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Michael Banta is concerned about the new cookie cutter houses that now occupy his beloved neighborhood of 1930s bungalows. Photo by Lee Chastain.

When homeowners near TCU fought for an overlay in their district to restrict property owners from housing more than three unrelated tenants under the same roof, the homeowners didn’t know they would have to enforce the rules themselves.

Michael Banta, former president of the Bluebonnet Place Neighborhood Association, said that to make a formal complaint with the City of Fort Worth’s code compliance for too many tenants, the homeowner must document license plates and the number of people coming to and going from the residence in question for 30 days.

Banta was part of the mediation group that worked out the details of the overlay last November. He said he doesn’t recall once discussing the 30-day complaint procedure. To some degree, he said he understands the need to investigate a situation to be sure, but he doesn’t understand why it falls on the shoulders of homeowners.

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“The city has perhaps no other procedure for doing it,” he said. “I understand the need, because what if you are having family over for a week or someone’s kids are having a slumber party over the weekend? But why isn’t code enforcement doing this? It’s too burdensome on [us homeowners]. It’s too much for the average person to sit by their kitchen window for 30 days.”

A city representative did not return calls for comment.

With TCU’s enrollment increasing from about 8,000 to roughly 10,000 since 2009 and with only 4,050 beds on campus, more students are moving into the neighborhoods surrounding the university. Genna Banta, Michael’s wife and a real estate investor, said the increase in student population is what turned places like Frisco Heights from quiet cottage neighborhoods into a mixture of families and students. Often, entire houses full of students.

Developers, Genna said, “are developing multifamily houses in place of small cottages under the guise of ‘urban village development.’ ”

From entirely privately-owned, Banta said, several TCU-area neighborhoods have become 90 percent developer-owned over the past several years.

“Now you have streets that are tenant occupied for whole blocks, properties owned by the same people,” Banta said. “They’re not going to complain on each other.”

Another problem Banta sees is that the students aren’t going to complain on one another.

“Some of these streets are 100 percent students,” he said. “Who is going to police that? They aren’t going to and probably don’t know they are breaking code enforcement rules. But somehow this is not up to code enforcement anymore.”

There is a built-in problem, Banta said, in the fact that some streets like Sandage Avenue are full of large six-bedroom houses that are way too big for the average family of four.

Property owners and landlords are “willing to do deals in violation of the overlay,” he said. “The police haven’t enforced anything. TCU isn’t getting involved, and code enforcement isn’t enforcing. My gut feeling is the people who aren’t going to play fairly are going to win because they are winning right now and nobody is enforcing it.”

A source who chose to remain anonymous said he recently called a property owner on Sandage to discuss moving six people into one of the owner’s properties.

“She says it has five bedrooms and a bonus room,” the source said. “I said I had a daughter and five of her friends that wanted to live together. I asked her to tell me about this overlay. I thought six people couldn’t live together. She said, ‘We can work around that, no problem.’ ”

The source said he could only speculate about how the rules are broken. His guess is that only three people sign the lease but the rent is split evenly among all of the occupants. Subleases or additional leases could also be involved, he said.

Craig Allen, director of housing and residence life at TCU, said that though enrollment jumped starting in 2009, it has leveled out over the last three to four years, with freshman classes settling at around 1,800. Still, he said, students who live off-campus don’t want to face long commutes every day.

“Students want to be near campus and be a part of campus life,” Allen said. “If they can live immediately around the campus, I think they will continue to do that.”

Banta said this creates a problem with parking in most neighborhoods and late-night noise issues in some.

“I’ve had to call a towing company twice because of people parking in my driveway,” Banta said. “I called the Fort Worth police initially, and they said since it was a private property tow, they couldn’t do anything about it.”

Allen said TCU is adding more on-campus beds and encouraging more juniors and seniors to not move away, but there are no plans for a policy change to force all undergraduates to live on campus.

“We expect there are many juniors and seniors that will choose to live on campus as we build that housing, but we don’t have a policy change planned,” he said. “We have huge wait lists for students that want to live on campus.”

Other people have complained about parties going on late into the night and beer cans and other trash being strewn through yards on the street, Banta said.

“I’ve had friends and neighbors tell me stories, and I feel for them,” he said. “I can’t imagine coming home from a day at work and having to listen to partying next door while you are trying to eat dinner or go to bed at a reasonable hour. Or leaving for work and seeing trash everywhere from the night before and then being told to document them for 30 days, and we will come take a look.”

The only way to begin to fix the problem, Michael Banta said, is for the city to enforce the overlay.

“The city should hire a code enforcement officer to monitor overlay areas,” Banta said. “That’s what it’s going to take.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. TCU was in the neighborhood long before 95% pf these families (or ancestors). One must assume the risk of this type of development and “thank you” for TCU increasing property values. It’s ridiculous that people buy near a university and then are shocked when housing is focused on students. Look at EVERY college town/area in the country. Predictable. Sell your house for an inflated value (TCU-caused) and move.

  2. Living around these students is hell. It’s like an invasion of cockroaches, only roaches are less noisy and considerably more intelligent.

    • And yet you are incorrect in using the word “invasion”.. TCU was established in 1873. When you moved to the neighborhood, how long has TCU been there? Are we all really so entitled and lacking in insight to not realize what our home life might be that close to a university campus?? My family and I looked at ONE home in that neighborhood, did a quick venture through the area and said NO THANKS, we’ll leave it to the kids. (Whose job, btw is to be fucking annoying. Were you ever 21?) If you have inhabited your home pre-1873, I apologize and stand corrected.

        • I do stand corrected, you are correct. 1910 is the year of FTW relocation I found online. I am, however, confused how this affects any of my points? Please re-read my second sentence, which is a valid question. (My apologies to any 105 year olds in the hood?)

      • Did your Mama have any female brats than didn’t have a Potty-Mouth? Is she proud of you? What do you eat? How old are you?

      • I work for several of the property owners that rent to TCU students, they are the first to tell you that these students are pretty discussing. They’ll tell you that they feel for the home-owners, but greed keeps the chugging along.

        They don’t care. I’ve seen how they squeeze home-owners out, and then laugh about it as the way the game is played.

        The ones I know will buy a single family house on a block then deliberately make life uncomfortable for the neighbors until they are forced to sell and move out. One case at hand is where the renter put eight grown men in a one single family home and encouraged them to party because he wanted to own the entire block.

        I hope these predictors don’t read the weekly. It might seem that I’m biting the hand that feeds me, but then again, I know the difference between right and wrong–and they are pretty disgusting.

    • What else could a childs co-existence with entitled Peckerwoods & Tea-Bagging snot-rags produce Justin? Whose on first? How smart do you need to be to figure this out? George W. Bush Jr. was President of this splendid United States of America and his actions and behavior as President of our country were then, and today remain, worse than TCU’s juvenile student babboons. Can you recall the black-hearted Dick Cheney? Is he not a piece of work? Everyone knows that monkeys tend to resemble and emulate their families and playmates and humans share the same tendency. There is nothing new to see here. These present TCU monkeys, will absolutely tend to be self-entitled, up-scale, Tea-Baggers in their beliefs and the less fortunate kids will display selfish stupidity in their public behavior. Consider our Texas Governor, House and Senate. See?

      • Benny’s back, still not able address the points or counterpoints to the article. Pretty soon he’s going to say he wasn’t looking for sympathy because he’s drooling all over himself. Somehow, Ftw weekly thinks this clown is some how making them money. Otherwise, they wouldn’t let him hang around.

        • No one told me you were the boss, sister. Unlike Peckerwood Repukes, they have objectives other than greed. Are you a tea-baggerette? Do your feet stink like your vocabulary? Have you been baptized? Who pays your bills? How old are you? Have you no pride? Is your Mama proud of you? What are you smoking?

  3. The only thing more annoying than a drunken frat bro is an entitled, middle aged rich(ish) bro with his head up his arse. Local businesses and municipalities tolerate college kids for all the revenue they generate. And they are living there for the end game of an education, no?
    How long have these complainers lived this close to campus? Even if it is 30+ years, is this some sort of revelation that it might be annoying? I have sympathy, however this was a conscious choice to live so close to a university.
    And most importantly, it is complete BS for City of FTW to decree how many humans can live in a privately owned home (Especially when the home has 5 bedrooms and there are 5 ADULTS living there) These are not cats being hoarded, they are human adults.
    What needs to happen is PD and CE need to do a better job of responding to complaints, but I guess as long as their answer is “We’re short staffed” and our question is “Where are our tax dollars going if not to provide these basic services; will it ever be enough?” We are at a standstill.
    I do understand the aggravation, but there are many beautiful and affordable neighborhoods in FTW well out of reach of the collective drunken antics of the future of our nation.

  4. If the city of Ft. Worth were concerned about the taxpayers (neighborhoods) around TCU, they would enforce an enrollment cap on TCU until the university provided housing for all of it’s students.

    • The upscale, pretentious Peckerwoods surrounding TCU who constantly bitch and whine due to the 5th grade antics of the spoiled brats enrolled there are recieving exactly, precisely, what they have coming. Thank you Jesus, it’s just like it’s supposed to be, clearly all part of the great Master Plan. I’m looking for locus to infiltrate, beginning any day. It restores my faith. Good work Jesus.

      • You are way pass goofy. Don’t misunderstand, I have a lot of compassion for the mentally ill. So, take your medication and go to bed.

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