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Trouble in paradise


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Ashley Weaver
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 3, 1999
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It's getting more and more difficult every day to find a home without having to sign your soul over to Ordinances and Codes. Five ASU roommates learned that lesson this week after being evicted from their five-bedroom house, after the city discovered that they were unrelated. Tempe City Code Ordinance 808, among other bizarre and time-consuming smack-downs, forbids more than three unrelated people to live in a residential home. This specifically targets college students, especially those who live near their place of education. Some of Tempe's established "family" community feels threatened by the enrichment of education and are disgustingly using legal pressure to drive students to dire straits.

First, a busybody noticed the weeds in the yard and complained to the city inspector of a code violation. Next, a car was parked in the street with a flat tire one day. Next came the eviction notice. You could almost hear cackling from behind the immaculate, vertical blinds (in approved shades of ivory and creme) as the tattler glared out, swiftly knitting a scarf with the names of those feisty heathen college students. Ruined and gone were the hoop-rolling, manicured lawn days of striding milkmen and Barry Manilow on the phonograph, but the proverbial, poor, victimized Family Man would get revenge.

In August, just a month after the five ASU students moved in, they received an eviction notice, due to pressure from yapping community watchdogs like 40-year old resident Scott Moore. Remember the kids who would tattle on their parents for using Advil in the fifth grade DARE box? Remember the kids who kept notes on the paper-airplane throwing when the teacher left the classroom? Well that kid grew up, and now he's telling on his neighbors for lack of anything more constructive to do. Moore has lived on the same street as the evicted college students for 32 years, and spent his time tattling so that more people wouldn't move into his neighborhood.

"This area was developed as a family community," he said, adding that the university has "gone too far by encroaching on the community."

Oh, no! God forbid that a college town should force its wicked and amoral college students onto the pristine and happy family. Of course, because college students supposedly only live near their school for a few years, they have no "vested interests" as Mayor Neil Giuliano says, and families do.

Well for Pete's sake, that just won't stand! No vested interests? Why, the little mongrels! The presumptuous rascals move into a house that should be only rented to a qualified family with 2.3 kids and a fish, and with no vested interests, they could destroy the place with tomfoolery! They could build a 13 foot chimney and violate the code! They could add on a 6 foot balcony, also violating the code! They could paint their walls in colors not contributing to the homogenization of suburbia and again, violate the code!

It is hard enough to be a college student, living alone for probably the first time, having to pay bills, balance a job, an expensive education and roommates. Those who already have their station set in life, parents and other middle-class residents, have no business making it harder.

Most college students responsible enough to live on their own or with friends are engrossed in school work. They are busy turning themselves into educated and productive members of today's society, so that eventually they can come back to their neighborhoods with their own families. And most college students contribute invaluably to towns they reside in, and most don't have the expendable time to say "Hmm, have I made sure the weeds in the yard are cut to Ordinance standards? Better put away this term paper and go have a look-see."

According to Tempe's code, the five college students violated the term "family." The ordinance even goes so far as to regulate worm-farming, and now they feel they have the power to define a family, and unrelated people don't fit into that description. But if over-fed suburban pigeons, their gullets overflowing with the birdseed of hatred and discrimination are what the City of Tempe considers a family, then the five unjustly evicted students should be glad they're not one.

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