Thursday, December 31, 2009

Safeway Postponed

An announcement on the Tenleytown Listserv suggests that Safeway has asked for a postponement of their redevelopment proposal. Will this mean Safeway will actually take the feedback from the community seriously?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Cheer in AU Park

The Washington Post covers a covers a fantastic example of holiday cheer first reported on the Tenleytown Yahoo Group.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Klingle Road Update

Greater Greater Washington provides an update on the long and winding saga called Klingle Road.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A brief Safeway update

DCMUD has a brief update (which was corrected) on the Tenleytown Safeway. The comments are fairly interesting.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tenleytown Safeway: The Debate Begins

A post on the Tenleytown Listserv shouts "Safeway forced to add residential?":

I've heard an ugly rumor that our "Stealth Safeway" (there is the Social Safeway and the Geriatric Giant at Western, after all) is being steered toward building residential above their footprint. Also, this rumor included some business oriented effort to put more rowhouses in the existing parking lot and create an easement with GDS. I hope this isn't true, ironically the rowhouses are the most affected and have the strangest zoning allowed in DC anyhow, we sure don't need that and 3-4 stories above Safeway. All this would surely open the door to Martin's and we've been down that road."

In order to appreciate this post, one has to understand that the "Alliance for Rational Development" showered its support for this project in September. Why? Because, with the exception of the immediate neighbors, the Safeway proposal offers minimal change to a suburban style grocery store in the heart of Tenleytown. The lot has two zoning elements, the map indicates that the Wisc/42nd Street frontage is C-2A, while the parking lot is R-3:

C-2A: Permits matter-of-right low density development, including office, retail, and all kinds of residential uses to a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for residential use, a maximum FAR of 2.5 for residential use and 1.5 FAR for other permitted uses, and a maximum height of fifty (50) feet;

R-3 is Permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, and row dwellings), churches and public schools with a minimum lot width of 20 feet, a minimum lot area of 2,000 square feet, a maximum lot occupancy of 60% for row dwellings, a minimum lot width of 30 feet and a minimum lot area of 3000 square feet and 40% lot occupancy for semi-detached structures, and a minimum lot width of 40 feet and a minimum lot area of 4000 square feet and 40% lot occupancy for detached structure; and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet.

So the claim in the initial post on the Listserv, that "we sure don't need that and 3-4 stories above Safeway" is interesting. 3-4 stories of residential above the Safeway would be less than what "Matter of Right" would be for this parcel. For years, the forces of "no change" in the community have lauded "Matter of Right" development for the community. Such advocacy has landed the new bank at Ellicot and Wisconsin and the Abdo development at Harrison and Wisconsin. Neither of these are particularly compelling additions to the community in terms of placemaking or amenity.

ANC 3E Chair Jonathan Bender noted,

As a matter of right, Safeway could put at least 3 to 4 stories of housing over the building at the front of the lot and townhouses at the back of the lot. For so many years we have heard the alphabet soup of "alliances" and "associations" in the neighborhood say that what the neighborhood needs is matter of right development, and that they don't fight matter of right development because it is "rational."

Even the Zoning Commission asked the question of Safeway regarding the lack of density or a housing component. It will be interesting to see if Safeway is willing to make alterations to its proposal or simply take the easy path of a 1950's style development in this era of sustainable urban communities. It will also be interesting to see if the ARD would oppose a "Matter of Right" development proposal?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wilson Swing Space Solidified

As the long awaited plans for Wilson High School are reaching the final stages, the plight of the students appears to be resolved. DC Wire reports that Building 52 of the UDC Campus will serve as the physical plant for the high school during the 2009-2010 construction period.

Friday, December 04, 2009

DC MUD releases Janney Plans

While it would have been nice for the community to see these first, the DC MUD blog has posted the renderings for the Janney Elementary renovation.

Will this be the facility the community envisions? Will there be enough space for the anticipated growth in the community? Where are the complaints about the "Janney Oak"?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tenleytown: Review of the Safeway

Neil Flanagan provides a helpful review of the Safeway proposal and community concerns for the "secret Safeway". Opponents want better design and more density!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DDOT: Glover park Study released

An announcement on the Glover Park Listserv disclosed that the DDOT plan for Glover Park is now available. The study commenced about two years ago and focuses on pedestrian and bicycle access to the neighborhood, mass transit throughputs and other ideas sympathetic to DDOTs current approach to mobility.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Vision for the Friendship Brach Post Office

Ben Thielen shares a visionary idea to add vibrancy to Wisconsin Avenue south of Tenleytown.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friendship Heights Update

The Tsarchitect updates the development plans at Western Avenue and Jenifer Streets, NW.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tenleytown Safeway: Giant Part 2?

Safeway has been working on redevelopment plans of its Tenleytown store for the better part of a year. The most recent version has won praise from the Alliance for Rational Development noting:

ARD welcomes Safeway's modernization of its facility in our community, one which promises to provide new and improved services while at the same time respecting the tenets of rational development by respecting and protecting the essential character of our neighborhood.

GreaterGreaterWashington noted the irony of such support.

Safeway has engaged in partnerships to engage in better development proposals in other parts of the country, and in fact, this region. Why not here?

To update the story, Safeway has filed its proposal with the Zoning Commission, and the plans are being moved through the process for a hearing to seek approval. Now comes word that Safeway, or its representatives, are attempting to garner widespread support, even before releasing plans to the ANC and engaging in full community debate.

It seems that in this case, the property owner is seeking the path of least resistance en route to the granting of a PUD and building permits. In light of recent reports of housing shortages for middle income wage earners, and the strong need for workforce housing, wouldn't this be an ideal location to leverage the allowable height on the property? Rebuilding a one-story suburban grocery store within easy walking distance of two metro stations seems antithetical to the prevailing trends in urbanism. It seems that focusing some density in the allowable area and pulling the development away from the residential behind it (even stepping down using new residential) could be a preferable solution - to everyone but the ARD.

What would you suggest for this site?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Murch Captures Award

Murch Elementary has been given the Oberstar Award for excellence in implementation for its "Safe Routes to Schools" plan. Read more from the DDOT website.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wash Post Magazine on Mary Cheh

The Washington Post Magazine has run a nice profile interview with Councilmember Mary Cheh.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

According to DC Metrocentric, construction has commenced on a new development in Woodley Park. Similar to a structure across Connecticut Avenue, this new high-rise is nestled behind Wardman townhouses in a large lot just a block from the Metro Station.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

DDOT Outreach Tour Hits Ward 3

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is embarking on a public outreach tour to all eight wards of the District to engage residents and businesses in the implementation of improvements proposed for the transit system for the city, including streetcars.

DDOT will be holding a series of open houses beginning later this month to present the findings of the DC's Transit Future study. DC's Transit Future studied short-term and long-term surface transit improvements for the District, potentially including additional limited-stop bus services, bus rapid transit (BRT), and streetcar services. The meetings will focus on DDOT's proposed streetcar network.

Ward 3: Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 6:30pm – 8:30 pm
Stoddert Elementary, 4001 Calvert Street, NW

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tenleytown Safeway Redevelopment Website

Safeway has announced the creation of a new website with the plans and other communications associated with the redevelopment of the Tenleytown store.

Cheh Introduces Calming Legislation

Presumably in response to the acrimony over the installation of speed humps in Chevy Chase and Cleveland Park, Councilmember Cheh has introduced legislation requiring studies and community input prior to the installation of traffic calming measures.

WTOP coverage provides a little more insight.

New Information Pending on Spring Valley Munitions

WTOP is reporting that the Army Corp of Engineers will release a list of munitions discovered in Spring Valley in November.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Klingle Road Meeting

In the aftermath of what appears to be the final decision regarding Klingle Road, there is a meeting on Wednesday, October 7th to plan for the future of the passageway:

Supporters of turning the former Klingle Road into a major trail through Klingle Valley have an important step in the process coming up next week, a public meeting for the Klingle Valley Trail environmental assessment, the next step in trail building. Wednesday, October 7, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the National Zoo Visitor Center Auditorium at 3100 Connecticut Avenue, NW.

This public meeting is mandated by the NEPA process, and sponsored jointly by Federal and District authorities, to interact with the public about the range of alternatives for the proposed multi-use trail and drainage system improvement in Klingle Valley. Supporters, please drop by, express your support, and ensure that the Klingle Valley Trail stays on schedule. See the project web site.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Vandals Strike in Cleveland Park, Woodley park

The Washington Post updates reports on the Cleveland Park Listserv about a series of incidents along Connecticut Avenue early this morning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UNITY wins in Cleveland Park

The UNITY slate has captured the board of the Cleveland Park Citizen's Association.

Official results:

President: John Chelen
First Vice President: Susie Taylor
Second Vice President: Barry Winer
Recording Secretary: Ann Hamilton;
Assistant Recording Secretary: Sean Mullen
Corresponding Secretary: Ruth Caplan
Treasurer: Clark Madigan
Delegates to the Federations of Citizens Associations are: Ann Loikow, Peter Espenschied and John Chelan with Ruth Caplan at the alternate
Delegates to the Federation of Civic Associations are John Chelen (ex-officio), Alice Kelly, Sean Mullen, Carol Phelps, and Susie Taylor.
Greg New (a past president of CPCA) was previously made an At-Large Delegate for Life by the Federation itself.

Here are two messages from the victors:

No doubt John will send out thanks on all our behalf to the great number of supporters, known and unknown, who came out tonight to vote and who worked behind the scenes for both slates. We won't be able to do that emphatically and often enough.

But, now that campaigns and election are over, I wanted to write with a personal message to Jeff, Anne, Collins, Gabe, John, Genie and Mike.

Thank you.

You did "get something going" like George said at the church tonight euphemistically. The membership is somewhere around 800 now and you were a large part of that. You offered a ton of great ideas (and plans); some of which we openly "stole" as we worked furiously to get out some written examples of our own thinking and ideas. You held cool and engaging events that we'll want to continue. You started this listserv which will remain a hugely important communications platform going forward. You pushed the edge on what changes could mean, technologically and otherwise.

We're humbled and fortunate to have an opportunity to do some good for CPCA and CP in the months ahead. We obviously have no chance to do it alone.

All of you on REFORM really do deserve a lot of credit.

With appreciation,


Tonight will be a special memory for me for the rest of my life. Yet, I want to keep in mind that tonight was less about me and the Unity Team than it is about the CPCA membership itself. It was an inspiring sight to stand near the front door of the church and watch how many of you came to vote. Your turnout demonstrated how important are the issues in front of us, why CPCA matters, and why we can't waste any time in forging a common agenda.

I'd like to commend Jeff Davis and the rest of the Reform Slate. You ran a good campaign and brought out your supporters in amazing numbers. Your determination and energy galvanized the membership; CPCA is a much more vital organization now than any of us imagined it might be. Together, I hope we can build upon that vitality to bring in even more active members and increase our ability to represent our community's needs.

It's also important that we don't take for granted that differences still exist between many of us. One of my personal goals is to find a way to bridge those differences and find common ground. I don't expect the supporters of Reform to abandon their views nor lessen the pressure on our elected officers to do the right thing. It will be their pressure that will drive us to find the right solutions. But I do expect that our shared love for Cleveland Park will help us overcome those differences.

As I said tonight, I'm committed to find a way for all Members of the CPCA to be able to have a substantive role, to be able to voice their opinions, for the Officers to give them a respectful hearing, and for us all together to find a way to achieve our mutual goals.

With thanks, respect, and admiration for your civic spirit,

John Chelen
President, CPCA

So now what? The CPCA can hopefully move forward with a better sense of community involvement and will take strong measures to be a conduit for ALL voices in the community, and take action when action is warranted. Hopefully there will be a stronger use of their new association listserv, and this will help foster better communication by and for the membership, rather than the top-down approach from the previous leadership. At the end of the day, the community should be better served by the vigorous campaign lodged for the past month.

More on Chevy Chase Speed Humps

Paul Schwartzman's take on the speed humps in Chevy Chase.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TNA: How Does One Join?

The announcement and subsequent reports of Thursday's meeting between the Mayor and the Tenleytown Neighborhood Association has sparked discussion on the neighborhood listserv about the nature of the organization.

According to some, the trouble was caused by non-TNA members. One apparent TNA member offers this comment:

This meeting, like all TNA meetings, was open to the public. There was, in fact, an agenda. The Mayor was invited to speak and answer questions on any topic; this was followed by the regular TNA business meeting. I was sitting near the Mayor; his cell phone rang once and he quickly silenced it. I didn't hear another phone ring and didn't hear anybody carrying on a conversation while the Mayor was speaking.

I didn't think there was a lack of decorum and I didn't perceive the questions to the Mayor as hostile. Much of the conversation between the Mayor and the audience was dominated by ANC3E commissioners Jon Bender, Sam Serebin, and especially Matt Frumin, who made legitimate, but persistent and argumentative, complaints about the Wilson and Janney modernization plans and the lack of communication between the schools' management/improvement teams and the architects and/or city officials. None of the ANC commissioners are TNA members.

The TNA members who spoke asked perfectly civil questions about the Fort Reno playing fields, the hiring and firing of public school teachers, the Wilson High School plans, why we always have to fight the city government for what we need, underground parking for Janney and the Library, hours at the Wilson Pool, and compliments to Ginnie Cooper and the Freelon Group for a beautiful plan for the Tenley-Friendship Library. There was one incident when a person who is not a TNA member responded to a statement by Jon Bender by shouting out "What planet are you from?" The chair of the meeting quickly told her she was out of order.

This certainly invites some questions which have been asked repeatedly, such as how one joins the TNA? There have been repeated requests for information. In terms of being "open to the public", it was only because the Mayor's office to announced this particular meeting (and only a day before) that any non-member even knew about it. So exactly how are the meetings open to the public if there is no outreach or information provided? Given its listing as a member of the DC Federation of Citizens Associations one would think there would be a minimum level of transparency attributed to membership and meetings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

CPCA Unity Slate: From the Top

In the spirited final days of the Cleveland Park Citizen's Association campaign season, an interesting gaffe may provide insight into one of the clear distinctions between the slates.

The Unity team has been running on a philosophy where "we're independent and come with different points of view, and provide a check-and-balance on any single perspective".

However, in some exchanges on the Association listserv, the issue of honking horns while driving over speed humps arose as a topic of discussion. One of the candidates responded:

To set the record straight, no one on the UNITY slate was a proponent of speed bumps. Any traffic calming measure needs to be considered in relation to traffic problems in the whole neighborhood.

A quick reply added:

Dammit! I thought we agreed (well, were correctly instructed) not to respond!

Your first sentence won't help; At Monday's ANC meeting, Karina Ricks of DDOT convinced me (and many others) that your second sentence is wrong.

Regardless of whether one supports speed humps or agrees with the DDOT policy, the portion highlighted seems instructive. As one CPCA member notes"

Instructed? With independent, diverse individuals?

This seems like the same top-down management of the current CPCA leadership -- and it appears as if the Unity Slate is embracing the same management style.

The idea that a diverse group or residents with divergent opinions representing a community is a great one. However, the Reform slate came together because of a similar "top-down" (PDF) approach by the current CPCA leadership, as demonstrated in the heated Giant debate. The revealing post on the CPCA forum suggests a similar managerial style to which both sides had provided rhetoric to combating. The demonstration that Reform Slate members openly diverge on the speed hump issues shows an honest openness which is appears to be indicative of a refreshing approach to leadership.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TNA Meeting with Fenty

A posting from the Ward 3 Outreach Specialist from the Mayor's Office notes a meeting on September 24th (tomorrow) with the Tenleytown Neighbors Association:

Please join Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, TNA president Chris Schumann and other members of the community tomorrow night at St. Columba's Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St NW. Topics include the Tenleytown library, Wilson Aquatic Center, Alice Deal modernization, new playgrounds, parks and much more. There will be a Q&A afterwards. Hope to see you all there!

Wouldn't it have been nice if the TNA had invited the community?

ARD to Safeway: Thumbs Up!

The Alliance for Rational Development, whatever that is, appears to be giving its endorsement to the proposal for redevelopment of the Safeway site at Wisconsin and Ellicot Street.

Sure the plans (large PDF) look ok, but there is a lack of consideration of the broader community input, and broader community impact.

For example, most of the development plans take place on land zoned for residential use, however, this proposal contains no provision for such. More disappointing is the failure of the proposal to take advantage of the opportunity to include affordable, or market based housing. Indeed, this project could have at least one or two floors of residential atop the grocery store with virtually no impact on the existing residential community. Instead, in order to bypass the ongoing, or chronic opposition to density on Wisconsin Avenue, Safeway has chosen the safest route to proceed at the expense of any thought towards longer terms sustainability goals such as LEED certification, reducing auto emissions, or implementing more housing to create a greater threshold of residents to support existing retail between the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights Metro stations.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Smart Growth Forum at Chevy Chase

At the upcoming Chevy Chase Citizens Association meeting on Tuesday, September 22nd, Cheryl Cort, Policy Director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth, will generally discuss approaches for effectively managing growth and development in metropolitan areas to protect the environment and make existing communities better places to live and work. In this context, Ms. Cort will also emphasize lessons learned from development and transportation decisions in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area, and describe plans that affect the future of our region. In addition, Tom Hier, Chair of the Steering Committee at Ward 3 Vision, will discuss grass-roots efforts related to managing growth and development in Ward 3, particularly along the Wisconsin Avenue corridor.

Please join the Chevy Chase Citizen's Association for the meeting on Tuesday September 22, at 7:30 pm, at the Chevy Chase Community Center (5601 Connecticut Avenue). Come earlier for light refreshments and an opportunity to socialize with the Association's officers and other neighbors, starting at 7:00 pm.

Tenleytown Crime Meeting

In response to the rash of street crime in the Tenleytown/AU Park area, the ANC and MPD will host a community meeting on September 22nd:

MPD will hold a "make up" community meeting next Tuesday, September 22, at 7 pm, in conjunction with ANC 3E commissioners, to discuss the crime uptick in the neighborhood and responses to it. The meeting will be held at St. Mary's Church at 42nd and Fessenden.

City Paper Updates "Humpifiction"

The City Paper has updated the previously covered Chevy Chase speed hump issue by noting:

the ANC requested the speed humps be removed pending the collection of data; it also wants an oversight hearing on the entire process.

The NW Current goes a bit further:

The commission also chastised the agency for not waiting to construct the humps until after the neighborhood commission could weigh in on them.

“What role, if any, does the ANC play in this?” asked neighborhood commissioner Jim McCarthy.

At Monday’s sparsely attended meeting, the commissioners also questioned why the city installed such large speed humps on Morrison Street. “These are the most punitive speed humps that I’ve ever seen, except on Newark Street,” said neighborhood commissioner Peggy Sewell. “Speeding is one thing; trying to scare drivers off their street is totally unacceptable.”

Didn't DDOT Spokesperson John Lisle already answer Commissioner McCarthy's question?

In the past, the agency would require a traffic study be completed for every request. Now, residents simply have to get the majority of their neighbors to sign a petition.

The city's guidelines are clear. What seems murky is why, in July, the ANC didn't do what it said it would do in their June meeting, and why it seems to perpetuate this story rather than helping the others in the community who wish to have speed humps for public safety obtain them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cheh Hosts Annual BBQ

WHAT: Ward 3 "Back to School BBQ"
WHERE: Friendship ("Turtle") Park located at 4500 Van Ness Street, NW
WHEN: Saturday, September 26, from 11am-4pm

For information please contact (202) 724-8062.

Councilmember Mary Cheh will host the 3rd annual "Back to School BBQ" at Friendship ("Turtle") Park located at 4500 Van Ness Street, NW, on Saturday, September 26 from 11am-4pm. The event will feature the District's own award-winning firefighter barbeque team and information tables from the DC government and public and private organizations. The BBQ will be filled with activities for the entire family including a moon bounce, wacky family races, and great giveaways from our local ward 3 business community and area professional sports teams. The Joy of Motion Dance company will also be on hand to energize the crowd and teach a little hip-hop dance with music played by Ward 3's own DJ Moosic.

The day will end with a game of kick ball between Team Cheh and the Hearst Recreation Center teen club. Come out and enjoy a day of fun, great food, and exciting activities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tenleytown Fights Development in 1940

Tsarchitect gives a nice account of the neighborhood struggle against the development of the now landmarked Sears building at Albemarle Street and Wisconsin Avenue in 1940.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Truth in Unity?

As forwarded to this forum from the CPCA Listserv, it seems that a CPCA Presidential Candidate has a problem in being fully honest and up front in his representations to the community.

The most recent is associated with a post by a fellow candidate who was promoting a community event on Rosh Hashanah (way to be all-inclusive there, team!). According to Candidate Chelen,

One of our running mates, Sean Mullen, running for Assistant Corresponding Secretary, wasn't permitted to post a message announcing his event at Sorriso this coming Friday. That was inconsistent with Bill Adler's permission for the Aware group to post a message announcing their event last week. Eventually, after I strenuously intervened, that message was permitted to post.

However a Cleveland Park Listserv moderator chimed in:

"We don't know what John Chelen is talking about when he says he "intervened" to get through a post by Sean Mullen. We did not have any exchanges with him about that but wrote directly to Sean Mullen to let him know about the no-crosspost rule. On Sept. 12 we put through Sean's resubmitted message about his meet and greet.

This latest fib is on the heels of allegations that the Reform Slate had removed its association with the "pro-Giant" AWARE moniker. Obviously this is an error. So too, it appears are suggestions that the Reform Slate wants to "kill" the overlay.

According to Chelen:

I've talked to several people from the Reform slate who want to kill it, and you'll find that in their public statements.

Candidate Roth has replied:

I publicly challenged your statement for a reason. Your post informed the community that you had "talked to several people from the Reform slate who want to kill it [the overlay], and you'll find that in their public statements." Several members of the Reform Slate, myself included, have subsequently made public statements very much to the contrary. Further, no one on the Slate, which includes 5 people you have not meet, recall such a conversation or has taken such a position.

So is there truth in Unity, or is this just going to be more of the same?

Sidewalks in Palisades

DDOT appears to have backed of the proposal to install sidewalks on University Terrace in Palisades. According to the City Paper, despite support from Councilmember Mary Cheh, DDOT has postponed the construction to continue to study the issue.

Isn't this public property in a city, no less?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Unity Responds to Giant Appeal

As was indicated, a group of residents have appealed the Zoning Commission decision on Giant. As this issue is the undercurrent for the mantel to represent the whole community at the citizen association level, the response from "either side" is telling.

Unity candidate John Chelen made the following statement on the Cleveland Park Listserv:

It was a surprise for us to learn about the filings regarding the Giant PUD application decision. It's disappointing to have charges leveled at us that we're Anti-Giant.

We see no issue more important than to reinstate a basic level of respect and civility in all discussions.

We came together as a team with respect for our differences. I sought out people with different philosophies and life experiences, different points of view. We tried to reflect the diversity of the neighborhood.

There was no litmus test to join the unity team. No one was asked to state or accept a position on Giant's application, either way.

This statement misses some basic points.

The first, that the members of the Unity slate don't even have enough respect for each other, much less the neighborhood, to disclose community action within the Slate. The neighborhood discovered an important and impactful move, such as potentially delaying a contentious development proposal via a post on the listserv from an unaffiliated individual, not through upfront disclosure either from those who chose this action, or from one of the "team" members who is running for office. Certainly even members of a community slate would have enough respect to disclose the action with each other, much less the broader community?

Second, there is no denouncing the action. If the Unity slate really wanted to bring the community together, it would join with those who have responded on the listserv and with the Reform Slate in moving past the Giant issue to truly unite the community to address other issues. Instead, the community is given lame lipservice that does nothing but continue the kind of acrimony which has caused initial divisions in the community.

As a Reform Slate candidate posted:

Please do not be discouraged with minor setbacks. The trend today in Cleveland Park is toward better communications and more participatory democracy and that binds a neighborhood together much more than sniping and bickering and law suits can pull it apart.

Touche, the community should be encouraging all to move forward and address the important issues which are outstanding, rather than remain mired in the past acrimonious debates.

Friday, September 11, 2009

WNNC Files Appeal in Giant

Greater Greater Washington details several posts on the Cleveland Park Listserv regarding a recent filing by the WNNC - Wisconsin Newark Neighborhood Coalition - to appeal the Zoning Commission approval of the Giant PUD application from August.

So much for "Unity" in the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fenty: Tenley Library will Be Able to Support New Development

An article in the Examiner by Michael Neibauer states that the District will commit up to $1 Million to construct supports able to hold new development atop the replacement Tenleytown library.

This is a partial win for smart growth advocates who have long sought to bring increased density to the neighborhood served by the Metro Red Line and several bus lines.

Wash Post on the State of Cleveland Park

Katherine Shaver suggests in this article that Cleveland Park has seen better days from a retail standpoint. Shaver suggests that, contrary to reports by many longtime residents that the broader economic situation is at fault, the Commercial Overlay , as implemented and enforced in 1989 is the culprit.

She cites the example of Yenching Palace, a former notable Chinese Restaurant which is soon to reopen as a Walgreens, yet is still counted against the food limit despite being closed for an extended period. Similarly a former McDonalds, vacant for several years has suffered the same fate.

Fortunately, Councilmember Mary Cheh has been able to secure monies to help improve the neighborhood infrastructure, including seed money to create a business association, or other community mechanism to better improve the situation. Further, as the article notes, the AWARE group, which was born out of frustration at continued delays for a neighborhood grocery store appears to have morphed into a bona fide community organization as the pending elections for the local community association near.

Friday, September 04, 2009

John Chelen Tosses Hat into CPCA Ring

As posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv:

My name is John Chelen and I'm running for President of the Cleveland Park Citizens' Association.

I have watched with alarm as our community has been torn apart, to some extent by personality issues, but even more so by what I've come to learn are misconceptions about what's good for our neighborhood.

Several neighbors approached me and asked me to run. But before agreeing, I wanted to get to the heart of what's really going on. I've met with dozens of people with different points of view and admittedly still don't have all the answers. However, I've seen enough to know that CPCA might come apart if we don't find a way back to the fundamental values that have inspired us throughout the years. Without a unified CPCA, we all lose.

Cleveland Park faces different challenges than those we thought about even two years ago. I think we all agree that it's time for CPCA to change, time to better reflect the variety in our community, and time to modernize the way the association is run and communicates.

What's exciting is that there's now a shared conviction that CPCA can make a difference. However, recent posts on the listservs have been discouraging. It's time to stop the factual errors, exaggerations, name-calling, and platitudes and begin to address our concerns. I think we can overcome our differences in the spirit of One Neighborhood. It's time to start a process of renewal.

We can't afford to accept simplistic answers to complex issues, nor can we afford leaders who think it's their way or the highway. Today's challenges can best be met with an open mind, in an inclusive, rather than divisive, manner. That's what I hope I can offer to you as your President.

We've put together a diverse team that represents the best of what Cleveland Park has to offer - people with experience and passion who look beyond their own personal short-term interests for greater long-term community benefit. I've asked these people to run with me and they've agreed. But I've also asked them to give me one last chance to reach out to you. If you're interested in joining our team, either by running for office, chairing a committee, or just pitching in, please contact me. I'll do my best to meet with each and every one of you, and then pick from the best and announce our Unity Team on September 8.

Here's a little info about me: I've lived in Cleveland Park for 30 years and have a long history of civic involvement. Professionally I'm a high-tech lawyer. I've helped develop advanced software for federal agencies and social networking and communications models underlying systems you may be using today. I have also incorporated many non-profits and developed model bylaws that effectively enable small groups to work together. Recently I helped organize my immediate neighbors to get essential street improvements that required resolution of competing ideas and cutting through city red tape.

I think we can all agree that Cleveland Park is a wonderful place to live. We have a unique combination of apartment, townhouse and single family residences, with walking access to stores, restaurants, entertainment, schools, parks, and public transit. There is a diversity of ages, ethnic backgrounds, and income levels. Keeping Cleveland Park a great place to live is everyone's goal. That requires maintaining a delicate balance among competing interests.

So, here are my goals:

Keep Cleveland Park safe and cordial, so that our neighborhood is enjoyable for everyone -- families, singles, couples, and empty-nesters.

Keep Cleveland Park dynamic and vibrant, harmonizing the need for neighborhood-serving shops, including restaurants and entertainment, while preserving our quiet spaces.

Restore Cleveland Park's historic reputation for civil discussion and inclusiveness, encourage more members to participate, and ensure that CPCA is open and welcoming to the entire community.

Revise CPCA bylaws to increase transparency and modernize the decision-making process.

Make sure that CPCA benefits us all, not just one interest group or perspective.

In the coming weeks you'll hear more from me and our other candidates who will run on the "Unity" slate with me. We'll focus on the issues many of you have raised, look at both sides, and describe how we think we can solve them, as a community.

In closing, I promise I'll serve as an advocate for all our interests and work for consensus solutions to both our current issues and the unpredictable challenges that, no doubt, will arise in the coming year. I'll work to make Cleveland Park better than it's ever been.

I look forward to your help and your vote.

John Chelen

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Green your Home Expo in Ward 3

Green Your Home Expo
Saturday, September 12, 2009 - 10am to 2pm

University of the District of Columbia - Outdoor Plaza
4200 Connecticut Ave, NW Washington, DC
Metro Accessible: Van Ness - UDC Station
(Event Rain Location: Cafeteria B Level, Building 38)

Sponsored by Office of Planning, District Department of the Environment, Office of Councilmember Mary Cheh, and University of the District of Columbia

Come and learn about how to green your home, your neighborhood and save money!

Activities will include: a four-hour expo featuring energy efficiency and renewable energy companies, local advocacy organizations, green product distributors, District agencies and programs, and two panel discussions with experts on climate change and greening homes.

Enjoy live music by UDC Jazz Trio, bicycle eco-tours by Wholeness for Humanity at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm, entertainment for children, and the weekly UDC Farmers' Market!

Exhibitors include:

Astrum Solar
Capital Sun Group, Ltd.
Casey Trees
Clean Currents
Coalition for Smarter Growth
DC Greenworks
DC Office of Planning
District Department of the Environment
Eco-Domo, LLC
Eco-Green Living
Elysian Energy
Green Brilliance
Green Living Consulting
IONA Senior Services
Little Falls Watershed Alliance
Maggio Roofing
Office of Councilmember Mary Cheh
Office Go Green
Packtoozi, LLC
Sharing Backyards
Solar Solution, LLC
Switch Renewable Energy
University of the District of Columbia
Wholeness for Humanity

For more information contact Andrea Limauro, DC Office of Planning by email at or by phone at 202.442.7605.

Learn more about the Expo and our upcoming Neighborhood Sustainability
Indicators Pilot Project (NSIPP)
(PDF) or this PDF or here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cheh: Crime Update in the Ward


My office has been monitoring the reports of crime in the Ward. In response, I asked 2nd District Commander Matthew Klein to help me understand the crime situation in Ward 3 as well as explain what actions are being taken to address these problems. Commander Klein provided a detailed message to me explaining crime statistics in Police Service Areas (PSA) 202 and 204 as well as the Metropolitan Police Department's plan to address crime in these areas. Below are some highlights from that report. Please keep in mind that these statistics refer to the last 30 days compared to the same period of time last year.

I am thankful to Commander Klein for taking seriously our neighborhood's problems with crime. Like many of you, I find some of these trends to be very concerning. My office will remain in contact with Commander Klein to ensure that crime in the Ward continues to be addressed.

Best regards,

Mary Cheh

Crime Statistics

1. There has been a reduction in burglaries: 30% reduction in PSA 202 and 12% reduction in PSA 204.

2. Instances of stolen autos have increased in both PSA 202 (18 this year compared to 11 last year) and 204 (38 this year compared to 27 last year).

3. Instances of theft from autos have increased in both PSA 202 (183 compared to 131 last year) and PSA 204 (26 compared to 20 last year).

Police Actions

1. Second District crime analysts are tracking burglaries, stolen autos, and thefts from autos to identify trends, commonalities, and other information that will aid in closing these cases.

2. The Second District is coordinating with other police districts to identify suspects and track statistics.

3. PSA Lieutenants will meet weekly to review plans and make adjustments in manpower allocations as needed.

4. Members of PSA 202 and 204 will walk door-to-door and disseminate information to residents and alert them of serious incidents that occur. This is also an opportunity for police to gather additional intelligence.

5. Officers will be focused on burglaries, stolen autos, and theft from auto incidents and suspicious individuals associated with those activities.

6. Officers will perform additional patrols in areas of particular interest to look for suspicious activity.

7. The Second District will deploy additional uniformed resources into PSA 202 and PSA 204.

8. Officers will conduct visual inspections of vehicles parked in targeted areas. When valuables are left in plain sight, officers will attempt to locate the owner and advise them of the increased potential for the theft of their property.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Good Old Days according to the CPCA

The following was submitted to this forum from the Cleveland Park Citizens Association listserv, as former President Greg New opines about the "Good Old Days". Perhaps, as one respondent noted, this is why the organization needs new leadership (pardon the pun).

Dear CPCA Members,

I am still in the spirit of recalling the good old days before our executive committee (of which I am a part) brought itself into some predictable difficulties. In the present charged atmosphere it may be hard for some of our new members to realize there was ever a day when competition for office and voting were not overriding issues. Historically we have amiably accepted out-of-boundary members who were obviously interested in our programs and wanted to be on our mailing list, and who seldom thought of voting on issues.

Our most popular meetings were candidate forums, where obviously the voting took place somewhere else. Other popular issues-oriented meetings were largely informative panels, or presentations explaining potential public programs or private developments that were not at the stage where an up or down vote was called for. Presenters sought feedback, not decisions. Usually when the decisions were made, it was in another forum (e.g., in an advisory neighborhood commission meeting, or by a public agency after a public hearing. We should not assume that the association weighed in very often by testimony on either side. Only about once every year or two do matters become ripe for a CPCA vote on public issues, and on these occasions there is wide-spread notice, often a large turnout, and sometimes an extra large contingent of new members. It often happens that we seldom ever again see many of the members who turned out to vote on a hot issue, regardless of how the vote went, or which side the members happened to be on.

While voting is of utmost importance in principle, people who regularly attend citizens meetings very soon become aware of the fact that most members join citizens associations out of a general commitment to civic duty. Far from being eager to vote, the majority of the membership of an active association with good, responsive leadership appears to be quite uninterested even in keeping up with the issues. It is a rare meeting that attracts much over ten percent of the members, if that many.

It is my impression that our out-of-boundary members may be more apt to attend meetings than in-boundary folk, because they are more apt to be interested in issues. We have a reputation for putting on some pretty good programs, and that reputation brings the outsiders in. In short, it is an arguable presumption that most of out-of-boundary members see themselves as paying for information, not for the right to vote in a community where they do not reside. There is every reason to suppose that they do belong to, and vote in, an association representing their own community. If they do not, they should.

It is not customary in democratic societies to encourage people to vote twice on the same issue, once while living on one side of the street, and once again while visiting on the other side. In most cases the out-of-boundary people who speak of losing a legitimate right to vote in Cleveland Park are asserting a right to vote twice on the same issue.

Another matter on which some new members may have an unrealistic assumption of what motivates people centers on competition for leadership. That is, they assume not only that competition exists in citizens associations, but that such competition is the usual state in such associations. It is most emphatically not the usual state. Very few people want leadership positions in neighborhood groups. They have to be asked, and often pressured to run, and there is seldom a challenger.

I can recall my own "call to duty" in 1997 as an example of the problem. While my experience is far from typical, it reflects the spirit that drives leadership of neighborhood groups better that the present supercharged atmosphere does. Back in those good old days the CPCA nominating committee consisted of three past presidents. As the bylaws quaintly put it, "In the event the full body [of the nominating committee] cannot be constituted in this manner, the vacancy shall be filled by the Executive Committee." Heaven forbid that there ever be a competition among more than three past presidents all eager to extend their power. In reality it became increasingly difficult to find people to serve even on the nominating committee. In spite of a three-term limit (of one year each), two presidents had between them filled the office for 19 of the preceding 29 years, and the ranks of past presidents dwindled and aged. With little help coming from an aging executive committee, the incumbent president, then nearly on his deathbed, became the nominating committee by default. He managed to come up with a slate for all offices except the president. I had declined, the honor because I had a demanding (and rewarding) job, and preferred to wait until I retired (which I did five years later at age 76).

So there we were, election night, and no candidate for president. I then reluctantly agreed to accept the office, and served my three terms. If I could have served five years later, I could have devoted much more time to the office. We were fortunate in persuading Isabel Furlong to serve the next two years, and George Idelson to serve the last seven. His long service, of course, involved virtually abandoning the term limit.

A third aspect of reality involves the process of decision making that reluctant leaders chiefly motivated by an ill-defined sense of duty are able to solicit from a membership most of which tends to be unenthusiastic about any specific issue that comes up for decision. The lack of strong feeling creates another reality, often noted in democratic society, that the negative side on any issue is usually much stronger than the positive side. In a stable community like Cleveland Park, generally satisfied with the current level of development, a lot of us are weakly supportive of some additional development, but easily alarmed by the prospect of too much new development. Thus our enthusiasm for any development is apt to be muted. The opponents prove to have more fire in their bellies that the proponents in almost every case.

The leadership of neighborhood associations learns to respond to this reality by defensive policy making. One minor incident illustrates the point. A developer was asked to make a presentation to CPCA regarding plans to rehabilitate and slightly enlarge a small apartment house. The tone of our response was set by half a dozen to a dozen new members from the apartment house in question, who "packed" the meeting in opposition to plans that disrupted their haven. The result was obvious. Not even proponents of affordable housing would consider a few more apartments worth going to bat for. More people would worry about setting a precedent for some bigger development in their back yard than would commit themselves to support such a small development. The matter never had to come to a vote. The developers eventually found a way to rehabilitate their building that sidestepped an appeal to the community. The policy of the association has been set by default by a handful of people who never had to cast a vote, and who were never seen again.

Leaders soon learn that lynching parties almost invariably come from opponents, not proponents. About the only thing that will bring out support for a controversial new development is a good conspiracy theory. It is unrealistic to expect a solid phalanx of public spirited members to come gallivanting to the rescue of an impartial decision making process. But if you have dragons to slay and damsels to rescue, that is another matter. Once proponents of a development see themselves as opposed by dragons, there is no villainy that they might not learn to suspect. And, of course, they must protect the community from such obviously threatening dragons by staging a good lynching party.

Upon hearing rumors of a proposed lynching party the normally laid back CPCA leaders from yesteryear started entertaining their own visions (if we may call them that), vivid images of a hoard of greedy developers laying waste to their cherished community. After decades of deft response to community concerns, they soon lost their feel of the public pulse.

An impartial outsider could see exaggerated fears on both sides. A humorist could see the makings of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. Fortunately we can hope that in the looming battle the community will be more amused than scarred, and the damage will be limited to the dignity and imaginations of the performers on one side or the other.

In any case, the battle on the issue has already been essentially won in the proper public forum. It was won by proponents of a modest development that they hope will facilitate a magnificent new Giant. The opponents of the PUD failed to paint the five-story building with four stories of apartments and the loss of the overlay limiting restaurants as threatening to the larger community. More importantly, most people (especially among the those who still do not like the accessory developments just named) are impatiently waiting for a new and improved Giant. Many are worried that further opposition threatens what they are eager to get. DC public officials have shown their usual willingness to downplay apparently exaggerated threats of development gone wild. Appeals of their decision are unlikely to achieve much. We are likely to get the new Giant and most of the accessory developments (unless it becomes the victim of the current credit crisis). And we would get it whether we have a lynching at the September 29 CPCA meeting or not.

The strength shown by the proponents after they turned negative demonstrates the power of the negative side in a democracy. Ironically, their triumph on behalf of a mildly supportive position on a development issue may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Let us suppose that we have the lynching, what can we expect then? I suspect the new leadership will in turn learn to practice defensive policy making. When the next big development in Wisconsin Avenue offers a new ten-story apartment house where we now have a five story structure, they will likely temper their enthusiasm for development in the face of a much larger firestorm of opposition. Otherwise they might be visited by a few old friendly neighbors politely asking, "Could we borrow your rope for a party we are having?
. . . And by the way, you are invited."

Greg New
One of two living past presidents of CPCA

Friday, August 28, 2009

AWARE Announces CPCA Slate

On the Cleveland Park Listserv today, Jeff Davis, who was among the most prolific leaders of the AWARE group that advocated for the Wisconsin Avenue Giant redevelopment proposal, has announced his candidacy at the top of a slate of community activists who wish to challenge the status quo for the Cleveland Park Citizens Association.

The group has created a website which outlines their platform and goals for the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stoddert Update

Courtesy of theWeLoveDC blog an update on the construction of a new Stoddert Recreation Center and the rehabilitation of Stoddert Elementary. The construction features the expansion of the school and the addition of recreational facilities which will be open for community use.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cheh weighs in on Pershing Park case

Councilmember Mary Cheh has spoken to the City Paper about the Pershing Park case involving AG Peter Nickles. Recall that former Ward 3 Councilmember Kathy Patterson recruited Cheh to help with the case, utilizing her legal background.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Walking Tour comes to Tenleytown

September 19th, 2009
1:00 P.M.

Sponsored by Cultural Tourism DC

Come and learn about Tenleytown, the second oldest neighborhood in Washington.
John Tennally settled here before 1789 and his tavern served farmers taking
tobacco to the Port of Georgetown. Discover the Grant Road Historic District, a
step back into the 19th Century. Visit Fort Reno Park, site of the largest
Civil War fort defending Washington, and hear why it is called The Summit that
Saved the Union."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kaid Benfield on Tenleytown

The Natural Resources Defense Council's Director of Smart Growth Programs has posted on his blog the challenges for Smart Growth going forward as needing to be greener and more community oriented. Using his home base of Tenleytown as an example, Benfield writes:

I live in a city neighborhood called Tenleytown. It is slowly picking up in residential density and commercial building activity along our main commercial street, Wisconsin Avenue. But in planning circles the neighborhood is best known for having defeated a modest and very reasonable proposal to build a condo building (reproposed even more modestly as townhouses, but again defeated) a short block from our Metro stop. I am convinced that a big part of the reason is that Tenleytown residents don't want our neighborhood to become another Friendship Heights, the area around the next Metro stop to the north on the Red Line.

Do you blame them? I don't. One of the most infuriating aspects of Friendship Heights, which has experienced a huge building boom in the last decade, is that the public has gotten zero green space out of the deal. None. Friendship Heights has great high-end shopping, and of course great transit access, but little else to recommend it in the way of public amenities.

So there are challenges going forward in better articulating the benefits of Smart Growth, but at the same time, there needs to be a more comprehensive approach to how we evaluate our community and maximize livability and sustainability across all currents of dialogue: ecological and environmental, social, etc.

How do we ask the right questions and define the terms appropriately to achieve the right balance for the community, city and region when future development proposals are announced?

Palisades Archeology

Palisades Museum of Prehistory Director Doug Daupin explains his efforts to understand the current process for preserving artifacts in the neighborhood.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ANC 3G seems confused

The issue of traffic calming seems to have reared its head again in the Ward. Earlier this spring, there was consternation when speed humps were installed on Newark Street in Cleveland Park without ANC or community discussion.

In Palisades the conversation has been ongoing regarding calming efforts in the area to the west of MacArthur Boulevard. However, in Chevy Chase, there is a repeat of erroneous information being passed as fact on the community listserv.

The issue is once again centered around Morrison Street where DDOT installed a pedestrian signal and converted it in August, 2008 to a traditional three-color light. The residents of the block must have believed that speeding was an issue and petitioned DDOT for traffic calming to reduce speeds.

In a recent Chevy Chase Listserv post, ANC 3/4G Chair Gary Thompson wrote:

The ANC voted (unanimously) to defer consideration of any such speed hump pending review of all the inter-connected traffic issues on the first blocks E & W of Conn. Ave. in the main shopping district.

But Thompson didn't mention the ANC's decision to take a vote on July 13th, and he didn't mention the ANC's failure to carry out its own decision.

At the June meeting, the ANC said it would collect petitions from all blocks and vote on them in July; According to the minutes

The Commission voted 6-0-1 (Cook abstaining) to defer consideration of the specific application for the 3700 block of Morrison St. until the meeting of July 13, and that for the next 30 days, other blocks off of the Conn. Shopping area should be informed of and invited to submit applications for speed humps (should they have 75% household support), and then when all such applications are in hand, consider them as a group. At the Commission meeting of July 13, the Commission will consider any applications received by that date and vote on the requests. The Chair made it clear that this is not a deadline and that any block could apply for humps after that date, but that the Commission believed that taking up a broader set of applications for all blocks in the Chevy Chase business area would afford a broader perspective and allow for balance.

Instead, the ANC took no vote. There was no record of opposition at the meetings or on the Chevy Chase listserv, and the agency requirement for 30 days had passed. After that point, the opportunity for ANC input with "great weight" had passed. DDOT had seemed to fulfill its obligation.

The ANC did not follow through with what it had stated it would do in June. Instead, it took a different tack once it realized that only an additional block of Morrison and the same block of McKinley submitted petitions (note: McKinley is the "collector" street for the Chevy Chase DC community and is not eligible for physical calming measures that "residential" streets can obtain).

So who is at fault here - the residents of Morrison Street who used standard city process to address a problem on their street? Or the ANC, which failed to act within the prescribed window from city agencies? Even if the ANC had chosen to oppose the traffic calming measures, DDOT would still have been able to install them if they were warranted as noted in this WTOP article,

DDOT spokesperson John Lisle says the process "has been streamlined."

In the past, the agency would require a traffic study be completed for every request. Now, residents simply have to get the majority of their neighbors to sign a petition.

Lisle says the reason for the change is to promote pedestrian safety.

"Safety for pedestrians, residents, workers and visitors is always a top priority. The District has long supported speed bumps in neighborhoods as a means to provide traffic calming. With the streamlined process we are now able to fill requests more efficiently."

Perhaps the ANC ought to have a better handle on how the city functions rather than inciting the public to clog city officials email boxes with misguided complaints.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Giant PUD Approved

The official order for the Wisconsin Avenue Giant has been released by the Zoning Commission. According to AWARE head Jeff Davis:

Great news - on August 10th the DC Zoning Commission entered a final, written order approving the Giant application to re-develop the store and add new neighborhood retail and residences on Wisconsin between Macomb and Idaho. We are one step closer in our 10-year battle for a new grocery store! Giant's desire to invest millions of dollars in this project is a well-timed vote of confidence in the continuing commercial vitality of our neighborhood. You can read the PDF.

Special credit and thanks go to the ANC for all their hard work. The ANC's unanimous approval of the Giant PUD weighed heavily in the Zoning Commission's rationale for approving the application. I'm proud to have been part of AWARE and that I had the chance to work alongside many of our neighbors to support the Giant application. I want personally to thank all those that signed petitions, wrote letters and testified at the zoning hearings.

Now is the time to heal our community and look ahead. The parties that opposed the Giant application, including the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, have the right to appeal the Zoning Commission's order. I call on them all to forego their appeals and allow this neighborhood and this project to move forward. An nappeal would drag us and the project down for another year or two or three.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poll: Cheh is Safe

A poll released by the Washington Examiner announced that the Ward 3 Council seat held by Mary Cheh is "safe".

Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh fared the best according to the poll, conducted by Successful Capital Strategies on behalf of the National Capital Committee for Good Government. Of Ward 3 respondents, 53 percent said they would "definitely" vote to re-elect the first-term councilwoman, while 4 percent would not and 29 percent would consider someone else. Undecideds in Ward 3 were 14 percent.

"It's obviously good news, I guess," Cheh said Tuesday. "It's good to hear it."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aquatic Center is Open

With temperatures approaching the century mark, is is of high relief that the Wilson Pool is now open.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

CPCA Expels Members

According to the 'Rules of the Day' for the Cleveland Park Citizens Association election to be held on September 29th,

Former residents who moved from Cleveland Park and maintained membership remain eligible (in accordance with Article IV of the Constitution). The Constitution, Bylaws and boundary street map are at

Note: CPCA always has welcomed membership from all who wished to join, appreciating their interest and support. However, with a prospect – for the first time – of a contested election, it was necessary to carefully review our membership roll in light of the boundary provisions cited above. As specified in Article III of the Constitution, residents of buildings on both sides of the named streets are eligible for membership; the citation of “immediately contiguous” in Article IV confirms this provision, but does not extend it.

Regrettably, these boundary requirements disqualify some longtime members and others who joined recently. CPCA will call and write each affected person and offer to refund current dues if desired.

This includes both new and long time members who were invited for membership, who have paid dues and have tried to participate in the organization.

So it begs the question, given the catalyst that sparked the discussion over the direction of the organization and neighborhood, was based on a development proposal that is barely (if at all) within the organizational boundaries, how can it in good conscious expel members who are more affected by these decisions by proximity, than others?

Seems like some latitude is in order, particularly since there is little or no ability to verify the work of the organization.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Countdown to Wilson Pool

The Mayor's Office, in conjunction with OPEFM is thrilled to announce the Grand Opening and ribbon cutting at the new Wilson Aquatic Center!

Join us on Thursday August 6th at TBD as we celebrate the opening of this state of the art facility.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Empty Storefronts in Cleveland Park on WJLA

WJLA, channel 7 ran this story about empty storefronts in Cleveland Park.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Something Sweet Comes to Cleveland Park

Something Sweet, the new neighborhood bakery/sweet shop, opens Thursday, July 23rd! This is a terrific development for the community at a time when small
business owners face severe challenges. Something Sweet is affiliated with
Surfside, a fine eatery and good neighbor in Glover Park.

Members of AWARE - a group of neighbors that support re-development along
Wisconsin Avenue - are planning to meet at Something Sweet tomorrow night
between 7 and 10pm to celebrate the grand opening.

We encourage you to drop by and celebrate tomorrow, and to focus on supporting
Something Sweet and other neighborhood shops in the future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

CPCA Sets Process Going Forward

Apparently the leadership of the Cleveland Park Citizen's Association has heard the clarion call from the residents of the community and have set the date for the annual elections which, by the by-laws, should have been held June 6th.

The rescheduled date is Tuesday, September 29th at 7:00PM. The CPCA has also pledged to hold a candidates forum for those who intend to run for elective office in the organization. The date for this event is to be determined.

Van Ness Walgreens Update

An update on the previously discussed Walgreens in Van Ness from the Tsarchitect blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

As the Cleveland Park community awaits an announcement for the rescheduled elections, pro- and con- posts continue to appear on the neighborhood listserv. Former ANC Chair Nancy MacWood (and current Commissioner) offered this defense of CPCA President George Idelson:

I have read many of the postings about CPCA and George Idelson over the past few weeks. I have worked with CPCA on a variety of issues over the past 8 years as an ANC commissioner and have known George since he became president of CPCA. This is a personal note because I think it is time to share my experience with the community association and with George, specifically. My intention is not to defend George --- he is a tough guy, but to provide some context for considering the future of CPCA and George's role in getting it to where it is today.

I want to start by saying that George is a friend of mine, I respect him. Do we agree on all matters? No. But I admire the process he uses for arriving at decisions. George asks people he thinks might be knowledgeable on an issue to challenge his developing views. He will come back to you with more questions as he hears from other people and considers what you have said. He will often schedule a meeting around a topic that he thinks is unresolved but of critical interest to the community or to the city. That might be in his living room or during a CPCA meeting. More than likely, there will be a debate format and if its an official CPCA meeting there will more than likely be panelists representing different points of view.

George also has a penchant for urging city officials to connect with the community by attending meetings and staying for questions and answers; no free rides for them to just get out their message. He has joined the Woodley Park Community Association and Palisades Community Association on presenting issues of interest or concern beyond Cleveland Park. He is a collaborative guy by nature and he never thinks that he is the sage of Cleveland Park. George knows he is representing an educated, well informed, and committed community that is increasingly diverse and he recognizes that there are new pressures on the community and the city to change in a variety of ways. George has enough experience to know that there is positive synergy from communities like ours and times like these, but also big challenges to prevent the community from splintering. How you build community is debatable but I think George has demonstrated that his tactic is to get out balanced information, let residents ask questions and, at a minimum, help residents to develop an understanding of the other guy's opinion.

So why so much criticism and focus on CPCA right now? It seems to be two issues: opposition to the Giant PUD and the postponement of the CPCA election. The irony, and probably what is most painful to George, is that on the Giant issue he spent years trying to avoid any opposition at all to the PUD. He attended probably 20 meetings since 2005 with Stop & Shop representatives encouraging them to improve the store immediately while developing plans for expansion and renovation. He repeatedly advised S&S that they had an opportunity to do something of great benefit to the community and that could serve as a model for other DC communities that grapple with development if it was done sensitively. He also told them that he thought the overlay was critical to the success of the project. It wasn't until the PUD application was filed that he learned, as did everyone, that the overlay wasn't mentioned and that the Office of Planning interpreted that silence to mean an approved PUD would end the implementation of the overlay restriction on restaurants and bars.

The overlay is an issue that has been championed by CPCA for many years. George inherited the organizational commitment to the overlay. What's so great about the overlay? It is only significant if you value a variety of retail and services in the immediate commercial area, and secondarily want to try to control traffic and parking problems. There seems to be growing evidence, or at least more vocal advocates, for the view that residents want more restaurants and less access to other types of shops. Its not inevitable that our commercial areas transform into more entertainment districts, but it may be a preference. Nonetheless, CPCA ,under George's leadership, has spent countless hours trying to update the overlay so that eating establishments that primarily serve the neighborhood could locate here. It took years to convince the Zoning Commission and many meetings with the Office of Planning to make needed changes. CPCA finally accomplished that and then set out to make sure the Zoning Administrator was implementing the rules in a sensible way. George tracked down non-resident owners of CP commercial buildings to ask about filling vacant sites and he questioned real estate brokers about how aggressively and creatively they were marketing our area. So the silence on the overlay and later the active effort to remove the overlay from the Giant PUD pushed CPCA into a decision on an unresolved issue for the community, but one that CPCA had strived to preserve and modernize while the debate continued.

CPCA could have gone the route of "yes, but." The executive committee has said that they voted to be "no, but" because that position allowed them more time to testify and the ability to question witnesses. The Zoning Commission doesn't sanction gray areas. In my view, CPCA and George decided that they could not abandon the overlay and that they could argue persuasively to the Zoning Commission that it was important to maintain the overlay to ensure local retail options and to avoid the parking supply/demand and traffic congestion problems existing in neighborhoods where many restaurants have located. I believe George felt confident in recommending this position because S&S had consistently said that they had no objection to the overlay and only wanted a few more restaurants, which CPCA endorsed. There was never an issue of trading the overlay for an improved grocery store.

Then there is the his own account George was presented with a large bundle of new memberships that coincided with the perceived deadline for eligibility to vote in an election of officers. Rumors of "coups" and other nefarious undertakings circulated and the CPCA executive committee reacted with apparently one main goal: to ensure that as many residents as wanted could vote. To be sure one person's coup may be another person's lesson in democracy. Democracy can be ugly but one of its enduring tenants is the right to vote in a fair election. Is it fair to let a group energized by the Giant development control the CPCA elections while the rest of the community sleeps? Is it fair to the organized group that had a winning strategy to delay the election so that other groups could organize prior to the election? Knowing George, as I do, there was not a clear choice. Disclosure -- he asked me to attend a meeting with some members of the executive board to help sort out the options available under the bylaws and precedent. It was a difficult meeting and I suspect subsequent meetings were more difficult. In the end I think George decided to risk his personal reputation in order to allow as many as residents as were interested to vote on the future of CPCA and determine who would lead it into the future. I doubt very strongly that George will offer his services again and that is not a comment on anything that has been said --- I think George feels that he has given his all to the community, made informed judgments, and trusted and respected the CP residents. He has relished his opportunity to steward CPCA and I am sure nothing has changed regarding his love for this community and its residents.

Whatever your views on the Giant development or the CPCA election postponement, I hope that this much too long email will help to put the last few months of turmoil into some perspective. CPCA has been a credit to our community. The postponement of the election may indeed be a gift to the community that allows time for each of us to think about what is important to us about Cleveland Park, what changes we would like to see, what concerns or desires of our neighbors we may not have considered or been aware of, and how we manage to continue to have the most wonderful community in the city.

Here is one of what will probably be a number of responses:

The following four comments were particularly interesting:

1) "...intention is not to defend George...but to provide some context for considering the future of CPCA and George's role..."
2) "large bundle of new memberships that coincided with the perceived deadline for eligibility to vote in an election of officers."
3) "rumors of 'coups' and other nefarious undertakings."
4) "Democracy can be ugly but one of its enduring tenants is the right to vote in a fair election."

On point 1, isn't Mr. Idleson much better placed than anyone else to explain his own rationale, his own community building philosophy, and so forth?

On point 2, bylaws exist for a variety of reasons. Bylaws make it clear to members how an organization operates and prevent organization leaders (who are elected to act on the behalf of members) from changing the rules at random and for their own convenience. Don't the CPCA bylaws clearly state a deadline for individual members' eligibility to vote in an election? If so, how is this a 'perceived' deadline? The bylaws either speak to a deadline or they don't.

As to point 3, the scheduling of the CPCA election was not a secret. As I understand it, it is held in June of every year. It seems to me that those who wanted to vote in this election were not staging a coup--in fact, as I understand such things, coups generally are violent affairs that dispense with the finer points of elections. To call an orderly effort to express the opinion of a large, organized group of CPCA members a coup is to misrepresent an effort to have voices heard.

How can it be defensible to cancel an election that from all appearances was going to be well attended in order to "ensure as many residents as wanted could vote"? I suggest that if Mr. Idleson et. al. were truly interested in voter turnout, and were truly interested in ensuring as many residents as wanted to could vote, he/they would have expended some amount of energy well in advance of the election in ensuring this in fact occurred. As far as I can tell, Mr. Idleson has never expended effort to ensure as many residents as possible could vote, and certainly has never cancelled an election to ensure as many members as possible could vote, so why on Earth start in May, 2009?

As to point 4, I need help understanding how getting out the vote, a time honored method of community activism, makes an election unfair. How is growing membership in an organization that should welcome more members unfair? How is advocating a message of change and growth unfair? How is operating within the published bylaws of one's own community organization unfair? And as to the assertion "Is it fair to let a group...control the CPCA elections while the rest of the community sleeps?", I ask were those characterized as sleeping going to be disenfranchised? Were they going to be prevented from voting? Since when is not paying attention the same as disenfranchisement? The new members of CPCA were not going to "control" the election. They simply were going to arrive at the appointed place at the appointed time and vote. Does the possibility that the candidates the new members supported were going to win either prevent others from voting or make the election unfair?

To close, I do not believe the move by the CPCA executive committee, which has at no time in the past postponed elections in order to increase voter turnout and has never taken extraordinary efforts to increase the number of voting members at an election, is a gift to the community, or that it reflects well on this wonderful community of ours.

There have been few, if any personal attacks of Mr. Idelson or his character. However, there have been many questions raised about the actions of the CPCA under his leadership. They are two very different elements of this discussion, and playing on any sort of sympathy for someone who has chosen to lead an organization for 5+ terms confuses the core issues that residents may have and does nothing constructive to move the community past the current divide.

Monday, June 15, 2009

цarьchitect on Giant and Wisconsin Avenue

The Tsarchitect blog has an entry about Giant with an interesting passage:

Wisconsin Avenue needs more of this healthy density. The example that this sets will be a lesson to Ward 3, demonstrating how a few stores and few more stories can create an enjoyable neighborhood center. Not only will the extreme non-failure of the site be ammunition for people who support smart growth, it will serve as a billboard for those who are not engaged in debates, that urbanism is possible in Northwest.

He includes an admonition that pedestrian improvements and mass transportation enhancements are key components to a successful result.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DC Metrocentric: TD Bank Update

The DC Metrocentric Blog has this update on the former Cinema site at Ellicot and Wisconsin.

Zoning Commission: Giant is Planned Appropriately

In its June 8th hearing, the Zoning Commissioned approved the Giant PUD application 4-0 without conditions.

The Commission did ask the applicant to revisit the loading dock issue which may impact the Idaho Street residents, but this seemed to be a suggestion and not necessarily part of the future written order.

The Commissioners reviewed each of the issues: loading, traffic, parking, land use, zoning and the relationship to the Comprehensive Plan and found the applicant had sufficiently addressed each of the areas of concern.

What is next for this project?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Don't like your Association? Start another one!

In the recent discussion over Community Associations, one Friendship Heights activist offered this advice:

...membership in neighborhood associations is voluntary and no such
group has monopolistic powers. If you think an existing neighborhood
organization represents a small out-of-touch group, you can always start another one.

That seems to be a standard operating procedure in upper Northwest, where there is no shortage of Community Associations representing the masses.

There is the Alliance for Rational Development and the Committee to Stop Tenleytown Overdevelopment which have no mention of who it is, who the leadership is, any bylaws or dues, how to join etc.;

The Friendship Neighborhood Association features a little used, closed Yahoo Listserv and no other website or additional information.

There is the Fort Gaines Citizens Association of which there is virtually no information.

The Friendship-Tenley Neighborhood Association which seems to exist, or have existed in the early 2000's. but appears to be moribund now.

Then there is the Tenleytown Historical Society, and the Tenleytown Neighborhood Association whose site hadn't been updated since 2005 and seems to be a dead link anyhow - the TNA is a member of the Federation of Community Associations;

Finally, there is Ward 3 Vision which is a campaign, not a membership organization.

So when activists claim that "six different organizations who passed resolutions" are the voice of the broader community, who are these organizations, how many members do they have, who is their leadership? What is their outreach, and how do they justify speaking on behalf of a community of thousands of residents? Is there outreach or notice given for new membership? Is there notice given that a resolution is to be discussed or acted upon?

Certainly the Tenleytown Historical Society provides programming and education, and has sponsored historic landmark applications to the city, and the Tenleytown Neighborhood Association appears to be a member of the Federation of Citizens Associations.

Perhaps the actions of the CPCA open the door to shed light on other community groups throughout the Ward and the City?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Some Defense of the CPCA

Three listserv contributors have come to the defense of the Executive Committee of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association. Longtime resident Margaret Lenzner suggests:

The suggestion that postponing the annual meeting "disenfranchises" anyone is ridiculous. In fact, the delay will fully and indisputably enfranchise all. Not only will there will be no question of whether a new member joined in time for a pre-meeting/vote deadline, but members won't be conflicted by the year-end school events so prominent on many calendars for June 6.

Jeff Davis says that he wants CPCA to use online polls to identify issues and assess neighborhood views, and to allow members to voice opinions (and, even, to vote?) without attending meetings. I agree that internet use can be a valuable tool, but it is no substitute for meetings. I hope that all members, new and old, will appreciate that attending meetings regularly, meeting other members in person, and becoming actively involved in person -- not just online -- is essential to building and maintaining a healthy community association. It isn't always easy, but it's worth it.

Meanwhile, Friendship Height resident Sue Hemberger argues:

A hostile takeover campaign of a voluntary association based on a single issue and with votes essentially buyable (pay the membership fee and you get a vote) is a crisis not so much because it threatens the current leadership but because it threatens the association as a whole. You can't tell whether the newcomers will stay and put in the hard work necessary to keep an organization like this alive or whether the goal is just to destroy/neutralize the organization as a power base for the "other side." That's why a kind of sweat equity requirement might be functional.

Advocates for a reinvigorated CPCA make a different argument:

Over and over the new members have said that their goal was to revitalize the CPCA by providing better communications with its members and more participation. We want to keep the effective members of the current leadership and tried to develop a joint slate in keeping with the precedents of uncontested elections with the CPCA. Because the CPCA now has over 500 members, it is ludicrous to think that a small minority could "destroy/neutralize the organization". Instead, the new members are making a major commitment to improve the organization.

For example, I volunteered to start a listserve to facilitate internal communication. This is not a casual commitment but one that I view as at least a five year effort. And not an easy effort at that. The executive committee of the CPCA wants me to shut down the listserve and stop all unsupervised internal discussions. The executive committee will not help me verify who is a member of the CPCA and so I have to use addresses and rely on the word of the people joining.

To use terms like "hostile takeover", "votes essentially buyable" and "destroy/neutralize" in one paragraph is more than mischaracterization, it is insulting our intelligence. I have put in lots of sweat equity over the years to improve Cleveland Park and for a person in Friendship Heights to say that I should have no right to vote in a Cleveland Park organization is more than annoying.

Many of the new members of the CPCA are more than ten-year residents of the neighborhood, some even have more tenure than the entrenched leadership of the organization! Should these variables matter in the lifeblood of the community and its community association?

Friday, June 05, 2009

ANC 3E meeting: June 11, 2009

Among the agenda items:

Discussion of, and possible vote on, request for zoning relief to permit use of off site parking at Lord & Taylor lot for retail development at Western Ave. and Jennifer Street.

Discussion of status of 5013 Belt Road

Discussion of and possible vote on request for letter seeking elimination or alteration of N8 bus travel on Yuma Street.

Discussion of and possible vote on resolution regarding the "Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2009," which would, in part, require construction of a sidewalk on at least one side of the street in most instances when the District resurfaces or reconstructs streets, curbs, or gutters.

Monday, June 01, 2009

History of the Commerical Overlay in Cleveland Park and Woodley Park

In light of the discssion about the CPCA and the Zoning Overlay in Cleveland Park, former ANC Commissioner and zoning expert Ann Loikow has provided the following history:

ANC Commissioner Reeves asked why if CPCA has been working on the overlay for years it wasn't referred to the ANC. ANC 3C has been involved in the the issue of the neighborhood commercial overlay districts for twenty years.

ANC 3C was intimately involved in the creation of the neighborhood commercial overlay zones in Cleveland Park (both on Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues) and in Woodley Park which the Zoning Commission created in May 1989 (Zoning Commission Order No. 616, cases No. 86-26 and 87-27). These cases grew out of the effort to eliminate inconsistencies between the Zoning Regulations and the 1984-85 Comprehensive Plan Land Use Element. ANC 3C, and in particular Commissioner Phil Mendelson, the Cleveland Park Citizens Association (CPCA), the Woodley Park Community Association (WPCA), and the Cleveland Park Historical Society, among others, participated actively in these cases. As an Office of Planning's report noted these overlays were designed to ensure the compatibility of the use and scale of development in these neighborhood commercial centers with the surrounding residential areas. The limitation on uses was designed to help maintain a mix of neighborhood retail and services and ensure that there were a sufficient volume of both daytime and night-time customers to keep the businesses there economically viable. However, the overlays' limitations on eating and drinking establishments were never really implemented.

In 2000, both ANC 3C (which adopted a resolution on the issue in January 2000), individual commissioners from Woodley Park and Cleveland Park, CPCA and various community members sought to get the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to enforce the limitations on eating and drinking establishments in the overlay districts. In fact, the Zoning Administrator made a formal presentation about this to the ANC at its June 2000 meeting. As a result of this, DCRA issued proposed procedures for implementing the the limitation for eating or drinking establishments in the neighborhood commercial overlay districts in February 2002 which it adopted in May 2002. ANC 3C and CPCA and several individual District residents formally commented on the procedures.

In May 2002, in order to consider some of the concerns raised by the Zoning Administrator and DCRA on how to interpret the overlay regulations, the Zoning Commission published a notice of public hearing to be held in July 2002 on Case 02-06, "Text Amendments to Neighborhood Commercial Overlay District: Limitation for Eating or Drinking Establishments." In December 2002, the Zoning Commission tasked the Corporation Counsel with producing a proposed replacement or amended text. In November 2003, CPCA approved a resolution proposing a text amendment to the Zoning Commission to eliminate the ambiguities in the regulation regarding the limitation on eating and drinking establishments. The Zoning Commission noticed a second public hearing on Case 02-06 which was held in September 2005. At its December 2005 meeting, the Zoning Commission itself proposed an alternative solution and decided to hold further public hearings. This was all covered extensively in The Northwest Current.

In May 2006, ANC 6A petitioned the Zoning Commission to amend the Zoning Regulations to revise the definitions of "restaurants" and "fast food restaurants," among other things. The Zoning Commission set down the case as Case No. 06-23, "Text Amendment - Eating Establishment Definitions," in March 2007 and noticed a public hearing to be held in April 2007. ANC 3C, CPCA and WPCA, among others, participated in this case. The Zoning Commission approved a final order on the text amendments in Case No. 06-23 in July 2007.

The Zoning Commission's consideration and adoption of the neighborhood commercial overlay regulations has been a public process, of which both the public and the ANCs have been notified. ANC 3C, CPCA, WPCA and other neighborhood groups and individuals, as well as others from across the city, have been active participants in the process over the past twenty years. There is a substantial public record on the issue, as well as much news coverage, particularly in The Northwest Current, that is there for anyone who wishes to learn about it.