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County Bill May Stop Rental Property Conversion in College Park Neighborhoods

A proposed bill in the County Council may stop conversions of single family homes to rental properties in College Park.

The bill, proposed by Dist 3 County Councilman Eric Olson, will be discussed at our Council worksession tonight. The Council may take a position whether to support the bill when it will be formerly introduced in County Council next week.

The bill intends to create Single Family Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Zone to “ensure that land in residential neighborhoods retains its traditional single family residential character, integrity and appearance”.

Here are a few highlights of the proposed ordinance.
1. The zone can be established within 2 miles radius of a higher educational institution, such as the University of Maryland. This may cover College Park and areas outside of city boundaries.

2. The zone may not include transient facilities such as boarding houses, tourist homes, inns, motels, hotels, school dormitories, hospitals or medical facilities etc.

3. The Planning Board may initiate or another person may request a zoning map amendment only with the concurrence (by
resolution) of the County District Council.

4. During the preparation of the proposed zone, the County will contact all owners of land, and any municipality lying (wholly or in part) within the anticipated boundaries of the proposed zone and any municipality within one mile of the anticipated District boundary, to invite comments and recommendations.

5. Once the zone is established, no new rental licenses (required pursuant to provisions of a city code) shall be issued within the boundaries of the proposed zone.

6. The County Council will take final action on a zoning map amendment at any time after the close of the final public hearing record. A two-thirds (2/3) super majority vote of the full District Council shall be required to override the recommendation of a municipality if any portion of the Zone Map Amendment which falls within the boundaries of the municipality.

7. The zone must contain at least ten (10) contiguous acres and at least thirty (30) existing single family houses.

8. A single family rental dwelling located within the shall be at least 800 feet from any other single family rental dwelling within a District

9. A waiver of the Code may be granted where the property owner of a single family dwelling within a District must relocate for temporary employment reassignment, military service assignment, or other similar circumstances that may require temporary relocation out of state or overseas.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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9 Comments to “County Bill May Stop Rental Property Conversion in College Park Neighborhoods”

  1. By Gary, July 8, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

    If I’m reading this correctly, I am extremely disappointed to hear of this bill. If we want to encourage owners to live in our neighborhoods, then we need to have positive reasons for them to want to. In my opinion, forcing people to not be able to rent their houses is a restrictive and negative act, and I believe that it will have a negative impact in our neighborhoods. Our property values have already been slower to rise back than many other areas have, and if this bill comes to fruition it will likely cause property values to diminish further. If you remove the ability for people to rent their properties than it will likely increase foreclosures, which is obviously not a positive sign for any neighborhood.

    I have lived in College Park for about eight years now, which is more than enough time to know that the quote “ensure that land in residential neighborhoods retains its traditional single family residential character, integrity and appearance” is a bit ridiculous. There are many residents that do take great pride in their houses and take care of their properties appearance; I try to be one of them. That being said, just take a walk through the neighborhoods and you will see many houses whose yards have grass over a foot tall. These visually unappealing houses are not just rental properties. If you want to increase the appeal of the neighborhood then create a bill that requires better exterior maintenance, and then enforce it.

    This is a much more restrictive and dangerous bill than the rent control ordinance ever was. The council recently voted to sunset that ordinance, and I hope that you will not support this bill either.

  2. By Anita, July 9, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

    What was the outcome of this? It would be wonderful if this bill was passed.

  3. By Fazlul Kabir, July 9, 2014 @ 7:12 pm

    The City Council decided not to take a position on the bill. While the bill has some positive sides to retain the residential characteristics of our neighborhoods, many Council members (including me) had too many unanswered questions about the unintended consequences of the bill that may negatively impact our neighborhoods. We didn’t have enough time in discussing and finding those answers before County’s PZED committee votes on the bill next Tuesday.

  4. By bekah, July 10, 2014 @ 8:52 am

    I agree with Gary and have a further comments. One other issue is that this will not stop people from renting their property; it will stop them from registering their rental to the city. This will lead to uninspected homes and conditions where renters can be exploited. Additionally, we still have a many unoccupied homes in the neighborhood – it is better if these homes are rentals rather than empty and left for vandals. Also, what if owners have to leave their homes for an extended but temporary time for work or family reasons? It is unfair that they cannot rent out their own homes which they continue to pay a mortgage for. These homes would otherwise sit empty. I think it would be better to encourage people to live in their homes, such as city tax breaks for owner-occupied property.

  5. By Robert Catlin, July 10, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

    If one rental propertty could not be located within 800 feet of a second rental property, than you are talking about eventually limiting rental properties to one out of every 40 to 50 properties. So rental properties would eventually almost disappear and what rental properties remain would increasingly become student rentals.

  6. By Fazlul Kabir, July 10, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

    A resident asked how one can send comments on the bill CB-42-2014 to the PZED committee members before next Tuesday’s vote.

    Please send your comments to Barbara J. Stone by tomorrow, July 11. Ms. Stone will distribute your comments appropriately. Here is her contact information:

    Barbara J. Stone
    Administrative Aide to:
    Jackie Brown, Director
    Planning Zoning & Economic Development Committee

    Prince George’s County Council
    Legislative Branch
    14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
    Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772

    Voice:301-952-4199
    Fax::301-952-3499
    bjstone@co.pg.md.us

  7. By Gary, July 10, 2014 @ 10:13 pm

    Kabir, thank you for posting Barbara J. Stone’s contact information. The more I think about this bill, the more it saddens me. I currently have no intention of renting my property, but because I’m underwater on my house it would be my only viable course of action if I needed to move. Having this option removed is upsetting, and it feels like loss of freedom.

    Kabir, can you please clarify what exactly next Tuesday’s vote entails? Will the bill come into law if it passes the vote, or is it just a step in the process? Any more details that you can provide as to the time frame of this bill going forward would be much appreciated.

    For reference, below is the email that I sent to Barbara J. Stone:

    Dear Barbara J. Stone,

    I’m writing to you in regards to county bill CB-42-2014. I am extremely disappointed to hear of this bill. If we want to encourage home owners to live in our neighborhoods, then we need to have positive reasons for them to want to. In my opinion, forcing people to not be able to rent their houses is a restrictive and negative act, and I believe that it will have a negative impact in our neighborhoods. If you remove the ability for people to rent their properties than it will likely increase the number of vacant properties and foreclosures, which is obviously not a positive sign for any neighborhood. Furthermore, I believe that if this bill is passed than it will increase the number of unregistered and illegal rental properties.

    I have lived in College Park for over eight years now, and I do not have any plans to rent my property. That being said, I am currently underwater on my house and if I needed to move for family reasons then renting my property would be my only viable option. It deeply upsets me to think that I would not have this option in the future if the need arose.

    I know that the idea behind this bill is to “ensure that land in residential neighborhoods retains its traditional single family residential character, integrity and appearance”. There are many different ways to accomplish this goal, but I do not believe that this bill is the correct approach.

  8. By Robert Catlin, July 13, 2014 @ 10:28 pm

    I expect that the bill will have a lot of resident support in Calvert Hills, where 90% of the homes are owner occupied and in Old Town where 90% of the homes are student rentals. The situation in Berwyn and Lakeland and to the north is more complicated with 25-33% rental properties and a mix of student and family rentals. If the law was enacted outside of Calvert Hills and Old Town it would probably create more problems than it would solve.

  9. By Nigel, July 15, 2014 @ 11:46 am

    Eric Olson has always worked hard to support the concerns of homeowners in College Park and I agree with the goal of his bill – reducing the number of rental units. However, I think the bill will not achieve that goal and would unfairly harm resident homeowners.

    First, the bill would allow landlords to continue to rent their properties indefinitely. In contrast, resident homeowners would be forbidden from renting out their houses for extended periods after such a law goes into effect. It is fundamentally unfair to punish homeowners and to spare landlords, especially when it is the rental properties that are creating the problem that is trying to be addressed. Taking away our option to rent our property is much more extreme and confiscatory than rent control.

    Second, the bill would cause the resale value of all properties in College Park to decline substantially. Property values in College Park are being held up by the rental value of the houses. If a new owner is not permitted to rent their house, the property will be much less desirable and less valuable. I don’t support a bill that would substantially drive down our property values for the unlikely possibility that there could eventually (20 or 30 years from now?) be some benefits from having fewer rental properties. This bill is unlikely to have any positive upsides because, by limiting the supply of additional rental units, it would actually keep rents high, thereby encouraging landlords to hold on to their properties indefinitely. By creating high profits for rental units, landlords would never sell, even if there were a strong demand by prospective homeowners.