CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The city council is one step closer to cracking down on home conversions.
All but one council member voted in favor of a zoning code amendment on Monday night. It's the first vote on the matter.
The potential code alteration prohibits the physical conversions of single-family homes into duplexes. The change would apply to two zoning districts throughout the city, R1 and R2, which mostly contain residential neighborhoods.
City planner Marty Ryan pointed out that this move would not ban rental occupancy. People can still rent out homes or current duplexes. It would, however, prohibit the physical changes to a single-family home that would turn it into a duplex.
Ryan said resolving this issue has been a long time coming.
"Just because of the history of conflicts and discomfort the community has experienced with rental expansions through the community and conversions that have occurred over the years. So it's probably more of a historical perspective, and the city council's attempt to try to gain some control," Ryan said.
During the meeting discussion, Councilman Nick Taiber questioned the need for the home conversion rule changes.
"Before we act on something like this, I just want to make sure that we actually have a problem," Taiber said. "Typically if you don't have a problem you don't go seeking out solutions."
"I agree the frequency is low, but when it occurs, it is a problem in that neighborhood," Ryan responded.
The city planner added that there are usually only one or two single-family home conversions every couple of years.
In the end, Taiber was the only "no" vote on the council.
"We are trying to treat a symptom of a problem, and in my mind this isn't even a sniffle because it happens so infrequently," Taiber said. "The real issue is the encroachment of rental properties into traditional neighborhoods and this doesn't prevent that."
The council will hold two more votes on the issue in coming weeks.