Second reading of rental occupancy ordinance passes, council divided on pace of decision


City Counsel Member Amber Correri listens to Ames residents during the City Counsel Meeting Nov. 14. The majority of the meeting was spent Clarifying regarding the city council’s direction pertaining to limiting occupancy in rental units.

Alex Connor

The Ames City Council approved the second passage of an occupancy ordinance that if approved next year could allow up to five occupants in a single rental, compared to the previous restriction of three. 

However, some council members have expressed concern in the recent weeks regarding the ordinance, arguing the city may be moving to quickly. 

Councilwoman Amber Corrieri said she feels the council is moving too quickly on the ordinance. She said there are “no real assurances of protection” for families from the effect this ordinance may have on those living in single-family, low density residential houses and duplexes.

“We’ve added this citywide to all zoning districts at the last minute,” Corrieri said, noting her concern.

The ordinance, if approved on the third reading in January, would:

  • Use the city assessor’s bedroom count as the baseline for the number of bedrooms in a rental house; or the numbers established through the most recent rental inspection—whichever is most recent.
  • Adopt a limit of three people for one and two bedroom homes; and to have three, four and five bedroom homes equal to the number of adult occupants
  • One, two and three-bedroom rental houses are required to have two off-street parking spaces, whereas four or above rental houses must have the number of off-parking spaces equal to the number of bedrooms
  • Cap rental housing occupancy at five adults

It was amended at the last meeting, however, that the parking provision expires at the end of the moratorium on April 30, 2018.

The ordinance was originally intended to be passed and enacted by Jan. 1, 2018. With no more city council meetings before the new year, the ordinance will face a third reading under a new mayor and council member.

Councilman Tim Gartin doesn’t see this as a “substantive problem” for the city to face, however, as he credited the incoming officials to be aware and knowledgeable on the issue through attending previous council meetings. 

The ordinance has been a divisive issue in the city of Ames over recent months as landlords, neighborhood associations and students all vary regards to the next steps they feel the city should take.