The Norman Transcript


March 9, 2014

Unrelated person ordinance needs to be enforced, not abolished

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The opinion expressed by John Lungren, a Realtor, in a recent Norman Transcript should be recognized by all who read it for what it really is: a self-serving, uninformed attempt to influence the City Council. The motive is self-evident: greed, nothing more. Purporting to speak for a “group of 53 property managers/landlords,” the letter calls for the City Council to abolish the city ordinance limiting more than three unrelated persons from occupying a single family residence, claiming it is “offensive and appalling” and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Poppycock!

· Hungry Landlords and Property Managers: One need not drive around Norman long to see the growing number of apartment complexes being built that are targeted to students, and the corresponding number of “Available in May” signs popping up earlier and lingering longer in the yards of rent houses.

Apparently three tenants in a single family residence does not produce enough revenue to satisfy this group of 53 property managers and landlords. But the solution for them is not the one they urge: that they should have the unlimited ability to rent their single family properties by the bedroom, as they now do in many Norman neighborhoods, without regard to the effect it has on the nearby homeowners. The right solution is a new business plan: start with respect for the homeowners in our community; use your business knowledge and skill to own and manage duplexes, four-plexes, boarding houses and apartment located in areas that are properly zoned for that purpose.

· Uninformed (But Never in Doubt): Mr. Lungren and his group of 53 waive the U.S. Constitution in our faces claiming their rights to due process, privacy, free association and so on, are being violated by Norman’s ordinance prohibiting more than 3 unrelated persons living together in a single family residence. Contrary to what they say, Norman’s ordinance is not unconstitutional, and the United States Supreme Court, 40 years ago, said so. In 1974, in Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas (Google it!), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a city ordinance defining the word “family” to mean “not more than 2 unrelated persons,” when used to limit the number of inhabitants that could occupy a residence zoned as a single family dwelling, did not violate the rights to equal protection, privacy, or association, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, enjoyed by the property owner or the tenants. If limiting the definition of “family” to two persons is okay, how can limiting it three not be so?

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