In response to Georgetown University’s “misleading” point-by-point letter, the Citizens’ Association of Georgetown (CAG) published a letter of its own, titled “Setting the Record Straight.”
In the letter, CAG accuses the University of violating D.C. zoning laws by “[tolerating] poor, substandard housing conditions, trash and rats, and disorderly behavior by its students living off campus … [creating] an unjustified burden on the surrounding communities, city services, and on GU’s own students.”
CAG President Jennifer Altemus (COL ’88) believes that the University needs to listen to members of the surrounding community.
“It is wrong for them to think that the community can accommodate this onslaught,” Altemus wrote on a community listserv. “We are saturated. Adding more to this mix is a recipe for disaster.”
Although nothing agitates the blood of a Vox reader quite like a post about a Citizens Association of Georgetown meeting about the 2010 Campus Plan, you’ve got to hand it to our neighbors in West Georgetown—they know that plan backwards and forwards. CAG seems to have a clear idea about what exactly in the plan they don’t like and why it threatens their neighborhood.
Don’t believe me? Then you should go to the next Burleith Citizens Association meeting about the 2010 Campus Plan, where their take on the plan is unfortunately beset by speculation and half-truths.
If you read our coverage of the first meeting the BCA held about the final plan draft in April, you’re already familiar with Burleith residents’ main gripes with the 2010 Campus Plan. And if you didn’t, I’m sure you can guess the usual suspects. The plan doesn’t add new on-campus housing for undergraduates; it adds over 2,400 graduate students to the school in the next ten years; it threatens to increase traffic in the neighborhood; and in general, it gets residents talking about how awful it is to live near students. With a few adjustments, the slides at the two meetings that the BCA held this past Saturday and Sunday to talk about the 2010 Campus Plan were more or less the same as the last meeting.
So I’ll spare you another rundown of what Burleith hates about the plan. What’s more interesting is what they just don’t get about it.
Let’s start with the portion of the presentation led by Candith Pallandre, the BCA’s treasurer, which consisted almost entirely of assumptions and misunderstandings. Pallandre zeroed in on the road that will run the length of campus between the woods and Kehoe Field, the tennis courts, and the power plant.
“This was supposed to be a service road, and now they’re saying that buses are service vehicles,” she said. With a knowing smile, she continued, “Buses carrying students are not really service vehicles.”
Pallandre didn’t give any clues as to why it would be a problem for GUTS buses to drive along a road that is bordered by woods and Georgetown University property. But it’s clear that she assumed the University thought it was being sneaky by classifying GUTS buses as service vehicles, and that this would have sneaky consequences.
In reality, the road will allow Georgetown University to pick up passengers from the north end of campus and then exit out Canal Road—which is what Burleith residents have been demanding for years.
After the jump, we recap the rest of the gripes from last weekend’s BCA meeting.
Meanwhile, the neighbors have been gathering their forces to fight the campus plan once it goes before the Zoning Commission for approval, where it will be studied at length by the Office of Planning.
Both the Citizens Association of Georgetown and the Burleith Citizens Association are raising funds to hire urban planners and zoning experts to counter the findings and testimony of Georgetown University’s experts, influencing the Office of Planning report and the Zoning Commission’s ruling on the plan. BCA President Lenore Rubino wrote in an e-mail to the Burleith listserv that in the last three weeks, the BCA has raised $4500.
In any event, here’s what’s new or has been clarified in the 2010 Plan:
The convocation center, which would have been built on the McDonough parking lot for events like graduation, has been removed from the plan.
The two staffers who will live near students in off-campus, non-Georgetown housing and act as Resident Advisers will start work this August. The summer SNAP car that Georgetown is funding will be patrolling neighborhoods this June.
Three additional MPD officers will be hired through the reimbursable detail program to patrol “higher activity areas” on Thursday through Saturday nights.
The University has scaled back its plans to develop the 1789 block, where it will build graduate housing. Instead of building housing for 250 – 300 students, the new apartments will house 120 students. The structures will be three to four instead of five stories high. Ten percent of the 80 parking spaces under the structure will be reserved for resident use. The retail the University planned for that area—like a coffee shop or a dry cleaner’s—will take up 8,500 square feet instead of 26,000 square feet.
The University had originally proposed 1,000 new parking spaces for University and Hospital use. They are now only proposing 700 new spaces.
Georgetown will explore the feasibility of getting a ZipCar station located closer to campus, potentially near the main gates.
A quadrangle will be built between the Hariri Building and the new science center.
Georgetown will explore adding new solar panels to campus buildings and “wind spires for on-campus outdoor lighting”
In this month’s Burleith Bell, the Burleith Citizens’ Association issued a call to action against Georgetown’s 2010 Campus Plan. Voxcommenters agreed that the editorial, written by a group of residents the BCA assembled to research and respond to the 2010 Plan, was far more respectful and constructive than any of the responses to the plan that have come from Georgetown residents.
But Burleith means business too. In the same issue of the Bell, BCA President Lenore Rubino announced “The Burleith Community Fund,” a fund that, like the Citizens Association of Georgetown’s “Save Our Neighborhood” fund, is soliciting donations from neighborhood residents to fight the 2010 Campus Plan.
“Contribute to the Burleith Community Fund to pay for experts to the extent we cannot find them among ourselves to counter the experts the University will certainly have on their side,” the flier for the fund reads. Suggested donations start at $50, and the flier says that donations may be tax deductible if the fund receives 501c3 status.
The flier also asks residents to share the names of people to who may be able to testify about the Campus Plan, and announces a date for a community meeting for more information about Burleith’s response.
Spring is in the air, and Burleith residents are concerned that the noise from partygoing Georgetown students is, too. So the Burleith Citizens Association has offered new a way to combat students students’ noise and “nuisance properties”—a database where residents can make their complaints about noisy, unkempt, or trash-filled properties a ‘historical record.’
In an e-mail to the Burleith listserv, BCA President Lenore Rubino advised residents to call 911 in addition to Georgetown’s party-busting service, the Student-Neighbor Assistance Program, when they want to report a noise problem. (“MPD has always advised us to use 911.”) But she also said that residents should use a new e-mail address to make an additional record of the problem house.
“Document what happened by sending an email to the BCA at email@example.com,” she wrote. “This new email will enable the BCA to maintain an historical database of all calls and events.” The database, the BCA said, would give neighbors a way to provide additional oversight on noise issues when talking to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Georgetown administration.
“Try to include as much information (address, time, description of noise). While the BCA welcomes photographs and videos, please make sure you follow privacy laws,” Rubino wrote, recommending the Wikipedia page for “Photography and the law.”
Meanwhile, the University is preparing for Spring partying, too. On March 24, Anne Koester, the director for Student Affairs, sent an e-mail out to the Georgetown community reminding residents of SNAP’s services.
Photo from Flickr user Ivy Dawned used under a Creative Commons license.