City Paper Widget

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's the Deal with the Census Forms in the Mail?

Tens of thousands of DC and Maryland homes have received or soon will receive an envelope in their mailboxes marked "Your response is required by law". That's because the part of DC west of 7th Street NW, plus much of Montgomery County, Maryland, has been chosen as the venue to test new technology in preparation for the 2020 Census.

The orange dotted line shows the area to be surveyed
"It's the only area of the country that's actually doing an actual census," Al Millikan of US Census Bureau told Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC)  6E/Shaw on June 3.

At the ANC6E meeting on June 3, Al Millikan of the US Census Bureau appeared to announce the availability of temporary jobs, full or part time, of several months' duration, paying $17 an hour or more. He said that DC west of 7th Street, starting at New York and Pennsylvania Avenues in the South and extending all the way north to the city line, was being surveyed.

"There's going to be use of technologies -- I-phones, GPS -- that really haven't been used in the past census," Millikan said.

"In 2020, there might be a possibility of people able to fill their Census forms online," he also said.

Census employees would start being sent out about July 10 to contact people who had not responded on-line to the survey before July 1, Millikan said.

Millikan could not answer several questions ANC Commissioners had. For example, he failed to answer, twice, the same question from two Commissioners: Is participation mandatory?

"Everyone is expected to respond to the Census," was the closest he got to an answer.

Nor was Millikan particularly clear in response to a question about how the US Census Bureau was going to get the word out about the Census test, or about how Census enumerators will arrange to get access to high-rise buildings.

Millikan remarked that hiring preference was given to people who lived in the Census area. Someone asked Millikan, twice, if this meant that applicants from DC's three other quadrants were not eligible for Census jobs. After the second attempt, Millikan mentioned that he had interviewed people from Northeast and Southeast for jobs. While this did not directly answer the question, it seemed to indicate that all four quadrants were welcome.

The welcome screen of the census test
I received a notification from the Census in the mail and have just finished participating. It takes about 15 minutes.

My suggested improvement: To respond, you have to type in a URL from a piece of paper. The census bureau could provide an alternate shorter address formed with the help of a URL-shortener.

See a press release about the 2014 field test for the 2020 Census here. The field test also has a web page here.

ANC6E has a Youtube Channel, on which they post meetings in their entirety. See Millikan's appearance by clicking on this link and starting at time 9:00.

ANC6E is having its July meeting tomorrow night, July 1, at 6:30pm, at the Northwest One Library (155 L Street NW). See the agenda here. ANC6E will have its next regularly scheduled meeting in September.

Friday, June 27, 2014

TENAC Joins Opposition to St. Thomas' Parish Episcopal Church Project

Last night (June 26), the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition (TENAC) voted, without seeming opposition, to support a group opposing a proposed multi-story apartment building on Church Street. The proposed building will go on the space currently occupied by St. Thomas' Parish Episcopal Church (1772 Church Street NW). The funds raised by this project will help St. Thomas' Parish build a new church on the unoccupied land they own next door, which has functioned as a park for over 40 years.

The current church entrance
The complex backstory to this project is chronicled in part in SALM blog posts of May 29 and February 28.

TENAC Chairman Jim McGrath introduced the subject by saying the St. Thomas' Parish project had been "placed wrong" and had caused "hardship, heartache, and turmoil". McGrath has previously spoken at meetings of those opposed to the project.

McGrath introduced Andrew Ellenbogen, of the group Neighbors of St. Thomas Church DC, which opposes the development. He gave some background on the controversy. St. Thomas Parish Church was an early supporter of the campaign against AIDS and for the LGBT community. After the church burned down in 1970, he said, the leadership of the church said "we're going to eschew re-building" and that they were going to "leave this park as a ministry".

"Times can change," he continued.

The church had decided on this project and was "closed off to dialogue," Ellenbogan said. The church had shown a "failure to respect historic preservation."

There will be legally-mandated affordable housing units in the project, under a DC program called "inclusionary housing".

"Inclusionary housing just allows the buildings to be higher," Ellenbogan said.

The building was a "new modern colossus," he said.

Ellenbogan commented on working with Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

"The ANC, that's been an incredible challenge," he said.

In conclusion, he called the church "a rock in the community".

McGrath returned to the podium and presented a "very simple resolution", which expressed "opposition to the high-rise condo as a serious disruption".

Of the roughly 70 people in the room at the time, all people who voted (much more than half) were in favor. Some people did not raise their hands or otherwise show support when called upon to do so. But no one indicated they were against the resolution, nor were there any abstentions.

Former DC City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz was in the audience. I could not see if she voted. She made no comment on the proposal.

DC City Councilmembers Jim Graham (D-Ward One) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large) were scheduled to appear at the meeting, which was billed as an "open board meeting" by TENAC. Graham and Bonds were not present at the time the vote was taken.

Coverage of this story has also appeared in the blogs Greater Greater Washington and District Source.

Cheater's Guide to "Dream City" -- Part 3 (Roots of Anger)

This is the third installment of a series (see the first two installments here) summarizing the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. This book has recently been republished as an ebook and a paper book. HBO has plans to use material from the book to make a movie about the life of Marion Barry.

Chapter 2: Roots of Anger

In 1967, Marion Barry jaywalked at the corner of 13th and U Streets NW. He was nearly run down in the street. When police confronted him, he swore at them. When police (addressing Barry as "boy") told him he'd be fined five dollars, he swore some more. He refused to show ID. He was arrested. He scuffled with police. He was released early the next morning on $1,015 bail.

"The majority of black Washingtonians thought that Marion was a thug," said radio and television veteran Jerry Phillips (l. 484).

Marion Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi but lived in Memphis, Tennessee from age four to when he finished college in 1958, part of a family of ten.

Barry's mother said: "We weren't poor. It was just so many mouths. We always had plenty to eat, clothes, a decent place to live." (l. 508)

Barry has a Master's Degree in Chemistry. He was a few credits short of a doctorate.

While studying as an undergraduate, he became involved in the still-new civil rights movement in Nashville. He worked to desegregate lunch counters and libraries.

He was present at the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and became its first chair. He attended the 1960 Democratic Convention and testified before the platform committee. He got his first mention in the national media -- the New York Post.

During the same period, Barry met, wooed, married, abandoned, and was divorced from this first wife, Blantie Evans. Barry did a lot of womanizing, and was accused of sexual assault.

"He was abusive," says now-Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). "He knocked women around." (l. 618)

Barry moved to DC for the first time in 1965. He lived above the SNCC office at 107 Rhode Island Avenue. He did a lot of fund-raising.

"... Barry wasn't satisfied just with raising money. He sensed that SNCC was losing its clout and that the civil rights movement itself was moving into a new phase..." (l. 653)

In December 1965, city bus fares were raised from 20 to 25 cents. Barry and allies set up a successful bus boycott. When a home rule bill died in Congress, Barry and allies set up the "Free DC" campaign.

Storeowners were asked to display a "Free DC" signs in the window of their stores and donate five dollars. However, Barry got into the business of personally walking into larger Jewish-owned retail stores and asking for a larger donations based on his estimation of what the store could afford. This caused some allies to drop Barry, but many businesses, "especially along the 14th Street and H Street corridors" (l. 725), put up the signs.

Barry and the President of DC's powerful Board of Trade alternately traded publicly insults and arranged to meet each other privately.

As the Free DC movement wound down in late 1966, Barry met his second wife, Mary Treadwell.

"In the aftermath of Free DC, he [Barry] penned long memos to SNCC and sharpened his aim at confrontations that would galvanize the black community's rage. The police were clearly the most obvious villains..." (l. 789)

Barry's trail on charges stemming from the jaywalking incident filled the courtroom. His defense team lined up character witnesses of various races and professions, including a retired police officer and many clergy members. Barry was acquitted. Barry made a speech outside the courthouse, declaring his case "a great victory for Negroes and poor people". (l. 808)

The white arresting police officer, Tommy Tague, was painted as a racist, and his life was made miserable. "Black activists picketed his house in Prince Georges Country, Maryland, and threw rocks through his window. His dog was poisoned, he suspects by protesters. The picketers used a bullhorn outside his home. A month later, Tague's wife moved out with the children. She later filed for divorce." (l. 811)

" 'I made Marion Barry,' says Tommy Tague." (l. 810)

Cheater's Guide to Dream City continues next week

Further installments will appear on successive Fridays. All posts will be cross-posted on the ad-hoc "Cheater's Guide to Dream City" blog.

Full disclosure: I have a commercial relationship with Amazon. I will receive a very small portion of the money people spend after clicking on an Amazon link on this site.

This is a great book and well worth reading in its entirety.

Read the next installment of Cheater's Guide to "Dream City" here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stead Park Improvement Community Meeting: East Gate Killed

The Board of the Friends of Stead Park, plus representatives from D.C.'s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and Alexandria-based landscape architects Studio 39, met on June 23 with community members to brief about the soon-to-start renovation of Stead Park (1625 P Street NW). The new design for the renovation included gates on both the east and west sides of the park. Several of the neighbors on the east side of the park came to oppose the gate. After some discussion, the board members agreed to remove the east gate from the project.
Stead Park is in need of some beautification.

"If there's a strong sense you want to kill the east gate, we're OK with that," a Board member said.

Friends of Stead Park President Christopher Dormant chaired the meeting. He said the group and its partners had been working on obtaining the necessary permits from the DC government since January.  They still were not finished with the permitting process. He told the community that some agreed-upon aspects (like the rubber jogging track around the permeter) would not be renegotiated, but community input was still solicited. Groundbreaking was scheduled for next month.

Landscape architect Dan Dove of Studio 39 briefed on the project details. During his presentation, Dove said the east gate was a new addition to the project. It wasn't the drawings during the last presentation to the community in January 2013.

"Where did this come from?" one audience member said during the subsequent Q-and-A session. "This is a major change to be snuck in at the last minute."

"We're very willing to talk about it," Dove replied.

"I didn't hear about this," said another local resident who said people called her "the church lady."

"I think we could have provided some very good feedback," she said.

The presenters said they had done a survey of the park's neighbors, but the neighbors who opposed the gate said they had never heard of such a survey.

"You can never reach everyone," said Friends of Stead Park board member Kishan Putta. Putta is also a Commissioner, representing district 04, on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

(Full disclosure: Kishan Putta is also running for an At-Large seat on DC City Council and I have contributed to his campaign.)

Well before the end of the meeting, Dormant indicated the east gate was not a vital issue and would be removed if the nearby residents were against it.

Other issues discussed:
  • The height of the new permeter fence. It will be lower than the existing chain-link fence (10 feet vs. 16 feet). Some people felt this was too short.
  • Trees. There will be shade trees lining the inside permeter of the park. These Willow Oak trees will start at 14 feet tall and (in addition to providing shade) should absorb sound and perhaps also intercept the occasional misdirected ball before it exits the park.
  • Areas outside the purview of this renovation. They include the 163-year-old building on the P Street side of the site, and the poorly-paved alleys just outside Stead Park's fences.
  • Artificial turf. The presenters said the quality of artificial turf had improved tremendously in the last few years.
  • "We're going to be very aggressive on rat abatement."
  • The performance stage. Neighbors were reassured the stage did not have the infrastructure necessary for large, noisy concerts. It will be more appropriate for children's puppet shows.
There will be a future meeting specifically to address construction and the possible disruption it might cause.

This meeting was also the subject of a June 16 SALM blog post.

(Photo credit: 2013 photo from Borderstan)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Proposal to Permanently Remove 13th and U Bikeshare Station

At its regular monthly meeting on June 19, the Transportation Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street, heard a proposal by development company JBG that would permanently remove the Capital Bikeshare station at 13th and U Streets NW. The committee decided not to take a decision on the proposal this month. Instead, it will solicit community input and discuss it again at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, July 17, at 7pm, at the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th Street).

The Rite-Aid as seen from across 13th Street
JBG is getting ready to construct an eight-story building on the southwest corner of 13th and U Street, in a building currently occupied by a Rite-Aid and other tenants. Representatives of JBG told the committee they were "very far along in design" and planned to break ground by the end of the year.

The new building will have 130 apartments and brand-new retail space for the Rite-Aid, who have a 20-year lease on the spot.

In order to get Rite-Aid on board for the renovation, JBG reported, "we had to promise them the nicest Rite-Aid ever."

Temporarily moving the bikeshare station

There is a Capital Bikeshare station on the 13th Street side of the Rite-Aid. During the construction, it will have to move. The committee discussed possibilities for a temporary home for the station.

JBG proposed four destinations for the temporary move, which qualified by virtue of having wider-than-normal sidewalks:
  • In front of the metro entrance on the south side of U Street
  • On the southeast side of 12th Street
  • On the northwest side of 11th Street
  • On the southeast side of 11th Street
See a series of JBG-supplied photos here of the above-listed possible temporary locations for the displaced Capital Bikeshare Station.

The committee unanimously recommended the first option above for the temporary location. ANC1B will probably vote on the recommendation at its next meeting, scheduled for July 10, 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

Permanently moving the bikeshare station

The fate of the bikeshare station after the construction is completed was the subject of some discussion. The design favored by JBG puts a small green space, with some trees, bushes, flowers, and grass, in the current bikeshare space. However, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) wants to move the bikeshare station back to the same spot.

"If you don't vote to support the garden, the bike share is staying there," JBG representatives told the committee.

JBG tried to sell the committee on the garden idea, but they could not guarantee they would be able to convince the DC government and/or neighboring property owners to permanently put the bikeshare station in a convenient nearby spot.

"This needs to be vetted by a wider swath of the community," said one committee member.

The motion to revisit the topic next meeting was passed unanimously.

ANC1B's Transportation Committee would like to hear community comment. Email the chair of the committee, Ben Klemens, at bklemens at gmail dot com.

Some of JBG's plans and drawings for the site, including the small green space, are available here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eleven Market to Become 11th and U Wine and Spirits

The proprietor of Eleven Market (1936 11th Street NW) came before the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on June 18 to announce her intention of changing the store from a convenience store that sells beer and wine to a liquor store. The planned name for the store is 11th and U Wine and Spirits.

1936 11th Street has a large front courtyard
The store will need a change in liquor license class. The store has a Class B license, which permits grocery stores to sell beer and wine. The store will need a Class A license, which permits liquor stores to sell beer, wine, and spirits.

The proprietor was present at the meeting, but she let her representative, Jeff Jackson, do most of the talking. Jackson is a former investigator with D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) who now consults on liquor-licensing matters.

Jackson said Eleven Market had been a good neighbor. It had had only three ABRA violations in 15 years, he said.

On-line records show Eleven Market paid $750 in fines in 2013 in regards to two charges stemming from the sale of rolling papers in violation of a settlement agreement it had with ANC1B.

In exchange for support for a liquor-license conversion, Jackson offered the committee a guarantee that 11th and U Wine and Spirits will not sell single cans of beer. (The sale of single cans of beer is illegal in a large portion of D.C., but not in Ward 1, where the store will be located. The single-beer ban has led to the appearance of two-packs of beer in D.C.)

Some of the committee was not impressed with the offer, and felt the establishment should deal with other issues.

"The concession is pretty weak," said a committee member. "The perception is there are a lot of public safety issues."

Specifically, the property has a large open area in the front.

"This property has a tremendous setback. It looks like a patio," said ANC Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09)

Loitering in the front area is a problem, a committee member said.

Jackson didn't think there was any way the establishment could prevent people from congregating in front of the store.

The proprietor said the building was located in the Greater U Street Historic District. As a result, it is impossible to get permission to make the changes to the exterior of the building that would, for example, allow the store to move up closer to the front property line.

The proprietor plans a renovation to the interior of the store. She told the committee about it. But committee members were more interested in the exterior front. They wanted to talk about steps the store could take to make it less "inviting".

"Would you consider putting up something less comfortable?" one asked.

Someone advocated increased security lighting, like other liquor stores in the area have.

Another committee member mentioned that ANCs have a grant program. It might be possible for the store owner to apply for a ANC grant to defray the cost of increased security lighting.

The proprietor has not yet completed the application, so there was no motion or vote on the matter at this meeting. The proprietor did not specify when she thought she would return for ANC endorsement.

As the petitioners gathered up to leave, a committee member again asked the proprietor to consider some steps to "mitigate some of the loitering issue."

"You haven't heard anything saying we are against small business," said ANC Chair Turner. "There are lots of reasons why they can't do anything about the loitering."

Monday, June 23, 2014

2724 11th Street: "...They Are Slumlords, and Everything Is Just a Smokescreen..."

An publicly-available email sent to D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) quoted a neighbor who said: "...they are slumlords, and everything is just a smokescreen, and a reason just to get residents out of the building."

2724 11th Street (Google Street View)
"If the building is not in good shape, it's your fault," a member of the Design Review Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street told the owners of 2724 11th Street NW, and their representatives, at a regular monthly meeting on June 17.

"It is in desperate need of repair," said ANC1B Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09) at the same meeting.

The petitioners who came before the Design Review Committee in search of endorsement of two zoning variances are not getting a lot of love from the community, or the ANC.

Their BZA hearing is July 22nd. They had entertained the hope the committee would recommend endorsement to the full ANC, who would then vote on the matter at its next regularly-scheduled meeting (July 10, 7pm, at the Reeves Center, 14th and U Streets). But the committee decided to table the matter and asked for an improved design at the next meeting. Even if the new design is produced and approved at a July meeting, the full ANC would not vote on it until August, at the earliest.

The building was built in 1923 and is located at the corner of 11th and Girard Streets. It was said at the meeting that the property has been managed by the same family since 1958. The name of the management company today is Jefferson-11th Street, LLC. This company is, in turn, owned and managed by the family-owned Hartford E. Bealer Development Company, according to BZA documents. At the meeting, representatives of the owners said this was the first major renovation of this building in 50 years.

A 2003 obituary describes Hartford E. Bealer as a "prominent figure in the world of investment banking" and a co-founder and president of Chevy Chase Bank. Another web site says that, when Bealer died, his estate was worth more than $22 million.

However, at the meeting, a family member said: "We are not made of money."

"There have been some bad decisions," she said, especially by her 83-year-old father-in-law.

The desired variances

The building is a two-story building with 12 units on each floor. The owners wish to fill in and improve the unfinished basement and turn it into 11 additional units.

The zoning variances necessary to do this will be (1) permission not to provide at least 4 additional parking spaces, and (2) permission not to meet the requirement that residential units in this zoning category be at least 900 square feet.

Martin Sullivan of the law firm Sullivan & Barros led the team of petitioners. Sullivan proposed that, if the ANC was against the parking variance, ANC could endorse a request for a curb cut, which would allow tenant access to on-property parking.

"The community is outraged about the curb cut," ANC Chair Turner said. "They would rather have the parking variance."

2724 11th Street is in Turner's ANC district.

Payback time for the community

In addition to the comments quoted at the beginning of this post, there was plenty of other evidence that the petitioners had few friends in the community.
A renovation had apparently been started at the building in the recent past and then was abruptly stopped when it was discovered that the contractor had not obtained necessary permissions, nor notified the neighbors.

"Once we found out the contractor had no permissions, we fired him," Sullivan said.

A hole in the ground remains.

"It's an issue for me as a safety issue," said one committee member.

Referring to the abandoned project, another committee member said: "I have even less confidence in you if you can't do this correctly."

Sullivan defended the owners.

"It's subject to rent control," he said. "It's way below market rate for existing tenants."

Sullivan said, under rent control, a 10% increase in rent is only possible when a tenant leaves.

According to both information presented at the meeting and in the BZA application, the owners have submitted a "hardship petition" that will allow rents to rise by 31.5%. The owners were previously granted an 31.5% increase but "the notices didn't go out". They now must re-apply.

"All tenants will be hit with a 31 percent increase?" a committee member asked.

"Yes," Sullivan said.

However, according to a zoning application document signed by Sullivan, even if the hardship application is granted, the owners "will not realize anything near market value" on the existing units.

All of the proposed new units will be rented at market rate, after which they will also be subject to rent control.

Documents pertaining to this case, including the email quoted at the top of this post, can be accessed by going the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18790 in the search bar.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Former Omega Club Taking Last Steps Before Transformation

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle put its endorsement on three zoning variances that will allow the former Omega bar (2123 Twining Court NW) to become a single-family residence. The unanimous vote by all Commissioners present occurred at its June 11 meeting. If the owners can get the paperwork approved by DC Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA), demolition and construction is expected to begin by the end of August.

Twining Court is an alley off P Street between 21st and 22nd Streets.

The house is listed on National Register of Historic Places, where it is known as the Spencer Carriage House and Stable. It was built in 1905 to service the nearby residence of railroad executive Samuel Spencer. It later became a restaurant called "The Twining Court Stables".

According to a publication from the Rainbow History Project, the Fraternity House, one of the first gay nightclubs in DC, opened there in 1976. The club was renamed Omega in 1997. It closed on December 26, 2012.

At the June 11 meeting, the some Commissioners remembered the Omega as a cause of many noise complaints, and expressed optimism that the future residents were unlikely to cause as much noise.

The current owners plan a significant renovation, which received the blessing of DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) in May 2013. See an April 2013 HPRB report about the proposed renovation here. HPRB has authority because the property is located in the Dupont Circle Historic District.

The property requires three zoning variances. The first variance is required because the residence does not have access to the street via an alley that is at least 30 feet wide. The second variance is required because the structure (both now and after exterior alternations) will cover about 90 percent of the lot; the law calls for not more than 80 percent. Finally, the rear yard of this property is only 6 feet deep; the law requires 9 feet.

A description from publicly-available BZA documents describes the scope of the renovation:
The proposed work includes a full renovation of the interior of the Building, restoration of the exterior - maintaining the original characteristics of the Building, construction of a small one-story addition for a garage extension, and altering the roof to accommodate a roof top deck and mechanical equipment. The scope of restoration includes cleaning and repointing the brick facades, replacing and restoring the windows and window openings, reopening the hay bale door, replacing the doors, light fixtures, downspouts, and gutters with historically appropriate material, restoring the retained portions of the roof, and rebuilding the deteriorated metal cupolas.
The BZA hearing on the variances is scheduled for July 15. Documents related to the case can be examined by going to the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18795 into the search bar. 

See a copy of the letter ANC2B wrote in support of this application here.

Cheater's Guide to "Dream City" -- Part 2 (Antecedents: Parliament of Racists)

This is the second installment of a series (see the first installment here) summarizing the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. This book has recently been republished as an ebook and a paper book. HBO has plans to use material from the book to make a movie about the life of Marion Barry.

Chapter 1: Parliament of Racists

This chapter tells the story of pre-Marion Barry DC, but it starts with the 1992 murder of Thomas Barnes of Tuscaloosa, Mississippi. Barnes, an intern for Senator Richard Shelby, had stepped out of his Capitol Hill apartment to get a can of ground coffee. He was shot during a robbery. Shelby was white; his attacker was black. It was January 15, 1992, already 22 people had been murdered in D.C. that year.

Shelby, who had known Barnes "since he was a toddler" (Kindle location 284), was outraged. The police arrested the wrong black teenager on false testimony, aggravating a tense situation.

Shelby forced the District to hold a referendum on the death penalty. It was soundly defeated.

"I'm in favor of the death penalty, but I don't want someone who we didn't elect ordering us to take the vote" (l. 303), said then-City Council Chair John Wilson.

The authors continue: "...[I]t wasn't a question of right and wrong, it was a question of race and power -- white lawmakers in Congress telling black people in the city how to run their lives. This is the dynamic that underscores every debate, every decision, every relationship. No one can understand Washington without appreciating the debilitating impact of federal control that has been at various times patronizing, neglectful, and racist." (l. 305)

From there, the book goes back in time to chronicle "a long line of southern segregationists who ruled Washington with devastating result for African-Americans" (l. 337).

In 1890, a short-lived experiment with home rule failed. DC residents lost the right to vote. On the Senate floor, Senator John Tyler Morgan of Alabama said it was necessary to "burn the barn to get rid of the rats... the rats being the negro populations and the barn being the government of the District of Columbia." (l. 314).

In 1944, Senator Theodore Bilbo, "a short, troll-like white supremacist from Poplarville, Mississippi" (l. 366), became Chair of the Senate District Committee and "let loose his racism on the city" (l. 372).

"He proposed that twenty-two thousand blacks be driven of the alleys and sent back to farms, shipped back to Africa, or put in a 'self-liquidating' stadium." (l. 370)

"In the 1950s the segregationist running Washington from Capitol Hill was Congressman John L. McMillan of South Caroline. As chairman of the House District Committee, 'Johnny Mack' treated the city as if it were his plantation and turned the District Building into a fiefdom for his patronage jobs." (l. 376)

The white business community in DC did business with McMillian and staff, bypassing the official but powerless city government.

Meanwhile, jobs in the federal government enabled the development of "the largest and most stable black middle class in the nation" (l. 385).

Calvin Rolark Jr., a black newspaper publisher and immigrant to DC, said: "It was a segregated city among blacks. The lighter-skinned blacks didn't associate with the darker blacks, and the Howard University blacks didn't associate with anyone." (l. 390)

In the 1950's, an enormous slum in Southwest was demolished and its African-American population dispersed to housing projects, which were then left to deteriorate.

President Dwight Eisenhower ordered desegregation in the 1950s, but there was no movement on home rule.

"...[N]early a century of congressional control had created a leaderless, passive city full of politically docile people." (l. 414)

In the 1960's, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was "the most influential Congressman of the day" (l. 416). After a 1964 DC voter registration rally drew only a few people, he said: "I have never seen a city in the United States as apathetic as this one. This is our first chance to be political men and women. We are colonials here in this District. The District of Columbia is the Canal Zone of the United States." (l. 422)

Cheater's Guide to Dream City continues next week

Further installments will appear on successive Fridays. All posts will be cross-posted on the ad-hoc "Cheater's Guide to Dream City" blog.

Full disclosure: I have a commercial relationship with Amazon. I will receive a very small portion of the money people spend after clicking on an Amazon link on this site.

This is a great book and well worth reading in its entirety.

Read the next part of Cheater's Guide to "Dream City" here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

When NIMBYs Fail: The Liquor-license Case of "The American" (Blagden Alley)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle decided at its regular monthly meeting May 14 to sign a settlement agreement with serial restauranteur Xavier Cervera, aspiring proprietor of "The American", a "classic American bistro" to be located in Blagden Alley, with the official address of 1209 - 1213 10th Street. By the time this post is published, the agreement will probably have been signed, but it is not posted on the web site of DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulaton Administration (ABRA) as of this writing.

Future site of The American, once a boxing gym
At the last meeting of ANC2F on June 4, a neighbor who was part of a Group of Five or More Individuals separately protesting The American's liquor license returned to complain bitterly about the ANC's decision to sign a settlement agreement with The American and withdraw the ANC's protest. The group of five's protest will now be dismissed in accordance to a provision in the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (now part 25-609(b) of the DC Code).
In the event that an affected ANC submits a settlement agreement to the Board on a protested license application, the Board, upon its approval of the settlement agreement, shall dismiss any protest of a group of no fewer than 5 residents or property owners...
The neighbor and ANC Commissioner Greg Melcher (district 06) went around and around the same point at the June 4 meeting. The neighbor wanted The American to keep a complaint log. She wanted the complaint log to be accessible to neighbors and Commissioners. Melcher explained such a provision was considered unenforceable by ABRA. Several times, the neighbor asked rhetorically why, if this type of provision was unenforceable, was it included in the ANC2F settlement agreement template. The Commissioners tried several explanations, none of which satisfied the neighbor.

The reason why

Here is what the commission failed to explain at the meeting: the ANC2F settlement agreement template has a provision under which a liquor licensee must keep a complaint log, because a complaint log is allowable if the complaint log will be accessible by ABRA only, not by ANCs or neighbors. This type (and only this type) of complaint log is enforceable, according to ABRA.

Of course, there is something odd about requiring someone to maintain a complaint log which you cannot access.  It would not be unreasonable for a protesting neighbor to believe that ABRA will not be as vigilant in checking on the maintenance of such a log as the protesting neighbor him- or herself might be. Requiring this provision in its enforceable form would be, at best, of very limited utility.

Melcher told the complaining neighbor several times that Cervera had lawyers who would have no trouble demonstrating the complaint log provision was unenforceable. The result could be that the entire agreement that Melcher and the ANC had negotiated -- with limitations on operating hours and other provisions that would benefit the community -- could be voided. Cervera would then be free to stay open for longer hours, and refuse to honor other previously-agreed-upon obligations.

Fear of losing this "half-a-loaf" is why Melcher advocated signing the settlement agreement he had negotiated. In March, ANC2F voted to continued its protest, but by May Melcher had convinced his fellow commissioners that continuing to insist on this unenforceable provision was a losing proposition.

A second mistake

In addition to insisting on an unenforceable provision, the neighbors made a second serious error which doomed their protest.

There are three different types of citizens' groups which can gain standing to protest a liquor license. One is a registered citizens' group, which must have public meetings and meet other criteria. The second is an abutting neighbor, whose property must share a common border with the liquor licensee's property. The third is a Group of Five or More Individuals. As noted above, a protest by the last of these three can be dismissed if the ANC reaches a settlement agreement with a liquor licensee. However, the other two groups may continue to protest a liquor license, even if their ANC signs a settlement agreement.

In the case of The American, the protesting neighbors constituted themselves as as official Group of Five or More Individuals, and gained official standing in the liquor license protest. After the deadline to gain standing had passed, the Group of Five or More Individuals tried to split into two groups. One was a group of abutting neighbors, 12 in all, according to an ABRA document. Perhaps the neighbors realized, too late, that their position would be stronger if they could be recognized as a group of abutting neighbors, because their protest could not be as easily dismissed.

Cervera's attorney objected and the neighbors' attempt to change status was rejected on May 28 by ABRA as "untimely", meaning, it occurred after the deadline to establish yourself as an officially objecting party. With this rejection, their last hope to force more concessions from Cervera died. They will have to live with the "half-a-loaf" agreement.

I don't know if the neighbors consulted a lawyer of their own at any point.

More likely, they tried to work the system without help of a lawyer. If so, the lesson of this story seems to be: if you're going to try to block a liquor license, it's worth it to hire an attorney at least as knowledgeable as your adversary's.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1801 4th Street: "We're Mimicking the Town House That Was There"

A committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street gave conditional endorsement to zoning variances that will allow construction of a two-family row house on an empty lot at 1801 4th Street NW in LeDroit Park. The endorsement came at a meeting of ANC1B's Design Review Committee on June 16.

1801 4th Street (vacant lot center)
This is one of several recent cases where design modifications by DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to planned renovation or construction have triggered the need for zoning variances -- see SALM blog posts for June 12 and May 30, 2014.

The lot in question was formerly the parking lot of Frazier's Funeral Home, which was located in an abutting property to the south. Frazier's Funeral Home closed in 2008. Developer Thomas Swarm bought the property. He developed the Funeral Home building (the brick building on the left in the photo) first -- it is now a residential building.

Both this project and the previous renovation had to get HPRB endorsement because the properties are located in the LeDroit Park Historic District.

Historic Preservation calls the shots

Before the lot was parking, a row house was there. HPRB has said the new construction had to be as close as possible to the long-gone building.

"This is their design," Swarm said at the meeting. "This is their direction."

HPRB required that the new row house be set back ten feet from the front property line, just like its neighbors.

"We're mimicking the town house that was there," Swarm said.

Since the entire living space of the building will be pushed back, the rear yard will be much smaller (4 feet 10 inches) than required by zoning (20 feet). In addition, the lot coverage (61.9%) will be slightly bigger than allowed by zoning (60%). The width of side yard of the building will not meet zoning requirement (3 feet vs. 10 feet).

In addition to the need for zoning variances, HPRB-led design has also created another small problem. The planned front staircase for the building will protrude slightly into public space, i.e., the front sidewalk. If this design is implemented as written, Swarm would also have to go to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and seek a permit to use public space.

Tempers flare

The request seemed to be fairly routine. However, the discussion got a little heated during a digression about Swarm's trip through the DC property development maze. Committee member Tony Norman asked if Swarm had been to ANC1B before his HPRB approval. Swarm said he had been to the ANC last year. Norman said he didn't remember Swarm's visit.

Norman could have stimulated his memory by reading the SALM blog post of November 4, 2013, which was about the previous appearance of Swarm before Norman and the committee. At that time, Norman was chair of the committee, as well as chair of ANC1B as a whole. (He has since lost his position as chair and resigned from his commissionership.)

Norman said Swarm should have appeared before the committee before seeking HPRB approval. There was further discussion of whether Swarm had navigated the DC various government bodies in the correct order.

"I'm doing everything by the book," Swarm said.

He got a little angry.

"This is so dysfunctional," he said. "This is just like DC."

At this point, Swarm's attorney, Leila Batties of Holland & Knight, stepped in and gently redirected the conversation back to the immediate problem.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend to the full ANC that the zoning variances be endorsed as presented, with the caveat that the front stairs should not protrude into public space "if at all possible". 

The matter will probably be considered at the next meeting of the full ANC, scheduled to take place on July 10, 2014, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets). ANC1B usually holds their monthly meetings on the first Thursday of the month, but is postponing July's meeting due to the Independence Day holiday.

The application is scheduled for consideration by the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on July 15. Documents in the case can be seen at the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System by entering case number 18796 into the search bar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Temporary Liquor License for New Dupont Custom Fuel Pizza

At its regular monthly meeting on June 11, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle approved a stipulated liquor license for a new branch of Custom Fuel Pizza. Custom Fuel Pizza advertises that it makes individual pizzas to order in a few minutes.

The store will be located at 1635 Connecticut Avenue NW, near the corner of R Street, the former site of a Potbelly Sandwich Shop. The owners could not tell the ANC when they expected the new store to be open.

Not quite ready to open as of last week
Granting a stipulated liquor license is one of the few actions an ANC can take that is not only advisory in nature. If an ANC votes to grant a stipulated license and there are no other protesting parties, a liquor licensee can start to serve alcohol while the permanent liquor license application is processed through the DC bureaucracy.

DC shadow senator Paul Strauss, in his paying job as an attorney, represented Custom Fuel Pizza before the ANC.

"They are seeking a full [liquor] license although they probably won't use it," Strauss said.

Strauss told the ANC Custom Fuel was seeking a restaurant liquor license, but they planned to serve "mostly beer and wine". They also planned to serve frozen margaritas and a drink that sounded something like an iced rum punch, but no other forms of hard liquor.

The license will allow Custom Fuel to stay open until 2am weekdays and 3am weekends. It will have no outdoor space.

Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07) asked about trash pickup. It will be daily. Dwyer noted the restaurant has several neighbors that are also restaurants. He urged Custom Fuel to join together with its neighbors to obtain a trash compactor, which might help with vermin control.

Another commissioner said, "A close neighbor of yours is the dirtiest restaurant and never shovels their sidewalks when it snows."

"I hope you will set a good example," he said.

The commissioner received some prodding, but refused to name the restaurant outright. He said, however, that it was "to the left of yours" and "on the corner".

Custom Fuel will have to appear again before the ANC with its permanent liquor license application.

"See you again in July or August," ANC2B Chair Will Stephens (Commissioner for district 08) said.

The motion to approve was unanimous except for Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06). Silverstein recuses himself from all liquor license matters because of potential conflict of interest with his day job. His day job is as a member of DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

Custom Fuel has four other DC locations as well as seven locations in or near Charlotte, NC, and one in New York City.

See the letter ANC2B wrote in support of Custom Fuel's stipulated liquor license here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

CORRECTED: Stead Park Improvement Town Hall Meeting June 23

CORRECTION: The meeting will take place Monday, June 23, NOT April 23 as first published. Apologies for the error.

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will present plans for improvements in Stead Park (1625 P Street) at a open town hall meeting Monday, April June 23. The meeting will take place at 7pm in the Chastleton Ballroom (1701 16th Street NW). The public is invited and encouraged to bring questions and comments. DPR officials are expected to have information about the schedule of the improvements and possible road closures that may result.

At the regular monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle June 11, Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07) announced the meeting. Dwyer said the ground-breaking on the project would take place "mid- to late July".

"It won't be done by summer," said Commissioner Kishan Putta (district 04), in an interview later. "It will be started, hopefully."

Now, the interior space of the park is pretty bare. When the project is done, the space will be lined with trees and benches.

"The goal of the project is to make the park more usable," Putta said. "A lot of people walk by the park and think 'Stead Park isn't for me'."

From the DPR web page about the project:
The new design will incorporate active play features comprised of artificial turf for a multi-use athletic field (supporting kickball, rugby, soccer, and baseball), a rubberized running track, seating, site lighting, a splash pad interactive water feature, a stage, landscaping to include shade trees, new fencing and gates, and bio-retention areas (a sustainable design package, reused rainwater, LEED standards and stormwater management solutions).
The improvements will all be exterior. This project does not include the 163-year-old building facing the P Street entrance to Stead Park.

There will be a new wall around the border of the park. While they are improving this wall, the plan now is to add two new gates will be added, on the east and west sides. The gates will open onto Church Street, which dead-ends onto the park on both sides. The gate on the west side will provide direct access to the retail district on 17th Street. 

The gate on the east side (i.e., facing 16th Street) might present some problems. The wall on this side of the park will have to be broken to accommodate construction vehicles. The street is residential, and some neighbors on this side of the park are against the installation of a permanent working gate.

"I don't think we have to build it, but I think it's a nice convenience," Putta said. "Logan Circle families would be encouraged to visit."

A compromise position may be emerging, where a gate will be installed, but it will only be open for special occasions. Both gates will be opened and closed electronically -- no need for a caretaker with keys.

"I don't think there is a need for people to shout on this," Putta said. "We're looking forward to a civilized meeting."

From the FAQ page of the Friends of Stead Park website:
What will happen to the adult sports teams once the field is renovated? Will they still be able to play on the field?

Yes. All of the sports that are currently played on the field can continue with the new design. For example, there will be room for two kickball games. We hope that an improved playing surface will make the field an option for other leagues, including youth sports. As always, field permitting goes through DPR.
Friends of Stead Park also has a Facebook page.

The landscape architect on the project is Studio 39 of Alexandria.

Full disclosure: Kishan Putta is running for an At-Large seat on the DC City Council. I have contributed to his campaign.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cheater's Guide to "Dream City" -- Part 1 (Preface and Introduction)

Washington City Paper has said this blog "goes to ANC meetings so you don't have to". Today, this blog starts reading a serious book about DC politics so you don't have to.

In case you missed it

Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood was originally published in 1994 by Argo-Navis. It has recently been republished as both an e-book ($6.99) and paper book ($23.53) in a "20th Anniversary Edition" with a new Preface and Epilogue.

The book has been in the news because it will reportedly provide source material for an upcoming HBO biopic about Marion Barry, starring Eddie Murphy, directed by Spike Lee, and written in part by George Pelacanos. Pelacanos, a DC native and writer of fiction, may be best known as a writer of the TV series "The Wire" and "Treme".

The book should not be confused with the soon-to-be-released Barry autobiography, Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.

A summary of the beginning of the book follows.

Preface (written 2014)

The book starts with an interview of D.C. school chancellor Kaya Henderson on the porch of her Brookland home. "She stood on her porch and looked across the street. 'White families have moved into those houses. Some have children, and the kids are starting to play together. It's a good thing, but I can't say there isn't some tension'." (Kindle location 86)

The authors say DC "barely resembles the town we described twenty years ago. Except for one constant: Marion Barry was still in office, representing Ward 8 on the D.C. council" (l. 91).

At the time of the book's initial publication, "Sharon Pratt Kelly was finishing her first term as mayor, which most saw as a failure" (l. 92) Barry, who had previously won three terms as mayor, had just served six months in jail for cocaine possession, had won a seat representing Ward 8 on The DC council, and was contemplating another run for mayor.

After the book's initial publication, Barry won a fourth term. Under Kelly, the city deficit was projected to reach $1 billion, there had been 399 homocides in a year, and residents were fleeing the city. "School ranked lowest in the country, infant morality the highest" (l. 102)

Congress installed a financial control board to oversee the budget and government, reducing Barry to "a second class mayor" (l. 103).

In 2014, the city population is increasing by 1,100 per month. The total population is 100,000 above its 1998 low. Whites are moving into historically black neighborhoods. In 1971, the city was 71 percent African-American. In 2014, it was just below 50%. In 1974, the city council had 11 African-
American members and two white. In 2014, there were seven white and six black. Development is booming. There were 88 homocides in 2013. However, public schools are still struggling.

The Reeves Center (14th and U Street) is symbolic of the city's direction. In 1968, Stokely Carmichael sparked the 14th Street riots by throwing a brick through a drug store window at that corner. In the 1980s, Barry "made of symbolic point" (l. 118) of locating the Reeves Center there. In 2014, the city is negotiating to trade the building to developers in a land swap.

"How and why did Washington, D.C., resurrect itself?" (l.122)

Meanwhile, Barry remained a prominent player. "You can't talk him out of it," a long-time aide and friend said (l. 133).

Introduction (written 1994)

"Our story is about local Washington, a town where bad things happen in good neighborhoods and terrifying things can happen in poor neighborhoods." (l. 150)

This co-exists with official Washington. "How did these two cities develop side by side? How can they coexist?" (l. 162)

"[W]e can't escape the conclusion that a single undercurrent binds its disparate parts: Racism and racial insecurities made Washington what it is today." (1. 165)

"Which brings us to Marion Barry, Jr., the man who bridged the chasm to get elected mayor in 1978, exploited it to stay in power, and now more than anyone in American politics personifies the distance between blacks and whites." (l. 177)

"The young Barry was a natural leader and a skilled politician.... But Barry, like many other dark-skinned African-Americans from the rural South, never was accepted by Washington's 'high yellow', native aristocrats." (l. 187)

"Barry came into power with a coterie of stars from the civil rights movement who wanted to prove that a black government could manage the nation's capital after a century of white control....[W]e explore what became of that dream." (l. 189)

"During his fall, Barry's descent into drug addiction, abuse of women, demagoguery, and eventual arrest eerily mirrored the city's own decline into murder and crack." (l. 192)

"Mattie Taylor, a black woman whom Barry crushed in the 1986 mayor's race, said, 'I can't understand why the people love him so'." (l. 196)

The authors heard the same sentiment "mostly from white people, who ridicule Barry as a venal charlatan who betrayed his people, confirmed every racist stereotype of black men, and wrecked his city." (l. 197)

"Yet for many African-Americans, especially the lower economic classes, Barry will always be a hero." (l. 202)

Barry consistently maintained a "facade of defiance" (l. 203) which touches every African-American.

"Their reaction is an indication of just how insecure and alienated black Americans still feel, and the white response shows how little they under the African-American predicament." (l. 204)

"Marion Barry, like the problem of race in America, won't go away." (l. 204)

Cheater's Guide to Dream City continues next week

Further installments will appear on successive Fridays. All posts will be cross-posted on the new ad-hoc "Cheater's Guide to Dream City" blog.

Full disclosure: I have a commercial relationship with Amazon. I will receive a very small portion of the money people spend if they click on an Amazon link on this site.

This is a great book and well worth reading in its entirety.

Read the next installment of Cheater's Guide to "Dream City" here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

302-304 M Street: Historic Preservation Holding Firm on Pop-ups

DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) seems to be holding the line on residential pop-ups. For a least the second time in less than a month, ANCs have heard cases of proposed extra floors on historic homes. The proposed pop-ups on a single-family homes in a historic districts have been vetoed by the HPRB. In both cases, the homeowners decided to build the additional living space on the rear of the property, which triggered need for zoning relief for lot occupancy and other reasons.
302 and 304 M Street NW

At its regular monthly meeting June 3, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw heard the case of two adjoining lots on M Street near the corner of New Jersey Avenue.

302 M Street is an empty row house. 304 M Street is a vacant lot. The two lots have the same owner. The owner proposes to renovate the existing house at 302 M Street and build a new house at 304. To do any significant work at either address, the owner must seek permission from the HPRB because the property is located in the Mount Vernon Square Historic District.

The original vision by architect Will Teass of Tektonics Architecture DC called for a third story to be added to 302 M Street, so it could be used as a two-unit dwelling.

Eric Daniel of the firm Griffin, Murphy, Moldenhauer, & Wiggins LLP told ANC6E that "in response to HPRB" the plans had been changed. 302 M Street will now have an addition in back, not on top of, the existing house.

As a result, the owner sought variance relief from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) in three areas. The additional rear structure adds to the overall footprint on the property. Combined, they will take up 70% of the property. Maximum allowed under current zoning regulations is 60%. In addition, the rear yard will be set back 10.3 feet from the property edge -- zoning calls for 15 feet. The additional of a rear structure would also create a closed courtyard which will not meet zoning requirements.

ANC6E Commissioner Rachelle Nigro (district 04) said the applicants "did a very nice job of outreach" to the community. The property is in her ANC district.

ANC6E voted unanimously to endorse zoning relief for 302-304 M Street NW.

A similar case occurred in Dupont Circle recently when HPRB told the owners of one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood to add living space behind their historic property, rather than on top of it -- see SALM blog post of May 30.

Documents related to this zoning case can be seen by going to the Case Search Tool of the DC Office of Zoning and entering case number 18782 in the search bar.

Online records indicate the 302 M Street was sold in March 2014 for 650,000. Another web site shows that, at some point, the two lots together were on sale for $1.25 million.

See a 2010 post from the blog DCmud about a Tektonics Architecture project in downtown DC here.

ANC6E videos its meetings in their entirety and posts them on its YouTube channel. You can view the short discussion of this matter on video 00051, starting at time 2:15.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pepco Exelon Merger: Charm Offensive Comes to ANCs

Representatives of the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) and Chicago-based energy giant Exelon are appearing at ANC meetings to brief about the proposed purchase of PEPCO Holdings by Exelon, and to say the purchase is in the public interest. Executives of PEPCO and Exelon appeared at the regular monthly meetings of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle and 1B/U Street on June 4 and 5, respectively.

PEPCO Regional President Donna Cooper and Exelon Investor Relations Director Melissa Sherrod spoke to ANC2F, while PEPCO Regional Vice-President Marc Battle spoke to ANC1B.

Exelon announced the $6.8 billion purchase on April 30. See an article about the deal from the Forbes magazine website here.

PEPCO Holdings also operates Delmarva Power & Light Company and Atlantic City Electric Company. The two companies will have to receive permission to merge from many government agencies, including public service commissions in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and from the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.

Cooper told ANC2F the local filing would be in mid-June.

The two presentations were largely the same. The companies must demonstrate the sale will benefit the public. The PEPCO name and local headquarters will remain the same, and all labor agreements will be honored for two years. The new company will be committed to a major project of burying electric power lines underground.

At ANC1B, a commissioner asked where the burying of lines will take place.

Battle apologized in advance for a vague answer, and then said the burying of lines would take place in "areas of greatest need".

"When it's done, outages will be reduced by 90 percent," Battle said.

Battle estimated the merger of the two companies would save $50 million per year by increased efficiencies in executive leadership and front office, including downsizing legal departments and accounting. In response to Commissioner questioning, Battle said he did not anticipate anybody involved with getting power to customers (e.g., technicians, maintenance personnel) would get laid off.

At ANC2F, a member of the audience asked what percent of the electricity Exelon now generates comes from nuclear power. Melissa Sherrod put the amount at about 60 percent, and said Exelon is the largest nuclear operator in the US.

"We made a conscious decision to divest from coal," Sherrod said.

At the same meeting, Cooper spoke about her background. She is originally from South Carolina, she came "from academia", and has been working for PEPCO for six years. She also said she had worked for the DC Council.

A 2007 Washington Post article notes the appointment of a Donna Cooper to the staff of Mayor Vincent Grey as Director of Policy. Cooper also worked for former Councilmember Vincent Orange, the article says.

Nevertheless, some of the older people in the audience had a difficult time believing Cooper was President of PEPCO, perhaps because she is youthful-looking.

"You are President of PEPCO?" one asked incredulously.

Cooper confirmed she was, in fact, President of PEPCO.

A Washington Post article here speculates on what the proposed merger might mean for PEPCO customers.

Reaction to Yesterday's Story on Liquor License Moratorium

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CORRECTED: Jack Evans on 14th Street Liquor Licenses: "Do You Need a Moratorium?"

CORRECTION: I originally reported (including in the headline) that Evans had said "You need a moratorium on 14th Street". After seeing the comment left by "sherri" below, I listened to the original video more closely. Sherri is correct -- Evans said "Do you need a moratorium on 14th Street?" Apologies to Councilmember Evans for the error.

DC City Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward Two), speaking at a June 4 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle, recommended suggested consideration of a moratorium on liquor licenses on 14th Street.

After reporting on the outcome of this year's City Council deliberations on the DC budget, Evans noted the 14th Street corridor had improved since he joined the Council in 1991. This was the result of the hard work of many people, Evans said, and criminal activity was no longer a major problem. Then Evans said:
Your challenge is -- how do you limit the growth? And it's something that the ANC over time is going to have to take a look at.
Do you need a moratorium on 14th Street?
You have 71 restaurants there. You know, how many restaurants is too many?
You know, we ran into that when I was chairman of the ANC over in Dupont Circle back in '89 when 17th Street took off. And there were 40 storefronts on 17th Street and when we got 20 liquor licenses, we said, "That's enough", because we were starting to lose the dry cleaner and the shoeshine place and everything. So we put a moratorium and it's still there 24 years later.
And we believe it was successful because it kept the retail mixed and that's something -- on 14th Street -- we'll have to deal with going forward.
At the same meeting, Evans also spoke to ANC2F on the status of granting Zone Two residential parking permits to 1,100 Shaw car owners now resident in Ward Six -- see SALM blog post of June 6.

In 2013, Evans opposed a proposed U Street liquor license moratorium after all the ANCs in the proposed moratorium zone passed resolutions against the it -- see page 6 (bottom) of a 32-page .pdf file here. DC's liquor licensing authorities officially rejected the proposal in October 2013.

See below a YouTube video of the remarks by Evans about a liquor license moratorium. If it will not play, view it on YouTube here. Apologies for the quality of the audio.

Monday, June 9, 2014

ANC1B Endorses Right Proper Brewing Sidewalk Cafe

At its regular monthly meeting June 5, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street endorsed the public space of application of Right Proper Brewery (624 T Street NW). Right Proper Co-founder Thor Cheston appeared before the ANC to ask for the endorsement, which had been previously approved by the ANC's Design Review Committee.

28 seats here
The outdoor space will be 490 square feet and contain 28 seats. It will be surrounded by "heavy but removable" fencing.

Right Proper Brewing should have no trouble with its immediate neighbor, the Howard Theatre, with which it does many cross promotions.

The establishment also got the endorsement of the LeDroit Park Civic Association.

Commissioner Jeremy Leffler (district 02) checked to make sure Right Proper was willing to consent to the ANC's standard closing time for outdoor spaces of liquor-serving establishments, which is 11pm Monday-Thursday and midnight Saturday and Sunday. Cheston agreed with the hours.

"I believe in the old saying 'Nothing good in a bar happens after midnight'," Cheston said.

Commissioner E. Gail Anderson Holness (district 11) asked Cheston where he was from. Cheston said he graduated from Georgetown University. He had lived elsewhere, he continued, but he was born in DC.

"Native Washingtonian? We support you," Holness said.

The motion by Holness to support the application was approved by all the Commissioners present.

The application now moves for final approval to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which has authority over all public space applications.