Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Neighborhood Update

It has been a bad week for news about Northwest. A fight at 14th and U Streets between three boys and another group of young men may have lead to a subsequent shooting of the boys at a bus stop. Then there was the awful fire in a condo building in Adams Morgan. The Washington Post reported that firefighters ran 3000 feet of fire hose to one distant hydrant and 4000 feet to another hydrant in order to achieve suficient water pressure to battle the blaze. An antiquated narrow water main was the source of the hydrant problem. In city-wide news, Council member Carol Schwartz is investigating large bonuses that former mayor Anthony Williams paid out to appointees before he left office.

To be fair, there has also been some encouraging news about our city recently: Marc Fisher reports that our population is not as transient as we like to think; the destructive fire in Adams Morgan has focused Fenty's attention on long neglected infrastructure improvements; the murders over the weekend are compelling police to increase foot patrols; and Allen Yew in his first day on the job axed contractors who have botched school improvements.

There are a lot of signs that the quality of life in DC is improving; our population is rising, the murder rate has dramatically decreased since its late 1980's/early 1990's high, and our city officials are far more credible and hard working than they used to be. I feel also that there is a culture of activism and involvement in many neighborhoods such as ours. Yet the negative aspects are still obvious. Some things that I have been concerned about lately include continued prostitution in Logan Circle, vacant properties, Metro's funding problems, and insufficient mental health and substance abuse assistance for lower income residents.

I flip-flop all the time on whether I think that staying in the city is worthwhile. I have a strong loyalty to DC and I really have enjoyed the past four years living in Logan Circle. The cultural opportunities can not be beat either. Sometimes I get really overwhelmed by the bad news though. I particularly dislike hearing about the holes in public safety from continued violent crime to firefighting issues and slow EMS response times. I wonder if it's possible that I could have a better quality of life in the 'burbs (and less expensive/larger housing ), but still enjoy some of the arts, entertainment, and dining in the city.

The local blogging community and commenters on this blog seem to have a fairly positive view of DC. I also see folks moving into Anacostia and H Street as a sign of strong optimism. I would be interested to see your thoughts on the tension between the good and the bad aspects of life here. Do you ever wonder if it's worthwhile to continue living where you do? Do you think that your involvement in neighborhood events has an effect positive or negative on how you view DC? Send some comments our way and let us know what you think.

By the way, don't forget than the ANC 2F meeting is tomorrow evening. You can see the agenda on the Logan listserv or in our blog post from last week.


Mr. 14th & You said...

Living in an urban environment, there's always going to be a weighing of "good", "tolerable" and "intolerable". I think each one of us, individually, has a certain threshhold that we've established with regards to tolerating negative activities and environments. We've each had our cars broken into, family members have been mugged, and there was an attempted carjacking. Yet we're still here, and I like to think that it's because we *do* see things improving and believe they will continue to do so. It's unfortunate that things such as crime, corruption, homelessness etc. plague our urban environments, but I think most people are willing to tolerate them to a certain extent and chalk it up to the trappings of city living. Many people are working to actively combat the negative aspects and are seeking to actively improve their neighborhoods--and that makes dealing with the unattractive side of city life that much more tolerable.

I'll also add that, in 20-some years of living in the 'burbs, I experienced far more crime than I have living in the city. People are going to do crummy things wherever you go.

Tim said...

doesn't every city have the sorts of problems you listed here in the post? Seattle, Chicago, Memphis, San Antonio, Anchorage or where ever; they all have their unique problems. Cities are crowded, old and diverse. There are poverty and wealth, pedestrians and cars, and pretty parks an ugly crime. I can't say this city has it any worse than any other city when it comes to urban environment.

That being said, we all have our comfort level with all aspects of our home environment. More and more people seem to be saying 'yes' to DC and I really hope that those who were here during the troubled era still want to stay.

Mr. 14th & You said...

True, you encounter issues like homelessness, property crime, etc. everywhere. That's pretty much a de facto component of city living.

The violent crime in D.C., however, is worse than in other comparable cities. It has undoubtedly improved over the last 10-15 years or so, but it remains unfortunately high. Like you, I see a lot more people deciding that the benefits of living in DC outweigh the negatives, and that's wonderful. But it will be a constant struggle for the city to properly handle the types of things we've mentioned if the inner core of DC is to continue its growth and remain a viable urban environment.

LaLa said...

As someone who was born and raised in the District, and then spent five years in the big(ger) city of new york, I think it's totally and absolutely worth it to keep living here. The quality of life is different in Logan verses Bethesda; and that quality of life is vibrancy, density, walking to a coffeeshop, a resturaunt, a cute boutique, and the chance to meet people from all walks of life on a daily basis.

I spent a good hour yesterday scaring the pants off myself by looking at WaPo's local explorer crime reports, and to see how many muggings, break-ins, assaults actually happen here. But then I remembered that the only time I was ever attacked was in a private home in Chevy Chase, DC, not at 14th and U, not at 9th and T, not at 11th and Kenyon.

I love cities; I love this city, and I'm glad to be here for it's amazing renaissance.

LaLa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I moved to DC in 1976 and have been living at 14th and U since 1988. The city has changed so much and so much for the good in all these years. It is so much more urban than it was, it is so much more interesting to walk around. I don't like the high crime, either, but it is better than it was during the crack wars and the city has a good vibe. I spend time now in Bloomingdale and Shaw as well as U Street and I meet so many interesting people. People who are working to improve their neighborhoods and the schools. As you know, Getting involved in the neighborhod(s) makes a huge difference.

It is definitely worth staying in DC.

bogfrog said...

Another good point about staying in DC: no matter what, it is less stressful than NYC boroughs. Things are closer together in DC and it's easier to move around. Life in NY still seems hard, tiring, with endless pushing, shoving and schlepping. DC is more like living in Manhattan.