If passed, a new bill would prohibit students from living in certain areas around Main Campus.
Last night, Sept. 22, City Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced a bill that seeks to put an end to student-community tensions by halting development projects for student housing.
If passed, the bill would prohibit new multiple-family dwellings, apartment houses, tenement houses, student housing not owner-occupied and fraternity and sorority houses.
Clarke, a Democrat representing the fifth council district, reportedly cited students’ disrespectful behavior and tension between students and long-time residents in the community surrounding Main Campus as reasons for introducing the bill.
According to the bill, the borders would be outlined as follows: “N 19th Street on the west, Lehigh Avenue on the north, Ninth Street on the east, southward along 9th Street to Cecil B. Moore Avenue, westward along Cecil B. Moore Avenue to 13th Street, southward along 13th Street to Girard Avenue, and Girard Avenue from 13th Street to 19th Street on the south.”
“Where else do they want us to live? There isn’t enough housing on campus,” senior theater major Calvin Atkinson said.
Atkinson said he enjoys living off campus because it gives him experience of “living in the real world,” opposed to living in a residence hall. He added that he has not had any troubles with his neighbors on the 1800 block of North Willington Street.
Sophia Stuckey, a long-time resident on Atkinson’s street, said she hasn’t experienced too much trouble with students but did note trash as an ongoing issue.
“When they do have parties, a lot of times they won’t clean up,” Stuckey said.
Teresa Taylor, who lives on 18th street between Montgomery Avenue and Berks Street, said students leaving their trash in front of their homes is an issue she believes is improving but still prevalent.
“There’s just a lot of screaming. I guess that’s just a part of life,” Taylor said. “I think they should try to build a rapport with neighbors.”
Courtney Zambetti, a senior kinesiology major, said most problems she hears about deal with local residents.
“Seventy-five percent of the time, [problems are] due to the residents,” Zambetti said. “I think it goes both ways.”
Peter Crawford of the Temple Area Property Association, a coalition of local landlords that represents about 300 buildings in the Main Campus area, said his organization often deals with student-community relations.
Crawford decried Clarke’s plans, citing a revitalization in North Philadelphia that has arisen as a result of the influx of students moving into the neighborhood.
“This area was a ghost town 15, 20 years ago, before students started living around campus,” Crawford said.
Crawford said Clarke’s bill would create a student-exclusion zone around Main Campus. He added that Clarke’s new bill is an extension of the ordinance that prohibits most students from living in the Yorktown neighborhood.
“We have been working for the past year with Councilman Clarke on a neighborhood improvement district…that was created to address community members’ concerns,” Crawford said. “Before he called us [on Wednesday,] we had no idea. This wasn’t even on the radar screen.”
Clarke was not available for comment at press time.
If passed, Crawford said, the bill would likely make the university less attractive to prospective students because it would set the neighborhood back 15 years.
The university does not have a position on the bill because it deals with land not owned by Temple, said Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications.
“Temple University expects its students to be good residents of Philadelphia,” Betzner said, adding that, for the most part, they are.
Betzner said university representatives meet with Clarke periodically, but was unsure if the councilman had given Temple any indication that he would be introducing the legislation.
Temple Student Government Vice President of External Affairs Elliot Griffin said there’s no denying that there has been a rift between some students and community members.
“I realize that [Clarke’s] core constituency are people who have been living here for generations. But at the same time, I think we recognize the reasons students are moving out into the community is because Temple has just seen amazing growth over the years, and we can’t house everyone here,” Griffin said.
Griffin added that Temple employs many local residents, as well.
“I think we can all admit that there are some rowdy students on Saturday nights…but I don’t think that it’s the masses of Temple students,” Griffin said. “Those just happen to be the students who get attention.”
Angelo Fichera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For an expanded version of this story, pick up The Temple News on Tuesday, Sept. 27.