Well past the strike of midnight, Austin City Council votes to decrease housing occupancy limit

Amanda Voeller

At approximately 2:30 a.m. Friday, Austin City Council approved an initial vote to limit the number of adults who are not related to each other allowed to live in a residence built on single-family zoned property.

In a 6-1 vote, council members voted to amend city code to limit “stealth dorms” —  groups of six or more adults, often students, living together in a single-family house. If the council makes the same decision over two more rounds of votes in the coming weeks, the legal limit of unrelated adults living together will be reduced to four.

According to The Austin-American Statesman, the measure would only affect homes built in the future, while homes that currently house six unrelated people would be unaffected.

In November, councilman Chris Riley said the council has received various complaints from residents in areas near stealth dorms, which mainly exist north of campus. Those in favor of decreasing the occupancy limit say stealth dorms result in overfull trash cans and a lack of street parking, which can have detrimental effects on other residents’ lives.

Opponents of the measure have cited affordability problems and lack of student housing options as reasons not to limit students’ living options. Councilman Bill Spelman, who also serves as a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, was the only councilman who voted against the ordinance.