• Austin should consider its residents when setting zoning requirements

    Students dance to to the Yin Yang Twins during Roundup at ZBTahiti in March of 2013. 
    Students dance to to the Yin Yang Twins during Roundup at ZBTahiti in March of 2013. 

    Beginning Oct. 1, because of a plan the city of Austin announced earlier this month to change event regulations in West Campus, people planning to host a large event must apply for a permit through the Austin Center for Events at least 21 days beforehand. Austin Police Department Sergeant Alfred Trejo said in an interview that the 21-day requirement is because the city needed to streamline the permitting process, since some city departments weren't as involved as they should have been. According to an article in The Odyssey, APD cited an increasing number of complaints from the "older residents" of West Campus as another reason for its plan to further enforce these regulations.

    The city zones West Campus as a residential area, so although only 12 percent of households in the 78705 zip code area — which encompasses West Campus as well as parts of North Campus — are "family households," the city's rules for these neighborhoods of college students are the same as its rules for family neighborhoods. While I understand that the people complaining to the city are justified in doing so under the law, there's no reason for anyone who moves to an area near a college campus as large at UT to expect a quiet, peaceful neighborhood.

    Currently, the city doesn't issue sound permits for sound equipment located within 100 feet of residential zoning (Trejo said live music acts during events such as Round Up have often been illegal). This rule makes sense for most of Austin, but for West Campus, it seems a bit unreasonable. Instead of fighting the inevitability of West Campus residents continuing to host huge, loud parties, I'd like to see the city of Austin look at its zoning requirements and consider making some exceptions for areas, like West Campus, where large events are frequent and expected. I'm definitely not suggesting that Austin should do away with its permitting process and noise regulations, but I do think if the process were less strict and took into account who the residents in each neighborhood are, that would make the process easier on both the students and the city.

    Voeller is an associate editor.