San Diego

San Diego Superior Court Issues Temporary Injunction on Mini-Dorm Ordinances

A San Diego Superior Court issued a temporary injunction Friday preventing the city from enforcing two ordinances regulating so-called mini-dorms around San Diego State University (SDSU), NBC 7 Investigates learned Friday.

Those ordinances include the 2017 Ordinance passed by the City Council in February and the Residential High Occupancy Permit (RHOP) passed in 2008.

"The reaction is positive," said Vince DiMaggio, a recent SDSU graduate.

He told NBC 7 Investigates, he lives in a house with seven people. He said the landlord paved the backyard to provide parking for tenants, as per the City’s regulations.

Under the ordinances, if there are five or more people over the age of 18 living in a single family house, the landlord pays $1,000 to get a permit. That permit requires off-street parking for everyone in the house, except one. If someone does not own a car, the landlord has to prove it. According to the ordinances, the off-street parking cannot be within 30 feet of the property line.

Steven McKinley represents the College Area Students Tenants and Landlords Association.

"They are not treating everyone equally. So if the neighbor next door happens to have six cars, they don't have to have more than two parking spaces," McKinley said. "But if you happen to be in a house with five or more people who are 18 years of age or older, in other words, more than five students, now you have to have more than two spaces. That’s unequal protection, that’s unconstitutional."

McKinley said not only are parking restrictions unfair, they serve ultimately to deny people access to an affordable education.

"They are making it so onerous that nobody can meet the requirement, and then they say we've kept the students out of the neighborhood," he said. "We've forced the students to live in Escondido instead of living within five blocks of the University."

Rhea Kuhlman lives in the College Area and helped craft the 2017 Ordinance passed by the San Diego City Council in February.

"It doesn't address students versus non-students," she said. "It addresses the problem that a lot of students like to bring their cars and when they do, there is no place for residents to park on the street."

Kuhlman said the 2017 Ordinance is perfectly even handed and does not discriminate, based on numbers of occupants or what kinds of occupants.

"It's true the kids have to live in groups. Six kids in a house is not unreasonable, that's not unreasonable," she said. "But you can't tell me you have to have 15 kids in a house to make it work."

"At some point or another, someone is going to win," DiMaggio said. "Luckily for us, it's us this time. Maybe that gives us a reason to work together and find a solution."

The City Attorney’s office told NBC 7 Investigates they "are reviewing the ordinances in light of the court's preliminary ruling. [They] understand the purpose of the ordinance was to regulate the over parking problem and its effect on the college area community."

A hearing is scheduled for August 25.

McKinley said his clients will ask for a permanent injunction.

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