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Community Leaders slam GU Campus Plan

Community leaders blasted Georgetown University's proposed expansion plan after D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans and Georgetown ANC Commissioners delivered harsh criticism in statements and in public. "The university’s proposed 10-year campus plan...fails to mitigate the adverse impacts of its growing student enrollment," said a joint statement of Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall citizens associations. Community leaders say the University's proposed expansion has galvanized neighborhood associations — including the Citizens Association of Georgetown, the Burleith Citizens Association, Foxhall Community Citizens Association, the ANC and others — unlike any threat in recent years. “Unrestrained growth and development has a negative impact on the quality of life and safety of the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Jennifer Altemus, president, Citizens Association of Georgetown. Earlier, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans and several Georgetown ANC Commissioners including Bill Starrels expressed their "disappointment." The expansion plan "does not include any provisions for relocating undergraduate students back to the main campus," continued the joint statement. "While GU did shelve its plans for a new multi-story dorm on the historic 1789 block and for a new 83-foot chimney on the heating and cooling plant, the university’s plan seeks to increase enrollment by 2,100 students, increase the faculty head count and add 1,000 new parking spaces," said the statement. Lenore Rubino, president of the Burleith Citizens Association, said that with nearly half of the area's homes now used as rental properties with the majority housing GU students, "the neighborhood is at risk of disappearing." She added, "We will continue to seek a compromise that better manages enrollment, increases on-campus housing, improves campus and neighborhood safety and reduces parking and traffic impacts.” The D.C. Office of Planning -- reporting to newly-elected Mayor Vincent Gray (who said publicly in September he would meet with the surrounding community on the Campus Plan issue, if invited) -- will offer a report and recommendation within 45 days to the appointed D.C. Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission is expected to begin hearings in about eight weeks. The Zoning Commission must approve the plan with a majority vote in order for it to be adopted as the university's growth blueprint. Community leaders are calling for:

  • An enrollment cap for both undergraduate and graduate students at an appropriate level with the Zoning Administrator auditing this standardized enrollment on an annual basis.
  • Reinstitution of GU’s prior goal of 100 percent on-campus housing for undergraduates, curtailing the expansion of student housing into the neighborhood so that GU ceases the use of the neighborhood as its residence halls.
  • Mitigating of traffic and parking impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. "The addition of 1,000 parking spaces will only increase traffic and does not address restricting the ability of undergraduates to bring cars into the community," the joint statement said.

After two years of dialogue with the University that seems to have resulted primarily in increased frustration in the community, "we look forward to presenting our facts and recommendations to the Zoning Commission,” said Altemus.Read more, including CAG's 10-page guide to the GU plan.