On Monday night, the Citizens Association of Georgetown held its first public meeting on the 2010 Campus Plan since the final draft of the plan came out last Fall. And even though a lot of what was said has been said before—why neighbors dislike the 2010 Campus Plan, why students make awful neighbors, etc., etc.—this meeting was a pretty big deal.
CAG didn’t just hold another rant session—it kicked off the first truly organized (monetarily and politically) movement Georgetown University will have to combat if it wants to pass its 2010 Campus Plan in one piece. Or, as Lydia DePillis of “Housing Complex” wrote, they held a council of war.
The GU Relations Committee, the group of citizens who are organizing CAG’s campaign to influence the plan, outlined the aspects of the plan that will negatively impact the Georgetown neighborho0d. CAG also passed out contact information for elected officials and urged residents at the meeting to lobby officials on the plan, and pushed residents to donate to the “Save Our Neighborhood” fund, to hire experts to testify against the plan in its official review stage. Then residents were given a chance to ask questions, make suggestions, and comment on CAG’s strategy.
Because this was a hefty meeting, Vox is going to recap this list-style, and in two separate posts. What follows is summary of neighborhood sentiment toward the campus plan. Later this afternoon, we’ll run a summary of some of the more interesting discoveries CAG made about the Georgetown neighborhood in its research.
Cynthia Pantazis, the chair of the GU Relations committee, kicked off the formal presentation.
“The core of this presentation is really about responsible growth in the community,” she said.
Pantazis laid out the timeline for the review of the 2010 Plan by the City. Georgetown will submit the 2010 Campus Plan to the D.C. Zoning Commission, and the Office of Planning will write a report on the plan within 90 days. Then the Zoning Commission will set public hearings on the plan—probably six to 10 of them.
“Parties are able to interface with the [Office of Planning] to provide information to them while they write their report, and CAG will definitely be a part of that.”
The best part of these posts are always the residents’ comments. They’re after the jump!
The residents’ comments
- From a resident on Prospect Street: “How much impact can this group possibly have on the final plan? …. Who will hear, who will care?”
- From a resident living at 34th and P Street: “How are you going to discourage students from bringing their cars? How do you discourage them, outside of shooting them?” The audience laughed. Gianluca Pivato, the vice-president of CAG you may remember for his nasty e-mail language, explained how to report illegally parked cars residents suspect belong to students to the City.
“To shoot, it’s up to you,” he said.
- Another resident: “What pieces of their plan that are essential to increasingly the student body, those should be lobbied against.”
- And another: “This is terrific. What you’ve done so far is really, really great …. One of the reasons for the turnout here tonight is that you seem organized …. Political pressure needs to be organized. One of the failings of the community on the last campus plan is that it wasn’t. You need to do that, whether it’s on the table or under the table.”
- Pantazis: “[Students without actual parking permits] keep parking and parking, over and over, and getting tickets and tickets.”
- A West Georgetown resident: “Remember, it’s an election year. It’s an absolutely propitious year for us to organize.”
- Richard Hinds, counsel for CAG: “Help us financially. [Georgetown] will put tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars into hiring consultants. Their reports will say, I can tell you now, ‘this or that change will have no impact on traffic.’ If you want to fight an even fight here, we need your money.”
- Anthony Conyers (COL ’12) of Georgetown Energy, a student group that is encouraging solar panel use in Georgetown, chimed in about ways the community could work together.”It’s time for students to step up and use our resources to make the community a better place,” he said, saying that residents interested in solar energy could visit the group’s website.As the room clapped, one resident sitting near Vox whispered to another, “He must think we’re stupid.”
- A Potomac Street resident: “I don’t run through the streets and scream at night. I’m sorry, I was a student once, and I didn’t.”
- Another Potomac Street resident: “We need the money, and the politics …. I was one of three, three neighbors that funded that effort [to shut down Philly Pizza]. I’m telling you, it is expensive. It wasn’t until we could hire a lawyer that we saw progress. It was a year and a half of absolute nightmare in that neighborhood.
“So I don’t think you’ll be getting any checks from us, we’re spent. But if you wanna see this happen, you’re gonna have to step up to the plate.”
What neighbors dislike about the 2010 Campus Plan (If you’re a campus plan expert, skip this part and pat yourself on the back)
Pantazis reviewed what is relevant to the neighborhood in the plan followed. Residents are dismayed that …
… the University plans to increase graduate student enrollment by 3,200.
… the University is not building any new undergraduate housing within the gates of Georgetown, what they call the “traditional campus.”
… the University is proposing “significant development on the 1789 block,” including about 80 new apartments for graduate students.
… the University is building an 83′ smokestack above its power plant facility where a 10′ stack currently stands. Residents are worried because the University has not promised that the new smokestack will not alter its present emissions output.
… the University plans to add 1,000 parking spaces around campus.
Pantazis also noted that the University plans to enhance its off-campus student life program by adding one SNAP car (it currently maintains one car), and staffing one SNAP car in the summer months. RA-like staff members will move into the Burleith or West Georgetown area, too, “to help deal with disorderly students.”
She concluded by saying that more traffic in the neighborhood due to increased graduate student enrollment is one of the GU Relations Committee’s biggest concerns. Ironically, she said the committee suggested “encourag[ing] more environmentally-friendly transportation,” as the solution.
Recall that the neighbors successfully pressured the University to reroute most its GUTS bus routes through the Canal Road entrance, making them, uh, less than useful.
More this afternoon!