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Community Conversation on Student Housing

Student Housing Symposium


The Flagstaff community faced a difficult issue in the spring of 2014 regarding the development of a student housing project. The proposed project brought to the forefront differing opinions, models and issues related to developing new housing complexes for students. The project threatened displacement of current residents and could potentially diminish of the quality of life for long-term residents of neighborhoods targeted for development.

Following the withdrawal of the proposed development by the developer, Coconino County Supervisor Liz Archuleta reached out to the City of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University (NAU) with a proposal to conduct a Community Conversation on Student Housing. Both the City Council and the NAU President agreed to partner with Coconino County to host the event.

A Steering Committee formed to design the conversation. The Committee identified three distinct phases of the conversation: Education, Engagement and Action, as optimal to help the community gain better predictability about where new student housing could be developed. The partners committed to the first phase and conducted a one-day educational symposium. The following are highlights of the symposium.


  • To host a community conversation that begins to address the issue of student housing in Flagstaff considering both the needs of students and the importance of maintaining the character of all neighborhoods that make Flagstaff unique;
  • To promote understanding of the student housing development and neighborhood issues with the intention of unifying the community;
  • To educate ourselves on “best practices” and models used by other communities similar to Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University; and
  • To educate the community on legal rights of developers as well as the limitations of City government associated with student housing.

For a copy of the Community Conversation on Student Housing Symposium Agenda, click here.

The City of Flagstaff provided background on local community development processes and policies, Arizona State laws, and law enforcement issues related to student-housing developments. For a video on this portion of the symposium, click here. Supporting documents for this section are below. 

  1. City of Flagstaff PowerPoint Presentation - Full presentation
  2. City of Flagstaff Regional Plan pertaining to Student Housing
  3. City of Flagstaff - Zoning Definitions and Terminology
  4. City of Flagstaff - Current and Proposed Student Housing Developments
  5. City of Flagstaff - Housing Zoning Map surrounding NAU
  6. City of Flagstaff Police Department Outline

Northern Arizona University provided current planning constructs for the University including student enrollment trends and projections, campus land use plans, as well as, the University’s policies and procedures related to student behavior and on-campus housing options. For a video on the NAU and three-neighborhoods panels, click here. Supporting documents for the NAU presentation are below.

  1. Northern Arizona University PowerPoint

Three neighborhoods panel adjacent to or in close proximity to NAU presented their visions, plans and concerns about the impact of student housing and new development in their neighborhoods. For a video on the NAU and three-neighborhoods panels, click here. Supporting documents for the Flagstaff neighborhoods panel are below.

  1. Flagstaff Neighborhoods Panel - Southside Community Assessment

Bob Segar, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus Planning and Community Resources from University of California Davis, discussed two projects UC Davis developed on campus and one that is in the planning stages. For a video with UC Davis, the City of Fort Collins and participant engagement sections, click here.

To view only Bob Segar's UC Davis campus video on student housing, which is included in the previous link, click here.

Beth Sowder, Neighborhood Services Manager for the City of Fort Collins, described the journey that led Fort Collins to create a Student Housing Action Plan as part of their City Plan. For a video with UC Davis, the City of Fort Collins and participant engagement sections, click hereSupporting documents for this section are below.

  1. Ft. Collins PowerPoint Presentation
  2. Ft. Collins Student Housing Action Plan

Participant Engagement and Looking Forward 
Following the presentations, participants gathered in small groups for an opportunity to debrief what they heard during the panel presentations and to collectively articulate key issues, options and recommended actions. See the Resources section below for a detailed small-group report. 
  1. Participant Engagement and Looking Forward 

Panelist Biographies

Community Conversation on Student Housing Final Report

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