City Paper Widget

Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview with Matt Abbruzzese, Candidate for ANC1B District 12

This is a written interview with Matt Abbruzzese, who is standing for election for Commissioner on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B/U Street. Abbruzzese is seeking to represent district 12. District 12 represents the most heavily commerical section of U Street. It is bounded by S Street NW to the South between 14th Street and 12th Street, then 13th Street to the east, V Street to the North, and then follows Florida Avenue, U Street, and 14th Street to the east (see lower left of map below).

District 1B12 is in the lower left corner
Abbruzzese's opponent in the election is John Green. Read an SALM interview with Green here.

ANC1B, in addition to U Street, includes all or part of the following neighborhoods: Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Shaw, University Heights, and lower Georgia Avenue.
Don't know your ANC district? There are two search tools: one by the DC government, the other by Code for DC.

-- Where can potential voters go to find out more information about you?

My campaign website is a fantastic place for voters living in single member district 1B12 to check out. For quick hits about what’s happening in our community, voters should follow my Twitter handle and Facebook page.

-- What will they find when they get there?

My background, my passions, and why I want to work for the people in 1B12, ANC 1B, and the District as a whole. Potential voters will learn that my vision for the U Street corridor neighborhood is one in which increased community engagement achieves more, and how the non-negotiable values I lead by will guide us there.

-- What sets you apart from the other candidate?

My passion, energy, and strong commitment to excellence in public service will bring the integrity and accountability that ANC 1B needs from its Commissioners, and the effective, inclusive leadership that residents deserve from their elected officials.

Through volunteer efforts with ANC 1B as Chair of the Planning and Economic Development Committee and member of the Transportation Committee, I have become very knowledgeable of the local government process, and which policies and programs our next ANC for 1B12 should recognize based on the priorities reflective of our community. My service to the community doesn't end there. I’m a tenant advocacy leader who effectively fights for tenant rights and affordable housing in my capacity as President and co-founder of Geno Baroni Advocacy. From my role as an officer for the Ward One Democrats organization to involvement with civic affairs as member of two local neighborhood associations, my commitment to community service leadership and proven record certainly speaks for itself.

-- What is the biggest problem in the neighborhood?

As the neighborhood continues to develop—both with new residential units and as a destination night spot—it’s essential for us to ensure that a good neighborhood quality of life is maintained for long-term and new residents alike. 1B12 is the most active of all ANC 1B’s SMD’s for zoning, liquor, and development - it is the heart of the U Street Corridor. Over the next several years we will continue to face challenges in the areas of economic development, use of public space owned by DC, on-street parking, housing affordability, crime, trash collection, and balancing growth with preservation of the cultural diversity, history, and character of our Historic U Street Corridor neighborhood.

The following initiatives are necessary to explore together to maintain or improve the quality of life in our neighborhood community:

Bringing daytime jobs to the corridor;

Building stronger relationships with agencies to address the severe issues of trash build up on a weekly basis through improving trash collection efforts;

Promoting U Street as a tourist destination (i.e. – creating a cultural destination at the African American War Memorial and Grimke School with museum, dance, and the performing arts);

Lobbying key stakeholders to bring lodging for guests and visitors to stay overnight (for business, culture, university, hospitals); and

Balancing residential development in the northern part of ANC 1B.

-- What, if anything, should be changed concerning on-street parking for residents of your district?

There’s a need for better coordination and transparency related to the issuing of permits for construction, loading zones, and valet parking. Such a process must include the impacted ANC’s and take public safety, community input, multimodal transportation in concentrated areas (on-street loading and unloading, buses, bikes, two way restricted lane traffic), and valet stands into consideration. ANC 1B should continue working with DDOT to establish a transparent process of notification for all applications, schedules, and actions. The ANC as a whole should collaborate with DDOT, DGS, and all other DC Government agencies necessary to make parking garages available during evening and weekend hours. Another proposal to consider is requiring anyone from outside the neighborhood who parks on the street to use the pay-by-phone system (and provide alternative modes of payment for those who can’t pay from their mobile device) to pay a rate for parking. This concept may balance supply and demand, and should be considered as a potential pilot program administered by DDOT in the near future.

-- What’s your position on the new attempts to limit density in residential neighborhoods? 

Zoning regulations should be revisited to preserve the character of neighborhoods and to ensure we are zoned correctly. The R-4 Zone is a topic of heated debate. By preserving the original intent of R-4 we may actually expand family housing of 2+ bedroom dwellings. Some areas that are currently zoned R-4 may better be rezoned as R-5 to allow for block-wide high density structures. Most important is to ensure we can maintain the character of DC’s Historic U Street Corridor neighborhood and to provide housing options for everyone at all socioeconomic levels.

-- What is your opinion, generally speaking, about liquor license protests by the ANC?

The ANC1B ABC Committee has done an outstanding job engaging the community and bringing parties together. ANC1B was critiqued for a quorum at the July meeting. The end result was one protest was denied and it was for a minor issue of a smoking area and tardiness in submitting letters of support from adjacent neighbors. I think the question raises a bigger question of ABRA and their consideration of the ANCs and community groups in protests. The only power of the ANC is the protest, settlement agreement, and enforcement and when those are not upheld by ABRA the citizens lose confidence in the regulatory agencies.

-- Is there anything I should have asked you but didn’t?

What will you do to increase community engagement?

My main focus is to promote community engagement to address the priorities reflective of our community. Three initiatives I plan to introduce as ANC 1B12 are:

Host community forums during daytime hours over the weekend to include and appropriately accommodate the needs of the elderly population living in 1B12;

Host public meetings to be held every couple of months for the residents and businesses; and

Leverage technologies to accelerate innovation and transparency to increase awareness in a timely manner.

End of interview

The election will take place on Tuesday, November 4. Thanks to all candidates for responding to my questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment