The State College Borough Council will continue a discussion tonight that it’s been having for more than a year: proposed amendments to the Property Maintenance Code. An amendment to the Nuisance Property Ordinance that would limit the number of people allowed inside a fenced-in area (but not for permanent residents) is specifically important to students who rent property in State College.
Essentially, if the changes are passed, students won’t be able to host events — sober or not — in their fenced-in yards if more than a specified number of guests attend. Fraternity daylongs would be included in this, as well as events hosted by any other resident who is leasing or renting their property. Students make up about 80 percent of the State College population, so this policy revision is pretty much aimed at us.
Morgon Goranson, student liaison to the council, said at a recent UPUA meeting the members of the seven-person council are split 3-3 on this amendment, with the final voter still “on the fence.” Where some members feel students are out of hand and fenced-in gatherings pose a safety concern, others see the amendment as “legislation in search of a problem instead of a problem in search of legislation.”
UPUA has been vocal in asking Borough Council to reconsider passing the proposed changes — the organization is strongly urging the Council to vote against the amendment.
Your student government is also asking something of its constituents: come to the meeting. Because the proposed ordinance amendments directly and primarily impact students, having student State College residents and future residents at the meeting will show the Borough Council we care about our rights as State College citizens and enacting this ordinance is an unnecessary restriction on a group that makes up so much of the downtown population.
“Student civic engagement is a critical part of ensuring that our community is governed by rules that reflect the needs and desires of all citizens,” UPUA President Terry Ford said in a press release. “After all, students represent over 70 percent of the State College population and this policy would impact us more than anyone else.”
Tonight’s Borough Council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. sharp in room 304 of the State College Municipal Building (If you go to the third floor, the room is near impossible to miss.) The meeting is not just to discuss the proposed amendments — according to the Council’s agenda it will also discuss LEED certification and a regional parks and rec plan, among other things — but the proposed Property Maintenance Code revisions are arguably the most important, especially to students.
“We strongly encourage all Borough residents who will be affected by this change to attend the meeting on February 6 at 7 p.m. and the second meeting, where the vote will take place, on February 13 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building on the third floor,” UPUA wrote in a Facebook event for the meeting.
When the Council discussed the Property Maintenance Code last semester, students filled the room to capacity and forced a standing-room-only crowd. A vote on the Nuisance Property Ordinance code changes was scheduled to take place during finals week last spring, but students led by UPUA, IFC, and GPSA leadership convinced the Council to table both the conversation and vote until more students could attend the meetings.
The State College Borough Council consistently disrespects its largest constituency — students — so if you live downtown or plan to live downtown in the future, come out tonight to show the Council why it should abandon this amendment to the Nuisance Property Ordinance.