College Park Public Forum on Quality of Life Issues

The College Park City Council recently created a “Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Workgroup” to explore new strategies for addressing issues related to the increasing use of single-family houses as group rental houses over the past several decades. The group was created in the context of City Council discussions about whether to continue the City’s rent stabilization ordinance or consider alternative strategies for pursuing the underlying goals of that policy. Those goals included improving the affordability of student housing, improving the balance between owner-occupied and rental housing in College Park neighborhoods, and addressing quality of life concerns associated with rental houses in College Park such as noise, littering, code violations, underage drinking, public urination, aggressive behavior, vandalism, and crime.

The Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Workgroup includes 27 members representing long-term residents, students, landlords, University officials, police, and City officials. The group has been asked to develop ideas for specific strategies that the City, University, landlords, students, and other stakeholders could use to produce measurable improvements towards the above goals.

As one of the first steps in this process, the group is hosting a public forum for members of the greater College Park community to come and provide input about the concerns and ideas that you have about neighborhood quality of life issues and housing issues. This public forum will be held on Tuesday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall (4500 Knox Road). This is an important event for community members to help inform and guide this work as it moves forward, and all are encouraged to attend. The group also expects to hold a second forum in the spring to allow community members to hear and react to ideas developed by the Workgroup.

In addition, community members may submit comments via email to qualityoflife@collegeparkmd.gov.

Additional Information
The workgroup is co-chaired by councilmembers Patrick Wojahn and Stephanie Stullich. The resolution authorizing the creation of the group provided for a total of 27 members to represent specific stakeholders, including the mayor, 4 councilmembers (1 per council district), 8 residents (2 per council district), 4 landlords, 4 students, 2 university officials, 2 police representatives (UMPD and PGPD), and 2 city staff.

The group has formed four subcommittees (“task forces”) to work on specific sets of issues:

o Issue Reduction (e.g., noise, underage drinking, vandalism, litter, overcrowding, etc.)
o Home Ownership (e.g., owner occupancy, attracting faculty to the city)
o Community Building (e.g., student-resident relations)
o Diversity of Housing Options (e.g. additional rental options for undergraduate and graduate students, affordable housing, development of new non-student housing)

Participants in the public forum are encouraged to comment on any or all of these four issue areas.

The goal is for the workgroup to complete most of its work by the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

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