Rent stabilization in College Park allowed to expire -- Gazette.Net


Despite objections from residents who complained about loud college parties, littering and noise, College Park officials voted 5-3 Tuesday to allow a rent stabilization ordinance to expire.

The ordinance, according to the city website, was established in 2005 in an effort to prevent tenants from rent increases and protect the diversity of the community. The vote will mean the ordinance will sunset on Sept. 1.

“The idea was to limit the profit motive for investors who want to purchase owner-occupied properties in the city and turn them into rentals,” said Councilman Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1), who voted to keep the ordinance. “Now the only thing we can do is redouble our efforts to address these problems in other ways.”

Councilman Robert Day (Dist. 3) said that the ordinance is no longer needed because it has achieved its goal. Since 2005, Day said housing on the University of Maryland, College Park, campus has increased by more than 1,500 beds and an additional 4,300 beds have been added to the city, with about 3,000 more on the way. He said landlords have been meeting with community members to discuss quality of life issues and work on solutions.

“I think this law has met its end,” said Day, who voted to let the ordinance expire.

Resident Adele Ellis, addressing the council before the vote, said neighborhood problems persist and the number of rental properties continues to rise, which keeps driving families out of College Park. She urged the council to look at recent data and trends before making a decision.

“Diverse housing is welcome, but a student ghetto that decreases home values and forces out families who love their communities and their homes is not,” she said. “The city’s first responsibility belongs to the families who live here.”

The community of property owners in College Park welcomed the council’s vote.

“I think this is an exciting step — that the council is willing to partner with us moving forward in a positive way,” said Lisa Miller, president of the Prince George’s County Property Owners Association. Miller said most of the properties owned by the association’s 150 members are in College Park.

The property owners have been engaging with residents and trying to improve quality of life issues for the past two years and they plan to continue the work, she said.

“This step makes people realize that this partnership is two-ways and makes [property owners] want to do even more,” Miller said.

Resident Kathy Bryant, who spoke about frequent loud parties hosted by her college student neighbors, said she was disappointed the council allowed the ordinance to sunset, but she plans to work with property owner association members to improve the situation in the neighborhood.

“Rent stabilization is just one tool that we feel like we have to try to hold landlords accountable for their houses and their students,” she said.

Earlier, Bryant told the council about a recent party that lasted all day, with music playing so loudly it gave her a headache.

“Some days it’s unbearable, the noise,” she said. “This year has been extremely difficult.”