The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


ANC resents AU students and their windows

ANC 3D issued their report on American University's campus plan. It's laden with contempt for AU students, from their existing living in residential areas to the kinds of blinds or tapestries they hang in the windows.

Photo by ColorblindRain on Flickr.

Each DC university is required to submit a campus plan every 10 years. This decennial process opens the wounds of town-gown relations. American University has a tense relationship with its neighboring ANC, especially with its chair, Tom Smith, who has repeatedly tried to dissuade students from participating in neighborhood affairs.

While the report includes several legitimate concerns, it also incorporates salvos of unwarranted suspicion, resentment, and prejudice toward undergraduate students. Its recurring theme demands the university do whatever it can to segregate its undergraduate students' dorms and classrooms within the core of campus, far removed from other area residents.

The most ridiculous claim is that the very sight of student dorm windows is itself a grave offense that requires action from the zoning code:

Student residences should be built with windows that do not open to limit noise impacts on neighboring residents and with tinted windows that shield from residents' views the type of window hangings that are characteristically found in the windows of AU's student dorms.
At the University of Maryland, I found that the window hangings "characteristically found in the windows" of dorms are in fact window blinds. Does the ANC object to window blinds? Do they demand Roman shades, valances, velvet curtains or simply taupe window treatments?

Another controversy surrounds the treatment of AU's East Campus site directly south of Ward Circle NW. This site is currently a parking lot and report reasonably requests the university construct a "signature building" on the site.

However, the report contains a series of demands of what should not go on that site, namely students, conferences and retail space.

In fact the report laments "the loss of commercial space and neighborhood-serving retail stemming from AU's need to find more space to meet its needs." Then just 7 pages later, the ANC chastises the university for proposing to add retail space on Nebraska Avenue, noting, "This would be the only block with any retail on Nebraska Avenue throughout its length in Washington, DC."

Which is it? Here the ANC clearly shows a preference for complaining about change over maintaining any intellectual consistency in its review.

Addtionally, while the report rightly agrees that bikesharing will reduce vehicle use, it also resents the incorporation of "the Capital Bike Share [sic] Program—for 10,000 mostly non-taxpaying residents—many of them temporary—living on premium-value residentially zoned property that is producing no property tax revenue".

Though the ANC wants the university to pay the capital cost of each new campus station, which is a reasonable request, it relays the request in a classist, prejudicial way.

Student residents, who often have little or no income, tend to pay little in taxes, but that does not diminish their rights as residents. Furthermore, it's troubling that the ANC resents any class of people "living on premium-value residentially zoned property".

That's what residents do: they reside on residentially-zoned property. The ANC suggests it's upset that a certain kind of people are taking up space on this "premium" property.

Certainly the ANC has a legitimate interest in ameliorating legitimate nuisances, but regulating window dressing should not be the matter of the ANC or the zoning code. Furthermore, the ANC obliterates it own credibility offering contradictory sentiments on the reduction and proposed addition of retail space.

Worst of all, the ANC report relegates AU's students to second-class citizenship, treating them not as fellow residents, but as a nuisance class of people who must be segregated and concentrated into the center of the campus, far from "real" residents.

The ANC should eliminate its thinly veiled opposition to students as a class of people, remove trivial complaints about window dressings, and focus on more important matters: How a university, its students, and long-term residents can exist in harmony and mutual respect.

Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 


Add a comment »

Nice attempt by the ANC to make this about property taxes, but I'm not buying it. Since when does a neighborhood, especially this one, concern itself with maximizing its property-tax contribution to city's coffers? This is classism, pure and simple.

by Flora on May 2, 2011 1:15 pm • linkreport

These ANC folks should move out to a suburban development with HOAs. There, they can regulate window hangings all they want. Oh, and if they go back a few decades in time, they can also regulate the kind of people who move in. It's a little harder nowadays though.

From what I've seen of ANCs, commissioners don't know what it means to govern. They think their role is to control every little detail of everything that goes on in the neighborhood. For example, at a recent ANC meeting, they were crafting a resolution that outlined the stipulations to its "approval" of a certain new restaurant moving into the area. It cannot serve food on disposable dinnerware or disposable plasticware. It must install a trash compactor. It must build a fence surrounding its recycling bins behind the building. Etc., etc., etc.

No, you are not the end-all-be-all gatekeepers of your neighborhood. People still have rights, and we're still a government based on rights, not on telling people what to do.

by Tim on May 2, 2011 1:16 pm • linkreport

By my recollection, the intersection of Nebraska and Connecticut features (and is zoned for) retail use. The ANC is wrong on that count.

Does anyone else find it ironic that the ANC wants to get rid of student based group housing, but at the same time opposes the placement of student housing units in the one place where it makes sense?

Oh wait, this is the ANC where Tom Smith is the Chair? Now it all makes sense.

by William on May 2, 2011 1:19 pm • linkreport

The ANC has little credibility on retail anything:

From the report (p. 33)
"Although AU’s management of retail space at 3201 New Mexico has been abysmal with many street-front vacancies, the retail space next door at 3301 New Mexico Avenue appears to be thriving. That building is not owned by AU and most of the retail is not street-front but located inside a first floor mall area."

On the contrary, about half the store fronts in 3301 are currently vacant. Tree Top Toys left a large space and has not been replaced. A florist left, and was replaced a year later by a hearing aid store. A couple of other vacant spaces have display cases to cover up the empty back rooms. It is far from thriving at 3301 New Mexico either, and that's a result of the economy, not superior or inferior management by a landlord.

by ah on May 2, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

American University - Founded 1892. Any resident nearby that took up residency in their home prior to the founding of the school are allowed to make a legitimate claim on the dorm window treatments. If not, then shut the hell up. You have a world class school, trying to attract world class students by expanding and modernizing. All the current residents moved to that area fully knowing that a University was there. If you don't like that - go buy a house near Leesburg - no universities there. Tom Smith is an ignorant butthole.

by Ace in DC on May 2, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

Does this ANC only represent the Westover Neighbors? I know a lot of people in Wesley Heights (Home owners with excellent jobs who pay a lot of taxes even!) who were giddy at the mention of more retail coming to the neighborhood. Is this ANC district given more weight because they are the closest to the new development? I would think the neighborhood as a whole would skew in favor of the plan. Is it fair that the small handful who bought next to a parkinglot they knew could be developed hold the rest of the area hostage with these ridiculous demands?

by John on May 2, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

I thought it would be worthwhile to provide some perspective on who the ANC is representing. Yes, there are some folks whose homes directly abut the campus, but a large majority live in some of the poshest, most beautiful homes and mansions you'd ever want to see. For fun, last week, I took a bike ride through there and boy, did things become clear to me. In fact, I saw a Grey Poupon commercial being shot on one particularly fancy street. The vast majority of these folks don't want to live near anybody, if they could help it, and certainly don't want any more traffic keeping them (and their cars) from getting downtown.

This is not to imply the folks who live closest to campus have any leg to stand on. The point is that most everyone in that ANC district wants to keep other folks out of their neighborhood, or even between their neighborhood and them driving where-ever. Tom Smith has taken great advantage of this coalition - remember, he's the guy who chairs this ANC and got them to vote against a bike lane that would end at the AU campus, on the grounds that it didn't go anywhere. Sound like Yogi Berra: "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

Mary Cheh has continued to support these folks and their desire to accept no compromise on the retail and dorm issues. Mary, that is pandering to the highest degree, and certainly has nothing to do with your purported support of smart growth.

BTW: AU will win this battle and the politicians who have failed to steer their constituents in the direction of compromise should pay the price for their polarizing approach.

by SAS on May 2, 2011 1:41 pm • linkreport

@John - It's a classic ANC approach. The most affected neighbors object (those immediately next to the sites to be developed) and the rest of the ANC backs them, even though the effects on such neighborhoods as Foxhall Village and the Palisades are negligible.

As for retail, a number of Wesley Heights neighbors circulated a petition that, among other things, insisted that AU should break its contracts for the new upscale pizza place and instead lease to a tenant of their choosing--a grocery store to replace Balducci's, operated by Geoff Tracy.

by ah on May 2, 2011 1:50 pm • linkreport

ANC 3F will be holding a meeting tonight at the Tenley library to discuss the proposed relocation of the American University law school to the Tenley Circle campus. The meeting starts at 7 PM.

by Ben on May 2, 2011 1:51 pm • linkreport

On the window hangings comment from the ANC, I would guess they're more likely referring to flags, signs, etc. that are frequently seen hanging in student windows, and not blinds or drapes. I'm not saying it's a reasonable request from the ANC, but I think the author missed the point that the ANC was trying to make.

by Moose on May 2, 2011 2:05 pm • linkreport

It's stories like these that make me count my blessings that I live in ANC 6C, where our commissioners are concerned with continuing to make our neighborhood a great place to live, rather than regulating window treatments.

We've even got a university, and we get along with them just fine.

by andrew on May 2, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

Just in case you needed any more proof that this ANC is proposing remarkably irrational, unreasonable requests, a few other excerpts from this document include:

"Meeting space on the East Campus should either be eliminated or located underground to minimize the visual and noise impact on neighbors for this use of the site.”

Further, they've requested that AU be required to “prevent use of the Horace Mann recreational space by AU students in order to preserve a quality neighborhood amenity for neighborhood residents and their young children.”

Yes, actually segregating certain residents from a public park. They went there.

by Alison on May 2, 2011 2:14 pm • linkreport

Just to take a different point. Most students are "second" class residents because most will be in the area for 4 years and then move on while most of the residents will be there for decades.

I don't think it very extreme, on some, level that any plan take long term residents plans into view. Any college campus has an inordinate amount of political sway and sometime the opposition needs to be over-the-top to knock that sway down.


I'd guess the ANC's point is that they pay a very high RE tax assessment v. the school that pays zero and any increase in taxes that comes from the site would, in theory, lower theirs, even if a small amount. But only using the site to house students wouldn't house any real RE taxes because it would all be deducted out as charity/non-profit.

by Burger on May 2, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

How is this "prejudiced"?

Seems to me their contempt for window coverings is judged on fact.

by TGEoA on May 2, 2011 2:22 pm • linkreport


The universities in DC pay all sorts of tax revenue to the District. The faculty and staff pay income taxes on wages earned in the District. Students pay sales taxes and the ten percent restaurant tax when they dine out-- which students to a lot. After their sophmore year, many students live off campus and then pay property taxes through their landlords. Additionally, after they graduate, many students from outside the area stay and work in DC, expanding our tax base.

The construction of the east campus dorms on the New Mexico Avenue parking lot will also create a lot of construction jobs over the next 2-3 years, at a time when these jobs are desparately needed. The workers in these jobs will all pay payroll taxes.

by Ben on May 2, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport


You are wrong. The ANC does not exhibit "thinly veiled opposition to students as a class of people." What they exhibit is open contempt for students and their rights.

And Tom Smith is simply crazy. Batshit crazy.

The neighbors from Foggy Bottom and Georgetown are playing with fire when they try to form a coalition with Smith and his crowd. This man in not merely a NIMBY. He's a damned lunatic.

by Not a Tom Smith Fan on May 2, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

As a student at a Pennsylvania university who grew up in AU Park, I really find this kind of anti-student sentiment appalling. If you are going to live in an urban environment near a college, that's your decision, but you've got to live with it. I think having students around a neighborhood, though it can bring disruptions, also brings a sense of vibrancy and life to these edge-of-DC neighborhoods. If these residents want a pristine and quiet life then they really should move to a further-out suburb away from the university. This kind of NIMBY-ism attitude towards students is discrimination, pure and simple. Sometimes I wonder if everyone forgets that they were once young when they turn 30.

by Andrew on May 2, 2011 2:33 pm • linkreport

What I do not understand is that the universities do not band together and go straight to the mayor expressing their concern about these ANCs. Whether it's Georgetown, GW, AU, the ANCs produce reports with nearly identical texts flat out denying anything universities want or need.

by Jasper on May 2, 2011 2:40 pm • linkreport

@Burger -- any retail that would be placed in the new development would be subject to sales tax, so unless the argument is that AU should sell off the parking lot to a developer, or build something completely non-student focused--a la GWU--then I'm not sure where the property tax issue comes into play. Unless I'm mistaken, AU already owns the property, so building a dorm will not reduce property tax revenue on the site from the status quo.

by Jacques on May 2, 2011 2:45 pm • linkreport


This is purely anecdotal but quite the number of DC college students stay in the area after graduating to work and live. The more welcoming we are to students while they are here for their first four years, the more they are likely to stay and work in the metropolitan area, which is a net positive.

by cmc on May 2, 2011 2:46 pm • linkreport

"Just to take a different point. Most students are "second" class residents because most will be in the area for 4 years and then move on while most of the residents will be there for decades."

Individual students may move on after 4 years but the university will be there for many, many years to come, and the needs and preferences of students are not going to change much. So while Joe Smith the student may not be a long term resident, the university as a whole most certainly is and deserves to be treated as such.

Not to mention that a significant number of AU grad students are working professionals with roots in the city, and many AU undergrads will stay on after graduation.

by Erica on May 2, 2011 2:51 pm • linkreport


Yes, but then they become blog reading, coffee sipping, bike riding hipsters that shouldn't have any say in the affairs of the city for another 50 years, if ever.

by William on May 2, 2011 2:51 pm • linkreport

Just to take a different point. Most students are "second" class residents because most will be in the area for 4 years and then move on while most of the residents will be there for decades.

We don't make this distinction for political staffers, who typically have a shelf life of 2-3 years. Why should we make it for students (a HUGE proportion of whom choose to stay in DC)?

If we start treating students like probable future residents, we might be able to work toward improving the communities around our universities without unduly discriminating against current students.

by andrew on May 2, 2011 2:52 pm • linkreport

There is some amount of irony, apparently lost on the ANC, that before Westover Place was built it, like the parking lot on Nebraska Avenue, was an old estate with only one house (or a few) on it. Westover Place was created and greatly increased the density of the area (whether for better or for worse).

Now, having taken advantage of that increased density those owners object the most strenuously to further development adjacent to them. Not that it will happen, but I suspect that if AU sold the property to a developer with plans to build a similar set of townhouses, they would object nearly as vociferously to a development of exactly the type they are in. What's more, that development would be required to provide far less "buffer" space (and no tinted windows) between it and the existing Westover development.

by ah on May 2, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

from a photo of some of the ANC protestors, you can tell that they are very likely to have young children at home:

by aaa on May 2, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

Please, try not to sound so surprised. No one who has been paying attention to the Campus Plan Wars should find this to be anything but sadly predictable and evident from the start.

At least it hasn't devolved into naked racism yet, though UDC neighbors are trying their best...

by Dizzy on May 2, 2011 3:10 pm • linkreport


Interesting complaint about increased traffic. Most AU undergraduates don't have cars. The ones that do are often the same students who were forced off campus due to lack of housing and find it easier to commute by car.

by cmc on May 2, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

I know plenty of people who came to DC as students and are still here years later, and there are plenty of people who come to DC for some other reason, not as students, who stay here for four years or less before moving on.

Certainly students' interests will be better represented in government if they vote and participate in local politics in the proportion other residents do.

by Keith Ivey on May 2, 2011 3:16 pm • linkreport

@Alison: Maybe a compromise can be reached, whereby the students are allowed to use the public park, but only for a few hours each day, and the drinking fountains are strictly segregated.

by Matt W on May 2, 2011 3:21 pm • linkreport

Certainly students' interests will be better represented in government if they vote and participate in local politics in the proportion other residents do.

Getting 9.48% of students to vote doesn't seem impossible...

by Dizzy on May 2, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

My wall hangings as a 28-year old are the same as they were when I was an undergrad.

by Bossi on May 2, 2011 3:35 pm • linkreport

To quote someone on Vox Populi: Apparently every college student in this city has the same rights as a registered sex offender when it comes to going on public park property where children may be present.(

But as a Georgetown student, I have to say, I'm at least a little bit hopeful about this: the zoning commission rejecting these preposterous demands will hopefully set a precedent of rejecting the demands of the NIMBYs.

by Doug on May 2, 2011 3:39 pm • linkreport

The Horace Mann/Park issue is another makeweight. It has a playground, which is not going to be attractive to anyone over the age of 12, and a youth-sized soccer field. You know who uses the soccer field? Stoddert soccer, a private organization, and plenty of people from the neighborhood and outside it, including (from my personal observation) a number of embassy staff and their kids. Wonder how much they pay in taxes?

It's a neighborhood amenity, but I seriously doubt it's going to be very attractive to AU students, who already have pretty good facilities more appropriate for adults than the Horace Mann playground.

by ah on May 2, 2011 3:41 pm • linkreport

Burger, I can't believe you said this: " Just to take a different point. Most students are "second" class residents because most will be in the area for 4 years and then move on while most of the residents will be there for decades."

So you think all the military people, foreign service people or people that change companies and move in 4 years should be "second" class citizens? Boy have you got a strange view of what a citizen is. Maybe you should move to a city where no one moves and then everyone could be first class citizens. When you find that place, please let us all know.

by Steph on May 2, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

I can't believe they have the nerve to bring up the tax-paying status of the students. Do any of them have kids who go to college anywhere other than DC? Do they voluntarily make contributions to that local tax base to offset their own childrens' "drain?"

Anyway, I wonder if Deon Jones, American U. student and ANC 3D07 commissioner, showed up at the meetings that resulted in this manifesto...

by Jamie on May 2, 2011 4:01 pm • linkreport

As a resident and owner in this neighborhood, I am ready for the new life and retail the AU plan will bring. The 'mall' at 3301 N. Mexico is Dead after Starbucks closes.

by snowpeas on May 2, 2011 4:18 pm • linkreport

@Jacques: Unless I'm mistaken, AU already owns the property, so building a dorm will not reduce property tax revenue on the site from the status quo.

But, if AU built retail on the property, then it would not be exempt from property taxes, even though they still own it. The property is only exempt so long as it's used for AU's tax-exempt purpose. That's why there is a property tax issue.

by David desJardins on May 2, 2011 4:24 pm • linkreport

The ANC and nearby residents should be ashamed of themselves. I went to AU and now live in downtown so admittedly I am biased.

Every time AU completes a project they do it with great respect for the community. Just look at the SIS building that just went up...its beautiful! I expect nothing less with regards to the East Campus. Yes students can be rowdy but I never noticed a time where students were going through the neighborhood and trashing it. The University was in place long before Westover Place came in to existence. The people that live there chose to co-exist with a public university.

Though I respect the need for ANC's it also appears they overstep their limits often. I think the neighbors should embrace this plan and work with the university so that everyone is happy. Right now we are dealing with university that is willing to work with its neighbors but neighbors that are not willing to work with the university.

by Tom Lewis on May 2, 2011 4:25 pm • linkreport

What seems to be lost on the myopic neighbors is that there are potentially more benefits to living near a campus than nuisances. This is not a party area. Students don't run around screaming all night. However, what I do see is school children using OUR pool for lessons; older men taking up seats at OUR basketball games; moms walking their dogs and pushing their strollers on OUR quad; couples going to shows at OUR arts center. We all pay a hefty tuition on limited means and yet our campus is still open to OUR community. Maybe AU should try banning neighbors from campus as they have tried to ban students from the neighborhood in everything from parking on the street, to making noise while playing outside on OUR OWN sports fields (!), and now to the housing issue. I would enjoy that.

by ec on May 2, 2011 4:29 pm • linkreport

@Burger: The amount of time someone spends in an area ought to have absolutely no effect on their value in government. I've only lived in DC for a year. Should my needs count less than people who have lived here 20 years? Should I swear to live here for another 20 years before being allowed to vote? What if someone who's lived here 30 years leaves tomorrow?

It's logic like yours that Republicans are using all over the country to disenfranchise student residents: Ostensibly it's because students don't stay there long. So what about people on a one-year detail for work? Or those in the military? Or someone who's 19, but doesn't attend college?

It's also a slippery slope into restricting voting to property owners. If you rent, you obviously don't have a major stake in the community, right? Buy a home or no voting.

by Tim on May 2, 2011 4:32 pm • linkreport

Isn't the average house turned over in about 5 years anyway? That means that even homeowners, on average, spend hardly any more time living in a given neighborhood than students do.

Of course I suspect that the same NIMBY curmudgeons also think that any household that doesn't occupy at least 1/4 acre of land, stable three cars (at lease two of them European), and has been titled to the same family for at least one generation should be afforded the same rights as themselves, either.

by Jamie on May 2, 2011 4:36 pm • linkreport

@David desJardins - so then from a property tax standpoint, it would be in the District's best interest to include retail in the development, right? (Which is exactly one of the things that the ANC argues against).

Or does AU only have to pay property tax if the sole purpose of the property is retail (rather than being incorporated into a dorm).

by Jacques on May 2, 2011 4:36 pm • linkreport

@Jacques: Or does AU only have to pay property tax if the sole purpose of the property is retail (rather than being incorporated into a dorm).

I don't know DC law on this. I think in general what you say is often true in many states, if the primary purpose of the building is to further the educational mission, then it can be 100% exempt from property tax even if it contains some incidental facilities not for research or education. But where that threshold lies and how it is applied, would depend on DC statute and regulations and case law. Is anyone here familiar with those?

by David desJardins on May 2, 2011 4:39 pm • linkreport



This really makes me wonder how many people are standing behind Tom Smith in this endeavor. Is he just a bored (possibly angry) man with too much time on his hands in retirement?

by cmc on May 2, 2011 4:40 pm • linkreport

@cmc - for whatever it's worth, the report states that a petition ( obtained over 600 signatures in opposition.

by ah on May 2, 2011 5:08 pm • linkreport

Students are a HUGE source of revenue. The students per square foot of housing are much higher than other residents, so for packing them into a relatively tiny area, they bring a large amount of purchasing power.

Also, AU does pay taxes on the land, even if students do not.

Some senators, congressman, PRESIDENTS are only in town for 4 years, lets treat them second class as well.

by Julie on May 2, 2011 6:29 pm • linkreport

@Julie, AU does not pay taxes on its property. That is one of the problems with university expansion such as occurs in Foggy Bottom. Perhaps you can relate to the university that ate Foggy Bottom.

I would like to see you figures for student spending as compared to taxes and spending of residents of the ANC area.

You have a neutral playing field here -- please give us your figures.

by Karl on May 2, 2011 7:21 pm • linkreport

@Karl, I don't have any exact figures to give you. However, a question for you. Are you indicating that only those that provide the most economic stimulus have the right to live in that area?

Point taken on university taxes.

by Julie on May 2, 2011 7:32 pm • linkreport

In this case, AU is not taking tax revenue away because it is not removing property from the tax rolls. AU is building on lots it has owned since at least the 1950s, if not earlier.

Of course,the logical end of the argument over taxes is to permit construction of apartment buildings in Foxhall, because they will allow far more people to live in DC and be taxed. Where are Westover Place residents calling for more development in their area?

by Neil Flanagan on May 2, 2011 7:48 pm • linkreport

I thought it would be worthwhile to provide some perspective on who the ANC is representing. Yes, there are some folks whose homes directly abut the campus, but a large majority live in some of the poshest, most beautiful homes and mansions you'd ever want to see. For fun, last week, I took a bike ride through there and boy, did things become clear to me. In fact, I saw a Grey Poupon commercial being shot on one particularly fancy street. The vast majority of these folks don't want to live near anybody, if they could help it, and certainly don't want any more traffic keeping them (and their cars) from getting downtown.

I was starting to buy on to the classist argument ... until I read that last post. It's probably the most classist AND ignorant statement I've read on here to date. The writer may as well have said 'I rode my bike in any area that wasn't at all like where I live, and I got so jealous that I felt they shouldn't have any rights. How dare they exhibit a desire to keep their neighborhood cleaner and nicer than my neighborhood?! How dare they expect these temporary visitors, the students. (i.e. not tax paying resident) to keep to the high standards of the neighborhood. I'm jealous of everything they've worked for and earned (or maybe didn't really work for and earn) and they shouldn't have a right to protect it from a university that is putting profits before education by continually expanding ... as if a university exists to make profit versus not acting like a factory and being concerned more about its students education than their own deep pockets".

by Lance on May 3, 2011 12:05 am • linkreport

@Bossi My wall hangings as a 28-year old are the same as they were when I was an undergrad.

Either you were exceptionally mature for your age back then ... Or you still haven't figured out it's time to grow up now ...

by Lance on May 3, 2011 12:32 am • linkreport

I am a Westover resident and in the picture from The Dish that someone commented above. This article and most of the comments really make more of this "battle" than there is. Forget windows. The neighbors' problems is not with students but with a University leadership that has refused to talk with us about compromises. I wrote the ANC and the Zoning Commission myself to suggest such a compromise that would include space for 520 students on the parking lot site. AU President Kerwin, however, has simply acted like a schoolyard bully and remains determined to do everything his way. Part of AU's tactics has been to sow hostility between students and residents. There is no need for that.

by Jerry Gallucci on May 3, 2011 8:13 am • linkreport

@ Lance. Actually, I do live in an equally fancy neighborhood myself, two blocks from significant retail development and traffic that I welcome being there and don't object to. Hasn't hurt my property value at all. Nice try to out me for being a poor, bike-riding, former AU student hipster. The beauty of the internet Lance is that you never really know who you are hurling bricks at.

by SAS on May 3, 2011 8:50 am • linkreport


This is quite comical. Students are second class citizens based purely on legal rights. Most have no right to vote in local elections because the are not domiciled in DC via AU, but considered residents of where ever their parents live (which might be near AU) because that is were their residence and driver's license says they are from. If they vote in local elections they are committing voter fraud.

The same can be said of various other groups cited supporting the argument they have equal residence rights to those that own homes near AU. If you move to DC with the intent to domicile in DC then you can vote i.e. I am moving to DC for my job with the intention of never going back to where I am from. Going to AU to be a student and possible staying there after school is not intent until said time you have reach the level of making DC your domicile and not returning to your previous state of domicile. Even White House execs that want to run for mayor of Chicago can make a similar argument even though they lived in DC for 2 years. See Rahm Emmanuel.

If any student decides to not reside in DC because some community group said mean things on the basis of wanting to protect the intgerity of their homes and community from an overarching influence of the school and its student then I guess they need to grow up some. The world isn't some place of sunshine and daisies and other people have opinions just as valid as the students.

This is essentially the old age argument of townies/locals v. the school. It doesn't matter where it happens so the amount of nose bending people have here is some what interesting.

So my point is very simple. I can understand someone's position that wants to make sure the school and its students do it right because all the neighboring families and people are the ones to suffer if it goes wrong. However, those fixtures of the community, the students, will be gone after they graduated and don't have to deal with the consequences and the school will be off trying to develop some other area and couldn't care less what happens because it built whatever they wanted to build.

by Burger on May 3, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

Sigh, Burger. You seem to be of the mistaken (yet not uncommon) belief that one's residency is equivalent to where one has a driver's license. Apart from the blindingly obvious (e.g. what if you don't drive) there is actually no legal connection between the two.

Here's a good place for you to start in getting up to speed on the defintion of "resident" as it pertains to the legal status in DC.

There are many options other than having a driver's license. There is no requirement to have been there for any period of time. To vote, you need have been a resident of DC for 30 days prior to an election.

As far as "being gone after they graduate", what difference does that make? As I mentioned before, the average home changes ownership about once every five years, too. Do you think that even homeowners should be afforded fewer rights because on average they'll be gone in a mere five years?

by Jamie on May 3, 2011 3:20 pm • linkreport

@ Jerry Galluci - I too live in the neighborhood. And while I have no doubt that you and other neighbors have tried to approach AU in the spirit of compromise I have also observed repeatedly at the ANC meetings (and elsewhere) that neither the ANC chairman, Tom Smith, nor most of his colleagues seem interested in discussing any kind of compromise. The tone is accusatory and presumes that AU is acting in bad faith.

Perhaps AU is acting in bad faith, or maybe they are not. But making such accusations publicly and frequently is no way to forge productive discussions that might lead to reasonable accommodations by all the sides with varying interests.

by ah on May 3, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

@ ah - I suppose some of us neighbors may have resorted to public "accusations" out of frustration with AU's reluctance to enter real dialogue. But the past is prologue and we remain ready to talk compromise.

BTW, let me note that City Council Chairman Brown wrote to the Zoning Commission urging that it NOT consider the AU Campus plan until residents concern are taken into account.

by Jerry Gallucci on May 3, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

@ah -- "I have also observed repeatedly at the ANC meetings (and elsewhere) that neither the ANC chairman, Tom Smith, nor most of his colleagues seem interested in discussing any kind of compromise."

Sounds like the ANC is as guilty as AU. Doesn't sound like the neighborhood is represented. What gives? Are they just a bunch of egos?

by karl on May 3, 2011 4:43 pm • linkreport

"Either you were exceptionally mature for your age back then ... Or you still haven't figured out it's time to grow up now ..."
Agreed, there comes a time when one should grow up. That's why, after graduating college, I stopped spending an inordinate amount of time trolling on blogs.

by Phil on May 3, 2011 6:11 pm • linkreport

I think it's funny that a partially-built tower in Tenleytown is one of the photos in the article for NIMBY on wikipedia. It appears that the AU area residents are famous Nimbies!

by Mary on May 3, 2011 8:50 pm • linkreport

It's ironic that the loudest voices on the ANC are the type of parents who send their rich kids to schools like AU. It's the rich kids with nothing better to do than party and yell and ruin it for the rest of us.

by Silver Spring on May 6, 2011 7:12 pm • linkreport

Thank you so much for writing this. I have been absolutely appalled by ANC3D's treatment of AU students. I am an undergraduate student at AU and at these meetings there is so much negativity regarding my peers and I. The ANC never brings up the fact that AU students are active volunteers in the community, or that we bring our money to local businesses. The sad thing is that many neighbors bring up legitimate concerns, but those concerns are clouded by rhetoric calling for window locks and other ridiculous meausres.

by Tyler Sadonis on May 10, 2011 12:39 am • linkreport

As a student (and someday, and alum) of AU, I wish to see my university expand in a way that allows the university to continue with the growth in academic excellence. It seems fairly logical to suggest that as universities grow, their campuses (both residential and academic) need to do so as well. Anyone who has set foot into a "temporary triple" on campus is aware of AU's great need for housing; yet when the university proposes a plan, it is torn apart by this ANC. AU students bring so much to the area (volunteering, babysitting, sporting events, political speakers, business, etc.)and it is a shame that the ANC seems to view the student community/university with such disdain. While I believe that relations between the university and the neighborhood are at a good point, it seems as if there is a loud and angry group of individuals who are opposed to any sort of change. Yes, this plan may not be the best one, and yes, there are legitimate concerns, but you cannot simply demonize any and all hopes for growth simply because they come from AU.

by Carla on May 10, 2011 1:13 am • linkreport

The windows need to be tinted because the residents may not be able to bear the sight of my American flag in the window. The horror...

by Indiana Joe on May 10, 2011 2:33 am • linkreport

I always notice, as a student at AU, that the neighbors don't mind we're here when they walk their dogs on our private campus property (and leave their dog's shit on the ground), go to events at Katzen or Bender, or play with their children on the Quad. I'll second the statement that the University was charted in 1893 by an Act of Congress and if the neighbors were there before 1893, they have a right to pull the "we were here first so we're more important" card. But they weren't. You moved in to your home, knowing full well a University (and not even a particularly large one) would be one of your neighbors. Work with us, not against us. Because I hate to break it to you, but AU will be here long after you move away.

by Amy on May 10, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

They object to typical college dorm window dressings?

I'm a former AU student, and can vouch that 99% of the stuff decorating dorm windows is completely innocuous. Heaven forbid any neighborhood residents are forced to lay eyes on a foreign flag, a couple greek letters, or - GASP- a vaguely hippie-ish tapestry wall hanging!

by Anna on May 10, 2011 6:36 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us