Urban Fold

The Problem of 'Family' Zoning

In 1975, the City of Oneonta, NY, established a law limiting the number of unrelated people allowed to live under one roof. Ruled unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court, the city is working on redefining the so-called 'family zoning.'

"City officials have said the purpose of such restrictions was designed to preserve the quality of life in city neighborhoods.

The new ordinance will institute a process by which four or more unrelated people may petition the city Zoning Board of Appeals and present evidence that the residents meet the city's criteria defining a functional family."

Full Story: Common Council OKs new ordinance on 'family' zoning

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Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

Editorial on 'what/who defines a family'

Oneonta Daily Star: 'Family' definition reasonable.
The issue is contested in state court, and now local politics enters the picture.

"While some, such as mayoral candidate Jason Corrigan, have argued that the ordinance ("redefining of what constitutes a functional family unit with regard to the city's zoning code") is discriminatory, we disagree
"The city's new ordinance is not only reasonable, but also flexible, allowing that there may be situations or circumstances that its authors have not foreseen. "
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

The Situation in Oneonta

Understandably the city's goal is to prevent over crowding in single family zoned houses, not an unreasonable idea at face value.

But the methodology of legislation and the proposal of the ordinance is what is rubbing everyone the wrong way.

Recently the city was found to be in violation of the constitution for the ordinance they are trying to refashion. You can read about that on www.saveoneonta.blogspot.com ....moreover, the city is setting requirements in the ordinance that are in contravention to privacy rights.

Clearly the legislation is being modeled to disenfranchise students (who bring in 60% of the economy of this small and decaying city). If the city remains unfair, there will be a boycott of goods and services by the student residents that will plunge the city further into debt.

The thing to remember is that the city is few and the students are many, and when mobilized the students can deliver an economic death blow to the city of Oneonta.

Remember, college students are prone to organizing behind radical change----and if the city keeps pushing them into a corner, they will either go away (low enrollment = financial decay) or they will push back. And when they push back I don't want to be standing in the way.

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