Iowa City leaders are considering a ban on some types of student-friendly housing near the University of Iowa campus. City planners say developments with larger apartments that have four to five bedrooms are often linked with an increase in neighborhood vandalism.

Planner Jeff Davidson says blocking those apartments from some downtown areas may be the best solution. “When you put a lot of these in a single building, they get to be sort of an unsupervised dormitory,” Davidson says. “We’ve had neighborhood people tell us that some of these large buildings are creating some issues with respect to vandalism and parties and noise and spillover parking, so that’s what the zoning ordinance changes are trying to address.”

The multi-bedroom apartments can offer cheaper housing to students at a time when tuition may be rising, yet Davidson says the problems have to be addressed. “A lot of these buildings that are becoming or that have been problems in these neighborhoods are basically unsupervised student dormitories,” he says.

“You know we do have empirical evidence that there is a relationship between the density of development and the number of police calls.” The city may also need to consider creating a zone for private dormitories. The city council will discuss those policies this week.