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 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
Francis Scott Key Park by Byron Peebles.
Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:
GM couldn’t make it down to the Zoning Commission for last night’s GU campus plan hearings since he had important business elsewhere. But once he realized that the Buffalo Sabres playoff game wasn’t on national television, his schedule freed up. So he watched the hearings over the Internet. And if you missed them, you can still watch them right here. (GM couldn’t get it to embed, so you’ll have to go to the ZC’s website).
Some initial impressions: GU put on a very strong case. Their lawyer, Maureen Dwyer of Goulston Storrs, was very sharp and represented her client well. Substance-wise, there wasn’t too much new to the presentation than what they’ve put on before. But overall they seemed to be better prepared than in other settings and their arguments were tighter than before.
Richard Hinds of CAG (and Cleary Gottlieb) led the cross-examination, which is a fascinating feature of the proceedings. He was similarly sharp. His focus was largely on the enrollment numbers and the question of how many students (both undergrad and grad) are and will be in the neighborhood. An additional focus (primarily from representatives of Foxhall) was the loop road issue on the west side of campus.
Anyway, it’s a very fascinating watch. No matter which side you’re on in this debate, you’re probably going to see something you like in the video. And huzzah to the DC government for getting these hearings up on the Internet so fast.
In the interest of full disclosure, GM should note that he recently agreed to become the secretary of CAG. For what it’s worth, he hasn’t participated in any of the planning for these hearings. The views expressed here are his own and don’t reflect those of CAG.
This week, the Zoning Commission hearings for the proposed Georgetown University campus plan will begin. These hearings will be an opportunity for government agencies, the school, community groups, and the public to testify for or against the plan. The first of three hearings will be this Thursday at 6:30 pm at the Zoning Commission’s hearing room at 441 4th St. NW, Suite 220-S.
This first hearing was expected to be dominated by the school’s presentation and the ANC’s. However, due to the school’s recent changes to their proposal, the Office of Planning is delaying the issuance of its report on the plan. As a result, the ANC has requested and been granted a postponement to their scheduled testimony. Now the Office of Planning is expected to file its report on May 5th and to testify on May 12th (at the same time and location as listed above). The ANC will testify afterwards. Continue reading
Monday night, the ANC adopted a resolution opposing G.U.’s proposed ten year campus plan. GM’s already taken a closer look at the enrollment section and the transportation section. Today he’ll take a look at the last section, the one regarding student behavior off-campus.
The ANC’s approach is pretty simple and concise: they simply stated that the measures previously taken by G.U. and those proposed are inadequate to address the negative impact that student behavior has on the non-student population.
The strategy being taken by the ANC is to put the burden on G.U. to develop a program that is adequate. And it further argues that if G.U. doesn’t present an adequate plan, the Zoning Commission should reduce G.U.’s student cap until their are fewer students in the neighborhood.
And what are the steps that G.U. has put forward which the ANC considers so inadequate?:
- Three reimbursable detail police officers stationed in trouble spots
- A second SNAP car at night
- Two G.U. staff members living off campus among the students to supervise them
- New community contract to be signed by all off-campus students
- Additional shuttles around the neighborhood to give students a ride back to the campus. Continue reading
Last night the ANC met for its March session. The most important item on the agenda was the adoption of its resolution opposing Georgetown’s ten year campus plan. In the end, though, this was one of the shorter items on the agenda. The rest of the evening was filled with projects and items that will surely dominate the discussion for the rest of the year.
Ten Year Plan
The discussion around the proposed resolution was strictly hemmed in. G.U., CAG/the Burleith Citizens Association, and DC Students Speaks, were each given ten minutes to make their final case. Linda Greenan, Vice President of G.U.’s external affairs, spoke first. She expressed the disappointment the school has that the parties couldn’t reach an agreement and reiterated the school’s position that the proposed plan is modest and has been tailored to address the neighbors’ complaints.
Lenore Rubino of the Burleith Citizens Assoc. and Jennifer Altemus of CAG then split up 10 minutes. They repeated their organizations previous statements that that the plan fails to seriously address the already existing negative impacts that the school has on the neighborhood and the threat that the non-student uses are going to be pushed out unless the situation is remedied. They both supported the ANC’s resolution (CAG strayed a bit from the ANC’s resolution by demanding that no students be allowed to park a car in the neighborhood).
Finally, Hao Shen of DC Students Speaks, well, spoke. He gave an energetic defense of the school’s proposal. He pointedly stated that objecting to the plan is a violation of the District’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based upon matriculation status. This would be a compelling argument, that is if the DC Court of Appeals hadn’t explicitly rejected it in one of the court cases that sprung from the last ten year plan fight (837 A.2d 58, in case you’re interested).
Beyond this, there was little other discussion. Ron Lewis echoed Greenan’s disappointment in the failure to agree. In the end the resolution was passed 6-1, with Jake Sticka voting nay. Continue reading