Yorktown tenants head to court

Longtime residents resoundingly disapprove of current housing measures in community.

Members of the Yorktown community, the section just south of Temple’s Main Campus that has been the topic of recent tenancy ordinances debates, met with landlords, lawyers and the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday in a crowded courtroom on the 18th floor of a city building at 1515 Arch St.

The 18 pages of specific cases were documented and discussed, but the board seemed to fail in making any decisions about the stayed evictions of Temple students living in Yorktown. They did, however, decide to schedule another meeting sometime in March.

Represented by Pam Pendleton-Smith, the Yorktown Stakeholders Committee’s secretary, area residents said they wanted proper opportunity to seek legal council. Pendleton-Smith spoke at the beginning of the meeting and said she noticed posted signs announcing the public hearing’s date and time only one week prior to Jan. 28.

The board agreed to give residents nearly two full months to acquire representation but said community members had been given notice in December 2008. Board members said those who want proper representation would be given the chance.

When asked which – if any – of their goals had been reached by the public hearing, a group of Yorktown residents who wished to maintain their anonymity resoundingly said, “None.”

The first six documents filed in the case were petitions against the Department of Licenses and Inspection, and the last 12 were use variance applications.

Among the possible topics to be discussed during the next hearing is whether “student” is properly defined in the area ordinance, as it prohibits “student housing not owner-occupied.”

In students’ testimonies, which were also included in documents filed for the case, some said Temple’s on-campus housing policy is problematic as it does not provide juniors and seniors with housing.

However, there were no students who currently live in the residences in question at the hearing.

Lawyers questioned Michael Parkhill, a local landlord. He said he rents to no more than three Temple students, a stipulation of the area ordinance, in each of the homes he owns in Yorktown.

When Parkhill said he has received only one complaint from area residents, community members in attendance murmured to one another, creating a stir in the otherwise quiet courtroom.

In the last row of about 65 chairs in the crowded space, someone whispered, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Attendees seemed to exceed the room’s limit of about 80 people, as many stood. Others had to sit or stand in the hall, listening to the proceedings as they unfolded over a loudspeaker.

As the public hearing came to a close, attendee Alexis Denny stood up and addressed the board, lawyers and community members. She said her father, whose vision, she said, was to provide opportunity for the African-American community, was involved in the neighborhood’s start.

Denny said after a recent visit, she noticed community members took better care of their properties than Temple students renting in the neighborhood. Current Yorktown residents applauded Denny’s statements.

“This is a model for the country,” she said.

Chelsea Calhoun can be reached at chelsea.calhoun@temple.edu.


  1. The continuance into March 2009 is a effectual victory for the community. As interested parties in this matter, we are entitled to be afforded legal counsel to present all proof documents we have acquired over the years. For example:

    Michael Parkhill admitted to receiving one letter of complaint from Jefferson Manor, and said he received nothing in regards to Yorktown.

    The following letter is only one of many reasons for the “Liar, Liar, pants on fire” remark.

    City Of Philadelphia
    Department of Licenses and Inspections
    Robert D. Solvibile, Sr.

    March 31, 2006

    Mr. & Mrs. Michael Parkhill
    401 Beacon Blvd.
    Sea Girt, NJ 08750

    Re: 1521 Guilford Place

    Dear Mr. & Mrs. Parkhill:

    The Department has received a complaint from the Yorktown Community stating that you are renting to college students. We need to set up an inspection to determine if the complaint is valid. Your property is not licensed as a rental property and this letter is to make you aware of Ordinance #040972-A that was passed in City Council which does not allow you to have college students as tenants, if, in fact, you are renting to college students.

    Please call or write my office to set up an inspection of the property at a time when your tenants are able to be present. If you do not respond within 10 days, an intent to cease notice will be posted on the property.

    For your convenience, I have provided my email address: Robert.Solvibile@phila.gov.

    I hope to hear from you soon.


    Robert D. Solvibile, Sr.


    Cc: Dominic J. Verdi, Deputy Commissioner
    Mary Jane McKinney, Manager, Services & Operations

  2. If the law prohibits renting to students does it also prohibit renting to anyone under age of 23? If yes is that age discrimination?
    I am not sure how much death and destruction is caused by temple students in the Yorktown area but as a parent of a student I do know how much money is pumped into the community by the students…or should I say the parents of the students.
    Maybe if Temple Univ. did more for the community like provide jobs, police coverage,keep the campus clean, purchase unwanted properties etc the neighbors would be more endearing to the students of Temple. As the most famous of the elite says….not in my neighborhood.

  3. They have a right to protect their community (or should, though there’s not legal grounds for forbidding “student housing not owner-occupied” which isn’t unconstitutional.)

    Integration would work a lot better than complete annihilation of student renters… they should have just zoned the neighborhood to prevent any additional landlords from buying houses.

  4. The old, bitter, drug & alcohol abusing, ignorant and racist people living in the Yorktown community make absolutely no sense in their attempt to fight against individuals looking to drop big bucks into their drug ridden, inner city blighted, grocery cart pushing, ghetto. No DECENT family in their right mind would want to reside in North Filthy and the majority of people who live there, only stay because they can’t afford to leave.

    These Yorktown Fools prefer to leave abandoned houses scattered throughout the vicinity and treat COLLEGE STUDENTS as criminals when they allow their own kids & neighbors to rob, steal and sell drugs right out of their own backyards. Black people like myself should be embarrassed by the actions of these Yorktown Fools. I would NEVER raise my children in such a broke down, beat up community. Without Temple, Yorktown would be nothing. This sorry excuse for a community has absolutely no validity and no future and it is only a matter of time before these people rot away and their kids sell their souls, LIBERATING the landscape of lost hope…

  5. OK Yorktown Investor, you should be very embarrassed by now because your post just proved to everyone but especially to me that you don’t know what you are talking about. Yes, Yorktown is in North Philly, and the Yorktown community received its historical designation in the name of preservation. We kept up our properties for 50 years and there are no abandoned properties or commercial properties in Yorktown. Do your true research and prove Due diligence. Your portrayal of Yorktown as being drug ridden, inner city blighted, grocery cart pushing, ghetto. Boy, you really spit that one out didn’t you. so much so it sounds like you are jealous and these are sour grapes you are venting. So have at it Hoss. If your description were true, why do all the students want to live here.There are plenty of third-party developers with apartments to lease all over campus and on the edge on campus and they are most convenient. They don’t have to enter into an illegal tenancy.I am so blessed you wont be raising any of your children in Yorktown Community.

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