This is a written interview with Kevin Cain, who will be the only candidate to appear on the ballot in district 04 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B/U Street. The seat is currently held by Deborah Thomas, who is not running for re-election.
Cain seems to have no opposition, but he agreed to answer a list of questions anyway. My thanks to Cain.
District 04 is bordered by 12th Street NW on the east and 15th Street on the west. The southern border is V Street. The northern border is mostly Florida Avenue, but it takes a slight jog north, between 13th and 14th Streets, up to Belmont Street. See middle left of map.
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– Where can your future constituents go to find out more about you? How will they be able to contact you with concerns once you start serving as Commissioner?
My contact information is available on my website, at http://www.kcainanc1b04.com/ as well as through my Facebook page, Kevin Cain ANC 1B04. My goal is to be very accessible and responsive to my friends and neighbors who make up 1B04, and to keep them informed of important developments that affect quality of life in our community.
– What is the biggest problem in the neighborhood?
Growth is both an opportunity and a challenge for our neighborhood. The entire U Street corridor is one of the fastest growing, ever-changing and most diverse areas in the city, which is the reason that many of us moved here. We need to continue to promote a dynamic and vibrant community. However, rapid growth and change can also bring challenges. Different residents and business owners can have different visions for the future of our neighborhood. My goal is to listen to the people of ANC 1B04, to understand their needs and to work with them to ensure the benefits of growth are broadly shared.
– What, if anything, can the ANC do to improve on-street parking? Your district has both a residential and a retail component. How can the conflict interests of merchants and homeowners in this case be satisfied?
I think we have to take a comprehensive approach that includes settlement agreements with businesses, a better relationship with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), and a frank conversation with both businesses and residents about parking restrictions and violations. Businesses certainly have a need for customers, but they do not have the right to “reserve” or cordon off public parking areas, which has become a fairly common occurrence in some areas. At the same time, residents need clear signage and fair enforcement. I also believe that ANCs should continue to push for additional parking in developments, and potentially even parking garages as the area continues to grow. It may be difficult for us to create any legal restrictions, but we can certainly make our voices heard.
– Your district has several liquor licensees, and many neighbors of liquor licensees. What is your opinion, generally, of liquor license protests, both by the ANC and by neighboring groups?
One of the reasons that I ran for this position originally was my opposition to the recently proposed liquor license moratorium. I spoke out against it at the ANC hearing on the issue, and I think the 80 to 1 ratio in opposition was fairly indicative of the neighborhood. I also believe that the current DC code allowing for only five people to file these types of protests is out of date and should be revisited. As a commissioner, I plan to listen to both sides of disagreements. When bad actors are identified, they need to be held accountable, through license protests or settlement agreements. But we need to do it on a case by case basis, since every situation is different.
– Urban planners say increased density is good, but nobody wants to have more tall buildings or pop-ups next door. Is the city heading in the right direction with recent proposals to limit development, especially in rowhouse areas?
You bring up a very good point, and one that I do not think the city is addressing very well. I would like to see a comprehensive plan that addresses not only the height restrictions, but also the mandatory number of parking spaces. To lessen congestion in the city, we must take vehicles off the road, and the only way to do that is to increase density, particularly near Metro stations and other areas with public transportation. We simply cannot have a greener, less polluted city without increasing, not decreasing, the height restrictions. These are the tradeoffs that every world class city has to make.
– Your district is a stone's throw from the Reeves Center. What's your position on the land swap? What can the ANC do to represent the interests of the neighborhood and its residents in this matter?
I favor the land swap, and I think redevelopment of the Reeves Center site is a good thing for the neighborhood. I do have some concerns about the current plan, however. One of the great amenities of our neighborhood is the weekend farmers market on the plaza at the Reeves Center, and I believe that any development should include some form of public space that allows the market to continue. I also believe that the ANC should continue working with any developers to encourage more day time foot traffic in the area with the type of ground floor retail that is chosen for the new site.
– Is there any question I should have asked but didn't?
No, I am hopeful that any of my potential constituents is comfortable reaching out to me on any issue, and I will be happy to respond.
End of interview
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.
The election will take place on Tuesday, November 4. Thanks to all candidates who responded to my questions.