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Crowded Mini-Dorms Causing Neighborhood Unrest

San Diego State University students who can't find a place to live are piling into rental homes and turning them into "mini-dorms," rankling neighbors. Full Focus reporter Amita Sharma has more.

San Diego State students who can’t find a place to live are piling into rental homes and turning them into mini-dorms, rankling neighbors. Full Focus reporter Amita Sharma has more.

Mini-dorms are popping up all around the College area. City officials say a street of 10 homes that, at one time maybe had two rented out to college students may now have as many as seven houses occupied by them.

San Diego City Councilman Jim Madaffer says landlords rent out the houses simply for a check and appear to be unconcerned about what tenants do on their property. Madaffer calls mini-dorms nuisance rentals.  


Jim Madaffer : Typically speaking, a house might have anywhere from four students to the real problems where you’ve got a dozen or more living in one house that might have only been designed to have three bedrooms. But instead, they’ll take the garage. They’ll take the family room. They’ll take the den, turn all those into bedrooms and then cram everybody in and if they all have a car and they like to party and they like to stay up until four in the morning having fun which, who wouldn’t … that’s what ends up happening and it becomes a real problem in the neighborhood.

Councilman Madaffer says some of those problems aren’t even suitable to discuss on the air.

Jim Madaffer : They’re bad. They’re really bad. The easy ones are defecation in somebody’s yards, vomiting in the streets. Urination. Trash in neighbor’s yards on either side. Total disregard for anybody else. In fact, I’ve had people come to me when they’ve filed complaints, after the police show up, the folks in the mini-dorm will go over and intimidate the person that actually made the call. It’s gotten to be out of hand.

Madaffer says city officials are studying ways to resolve the mini-dorm problem through better police enforcement, strengthening existing laws and coming up with new rules.

Jim Madaffer : One specific law we’re looking at regulates the amount of parking that can be on any given lot or how much paving a front yard can have to allow that parking. All you have to do is drive through the College area where houses are at that are mini-dorms. Most of the time, there’s about eight cars crammed up over the driveway.

Madaffer is chairman of the city’s Land-Use Committee which looked at a few possible solutions today. The panel is expected to make some recommendations to the full city council soon.