Photo by Georgetown University website
Georgetown University
Georgetown University

A new city-wide coalition of neighborhood groups has joined the campaign to oppose Georgetown University's controversial expansion plan while student groups organized on Facebook and set up shuttle bus service to support the University's plan in the run-up to tonight's first city-wide hearing.

On the eve of the Zoning Commission’s first public review of the 10-year expansion plan, the District-Wide Coalition of University Neighborhoods (DCUN) issued a statement saying, "The proposed Georgetown campus plan is an example aggressive University growth that if implemented will diminish the quality of life for the surrounding communities."

The coalition's leadership includes representatives from several areas impacted by campus growth, including Jacqueline Meers (Spring Valley, American University), Phillip Blair Jr. (Brookland, Catholic University), Asher Corson (Foggy Bottom, The George Washington University), Tony Norman (LeDroit Park, Howard University), Cynthia Pantazis (Georgetown, Georgetown University), Mary Pat Rowan (Brookland, Catholic University), and Nan Wells (Spring Valley, American University). Pantazis serves as Chair of the GU Relations Committee for the coalition.

"While the District is fortunate to be home to many large Universities, these Universities also present unique challenges to the neighborhoods in which they reside. These challenges include overwhelming density and growth, traffic congestion, disruptive noise, and safety issues. DCUN has formed to coordinate among all affected communities and advocate for sensible policies that protect University neighborhood," the statement said.

Meanwhile, an organization called DC Speaks recruited 41 students on Facebook to attend the hearing, offering shuttle bus transportation from the University. "A vocal minority should not decide the fate of our campus plan," said the Facebook event site. "A FREE bus shuttle will be leaving from the bus stop near the Jesuit Residence and SQW at 4:30 PM and will return at the end of meeting. Anyone wishing to reserve a spot on the bus has to fill out the google form above. Only those who reserve spots will be able to get on the bus because of limited space. For those with class or other commitments, a group will be leaving from the front gates of Georgetown at 5:45 PM."

But the Facebook page also included a fierce opponent of the University's plan, community leader and author Stephen R. Brown. "I will be there," he wrote on DC Speak's page.

On a Georgetown listserv, CAG Vice President Betsy Cooley urged Georgetown residents to attend a D.C. Zoning Commission hearing Thursday evening at which the University will present its plans. "We need to show how many residents feel strongly that the neighborhood is and will continue to be impacted negatively," Cooley wrote.

"While academic excellence is critical for a top national university, it should not come at the expense of safety, increased traffic and increased density that threatens to further cripple the community," said Burleith Citizens Association President Lenore Rubino in a joint statement with other groups.

Zoning Commission hearings on the GU Campus Plan are scheduled for April 14, May 12 and May 16.  Thursday's hearing will take place at the DC Office of Zoning at 6:30 pm. The office is located at 441 4th Street NW, Suite 220-S (Judiciary Square Metro). 

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

Once again, Lenore Rubino and her colleagues choose to be dishonest and show no respect for the neighbors they claim to represent. The threat to safety comes from her call for people to use 911 for all student-related complaints (real or imagined), reducing the city's ability to respond to true emergencies. The increased density is not coming from the University, but from the new condo developments, such as the former Wormley school. In addition, they continue to deceive the DC government and their neighbors with their online "petition" by changing the text after receiving signatures, pretending the signatures are for the current document when in reality they were gathered under a previous version. The real threat to the neighborhood is the presence of dishonest, extremist activists, not GU.

Speaks?

I would think that by now an individual covering this community would know, bad graphic design on their part aside, that the student organization is called DC Students Speak.

Asher Corson

Ms. Rubino and her neighbors have the courage of their convictions to fight for what they believe in. The level of community support and organization that Burleith and CAG have achieved is truly remarkable and something to be admired. If you are proud of what you have to say, like Ms. Rubino is, there is no need to hide behind anonymous posts.

Anonymous

1. You make many accusations, all of which beg for evidence.
2. Safety--your blasé dismissal of this issue suggests that you deny there are real public health and safety problems associated with binge drinking and public intoxication on the part of anyone including Georgetown students. Students are probably the greatest victims of binge drinking, including students who are not intoxicated.
3. Gross public misunderstandings and errors happen all the time. Perhaps the consensus of the independent community associations neighboring GU (Burleith, Georgetown, FoxHall Village) and the associated ANCs are based on such misunderstandings. Still such unanimity is rare, and should give you pause to think there might be some validity to their concerns rather than conclude that dishonest and extremist activists represent a threat to themselves.

IMGoph

it's like the superfriends of NIMBYs

Bill F

Asher,

Are you saying that it is ok to be intellectually dishonest? I think the collective universities are a tremendous and vital asset to the District of Columbia. That doesn't mean they should be able to steamroll residential communities. On the other hand, if you didn't want to be bothered by the "hassles" that campuses bring to the city, then why do you (not you Asher, but the collective you) buy a house or rent a place in proximity?

It seems to me to be incompatible to say that you don't want traffic and student housing in the neighborhood and then oppose campus plans that seek to consolidate students on campus.

One or the other, folks.

Jamie Scott

If the Georgetown and Burleith residents are so concerned about the quality of their communities, why aren't they going after landlords who control substandard housing and do little to nothing to maintain the quality of the houses?

Disclosure: I am an employee of Georgetown University but this comment reflects only my own opinion and experience as a former student, not those of the university.

Anonymous

I love the irony of a whole bunch of NIMBYs (well, what do you call them when it isn't actually in their backyard? Not-anywhere's?) being bused in to protest a campus plan when the university itself is not allowed to run bus routes as it pleases. I say the NIMBY bus be forced to take a route as circuitous as the one they try to impose on Georgetown's shuttles.

DR

You say their level of support is remarkable - really? For the past year, they've tried to incite fear of the plan in the neighborhood. Their petition originally used the smokestack and 1789 housing proposals, long since discarded, to gain signatures. Even the current version falsely claims that the plan contains no new housing. An honest activist would not have tried to sway neighbors and the DC government by submitting an inaccurate and misleading document. Even so, the (misleading) petition has managed to gather only 180 supporters - 1% of the population of ANC 2E alone, which does not include Foxhall or other nearby areas. Yes, this small group is very vocal and wealthy but they do not represent the many honest, intelligent people who also live in the area.

In addition, "Courage of convictions" is inconsistent with the deception used by opponents of the plan. They've gained support in part by using false claims about falling property values and threats to safety. Let's remember that Stephen Brown, perhaps the most vocal anti-GU activist, has boasted “I am one of the few people in the world who is ‘persona non grata’ in the State of Israel and proud of it!!! ” The real threat to the neighborhood would be to allow it to be controlled by a small group of activists driven by ego and delusion.

Dizzy

Or perhaps we have to stay anonymous because we know the lengths to which the pitchfork brigade will go to. I don't want Stephen R. Brown creeping around where I live, taking photos of me in my backyard. I don't want Lenore Rubino getting me blacklisted with the high-end real estate set. I don't want Timothy Altemus filing slander lawsuits against me as payback. It's easy to have the "courage of your convictions" when you have a surplus of money and free time. Would that these folks also had a surplus of reason.

Anonymous2

Yes, there are no other concerns with posting your real name in the comments section of a website...

Anonymous

@Asher Corson

"The level of community support and organization that Burleith and CAG have achieved is truly remarkable and something to be admired."

It may be something to be admired however I have to disagree about widespread support based on pure facts. There are approximately 14,000 residents of the Georgetown community and yet their petition (the text of which was altered after people had signed) has under 200 signatures. That's less than 1.5% of the total community. It is definitely not a high level of support. This is a case of a loud, vocal minority trying to impose its will over a majority that clearly does not have strong feelings against the campus plan.

It is also important not to forget the students who are large stakeholders of the campus plan. That is why they have organized to attend the hearings and have their voices heard.

But yes, I do agree that Ms. Rubino should be admired for her courage to stand up for what she believes in.

Anonymous

AC, you say their level of support is remarkable - really? For the past year, they've tried to incite fear about the plan in the neighborhood. Their petition originally used the smokestack and 1789 housing proposals, long since discarded, to gain signatures. Even the current version falsely claims that the plan contains no new housing. An honest activist would not have tried to sway neighbors and the DC government by submitting an inaccurate and misleading document. Even so, the (misleading) petition has managed to gather only 180 supporters - 1% of the population of ANC 2E alone, which does not include Foxhall or other nearby areas. Yes, this small group is very vocal and wealthy, but they do not represent the many honest, intelligent people who also live in the area.

In addition, "Courage of convictions" is inconsistent with the deception used by opponents of the plan. They've gained some support using false claims about falling property values and threats to safety. Let's remember that Stephen Brown, perhaps the most vocal anti-GU activist, has boasted “I am one of the few people in the world who is ‘persona non grata’ in the State of Israel and proud of it!!! ” The real threat to the neighborhood would be to allow it to be controlled by a small group of activists driven by ego and delusion.

John Kenchelian

Glad to see Stephen Brown getting a plug in for his latest and greatest website. I'd be more than happy to post with my real name. My email is jkjazz45@gmail.com. This neighborhood opposition has been a joke for 30+ years. If you want something done, then get some reasonable demands, come back, and we'll talk. The plan is no doubt a good one for anyone with rational faculties.

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