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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 05/21/2010

Georgetown's 10-year town-gown ritual

By Topher Mathews

It's that time of the decade again: Georgetown University is about to submit its newest 10-year plan to the D.C. Zoning Commission. This has become almost a ritual in Georgetown as the university presents plans, the neighbors object, the university changes the plans, the neighbors are still not satisfied, the university submits the plans anyway, they get approved, nine years go by and the process starts all over again.

This decennial rite offers residents an opportunity to unleash 10 years of frustration at the university. What do those frustrations stem from? Primarily the hundreds of GU students who live off-campus in houses mostly in the western portion of Georgetown and in Burleith. Residents complain of noise, trash and parking shortages, and that's when they're not blaming the students for poor weather, the price of gas or the fact that their tennis elbow has flared up.

I'm joking, of course, but the accusations and recriminations do get out of hand. For instance, in order to get some peace and quiet, a Burleith resident started a blog that vaguely threatened the future employability of Georgetown students by publishing pictures of them ostensibly drunk and in his alleyway. Some anonymous commenter apparently threatened him, and the cops were called in to investigate.

Like the blog itself, this anonymous threat was not helping anyone. Nor was it helpful when a Georgetown resident joked during a meeting of the Citizens Association of Georgetown that residents ought to shoot students for parking their cars on public streets. He was applauded, by the way. Of course, that tastelessness is nothing compared with what you'll find on GU student blogs on the topic (or what is shouted by young drunken lungs at 3 a.m. on Prospect Street).

So what do you think? Do the residents have no one to blame but themselves for moving next to a university? Or is the university being a bad neighbor by growing too dramatically and not making a stronger effort to mitigate the school's effect on Georgetown residents' quality of life?

Topher Mathews blogs at The Georgetown Metropolitan. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Topher Mathews  | May 21, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., Georgetown, HotTopic, Local blog network  
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Tough question. Kids going to a top school should be more considerate and appreciative. And couldn't just a little more campus security cut down on the blatant bad actors? Residents should weigh the costs before moving in. And, the older residents share some blame for preventing a metro stop in G'Town back in the 70s.

Posted by: cgp01 | May 22, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

you may call me biased but the bigotry the georgetown residents show is unmatched by the students. after all, isn't the neighborhood supposed to be one of the classier regions of the district? the nature of the townhall meetings and malicious blogs cannot convince me of that. the students aren't the worst ones the town could ask for. just because there are some unruly students, they are exception to the rule and the vast majority of the students are exemplary citizens who want to enjoy their college years. instead, they get attacked by the neighbors and their ridiculous stereotypes.

Posted by: Max24 | May 22, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

The neighbors in the Georgetown neighborhood are overly sensitive individuals who are not used to someone telling them no. The University has been there for over 200 years. If you move next to a University (which hasn't grown by more than a few hundred students in 10 years), you have earned the right to hear them at night on the weekends. There are a few bad apples that make the student body as a whole look worse, but the neighbors don't give the majority of students the slightest chance to prove they're decent neighbors before judging them worsening the town gown relations before they even begin. Move to the suburbs if you don't like the noise of the city!

Posted by: gmm26 | May 24, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

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