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The Citizens Association of Georgetown convened last night in St. John’s Church on O Street, but this was no typical membership meeting. It was a council of war.
First, CAG officials presented the menace: Georgetown University’s 2010 campus plan, with its 57 percent increase in graduate student enrollment, and no more on-campus student housing. A sophisticated powerpoint flashed images of trash violations and illuminated cop cars, a 3-D graphic with calls for disorderly conduct plotted against proximity to campus, a map with the locations of all student group houses in the neighborhood.
“We think there are more,” said CAG vice president Gianluca Pivato. Georgetown students, like terrorists, are sometimes difficult to spot. Later in the meeting, a leader from the Burleith Citizens Association announced that her group was “going block by block, house by house, and documenting who’s living there.”
The room full of Georgetown denizens, for most of whom college was only a distant memory, murmured and shook their heads at CAG’s description of the University’s plans. The noise, the garbage, and the cars eating up street parking are all becoming intolerable, they said.
“How do you discourage them outside shooting them?” asked a woman who said had lived on 35th and P for 25 years, and said she could no longer find a spot to park.
“We don’t have an alternative,” replied CAG board member Cynthia Pantazis, only half joking.
The neighborhood organization wants Georgetown to commit to a moratorium on new students, and to house 100 percent of them within the campus walls. They’ve got a long fight ahead: After being presented to the community on April 26, the campus plan will make its way to the Zoning Commission for approval as late as first part of 2011. CAG made a heavy pitch for donations to hire consultants and lawyers who could counter the University’s team.
One woman who with two other neighbors had underwritten a successful fight against Philly Pizza told the deep-pocketed residents that success is possible—but they’d have to pony up. “I’m telling you, it is expensive,” she said. But after what she called a “year and a half of absolute nightmade in that neighborhood,” Mayor Adrian Fenty held a press conference to announce the closure of the late-night last stop.
This is an election year, the residents were reminded. Politicians are listening.
The only real politician to show up was somebody who could really use the money. Leo Alexander greeted residents on their way out: “I’m Leo Alexander, and I’m a candidate for mayor!”