Better Know an ANC 2E Commisioner: Aaron Golds


In Georgetown’s local government, the people are represented as two separate yet equally important groups: the neighbors’ representatives, who investigate crime, and the student representative, who leave crushed beer cans on their lawns. These are their stories.

Two weeks ago, Vox brought you what we hope was an intriguing interview with ANC Commissioner Ron Lewis. This week, we’ve got Georgetown’s own Aaron Golds (COL `11) talking about GUTS buses, kegs, and the now-infamous saga of the Georgetown Apple Store. He’s represented University students since January, and his little blue kingdom is pictured above.

What do you think about the Old Georgetown Board’s decision to deny Apple a fourth time? Are you worried it will drive Apple to another neighborhood?

My hands are tied, because obviously, I voted to approve the Apple designs. I look forward to seeing what Apple comes up with for [the March ANC meeting]. They’re getting closer.

Apple has shown continued interest in the Georgetown location. They paid over $12 million for the location. I think that means they’ll stay where they are. They don’t want to just sit on that, especially in a recession.

What do you think about the fact that only one of the three architects on the Old Georgetown Board (Ann Lewis, wife of ANC’s Ron Lewis) is actually a Georgetown resident?

I’m OK with it. The architects there are very capable, very competent, they have a good familiarity and idea of Georgetown.

Last year, the ANC rerouted several GUTS bus routes, citing the vibrations they cause in old Georgetown houses. Do you think that’s legitimate?

The buses are very important part of the University for student life and the employees of the University, so every time you change it, it’s going to be a big deal. They do make a certain amount of noise and when the university starts looking at its Campus Plan … they are going to look for routes that cut down on noise.

Don’t G2 buses run down those same routes? It seems a little counterintuitive to restrict GUTS buses but not the other.

I don’t know exactly what the issue is there. I was not on the Commission. The houses here are pretty old so I think there probably is a risk by the buses constantly going on the streets. Back in November the community had a meeting with the neighbors and the buses were really one of the top three issues that the neighbors wanted to see improved.

If you’d been on the Commission when it came up, would you have voted for the keg ban?

No, I mean I understand the concerns of the neighbors but the ANC isn’t designed to make policies, and if students are living off-campus they should be treated like any other person who owns or rents a house in the neighborhood.

Do students need to be more involved with representing themselves?

Students can play really as large of a role as they want. The ANC meetings-that’s how the neighbors really know that that something like this keg ban is important to students, and it’s hard for me to get neighbors to see that’s something important to students when I’m the only student in the room.

The neighbors aren’t trying to oppose the students on purpose but the students just aren’t speaking up. I don’t think at all times it’s this war of battling opposites.

Could the University do a better job of advocating for its students?

That’s hard because I think the University does a very good job of trying to keep the peace, but I think it comes across a lot like they’re not defenditng the student body.

I think in that respect, yeah, they could do a better job, because that’s how it looks, but I can tell you that’s not exactly how it is. I don’t really have a specific issue in mind when I say that, but I can tell you that from the students I’ve spoken to, the university looks like its sort of just trying to keep the peace and selling its students out.

The neighborhood has seen some violent crimes recently, specifically, there have been several sexual assaults near the area around campus. Do you anticipate working on any new safety initiatives?

Currently, public safety wise, we’re really pushing for the CrimeAlert DC program and trying to get people registered on the program, for text alerts.

I think that public safety is a great issue that shows how the University and the neighborhood can work toward finding a better solution. Right now at the moment im not working on anything but it’s certainly something I can see myself doing in the future.

What do you think of MPD’s recent decision to issue 61D noise violations to students—which come with a mark on their arrest records?

I’m aware of the citations. I don’t have much of an opinion on it. There is very little as an ANC commissioner that I can do about it. I think making sure that students are aware of it is important. There is an appeals process if a student feels they’re being issued unfairly.

Did the ANC pressure MPD to reinstate this policy of issuing citations?

The ANC will want to keep an eye on it and make sure students who get them are getting warnings first so that they’re really only used in the most extreme circumstances.

What issues do you expect to be important to the ANC in the Ten Year Plan?

In terms of the buses, the neighborhood really wants them to be entering and exiting mostly through Canal Road, I know that’s exactly what they want. But im not really sure how feasible that is for the buses that go to Dupont.

They don’t want the enrollment cap raised unless the University has prepared to have beds for the extra students on campus. They really don’t want any more students on campus than there already are, and they want the students who are already off campus to be kept  a closer eye on by the University.

10 Comments on “Better Know an ANC 2E Commisioner: Aaron Golds

  1. ANC is horribly inefficient and infuriating organization- I once attended a meeting that took approximately 2 hours to get through a one page agenda, of which most items were a waste of everyone’s time (e.g. whether shutters could be replaced). The fact that such strong emphasis is placed on issues like rerouting bus routes for the convenience of the owners of multi-million dollars houses demonstrates its complete lack of consideration for the majority of residents of the neighborhood (whose daily commutes would be substantially affected by an indirect re-route). I don’t have much faith that things would change even if more people outside of the multi-million dollar set attended these meetings.

  2. Whoa, he sounds like he has no idea about student issues involved in the ANC. Seriously, the buses! I miss Jenna already.

    Anon, the ANC is definitely efficient. But although its meetings take a while, the most important issues are put up front so you don’t have to wait that long before they come up. Also, if your ANC meeting only took two hours to get through a page-long agenda, that’s pretty speedy.

  3. Seconded, two hours is the shortest I’ve ever heard of. The pace may seem inefficient, but after all, sometimes they’ve got to balance and hear out three different opinions on something as banal as stop signs.

    I’ve gotta believe seeing more students at the meeting would give the neighbors a better perspective. Maybe not to the point that they’ll stop being so fussy about the GUTS buses, but to the point where they’ll realize students aren’t just here to be legislated.

  4. Anyone else feel that Mr. Golds skirted directly answering most of the above questions?

  5. Skirting implies that he has answers but doesn’t want to give them; this seems more like he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  6. That’s true, Molly. And before we’re too hard on Aaron, let’s remember that the now-fondly-remembered Jenna backhanded the student body early in her term with the keg ban.

    Based on my experience covering the ANC, I think there are four stages that a student commissioner goes through. First, ignorance, when he/she doesn’t know what the real issues are. Second, submission, when flattery/camaraderie from the other commissioners’ gets the student to support totally insane resolutions.

    Third, shame, when the commissioner realizes they have ignored their constituents after reading a nasty editorial in the student paper. And finally, acceptance, when they’re smart enough to avoid confrontations with other commissioners while steering them away from student-hassling bills. Tada.

  7. Pingback: Vox Populi » For Georgetown neighbors, students’ trash runneth over

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