The issue of big boarding houses and the future of the Oread neighborhood will return to Lawrence City Hall tonight.
City commissioners at their weekly meeting will consider revising regulations that several homeowners in Oread say would allow too many boarding houses to be built in the neighborhood.
A boarding house is a type of structure that is exempt from the requirement that no more than four unrelated people can live in a multifamily zoned property. Instead, the number of people who can live in a boarding house is governed, in part, by the amount of off-street parking each house can provide.
Previously, the parking standard was .75 parking space per one bedroom. But the new regulations allow boarding houses to use a calculation of .5 parking space per bedroom. But in order to qualify for the reduced parking rate, the house must be at least 3,500 square feet in size. City planning staff members have said unfinished basements and attics should be counted in figuring the total square footage of a house, with the idea that those spaces could be made livable at some point.
But research by the city has now confirmed that 89 homes, or about 20 percent of all homes in the Oread neighborhood, would be eligible for the reduced parking standards.
Several Oread residents have said such a large increase in the number of boarding houses would worsen parking and other congestion problems in the neighborhood.
Some landlords, though, have said the city does need to encourage the conversion of large homes into boarding houses as a way of preserving the structures. If the large homes can’t be used as boarding houses, some landlords have argued, the old houses will be more likely to be torn down.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall.