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Editorial: City needs to ensure there are rules at The Cottages

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The motto at The Cottages, a housing complex just three miles south of the University of New Mexico main campus, might be “your house; your rules,” but the reality since it opened just 13 days ago is there are no rules – until the cops show up.

And so far they show up a lot.

In its first eight days of operations, police and fire crews were called 23 times. Highlights include breaking up a 700-person party and making two felony arrests after a head-on collision and gunfire.

And while college student Bree wrote on Twitter that “The Cottages make it feel like it’s spring break forever lol!” a tenant named Amber tweeted Sunday that “living in the cottages takes ‘surviving college’ to the literal sense.”

Albuquerqueans have already expended time and effort rebranding one “War Zone.” The city does not need another masquerading as student housing.

And masquerading is what The Cottages is doing. Although it’s run by Capstone Collegiate Communities – its website says that it “sets the standard for upscale student living” and features a “parent’s corner” that says complex management will help students pick roommates and get tutoring – The Cottages is a private development. UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson says the complex is “trying to appear as if they are part of the university, but they are not. There is no affiliation at all. They are not part of us.”

But the complex is part of Albuquerque. On Tuesday, The Cottages corporate office said via email it was working with local law enforcement and planned to hire additional security, up to and including off-duty police officers. In a flash mob world where 700 people show up looking for a party, that may or may not be enough.

It is important the city uses every rule it has – from nuisance abatement proceedings to zoning citations to criminal charges – to ensure The Cottages follows the rule of law for the benefit of its residents and neighbors alike.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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