AUSTIN (KXAN) - The demand to meet the housing needs of a fast-growing student population at the University of Texas at Austin is having an unsettling effect on some of permanent homeowners in the neighborhoods around the campus.
And the homeowners are taking the fight to City Hall where they hope to help pass a new ordinance to stop fraternity, sorority and co-op housing from taking over residential neighborhoods.
"As we know, our houses are our most valuable thing that most of us own," said Mike Hirsch, president of the Hancock Neighborhood Association president. "And group residential degrades the value of neighborhoods."
Hirsch is also part of the Central Austin Neighborhood Plan Advisory Committee , which is pushing for the ordinance that would require group housing to first gain the approval from nearby neighborhoods before going before the City Council.
But proponents of more student housing said the need dire, and immediate. With school starting back up in the next few weeks, students are in a mad dash to find places affordable and accessible places to live.
"We provide affordable housing to 532 students and we have got a waiting list, so we need to expand," said Alan Robinson, the general administrator for College Housing Co-Op.
The shortage of affordable housing in west campus has sent students further away from campus and into residential communities, Robinson and others say.
"There's literally nothing on the market," said Sonny Bhakta, a UT senior. "No houses, no backyards. There wasn't anything available, so we had to settle for (an apartment) complex."
His fraternity, Delta Epsilon Psi, moved its house into what used to be a set of apartments.
"If you just take a look around, I mean this is pretty much a neighborhood," said Bhakta. "This is not what you would really call a greek area or a college neighborhood."
That's not how Hirsch sees it.
"Group residential structures coming into these neighborhoods really does change the atmosphere and makes them less secure," said Hirsch. "We know who is around wave to one another and we know who doesn't belong, and when you add in a very large transient population you lose that social control."
The ordinance the neighborhood organization is backing would affect three neighborhoods near the UT campus. Including the Hancock, Heritage and Shoalcrest communities.
But group housing supporters argue that the ordinance is a step in the wrong direction because it would make the process to obtain a group housing permit a longer and more difficult ordeal.
"So you are talking a minimum of six to nine 9 months," said Robinson. "And if we are trying to buy a property ,it is not going to be on the market that long on West Campus."
"This decreases the ability to create affordable housing for those students its bad for the university its bad for the city its bad for the neighborhood."
The ordinance is set to go before City Council on Aug. 16.
Family and friends held a vigil Wednesday at the State Capitol in hopes that a Bastrop man can win a new trial.
An unusually cold blast of arctic air arriving early Thursday will be followed by an increasing chance of freezing drizzle/rain and sleet by Friday morning.
The HealthCare.gov website is working more smoothly for central Texans.
City leaders in West Lake Hills discussed the ongoing concern with the city's water system Wednesday night. The problems arise when water is needed most; fighting fires.
Federal, state and local authorities on Wednesday arrested 15 people and seized 70 firearms in raid on a methamphetamine operation based in Burnet County.
Former Georgetown Police Officer Stephanie Brown said her ex-boyfriend, former Round Rock Officer Eric Poteet, made up accusations against her after she broke up with him.