Councilmembers Address Student Housing Issue

For students who do not have the option to commute or live on-campus, Huntsville has many apartments and properties for students to rent out by the school year.

The city has 43 apartments that advertise for students and other types of living situations, with 30 of those apartments solely focusing on students. Student apartments are characterized by a renter paying only for his or her bedroom and sharing the living space with other renters, instead of renting out the whole unit.  

On Feb. 4, the city council took a vote on allowing a conditional use permit for Guefen Development Partners to make another student apartment complex in Huntsville.

The council approved the permit by a 7-2 vote.

City councilmember Paul Davidhizar, who voted to approve the permit, focused his opinion on the role of government in deciding business for the community.

“The short answer is I don’t think it’s the government’s position to regulate what business comes into the city what business don’t, except if it is an immoral or illicit business or something,” Davidhizar said.

Davidhizar said that if Huntsville has a surplus of apartments, some of them may start catering to different living situations or decrease rent prices.

“Supply and demand, students will start to benefit from lower prices. It’s a win-win situation,” Davidhizar said.  

City councilmember Joe Rodriquez voted in support of the permit as well.

“Don’t get me wrong, the council continues to welcome new development in this city because it increases our tax base,” Rodriquez said. “If the market calls for more apartments, then the council will approve them if they meet our building codes. To do otherwise would discourage all future development in this city.”

Councilmember Daiquiri Beebe, who voted against the land permit, focused her opinion on giving more housing opportunities for both students and the citizens of Huntsville. She said that the number of student-friendly apartments now matches the number of students that we can estimate are here in Huntsville.

“The way that new apartment complexes are being built is with a particular design,” Beebe said. “The design allows the developer to rent out each individual bedroom with its own bathroom and the students share a living room and kitchen. This is a desirable way for college students to live temporarily, but many college students get tired of roommates after a couple of years, and this design is not desirable for anyone else to live in either.”

Beebe said that with most student-friendly apartments renting for $600 and up per bedroom, the price of rent is very high.

“Huntsville needs more one, two and three-bedroom traditional apartments that will appeal to all types of people, including students,” Beebe said.

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