Led by ASUCR Local Affairs Liaison Breana Ross, UC Riverside students protested the Feb. 25, 2014 Riverside City Council meeting for unfairly passing legislation that has marginalized students and driven up the cost of housing for UC Riverside students living off-campus.

In response to many homeowner noise complaints last summer, the Riverside City Council passed a law that required property owners to obtain a permit to rent out a house to more than two people. The city council passed this law over the summer without any adequate representation of students. The city council did not allow for the bill to go to a fair debate without sufficient representation from both sides of the aisle, which hurt UCR attendees and citizens looking for affordable rent in the city of Riverside in the process. Home for the summer, many had no opportunity to present their case over the bill. Ross further testified that “there’s multiple ordinances passed against students that have been discriminatory, that haven’t taken the student opinion in account.”

At the 100-Student March, UC Riverside students attended the weekly Riverside City Council meeting to respectfully voice their dissatisfaction and concerns with the increasing crackdown and regulations on the four-person per house limit. Because of this limit, some are being kicked out of the houses and apartments they’ve previously lived in and forced to now find new housing for more expensive rent.

The Riverside City Council extrapolated from the actions of a small minority of UC Riverside students to generalize the entire student population. While action needed to be taken to protect the well-being and comfort of all Riverside citizens, the Riverside City Council took a path that has made it less affordable for us to live in the city of Riverside. Students who need to find cheap housing by splitting rent with more than three other people now have to settle for housing outside the city of Riverside, giving them a longer commute to campus.

The city of Riverside should be investing and supporting the students of UC Riverside, not putting them at a disadvantage by contributing to the student debt we are graduating college with. Students who commute from neighboring cities, such as Moreno Valley and Rancho Cucamonga, have to pay more in gas to get to campus every day. On the other hand, others who live in housing in Riverside do not have to deal with freeway traffic and many have the luxury of being within walking distance from campus. The 21,005 UC Riverside students contribute to the success and sustainability of local businesses and restaurants. If the prices of higher education and housing in Riverside continue to rise, prospective students are going to be skeptical of coming to a school where its city council actively makes it tougher for us to find affordable places to live.

The students of UC Riverside deserve an all-inclusive debate with the city council and the citizens of Riverside. The overwhelming majority are not looking to throw massive parties or disrespect their communities’ right to property or comfort. We just want to minimize the cost of housing with our friends to hit the ground running with as little debt as possible when we graduate. Students should continue to respect their neighbors to reduce the number of complaints homeowners file so that the city council will be more open to the idea of lifting the four-person cap for housing in Riverside.