Oh No! A Hostel Near a Day Care Center???

Readers – An area of Alexandria, VA, a suburb of D.C., is debating whether to allow a  hostel to open near, among other things, some day care centers.

As the reader who sent us this news story wrote, “To hear some of the comments, you’d think they were planning to build a gun store/brothel/drug den!” Notes the article, citing the local parents’ concerns:

 The business fronts, doorsteps and play areas of the concerned would all be traversed by the hostel’s travelers if it is approved by City Council later this month.

My favorite comment from one of the folks quoted in the article is, ““You don’t want lots of different kinds of people [to] come in and out around kids.”

Of course not! Children should not have to interact with or even find themselves NEAR any adults not pre-screened and pre-approved by their own loving parents. Any strangers in town should, after a thorough background check, be issued a permit, good for a proscribed amount of time, that allows them to walk (but not loiter)  near the day care centers a certain number of times. (Two should be sufficient.) Otherwise our precious kids are in GRAVE DANGER! They always are! – L

File:Old Town Alexandria.jpg

Don’t tell me there are ADULTS just WANDERING around there!!

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47 Responses to Oh No! A Hostel Near a Day Care Center???

  1. Earth.W June 9, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Guantanamo Bay. Send all the kids there so they don’t get scarred by social interactions with adults.

  2. Mrs. H. June 9, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    I grew up in Alexandria, and this doesn’t surprise me AT ALL. We lived in a normal suburban development surrounded by more of the same. We didn’t have sidewalks, and for awhile there was a proposal to put them in. It was voted down because, and this is a direct quote from a commenter at a town hall meeting:

    “If we have sidewalks, people might walk here from OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS.”

    The horror!

  3. AnotherAnon June 9, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    In my experience, hostels in the US are filled up with European college students who are familiar with hosteling culture in the EU. I’ve done the hostel thing, and I’ve never seen the movies. I think it’s a great idea to build more youth hostels in the US.

  4. Dave June 9, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Living in Brooklyn this is the stupidest thing I ever heard. I want my children and grandchildren to meet as many different people as they can. Knowledge lessens fear and prejudice. If people are that concerned that their children will meet a stranger in a safe environment like across the street they need to move someplace where no one else lives. Better for them and they will not be pushing dumb laws down our throats.

  5. phoenix June 9, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    But to clarify, this isn’t happening in a really suburban part of Alexandria without sidewalks. This is happening in Old Town, where it’s urban enough that no one has a lawn and there are as many businesses as family homes. Don’t they realize that these different kinds of people can just come on the Metro? The kids are just an excuse here because some people want higher end development and they’re grasping at whatever straws they can.

  6. Kimberly June 9, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    The comments by the commissioners about having stayed in hostels and on the article tell me that more people are going to be reasonable about this.

    I think the comments on the article about this being about race/socio/eco status might be right. The comments about I just save until I have enough money to stay somewhere ‘nice’ seem to confirm the business people are hiding behind “think of the children” because that is politically correct. We don’t want a bunch of poor, non-white, young tourists is not politically correct.

    I have news for them I’m a 40 something, white, female, single with a fair disposable income and I prefer hostels because

    1. They feel safer and cleaner than similarly priced hotels
    2. I can bring my own bedding (Allergic to some detergents)
    3. I’m an introvert the communal nature of hostels makes it easier for me to strike up conversations with people.
    4. The families that stay in them are more free ranged – the kids are less whinny, more polite, and if I help a child I don’t get my head bit off by a helicopter parent.
    5. The money that I’m not spending on a hotel room – gets spent in local restaurants, museums, water parks, grocery stores etc.

    The comment about the hostel having a bar confused me. The hostels I’ve stayed in didn’t have bars and had pretty strict rules about keeping yourself under control.

  7. Beth June 9, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    I’m surprised the original story has been up for 3 days, and has only 20 comments.

  8. Maggie June 9, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    From the article: “As a resident of Old Town Alexandria, I am uncomfortable knowing individuals having no ties to our community, and sometimes no ties to any community, are invited to this area.”

    This is weird and crazy. What’s next, ban tourism? Everyone who rents or buys a house must show “ties to the community” first? Perhaps a wall, surrounding the community, with checkpoints. Something like East Germany, before the wall came down. Maybe that would make them feel safe.

  9. lollipoplover June 9, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    We had some community outrage over a group home proposed in our community that was being built near childcare centers and 2 elementary schools. It was for juvenile sex offenders. The township struck it down.

    Are there no hotels in Alexandria? Are they only allowed to stay in a hotel if they got an invite from a local resident? Hostels are not much different from hotels.

  10. forsythia June 9, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Hostels are generally very well policed. Even so, the chances that hostellers would be rowdy during day care hours is pretty slim. More likely that the daycare noise would wake the hungover and late risers! Ignorance of the modern world is pernicious, though.

  11. forsythia June 9, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Note that I have been using hostels, both single and family situations, since before my kids were born. I stayed in the DC one and it was really top-flight, shipshape, and under control at all hours. We stayed at one as a family in SFO for a night before my (paid-for conference) hotel room came available. It was noisy – as we were warned and they had ear plugs at the front desk – but only because it got people coming in at all hours from Asia and (like us) on delayed flights from other parts of the US.

  12. Yan Seiner June 9, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I’ve had the same sort of comments when we talk about Rails to Trails or bike paths in general. The typical objection (seriously, this is most common) is that bike paths will make it easier for the vagrants to get to MY HOUSE!

    Hmm…. Doesn’t your house front on a street? And doesn’t it already have a door?

    And, when we talk about Rails to Trails, there’s already a railroad there! If a vagrant wants to walk up an abandoned railroad right of way, they can. Paving it and bringing in cyclists will do what exactly?

    We’re having the same discussion here about public transit. Oh the horrors! If I have a bus route by my neighborhood it will allow STRANGE PEOPLE (you know, the weirdos that use PUBLIC TRANSIT) direct access to my house!

    :Head Scratch:

  13. Maggie June 9, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Good point Yan!

    I guess these people must never travel, or even venture out of their neighborhoods. The minute they do, they may encounter a STRANGER.

    Stranger / danger indoctrination has made adults incredibly fearful. Sad.

  14. Renee Anne June 9, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Dear lord! The daycare I used to work at was across the street from the local high school and on a busy corner (where people were going 40-50 mph), also near a strip mall, and a gas station.

    But the children were never let out of the gates without an adult, babies were firmly strapped into a 6-kid stroller, and the older ones were brought out in groups of 5-10 when they had to load the bus.

    Dear God, strange people were going to be nearby!

  15. Ann in L.A. June 9, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Aren’t day care centers with play yards required to have a fence? I can’t think of a single one around here that doesn’t have a fenced-in uard (and usually with a solid fence or cloth privacy barrier to boot.)

  16. DeborahN June 9, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Heaven forbid these overprotected children might meet people from around the world with interesting traveler tales and hear foreign languages. These experiences might educate and expand their horizons. Gasp. They might want to travel when they are older, too. They might realize that world travel is within their grasp without having to have a fortune. They might also meet my kid, who has traveled since infancy to all sorts of places and stayed in houses and hostels and hotels, eaten street food (super big gasp), and made friends with the locals wherever we’ve gone. We are middle class and curious, believe the world is a gift of exploration, and that most people are kind and curious, too. The saddest thing would be of the hostel goes in and the children don’t get to meet the travelers.

  17. Donna June 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Oy. God forbid children go to daycare near a place frequented by young or budget-conscious travelers who go there to sleep … at night, but pretty much bug out during the day to see the sights of the area.

  18. Papilio June 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    @Mrs. H & Yan: So rather than thinking they could go to other places using any other mode of transport than the car, those people were worried about other people coming to them? Seriously?

    SERIOUSLY????!!!!!

  19. Arianne June 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Well, the article is ridiculous, but the comments after are encouraging. My favorite: “I’ve stayed in too many hostels to count, and I guess I’d be offended by the implication that I’m a vagabond, ne’er-do-well, potential pedophile if I didn’t find it so hilarious”

  20. Ben June 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    With kids being dropped off at school by their parents, being treated as prisoners in school and and again picked up by their parents when school is over, how exactly are they supposed to come into contact with those tourists?

    Besides, tourists might not be pre-screened by parents, but the NSA and TSA has you jump through so many hoops to even enter the country, I’m pretty sure any kids would be safer inside the hostel than in school.

    Talk to me again when they plan a gun store or brothel nearby, because THIS is just plain ridiculous.

  21. Ben June 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    lolipoplover said: “We had some community outrage over a group home proposed in our community that was being built near childcare centers and 2 elementary schools. It was for juvenile sex offenders. The township struck it down.”

    Since juvenile sex offenders (real ones; not juveniles experimenting with other like-minded juveniles) are more likely to offend against kids, I can somewhat understand the feeling against a group home in that particular area. Why was it struck down by the council?

  22. Puzzled June 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    They’re probably just confused and think the movie Hostel is an accurate portrayal of the business type.

    On second thought, they’re probably lying and not at all worried about kids, just poor people being around.

  23. Marianne June 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Different kinds of people? Puh-leease!! Old Town Alexandria is already a really diverse area and already attracts a lot of tourists. It’s also the wealthiest section of a very affluent suburb, so let’s quit beating around the bush. The people who are wealthy enough to live in Old Town don’t like the idea of attracting the kind of people who stay in hostels, in other words, lower-income people. You know, the kind of people that can’t stay in the high-end hotels that the neighborhood already provides aplenty. Heaven forbid we have those kind of people browsing our overpriced boutiques. Think of the children!!

  24. Warren June 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    The people complaining would complain about anything. They believe that because their little darlings are in that daycare, that they should be able to say what is near it. How many of them drive from other neighborhoods to bring their kids to this daycare.

    Busybodies with a sense of entitlement. Yes your kid goes to daycare there, and you pay for it. You are a customer, nothing more. This would be like one of my customers complaining about the restaurant opening next door.

  25. Jynet June 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    LOL. Very funny. When my daughter was younger we used to hostel especially so she WOULD meet all different kinds of people. We both learned a lot about the world and had a wonderful time :)

  26. Donald June 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    I disagree with this line

    “I think the term hostel gets kind of a knee-jerk reaction when you hear that here in the U.S.,” he said. “And that’s really the fault of Hollywood”.

    Hollywood fabricates stuff that will stir up emotions. (so do newspapers) The real question is how gullible are you to believe that this con/entertainment is an accurate description of real life?

    I don’t find Hollywood or CNN blameless by any means, however as a society, people need to accept a good portion of the blame. They only provide it (fear mongering) because we demand it so much.

  27. Katie June 9, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Hmm, I wonder if they realize there is the world’s weirdest porn shop 1 mile away from the proposed site? (I used to live there and had the misfortune of having a friend suggest we go in there-the basement of it OMG).

  28. SteveS June 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Having stayed at hostels, I just don’t see the problem. I wouldn’t mind one by where I live.

    I am curious why the person that sent the story felt the need to lump a legal business, a gun store, in with two criminal (in most places) enterprises.

  29. oncefallendotcom June 9, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    If you’ve watched the Hostel movies, the killers were rich executive-type white people who paid big bucks to kill people kidnapped from the Hostel. So the strange people we should be really watching out for is those driving the Lexuses (or is the plural of Lexus Lexi?)

  30. pentamom June 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    I’m confused — I’m unfamiliar with the type of daycare in which the tykes hang around the doorway of the place unsupervised and interact with passing pedestrians. Is this some peculiar artifact of indigenous NoVa culture?

  31. J.T. Wenting June 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Lenore, you really propose unlicensed parents from being allowed to interact with their own children?
    The OUTRAGE! It should be illegal to have children without proper screening and mandatory government provided training and licensing!

    (and yes, that was proposed I think the UK some time ago, and of course the 1 child policy in China comes pretty close to the same).

  32. Caleb June 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    I agree with those who feel the real issue is that snobs don’t want “lower” class people around. They are just using the “it’s for the children” ploy.

    I think it has been noted before, on this site, that abductions be strangers are very rare. The problem is people you know, especially family members. However I probably shouldn’t say that, or they will demand background checks for all family members, or say family is bad for children, or some other such horse radish.

    I run a childcare on my farm, and have to run back ground checks even on guys who come by to help do farm chores, even after the place is closed. It is pretty embarrassing when it is someone I’ve known for years.

    I’m sixty, and have seen morality go through some wild swings, over to free love and flower power and now back to distrust-everyone-in-sight. I poke fun at the phenomenon (and global warming) in an essay:

    http://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/dazzling-baffling/

  33. DaveS June 10, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    @SteveS

    Likewise on why include gun stores.

    The same mentality behind the opposition to a hostel being nearby.

  34. baby-paramedic June 10, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    Oh excellent, I am not perceived to be an upstanding member of my community? I see, I will hand in my badge, uniform and hand over the keys to my ambulance. And naturally I now get to tear up my “good upstanding member of community” clauses I am required to fulfil in order to continue my employment.

    Sometimes we stay in these, sometimes we stay in 5-star resorts. It depends what our trip is for. If we are interested in meeting new people and generally being “tourists”, hostels are so often the way to go. If you want a romantic weekend away to slowly take the time to rediscover each other, then go more upmarket for somewhere with room service.

  35. lollipoplover June 10, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    @Ben- It was struck down for the location. Someone argued that it was like having an alcoholic work at a bar with all of the schools nearby. They were teen offenders (non-violent- mostly involving family members) and one of the reasons they wanted a central location was so the could get jobs they could walk to.

  36. Suzanne Lucas June 10, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    We stay in hostels in Europe all the time. Just stayed in one last Friday night. Let the kids play out in the yard all by themselves while we packed up.

    Given all the people we’ve met in hostels, I think I’m more scared of the good citizens of Alexandria than I am the hostel people.

  37. Andrew June 10, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Normally I disagree with this sort of thing. However I agree with the post. I think that having a hostel in D.C. near places where children are present is a bad idea. I don’t want my kids to come into contact with unsavory types like politicians and lawyers. Strangers are okay, but D.C. insiders really give me the creeps.

  38. 2fkm June 10, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Well, Andrew, you would be better off avoiding the parents of the day-care than the hostel patrons.

  39. Havva June 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Heaven forbid, people coming and going! Never mind that long roof on the lower right of the picture which is a metro station which backs to an Amtrak / VRE station. And the large building in the lower left hand corner, huge hotel.

    And the article even mentions that (gasp!) the hostel wants to have a restaurant/ bar, the horror!! You only find those ever few feet while walking down the street bisecting the photo.

    If the citizens of old town seriously thing the place needs to be homogenous, all adult, or all kiddy safe. It would be fastest to relocate their little darlings, than it would be to relocate all those hotels, restaurants, bars and travel options.

  40. Katie June 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Also having been a former resident of the People’s Republic of Alexandria, when we were looking for a new place, the first thing I did was cross of the People’s Republic of Alexandria from the list because:

    1. I didn’t want to deal with the crazy and corrupt government there that will be quick to cite you for any minor violation and then make up fines, but will make you get 50 permits and spends 1000s to fix the smallest of things.

    2. Too many annoying helicopter parents driving their kids around in giant gas guzzler’s 5 blocks when it is very walkable and even has lots of paths with no traffic at all.

    3. Lots of the good businesses left or shut down due to the bueracracy including the movie theater. And during a showing of a movie the owner actually came out before the movie and directly told us his business was in danger due to the People’s Republic of Alexandria ticket and parking meter scams.

    Please note that a hostel didn’t even make my list. That being said it makes me wonder if the busy body helicopter mom’s and dad’s of the People’s Republic of Alexandria are aware there is a porn shop right in the center of Old Town?

  41. Katie June 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    @Suzanne Lucas

    Having formerly lived there you’d be 100 percent right to be more scared of the people living their than a hostel.

  42. Katie June 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    @oncefallendotcom So in other words it is actually the residents of the People’s Republic of Alexandria that should fear themselves. Yup, sounds about right.

  43. BL June 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Maybe they’ve confused the words “hostel” and “hostile”?

    “Oh, no, somebody’s going to be hostile to children!”

  44. Bob Davis June 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    I’ve never seen the movie “Hostel”, but I get the impression that its portrayal of hostels is analogous to “Animal House” and its view of college life.

  45. Randy June 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    @BobDavis: Not a terrible comparison, although when I was in school (~8 years ago) there were at least elements of “Animal House”… certainly a lot of students paid more attention to the opposite sex and having fun than studying.

    IMO, the comparison should go like this:

    “Hostel” (movie) : this hostel :: I am Legend (2007) : life in NYC

  46. pentamom June 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Or “Nightmare on Elm Street”: life in actual homes with Elm Street addresses.

  47. Natalie June 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Ah, hostels.
    Good memories!