We are all so fortunate to live in a vital city vastly improved over its 1980s state of decrepitude. Even so, those of us who moved here after the beginning of the improvement took some calculated risks. We made bets that we could continue to afford property taxes, that we would like the new commercial development, and that the growing congestion would be within our tolerance limits, for example. I’ve lost some of these bets. I don’t like that parking is becoming scarce, that some new buildings area hideous, or that I can not afford some of the new restaurants and shops. Yet, I still stay in the neighborhood because I feel that the benefits outweigh the inconveniences — and they are inconveniences, not crises . I have also learned to take a deep breath and accept compromise. After all, no one promised me that I would have a parking space available to me, that city living would be inexpensive, or that I could rely on quiet in an urban area. I also realize how little my daily life has been affected by some of the things that I protested. I know that a democratic system means having an option to speak up but not having a guarantee of getting one’s way.
I am therefore, baffled by certain disputes in District neighborhoods, particularly in some residential areas. Below are some examples of situations where residents lost perspective.
1) The Dupont Current reports that
2) Some upper northwest residents area adamantly opposed to a new zoning rule. This rule allows for “accessory structures” like garages, breezeways, and sheds to be approved more easily. The possible negative consequences, according to those opposed, are that green space will disappear and denser development will overtake existing neighborhoods. DC already has a protection against residential development becoming overly dense; one may not build structures, accessory structures included, on more than a certain percent of one’s property. Besides, presently there is nothing preventing residents from completely destroying green space by paving over their yards. However, it seems that the owners of these expensive single family homes care enough not to destroy property values in that fashion.
3) A few neighbors of Hotel Helix adamantly and emotionally opposed a tiny increase to the Hotel’s footprint. One argument against the growth was a concern about decreased
4) An acquaintance of mine knocked down a rotting low wooden fence bordering the back of his property. It was listing toward the alley and already partially knocked over after some garden work. His neighbor pursued him for altering property in a historical district.
5) While walking through Kalorama, I saw a car with its wipers stuffed with papers. Curious, I read few. They were all notes tearing apart the driver for taking up more than one parking space; he had three feet between his hood and a driveway and maybe as much space between his trunk and a no parking sign, a space that a motorcycle was occupying. All of the notes ripped into the driver, making assumptions about his intelligence and lambasting him for parking legally in one space for too long. Maybe the driver was being somewhat rude, but those residents have to realize that parking along
It upsets me to see DC residents making life more difficult for other residents and businesses when it is not necessary. I really hope that reasonable folks can reclaim a productive and calm tone for ANC meetings and other neighborhood disputes.