A hearing Wednesday was supposed to settle the matter of Temple students living in Yorktown and other neighborhoods surrounding Main Campus covered under the North Central Philadelphia Community Special District Controls.
Unfortunately, there was no decision. Instead, there was confusion, wrangling and long-winded expounding by lawyers.
We understand there needs to be a method for the landlords and community to settle their dispute, and the legal system is certainly equipped to do that.
That being said, the legal system, specifically the Zoning Board of Adjustment, has inherent limitations that make it a less than desirable solution to the Yorktown situation.
The first problem is one of mere logistics. The community wants to make its wishes known and wants to make a presence at the hearings for landlords’ appeals. But some are elderly and don’t have cars to drive to Center City to make the hearings. Others have jobs they can’t take days off from on a week’s notice. This is especially problematic considering the first hearing was held at 1 p.m., hardly a convenient time.
Another problem is the financial resources. The community does not have the money to hire the lawyers the landlords have. This leaves them at a disadvantage in the courts.
We believe there is another solution. Instead of involving the courts, the community and the landlords, this solution would change the players. First, the courts would be left out. Second, both Temple and students living in the community would be involved. As we see it, there are four different groups this affects. Those groups are the students, the community, the landlords and Temple.
Why not come together and find a solution ourselves instead of leaving it to obscure precedents and outside boards? The solution on Temple’s end could be to have any students living in special district boundaries sign a statement swearing to maintain the property and keep noise levels down. If too many complaints are fielded by Temple about a property, it could take punitive measures.
The landlords could agree not to change the aesthetic of the neighborhood by not paving over lawns or changing homes too much and keeping all their houses single-family dwellings.
Lastly, a board could be set up involving at least one member from Temple and the community, a landlord and someone from Temple Student Government. These people could be the go-to for any problems or complaints.
This would create a harmonious and functioning relationship among a model community, landlords and a world-class university, instead of leaving the decision up to courts and lawyers.