Champaign vs. Urbana: Which city best meets the needs of residents?

By Paul Biasco

There is an age-old question that has baffled students at the University for years.

Where to live: Champaign or Urbana?

There are differences between each city ranging from tenant laws for apartments and houses, alcohol laws and even recycling policies – all which can affect students living in each city.

The tenant laws differ in Champaign and Urbana.

A landlord-tenant ordinance to protect renters stands in Urbana. The maximum penalty for a late fee on a payment is 5 percent.

In one case, a renter had to pay $25 a day for a late payment, which would not be lawful in Urbana considering the 5 percent rule, said Esther Patt, coordinator of the University Tenant Union.

In a horror story from Champaign, a landlord showing a student an apartment forgot to tell the current resident they were coming.

“The first apartment she saw, she heard the shower on when she entered the apartment. The owner, a man, came out of the shower naked,” Patt said.

This is unlawful in Urbana, which requires 24-hour notice by the landlord before entry.

When it comes to alcohol, Champaign and Urbana once again have very different laws.

The legal age to be in a bar, without consuming alcohol, in Champaign is 19 and in Urbana is 18. Although most bars on campus are found in Campustown, some younger students may head to downtown Urbana bars.

When it comes to underage drinking tickets, Urbana has a $500 maximum fine while Champaign has a set fine of $300.

For students looking to throw a party, both cities have the same policy when it comes to noise complaints. Neither Champaign nor Urbana issue party permits for noise. In each city residents are required to sign an adult responsibility form when purchasing a keg. The maximum amount of alcohol a keg can have is 16 gallons, a half-barrel keg.

A major concern for some students is a recycling program. Each city has its own system.

Urbana offers a citywide curbside recycling program which has been in place since 1986 according to its U-Cycle program. Recyclables in Urbana do not need to be separated and are picked up once a week. The program is now offered to all residents in apartment buildings, residence halls, fraternities, sororities, rooming houses and condominiums in the city.

Champaign has a very different strategy for recycling. It offers curbside service for some homes, but the majority of residents have to drive to centers in the area to drop off recyclables.

“We never recycle because of the trip and we don’t have a car,” said Sean Angst, sophomore in LAS and Champaign resident.