Photo by Daquella Manera.
Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:
Over the last couple months, Georgetown University has been rolling out a series of efforts aimed to address the quality of life complaints that were aired at the spring’s campus plan Zoning Commission hearings. GM is personally convinced that GU has its eye on the upcoming hearings on the campus plan as it introduces these initiatives (which doesn’t mean they’re not good initiative, just that they’re not motivated by neighborly kindness). The idea being that it will argue that it is being proactive to address the neighbor’s concerns and thus the Zoning Commission shouldn’t take the draconian step of demanding GU either build on-campus housing or obtain housing outside 20007 for all undergrads by 2015, as the Office of Planning requested.
To undercut this argument, the ANC just issued a supplemental submission to the Zoning Commission. The ANC writes:
GU’s grudging, small-scale responses to community concerns throughout this case have been disappointing. Instead of responding meaningfully to Chairman Hood‟s suggestion to the University that it propose truly new, large, and effective approaches to the neighborhood issues, GU has instead come back with small-scale tweaks to existing off campus student programs.
The ANC takes a particularly cynical view of GU’s quality of life measures:
GU reserves the right to modify any and all of its student conduct measures at any time… And GU certainly cannot expect us to believe that any 11th-hour clamp-down it may have attempted over the past several months – in the spotlight of an impending Zoning Commission decision – will or could be sustained by GU over the long run. Continue reading
Photo by Csuspect.
Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:
Photo by Dionhinchliffe.
On Sunday, the Washington Post published an editorial on the Georgetown University campus plan. It was highly critical of the DC Office of Planning and the effort by community groups to insist that the final plan call for the housing of all undergraduate students on campus.
Imagine a city telling its largest private employer — one that pays millions in taxes and salaries, strives to hire local residents and voluntarily does community service — that it can’t grow anymore, that it might have to cut back. That seems far-fetched in light of today’s scary economy, but it’s essentially what D.C. officials are telling Georgetown University by insisting it either house all its students or cut back enrollment. The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy.
The editorial attempts to contrast the Office of Planning’s position against the city’s overall goal of adding residents. It argues that:
What’s most troubling about the city’s posture is the notion that an increase in young people, particularly those in search of an education, is somehow undesirable. What happened to the idea that these are the very kind of people that should be lured to make the District their home?
It’s an interesting argument. And it’s definitely the case that the presence of universities greatly contributes towards making a city a haven for the so-called Creative Class. But to suggest that the city is “disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy” simply because it maintains enrollment caps on universities is a bit hysterical. Besides, the vast majority of jobs in this city are either in the government or government-related, which will be here whether GU enrolls 14,000 or 15,000. Also, the editorial seems to have been written by someone without a strong familiarity with the situation; before it was corrected, the editorial talked about the neighborhood of “Fox Hollow”.
But that is really beside the point. What GM finds most interesting about this editorial is that it is clearly the product of a concerted lobbying campaign by GU. The thrust of the article is directed at the Office of Planning report, but that was issued in May. The only reason the Post is writing about this now is that the final Zoning Commission hearings are coming up. Continue reading
Last night the ANC testified before the Zoning Commission on the Georgetown University campus plan. You can watch it here.
In many ways, this was a presentation years in preparation. Commissioners Ron Lewis, Bill Starrels, Jeff Jones, and Ed Solomon each spoke, but it was Ron that carried the heavy load. Where the Office of Planning’s case was undermined last week due to an apparent lack of preparation, nothing of the sort was on display last night.
Essentially the story that the ANC put forth was this: the 2000 campus plan was adopted on the promise that it would remedy an existing problem with students in the neighborhood. The ANC argues that not only did the plan not address the existing problem, the school took advantage of the lack of an overall student cap and grew every category but traditional undergrads as much as possible. Thus, they argue, the situation with the undergrads are at best no better than they were before the 2000 plan, and in the meantime, a new problem with excessive graduate and non-traditional student growth has produced a new problem. Continue reading
Last night the Zoning Commission held its second hearing on GU’s proposed campus plan. You can watch it here (sorry GM can’t embed it for some reason, and you’ll have to install Microsoft Silverlight to watch it, but it’s worth it).
The main attraction of the night was the testimony of the Office of Planning. As discussed here, that office issued a report devastating to GU’s position. So it was very interesting to here what they had to say about their report.
The main speaker for OP was Jennifer Steingasser, who was apparently the main drafter of the report. Her testimony begins around the 1’12” mark of the video.
In her speech she emphasized several aspects of OP’s report. She explaining that she welcomed GU’s move from using an average to an absolute in calculating the student cap. But she argued that rather than use either of the methods suggested by GU or the ANC, such as the full-time equivalent calculation, they should simply count the number of students absolutely.
She explained that OP rejected the GU hospital element of the plan because it was clearly just a placeholder and none of the specifics had been fleshed out. She stated that any major development there should be handled by an amendment. Continue reading
Last Friday, GM wrote about the stunning report from the Office of Planning calling for GU to house 100% of its undergrads by the fall of 2016. Buried in that news was that DDOT also chimed in on the campus plan, and it wasn’t good for the university either, although it was not uniformly negative.
The overall thrust of DDOT’s report is that it cannot support the campus plan at this point due to a lack of information. The agency praises the school for some of the measures it takes to address transportation problems. However, DDOT was very critical of the school’s failure to deliver adequate studies on the effects of the proposed changes.
Canal Road Entrance
The agency praised GU for delivering a transportation study, however it found major faults in the school’s efforts. Primary of them was that much of GU’s transportation plan depends on the ability to turn left from the Canal Rd. exit during rush hour. Right now that is prohibited, but GU wrote in its campus plan:
In the 2010 Campus Plan, the University is prepared to fund construction of an internal loop road that will improve GUTS service on campus by creating stops for major routes on both the north
and south ends of campus. Combined with signal timing adjustments at the University’s Canal Road entrance and relief from left-turn restrictions and Canal Road capacity constraints in
consultation with DDOT, and assuming receipt of necessary regulatory approvals, the internal loop road also will permit the University to reorient GUTS buses away from neighborhood streets.
DDOT agreed that allowing an eastbound turn onto Canal Rd. during rush hour would make sense, however it notes that this is a “highly congested regional corridor” and criticizes the school’s study on the future states of this corridor with the change. DDOT requests that GU resubmit a study with projections for the road in 2020 and 2030, taking into account the entire stretch of the corridor within the District, not just in the immediate vicinity of the school.
You’ve got to feel for the school somewhat on this issue. It’s because of the neighbor’s demands–unreasonable demands in GM’s opinion–to stop running GUTS buses on Reservoir Rd. that GU is looking to the Canal Rd. in the first place. Continue reading