Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Georgetown University vs. Georgetown Residents

Georgetown University is knee-deep in planning and development this summer. Today, Spiros Dimolitas, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Georgetown University released an open letter to (angry) neighbors about the University's 2010-2020 Campus Plan.

You see, every ten years, the District requires the University and the Medical Center to outline all future infrastructure and development projects for the upcoming decade. Georgetown's 2000-2010 plan expires this year on December 31st, and while the changes being considered are not drastic, the review offers an opportunity for the community to address other issues they have with the university, which usually involves off-campus students.

Andy Pino from GU's Public Affairs Office tells DCMud that work first began on 2010-2020 plans in 2008. A final plan has yet to be submitted to Zoning and the University will continue "to have conversations with members of the community" before that happens.

Looking forward to Fall 2010, public Zoning Commission hearings about proposed projects such as "...renovations to the Medical Center, improvements to Kehoe Field’s roof" as well as "road construction" that will allow the Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS) buses to turn around on campus, should prove to be contentious.

And because the chance to weigh in on University activities only comes around every ten years, residents of the neighboring Georgetown and Burleith communities seem to be seizing the opportunity to try to force the University's hand on some undergraduate housing issues.

The Burlieth Citizens Association and the Citizens Association of Georgetown have joined forces to petition Planning and Zoning to oppose the 2010-2020 plan unless the University takes action to stop "the already alarming conversion of single-family homes to group rental units" off campus. Over the next ten years, Georgetown expects to increase student enrollment by 3,200 or more, and the community would like an on-campus housing solution so that they can stop absorbing the run-over flip cup tournaments.

Georgetown officials maintain that there are no plans to increase enrollment for undergrads, that they already "house 84% of their undergraduate students on campus, which is the highest proportion of on-campus undergraduate housing of any university in the city other than Gallaudet" and that the average age of the students they're talking about enrolling is 28 "and many are married or live alone."

The community maintains that the 16 percent of undergraduates living in their neighborhoods are annoying, and anyway if the University wants to let anyone else come to their school, mature or otherwise, they need to come up with a plan to house the ones doing keg stands on the front lawn.

Washington, DC Real Estate and Development News


Drew said...

I'm an alumnus of Georgetown, and apparently the bickering hasn't changed since I graduated a decade ago. I always wonder: did these residents move to the area before the university opened in 1789? If so, they're due an apology.

Hoya Saxa said...

On-campus housing is for poor people.

Ace in DC said...

Most of DC residents are worried about criminals moving next door who are going to shoot them in the face. Georgetown residents are worried about flip flop wearing frat boys being too loud. I will trade one of the section 8 housing ghettos in Columbia Heights for a Georgetown dorm any day.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with "drew". Like the current discussion about flight noise at DCA, these institutions pre-date most, if not all of the residents.

People choose the location of their domicile based on a number of factors, some of which include airplane noise, concentration of university students, proximity of mass transit and retail amenities, ease of parking etc.

The current discussion in Georgetown and AU Park suggests that in addition to the current requirements, there ought to be a broader discussion, perhaps facilitated by the DC Office of Planning? to address issues of housing and transportation for these institutions.

Some have suggested the Wisconsin Avenue Streetcar as a solution, which is a step in the right direction. However, it needs to be paired with more housing amenity up and down Wisconsin Avenue to make sense.

Afterall, education is a huge business in the District, after the Federal Government and Tourism. The city needs to work with stakeholder: the institutions, the residents, and the business community, to determine how to accommodate strong educational institutions, with safe and vibrant neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Well said "ace in dc"

Anonymous said...

I chose to live in the neighborhood near the university, not directly across from a dormitory. I don't object to the university continuing to exist within its traditional boundaries but expanding into the residential neighborhood by building a student dormitory and unnecessary retail with inadequate parking in the residential area is bound to negatively impact the quality of life in the area.

Anonymous said...

The argument that residents knowingly chose to move-in next door to a university and therefore have no right to be concerned about the off-campus student population is ridiculous. Of course there will always be some percentage of the student population living off-campus, however the university - much like any business located in a residential neighborhood - does not have carte blanche to continue expanding and upping enrollment in perpetuity... off-campus housing reach conitunes to spread and will continue spreading into adjacent neighborhoods unless there is a reasonable check on future expansion. Public planning and zoning absolutely comes into play here. Are you kidding?

Anonymous said...

As Drew said, this has been going on for quiet some time, including during my time at the Hilltop from 1988 - 1992. The University has been there since 1789 - before DC was even DC. Students have always lived in the neighborhood, and the increase the school is talking about in its plan is for Graduate students, not undergrads (i.e. not your typical party animals).

That said, I do agree that the community have some legitimate grievances, but I wonder how many "neighbors" actually bother to meet the students next door and just simply ask them to turn it down. I can't help but think all the issues between the "residents" and "students" (as if they're not residents, too) could be handled by simple comversation rather than shrill confrontation and wasteful 911 calls.

Anonymous said...

I wish those opposing the plan would take the time to read and understand the plan. None of the increased enrollment is for undergrads. They expect the average age to be 28. This is a great demographic to bring to the neighborhood - a few may even buy houses (increased demand means higher home prices) and since much of the increased enrollment is for part-time graduate programs this also represents an opportunity for current residents to get a part-time degree at a top notch school while walking to class. I believe a few residents with grievances against a few houses of undergrads are hoping that fighting GU in general will give them leverage in the battle against these problem houses. It would help everyone involved if they would be honest about the source of their concern instead of fighting aspects of the plan that clearly have no impact on the neighbors (like the roof on Keyhoe field). one other issue is that many of the noise problems are due to non-GU students and other young people in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, Georgetown University can not do much to address that. This fight against GU's plan will not yield the desired results even if it is successful. It is so sad to misdirect a community effort in this way when society has much bigger issues. Just think what this small group of people could accomplish if they directed these efforts at a more worthy cause!


Long-time Resident (happy to have bought a home near the University and happy that my home retained its value even through rough times - thanks GU!)

Anonymous said...

DCmud where is your source on the "community maintains the 16%....."

The community actually maintains the 84% number is an outright lie by GU, and it is. One example, is GU buys properties outside of the campus boundary and then places undergrads in them, but calls this ON-campus housing. This is just one small example of GU's "good faith" efforts. GU lies to the City, to the Community and to DCMud. Do not trust or believe anything GU says.

Anonymous said...

Jack "I just got a 42% raise in a recession" DeGioia is nothing but another corporate bully willing to take from the small man/community for his own self interest. Reminds me of the BP, Enron and other greedy execs. A respected and premier institution that does nothing but take from the community for their own benefit is sad. I wish the community the very best in fighting back at these corporate bullies.

Anonymous said...

A quick walk around the neighborhoods adjacent to Georgetown University and Hospital shows the poor quality and lack of upkeep of student off-campus housing. Why? Greed. The University focuses its efforts on adding graduate students, who typically provide the highest tuition for the lowest costs. The University keeps its costs low by failing to provide decent, low-cost student housing. As student numbers rise, students are forced to compete for the small pool of off-campus housing, allowing the landlords to charge higher prices and provide no maintenance on the properties. If the University intends to admit more students, Georgetown should rethink its plans and provide adequate, affordable housing for them.

Anonymous said...

The Real enemy is not the university. It is the landlords who rent out the houses. The neighbors should attack the real enemy instead of attacking the university, which isn't doing anything wrong. The residents surrounding the university are completely unreasonable. See their forcing of the university to move their bus routes ridiculously out of the way. Georgetown makes so many concessions to the neighborhood out of good will and it gets them nothing in return. The neighbors just want more and more. Students have every right to live in the neighborhoods. Just as much right as any non students. These neighbors won't be happy until the university no longer exists, or at least no longer has any students enrolled in it. What the neighbors should focus their energy on is limiting the landlords ability to rent out these houses especially those who operate with out licenses and those who do not keep their buildings in proper up keep. The neighbors are acting more childish than the students. They are told by the neighborhood groups to not use the universities help line to control students. They say to not use that but to directly call 911 first before even asking the students to quiet down.

Anonymous said...

I missed the part of the plan, as stated above, where a new dorm is going to be built in a residential neighborhood. Do the area residents realize how much they undermine their credibility by making these false claims.

Also, can one point out the abundance of free space on campus where housing for the other 16% of undergrad students can be built?

Jacques Arsenault on Jul 19, 2010, 5:17:00 PM said...

I am a resident of the Georgetown neighborhood, having rented near 35th and R streets for the last four years. I wanted to clear up a few of the misstatements that have come up.

First, the perception that undergrads in the community have increased in the last decade is just flat wrong. I was an undergraduate at Georgetown in the late 1990's, and while the population of undergraduates has not substantially increased in the last 10 years, the number and percentage of undergrads housed on-campus have grown significantly, as a result of the opening of the 780-bed Southwest Quadrangle on campus.

Do Georgetown students occasionally make noise at night? Sure, as do Duke Ellington H.S. students in the afternoon, and roadwork in the early morning, and Metrobuses, delivery trucks, ambulances and fire trucks barreling down the street.

These are all things that my wife and I thought about when deciding to live where we do. Which brings me to another issue, graduate students. My wife and I both did our graduate studies at Georgetown. I was aged 27-29 during my master's studies, and my wife just completed five years in her Ph.D. program, at age 30. We have lived in 20007 for the last six years, first in Foxhall, and now on the Georgetown/Burleith border. We have lived in 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, completing our studies while holding part- or full-time employment.

If we are the type of residents that people are trying to keep out of the neighborhood, I am not sure who they would prefer in our place.

Anonymous said...

Students - Don't expect Burlieth homeowners to come to your rental house to "get to know you." Let your (mature) actions speak louder than words. Be respectful, clean up after yourself and your guests, and keep the noise down. Yes, the University dates back to 1789, but times were more conservative back then for this Catholic and Jesuit University. I doubt the students were having all-night keg parties back then. If you think your homeowner neighbors are being unreasonably, first think, "What would my father/mother or grandmother/grandfather think to see me acting this way?" Or ask yourself, "If someone filmed me and posted the footage on a blog, would I be embarrassed?" You just might change your tune if you give it some thought.

Anonymous said...

I second Drew's comment. I say full steam ahead on these amazing-sounding projects that are being proposed! But let's get serious... Lauinger Library is in most need of attention. The "add-ons" proposed for the library are nice-looking... but at the end of the day, they're just covering up the problem. The ENTIRE library absolutely HAS to go AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I bet just the absence of the heap of concrete that is Lauinger would boost the property values of the Georgetown residents.

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