City Paper Widget

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Interview with Patrick Nelson, Candidate for ANC1B District 03

This is a written interview with Patrick Nelson, a candidate for Commissioner for district 05 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street.

Nelson's opponent in the race is incumbent Sedrick Muhammed. Muhammed did not reply to requests to answer questions in writing. I sent emails to the address he gave DC election authorities on September 18 and October 2, and left a phone message on his answering machine October 6.

District 03 is an oddly-shaped district (see center of ANC map). Its northern border is Fairmont Street NW. At its southernmost point, it reaches Florida Avenue. It crossed Georgia Avenue at its easternmost point and reaches 13th Street at its westernmost point.

Don't know your ANC district? There are two search tools: one by the DC government, the other by Code for DC.

– Many of the residences in your district are zoned R-4. There is a proposal to limit the ability of row houses in R-4 zones to expand. Everyone agrees that greater density in the city is good, and everyone wants the pool of available housing to increase, but no one wants the house next door to them to be bigger or taller. What can an ANC do to help resolve this conflict?

First let me say that I do not agree that greater density is good and that the pool of available housing needs to increase. That said what is happening with the R-4 issue as I see it relates to the loss of single family housing which will not come back and the increase of mostly single - two bedroom, efficiency, or micro units, designed for single or couple use not families. The majority of expansions that are happening are not for increasing living space for current owners but the redevelopment of multi-units. The ANC role in this issue is to be informed about what it means to residents/homeowners, educate, listen to the concerns and take action as a commission based on what it hears from the community, a recommendation for or against the zoning board’s current proposed changes to R-4.

– What, if anything, can the ANC do to make on-street parking for residents less of a hassle?

I do not see that there is a whole lot that the ANC can do about on street parking other than to advocate strongly when new development is proposed that they are held to the requirement and not allow for the constant approvals of variances that builders seem to ask for regularly.

– What is your opinion, generally, about liquor license protests by the ANC? Have they been used correctly as a tool to balance a healthy nightlife versus the need for peace and quiet?

Generally I think that protests of liquor licenses is the one way that the ANC has to support the community in making problem of nuisance restaurant or bar owners work with them to come to a mutually agreeable coexistence when residents and establishments are so close. People need to live but business needs to survive also.

-- What is your position on the proposed Reeves Center land swap? If the deal goes through, what would be the best use of the current site of the Reeves Center?

I am not in support of the land swap. If the city wants to do something on that site it should do it on its own as it did back when the current building was built. If the deal does move forward the development of the site needs to be respectful of the history for what happened there back in the sixties and why it has the name it does now. The development needs to respect the history, respect the community’s wants for its use that it currently fills and not just assume we need more market rate housing.

– One of the biggest changes coming to the area might be the north-south DC Streetcar. Projected routes included Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue. Is the streetcar a wise use of taxpayer money? How does investing in a streetcar compare with, say, investing in better bus service? Any opinions on which route is better?

I think that there should be some time to let the current portion of the system come on line and see how it works. There is a need to relieve the traffic congestion on the avenue and a need for better bus service/reliability but I am not convinced that the street car is the answer or would work well in this location. The problem is really one of more traffic on the road than it was designed to handle. A thought to think about might be, restricting cars/trucks and increasing bus capacity or a street car. 

End of interview

Nelson did not answer two questions:

– Where can voters go to find out more about you?

– Is there any question that I should have asked but didn't?

ANC 1B, 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.

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