Sunday, December 31, 2006

Marc Fisher 12-31-06

Where I live in upper Northwest, I hear plenty of complaints that transcend neighborhood boundaries: Why do so many police officers stay sealed up in their vehicles? How long will the shame of the city's ambulance service frighten residents and visitors alike? How can it be that our local high school, Wilson, is considered one of the city's best, yet graduated only 53 percent of its seniors last spring?

But I'm also looking to you to take care of some smaller things: The half-done road project near my house is virtually dormant. Preservation zealots have joined with NIMBY activists to prevent needed development along Wisconsin Avenue. And the branch library has been shut down for two years.

D.C. residents tend to believe that their own corner of town is neglected while others get all the attention. If you can get us to see that we're all pretty equally ill-served, that would be a great service, and a promising first leg of your marathon run.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A farewell from the office of Kathy Patterson

As we close the doors of our office today, Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson and her staff would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. We would all like to say how much we have enjoyed working with so many of you. The mountains of paper that we have cleared out of our office in recent days reminds us of the many issues that have arisen over the years. We want to thank you all for the input you have given us, and for all of the good times we have had together. It has been such a pleasure to know so many of the residents of Ward 3.

Penny Pagano
Chief of Staff for Councilmember Kathy Patterson

Thursday, December 28, 2006

President Ford makes a final visit to Ward 3

Emergency No Parking signs will be posted tonight on certain streets surrounding the National Cathedral in preparation of funeral services for President Gerald Ford. The signs will restrict parking on January 2, 2006 from 6am until 3pm. Any vehicle parked in violation of the Emergency No Parking signs will be towed. Please alert your neighbors. Thanks.

Kelvin M. Cusick
Lieutenant, PSA 204

Friday, December 22, 2006

Council Committee Assignments

Council Chair elect Vince Gray has announced the Committee assignments for the upcoming term. Ward 3 Council Person elect Mary Cheh has received Public Services and Consumer Affairs.

The mission of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is to protect the health, safety, economic interests, and quality of life of residents, businesses, and visitors in the District of Columbia by issuing licenses and permits, conducting inspections, enforcing building, housing, and safety codes, regulating land use and development, and providing consumer education and advocacy services.

The other assignments are as follows:

Jim Graham (1) - The Committee on Public Works, which now includes the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, as well as the Metro budget. Graham has also been re-appointed to the Metro Board.
Carol Schwartz (at-large) - Committee on Government Operations.
David Catania (at-large) - Retains the Committee on Health.
Jack Evans (2) - Retains Committee on Finance and Revenue
Phil Mendelson (at-large) - Retains Judiciary Committee, which will oversee the confirmation of the new fire and police chiefs.
Marion Barry (8) - Committee on Housing.
Kwame Brown (at-large) - Committee on Economic Development.
Tommy Wells (6) will get the Committee on Human Services.
Harry Thomas Jr.(5) will get the Committee on Library, Parks and Recreation.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What is ANC 3G doing?

A recent posting to the Chevy Chase Listserv notes the minutes from the December 11th ANC 3G meeting noted an update on a traffic signal currently being installed at the intersection of Morrison Street and Connecticut Avenue:

Commissioner Buchholz, having reviewed all of the Commission’s files for the last several years on the subject, raised for discussion once again the issue of the new traffic light being planned for the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Morrison Street... Commissioner Buchholz stated that in his view, not only would this be a very confusing type of light for both motorists and pedestrians alike, but also that this type of light is not what the Commission had sought and requested for this intersection over three years ago. He supported the latter point with a statement from the record that detailed the Commission’s agreed-upon position concerning this traffic signal dating from 2003. He said, in part, that in a letter dated June 24, 2003, the Commission strongly recommended “that DDOT study the feasibility of installing traffic lights..” at this intersection (and Northampton Street as well) and that as the Commissioner who drafted that 2003 letter for the Commission, he clearly meant a normal three-light traffic signal where red means “stop” and green means “go”. He said the Commission intended that the light allow traffic to flow in an alternating pattern, with pedestrians being able to cross the street at intervals..

A subesequent note on the listserv took exception with this view.

Indeed, a further search of the archives revealed the actual resolution that was passed on this matter. After the recitals, the resolution clearly stipulates:

NOW THEREFORE, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G hereby resolves to express its demand for the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Morrison Street at the earliest possible date, in compliance with the 2003 DDOT study report recommendation.

The Commission further requests that DDOT evaluate and report back to the ANC as early as possible regarding the various configurations and options regarding the stoplight that it is considering for this intersection, including but not limited to the following: blinking lights, a pedestrian-activated light, left turn restrictions in both directions on Connecticut Avenue, installation of speed humps or similar measures on Morrison Street and Livingston Street, curb extensions, and so forth. The DDOT report should describe the extent to which each potential configuration or option will first, help to ensure public safety and secondly, will minimize the impact to Morrison Street, including the volume of traffic on that street and neighboring streets.

I am not sure if there are issues with the Commissioners memories, or if Commissioner Buckholz's research skills are lacking, but it is clear that the ANC passed a resolution in 2005 and DDOT afforded the resolution with the "great weight" mandated under the DC Home Rule Charter, arriving at the solution which is being implemented. So the question lies, what is the ANC doing by entering this erroneous reading into the record?

Perhaps this is why many city agencies and residents simply ignore the ANC process, because the Commissioners continue to try to act in their own unstated self-interests and the Commissions as their own fifedoms?

Farewell to the temporary River Road Barrier...

...and hello to the new channelized barrier. A note from the Ad Hoc Committee for Safe Streets in ANC3E:

Well, after two years of a "temporary" installation, it appears that the barrier at Fessenden and River Road will be remain only in our collective memories on or about December 27th. As some of you may have already seen, the DC Department of Transportation has erected warning signs along River Road indicating that there will be a changed traffic pattern at the intersection in the next week or so.

Our understanding is that the barrier will be removed and pavement and curb markings with the new channelized turning lanes will be installed before the end of the year. Because of some electrical issues with Pepco, installation of the traffic signals will follow as weather allows. Traffic calming measures will also be installed along Fessenden, 44th and Ellicott Streets.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

City Council passes the Comp Plan

The DC City Council today passed the Comprehensive Plan. The document is the product of several years and throusands of hours of citizens input.

On the eve of the vote, Councilman Mendelson introduced amendments to address very specific aspects of the plan, for example, the zoning around the WMATA bus garage at friendship Heights. Such legislation is not comprehensive and goes against the spirit of the document.

Mendelson's amendments were withdrawn and the legislation passed unanimously.

On to the mayor!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A note from 2nd District MPD Commander Solberg

At the December 7, 2006, MPD Awards Ceremony, Tenleytown resident Melissa Haendler received a special recognition award from Chief Charles Ramsey for her hard work in helping 2D, and specifically PSA 203, throughout the past year. Melissa has been tireless in her efforts to assist us.

Also, Lt. Robert Aiello and the sergeants and officers of PSA 203, which covers Tenleytown, received an award from Chief Ramsey for being PSA of the Year in the Second District. Crime has been reduced this year in PSA 202 by 13% by Lt. Aiello's efforts and those of his officers and sergeants.

We salute all the residents and MPD members who have contributed to our crime fighting and community building efforts, which includes, to date, reductions in every crime category and an overall crime reduction in the Second District of 11% in 2006 compared to 2005.

Thank you,

Andy Solberg
Commander, Second District

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tom Smith named Chair of Ward 3 Democrats

Long time Spring Valley activist Tom Smith was elected Chair of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee. A 22 year veteran and volunteer for the Ward 3 Dems, Tom has a 7 point plan to carry forward an agenda to help further the mission of the organization:

· Organize issue forums as part of the regular meetings, so we can routinely discuss and debate issues that are important to the Committee’s delegates and to all Democrats in our ward;

· Develop and mount an aggressive voter registration drive designed to reverse the steady decline and increase Democratic voter registration in Ward Three;

· Appoint a special voter education committee to immediately identify innovative strategies for the Committee to arrest and turn-around the alarming drop in registered Democratic voter turnout in Ward Three for our local elections;

· Initiate, sponsor, and convene special interactive political programs and events that can energize and engage even more residents of our ward in the political process and the Committee;

· Continue to co-sponsor programs with Democratic Committees of other wards, so we have a better understanding of the issues that concern Democrats in other parts of the city and demonstrate our commitment to foster cooperation among Democrats city-wide;

· Mount an ongoing aggressive communications initiative to expand interest and participation in the Committee, educate the community and our elected leaders about the work of the Committee, and showcase the Committee as a model of organized Democratic politics in our city; and

· Rebuild the treasury.

Tom is an active member of the community serving as a Board member of DC Babe Ruth, a youth baseball organization, the Spring Valley-Wesley Heights Citizens Association and other community groups. He is a long-time active supporter and volunteer for Food and Friends. Tom is active in the Washington Hebrew Congregation (WHC) serving as a lay leader and teaching 6th Grade Judaic Studies. Previously, he had served as a Board member for Camp Shon T'ai, a clinical child care facility, and the Center for the Study of Social Welfare and Community Development. He is also am the only non-veteran ever appointed to serve as a member of the Advisory Board for the Blinded Veterans Association, a congressionally chartered veterans group. He has also been active in the Washington Urban League; the Jewish Social Service Agency; and has worked as a volunteer on a range of causes, including Zero Population Growth, the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, and on homeless issues in Ward Three.

Professionally, he manages his own communications and marketing firm that specializes in national telecommunications policy issues and international health care.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The anticipated Giant meeting

A report from attendee Gabe Fineman, as posted to the Cleveland Park listserv:

Notes from the December 11, 2006 Meeting on Giant [Having trouble reading this because all mail on the List is in Plain
Text format? You can download a Word copy from]

So, is Giant going to expand their store at Newark Street? Yes, they will, but it will be part of a major redevelopment project. This meeting was sponsored by the ANC and the Cleveland Park Citizens Association but run by Giant. It was held in at the Washington Hebrew Congregation (Macomb and Massachusetts) and was a very amicable progress report. The room was very large and easily seated the 150 people who came. A very large crowd, considering that there was much less pre-publicity than last time. I had expected more publicity, including using the signup sheet from the previous meeting and the addresses of the people who left questions on the Giant site ( to send e-mail notices.

So, what is going to be built? Substantially what they told us in February. Giant (now Ahold's) owns the most of the block where it is located and the entire block to the north where the Pharmacy is located. Giant invested major bucks to buy the real estate years ago and now Ahold will develop it and get the profit out. In the process, we get a much larger supermarket. Everything will be knocked down and rebuilt (first the block to the south and then the block to the north). They will go from the current store of 28,000 sq ft (including the pharmacy) to a store of 65,000 sq ft (40,000 sq ft sales space), doubling the
size. This will make it larger than the store at Van Ness. The other retail space is dropping somewhat from 86,000 sq ft to 72,000 sq ft (Murphy's space being reduced). This is all being financed with 162,000 sq ft (about 144 units) of residential space. This is all accomplished by building down (a two story garage [400 cars] and another one story garage [88 cars] under the buildings) and building up the north building to five stories. The actual buildings will get much larger and cover the
old parking lots.

So, what did they tell us in February? At the only other public meeting by Giant (notes at www.cpposts,com) they told us:
1. The Giant Store will be expanded to be about the size of the current store plus Murphy's
2. The store will be moved back from Wisconsin Avenue to make room for some small retail shops on Wisconsin.
3. There will be a 400 car underground parking lot under the stores with a direct entrance to the Giant as well as an entrance to the street behind the Giant. The lower level of the garage will be available for public parking to serve the nearby restaurants.
4. The block north of the current store (including the bank that is leased by Giant) will be transformed into retail on the first floor and residential on the second and perhaps a third floor.
5. The property facing Idaho Avenue will become residential houses or condos.

So, what has changed since February?
1. There will be an additional garage under the north block restricted to its tenants.
2. Instead of 2 floors of residential, there will be 4 floors plus residential over some of the stores in the south block.
3. They intend to subsidize the current tenants in the north block (but not Starbucks or the bank) as long as they are in the south block that will have a (new) second floor above the retail. That is, a new building at a destination location would usually get much higher rents than in the current shabby building next to a 'moribund' Giant, but they will keep the current rents for the current tenants that can not afford market rates.
4. Details about the traffic patterns. The traffic study will not be ready for another three months.

So, what is the next step? They are a long way from approval for the project - they estimate another year. There are a myriad of regulations (zoning, overlays, height restrictions, density restrictions) to be overcome. They plan to do this with the Planned Unit Development method to be approved by the zoning board. Once they get approval, it will be another year to build the south block with the supermarket and a year after that to build the north block.

So, what was the reaction to all this? Overwhelming support for Giant to do what ever it wanted, just so it hurried up and rebuilt the supermarket. One person said she wanted a smaller, local store and the audience resoundingly told her no. A person who said he was the new ANC commissioner (taking office in January) said he knew of no one who wanted an additional 160 housing units in their neighborhood was greeted with many people saying they did not care. Giant responded that there are many large residential buildings within a block or two with more than 100 units and this was not such a major addition.

So, what will happen? My prediction is that there will be slow but steady progress and we will see construction in about two years. If Ahold were to sell of the north block and this were a regular developer, we would see a 200-300 unit building with no underground parking and no input from the community. Developments of this scale happen because so much money is involved. We are fortunate that Giant sees this as a long term proposition and not a property to be built and flipped. Because of that they seem willing to listen to the community and make changes to the traffic, the streetscape and even subsidize tenants.

More Information? They promised to post the slide shows on their web site ( this week. However, it took four months after the last meeting.

Disclaimer and Such. As always, these are the personal notes of Gabe Fineman and not the minutes of the ANC. They reflect my biases and viewpoints that I make no attempt to hide.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yenching Palace closure appears to be near

An agenda item on the ANC 3C website for the December 18th, 2006 meeting features a discussion about a Walgreens proposal to alter the facade of the Yenching Palace coming to the Historic Preservation Review Board.

In a posting by ANC 3C Commissioner Bruce Beckner, the ANC is seeking opinions from residents on the Cleveland Park listserv:

I know there's been community interest in this project, so I'd like folks to have a chance to look at the drawings and come to our meeting on Monday to express their views. The plans appear to reflect an effort to preserve the exterior appearance of the building. The Walgreen's people say that the diamond-shaped windows are trademarked by another retail chain, which is why they have been modified from their current appearance. I personally have not made up my mind and will be interested in what people have to say.

City Paper review of Dino's bar

The City Paper's City Desk blog pays homage to Dino's of Cleveland Park:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wash Times: New Faces on the City Council

A nice article on the front page of Sunday's Washington Times covers the make up of the new Council including Ward 3's Mary Cheh:

The professor
Mary Cheh, a George Washington University law professor, never planned to run for political office. "It was, in a sense, evolutionary," said Mrs. Cheh, who will replace Kathy Patterson in Ward 3. "It's an idealistic kind of reason I was propelled to do this." Mrs. Cheh is familiar with the council through her behind-the- scenes work with its members. As special counsel to the Judiciary Committee in 2003, she worked with Mrs. Patterson to investigate and reform the Metropolitan Police Department's handling of protests and undercover investigations.

She helped council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, draft animal-welfare legislation and has worked extensively with civil rights and civil liberties groups. But it was the opportunity to bring change on a more direct level that drove Mrs. Cheh to run for a council seat. It also helped that her two daughters were grown and out of the house. "I thought, 'Wow, this would be a wonderful opportunity given that I love the city,' " she said. "I love the life here and the politics here, even as peculiar as they are."

Mrs. Cheh was born in New Jersey and moved to the District with her husband in 1977. She soon grew enamored with the nation's capital. In the general election, Mrs. Cheh faced opposition from Republican Theresa Conroy and Democrats who broke party lines because of her stance on development in Northwest neighborhoods. Mrs. Cheh supports updates to a citywide development plan passed by the council that calls for more housing near already dense Metro stops and major thoroughfares.

She also was criticized for her intent to continue to teach at George Washington during the spring semester. Mrs. Cheh said the campaign process was "often unpleasant," but that she won without negative campaigning. "My idea was that I'm not running against them; I'm running for this, and I'm going to put myself out there and people can pick me or not," she said. "I think that worked." Mrs. Cheh said the election was a referendum on issues familiar to her: education, fiscal responsibility and public safety. She called libraries, pools and community centers the "glue" of D.C. neighborhoods, and said they must be repaired and reopened. She said public safety and emergency services also must be improved. Like the other incoming council members, she said the public school system is a major concern. "If we don't deal with that, it's actually immoral," Mrs. Cheh said. "We have in effect handicapped [students] from having a productive life. That's unconscionable."

Mrs. Cheh is open to a mayoral takeover of the school system but is concerned that a power struggle could detract from the real goal: helping students. "Somebody's got to put their job on the line," she said. "If the mayor wants to take that on himself and say, 'This is my signature issue, this is what you should measure me on in four years,' I say, 'Hallelujah.' "

Mrs. Cheh said she has told Mr. Gray she would like to be chairman of the council's Committee on Government Operations. The position would allow her to help reform the city's contracting methods and create jobs in the District's inherent industries such as tourism, hospitality and health care. She also hopes to serve on committees dealing with judiciary matters, education and the environment, which are her areas of expertise and aspects of the city she would like to improve. "There are so many things that need attention," Mrs. Cheh said. "And I would like to have a chance to do that."

Another Vace review

The DC blog, DCist, provides yet another tasty review of Cleveland Park's Vace Pizza!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

CPCA hosts Grey and Cheh

Council Chair-Elect Vincent Grey and Councilmember-Elect Mary Cheh will speak about "What's Ahead for the DC Council?" Saturday morning at the Cleveland Park Library starting at 10:15 am. This meeting is co-sponsored by the Woodley Park Community Association, the Forest Hills Citizens Association as well as the Cleveland Park Citizens Association. There's a lot happening and this should be a lively meeting. See you there.

George Idelson
President, CPCA

Friday, December 08, 2006

WMATA forgets to plan ahed (sic)

A Washington Post article outlines errors made with the renovation of the Friendship Heights WMATA depot causing the possible elimination or relocation of the facility.

According to the article, planners failed to account for increased height requirements for buses using new, alternative energies such as natural gas, causing the depot to be a few to several inches too short to be used by at least 1/3 of the current fleet.

A resolution has not been studied.

An Essay on the Proposed Historic District

From Northwest Commentator Ed Cowan:

The meeting, at the Chevy Chase Community Center on December 5, ran for two hours and was intermittently raucous as citizens—some boiling over with strong feeling and impatience—shouted out questions in violation of the official protocol, namely to write questions on cards. Note that it was a meeting to give out information, not to make a decision.

What elicited a turnout of about 150 people and what provoked noisy contention was a proposal to create a Chevy Chase DC Historic District. The meeting was sponsored by Historic Chevy Case DC, a group of more than 250 residents who want to preserve what they regard as historically distinct architecture and land-use, particularly spacious front yards with houses set well back from the sidewalk.

An advocacy and educational group, they have been campaigning since 2003 to have the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board designate as a historic district an area, as provisionally outlined, lying on either side of Connecticut Avenue from Harrison Street northward to Western Avenue. It would run westward to 41st Street and east of the avenue for a block, more or less. Disclosure: I live within those boundaries.

For a map and an informative pamphlet, Internet users may go to Or one can get in touch with Jenny Chesky, president of Historic Chevy Case DC, at JennyChesky@... or (202) 363-9325. The postal address is PO Box 6292, Northwest Station, Washington, DC 20015-0292.

Two officials from DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board attended, David Maloney, acting historic preservation officer, with 21 years of service, and Stephen Callcott, senior preservation planner, 15 years. Both stayed until 9:35, when the meeting spontaneously dissolved, and beyond, answering questions patiently.

In the District now, there are 43 historic districts. The oldest is Georgetown, designated in 1950. Some others are Dupont Circle, Cleveland Park, Logan Circle, Capitol Hill, Anacostia and Shaw.

To summarize what I heard at the meeting: there are on the one hand the advocates of historic preservation, whose paramount concern is keeping a neighborhood’s appearance and land-use essentially as it is, and on the other
hand property owners who are resistant to the requirement that in a historic district one must get approval for structural changes to the exterior of a house, especially for what is visible from the street. (A change of paint color would be exempt.)

A building designated as “participating” cannot be demolished without approval—and could not be replaced with one much larger, significantly different or so much closer to the sidewalk that it sticks out. (That’s my informal summary of the more detailed statement in the pamphlet.) Demolition of a non-participating building “could possibly be permitted,” according to a member of the group.

At the meeting, the advocates and the officials answered many questions about the process of getting approval. They emphasized that 90 percent of permits—i.e. applications that are approved-- are issued “over the counter.” The officials said repeatedly that they offer friendly advice to applicants on new materials and cheaper ways to do the job. They answered questions about what is likely or unlikely to win approval, and what changes would be exempt from the process. In this report, I will not go into those details.

Democratic Practice

What I want to focus on is the process by which a historic district is designated. And here I will editorialize.

The usual procedure is for the advocates to submit an application to the Historic Preservation Review Board. Taking account of architecture, design and other criteria, and community sentiment, the board eventually recommends approval or disapproval. If approval, the application goes to the mayor’s agent for signature. It is “a rare instance” when the board recommends disapproval, according to Historic Chevy Chase DC (pamphlet, page 9).

What, in my view, is lacking in this process is a formal expression of sentiment by the property owners in the proposed district. There is no requirement that they be polled—in a referendum at a polling place or in some other way. But note that such voting is not prohibited.

Several times, members of the audience asked why the advocates contemplated no referendum. Jenny Chesky did not answer that “why” question directly. She said that ANCs would hold meetings to discuss the proposal. When, after the meeting, I asked her pointedly why her group did not contemplate a referendum for Chevy Chase, she replied, “Who would vote?” I replied, anyone who can vote now. Chesky did not say what was wrong with that answer.

In a separate conversation, one of her colleagues asked me whether tenants should be allowed to vote. And what about property owners who live outside the district?

These are legitimate questions, and would need to be answered before a referendum. So would mechanical issues—how many polling places, absentee voting, demonstrating that one lives within or owns property within the proposed district, and so on.

In my view, these problems don’t add up to a compelling argument against a referendum. There is a larger, philosophical question in play.

Creation of a historic district would diminish the rights property owners have now to alter their property without government permission, possibly including the consent of the neighbors.

The advocates argue that there is a greater good to be achieved—preserving the architectural and aesthetic character of the neighborhood, avoiding the construction of out-of-scale houses or alterations, thereby protecting each property owner and each block from “mcmansions,” a vogue phrase that means too big.

It is an argument: individual rights versus common good, more government or less. Such a choice, between values in conflict, should be resolved by popular vote, as several people in the audience argued.

Democratic practice requires such a poll or referendum if individual property rights are to be curtailed—unless the curtailment is decided by elected representatives, such as the DC Council.

Otherwise, a group of highly motivated citizens—some of whom do not live within the blocks to be affected--can propose a district and have it approved by civil servants who are not subject to recall or re-election.

Here I must report that David Maloney, the preservation officer, assured the audience that “what we’re looking for is broad community support.” He added that for lack of it, an application from Brookland was discouraged, and was not filed. But disapproval is rare, according to the advocates’ pamphlet.

A referendum is not required. But it is not prohibited. It could and should be held.

Meanwhile, in Chevy Chase or elsewhere, DC Voters interested in the historic district question can make themselves heard at ANC meetings, in private homes, and at gatherings of community or neighborhood organizations.

Edward Cowan

Preview of Cleveland Park Giant

A recent contribution to the Cleveland Park Listserv include a brief description of the Stop and Shop proposal for the Wisconsin Avenue Giant at Newark Street.

According to ANC 3C07 elect Richard Rothblum,

One of the significant changes in the Giant plan is an increase in residential units and in the number of commercial and residential levels. According to the web site, the plan last spring called for 11 townhouses on Idaho Avenue, and 34 residential units on two upper floors on the "North Parcel" now occupied by the Giant Pharmacy and Sullivan's Toy Store, among others.

The preview that Giant showed to Nancy MacWood, Sheila Hogan and me on November 13 had the North Parcel building increasing from three to five stories. The number of residential units increased from 34 residential units on two levels to 124 units on four levels - five stories in all, including the ground level commercial space. My impression was that there would be additional residential units and an additional level built on the South Parcel as well.

The reason given for the increase in residential and commercial density and height was that it would provide for a certain but undetermined amount of subsidized "workforce housing" to be included in the residential part. For my part, I am skeptical about this. Giant is asking to develop their land to a far greater degree than would be permitted as a matter of right. They are asking for permission to do this based on a Planned Unit Development (PUD).

It is my understanding that the purpose of a PUD is to allow a developer to exceed certain zoning restrictions in cases where it can be shown that the overall effect benefits the community more than holding the developer to what he would have been entitled to as a matter of right. Offhand, I don't see the benefit of increasing the residential density of our neighborhood.
Since I will be representing ANC 3C07 starting in January, I would be interested in hearing the views of other residents on this subject. I am sensitive to the feeling of many of us that we just want the arguing to stop and to get on with the project, and I will represent the views of the majority. I should point out, though, that it is Giant that is changing the plans at the eleventh hour, and that they are the ones that created the reprehensible situation of the abandoned shops on Wisconsin Avenue.
Richard Stone Rothblum.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Comprehensive Plan update

Today's City Council proceedings where the Comprehensive Plan is concerned:

Phil Mendelson moved to table the Comp Plan. That effort failed 7 against - 5 for with Marion Barry absent. Adrian Fenty, Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown, Phil Mendelson and Sharon Ambrose voted to table it.

The Council moved on to amendments, many of which were proposed and adopted.

Chair Linda Cropp moved to a vote and the Council unanimously voted to approve the Comp Plan through the first mark-up and approved sending it to a final vote, later in December.

For Ward 3, the plan features a concentration on more alternative transit (bike lanes, street cars, flex/zip cars) and a focus on development in small zones around the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights Metro stations.

Here is the Washington Post coverage:

... the council gave initial approval with a vote of 12 to 0 for a new Comprehensive Plan, a 20-year road map for the city that concentrates development around Metro stations, pushes for the construction of affordable housing and outlines how neighborhoods should look.

The plan had been controversial as smart-growth advocates pushed the council to approve the plan and the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations, the Committee of 100 and other neighborhood groups pushed the council to delay voting on the plan until next year. But the 500-page plan was approved after several amendments were added.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ward 3 Dems to nominate Officers

The Ward Three Democratic Committee will meet to elect At-large Delegates and Officers on December 12th at 7:30PM at St. Columba's Church, 4201 42nd Street NW. Any registered Democrat residing in Ward 3 is eligible to be elected an At-large Delegate. You must be a Precinct Delegate (elected November 14th) or At-large Delegate to run for an Officer's position.

Voting Delegates will choose the Officers for the next two years. (Officers include Chair, 1st Vice-Chair, 2nd Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary and Financial Secretary.)

For more information, contact Bob Brandon, Chair, at 202-966-5333 or at

Bob Brandon

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More on the Chevy Chase Historic District

In a recent posting, I mentioned the proposal to create a historic district in several portions of Chevy Chase, DC, one of the original streetcar neighborhoods in Ward 3.

There have been a few posts on the Chevy Chase Listserv regarding the creation of the district ranging from incredulaity of judging what is historic to dismay that the creation of the historic zone is a forgone conclusion without a neighborhood vote or apparent consensus. There are of course, many posts supporting the proposal, or otherwise encouraging residents to attend the event on December 5th.

One of the tacts I take in evaluating this proposal is taken from presentations which have become standard both in the historic preservation and smart growth communities which make some of the following observations:

-If we are to expect citizens to use their cars less, and use their feet more, then the physical environment within which they live, work, shop and play needs to have a pedestrian rather than vehicular orientation.

-The diversity of housing sites, qualities, styles and characteristics of historic neighborhoods stands in sharp contrast to the monolithic character of current subdivisions. The diversity of housing options means a diversity of human beings who can live in historic neighborhoods.

-historic preservation is the one form of economic development that is simultaneously community development.

-The diversity of housing sites, qualities, styles and characteristics of historic neighborhoods stands in sharp contrast to the monolithic character of current subdivisions.

-Historic Preservation IS Smart Growth...a Smart Growth approach that does not include historic preservation high on the agenda is not only missing a valuable strategy, but, like the historic buildings themselves, an irreplaceable one.

Indeed, a speech in 2002 by Ward 3 resident and National Trust for Historic Preservation Presdident Richard Moe noted:

Smart growth advocates density and diversity of use. Most older communities were designed and built with these factors in mind. Saving them is smart growth...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Loose Lips speculates on School Board Appointments

In a recent entry to the City Paper "City Desk" blog, Loose Lips speculates that Ward 3 resident and education expert Laura Slover could be in line for a DC School Board appointment:

One of the candidates Fenty did not endorse in 2004 is likely to end up on the board via the appointment route. Education expert Laura McGiffert Slover forgave Fenty for backing her opponent Reinoso and volunteered for his mayoral campaign. She also has been advising the mayor-elect on education issues during the transition.