Lydia DePillis reports on neighborhoods mobilizing against universities:
Most of the universities have some group that resists their expansion, whether explicitly (like AU’s Neighbors for a Livable Community) or in their capacities as citizens associations. Now, for the first time, activists from around the city are coming together to push the Wilson Building for laws that “protect communities” against “aggressive university growth.”
The District-Wide Coalition of University Neighborhoods has a six-member organizing committee of people from the American, Georgetown, Howard, Catholic, and George Washington areas, and has so far been endorsed by the Foggy Bottom Association, Citizens Association of Georgetown, and Burleith Citizens Association. They plan to incorporate as a non-profit and advocate for stricter caps on enrollment, containing new student housing, and anything else that would keep “disruptive” students under wraps.
As I’ve said before, I think it would be smart for economics teachers to try to draw more of their examples of government intervention into the marketplace from this sort of domain. Maybe it’s a good idea for rich, politically powerful households who live near rich, politically powerful universities to use the power of the state to restrict universities from deploying their property as they see fit or maybe it’s a bad idea. But like all interventions into the marketplace, these interventions create some distortions. And this kind of issue is a much more typical and realistic example of a deviation from the abstract ideal of a free market. It’s not particularly “ideological” it’s just people who want to use the political system to get their way.