Tallahassee residents adjust to student neighbors

You’re driving down any given street in a quiet neighborhood of single-family homes with neatly manicured lawns, when all of a sudden you see it – a house with trash strewn on the front yard, numerous cars on the lawn, and loud music blaring.

For some residents in neighborhoods throughout Tallahassee, nightmare neighbors are becoming the harsh reality associated with college students as neighbors.

A number of students seek residency in homes that have been put up for rent because of the lower price and increased perks over living on campus and off-campus apartments.

James Butler, 22, is currently renting a house.

“Even though the rent is about the same, I just like it more than an apartment,” said Butler, a senior business administration student from Chicago. “It’s more convenient, and you don’t have to be worried with things like having your car towed.”

Some neighborhood associations around Tallahassee believe that this trend of student migration to non-student neighborhoods has brought nothing but decreased property values and troubles.

Kent Hutchinson, president of the Northwest Tallahassee Neighborhood Association and Treasurer of the Tallahassee/Leon County Council of Neighborhood Associations, said the problems stem from the fact that “older residents and students just have two different lifestyles.”

He said older residents are more work and family oriented, while college students are more school and party oriented.

It is the parties and other disturbances that cause neighborhood associations to be flooded with complaints from concerned residents. Some of the other disturbances include excessive trash on lawns, increased speeding throughout neighborhood streets and an excessive number of cars parked on the lawn and street.

In addition, Edwina Stephens, president of the College Terrace Neighborhood Association, said “sophisticated drugs” are also a problem that comes with having student neighbors. Stephens said that by having students as neighbors, you run the risk of them bringing illegal drug activity into the neighborhood.

Numerous neighborhood associations are looking for ways to combat student residents, or at least lessen tensions between students and the older residents.

In addition to stronger neighborhood codes, Hutchinson also suggested prompting absentee landlords to adhere to the city rooming ordinance stating that no more than three unrelated persons shall live in one residence. He also encourages students to get involved in their neighborhood associations to help ease tensions between the two demographics.

“We encourage students to come out to our neighborhood meetings and put their two cents in, but the students just don’t come out,” said Maryann Travis, acting president and secretary of the South City Neighborhood Association.

However, many students argue that neighborhood associations should not put so much pressure on students to attend their meetings due to students’ hectic schedules.

Robert Robinson, 21, a senior computer information systems student from Atlanta, said, “They should know that it’s hard to get involved in any outside activities when you’re full time college students with schoolwork.”

Despite some arguments about where students should or should not be allowed to live, Tallahassee neighborhood associations are adjusting to the demographic of their neighbors.

Contact Gheni Platenburg at famuannews@hotmail.com