Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Case Of Student Housing

After a week of rain it has finally cleared up, so the guys and I went out for a bike ride around the neighborhood. Well I went for the ride and they grumbled quietly while an old man led them through the maze of Chevy Chase/Hollywood Terrace.

As such, we were on the edge of the ever expanding off campus student housing. This is an area that I remember well from my youth, an area of small neat houses occupied by families of the kids I went to school with. Houses, or should I say, homes of the people who worked in the stores downtown, or the local neighborhood shops and more than a few of them were the homes of the teachers in the local schools. But even then it was beginning to change.

By the time I got to high school the kids I had grown up with were moving on to newer suburbs and later, to other colleges. The area of Aylesford(Linden Walk, Aylesford Pl., Transylvania Pk) had been a student magnet for a few years, as the aging widows took in roomers to make ends meet and some just sold out to absentee landlords who broke up the larger houses into apartments. The houses on the south side of Euclid Ave were not immune to the onslaught from the University or the students/landlords and fell to the wrecking ball despite being less than 80 years old.

What this shows, is that from the Aylesford area, to Clifton Heights, to Columbia Heights, to Hollywood Terrace, (not to mention the Elizabeth St/Floral Park area) students living off campus have desired to live in a more homelike setting. I watched some of the LFUCG work session last week where students stood up and objected to labeled as undesirable neighbors, but the facts are, that since I was college student age until today, most of the students DO NOT treat their student residences as they should. The protesting students rightly claim that they have jobs and pay taxes as if that should allow them to behave differently than an average wage earner/taxpayer. I would bet that the homes where they grew up, or where their parents live do not look like what is remaining at the end of spring semester.

Some savvy developers have built some recent student housing with some of the more homelike amenities, but even Newtown Crossing or The Lex appear more as institutional or apartment complex like. I recently saw that a few smaller colleges have built dorms that look as though they were Victorian houses or the like. Maybe this is something that UK should do.

The University has, in its continued growth, devoured several residential subdivisions in the last 100 years. Usually by students finding housing in off campus location but still close enough to quickly get to class. The ones that come to mind range from Adamstown and the Gladstone & Washington Ave areas to Clifton Heights and the Herr Park area. I have looked at some of these in more depth and hope to post on them in the near future.

For now, I just wish that the students living off campus AND the UK administration should both become more responsible about how they interact with the year-round property owners, to the point that the City should not have to play peacemaker AND enforcer to people who should already know how to act responsibly.


jenn said...

I'm curious, how much responsibility do you think should be put on the landlords and on zoning? As a 28 year old who works at UK, it would be convenient to live close by but I won't and the reasons are because of parking, congestion, and previous experiences with landlords who aren't willing to fix or maintain the properties.

Streetsweeper said...

Well Jenn, I believe that maintenance responsibilities should fall to the landlords primarily and be enforced by the Division of Code Enforcement. Zoning is pretty much a simple thing until you get to the definition of family and the number of un-related members of a household/unit.

The greatest responsibility lies with the students themselves and their acting as the grown-up that they would have us take them for. Most of them would not act this way at home with their parents, before coming to college, but expect us to accept it from them when they are on their own.

"when I was a child I thought as a child, acted as a child... Now I have put away childish things..."