Town, Gown, and Real Estate

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"Town, Gown, and Real Estate"

Lydia DePillis summarizes ANC2E’s demands on Georgetown University:

New enrollment caps should be set lower than the current student population, in order to remedy past injustices.
— Limits must be imposed on the number of students living off-campus, with further enrollment decreases if those limits are not met.
— Magis Row on 36th Street should revert from undergraduate housing to accommodations for older faculty.
The University should not be permitted to acquire more property in zip code 20007 without approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
— University and Hospital buses should not be allowed to go through the neighborhoods, but rather enter and exit the campus via Canal Road only.
— Students who commute to Georgetown by car should not be allowed to park in the surrounding neighborhood.
— Georgetown should create a shuttle system to ferry students from M Street bars back to campus on weekend nights.
— Georgetown must develop strong measures to address off-campus student conduct, treating parties outside the university gates, for example, as strictly as those inside it.

Obviously, when neighborhood governing bodies put forward these kind of proposals they’re making local real estate policy. They’re not trying to make nationwide education policy. But these kind of town/gown conflicts are by no means rare. And when each and every college-adjacent neighborhood in America adopts an expansion-hostile policy regime, the aggregate impact must be pretty large. It’s conventional to focus on “[a]ccreditation constraints and social signaling constraints” as the main barriers to more normal higher ed competition, but I wonder about real estate factors. Most of America’s old-timey colleges did, in fact, have periods of aggressive expansion that these days are furiously resisted by neighbors. If the downside to making it easier for Georgetown University to expand is that rich Georgetown residents might lose some home equity is that really something we should cry over?

I think “broader college opportunities and more competition in the higher education sector” should be a higher social priority than “protect rich people’s fear of change.”

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