Lawn signs: Burleith’s newest weapon against the 2010 Campus Plan

If you’ve walked through Burleith lately, you’ve surely seen the red and white signs that have popped up on residents’ lawns over the past week.

The signs, which read “OPPOSE GU’s Campus Plan” and “Our Homes Not GU’s Dorm,” are a part of the Burleith Citizens’ Association’s campaign against the 2010 Campus Plan. As we’ve reported here (many, many times), Burleith residents largely oppose the 2010 Campus Plan because they worry about the consequences of increasing the graduate student enrollment.

Vox decided to take a stroll through Burleith this afternoon to talk to some residents about the signs. While some residents are knowledgeable about the 2010 Campus Plan, others remain poorly informed about the Plan’s details. And many, such as S Street homeowner Larry Torrez, only put up signs after BCA representatives knocked on their doors asking for support.

“Personally, I like the thought of living in a college town,” he said. “To be honest, this is a nice, sleepy, little neighborhood.”

But if student behavior can be ascribed to “college students being college students,” as Torrez argued, then why did he agree to put up the sign?

“[The BCA representative] is a nice lady. I’ve met her a few times in the past,” Torrez said.

Another Burleith resident, Larry Stowers, told us that his wife put up a sign after BCA representatives visited the S Street home where he’s lived for 40 years.

“I haven’t read [the 2010 Campus Plan,]” Stowers said. “But if students knew how to act, it’d be fine.”

The more in-the-know residents, such as R Street resident Charlotte Kroll, told us that they put up the signs because of a link between the enrollment increase and the neighborhood’s rental situation.

“If [the graduate student enrollment increase] happens, then you’ve got little ghettos around the campus,” Kroll said. “Then, all the students end up coming to parties in Burleith.”

Kroll, who asked a friend help her put up both signs, originally moved to Burleith 15 years ago because she “liked being close to Georgetown.” Now, she worries the 2010 Campus Plan will tempt too many people to rent to students.

“If you add students, more people see real estate opportunities,” she said. “They’re the ones who make out like bandits.”

Mary Meyer, a 37th Street resident who has rented her basement to graduate students for almost a decade, echoed Kroll’s statements.

“If [Georgetown] wants to add students, they should provide housing,” Meyer said. “The neighborhood is like 50% students … and it’s not as nice as families.”

32 Comments on “Lawn signs: Burleith’s newest weapon against the 2010 Campus Plan

  1. Hmm–I sense a major flaw in these signs. Georgetown doesn’t have dorms. We have Residence Halls. SUCK IT!

  2. The word “ghetto” is now officially meaningless. Thank you, Charlotte Kroll.

  3. Yeah, Stephen “Cuddler” Brown WOULD want his backyard to be some Georgetown girl’s dorm.

  4. We should bulldoze the lot of them into Maryland.

  5. Can someone please design some anti-anti-georgetown signs so we can put them in our yards.
    And by yards I mean Healy lawn.

  6. I walk past about a dozen of those in the three blocks it takes me to get to my bus stop in the morning. I love being irritated at 7:30 am! It’s a great start to the day. Better than caffeine.

  7. “If [the graduate student enrollment increase] happens, then you’ve got little ghettos around the campus,”

    I wasn’t aware that grad students were associated with ghettos…maybe she’s mixing them up with “gang members”.

  8. “She worries the 2010 Campus Plan will tempt too many people to rent to students.” If Burleith residents are so worried that a swarm of drunken PhD’s will descend like locusts onto their bucolic homes, I think there’s a simple solution: Don’t rent to them. It’s not as if they’re going to launch tent city on their lawns, bathing naked at the nearest fire hydrant and hosting Lord-of-the-Flies-style cookouts on the Ellington lawn. It sounds like the fight here is between residents who do want to rent and those who don’t; graduate students can move further afield if there’s not enough space in Burleith.

  9. Joe has this right. If the neighbors really want to stop what they perceive as a problem, then they should pursue a change in zoning regulations that would prohibit rentals in the neighborhood. I believe there is precedent for that in the city. Of course, that’ll never happen because too many of these hypocrites are making out like bandits by renting their poorly maintained houses and basements to students.

    Finally, my sense is that most of the graduate students living in Burleith are sleep-deprived medical students. If I were a Burleith resident, I’d want as many of those as possible. They’re too busy trying to find time to sleep to have raucous parties. Most of the other grad students at the university live further afield in more affordable and accessible parts of the city or suburbs.

  10. Fortunately, many of the Burleith residents are old enough to die soon, and their cold, heartless, distant children will just sell off the house to someone willing to rent.

    Too harsh? Nope. These people are just bitter and bored, and they have nothing better to do than wage a large scale “Stay off my lawn” campaign. I wish them nothing but the worst.

  11. “If you add students, more people see real estate opportunities,” she said. “They’re the ones who make out like bandits.”

    Seriously, then the solution to the problem is going after the people who make out like bandis, not the ones who are just finding somewhere to live. Seriously, the neighborhood sends overwhelming mixed messages. They might as well make signs that say “DON’T LIVE HERE STUDENTS YOU’RE NOT WELCOME, but if you really want to we have tons of houses we can rent out to you…”

    Two more points: as said above, there are very few grad students who live in Burleith anyway. Furthermore, I don’t think I’ve ever met a hardcore partying graduate student. I’m sure they’re out there somewhere, but undergrads are FAR worse in terms of noise and partying.

  12. Have these people even been to a grad student party? In my limited experience, not very fun.

  13. I think Ms. Meyers epitomizes the hypocrisy of the Burleithians. “Georgetown should provide housing for them, but I’ve been providing housing for them for the past ten years, contributing to the non-family population, making out like a bandit and making the neighborhood less nice.” Also, my linguistics is spotty but I’m pretty sure “making out like a bandit” isn’t a bad thing. A successful business venture tends to be a good thing. I’ve also heard that bandits are really good kissers.

  14. Chris “oh, just you wait” Heller – a student “reporter”

    Tim, “I wish them nothing but the worst” – nothing new for Tim, but thanks anyway

    and the winner is STEVEN “undergrads are FAR worse in terms of noise and partying”

    Thanks guys, you got me laughing anyway!! Enjoy your weekend

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  16. Charlotte Kroll e-mailed Vox today with a additional comment. We’ve published it below.

    “I choose to live in the nation’s capital city because of all the benefits it offers in addition to the proximity to my work place: good neighbors, international institutions, beautiful parks, the mall, museums both federal and private, the Library of Congress and local libraries, the performing art centers, embassies from every country in the world, growing sports facilities, and a large group of institutions of higher learning such as Georgetown.

    These amenities enrich everyday life, but they do not come cheaply. DC citizens pay income tax to the District of Columbia at one of the highest rates in the country.

    Georgetown University pays no taxes to the District of Columbia. While we are enriched by the presence of Georgetown University and very happy to support its programs and help house its student body (those who do not wake us up at 3 AM in the morning in a drunken state), we cannot support the institution’s plans to grow their undergraduate or graduate population any larger than current levels and I ask the Zoning Commission to cap GU’s student growth at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels unless they build campus housing to accommodate an increase for the current and any future ten year plan.

    The Burleith neighborhood is saturated now with rental housing (student housing), and raising the number of students allowed on GU’s campus will be tantamount to destroying our community as it will become an even more attractive area for rental real estate ownership. It is a simple matter of numbers. The real estate investor owned housing units will grow in anticipation of GU’s additional students (GU has created the market), while the family owned housing units will decline, thus setting the stage for Burleith to become GU’s dorm over the next ten year plan.

    Having a land locked campus, GU has no inherent right to grow larger and to blindly continue to push the growth of their student population without providing on campus housing is unacceptable to Burleith citizens who do pay taxes so that institutions such as GU can enjoy their special tax exempt status.”

  17. Dear Mrs. Kroll,

    Thank you for your reasoned tone regarding the tension between rental housing and homeowner housing in Burleith. As a Georgetown student (and new Burleith renter, as of June 1), I just wanted to clarify a couple of things about the proposed graduate student increase in the Campus Plan. The vast majority of the graduate increase planned is for the School of Continuing Studies, which has separate campuses around the city and house most of the classroom space for its students outside of the main campus. These locations are at 3307 M St and 3101 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, VA. The Center for Continuing and Professional Education is based in Arlington, VA. Furthermore, the increases in the law school enrollment would most likely impact the neighborhood near the Law School itself, which is just a couple of blocks from Union Station downtown.

    The point of this is that the majority of new graduate students who may be accepted in the next 10 years will not be taking classes at the main campus. Furthermore, the outrageous rents that we’re charged in Burleith — I have only ever heard of undergraduate friends paying $1,000 to $1,400 a month for housing in the heart of New York City — is very likely not an expense many graduate students can afford to make. Most undergraduates are still supported by their families, and the off-campus housing at Georgetown lends itself to the wealthier students who can afford to pay it. I know of many friends who lived on-campus for all 4 years because they were on scholarship and the school was obligated to house them; they have no such obligations to those of us not on scholarship, and as a result, we really have nowhere else to go.

    However, graduate students are typically paying their own way through school and may be young professionals in their mid to late-20s; even if they COULD afford the rents in Burleith, their addition to neighborhood noise and unrest would be minimal, at best. If you went to graduate school, I’m sure you remember the long nights of studying, not partying — I assume I’ll be in the same position in just a year or two.

    It’s significant that the campus is planning to increase graduate enrollment, but it’s even more significant that it ISN’T increasing undergraduate enrollment — because, frankly, the undergraduates comprise the vast majority of rental housing in Burleith and it’s very unlikely that the new graduates will wind up in this neighborhood. I know there are many other concerns with the Campus Plan, but I just hope that Burleith residents recognize the distinction between graduate and undergraduate students, and realize that the graduates, very often, never even walk through the front gates for class.

    Thank you,
    Hoya Class of 2011

  18. First, I fail to grasp the connection between your the “price” you pay for living in DC for such amenities and its connection to Georgetown’s campus plan. Your income taxes aren’t high because we don’t pay them. They’re high because of the ridiculous amount of stuff you’re paying for. If it’s such a burden, go live in Bethesda. There’s even a Metro stop there so no whining about the commute. (Remind me again, whose bright idea it was not to put one in Georgetown? We’ve seen how well that’s worked out with the GUTS buses and students not being able to easily access other areas of DC on weekend nights.)

    I’m going to skip the second to last paragraph because @Charlotte Kroll addresses it adequately above.

    The last paragraph is probably my favorite:

    “Having a land locked campus, GU has no inherent right to grow larger and to blindly continue to push the growth of their student population without providing on campus housing is unacceptable to Burleith citizens who do pay taxes so that institutions such as GU can enjoy their special tax exempt status”

    Aside from the obvious lack of sense due to the the equally obvious lack of proofreading, let’s break this down further.

    1) So if we were right on the Potomac, we could just start expanding willy nilly? Where does land locking become relevant?

    2) If you have the means to live in such a well-to-do neighborhood, I presume you also received an undergraduate education if not higher and more likely than not were a beneficiary of their tax exempt status. Furthermore, if Georgetown didn’t exist, your taxes would be similar to what they are now. If DC can get away with taxing you whatever they’re taxing you now, why on earth wouldn’t they tax you plus the small number of households that could be squeezed on to campus the same rate? If you have a problem with the taxes, try voting. I heard women can do that now.

    3) As for the university’s rights, I’ve been dying to ask this question even though I’ve never seen it answered satisfactorily. What on earth were you thinking when you moved into a neighborhood adjacent to the University? I’m pretty sure Georgetown was founded in 1789. I don’t think it sprang out of Zeus’ forehead in the past 5 years. I can’t believe someone who can afford to live in Burtleith never attended a college or university. Do you not remember how a large number of your fellow students acted? I’m sure you had your moments too. Did you really expect things to be different here and now?

  19. Why doesn’t Burleith residents legislate against landlords instead of students? Could it be that the residents are some of the same landlords that farm out this housing?

  20. Most landlords are GU alum and parents of former students. Some landlords are not, but either way when it comes to noise and trash, it is a tenant issue.

  21. Georgetown’s tax exempt status: BS argument of the day, care of Charlotte Kroll (who, despite having the time to use the word “tax” four times, fails to take the time to address the possibility of going after the LANDLORDS rather than the University or the students).

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  23. I’ve decided at this point that there’s really no attempting to reason with the neighbors. It’s incredibly obvious that nothing the University does (and that’s quite a bit over the years ranging from reasonable to quite frankly insane, from nixing Block Party and replacing it with the more family-friendly inflatable animals to keg bans and adding 30 minutes to the DuPont Circle GUTS bus route to accommodate puerile arguments about foundational stability) will ever be good enough for the vocal minority of Burleith residents.

    I’ll resist the temptation to re-hash the many good points others have made here and elsewhere on Vox, except to say: if the citizens of Burleith can’t manage to wrap their heads around the difference between undergraduate and graduate student life, a concept so simple a brain-damaged collie could grasp it, then it is because they clearly haven’t bothered to try.

    The University’s reflex has frequently bend to the slightest whims of the neighbors in the hopes that they will be more amenable to growth in future campus planning, no matter how ludicrous or pernicious to student life the demands may be. Hopefully this will disabuse them of the notion that the neighbors of Burleith are interested in anything other than vindictiveness.

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