East Campus in the Washington Post

Today’s Washington Post includes a story about East Campus development, the first time the Post has reported on the project. The story summarizes the project rather quickly and mentions some of its goals, including the aim to increase the university’s supply of graduate housing.

The article also mentions the concern some current business-owners have as to the impact that such a large development may have on the existing downtown:

“One of the goals of this east campus project is to help all of the area,” said John Brown III, who is working with a university committee on behalf of downtown businesses. “It doesn’t benefit if all of a sudden that area becomes a wonderful new town center and we see everything else decay.”

Also in the works, says the article, is some sort of revenue transfer agreement between the University and the City, which no doubt feels entitled to some of the action.

City Election Likely Jan. 16

Thanks to technicalities in city election regulations it appears the special election to fill two vacancies on the College Park City Council will be held January 16, a few days before spring semester classes begin. The city charter requires the special election be held within 45 days of any vacancy, and Councilmembers Eric Olson and Joseline Peña-Melnyk have announced they intend to resign their seats at the December 4th meeting.

Thus far three people have indicated they are interested in running for the seats. In District 3, Old Town Civic Association President Stephanie Stullich and Rethink College Park Editor David Daddio told the Diamondback they intended to run for Olson’s seat. If he officially files to run Daddio will take a leave of absence from this website, and we intend to cover all candidates equally. In District 4, student Nick Aragòn intends to run. Aragòn was formerly involved in the SGA, a former Student President of the University System of Maryland, and has been involved in efforts to lobby to control tuition costs.

Students interested in voting who will be absent for the election can vote by absentee ballot. For more election information contact the office of the City Clerk at 301-864-8666.

> Gazette: “City considers delaying election for UMD voters
> Diamondback: “City likely to rely on absentee ballots for election
> Diamondback: “Students Intend to Run for City Council

In other news, we hope all our readers have a safe an enjoyable Thanksgiving break. If you are staying in the area please remember Shuttle-UM will have no service on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week.

UPDATE

Anyone who will be “unavoidably absent” from College Park on election day (January 16th) can requests an ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION. Each voter must submit this application by January 7th in order to participate in the special election.

Want to Run For City Council?

If you live in College Park’s Council Districts 3 or 4 you can! The election of Councilmembers Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Eric C. Olson to higher office mean the city plans to hold a special election to fill the seats in January.

Council District 3 includes all of Old Town (including Frat Row and the Graham Cracker), all of the Commons buildings, Knox Towers, Graduate Gardens, Calvert Hills, and all of College Park east of the railroad tracks. District 4 includes the the Denton and Cambridge Communities (But not the Ellicott Community), the Knox Boxes, the Courtyards, and the areas Northwest of campus including Crystal Springs and College Park Woods. Candidates must be at least 21years old to run at the time of the election and have to have continuously resided in the City of College Park for 1 year leading up to the election.

VIEW THE 2006 CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT MAP

The election is tentatively scheduled for January 16th (a few days before spring term classes begin). Students interested in running should contact the city clerk (301-864-8666).

> Diamondback: “Quiet ignorance: Students must participate in special election“, “Election to fall during break

Suppressing Student Housing

The following published in my biweekly column in today’s Diamondback. The views expressed don’t necessarily represent the views of this site or its other authors.

If you go to city council meetings on any given Tuesday, you are likely to find two students in attendance. One is student liaison Jesse Blitzstein, and the other a Diamondback reporter. Indeed, it’s hard for students to think of anything more boring than these weekly meetings. Zoning amendments, curb cut debates and speed bumps don’t draw students en masse. Despite its reputation as a powerless governing body, the council does wield some power. Recently, it’s discovered a series of ingenious and underhanded ways to sort out the city’s population and determine where and how students live. So I’m forced to come forward and reveal a disturbing and largely unnoticed trend – the council consistently attempts to suppress student housing in College Park.

It has developed a threefold strategy to achieve this goal and manipulate the city housing market. These policies, combined with the increasing demand students have for housing near the campus, translate into the desperate housing crunch we face today. This means high rents now and even higher rents in the near future.

Last year the council enacted its “rent stabilization ordinance,” capping single-family house rents at 1 percent of a building’s assessed value. Students were quick to realize this policy did nothing to address the real reason for the high cost of renting in College Park – sheer lack of housing. The city’s vacancy rate stands at an amazingly low 2.8 percent, and students have shown that they are willing to pay a premium to live near the campus in what basically amounts to slum housing. Indeed, the rent stabilization ordinance explicitly states the council’s goal of “reducing the number of single-family homes that are rental properties,” in order to “stabilize neighborhoods.” One might logically conclude that, after taking action removing students from neighborhoods, the council would do everything it could to facilitate more student towers like the University View.

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