Worse than we ever imagined

Dback opinion page - housing crisisKnox BoxesThe student housing crunch in College Park is not new by any means. It’s been going on far longer than the 9 months or so we’ve been covering it. Yet, yesterday’s revelation that 639 seniors will be dropped from on-campus housing next year hit a lot of folks close to home and has triggered a level of student organization that has not been seen since the great Facebook rebellion of 06′. Some groups plan to stage a protest in front of Annapolis Hall every hour, on the hour, starting at noon today to criticize the Dept. of Resident Life’s 11th hour decision. Res life also plans a forum Monday at 1:30 in the Hoff Theater in the Student Union.

Indeed, the 639 number is just the beginning of next year’s waitlist which will be quite a bit higher once it incorporates lesser priority groups. The new Freshman deadline for housing applications doesn’t even occur till May 1st. More enlightened students will realize that if they aren’t affected by this round of eviction notices, their time may come if they seek on campus housing their senior year and don’t secure a South Campus Commons or Courtyards room.

So what exactly caused the crisis?

Clearly, the answer is a change in housing preferences as more and more underclassmen (and undergrads) vie for limited on-campus spots. The crisis IS NOT (we repeat: IS NOT) a result of increased enrollment at UMD, which was capped after the school became the state’s “flagship university” 15 years ago. IT IS the result of the university’s lack of available debt to build new dormitories. As we noted yesterday, UMD has not built a traditional dormitory since La Plata Hall in 1968 nor a suite-style dorm since New Leonardtown in 1982. They tried to build a new north campus dorm last year, but were handily rejected by the Board of Regents.

Who’s to blame?

It’s clear that Res Life erred in waiting so long in notifying students of their ineligibility for housing. That being said, they are not responsible for the failure to build more housing. Annapolis is responsible because tight purse strings led them to demand that UMD’s housing be self supporting. This caused the need, in recent years, for public-private partnerships like Commons and Courtyards, university land contributions like University View, and county incentives/giveaways for buildings like the Towers at University Town Center.

What’s not cut and dry is who’s responsible to house students – the city Jefferson Square Condominiums(+ county) or the university? Yesterday’s post drew maybe the most fierce comment string we’ve ever seen on this site. Opinions ran the gamut, but most will see that really both the private and public sector should play a role. It’s worth pointing out that both have made progress in recent years on the student housing front but somewhere along the way their efforts fell flat. Virtually no designated undergraduate student housing is on the way (in the city or on campus) and even standard (and existing) rental housing is having trouble navigating through the local planning and political process. Indeed the city has recently:

-instituted a rent control ordinance on single-family homes

-mandated owner occupancy requirements in nearly every project coming through the pipeline

-is pursuing the limitation of incentives for student housing via Annapolis

What’s the solution?

Clearly we need a multifaceted approach to student housing that includes the university bearing some of the burden. That does not mean they should pick up all or even most of the slack. The city needs to move forward with incentives for housing in Lakeland, the Knox area, and along Route 1 or surely the their neighborhoods will be so overcome with transient renters that they will be virtually unrecognizable in 15 years.

Jack Perry, a District 2 City Councilmen is quoted in today’s Diamondback as saying, “The University of Maryland needs the housing; we don’t. This is the city of College Park, not the campus of the University of Maryland.”

We say NO to Mr. Perry because his standpoint (the least enlightened on the city council) is a form of mutually assured destruction. Think like a mountain, Mr. Perry, think 5,000 to 7,000 beds.

19 thoughts on “Worse than we ever imagined”

  1. Seniors and Juniors at UMCP have invested a lot in the school that they attend. I believe it’s only fair to invest in them and providing adequate housing would be a good start…

  2. Hey Mote and Brodie Remington and the Alumni Association:

    These students will remember this when you hit them up for $$$ in a few years. Is it too Great of an Expectation for a Senior in good standing to be treated a little better than this?

  3. I’m extremely disgusted by UMD screwing people over once again. The UMD administration needs to get their sh*t together, right now. And they need to stop treating the University like a for profit business. The University is a public institution of higher education. P-U-B-L-I-C. Oh, and to Mr. Perry, you need to rethink your statement. The University brings a huge amount of commerce into College Park. In addition, if you have more students living in the city/campus rather than commuting from their families’ homes, that means they do a good deal of their eating/shopping in town or nearby. Something about naming a town College Park makes me think there is a college there, and that it might be very important in some way or another.

  4. I’ve read that some students are planning to set up a shanty town of tents on campus during Maryland Day to show prospective students and their families what it’s like trying to get campus housing.

    If they follow through, one would expect the Administration to blush.

  5. I think that Maryland Day is the best opportunity for these kids to get their voices heard, especially if they, oh I dont know, let the local news media know about whats going on, and get them to show up…..
    Another good idea would be to stake out the popular tour routes around campus, and just have a few clusters of the affect kids their, handing out leaflets and holding some signs

    and as far as Perry is concerned, the only reason College Park isn’t a slum-land is because about 10-15 thousand people reside their, even only temporarily. You only need to look at this city during winter and summer break (even spring break) to see how dead that town becomes, he needs to open his eyes and look around……

  6. I thought I wasnt going here but since some derivation of the word “think” has been used in association with the name “Jack Perry” (that alone is laughable….never thought RTCP could be good for some hearty laughs) I feel inclined to say it.

    I am certain Perry just does not get it. So much so that Im narrowing my search for a home to purchase in CP to his district so I can make his life a living hell. (even if Calvert Hills is my favorite neighborhood – Ill move down to CH after enough time in lovely Hollywood (that is still his district, isnt it? Mr Catlin?) to either a) drive him over the edge or b) get him ousted) That guy has been a p.o.g. since the Owens administration in the 90s. I used to leave city council meetings shaking my head wondering how people like that can actually survive in this world. If I was at meetings today Id probably feel sorry for him. Just drive about 7 or so miles in either direction on Rte 1 if you want a glimpse of what CP would be like w/o UM. Also – unless hes over 150 some odd years old, I think the U was here first so not exactly sure why he decided to live in CP. Mr Catlin, maybe you could invite him on here to comment on that

    but this is all beside the point.

    If Dandy Dan wasnt so busy globe trotting and focused on China maybe we wouldnt have this mess. I sure am glad we have such great presence overseas. That really helps the students back at home to enjoy a quality enriching experience.

    IT IS A STATISTICALLY PROVEN FACT that students who live on campus foster a stronger emotional bond with their alma mater (than the commuters) which translates into higher levels of giving down the line. (It is also proven that it is just this kind of ineptitude that makes someone a non-giver for life) This is the only way you get anywhere with this administration. You have to tie everything to alumni giving.

    Of course the students currently on the receiving end of this golden screw will not be hit up for donations until long after Dandy Danny Boy is retired in the hills of Napa…..or will it be China………….

  7. wait Im not finished.

    Here is why I am disappointed in the Mote Administration (I can put aside the blatant money grab that has come to symbolize his tenure…..in some ways Im ok with that because giving rates are factored into rankings and love em or hate em – the rankings are here to stay and right or wrong people use them to form judgements and perceptions….so theoretically, the more we give, the more we help raise the rankings)

    Im disappointed because we have been sitting on such an emormous golden opportunity for so many years to solve this (well at least alleviate it) all while MAKING A LOT OF MONEY off of it, AND providing educational experiences for our students.

    Im talking about the Knox Box area. Ive been preaching this SINCE 1991. Why am I so riled about it?

    Think about it – we could do a large scale redevelopment without political upheaval from the townsfolk because its a relatively isolated area in that very very very few non students reside west of US1 between Knox and Guliford

    We have alums (Smith to name 1) who run some of the largest area developers…
    We have alums who run huge construction companies (Clark)
    We have alums in key positions with investment banks (Goldfarb)
    We have the ability to use the University’s bond ratings to obtain cheaper financing
    We have students enrolled in one of the nation’s finest Business School, one of the best Architecture Schools, and one of the best Engineering School

    So we pull all this together and form The Diamondback Corporation, and get down to business (sounds like an issue of the Apprentice….hey, maybe TrUMp could be a player)

    It would be the envy of our peer institutions to pull together all of these constituencies to solve a problem and oh yeah, give our students unmatched educational and career development opportunities and – wouldnt you know it (eh em – cough cough -Pres Mote) make a little money in the process…..EVERYBODY WINS – EVEN BRAYMAN AND PERRY

    The only objections the Jackarse Perrys of the world could try to throw at it:

    * Environmental sensitivity (?!?!) of Guilford Run (“That Ditch Down the Middle of Guilford Rd”) – – – got a solution for that – maybe Rich and David will let me do a post on “my baby” – its in the charette flickr drawings

    * traffic and congestion – – – bring more students closer to campus they wont need to drive down Rte 1 from Howard and Montgomery County

    Where has Mote’s admin been on this?

    Out collecting money and visiting China.

  8. Housing shortages on campus are not unique to UM, many universities do not guarantee housing to juniors and seniors.

    So what is the short term solution to the shortage of housing?
    Many students who live on campus permanent residences are within walking/biking distance of campus. Doesn’t it seem logical that those students should be the first to lose campus housing.
    In the past they’ve made doubles into triples and triples into quads…are they planning on doing this?
    Why doesn’t the University bring in some modular homes (FEMA type) and locate them on the President’s front yard, the golf course, maybe some of the athletic fields, since UM is first and foremost an “educational institution”. How about floating some house boats on the “lake” in the middle of the golf course.

    The University is not willing to build more dorms because they realize there are swings in demand for housing. Yet many of you seem to think constructing more buildings for students off campus is the solution…not so sure…what happens when this cycle for increased housing ebbs and many of the buildings are vacant…that would certainly make College Park a classy place.

    From an interview Bob Levy of the Washington Post did with Mote in 1999. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/99/levey/bob223.htm
    College Park: [H]ow will you address the housing crisis in the upcoming years? Any new residence halls being built? [edited for space]

    C.D. Dan Mote: Sufficient and adequate housing for our students is a problem as it is at many other universities in the country. In 1993 we had 1100 empty beds in our dorms and in 1998 we turned away 900 students. Such is the problem with short-term swings in demand and long-term solutions through building dorms. We are working together with a developer who is planning a 1000 bed, private housing complex, adjacent to the campus. This complex could open in Fall 2000 and go a long way to solving the near-term housing problem. Clearly, there are many issues to be addressed. We currently house more than 8,000 undergraduate students, about 38% of our students. We have no current plan to build a new dorm on the campus.

    What is the short term solution?

  9. B Young,
    There is a clear need for a relatively small amount of undergrad housing on-campus because the waitlist has been trending steadily upwards for 8-10 years. There are structural changes at the university that make it a completely different institution than it was 10 years ago. That being said, I’m not advocating (nor have I ever) for the university to house every single student at the university. It is their (and the state’s) job to subsidize housing and they’ve shown an interest in doings so for years and will continue doing that on the grad student front for east campus (+2000 grad beds). I have always advocated for a redeveloped route 1 that provides amenities for the people and institutions in College Park as opposed to used car lots and psychic shops for people in the region. In the past these establishments thrived, but there are signs today that housing may reign king in CP one day. The private market can take much of the housing pressure off. I do hope it’s near campus and the county can work towards that end. If the housing demand starts trending downwards, CP can always pull from a metropolitan area that is experiencing rapid and sustained population growth.

  10. We may not like how the University of handling the current housing crunch – but this IS going to get the attention of those who have been elected, maybe they will see the light and send money towards the campus……

    I want to know why we have housing rules that seem to be enforced against College Students, but not others. I am tired of complaining to the City. Houses around me in North College Park are no longer housing students, but other groups. I am appalled at home many illegal (or perhaps they have permits, who know) apartments are going into single family homes, the amount of cars on the streets, the amount of trash, the lack of the needed trash carts, etc.

    The small cape code next to me is now 3 apartments with more than 10 cars and I have lost track to how many people are living in the house. I would take College Students any day, in fact many of the house around me used to house college students.

    If I was a current college student, looking for housing, I would not want to live in this part of College Park any longer.

    Personally I would prefer College Students as neighbors.

    I am also tired of the city council fighing the developers. We need change.

    I am also worried about the changing demographics, but if I keep typing I will go completey off topic……. public schools……
    how is the world can the University go after top notch academic staff and then let them know, oh, if want your children in public schools, you need to live x amount of miles away from campus…..

  11. great points CP Resident – disturbing ones – but great points. I hope you go to council meetings – I hope you speak – I hope you join forces with your neighbors who share your concerns and form a voting block

    Is that Byrd fella (no relation to H C Curly Byrd of U Md fame – but “Big Byrd” – Don I think his name was) still the inspector/code enforcement guy?

  12. CP Resident,
    I agree with what you’re saying, housing codes need to be enforced for everyone. I have much better luck voicing my concerns to my Council Members (I guess they want my vote) than complaining directly to City Employees. City employees jump into action when Council Members contact them. I have great luck if I email my Council Members and cc Joe Nagro. I’ve heard others say the same thing. I hope this helps you resolve some of the concerns you expressed.

  13. The Code enforcement department is headed up by Bob Ryan, a retired Univ of MD employee. Don Byrd retired about seven years ago, served briefly on the City Council, and now heads up the local Meals on Wheels Program.

    The Code enforcement staff has been increased from 7.5 to 10 in the past couple years. But they still have plenty of work to do. The number of new unlicensed rental properties throughout the City are and have been increasing. The City tracks down some on their own, but it is a lot easier and faster if residents can ask about suspicious properties. And yes let your Council Members know of your specific concerns.

    I am not sure what “CP resident” means by being tired of the City fighting developers. In north College Park the Civic Association there has gotten so that it does almost all of the negotiating with developers. The City Council does little more than echo the recommendations of that Civic Association. The City Council which only makes recommendations to the County’s Planning Board, has yet to chase away any developer with its concerns/recommendations. I don’t know how you can have a better pro-business record than that.

  14. Of course there is a difference between chasing developers away and making the process so burdensome that you create an environment of uncertainty that developers are uneasy about. I think terrapin station is a good example of that as well as Mazza Grandmarc. You can’t certainly point to the county on the latter, but I don’t know enough of the history of the former.

  15. The County makes the process burdensome, without our help. The only significant cost thing we are interested in that the County does not push is rush hour shuttles or other promotion of public transit use. We (city and county) don’t push for affordable housing like other jurisdictions do. I am not sure what David thinks Terrapin Station is an example of; the only real dispute there arose well after construction was underway and it had no impact on the project’s timing.

  16. I was under the impression that its opening (not construction) was delayed because of unresolved parking issues.

  17. The Diamondback’s many Terrapin Station stories contained a multitude of unbelievable errors/lies. I sat down with the reporter to go over all the mistakes in detail in two instances and each time the Diamondback responded by putting a new reporter on the story who only knew the story based on the previous Diamondback reporting. I am still waiting for a final story on the case as a lawsuit is pending trial sometime in the future. I should make sure Mr. Litton knows not to write any future stories on the subject without my input.

  18. The development where Mandalay was – the original plans were better, I guess I could become more involved….
    I know Don Byrd, Bob Ryan, Dave Milligan, John Krouse, Steve Brayman etc. I know how the city works. I have spoken to them all about my neighbors, the trash, the RATS.
    Students that apply for admission here need a safe, friendly, budget conscience place to live. A new dorm was to be built on North Campus – what happened to the funding?

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