On March 12, 2008, the Boston Zoning Commission amended the Boston Zoning Code to restrict more than four undergraduate students from living together in a leased dwelling. The amendment redefined the term “family” in the zoning code by explicitly stating that five or more full-time undergraduate students do not constitute a family. This redefinition made it illegal for five or more undergraduate students to live together, as the City of Boston zones residential districts strictly for “family” habitation. Proponents support the new definition because it strikes directly at the overcrowded, student-occupied dwellings that proponents believe are the main cause of neighborhood disruption. Opponents believe the amendment arbitrarily targets undergraduate students and will result in higher rents. In addition to public policy concerns, critics have raised serious issues regarding the amendment’s legality.
This Note explores the amendment through analysis of the aforementioned constitutional issues. Part II.A summarizes the legal challenge that prompted Boston to amend its zoning code. Part II.B examines case law relating to potential constitutional challenges to the amendment involving heightened scrutiny. Part II.C presents case law relevant to the amendment’s likelihood of passing the lowest level of judicial scrutiny. With the important case law as a foundation, Part III analyzes the amendment’s potential to receive heightened scrutiny and likelihood of passing the lowest level of constitutional review. . .