City Council, GSB meet to discuss housing, CyRide

Zachary Bauer talks to both GSB members and City Council on Oct. 8, about Rent Ames, which is about helping renters to find good and safe apartments around Ames.

Makayla Tendall

Student mobility and responsibility in Ames were the main topics discussed at Wednesday’s joint meeting between the Ames City Council and the Government of the Student Body.

At the annual joint meeting, GSB senators and City Council members met to discuss a landlord and tenant service, the future of CyRide and bike paths around Ames.

Zach Bauer, GSB senator and senior in political science, and Melissa Mundt, assistant city manager, created Rent Smart Ames. It’s a program to provide tenants and landlords in Ames with resources to make renting easier. The program focuses on three areas: rental housing, landlord education and tenant education.

The Rent Smart Ames web page can be found at under the “living” tab. The rental housing features links to, a free rental housing locator sponsored by the Iowa Finance Authority. Students are able to see the address, landlord and rent rate for properties around Ames through a service that is more reliable than pages such as Craigslist, Bauer said.

Landlord education includes information on how to register a property and the responsibilities of landlords. The tenant education section provides information on the types of leases students may sign, duties related to moving in, such as activating utilities and performing inspections,and the responsibilities of tenants.

Councilwoman Gloria Betcher said she especially approves of the information provided for tenants as an Ames resident who lives in Campustown. Students don’t always realize the importance of tenant responsibilities like cleaning up their trash and sticking to city laws on how many renters can be in a house.

Rent Smart Ames will also provide tenants and landlords with information so they can have a more effective landlord and tenant relationship. Councilman Matthew Goodman said as a former renter himself, tenants must be provided with information on their responsibilities and their rights as tenants.

Student Legal Services can also provide students with information on their legal rights as tenants.

The future of CyRide was also discussed at the meeting with GSB senators saying that their constituents have mentioned the overcrowding of CyRide as a serious problem.

CyRide provides students and Ames residents with over 6 million rides a year with a budget of almost $6 million. About 63 percent is funded by GSB through student activity fees. ISU and off-campus students’ taxes provide another 11.3 percent and the city provides the other 25.6 percent.

After a federal grant that provided CyRide with the money for new buses was changed, CyRide has faced a $2 million budget cut. While CyRide has developed a plan to purchase six or seven used buses a year instead of new buses to combat the increase of use, the question City Council and GSB posed is the future of funding.

“With no pricing from the user, the sustainability of the system is a challenge,” Goodman said.

Goodman proposed the idea that students may pay a dime for funding or maybe students be charged during a certain time of year when ridership increases so that funding is not static.

“At some point we do need to have a reality check and students need to understand that this is a resource and not every resource is unlimited,” GSB Senator Richard Hartnett, sophomore in history, said.

Student mobility through bike lanes and the Bike Share program were also discussed during the meeting, with GSB senators saying that biking is becoming more and more popular with students as a way to commute to campus and around Ames.

GSB President Hillary Kletscher said that while students are excited about biking, they have voiced safety concerns about biking on busy streets such as Lincoln Way and Duff Ave. Council members said there is discussion on removing parking on the east side of Welch Ave. to make room for a bike lane.

“The more bike paths the better,” Goodman said.

While some roads like Mortensen and Stange with university property on both sides are the university’s responsibility to develop, bike paths are inexpensive and provide another form of transportation.

“I can’t help but think where you rent in Ames, CyRide overcrowding and bike mobility is all connected,” Betcher said. “Bikeshare is something that landlords could invest in as an amenity. It would relieve the pressure on CyRide, be sustainable and bring Ames into the 21st century in a holistic way.”