Housing Complex

ANC 2E’s Georgetown Student Containment Strategy

We've noted here before the warlike nature of the relationship between Georgetown University and its neighbors (students are like terrorists: If you see one, there must be 10 others hiding in the bushes). If the upcoming Zoning Commission hearings are like truce negotiations, then Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E's recommendations regarding the University's 10-year campus plan are a roadmap to peace through strength.

Basically, the neighbors want to seal all evidence of student presence either on M Street or inside the campus gates, protecting quiet streets from noise and unsightly student rentals. The problems of cacophony and crowding have gotten intolerable, they say, as a result of Georgetown's failure to keep a lid on its student population since the last 10-year campus plan. And the stakes are high! "If these problems continue unrelieved," the report reads, "the stable, engaged community we cherish–and that the D.C. zoning rules are designed to encourage–is at serious risk of being lost and becoming a rental student enclave because of what GU is doing."

In order to avoid that dark future, the Commission recommends sanctions:

  • New enrollment caps should be set lower than the current student population, in order to remedy past injustices.
  • Limits must be imposed on the number of students living off-campus, with further enrollment decreases if those limits are not met.
  • Magis Row on 36th Street should revert from undergraduate housing to accommodations for older faculty.
  • The University should not be permitted to acquire more property in zip code 20007 without approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
  • University and Hospital buses should not be allowed to go through the neighborhoods, but rather enter and exit the campus via Canal Road only.
  • Students who commute to Georgetown by car should not be allowed to park in the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Georgetown should create a shuttle system to ferry students from M Street bars back to campus on weekend nights.
  • Georgetown must develop strong measures to address off-campus student conduct, treating parties outside the university gates, for example, as strictly as those inside it.

Arbitrate that, Zoning Commission!

  • Skipper

    Some fun constitutional challenges on some of this half-baked ideas.

  • GU Student

    My favorite:

    "University and Hospital buses should not be allowed to go through the neighborhoods, but rather enter and exit the campus via Canal Road only."

    So in other words, they don't want to be made aware that there are sick people, either.

    Is a bus going by their house (on already well-traveled streets) really THAT big of a nuisance? I'm confused.

  • Tim

    @GU Student: Yes, yes it is. They would prefer 30 single-occupant cars in place of that bus.

  • Matt

    @GU Student:

    When I was going to grad school there a few years ago the story was that the buses (75% of which are chartered minibuses and 25% of which are full-size school buses)were "shaking the houses" along Q Street and that the owners were concerned about structural damage.

    For the last few weeks of the spring semester that year the buses started going from Dupont Circle all the way up Mass Ave to Wisconsin and then back down. I started to shell out for the city bus instead, after that.

  • Box

    Narrowly defeated was the requirement that students shall keep its garments rent and their head bare when walking through the neighborhood and shall cry out "Unclean! Unclean!"

  • tom veil

    I choose to believe that this is a cunning, multi-layered conspiracy by the good citizens of Georgetown to get the entire zoning system completely repealed by exposing just how easy it is for frivolous jerks to abuse.

  • jp

    I feel bad for the Gtown ANC. I mean, who was to know that a 100+ acre campus with thousands of students would suddenly crop up in the middle of their quiet neighborhood?

    What kills me the most about all this is the Gtown ANC is full of small-government conservative types, at least by DC standards. Yet of course they expect the government to solve all their problems here, to the point of completely blocking the university from participating in the real estate market. Huh?

    Here's some news for the ANC: the loud students stumbling in front of their house and pissing on their stoop at 3 am are rarely poor kids on scholarship, but instead are largely composed of Delbarton/Choate/[insert prep school of choice] rich kids whose parents pay their way. By limiting enrollment, you are ensuring more of the latter and less of the former. So you reap what you sow. Congratulations.

  • student

    It seems ridiculous to try and limit buses from the school to travel the most direct route through the neighborhood since the same route is already traveled by metro buses. So the Georgetown buses are a problem. But the Metro Buses are not?

  • CBG

    How will the parking rule be enforced? 2 Hour parking for everyone but students. Students must put giant STUDENT decals on their cars for parking enforcement to see.

  • recent alum

    The ANC forgot to include the recommendation that all students be forced to wear blue-and-gray armbands at all hours of the day so as to be quickly identified and hissed at on the street. Perhaps they should apply for public space permits in order to place huge traffic barriers on the Burleith side of 38th & Reservoir and 37th & Reservoir in order to simulate those gates they want so badly in front of their community.

  • OhLord

    Look, I don't like Georgetown kids either (really, who does?). But these people bought houses in GEORGETOWN! I'm gonna take a risk here and guess that GEORGETOWN was probably in the neighborhood before they were. If they don't like living in GEORGETOWN, because of the students who go to GEORGETOWN, than maybe they should just live somewhere else. There are plenty of lovely houses for sale in other neighborhoods, such as Brightwood, Barney Circle, Congress Heights, Anacostia, etc. Oh, wait, are there a certain type of people they don't want to live next to in those neighborhoods?

    Unlike GW, which physically and permanently destroyed Foggy Bottom, Georgetown just has students living in the area. Still looks like Georgetown to me. So get over it.

  • Rich

    I don't see anything unconstitutional on the list. Ridiculous, but not in violation of law or the constitution.

    On parking, they presumably want the same deal the neighborhood forced on AU ten years ago: the university patrols the neighborhood and tickets any car they think might belong to a student. If it's not a student, the person can just ignore the ticket, with no consequences. If it is a student, the ticket is charged against their account.

    And no, it doesn't matter if the student has a parking permit for that ward: it's a university regulation, so city parking permits are not relevant.

  • student

    Students are a protected group according to the law you cannot limit the number of students living in a neighborhood. Just like you cannot limit the numbers of a minority group in a neighborhood you cannot limit the number of students in the neighborhood. It's against the law.

  • Lets B. Real

    Its too bad the residents of Georgetown didn't relize there was a centuries-old college down the street when they purchased their houses. I'm sure they wouldn't have moved-in had they known there was a university there!

    C'mon Georgetowners... You can't move into a house in the path of an airport runway and then demand that the airport get shut down.

  • GU Student

    Even more confusing to me is the fact that they're so angry about GRAD STUDENTS. Which I believe most reasonable people can agree, are not the same as undergraduate students. I live quietly, and quite frankly get annoyed more by "local" people in the neighborhoods, who don't clean their sidewalks when it snows (there were some houses in Burlieth, NOT student houses, where there was ice a full week after the last storm...I fell twice, until I got smart and walked IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET), who don't pick up their dog poo, who let their dogs have RIDICULOUSLY LOUD toys (next door), etc.

    And @Rich, I don't see how you can be ticketed for parking in the area. If you register your car in the district and are within your correct zone, how can a university tell you where you are allowed to park? Does that mean that if you live a block from campus you're not allowed to park in front of your house? Again, I'm confused. Particularly when for some of the graduate programs, cars are basically a necessity.

    Final point...they want 100% of graduate students to live on campus. RIDICULOUS. Many of us are married, have kids, etc. We're not 18. And what right do they have to tell me where I can live? (Quite frankly, if Gtown had forced me to live on campus I would have chosen a different school, a sentiment shared by many, many people)

  • GU grad student

    The local residents are no treat, and I'm sure they'd love to get GU students out of their neighborhood. What they've failed to realize is that they're in the University's neighborhood, and that the University makes the neighborhood. It's also hard to see what exactly they're protecting. Certainly, the homes are beautiful and historic, but in the absence of the University, Georgetown is a poorly lit and kind of creepy neighborhood that's dangerous for single females to walk around in after dark (not even late at night, after dark--period). Many residents of the neighborhood, let's face it, don't care if there are streetlights because they drive home, put their alarm systems on, and don't go out after 10pm. They do not always shovel, as others have noted; they do not always clean up after their dogs; and they certainly do not seem to be especially friendly. Their concern for their neighborhood seems to extend to keeping it quiet and poorly-traveled. For those of us who need to walk home, walk to the bus, or work late, well, the University and its students are the only things that make the neighborhood active and vibrant. I agree with the previous posters--no one really LOVES undergrads, and some of them are loud and obnoxious, but some of them aren't. I'm a grownup with a a pretty wide range of neighborhoods in my residential past, and I'd much rather take a dozen undergrads any day over the kind of non-public-spirited local residents that Georgetown seems to attract.

  • @Rich

    The AU agreement also leads to students being ticketed in front of their own apartments and houses. Not exactly an optimal solution.

  • John Carroll

    The enrollment caps in place for DC colleges are unfair and probably illegal - the schools should formally challenge the caps. The size and growth of colleges and universities in DC is already regulated by zoning standards - just like other land uses. To treat colleges and universities differently and to dictate how many students they can have on a campus is like dictating how many employees a company or office building can have in the business district. It isn't needed since these issues are already controlled by zoning. The enrollment caps unfairly limit the activity of DC colleges and hurt these institutions by limiting growth and viability.

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