Citizens react to Post's endorsement of Campus Plan

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
A campaign sign expressing neighborhood opposition to the GU Campus Plan
A campaign sign expressing neighborhood opposition to the GU Campus Plan

Citizens groups in Georgetown had strong reactions to The Washington Post's editorial endorsing Georgetown University's proposed 10-year Campus Plan.

The Citizens Association of Georgetown led by President Jennifer Altemus sent the following letter to the editor in response to the Post's commentary:

Monday's Washington Post editorial in favor of Georgetown University's 10-year campus plan ignores the fact that the proposal would clearly put the university in violation of zoning regulation 210-2: "Use as a college or university shall be located so that it is not likely to become objectionable to neighboring properties because of noise, traffic, number of students, or other objectionable conditions."

The editorial unfairly states that those opposing the plan are "disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy." That is simply not true. We strongly support planned and thoughtful growth. We strongly oppose, however, the objectionable results an expansion of more than 4,000 students in the past 10 years has had on the communities surrounding Georgetown University.

It is important to note that in 2000, the university stated that in 10 years the number of students living in the adjoining neighborhoods would decrease, that total enrollment would be under 10,000, and that the number of group homes would decline significantly. None of these assertions has proved valid. Rather, total university enrollment has increased to more than 14,000, and the 2010-2020 plan calls for close to 15,000 students by 2020.

The result of students living in the residential areas is an unacceptable level of noise, poorly maintained homes and yards, unchecked trash violations, and a lack of adequate parking. None of the university's attempts to address these accelerating problems has succeeded. The 2010-2020 campus plan exacerbates the negative consequences of the previous expansions to the surrounding communities.

The city's Office of Planning has told the university that it must house 100 percent of its students on campus or on sites outside Zip code 20007, thus agreeing that Georgetown has violated zoning regulation 210-2. In an unprecedented show of support, Mayor Vincent Gray; D.C. Council members Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Vincent Orange and Phil Mendelson; and advisory neighborhood commissions 2E and 3D have joined the Citizens Association of Georgetown, the Burleith Citizens Association and the Foxhall Community Citizens Association in opposing this 10-year plan. The District, rightfully so, recognizes that a strong remedy is necessary in order to repair the damage Georgetown University's enrollment and housing policies have inflicted on these residential communities for more than 20 years of unchecked growth.

The Washington Post editorial states that the notion of a satellite campus is "laughable." However, the university already has a site in Arlington for its continuing-studies students and near Capitol Hill for its law school, so the idea is not unreasonable. Schools around the country house their students on campus and/or have satellite campuses.

If Georgetown University is allowed to continue to expand irresponsibly, the danger exists that valued residential neighborhoods will become predominantly student housing. Such a development would be a significant loss not only to the residents but also to the city as a whole.

Meanwhile, several unaffiliated residents sent the following letter to The Northwest Current.

As residents of the communities near Georgetown University, we want to applaud the recent steps the University has taken to maintain the quality of life in our neighborhoods. 

Since school started this year, GU has deployed twice-daily trash patrols on the streets of west Georgetown and Burlieth, collecting more than 100 tons of trash--including non-University trash.  GU has hired 7 MPD officers to patrol on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, working with Campus Security officers to prevent and deter crime on our neighborhood streets.  In addition, the University has started a new shuttle bus service to take students to and from M Street, which means fewer students traveling on-foot through our neighborhoods late at night.    

Each of these new initiatives benefits residents who live near the University.  But all District residents benefit from the economic development and services that the University provides to D.C.   Georgetown University is the largest private employer in the city, employing more than 9,800 people, 40 percent of whom live in DC.  Last year, the University spent $86 million on goods and services from DC businesses.  GU undergraduates and graduate students provide countless hours of volunteer public service to District residents each year at free health clinics, soup kitchens, and other social service agencies.  Overall, Georgetown University’s positive impact on our city is broad and deep.  When the University prospers, it enhances all of our lives.      

We also applaud the University for listening to its neighbors to the west by removing the so-called “loop road” proposal from the Campus Plan.  GU is now proposing an approach to providing better internal circulation for its commuter shuttle busses that will reduce the number of buses on neighborhood streets without building the loop road.  It’s a win-win-win for everyone.  

Whether we moved here recently or years ago, we each made a decision to live near Georgetown University, knowing that there are pluses and minuses to living near any large institution.  On balance, we continue to think that the benefits of living near the University far exceed any negative impacts. 

We appreciate the importance of Georgetown University to our neighborhood and support its Campus Plan which includes these new community initiatives.  And, we thank Georgetown University for its continuing efforts to enhance our city and to be a good neighbor.    

Grace Bateman, Georgetown        

Elliott Crooke, Foxhall                                                                                                                                   

 John Doolittle, Cloisters

Erika Higley, Glover Park

Charlie Skuba, Hillandale                                                                                                                                

Tom & Sarah Strike, Burleith




0 Comments For This Article


GO HOYAS!!!!!!!! THANK YOU POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Didn't Fionna Gregg, the woman running against Jack Evans voice her support for the GU Campus Plan when she met with college students to solicit their support in her upcoming race?


Georgetown residents and GU, if you're reading, I've got your problem solved.

Purchase the old International Graduate University at 13th & D st, SE on Capitol Hill, put whatever programs there that you want. Your capitol hill neighbors would be happy to have someone occupy the space, and would gladly rent our English basements or investment homes to your students. You would be about a block from Potomac Ave metro, around the corner from Safeway, down the street from Harris Teeter, and there's even a GameStop nearby. Your students would get to experience life in one of the most historic and walkable neighborhoods in DC, Capitol Hill, and would be seen as an asset to the community, rather than nuisances. The area just East of this campus still has affordable rents, and could use a little extra attention and economic development. Your students would be able to afford to live there, and with bikeshare and metro access via Orange or Blue line to Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn, the main GU campus would be a quick metro ride and walk away.

I hope you seriously consider this property, it is currently a blight to the neighborhood, we'd be glad to have you there.


Cheers and thanks to Crooke, Bateman, Doolittle, Higley, Skuba, and the Strikes for their thoughtful and responsible leadership. While a small group of extremists insists on opposing GU at all times, reasonable people understand that if students are kicked out and replaced by group homes of non-students, there will be no trash patrols and no additional security officers to improve quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. Let's hope more citizens embrace this standard of community activism.

Jerry Gallucci

The big DC universities -- Georgetown, AU and GW -- have all sought to run roughshod over the residential communities they live in. The details may be different in each case but the story is the same: they seek expansion of space and/or numbers at the expense of the taxpaying citizens who live next to them. Rather than look at satellite campuses or find ways to work within the constraints imposed by being situated within residential communities, they simply bulldoze their way through. With GW they overran Foggy Bottom. The Washington Post seems to feel Georgetown should have the same right. AU is trying to do the same in Wesley Heights. The Post seems to subscribe to the doctrine that "corporations are people." For certainly, these big DC universities are just another category of corporation. In this situation, we residents of DC are among the 99% and the corporate universities are the 1%. Thanks to the Post for letting us know where it stands.


You are correct, Mr. Gallucci. These universities are all corporations and have unsustainable business models based on unfettered student (mainly undergraduate) growth and indirect handouts from DC government in the form of tax abatements, special exceptions and overdevelopment of university-owned property and cronyism.

What none of them mention while touting their status as "largest private DC employer"--a claim made consistently by GW as well as GU--is that more than 60% of those jobs are held by non-DC residents. Many of the 30%-plus that are residents are also students as well as folks in very low-wage jobs.

In this age of technological wonders, it would behoove someone to put together a cost-benefit analysis for each of the Consortium universities to determine what the benefits for DC are vs. how much it's costing.


The residents of Georgetown want to have their cake and eat it too - living in one of DC's most dynamic and vibrant urban neighborhoods, while keeping Georgetown students cooped up behind Healy gates. Georgetown would not be the Georgetown we know without the students.

I am clearly biased as a former student, but I would hope that the residents would realize that this is a symbiotic relationship, by and large, and that this highly antagonistic position is not the solution. The University, from all that I can tell, has tried hard to work with the neighborhood to come up with a viable solution. All I've seen from the other side is hostility and an unwillingness to compromise.

I would love to see Georgetown use its economic clout to solicit expansion to other areas in the DC region. I'm sure that Arlington, Southeast DC or upper GA avenue, now that Walter Reed is being repurposed, would clamor for the economic benefit that Georgetown would bring to their streets. The residents of Georgetown, Burleith and Foxhall should recognize that the neighborhood will suffer economically as Georgetown suffers.

Check your facts

To @Anonymous at 4:22 p.m., Georgetown's undergraduate enrollment rose by about 500 over the last ten years (while it added 800 beds on-campus) and the current plan does not include any increase in undergraduates.

(There is a change in counting methodology, which was recommended by the neighborhood groups and DC, and is now being used to club the university over the head, but that is only relevant if you think that mid-career professional getting a BS in Nursing, military veterans, and students living at home should be considered to be driving adverse impacts).

Georgetown's growth has been almost entirely in graduate students, not undergrads.


This editorial is hardly convincing. Some residents will simply not cease until Georgetown moves out of the District entirely and the land can be subdivided into mansions.


Some Facts that the neighborhood ignores:

The university had to Remove from the plan the “1789 Block” proposal,which would have provided new on-campus housing for undergraduate or graduate students. Due to neighborhood complaints.

The Plan freezes Undergraduate and Medical School enrollment at current levels.

Student Life Initiatives yield significant outcomes. 73% of off-campus student houses in the West Georgetown and Burleith neighborhoods had NO SNAP or MPD contact in academic year 2009-2010.

The total number of student residences in the neighborhoods surrounding the University has declined over the past decade. Most of these losses are in Undergrads.

The total number of students living in the neighborhoods surrounding the University has declined over the past decade. Most of these losses are in Undergrads.

Georgetown currently houses more Students than most of it's peer institutions located in similar locations. It houses more than UPenn, U Chicago, John Hopkins, and Northwestern other prestigious schools located in major cities.

Georgetown will build 250 beds on campus as part of the 10 year plan. With those additional 250 beds Georgetown will house 80% of it's students on campus.

Fact check

There is ZERO relevance of total university enrollment to the actual impact on the neighborhood of Georgetown University's main campus when most of the increases were on satellite campuses. Seriously, this line of argument is pathetic and takes away from whatever valid concerns neighbors of the University may harbor. It also continues a long line of "town" misinformation that stretches back decades, perhaps most infamously when residents tried to convince Georgetown students that they would lose financial aid / voting rights / etc. should they dare to run for ANC.

Perhaps Georgetown University Medical Center should be off-limits to anyone in the surrounding environs who needs medical attention? You know, since the benefits of the campus and its community clearly do not extend beyond Healy Gates to those in Burleith or Georgetown...


I think Georgetown U should set up a satellite campus at the Naval Observatory. Federal Government needs the money and would probably sell it cheap.


Frustrating to see people try to impede progress because they think it might be 'objectionable' to see a college kid walking down their street.