City Paper Widget

Friday, October 31, 2014

Interview with Noah Smith, Candidate of ANC2B District 09

This is a written interview with Noah Smith, who is running for Commissioner of district 09 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

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 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;
  • 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 proud of the work we’ve done collaboratively to improve our neighborhood, and it’s because of this work I was recently elected by my colleagues as Chair of the Dupont ANC.

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.


  1. Noah has my vote, he has the necessary experience for this job and he is a reasonable person. Ed Hanlon keeps filing lawsuits against his neighbors and is an angry person that doesn't bring consensus among neighbors. He is literally hated around on the 15th block of Swann and T. Its a shame that he is even running for this position.

  2. Typical Noah: well-informed, thoughtful, reasonable, balanced, pragmatic. We haven't always enjoyed this in our ANC representation, and I'll be voting for Noah to keep his refreshing professional approach.

  3. When Ramon and and I got expanded residential parking in the 1400 blocks three years ago it took about two months and I got annoyed that it took a month to get the signs up. Then the ball was passed to Noah on the 1500 and 1600 blocks. His "position" is still that he'll refer it to committee to study possibly, maybe, someday.

    Even with his statements that he considers it an inconvenience for people going to bars and contractors he won't just be honest and admit that he considers residents who want to park on their streets to have a sense of "entitlement" and that people going to bars are more important.

    Expect Noah Smith to diminish residential parking as much as possible if elected. He doesn't live here and helping residents park is against his ideology.

  4. Tom, If expanding residential parking is a priority for you and your candidate "Ed", then why are you and him against the homeowners who are building a parking space in their backyard? Homework is highly recomended before you decide to oppose a project and publicly comment on facts you don't know. Ed's empty promisses will take this neighborhood nowhere. After you do some research you will end up voting for Noah, but please do your homework to get the facts straight. You have most of the facts wrong (per your comments).

  5. Again, your comment that "Noah doesn't live here" should be translated as "Noah is not my immediate neighbor so therefore I am going to say he is not part of the community." How does Noah not live here when he, in fact, lives in ANC 2B09? He just doesn't live near you. How arrogant and elitist on your part. Also, I believe Ramon supports Noah.

    1. Ramon and I both, the ANC's who represented the neighborhood for the past 20 years, both loathe Noah Smith equally.

    2. That right there is a double endorsement for Noah Smith.

    3. A Reasonable NeighborNovember 3, 2014 at 2:22 AM


      Ramon Estrada was completely incommunicative and ineffective as ANC. I sent multiple emails about the rat problem and never once got a response. His "blog" was often weeks behind the news in our neighborhood. His partner -- while Ramon was ANC! -- used anonymous scare tactics to rally people to fight a restaurant on T St:

      Tom and Ramon, I get it. Your neighborhood is changing. You don't like it. But that train has left the station, my friends. Many of us like the changes coming to our neighborhood. Trader Joes, Logan Hardware, great coffee, restaurants, and shops all at my fingertips? Yes, I'll take some inconvenient parking and high property taxes as a tradeoff. It's worth it. I've lived within a five-block radius since 2000, and overall, I couldn't be happier with the direction our neighborhood is going in.

      And yes, I'll be enthusiastically voting for Noah Smith on Tuesday!

  6. Noah is a great guy. Residents of ANC2B09 are lucky to have such a good, responsive, and reasonable representant in the ANC. This is not as common as it should be.

  7. Tom, here is your issues guy:

    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.

    1. (Not that I know Hanlon's response would be more specific sadly) but Smith's response is so evasive with it's continual "referring to committee to think abouts" that it's simply avoiding straight answers. Ramon and I and several others know what the actual "yes" or "no" issues are that are critical here and know that Noah's responses are so evasive because his ideology is so against the residents who live here that residents would be appalled. Hence the evasive answers, the negative personal attacks, the tearing down posters. etc. If residents knew Smith's actual beliefs and record he wouldn't get 10%.

    2. << translation: new younger resident serving the community doesn't agree with me and another old guy's entrenched reflexive answers to today's complex neighborhood issues. He also doesn't seem to share our visions of outsized regulatory grandeur associated with a little ANC seat. Therefore, we've fast forwarded to "both loathe Noah Smith equally" (Tom's very words from above).

      This is exactly why Noah has been refreshing on the ANC.

    3. Yep Noah Smith's clique does spew the age bigotry and racism pretty freely when goaded. Charming.

    4. Yes, Tom, you are the expert and know all of the yes and no issues. All of the other residents in the neighborhood, however, are so ill-informed that we couldn't possibly understand these complex issues. I love how you call Noah's answers "evasive" when "Ed" provided NO answers. The negative attacks have been coming from those who have had to deal with Ed's underhanded and litigious tactics. The victims of his abusive measures will not sit idly by while he tries to fool the rest of the neighborhood.

    5. Actually Tom I'm the same age as you. It's not ageism. It's anti-sourism.

    6. Tom, you are the racist, elitist one here. You said Noah is not part of the community because he is not your immediate neighbor, then you label someone else "rich girl". You are so out of place. You should move out of this neighborhood, people here dislike you tremendously, just in case you don't know, FYI. Perhaps this is why you are so bitter, it must be sad living in a place where people despise you.

  8. "Noah doesn't live here" sounds like something Ed would say. What you are saying is that if you don't have 1 million dollars to buy a house you should be excluded from the community? Then you labeled someone else "the rich girl". What you write is a reflection of who you are, therefore you should think twice. Its obvious why you support Ed.

    1. Noah is a Nimby meaning hypocrite. He opposed a liquor license totally on 18th Street close to where he lives. But then when residents behind a new one on 14th just tried to get a voluntary agreement concerning trash and rats he took a legal position against them. The first time I've ever heard of that. The applicant told the neighbors "F you, I don't have to do any voluntary agreement, I have the local ANC behind me. And then Noah sent out a listserve that he "was on top of that rat issue".

      So yes, at least with Smith, where he lives makes a lot of difference.

    2. First, the place you are referring to is not close to where Noah lives. It is a block and a half away. Of course, you are still trying to process that ANC 2B 09 is actually bigger than just where your house is. There are many in the neighborhood (like myself) who have seen the "voluntary" agreement concept be misused (as it was in the Hank's Oyster Bar matter). Business should have to comply with the law rather than some forced agreement that is the equivalent of extortion. Actually, it sounds like you are the NIMBY.

  9. It's funny how we "progressives" campaign on restricting parking to the public who's tax dollars pay for our streets and who come to dine and shop in our neighborhood. I just hope we can all ban together behing Mr. Ed so we can go back to the good old days of crack dealers and prostitutes, crime and delinquency, the Ed platform. While we're at it, let's make sure the schools stay bad

  10. Did someone just shout LIMERICK SONNET CONTEST!?!

    How desperate with all of those signs
    And the lies that he tells to malign
    Nocturnally he howls
    Like a banshee moving bowels, and
    Old Rocky growls at the swine

    No corner, post, intersection
    Is spared of signs in every direction
    Still he will lose
    And clean up this abuse
    Not succeeding at buying this election

    And then he'll return to his blight
    Screaming "Rocky I'm not happy" at night
    Suing all that live near
    Hating and spreading fear
    Of the bully that seeks a court fight

    Life's too short to let bullies run free
    Elect Noah, and let others be

    1. This is beyond awesome...

    2. Tom needs a poem too....

  11. I love the "Noah doesn't live here" argument since, you know, he's running for an ANC position that requires residency in the neighborhood.

  12. Noah is not a concensus builder, rather he has been central to the devisivness that has pervaded the 1500 block of T street. There is a need for a change especially in light of Noah's friend and fellow council members track record of abusive behavior:

    1. Some other ANC commissioner had a meltdown and got arrested therefore Noah should go?

      Come again?

      Meanwhile, the only person in this ANC race with Superior Court history is...?

    2. Change should be for the best of the neighborhood and not for the worse. If you think that Noah is not a consensus (not concensus) builder, who is the consensus builder in your opinion? Mr. Ed? Maybe "concensus" for you means something else. You shouldn't be relating other ANC's comissioner behavior to Noah, he is not responsible for that. Tom and yourself should sit down and do some homework together before you vote, you seem not to have the facts right.

  13. Mr Ed is too busy littering the streets instead of spending time informing voters of his priorities for the neighborhood.

  14. Noah has worked hard to foster positive relationships with the businesses and residents of the district, recognizing the best way in which to accomplish common goals is through working collaboratively with all those he represents. He has exceeded expectations in his short time as commissioner, working hard on the issues that matter most to the neighborhood. He is someone who should be respected, even admired. Thank you for representing ANC 2B09 Noah!