Thursday, October 27, 2011

DC Planning Office Threatens to Limit Georgetown's Enrollment

There's a new skirmish in the on-going battle between D.C.'s private universities and the D.C. planning office over off-campus housing of undergraduates.  (Full disclosure - my former firm represented most of the major D.C. universities, including Georgetown, in land use matters.)  Periodically each university's Campus Plan comes up for review by the city government.  Georgetown's plan is currently under consideration, and according to this editorial in The The Washington Post:

A recommendation by the city’s office of planning would require the university to provide housing for 100 percent of its undergraduate students by 2016; failure to do so would force cuts in enrollment starting in 2015.

Town and gown relations in D.C. have always been fraught, as they are in many places. (For more, see this 2005 Note about litigation against both Georgetown and George Washington.)  D.C. has always had a particularly high concentration of universities, and many students live cheek-by-jowl in apartment buildings inhabited by working adults, families, and retirees, creating potential lifestyle conflicts.  Having both worked for the universities and lived in the George Washington University neighborhood, as well as being both a student and a neighbor to students here in Athens, I don't think the universities in D.C. do any worse job with neighborhood relations than schools anywhere else.  In D.C. it's simply a matter of scale and density. What's interesting here is that the city seems so comfortable attempting to control enrollment, something normally at the university's discretion.

Jamie Baker Roskie

CORRECTION - a previous version of this post had the headline "DC Planning Office Threatens to Limit Georgetown's Employment."  This is what comes of blogging while multi-tasking!

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