The student government’s lobbying arm encouraged members to support a new housing law that would push back the renting season and planned how they could bring students’ voices to the discussion the city is having over the Mifflin area.
The Associated students of Madison Legislative Affairs Committee held their first meeting of the semester on Monday night to drum up enthusiasm for the new housing measure.
LAC Chair Sam Polstein urged those in attendance to lobby in favor of a proposed city ordinance, which will be voted on by the Common Council on Sept. 21.
The ordinance would change the earliest date at which property owners can lease a property from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.
“One person lobbied at the Housing Committee vote, and we lost,” Polstein said. “But the Common Council can override that vote, so we need a better turnout this time.”
The outcome of the vote, Polstein said, would be highly relevant to college students who are seeking housing.
As it currently stands, the most desirable properties are leased right away in November, which is far too early to make housing arrangements for the coming fall, Polstein said.
Also at issue were the new downtown plan recommendations that will be released to the public by the city on Sept. 23 at the Overture Center.
The plans will be finalized in November, but now is the formative stage in which students are able to have their say, Polstein said.
Much of the debate over the recommendations centers on the area by Mifflin Street and West Washington Avenue, said Erik Paulson, vice chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County, who attended the meeting.
“The plans even include the construction of a new street in the block between Mifflin and West Wash,” Paulson said.
Plans for development of Mifflin Street are especially pertinent to university students, Paulson said.
“It has been called ‘Miff-land.’ It is historically significant as the site of Vietnam War protests and the co-op that bears its name. It’s where the hippies lived,” Paulson said.
Polstein said medium-rise, up-scale apartments on Mifflin Street might encourage non-students to move to the area.
On the other hand, Paulson said, the homes on Mifflin Street have become worn down through the years.
“The issue is over how to compromise between the preservation of history and downtown development. They [the city] knew Mifflin would be tricky to deal with,” Paulson said.
Many of the meeting’s attendants were picking up right where they left off before summer break, but there were some new faces.
Those new faces include two new interns, freshman Hannah Somers and sophomore Neil Chandok.
Another first-time participant in LAC meetings was College Republicans Chair Stephen Durst, who was personally invited to attend by Polstein.
Durst said he would like College Republicans to have a presence at every meeting. “We would like the participation of many more student organizations at these meetings in the future,” Polstein said.
Sophomore Beth Huang, a member of ASM Student Council and College Democrats, also urged everyone to vote in Tuesday’s primary elections at the meeting.