Smith's opponent in the race is Edward Hanlon. On October 14, I sent Hanlon (and Smith) the questions below, and set a deadline of October 28. At an ANC candidates' night on October 16, Hanlon told me he intended to respond. On October 28, he sent me an email asking for a few more hours to consider his answers. I was happy to grant this very reasonable request. Since then, I have not received answers from him. I have sent him two reminders. Given that the election is next Tuesday, I am publishing Smith's response.
District 09 is bounded by 14th Street NW on the east, S Street on the south, and U Street on the north. Its eastern boundary is mostly New Hampshire Avenue. See a map of ANC2B right.
Don't know your ANC district? There are two search tools: one by the DC government, the other by Code for DC.
– Where can voters go to find out more about you and your campaign?
Since I was elected ANC Commissioner in 2012, I have maintained a neighborhood website and listserv. There you can learn more about me, what’s happening in our community and how you can be part of it’s continuing improvement. Of course anyone can email or call me anytime at email@example.com and 202-688-5416.
– Parking is always a hassle in DC. People feel that free or nearly free on-street parking is close to a constitutional right. Meanwhile, merchants must tell their customers that, basically, if they have a car, they are out of luck. Developers are chipping away at parking minimums by routinely asking for exemptions. What can ANCs do to inject a note of sanity into the discussion?
Parking remains a serious concern of residents in our neighborhood because of the high demand from residents, business patrons and visitors. Earlier this year I established the Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee within the Dupont Circle ANC to build consensus on neighborhood transportation issues and act to improve them. The ANC is committed to pilot testing innovative parking solutions in our neighborhood and DDOT has committed to coming to us first.
In August we brought in the DDOT citywide parking manager, Evian Patterson, to discuss the feasibility of options to address these issues, like reducing the size of residential parking zones or piloting parking policies in our commercial corridors that raise or lower prices based on demand.
Why not just reserve all residential streets for residential parking?
Enhanced residential parking restrictions have been tested in many parts of the city with limited success. Our own test case, Caroline Street, has led to some increase in residential parking but extremely limited visitor parking for when friends come over for dinner or repairs are needed on a home. DDOT is no longer accepting petitions for enhanced parking restrictions until a city-wide plan is developed. Changing one block’s parking policies just pushes the problem down another block and isn’t a neighborhood-wide solution. There is no silver bullet.
– I believe your entire ANC district is also a historic district. Is it too much of a hassle for homeowners to renovate or expand their own properties? Have DC historic preservation authorities been sufficiently customer friendly to homeowners who need to navigate the bureaucracy? How can ANCs help make the process more transparent?
The ANC’s role in historic preservation applications is just as much about the process as the outcome. While I have helped several residents through the bureaucracy, I’ve been most proud of leading over a dozen applicants and their neighbors to compromises that work for everyone and the historic neighborhood we all enjoy. As ANC Commissioners, we bring neighbors together to make sure that everyone understands what is being proposed and how their opinions can be heard.
We’ve done a good job of keeping this transparent. Meeting agendas are posted weeks in advance on the ANC’s website and on my neighborhood blog. I knock on doors and make sure people are aware of what is being proposed, and I set up meetings to get questions answered. As Chair of the ANC, I’ve tried to focus on the quality of life impact these projects have and not just the architectural design.
– You have several liquor licensees in your district. What's your opinion of the liquor licensing process? Do residents have sufficient leverage when they have a problem with a local licensee? Are restaurants and bars at the mercy of small groups of unreasonable individuals?
The liquor licensing process is difficult and bureaucratic; my experience makes me a strong advocate for residents who live nearby (or on top of) bars and restaurants in our neighborhood. One example is that we are in the process of negotiating a new liquor license agreement right now with Art Soiree, which is opening an art gallery and event space at 1832 14th Street. I posted the draft agreement and explained the process on my blog. Low-key venues and art galleries are a perfect example of what makes our neighborhood a great place to live.
There can’t always be compromise though – I was at an Alcohol Beverage Control Board hearing until 2am with the ANC and neighbors protesting a proposed new bar on the residential block of Swann Street at 18th. The ABC Board listened to the ANC and flat out denied their application.
We’re also working hard to address late-night noise in our neighborhood. I’ve worked with the DC Noise Task Force (Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)) to get more enforcement on U Street and 14th Street and I successfully lobbied MPD to add ten new foot patrol officers on U Street on weekend nights.
– Sixteenth Street runs through your district. What do you think about the proposed dedicated bus lane on 16th Street? Is the District Department of Transportation dragging its feet on this proposal?
Anyone who has waited for a bus and watched one (or two or three) pass them by on 16th Street while trying to get to work can tell you that there is a clear need for more buses that move more quickly. I established and chair the ANC’s Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee to bring neighbors together on issues just like this.
As early as February, the ANC acted and sent five requests to DDOT to improve bus service on 16th Street; routes that have seen a 25% increase in ridership over the last five years. Since then, DDOT has increased the number of busses and the size of busses (using the articulated type when possible) and folks are reporting a noticeable improvement. Where we haven’t seen progress is on prioritized signaling for buses so they can make it through lights more easily, and studies on the impact of a part-time dedicated bus lane on stretches of 16th Street. I’d like to see a stronger push to implement the tactics already studied, like prioritization, as a stopgap while dedicated lanes are studied.
– The Reeves Center is in another ANC, but it also is a stone's throw from your district. What do you think about the proposed land swap? Is the city getting the most possible value out of the deal as currently proposed? Assuming the deal goes through, how can ANCs ensure that whatever comes after the Reeves Center is what the community needs?
I have several concerns about giving away our most valuable piece of land in the city to a developer without any public input on how that space will be used. There are so many neighborhood priorities for that space, which have never heard the light of day because of the sole-source nature of a land swap. Though this seems great for development of Southwest, I’m not sure our neighborhood is getting the best deal.
Our neighborhood worked hard to preserve the Post Office in the Reeves Center and there is a real risk that it could be lost. I’m equally concerned about the DC Center for the LGBT Community, which the ANC strongly supported in its move to the Reeves Center. I’ve asked both major mayoral candidates to take a fresh look at the swap upon taking office and they were amenable to it. I look forward to a more open process, with ANC involvement, with a new mayor.
– Is there any question that I should have asked but didn't?
Yes, what have you accomplished in your time as ANC Commissioner and why are you running for re-election?
I ran for ANC in 2012 because I wanted to meet more of my neighbors and have a positive impact on our community; I have accomplished both! Together, we have:
- Helped to pass a law that protects pedestrians and cyclists from dangerous and inconvenient construction;
- Worked to improve parking policies and cleanliness by establishing a new Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee to focus neighborhood resources; and
- Improved pedestrian and cyclist safety by expanding bike infrastructure and maintenance so cyclists feel safe on the street and leave more space for pedestrians on sidewalks.
- Held a series of public safety listening sessions to gather input from residents on exactly what the crime and traffic safety concerns are in our neighborhood.
I’m running for reelection to make our transportation system more effective no matter how you travel, to improve the safety and beauty of our neighborhood, and to provide a voice of reason in city decisions where logic does not always prevail. This is work that impacts every person every day.
Advocating for your needs requires knowledge, relationships with key city officials, and practice. In short: experience matters. I’m excited to represent you for two more years.
End of interview.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 4, but early voting centers in nine neighborhood areas opened on October 25. There is also early voting downtown at Judiciary Square.
Thank you to the candidate for responding to my questions.