The Fairfax City Council voted 4 to 2 last night to reject a proposed change in housing regulations that would have affected a large number of George Mason University students who live in the city.
The new ordinance would have reduced from four to three the number of unrelated persons allowed to live in one house.
The council also asked City Attorney William F. Roeder Jr. to study the possibility of a new law that would require landlords to take full responsibility for their renters' actions.
Council member Glenn White said the housing ordinance defeated last night "was not worthy of value" and couldn't "be enforced with the organization of any army." He said restricting the number of unrelated people in a residence would not solve the city's housing problem.
About 20 residents also spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance.
Jeffrey Fairfield, who lives in the Ardmore section of the city, said group houses in his neighborhood were poorly maintained and could depress property values if allowed to deteriorate.
George Mason student Adrian Hodge, who opposed the ordinance, said reducing the availability of group homes near the campus would severely limit the affordable housing available to students.
Residents earlier complained about George Mason students who live in various neighborhoods and hold what they described as rowdy weekend parties.
Donald J. Mash, university vice president for student affairs, said the school's off-campus housing office helped students find housing in owner-occupied residences with families in Fairfax City. Mash said it was inappropriate to blame George Mason students for the bulk of the disturbances when other groups such as single professionals and unmarried couples with children also live in communal homes.
Voting against the ordinance were Council members White, Gene Moore, Allen Griffith and Ronald Escherich. Patrick Rodio and Robert F. Lederer Jr. voted for it.