City Paper Widget

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from SALM

Will resume posting next week.

Logan Circle ANC Committee Endorses Outdoor Seating for "The Pig"

An application for a public space use permit for The Pig restaurant (1320 14th Street NW) will go ahead after a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle endorsed the application unanimously. The endorsement took place at the regular monthly meeting of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) on November 19.

(Luis Gomez Photos. Used by permission)
The matter was dispatched in a matter of minutes at the beginning of the meeting. David Winer, principal of The Pig and other restaurants operated by EatWellDC, presented. Four tables with eight seats on 14th Street in front of the restaurant are planned. There will be no fence or barrier between the tables and passing pedestrians.

At its narrowest point, there will be an 8-foot-wide gap for pedestrians to pass, but mostly the gap will be 12 feet wide. The sidewalk seating will not "jut out" as far as that of the neighboring B Too restaurant (1324 14th Street) because The Pig has a flat front onto 14th Street, as opposed to B Too's bay window.

The sidewalk seating will operate until 10:30pm weekdays and 11:30pm weekends.

Winer was scheduled to present at the last meeting of the CDC but then didn't show up. The CDC voted to recommend opposition to Winer's sidewalk cafe permit. Winer came to the last meeting of the full ANC on November 12 prepared to present but was told he had to appear before the CDC first -- see SALM blog post of November 6.

See a summary here of the November 19 CDC meeting where this matter was discussed.

The matter will now move to the full ANC for endorsement. Matters approved unanimously by the CDC, like this one, are normally approved by the full ANC without much further debate. The next scheduled meeting of ANC2F is Wednesday, December 10, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

After that, the matter goes to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which has authority over public space use, for final approval.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2724 11th Street: "We Do Know What We're Talking About"

The owners of 2724 11th Street NW came away empty-handed from a hearing of DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on November 18. Jennifer Parker, representing the family that has owned the building for more than half a century, and attorney Martin Sullivan, of the firm Sullivan & Barrow, led the team who were in search of a handful of zoning variances for a troubled Columbia Heights apartment building.

Parker (center) and Sullivan (right) -- screenshot of BZA video
For many months, the rent-controlled building has been the site of a battle between, on the one side, the tenants and nearly all neighbors and, on the other, the owners and their representatives. The dreadful conditions of the building have drawn far greater public attention than normal to this application for zoning relief. This attention includes a detailed report on the vermin-infested apartments on WAMU and letters to the BZA in support of the tenants from two city council members.

According to section 11-3103 of DC Municipal Regulations, the applicants must show that strict application of zoning requirements "would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to or exceptional and undue hardship upon the owner of the property". Toward this end, they submitted spreadsheets and other documents intended to demonstrate finanicial hardship.

Attempts at humor probably not a winning strategy

The Board was not impressed with these documents. For example, members of the Board felt that professional expenses of $150,000 were not adequately explained. Parker said the expenses were for lawyers and accountants. She then said she was a lawyer and asked rhetorically if the Board was aware what attorneys cost these days.

Lloyd Jordan, Chair of the Board, replied that he was a lawyer himself and was aware of the going fees for lawyers.

"We do know what we're talking about, despite what you might think," Jordan said.

Jordan expressed further scepticism of the applicants financial statements.

"I don't know if I can accept your financials," Jordan said. Jordan asked the applicants to return with convincing evidence that "your numbers are real".

ANC Commissioners, community testify

Two Commissioners from Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street testified before the Committee.

ANC1B Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09) was first. 2724 11th Street is in Turner's ANC district, he told the Board. Turner also told the Board lives on the same block as the building. He told them the matter had been on the agenda for the November meeting of the ANC, but a vote could not be taken because a quorum was not achieved -- see SALM blog post of November 7.

Turner testifies to the BZA
"Sadly, in November, we could not reach a quorum," Turner told the Board.

"It happens," a Board member said sympathetically.

"Too frequently," Turner said.

A Board member, still sympathetic, said it was difficult for Commissioners because they were "volunteers".

"We're not volunteers, we're unpaid," Turner said. The members of the Board laughed and suggested jokingly that all present could start a labor union.

But about the absences, Turner said: "It is unacceptable".

Turner went on to tell the Board about the previous actions of the ANC and its committees, including the October ANC1B vote to protest the 31 percent rent increase on the rent-controlled apartment -- see SALM blog post of October 8.

Turner said Parker's predecessors had not been good landlords but Parker herself in the last two years had made "good faith efforts" to improve the property. Approving the zoning variance would be "the fastest path" to getting better housing for the tenants, Turner said.

Next, ANC1B Commissioner Mark Ranslem (district 08) testified in favor of the applicants. Ranslem characterized the building as in a state of "horrible disrepair". To allow the current dispute to drag out, Ranslem said, would create a "lose-lose situation" in which the building might eventually be condemned. but approving the variance would create a "win-win".

Opponents of the zoning relief had, by the time the hearing took place, gotten 44 people to write in objection to the zoning relief, including the two DC Councilmembers mentioned above. (Sullivan characterized most of these as "form letters".) They also got several people to come to the mid-week hearing in person to testify. The Board had to make clear that not all would be allowed to do so, in the interests of time. In all, four representatives of the opposition to zoning relief, including one actual tenant of the building, testified.

Applicants told to return

The Board told the applicants they should come back in January with improved financial statements. Also, Lloyd Jordan said he "really had a concern" about the state of the building. Other members of the Board agreed with him.

Anthony Hood, Chair of the DC Zoning Commissioner, also attended the hearing. He told the applicants things might go a little easier if they returned with written evidence of a plan for relocating the tenants during the proposed renovation, as well as evidence of better communication with the building's tenants.

The request for a variance will be heard again on January 13, 2015, at 9:30am. BZA hearings are held in Room 220 South, 441 4th Street NW (Judiciary Square Metro).

I did not attend the November 18 BZA hearing. The information above is based on watching a video of the hearing. This video, along with many documents related to this case, can be viewed by going to DC's Interactive Zoning Information System and putting case number 18790 in the search bar. The portion of the meeting dealing with this request starts at time 2:07:53.

Monday, November 24, 2014

1218 9th Street: Zoning Relief for Future Home of Celebrity Chef Jeremiah Langhorne

At a November 19 meeting, a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted unanimously to endorse zoning relief for Jemal's 9th Street Gang of 3, LLC, and Douglas Development, developers of 1218 9th Street NW. The building in question will be the future home of the Dabney, a new restaurant from celebrity chef Jeremiah Langhorne, as well as The Columbia Room, an "award-winning" cocktail bar migrating from a nearby Blagden Alley location.

What the finished project might look like (credit below)
The developers appeared before the Community Development Committee (CDC) of ANC2F to tell how changing plans for their development have dictated a mid-development application for zoning relief. Previously, the project had been "by right" (meaning, not requiring zoning relief).

If the third floor were to be residential space, no zoning relief would be required. However, since the developers are now planning office space, and have rejiggered the design to add 4,000 square feet of space, the number of parking spaces the developer is required to provide on-site has increased from zero to 14. There is clearly no room on site for 14 parking spaces.

One member of the committee asked the developers to explore offering parking mitigations (e.g., bike/car share memberships) to tenants. Aside from that, there was no objection from the committee.

One member of the audience, a frequent attendee at ANC meetings, remarked that ANC2F had at their previous meeting endorsed a request by a neighboring building for the relief of the requirement to supply 66 parking spaces for over 130 residential units. In comparison to that request, the audience member said, this request was very reasonable, and he agreed with it.

The ANC's endorsement of the developers request also includes endorsement of zoning relief for floor-to-area ratio (FAR). (See an explanation of FAR here.) The maximum allowed now is 1.5 FAR. The developers seek 2.07 FAR.

In April 2013, the developers successfully sought endorsement for its plans from the CDC prior to petitioning DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The project was required to go through HPRB because it is located within the boundaries of two separate historic districts -- the Shaw Historic District and the Blagden Alley/Naylor Court Historic District.

The documents related to the request for zoning relief can be seen by going to DC's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18905 into the search bar.

See a Douglas Development webpage advertising the development here and a flyer here.

See a June 2014 post about this property from the blog DC Vacant Properties here.

(Photo credit: detail of artist's rendering of finished project from publicly-available documents of the Office of Planning.)

Logan Circle ANC Write-in Winners Announced

On Friday, November 21, DC's Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) announced the winners in the 19 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) races in which all of the candidates were write-ins. These districts had no candidate on the ballot because no one managed to gather the required 25 valid signatures from voters in the ANC disrict before the deadline.

From Twitter feed of Pepin Tuma
In ANC 2F/Logan Circle, two districts -- districts 03 and 07 -- had no candidate on the ballot. The write in winners are:
  • District 03: Pepin Andrew Tuma
  • District 07: Kevin Slyvester
I gathered the following information via Google: Tuma is a lawyer. As of 2012, he was Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "the world largest association of food and nutrition professionals". Tuma was briefly in the news in 2009 after he was arrested on U Street for disorderly conduct after singing "I hate the police" in the presence of police officers. He wrote about the incident in the Washington Post. In 2009, he sued the DC police about the incident. A 2011 report says Tuma successfully had the arrest expunged from the record.

There is not as much information about Slyvester. A Google search gives evidence that there is someone with that name who works or worked here in DC at the Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations, part of the US Department of Transportation. Other online records show Kevin Slyvester bought a house on the 1200 block of 12th Street (in ANC2F district 07) in 2010.

There was no information about how many votes candidates received, other candidates who received votes, or the winners' margins of victory.

The press statement on write-in winners is a Microsoft Word document which can be accessed at the DCBOEE home page under the "News" tab.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two Leads in ANC Races Remain in Single Digits as "Final" Count of Ballots Released

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) released a "final" but not yet official tabulation of votes at a few minutes after 2pm yesterday (November 20).

Board of Elections tweet from yesterday
In district 06 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street, the number of votes won by each candidate remained unchanged from the previous release of ballot count information -- see SALM blog post of November 19. This means that incumbent Dyana Forester retained her single-vote (205 to 204) lead over challenger David Gilliland.

In district 05 of ANC 2B/Dupont Circle, challenger Jonathan Jagoda again shaved a few votes off the lead of incumbent Abigail Nichols. After the last release of absentee and special ballots, Jagoda was behind by six votes -- 231 to 225. Now, he is behind by four votes -- 233 to 229.

In a tweet yesterday, Jagoda noted that DCBOEE rules mandate a recount when the margin of victory is less than 10 votes. In a separate tweet, Jagoda said he was "going to a recount".

There are two write-in-candidate only races in ANC 2F/Logan Circle. A tweet from DCBOEE yesterday said the write-in winners "will be notified by letter and posted to the web" today, Friday, November 21.

In a press release yesterday, DCBOEE said some precincts will be randomly chosen for manual audits. The drawing to determine which precincts will be audited will take place today, and the audit itself will be conducted on Monday, November 24, in Room 1117 at 441 4th Street NW (a.k.a. One Judiciary Square).

The final results will be certified by the DCBOEE at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on December 3.

Sex Club Building Conditional Demolition Endorsement from ANC Committee

A committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted unanimously to give conditional endorsement to a request to raze 1618 14th Street NW. For years until 2009, the building was the site of the gay sex club "Men's Parties", which was closed after a man fell to his death on premises.

1618 14th is at the corner of Corcoran (Luis Gomez Photos)
The support for the demolition of the building is "strictly contingent" on the retention of the 14th Street facade of the building, according to the resolution passed by the Community Development Committee (CDC) of ANC2F.

The request to the committee was made by the "personal attorney since 1989" of Stephen Jaffe, the owner of the building. A NBC4 report about the lawsuit by the DC government following the 2009 death says the building was owned by 1618 14th Street LLC, "a company listed at 9464 Newbridge Dr. in Potomac, Md., the home of Stephen and Pirjo Jaffe."

The case for the raze

Accompanying the attorney was Peter Neubauer of Neubauer Consulting Engineers.

The attorney began his presentation by warning the committee the discussion and vote should be about the demolition only, and not "what comes after".

The attorney and the engineer detailed recent study of the building. The building has been "fully vacated" since December 2010. An architect retained in 2011 recommended facade repairs and full interior demolition. In May 2012, an internal demolition of the building received official approval and was done. The true condition of the building was revealed. Moisture at ground level had rotted the floorboard and led to termite infestation according to Neubauer.

A June 2013 raze request met objections from ANC2F and DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). There has been some further study since then.

The building is in terrible condition and some of the walls are bowing. It is structurally unsound, Neubauer said. In order to restore the south wall facing Corcoran Street, for example, the original bricks in the wall would have to be removed individually or in groups and then replaced. Some of the wall would be lost in the process.

"The brick is failing," Neubauer said.

Three sides of the building (south, west, north) are unsound in part because the bricks are only two-deep. However, the east wall is three-deep (the usual standard). The engineer said in response to committee questioning that the east wall (facing 14th Street) was not structurally unsound.

Historic Preservation attends the meeting

The new raze request seems to have the support of HPRB, although that support is not yet official. Steve Callcott of HPRB appeared in support of the raze request, waiting patiently for over two hours while the CDC considered other matters.

Callcott said the building dates from the 1870s.

"It probably wasn't intended to last this long," he said. "It's significant for that reason. It's a nice reflection of the earliest period of the neighborhood."

However, as the structural integrity of the building is failing, the building may no longer be considered a contributing building to the 14th Street Historic District, in which it is located. 

New ANC Commissioner responds

This building is located in ANC2F district 01. Katherine Gordon was elected earlier this month to be the Commissioner for this district after running unopposed. Her term will start in January.

Gordon told the committee she had spoken to neighbors and the building has been a problem since 2001. (Jaffe bought the property in 2005.) The building owner has not listened to neighbor complaints about the condition of the building since he owned it.

"It has been demolition by neglect," Gordon said.

"I've been expecting this," the attorney replied.

Jaffe only became aware of their concerns after "the 2009 horrific event".

"The neighbors never voiced concerns." the attorney said. "My client was unaware of their concerns."

"If my client had been aware of concerns," the attorney said, "my client would have responded."

The attorney said the building owner now addressed graffiti and vermin problems "weekly".

The raze application resolution will now move to the full ANC for approval. The next meeting of ANC2F is scheduled for Wednesday, December 10, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

All requests (like this one) to demolish contributing buildings in a designated historic district must be heard by the Mayor's Agent in the DC Office of Planning.

Cheater's Guide to Dream City -- Part 26 of 26 (Afterword)

This is the twenty-sixth and last installment of a series (see the first installment here) summarizing the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. This book has recently been republished as an ebook and a paper book. HBO has plans to use material from the book to make a movie about the life of Marion Barry.

Afterword (four of four)
The last part of this book describes the rise of Mayor Vincent C. Gray up until April 2014, when it went to press.

“[Gray] grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Northeast Washington.... His partents never attended high school. Gray graduated Dunbar High School... and went on to George Washington University.... After graduating college, Gray went into social work, first for senior citizens, later for people with developmental disabilities” (Kindle location 6363).

“Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly appointed Gray to run her human-services department in 1991. When she lost reelection in 1994, Gray became executive director of Covenant House, an organiation that served the homeless and at-risk children. He ran it for a decade” (l. 6364).

“In 2004, at the age of 62, Vince Gray won the Ward Seven seat on the council... Just two years later in 2006, Gray ran citywide for council chairman and won.... He was deliberate, patient, collegial – all qualities that helped the 13-member legislative group function well. He watched the new Mayor Fenty treat the council with indifference” (l. 6364).

“Members of the 'old guard' lobbied Gray and promised to raise funds for his campaign.... Polls showed Gray could challenge Fenty. In March the council chairman declared his candidacy for mayor; a month later Fenty officially entered the race” (l. 6375).

“On quality of life and civic accomplishments, Mayor Fenty could run on a solid record. The city was safer. Crime was down. Homocides had fallen to 140 in 2009, a 45-year low. District agencies were running more efficiently.... Residents said in polls that the city was headed in the right direction” (l. 6377).

“But Fenty could not shake the widespread impression that he was arrogant and insensitive. He refused to accept polls that showed his popularity in free fall” (l. 6377).

“An undercurrent theme in the campaign to unseat Fenty was that Gray would resurrect Marion Barry's power base, bring back his machine, and redirect the flow of city contracts to Barry's friends. Fenty had tossed many old-guard Washingtonians from his government and from city contracts. Encouraged by Barry, they wanted back in” (l. 6402).

“In the decisive Democratic primary on September 14, Vince Gray trounced Fenty with 54 percent of the vote to Fenty's 44 percent. The city cleaved along racial lines: In black precincts across Anacostia in Ward Seven, Gray polled 82 percent of the vote. Fenty got 80 percent of the mostly white votes in Ward Three” (l. 6404).

“Mayor Vincent Gray was in office for fewer than two months when more than a few voters experienced an extreme case of buyer's remorse” (l. 6415).

“Gray had run as the clean candidate – 'Character, Integrity, Leadership' – and promised high ethical standards and a more approachable city government than Fenty had run. Gray had barely moved into the executive suite when news broke that his appointees and staff in top jobs in his administration were busy installing dozens of family members and friends in other posts with high salaries” (l. 6416).

Sulaimon Brown had run against both Fenty and Gray for mayor, but spent much of his time on the campaign trail attacking Fenty. Brown then got a $110,000-a-year job in the Gray administation.

“When his past legal problems surfaced in the news, Brown was fired and escorted his office by police” (l. 6421).

Brown accused the mayor of paying him to attack Fenty.

“The mayor and his campaign advisors scoffed. Gray hastily called a news conference and called for an investigation to clear his administration's name. But Brown produced documents, money order receipts, and phone records to help prove his account” (l. 6427).

"When Gray could rise above the fray, he governed well..." (l. 6432).

"His economic-development aides helped jumpstart projects that had been in the planning stages during the Williams and Fenty administrations. Construction cranes once again defined the District's skyline. Gray cut ribbons for the long-stalled Skyland shopping center in Ward Seven; new shops, offices, and housing at the O Street Market site along 9th Street, Northwest; and a total redevelopment of the Southwest waterfront along Maine Avenue" (l. 6444).

"... Young couples pushing baby strollers began showing up in traditionally African American neighborhoods like Petworth along Georgia Avenue. Newcomers moved into row houses in Bloomingdale and Eckington, east of North Capital Street" (l. 6540).

"Nowhere was the revival more evident than on 14th Street north of downtown. The eight blocks from Massachusetts Avenue to U Street became famous -- and infamous -- for redevelopment and gentrification. Developers knocked down warehouses and replaced them with condominiums. The Central Union Mission, which had housed homeless people for decades at 14th and R Streets, sold its building and moved to another location...." (l. 6543).

"The city's revival failed to lift all boats: The District's poor residents suffered from unemployment, poor health, and violent crime, especially if they lived east of the Anacostia" (l. 6552).

"The first polls in the mayor's race showed Gray with a lead, thanks to his base in the black wards east of the Anacostia River and a field jammed with challengers...." (l. 6579)

Meanwhile, corruption investigations that had been picking off members of the Grey administration closed in.

"On March 10, three weeks before the election, [businessman and Gray confidant] Jeff Thompson pleaded guilty to violating campaign-finance laws. Among many admissions, he said he had paid former councilmember Michael Brown to drop out of the 2006 mayor's race and endorse Linda Cropp against Adrian Fenty. He admitted to funneling more than $2-million in illegal contributions to local and federal campaigns over a six-year period. His pleas detailed how he had raised and directed more than $650,000 for Gray's 2010 election" (l. 6591).

"The blockbuster: In open court, Thompson alleged that Vincent Gray knew of the illegal contributions. Vernon Hawkins and other Gray aides had asked Thompson for $400,000 to help Gray get out the vote" (l. 6592).

"Mayor Gray needed to rally his base in the black wards. He never had much support among white voters, who pined for Fenty... and assumed Gray knew of the corrupt campaign" (l. 6594).

"Whom was he going to call? Marion Barry" (l. 6603).

"On Wednesday, March 19, Barry showed up in the basement of Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in Anacostia to endorse Gray's reelection bid. He had to help helped onto the stage" (l. 6604).

"The weekend before the April 1 vote, Barry joined a caravan through African American wards. Riding shotgun, Barry used a megaphone to exhort voters to turn out for Grey" (l. 6617).

"[Muriel] Bowser won the April 1st primary decisively. She captured 44 percent of the vote to Gray's 32 percent" (l. 6618).

"Few voters showed up citywide to vote on April 1. The 83,000 votes cast represented the lowest turnout in nearly 30 years. Precious few showed up in the black precincts Gray needed to win. While half of the voters turned out in some white precincts, fewer than 10 percent bothered to vote in black precincts along the Prince Georges County line" (l. 6621).

"Gray had failed to assume the cloak of victimhood that Barry tried to pass to him. In his first campaign defeating Fenty, Grey had received more than 25,000 votes east of the Anacostia. In the new election, despite Barry, Grey got fewer than 9,000 votes" (l. 6624).

"At the Democratic Unity Breakfast a few days after the election, Gray had to be goaded into shaking Bowser's hand" (l. 6629).

The chapter ends with a brief portrait of David Catania and the threat his campaign might pose to Muriel Bowser. At the time of the writing, Carol Schwartz had not announced her candidacy.

The books ends with a nod to its subject, Marion Barry.

"Marion Barry showed up in a wheelchair at Grey's election-night party. He said it was time for city voters to rally against Catania. Barry, the survivor, endorsed Bowser" (l. 6641).

Cheater's Guide to Dream City ends

This summary is cross-posted on the Cheater's Guide to Dream City blog.

There was a lot of fascinating detail in this book which I left out of this summary. If you want to understand the local politics of DC, you must read this a great book in its entirety.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2724 11th Street: Graham, Grosso Weigh in Against Zoning Relief

DC Councilmembers Jim Graham (D-Ward One) and David Grosso (I-At Large) have written letters in opposition to a request for zoning relief by the owners of 2724 11th Street NW. The troubled Columbia Heights property has been the subject of a long struggle between tenants and neighbors on one side and the owners on the other -- see SALM blog posts of October 23, October 8, September 17, August 4, and June 23.

Tenants rallied against the zoning relief on October 5
The letters of Councilmembers Graham and Grosso came in advance of a November 18 hearing of DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on the request for zoning relief. The request was not granted at the hearing, which will be the subject of a separate blog post.

From Councilmember's Letters

Graham's letter says: "...there is no need for the owners to develop new units given the existing vacancies and the poor living conditions present in the building."

"After decades of neglect and deferred maintenance," Graham's letter says, "these owners have permitted the building to reach a state of advanced dilapidation, including rodent infestation, mold and advanced disrepair."

"On October 29, I toured the building and four individual units," says Grosso in his letter. "I was disturbed by the visible dilapidation caused by long-term neglect, rodent and vermin infestation, mold, and general disrepair of the building. There is no evidence that the property managers or owners have taken any steps toward improving these conditions for the safety and welfare of the tenants...."

Grosso also says: "... this renovation is not in the interests of the current tenants..." and "... this variance would only perpetuate the unaddressed issues that have plagued this building for years."

The letters of Councilmembers Grosso and Graham, along with 43 other letters or emails in opposition to the zoning variance (plus one in support), can be seen by going to the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18790 into the search bar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1508 Caroline Street: ANC Says Popup OK, Just This Once

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle voted unanimously to endorse a request to add two additional stories on a residence on Caroline Street NW, one of which will be visible from the street. The unanimous endorsement occurred at the ANC's regular monthly meeting on November 12.

The aim is to make it symmetrical-looking from the street.
At the meeting, and in the resolution subsequently approved by the ANC (see text halfway down the page here), it was emphasized that this property had a unique situation and the approval of additional stories should in no way be construed as setting a precedent for the neighborhood.

Caroline Street is runs one block from 15th Street to 16th Street, just south of U Street. With the exception of 1508 Caroline Street, it is made of matching pairs of two-story houses, constructed at the same time in the 1880s.

A third story was added on 1508 Caroline Street sometime before 1900. This makes it the only three-story building on the block, and the only building on the block which does not match its next-door neighbor.

The new owner of 1508 Caroline Street has also owned 1506 Caroline Street next door since 1989. He told the ANC he had meet with neighbors two weeks ago to brief them on his plans for the renovation and expansion. It includes a complete interior renovation and the removal of the chain link fence in front of the house, which the owner believed was the last chain link fence in the neighborhood.

HRPB placarding on the property
The owner said the basement will also be excavated to create a basement apartment. The apartment will have a side entrance which will not be visible from the street.

On top of the new third floor, built to match its neighbor, there will be a fourth floor, set back nine feet two inches from the front of the third floor.

Tom Bauer, President of the Dupont Circle Conservancy, testified that his group intended to endorse the "unique semidetached" project. The renovation would make the pair of buildings look more consistent and historic.

"This third story should not set a precedent," Bauer said.

The owner of neighboring 1510 Caroline Street asked about the time of day when construction would take place. The owner said construction work would generally take place during normal working hours with "rare" weekend work.

Since the building is in the U Street Historic District, the renovation and expansion must get the approval of the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Consideration of the project on the HPRB's agenda for its next pair of meetings, the first of which is on November 20.

However, the proposed matching third-story popup on the front of 1508 Caroline Street has not been viewed favorably by HPRB staff -- see report here. The rest of the project, including the two-story rear addition and the basement alterations, raised no objections.

Online records show this building was last sold in July 2014 for $725,000.

Lead in ANC1B Race Changes Hand as Incumbent Gains One Vote Lead

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) did a fresh release of ballot counts last night, November 18, at about 5:30pm, including a fresh batch of special and absentee ballots to the total, according to information posted on its website.

A tweet from DCBOEE yesterday said there was at least one more update to come -- "we hope to have more tomorrow or Thursday".

As a result, the lead in one Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street race has changed hands. Incumbent Dyana Forester now leads challenger David Gilliland by a single vote, 204 votes to 203, for the position of Commissioner from District 06.

The first release of preliminary results directly after the November 4 election gave Gilliland a three-vote lead. A updated results including some special and absentee ballots last Friday (November 14) increased Gilliland's lead to six.

Meanwhile, Abigail Nichols held onto her single-digit lead over challenger Jonathan Jagoda in the race to retain her seat as Commissioner for district 05 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle. Nichols initially had an 11-vote lead. The first release of special and absentee ballots closed the gap to 6 votes, 221 for Nichols to 215 for Jagoda. After this latest update, the difference remains 6 votes -- 231 to 225.

See the latest results for all DC contests at the DCBOEE website here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1420-1422 12th Street: Stop Work Order on Logan Circle Renovation

DC's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has issued a stop work order for a renovation of conjoined residences at 1420-1422 12th Street NW. However, it is not clear if this is in response to last week's letter protesting the renovation from Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle -- see SALM blog post of November 12.

These properties to be inspected
The details of the stop work order were outlined in a recent email from Rohan Reid, the Zoning Enforcement Officer at DC's Office of the Zoning Administrator, to Joel Heisey, a member of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC). Several ANC Commissioners and other interested parties were cc'ed on the the email, which was sent at the end of the business day last Friday, November 17.

The email says "the property was inspected several times within the past months and was issued a stop work order (SWO) following one of those inspections for a violation(s) of the building code regulation." The email does not say when the property was inspected or when the stop work order was issued. It also does not make completely clear why the stop work order was issued.

However, the email says: "The inspection results, land records, and maps, indicated that the footprint [of the buildings] was changed over time. Based on this information we met with the property owner and informed him to submit building plans..." The owner agree to submit plans "as soon as possible," according to the email.

The email promises an update once documents are received from the owner and analyzed.

This email seems to contradict certain statements made at the November 5 ANC meeting. At that time, members of the community said they had, after many unreturned phone calls and emails, managed to contact DCRA only to be told that the agency found no basis for action against the renovation.

Meanwhile, the property at 1422 was featured yesterday on the blog Popville, which noted that it was for sale on line for $999,900. Popville also reported last month that the property at 1420 was for sale for $1.2 million.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Few ANC Races Still Cliffhangers as DCBOEE Inches Toward Final Election Results

The margin of victory in one race for Commissioner in Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle slipped from 11 votes to 6, while the margin of victory in one race in ANC 1B/U Street increased from 3 votes to 6, as DC's Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) released revised vote counts late Friday afternoon, November 14.

There are still ballots to be counted.

Updated numbers from DCBOEE
Incumbent Abigail Nichols now has 221 votes to 215 votes for Jonathan Jagoda in the race in ANC2B district 05. In ANC1B district 06, David Gillliland increased his lead slightly, winning 194
votes to incumbent Dyana Forester's 188.

Numbers of votes changed in every ANC district covered by SALM. The districts mentioned above were the only ones where the margin of victory is in the single digits.

In a press statement Friday, DCBOEE said it had processed 5,400, or 27 percent, of the approximately 20,000 special ballots cast in the election November 4. In addition, last Thursday, November 13, was the last day to receive absentee ballots postmarked on or before election day. DCBOEE had processed 6,000 absentee ballots as of November 13.

According to a tweet by WAMU's Martin Austermuhle, the counting of special ballots should be done by tomorrow, November 18. A separate tweet by Austermuhle said that the winners in races where all of the candidates were write-ins could be revealed at that time.

The final results will be certified by the DCBOEE at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on December 3.

DCBOEE updated the information at 5pm Friday afternoon. A tweet from DCBOEE seemed to indicate that there would be an additional update on Saturday, but as of this writing there are no further updates to the vote count.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Longtime Dupont Restaurants Seek Change to Tavern Licenses

At the regular monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle on November 12, two liquor licensees asked to have their liquor license category changed from CR (restaurant) to CT (tavern).

The two establishments are Recessions (1823 L Street NW) and Selam Restaurant (1524 U Street), both of which have been operating for more than 15 years.

Restaurant licenses are cheaper than tavern licenses, but in order to maintain a restaurant license, the licensee must meet several requirements. They include: the licensee must keep the kitchen open until at least two hours prior to closing, the licensee must meet certain minimum standards of revenue from food sales, and the licensee must emphasize food in its advertising. In addition, the licensee must apply separately if it wishes to have dancing or entertainment. See a summary of DC liquor license categories and endorsements from the blog Barred in DC here.

At the November 12 meeting, owner Mohammed Haji appeared on behalf of Recessions, which has been operating on L Street for 18 years. Haji told the ANC that, in recent years, the appearance of food trucks have taken a significant bite out of the revenue he gets from food sales. Haji seeks a tavern license so he will be freed from the obligation of minimum revenue from food sales.

Since the establishment is in the downtown business district, there seemed to be no residential neighbors who might object to the possibility of increased late-night noise or drunkenness. The ANC decided to take no action, meaning, it will neither endorse or oppose the application to change liquor license category. Barring other objecting parties, the change will probably be granted.

Recessions' application for a license category change will get an initial hearing before DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) at 10am on December 1, at ABRA's offices at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets), 4th floor.

Selam Restaurant is at the other end of ANC2B and has been operating since 1997. It backs onto Caroline Street, which is residential. It has good relations with their residential neighbors.

(From, used with permission)
"Their close neighbors seem to love them," said ANC2B Chair Noah Smith
(Commissioner for district 09). Selam Restaurant is in Smith's ANC district.

However, Smith said he could not support the license change yet because he had not completed consultations with neighbors. He moved that the ANC protest the proposed change on the grounds of "peace, order, and quiet", with the provision that the protest would be withdrawn if the ANC's concerns were resolved. Smith emphasized that he hoped the ANC would withdraw its protest, barring an unexpected appearance of unhappy neighbors who up until now had been silent.

"We don't want you to move," Smith told the owners of Selam Restaurant.

The motion was passed unanimously.

See a copy of a 2008 settlement agreement Selam has with ANC2B and a group of neighbors here.

Cheater's Guide to Dream City -- Part 25 (Afterword)

This is the twenty-fifth installment of a series (see the first installment here) summarizing the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. This book has recently been republished as an ebook and a paper book. HBO has plans to use material from the book to make a movie about the life of Marion Barry.

Afterword (three of four)

"When Mayor [Anthony] Williams announced in September 2005 that he would not seek a third term, DC Council chairman Linda Cropp seemed to be his natural council success" (Kindle locaton 6202).

But Adrian Fenty, DC council member from Ward Four, had other ideas.

"To Fenty, Cropp was another standard-bearer for the city's old guard, the people who had failed to govern his native city for decades, going back to Marion Barry" (l. 6203).

"From the start, Fenty's campaign focused on contrasts -- youth against experience, change versus the status quo" (l. 6204)

Fenty grew up in Mt. Pleasant, where he worked in his parents' running-gear store. He graduated from Howard University Law School, interned for several members of Congress, and was a staff for a city councilmember before successfully running for DC council himself.

"On the council for six years, Fenty made few friends among his colleagues. He devoted his time and his staff's to constituent services. No street light, trashy alley, or dispute with the city escaped their attention. With two Blackberries connecting him to staff and the streets, he patrolled his realm in upper Northwest DC along 16th Street and Georgia Avenue in a white Suburban. He was executive rather than collegial. His council colleagues neither knew nor respected him. Fenty didn't care. He was looking past them all" (l. 6224).

"Fenty began running for mayor in June 2005 at age 35. He set a goal of walking every street and knocking on every door, and by the height of the campaign in the fall of 2006, he had come close" (l. 6226).

"In the Democratic primary that September, Fenty trounced Cropp in all eight wards, 57 percent to 31 percent, carrying every one of the city's 142 precincts. That had never been done before. Fenty had swept the field in a city long divided along racial and class lines" (l. 6228).

"...The mayor-elect scanned the nation for talent. To run his planning office, he hired Harriet Tregoning, a leader in smart growth and urban planning. As police chief, he appointed Cathy Lanier, the first woman to run the high-profile force. Fenty knew Lanier from her days commanding cops in his ward.... Fenty installed Allen Lew to run the massive school-reconstruction operation. Lew had managed construction of the new convention center and the new baseball stadium" (l. 6250).

Fenty also appointed Michelle Rhee to be the District's first school chancellor.

"In her first five months on the job, Rhee met with 144 principals and fired two on the spot" (l. 6290).

"Rhee, 38, brought in allies from the reform movement. Kaya Henderson become her chief deputy. Working for Rhee's New Teacher Project out of New York, Henderson deep into city schools and its tough battles with the Washington teachers union. Abigail "Abby" Smith joined the reform team along with a phalanx of other Rhee acolytes" (l. 6300).

"Beyond the nation's capital, Michelle Rhee became a new breed of celebrity: an 'edu-celeb'. Educators rarely show up on the covers of national news magazines. Michelle Rhee broke the mold. Time magazine featured a stern Rhee on its cover holding a broom, the better to clean up the schools" (l. 6302).

"But within the District, Rhee was piling up enemies, especially among the teachers and some parents groups. Every school she closed wounded a neighborhood and forced students to travel to class. Many teachers were middle-class African American women who served as backbones of families and communities. Firing a teacher who didn't measure up could disrupt an entire neighborhood" (l. 6313).

"Fenty's popularity sank, but the damage came more from self-inflicted wounds than from Rhee's reforms" (l. 6315).

"Fenty never warmed to the bare-minimum political practice of cultivating firends, let alone disarming enemies. Idle chats with voters bored him. He didn't like attending civic functions. If he showed up at a Chamber of Commerce reception, he arrived late and left early. He treated other business groups the same way -- with the back of his hand" (l. 6322).

Fenty appointed personal friends with no experience to political positions and picked fights with members of the DC council.

"Fenty's image also suffered when it seemed he was spending more time training for triathlons than running the city. WTOP reporter Mark Segraves caught him using police escorts to guide his cycling runs through Rock Creek Park and other heavily traveled parkways. Segraves' cell phone video became a hit on the station's website. It didn't help when Fenty scheduled a trip to Dubai without disclosing either his plans or who paid for the travel, as required by law" (l. 6347).

"A poll conducted by the Washington Post in January 2010 showed Fenty's approval ratings had plummeted, especially among black Washingtonians. African Americans switched from 68-percent approval after his first year in office to 65-percent disapproval, according the poll. Citywide, 49 percent of residents disapprove of his performance as mayor" (l. 6352).

"Nevertheless, Fenty started raising money for a second term in the summer of 2009, amassing a war chest of more than $4 million. He left crumbs on the table for a challenger. It looked as though he would run unopposed" (l. 6353).

Cheater's Guide to Dream City continues

Further installments will appear on successive Fridays. All posts are cross-posted on the ad-hoc "Cheater's Guide to Dream City" blog.

Full disclosure: I have a commercial relationship with Amazon. I will receive a very small portion of the money people spend after clicking on an Amazon link on this site.

This is a great book and well worth reading in its entirety.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

1017 12th Street: Offices in Mary Todd Lincoln's Dressmaker's Residence

At its regular monthly meeting on November 5, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted unanimously to endorse requests for zoning variances by the owner of 1017 12th Street NW, a lonely red-brick holdout in the downtown business district, dwarfed by surrounding modern office buildings.

(Photo credit below)
According to an article in the Washington Business Journal, the building was once the residence of Elizabeth Keckley. Keckley was a freed slave who became a dressmaker to prominent Civil War-era Washington wives, including Mary Todd Lincoln. Keckley became a confidant of Mrs. Lincoln but then had a falling out after Keckley published a memoir about their relationship.

The Washington Business Journal article adds that the building underwent a major renovation in the 1890's so that it no longer resembles the building where Keckley lived.

The presentation to the ANC

A team by attorney Meredith Moldenhauer of Griffin, Murphy, Moldenhauer & Wiggins, LLP, and by the building owner and applicant Fred Hill of the Bethesda-based Hill Group, presented to a meeting of the October 29 meeting of Community Development Committee (CDC) of ANC2F.

Hill purchased the building in December 2012 to serve as the headquarters of the Hill Group and its 70 employees, according to publicly-available documents from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The building had been vacant for seven years, according to the applicant's BZA statement. Hill told the ANC the plan was to have 40-50 people in the building total, roughly six people to a floor. This would bring roughly $30 million in tax revenue to the District in 15 years, Hill said.

The building would be made taller -- the plan is 10 stories (about 105 feet tall), roughly the same as its neighbors. The applicants do not need special permission to make the building taller -- they may do so by right.

The building is not located in a historic district, so does not require permission from DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The applicants told the ANC they had consulted the HPRB, who said the building had no historic significance.

Still, "the goal is to save the facade", according to attorney Moldenhauer.

She also explained the applicants were seeking three zoning varances. Among the variances are floor-to-area ratio (FAR) and a parking exception.

FAR means the ratio of the area of the total floor area of the building to that of the footprint of the building on the ground. The building's tiny lot is about 1,250 square feet, and the building now takes up 100% of the lot. Zoning regulations for this zoning designation (DD/C-2-C) limits a developer to an FAR of 8.0 -- in effect, an eight-story building. The developers are proposing an FAR of 10.0, i.e., a ten-story building.

The building now takes up the entire lot and has no parking. To provide the seven parking spaces required by zoning regulations, the applicants would have to cut a hole and/or dig into the existing foundation, which everybody seemed to agree was not a good idea. The applicants plan to have no parking on-site, but its mammoth neighbors will provide pay parking in lots only steps away.

"Relief is obviously necessary, so as not to have the building become a vacant blight to the community," Moldenhauer said.

Some members of the CDC made design suggestions to the applicants. Since the design will not be review by the HPRB, the applicants are not required to take need of the ANC's suggestions, but they listened politely anyway.

"I really appreciate you preserving this building," said CDC Chair Walt Cain (Commission for district 02).

The proposal was approved unanimously by the CDC on October 29. The proposal came up before the full ANC as part of a slate of proposals, all of which had received unanimous approval by the CDC at the October 29 meeting. The full ANC approval the entire slate in a single vote.

See a summary of the October 29 meeting of the CDC meeting from ANC2F's web site here.

Documents concerning the application for zoning relief may be viewed by going to the case search tool of DC's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18878 in the search bar.

The case is on the calendar for a public hearing at the BZA on December 9, at 9:30am, at the BZA hearing room, Room 220 South, 441 4th Street NW (Judiciary Square metro).

In addition to the links above, there is an extraordinary amount of information on the Internet about Elizabeth Keckley, who was recently the subject of a popular novel as well as a minor character in the recent film biography of Abraham Lincoln. There are also web pages devoted to Keckley on, and the Virginia Historical Society, among many others. National Public Radio also did a story about Keckley in 2012.

(photo credit: from BZA official documents)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1420-1422 12th Street: ANC Asks for Sanctions on Logan Circle Renovation

UPDATE: There is a stop work order on this house while the DC government does an investigation. See details here.

"We formally request that the owner of 1420 & 1422 12th St NW be investigated and, if the ... facts are confirmed, sanctioned for illegal construction and be required to submit the proper documents ..."

Was the renovation here legal?
The above is from a letter that Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle is sending to Rabbiah "Robbie" Sabbakham, Director of DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). DC Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward Two) is cc'ed on the letter.

The ANC voted unanimously at its regular monthly meeting on November 5 to send this letter to "address concerns about unpermitted and illegal construction" at the address, "as well as DCRA's lack of enforcement." The matter was brought to the attention of the ANC by Joel Heisey and Helen Kramer, community members who also are on the ANC's Community Development Committee, according to an account of the November 5 meeting on ANC2F's web site.

1420 and 1422 12th Street are adjoining row houses which previously had the same owners and were sold together as one property last year.

The ANC's letter says the two properties "have undergone complete gut renovations without the proper permits". A permit was issued for 1420, but the permit was for replacement of existing electrical fixtures only. There seems to be no permit at all for 1422 -- the permit in the window of 1422 is the permit for electrical work on 1420. According to a supporting document to the letter, 1420 also has an unauthorized rear carport with studio and deck. The property, the document claims, is also in violation of zoning regulations in that the footprint of the house is more than permitted.

"A resident has repeatedly tried to get DCRA's illegal construction division to investigate with little success," the letter says.

"Two calls to the Supervisor of Illegal Construction have gone unreturned," the letter also says.

"It's like the bad old days over there," said Helen Kramer at the November 5 ANC meeting, referring to DCRA's lack of responsiveness.

"One has to wonder whether they can be so oblivious or whether money has changed hands," she also said.

I could find no records for either property in the Interactive Zoning Information System of DC's Office of Planning.

Online records show the building was built in 1889 and sold for $1.1 million in May 2014.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Logan Circle ANC Endorses Zero Parking for 90-91 Blagden Alley

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle has endorsed a request from the developers of 90-91 Blagden Alley NW that would allow construction of a 132-microunit residential development with no parking spaces. The decision took place at the November 5 regular monthly meeting of the ANC.

According to information on PropertyQuest, 90-91 Blagden Alley is zoned category C-2-A. Under current zoning regulations, there must be at least one parking space for each two dwelling units, or 66 spaces.

The vote concurred with the recommendation of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC), made at its meeting of October 29, to support the request for zoning relief from the parking requirement -- see SALM blog post of November 4. The CDC's recommendation was also a split decision, 5 in favor, 2 against.

Four Commissioners voted for the endorsement, three against.

Commissioners voting for the no-parking option: John Fanning (district 04), Jim Lamare (05), Greg Melcher (06), and Matt Raymond (07). The planned development is in Melcher's ANC district.

Against the no-parking option

Commissioners voting against: Peter Lallas (01), Stephanie Dahle (03), and Kevin Keeley (08).

"We have to be incredibly vigilant about parking in our areas," Keeley said.

"A few things concern me about this," Dahle said.

Dahle pointed out that it would be very easy for the projected long-term temporary residents of the building to get a temporary street parking pass which would be good "for months on end"

Several audience members spoke against endorsing the request.

"I'm really opposed to letting people out of their parking agreement," one said.

Katherine Gordon, Commissioner-elect for ANC2F district 01, also spoke against zero parking.

Motion to remove car-free accommodations defeated

The developers had previously presented a list of benefits they plan to give to future tenants to encourage car-free living, including funding a new Capital Bikeshare station at a cost of $75,000 -- see SALM blog post of October 7. This list was included in the ANC2F motion to endorse this request for zoning relief. ANC2F Chair Raymond made a motion to strip this list of accommodations out of the motion to approve the zoning relief, and approve zoning relief without stipulation.

Raymond said he didn't like the precedent that requiring stipulations would set.

Raymond's motion went down to defeat, 6-1. Raymond was the only one to vote in favor.

An additional SALM blog post on this project also appeared on September 26.

The matter will next be considered by DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The BZA postponed a hearing on the matter, originally scheduled for the same day as this ANC meeting, until December 2. The BZA hearing will start at 9:30am, at a BZA hearing room, Room 220 South, 441 4th Street (Judiciary Square metro).

See ANC2F's summary of the meeting where this discussion took place here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

ANC1B Fails to Achieve Quorum for Fourth Time This Year

At its regular monthly meeting scheduled for last night (November 6) Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street failed to achieve a quorum. No official votes could take place. Commissioners present promised a special meeting later this month to consider the matters that could not be voted on at this meeting.

Once again, not enough for a quorum
This is the fourth time this year, and the fifth time in less than 12 months, that ANC1B has failed to achieve a quorum. The previous failures this year were on March 6, July 10, and July 17. ANC1B also failed to have a quorum at its last meeting of 2013.

There are currently 11 sitting Commissioners in ANC1B -- plus one vacant seat. In order to have a quorum, six Commissioners had to attend. Only five attended.

The Commissioner who attended were: Marc Morgan (district 01), Ricardo Reinoso (05), Mark Ranslem (08), ANC1B Chair James Turner (district 09), and E. Gail Anderson Holness (11).


The absent Commissioners were: Sedrick Muhammed (03), Deborah Thomas (04), Dyana Forester (06), Juan Lopez (07), Allyson Carpenter (10), and Zahra Jilani (12).

ANC Chair James Turner told those attending that several of the missing commissioners had informed him beforehand. However, Commissioner Sedrick Muhammed had said, twice, that he was going to attend the meeting, giving Turner the hope that a quorum was possible.

According to preliminary election results, Muhammed was re-elected to his ANC seat Tuesday, in spite of running in a contested race and missing nearly 50% of ANC meetings up until election day. This latest absence brings Muhammed's record to exactly 50% -- 12 attendances in 24 meetings.

Another absent commissioner, Allyson Carpenter, was re-elected on Tuesday. She ran unopposed. Rest of the absent commissioners either did not run for re-election or were defeated by wide margins -- with one exception.

The preliminary vote count has Dyana Forester losing to David Gilliland by a mere three votes. Late-arriving absentee or special ballots could change the outcome of the race.

"I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, meeting adjorned"

Among the items on the agenda for the aborted meeting was a request for zoning relief for a troubled Columbia Heights apartment building and recommendations by an ANC committee for DC's Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) about the future use of the former Grimke school.

Turner said the recommendations of the ANC Grimke committee would be transmitted to DMPED with a covering letter explaining that they could not be voted on due to lack of a quorum.

At the end of the meeting, Turner said to community members: "What we have experienced should not have to be experienced on a regular basis."

The repeated lack of quorums was, Turner said, "not respectful" and "not appropriate".

He concluded: "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, meeting adjorned."

Newly-elected Commissioners will not be sworn in until the beginning of 2015.

Cheater's Guide to Dream City -- Part 24 (Afterword)

This is the twenty-fourth installment of a series (see the first installment here) summarizing the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. This book has recently been republished as an ebook and a paper book. HBO has plans to use material from the book to make a movie about the life of Marion Barry.

Afterword (two of four)

Anthony Williams served two terms as mayor, from 1999 to 2007.

"Mayor Tony Williams governed quietly and without fanfare. He was the anti-Barry, boring but competent” (Kindle location 6031).

“[H]e made the District balance its book. He lured competent bureaucrats to run city agencies” (l. 6036)

“When Williams became mayor, five of the city's social-services agencies were in receivership or under court ordered management. One by one, he gradually brought them back under District control” (l. 6040).

“If Williams had a weakness, it was his disdain for the rituals of politics. Where Barry had nurtured his network in the neighborhoods and sensed every shift in sentiment, Williams was removed and remained tone deaf” (l. 6059).

“... Williams proposed cutting the city work force and farming out government functions to private companies. City Union leaders howled. Williams seemed surprised” (l. 6069).

“I didn't get elected to adjust the air-conditioning,” Williams said.

“Williams and his top assistants assembled lower-level line employees in the convention center. They held seminars to teach them how to answer phones and perform routine public-service tasks. Williams did what Marion Barrt had failed to do: he trained the work force. For city government, it was nothing less than revolutionary” (l. 6078).

“... After four consecutive balanced budgets, in September 2001, the federal financial control board suspended its activities and put the city's government and budget back in the hands of the mayor and the council” (l. 6092).

“... [W]hen [Williams] ran for reelection in 2002, his campaign failed to collect the required number of valid signatures to place him in the ballot. He needed only 2,000. TV reporters with NBC4 found that half of the signatures the Williams campaign turned in were fake. The Board of Elections ruled Williams ineligible for the ballot and fined his campaign $250,000” (l. 6093).

“Williams had to run as a write in candidate. Still, he won. His success at reforming the government overcame his political ineptitude” (l. 6096).

Williams success at improving city finances drew the approval and attention of investors in many fields, including Major League Baseball.

“Williams wanted a team, but Jack Evans craved one. The Ward Two council member had been coveting a franchise since 1996... As chair of the [DC City-]
council finance and revenue committee, Evans played a crucial role in lobbying MLB owners and persuading the council to pay for a new stadium with public funds" (l. 6139).

"It took three more contentious months to convince the DC council to agree to finance the new stadium.... Critics argued that the estimated $500-million in bonds would be better devoted to more pressing needs" (l. 6140).

" 'Why can't the team owners pay their fair share?' asked Adrian Fenty, the upstart young Ward Four council member. "No, voting against the stadium doesn't mean money will automatically go to schools and other needs. But it does mean that a government that does not get those things right should not be exploring putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of multi-millionaires" (l. 6141).

"Politically, landing the team was a win for Williams and Evans. But Adrian Fenty, the lawmaker who said 'no' to public financing, got his first dose of notoriety. It would not be his last" (l. 6143).

"[A]fter eight years with Williams at the helm, the city was better off in measurable ways. He valued competence in the bureaucracies, trained workers, and expected accountability. Trash got picked up. The motor-vehicle department actually issued licenses without making residents reserve a day to wait in line. City workers were less surly and more willing to serve the public. In short, Williams reformed the city government. He organized its finances. And he balanced the budget every year" (l. 6199).

"By 2006, local Washington had the feel of a metropolitan center poised to hit is stride as an international capital" (l. 6200).

Cheater's Guide to Dream City continues

Further installments will appear on successive Fridays. All posts are cross-posted on the ad-hoc "Cheater's Guide to Dream City" blog.

Full disclosure: I have a commercial relationship with Amazon. I will receive a very small portion of the money people spend after clicking on an Amazon link on this site.

This is a great book and well worth reading in its entirety.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ANC2F Blocks Public Space Permit of "The Pig"

At its regular monthly meeting last night (November 5), Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted to protest the public space permit of The Pig restaurant (1320 14th Street NW).

(Luis Gomez Photos. Used by permission)
Matt Raymond, ANC2F Chair, said there was no specific objection to the public space permit -- the objection was strictly procedural. Specifically, a representative of The Pig was supposed to appear at the last meeting of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) on October 29, but no one did. Since all public space applications are supposed to be considered by the committee first, the full ANC moved to oppose the application until the CDC could hear the details of the application.

DC restauranteur David Winer, partner in the EatWellDC restaurant group (which includes The Pig), appeared at the ANC meeting in support of the application. He asked the full ANC to hear the application, but found the ANC unwilling to hear it.

If all the parties involved show up, the public space application of The Pig will probably be considered at the next scheduled meeting of the Community Development Committee, scheduled for Wednesday, November 19, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle). If the case turns out to be routine, it will most likely be on the agenda of ANC2F's next regular monthly meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, December 3, at 7pm, also at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

Nedrow Sullivan Apparent Victor in ANC1B District 02 as Board of Election Changes Numbers

Ellen Nedrow Sullivan seems to have won the race for district 02 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street. The vote is now 354 votes for Nedrow Sullivan, and 171 votes for Jennie Nevin, who withdrew from the race a few days before the election.

Latest vote count ANC1B district 02
Original vote count ANC1B district 02
Previously, Nevin seemed to have gotten more votes. Yesterday at 6am, the website of DC's Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) reported Nedrow Sullivan had received 334 votes, and Nevin 391. The change was apparently made sometime yesterday. Nedrow
Sullivan brought the change to my attention last night in an email.

Latest vote count ANC1B district 12
One of the other races reported in yesterday's post on the election has a change in vote count, although the victor remains the same.

Original vote count ANC1B district 12
In ANC1B district 12, John Green now has 337 votes, opponent Matt Abbruzzese 223. Yesterday, I reported Green 164, Abbruzzese 106.

It may be two weeks until results are declared final, according to a reader who emailed me yesterday.

See the results for all races in Tuesday's election at the DCBOEE website here.

Tonight, November 6, ANC1B will have its regular monthly meeting at 7pm at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).