute.
The “No More Than Four” mandate, which prohibits more than four undergraduates from living together in a single-family unit, benefits permanent Boston residents by preventing overcrowding and poor living conditions brought on by converted units or too many students, Ross said.
While other concerns included education, the integration of college students with the community and public transportation, the “No More Than Four” policy was the main issue discussed.
Permanent residents are being driven out of the city after losing their homes due to the great influx of out-of-state students into the Boston-area universities, Ross said.
Speculating landlords increase the occupancy capacity of their properties and rent apartments to groups of students, who are willing to pay more than regular residents relative to higher on-campus prices, he said.
“People started losing their rented homes,” Ross said.
The artificially-increased property values cause higher taxes, increasing the cost of living, he said, which in turn drives permanent residents and recent graduates out of the city.
However, Ross said the “No More Than Four” ordinance benefits students as well, as the landlords of over-populated apartments do not care about students’ safety and rent out old apartments.
Ross said he does not intend to discriminate against students, who are a positive asset for communities, energizing the community and reporting crimes at hours when regular residents would not be awake.
“Students are a good influence for the city,” he said. “They are eyes for the city.”
On his blog, “The Ross Report,” Ross said he recognizes that students only want affordable housing; nevertheless, he said college students are making small neighborhoods uninhabitable due to their rowdiness.
“I’m not going to bat so you can have your keg parties,” he said when questioned on the issue. “I have no respect for people who have no respect for others.”
Ross said he commends BU for providing a great deal of on-campus housing. Unlike Northeastern University and Suffolk University, which he said respectively provide about 50 percent and 15 percent of their students with on-campus housing, BU provides housing to about 80 percent of its students.
Ross said students are part of “an inspirational generation” who have “continued to remind America when they’ve been right or wrong,” he said.
“[Society] can’t live without you,” he said.
Ross said he is concerned with Boston’s inability to retain graduates in the area.
“The population is aging in place,” he said.
Junior Amy Baral and sophomore Anna Ward, both of the College of Arts and Sciences and Roosevelt Institute co-presidents, said they invited Ross because it gave students the opportunity to hear someone talk about firsthand experience with policymaking.
“We felt student should know their representatives, have an opportunity to interact with them and bring up issues,” Baral said.
Executive Director of Student Activities John Battaglino said Ross addressed points of concern for students.
“He did a real good job,” he said. “He has students’ interests in mind and students should have the opportunity to challenge the councilor because they are part of his neighborhood.”
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