Housing Complex

Evans to Burleithians: I Basically Can’t Help You

Sorry guys! You're on your own! (Lydia DePillis)

For months now, Georgetowners and Burleithians have been mustering against their local university's 10-year-plan, which involves expanding the graduate student body without adding more while adding little on-campus housing*. It's an existential struggle: Residents of these leafy, genteel neighborhoods fear the conversion of single family homes into rowdy rentals, because God knows what comes after that.

Last night, the Burleith Citizens Association gathered at Duke Ellington School of the Arts for an update. BCA president Lenore Rubino, a real estate agent, said that she and the Citizens Association of Georgetown had been meeting with University leadership in hopes of hammering out a compromise, but that talks had broken down.

"We know that Georgetown not only has the space to build dorms, it has the means to build dorms, if it so chooses," she said. "We don't want to hear why Georgetown can't. We want to hear that they can."

Another person not telling Burleithians what they want to hear: Councilmember Jack Evans. While voicing support for the residents' concerns–even saying that he opposes Georgetown's plans to add more students without more on-campus housing–he says he has no influence over how the Zoning Commission ultimately rules on the campus plan.

"The city council doesn't have a role in this," he said. "My support is there, but it's not something I can make happen for you, or make happen for anybody...I wish I could solve your problem with a magic wand, but I can't."

Could he help change the composition of the Zoning Commission, which now has two developers on it? someone wanted to know. The Council already has, Evans answered–they tabled one nominee who would have made it three developers.

Could he hold Council hearings on the campus plan? "That's never been done before," Evans mused.

How about testifying before the Zoning Commission in their support? another asked. No can do, Evans answered–if he did that, he'd have to testify for everyone who had an issue at the Board of Zoning Adjustment or ABRA as well.

Then there's the question of the $90 million in tax-exempt bonds, most of which Georgetown wants for a new science center. Evans passed them out of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, and the Council is expected to give final approval at its next legislative session. Couldn't he extract concessions from the university in exchange for approving them?

Evans answered that it just wasn't something he was willing to do. If the Council started rejecting qualified revenue bond applications, he said, the federal government might just take over the program, and he'd rather be the one with even nominal control. "We have no ability to say, they don't qualify. Our real role is to pass it," Evans said. "If we didn't, Congress would pass it anyway."

Ultimately, a weary Evans expressed regret over all the sound and fury that might be better directed elsewhere. "A lot of time, energy, and money gets spent and not a whole lot moves," he said.

So there you have it, Burleith: Your councilmember can't do much for you. Oh, except for one thing: The smokestack that the university says won't increase emissions. Somehow, he has influence over that part.

"I will never allow them to build an 85-foot smokestack," Evans said. "I will lay in front of the trucks, I will do whatever it takes to stop that."

* CORRECTION, November 7: Georgetown does plan to add 120 beds for graduate students and/or faculty in the 1789 block, which is outside the university gates, but closeby. The proposed increase in graduate and professional student enrollment is 3,188 over ten years.

  • Rick Mangus

    You fools elected Evans into office with the highest rate in Ward 2, NOW SUFFER!

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  • John

    Mangus is back....

  • Bill

    JACK EVANS, the Council and the Mayor ALL signed the DC Comprehensive Plan, which lists requirements for Institutions/Colleges operating within the City of DC. Jack Evans signed the plan, but now he doesn't want to take responsibility for it. This will go down as a very bad move by Jack Evans. He will permit Georgetown University to destroy the neighborhood he lives in, just for business purposes. Very very weak comments Councilman Evans.

  • Linda

    Georgetown University will lose at the Zoning Commission. Jack Evans will not be able to help them. Sorry.

    Oh, and GU is basically broke...

  • Sheryl

    GU should and deserves to lose at the Zoning Commission.

    Jack Evans should use whatever influence he can to protect and preserve the community first. That is why he was elected.

    Georgetown University has bullied the community for too long and whiny comments that "GU is broke" is a typical scare tactic that comes right out of the GU handbook of "How to screw over the community, while we do and say whatever we want to get our way." GU has no shame.

  • Rick Mangus

    So Georgetown University is BROKE, these kids who were arrested last weekend can use that as their defense by saying, 'I knew the university was broke and was trying to save it by making and selling drugs to raise money'!

  • Laurel Radley

    Excellent story. It distills the political process down to how empty words of support are, how complicated "doing the right thing" is and how gutless politicians can be in trying to use what little power they have for common good, yet how easily they rally for corporate or other institutional interests.

  • KMB

    Spot on. I've never laid eyes on Jack Evans until the BCA meeting but boy was I unimpressed. (And to think, I had just gotten an email invite to his Birthday Party? What was that about?) Yes he CAN testify. And NO that does not mean he will then have to testify for everyone who asks. If he supports Ward 2 he needs to show it. -- And not with invitations to a birthday gala!!

  • George Towner

    Mangus is right, we elected Evans and we must now suffer.
    Our only solution is to vote him out him out of office!

  • http://www.removejackevans.com stephen r. brown

    Got the name and the site will be live by the end of the week. For the past nineteen years, he has operated quietly making deals with developers while our various mayors have gotten all the pr. Time we expose him.

  • Robert Hanrott

    Can anyone remember an instance where Jack Evans did anything for the actual voters and residents, except offer platitudes? I would like to hear of an actual issue where he represented us vigorously. It would make me less depressed. He represents business interests, pure and simple (as in stadiums etc).

  • Rick Mangus

    'Robert Hanrott', The baseball stadium, Ha!, Ha!

  • tucker

    Evans is getting things done for Ward 2 - just look around. who thinks he has the power to stop this? give me a break. i have an idea - maybe you fools would prefer harry thomas or michael brown as your councilmember? then you would REALLY have somethin to complain about.

  • Rick Mangus

    'tucker', Jack Evans has the developers on speed dial on his phone, I want someone who represents the people of Ward 2, not the developers like Lerner or Smith or even Georgetown University!

  • Jacques

    Regardless of Evans take on this, the Burleith neighbors' take is a fascinating twist on reality. Georgetown University actually added 800 beds (in the Southwest Quadrangle) since the last 10 year plan was approved/enacted, while increasing undergraduate enrollment by far less than that number.

    Conflating undergrads with graduate students, all of whom are older, most of whom are professionally employed, some of whom are married with families, and many of whom have zero interest in living in the Georgetown neighborhood, nevermind on campus, is a strange twist of logic.

    My wife and I were Georgetown graduate students for most of the last 6 years, while we both maintained full or part-time employment, and never came across any legal or other trouble with our neighbors (first in the Foxhall neighborhood and since 2007 on 35th street). Most of our friends and classmates lived in Dupont, Cleveland Park, Rosslyn, or other places where they could find apartments and not live in those exact group houses to which many BCA and CAG members seem to think they would flock.

  • http://www.HalliganProjects.com Rob Halligan

    Jack Evans loves to be represented as the 2nd most powerful person in the city - until his constituents actually ask him for something, then he consistently/frequently says he has no power.

  • tucker

    @ rob halligan - you know not of which you speak. i have called the councilmembers office on numerous occasions for assistance and have always gotten a quick response. most know you as one of the great complainers of the city who aint done a damn thing. oh wait - you tried to close down hanks! gee - thanks! get back to your list serve trolling.

    @ rick mangus - lets see- how do you turn a crappy ward into a good one? you need developers! who else is going to build a market in shaw? or would you rather live in ward 7 where you can brag about your new ihop?

    you guys are in the dark. developers and the private sector are necessary evils and have made ward 2 what it is today.

  • Frederick Douglass

    Are these "Burleithians" the same Georgetown crowd who overwhelmingly voted to re-elect baby fenty, because baby fenty and rhee-rhee the witch had the gumption to kick "black union ass"?

    Are these "Burleithians" aware that it was baby fenty, with full support on the Council from Old-Man evans, who stacked the District's Boards and Commissions with know-nothing jogging buddies, frat boys and baby fenty's wife's gal-pals to act as stooges for the Corporate Elite?

    Are these "Burleithians" aware that in the eyes of the Corporate Elite they are just trailer trash riff-raff easily manipulated by utilizing the classic "divide and conquer by exploiting their racist tendencies" maneuver?

    Karma is a bitch, ain't it?

  • ts


    There are no IHOPs in Ward 7.

    There are but two sit-down restaurants in the ward.

    Takes a bit more than some developers to have good neighborhoods. It starts with community support, and then support to the electorate from those they have sent to represent.

  • dcsandpiper

    Tucker - this is not a "crappy ward", we don't need any more development here than we already have. We have a great neighborhood that is slowly transforming into student dorm land, dominated by large home rental units of kids who are here temporarily and don't care about the neighborhood, their home, their yards, just having a blast and drinking their way through undergrad. Yes, you do have considerate students too, but these are not the loud, obnoxious ones that dominate our experience of the Georgetown Student.
    Furthermore, Georgetown is violating the zoning commissions own rules, and Jack Evans just stands by and lets it happen. Oh but let's see, he did get rid of a stop light and put in a left turn signal. Now that's a real accomplishment.

  • dcsandpiper

    This "Burleithian" voted for Gray. Let's see how much he really cares about communities and whether he has any power over a university that is breaking the zoning commissions rules.

  • Gtown Student

    As a Georgetown student living in Burleith, I'm happy to see City Paper covering this story. However, this post contains a major inaccuracy. Lydia repeatedly states that GU's plan will "add more students without more on-campus housing." This is incorrect.

    In fact, a major part of the University's plan is to build housing for grad students on the so called "1789 block" (the area between 36th,37th, N, and Prospect streets). Although the neighbors have tried to claim that this area is "off-campus" because it's outside of Georgetown's ceremonial gates, it is firmly within GU's boundaries and thus should count and be mentioned as proposed on-campus housing.

    I realize that you were probably just parroting the phrasing you heard at the meeting, Lydia, but it's your job as a journalist to fact-check these kind of claims. I recently saw this article republished in the BCA's Burleith Bell and was disheartened to see how City Paper's poor fact-checking has allowed the misleading claims of neighborhood leaders to be reinforced by a seemingly neutral force.

    By repeating their biased and untrue claims, you've given addition credence to the dishonest narrative that the more extreme neighbors are trying to construct. Next time you report on this issue, please be more careful with the language you use.

  • Lydia DePillis

    Gtown student,

    Thankyou very much for bringing this up. I've clarified the post.

    All best,


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