Friday, September 28, 2007

Doings This Weekend

This must be the DC outdoor festival weekend. If you don't have plans, here are some ideas:

Saint Sophia's Greek festival begins today and runs through the weekend. Be sure to have some loukomades, fresh fried doughnut holes covered in honey syrup.

The Washingtion National Cathedral, across Garfield Street from Saint Sophia's is celebrating its 100 year anniversary with a festival on Saturday.

The Washington City Paper has its Crafty Bastards! arts and crafts fair in Adams Morgan on Sunday.

There's always the Dance DC festival all weekend.

If you enjoy a good Oktoberfest, and who doesn't, Barracks Row has one going on this Saturday.

On Saturday you can also enjoy a free walking tour or two of various neighborhoods.

Good eatin', Veranda update, and the best pizza on U St.

We happened to be going by the location of the new Veranda Restaurant on P St. the other day, and are pleased to report that the place looks to be coming along quiet swimmingly. The interior appears to be getting very close to completion, and the bar looks great! They also have their tables and chairs set up, and the computer(s) have been installed. Whatever issues they had with the patio appear to have been resolved, as the concrete has been poured and it looks like it's primed for the installation of furniture. Still no opening date listed on the website, but I have to believe that it's going to be coming up rather shortly. It's a shame they couldn't get operating in time for summer, but better late than never.

At any rate, it looks like it's going to be a great establishment. We'll keep you posted as we find out more.

While we're on the topic of food and all that is good about it, I strongly urge everyone--if they have not already done so--to make a beeline for Coppi's Organic, on the 1400 block of U St. They've been a U St. staple for years, but for some reason we only recently discovered them. They serve, IMHO, some of the best wood fired pizza you're going to find anywhere. We've tried both the Bianca Sette Colli as well as the Merguez, and both have been phenomenal. The bar is much fun as well. It's not the cheapest place around (nor is it overpriced), but it's great for an occasional night out, and presents a far better pizza option than Manny & Olga's or the Jumbo Slice.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

CDC and ANC News

Last night's CDC meeting was a bit of a snoozer. Aside from two homeowners requesting the ANC's blessing for a carport on their property, there wasn't too much going on. In fact, Mr. 14th & You and I were the only other members of the audience.

The most interesting information came in a conversation with Mike Bernardo after the meeting. We discovered that the McCormick Paints lot on the corner of P and 15th Streets will become . . . condos. Yes, more condos for the 1400 block of P. The plans are not, however, a sure bet; a recent zoning change has hampered the original design.

We also learned the reason why the condo building construction at the opposite corner of P Street has been moving at a snail's pace. A discovery of a well under the property created some issues that halted construction for about a year.

In other less interesting news, Mike Bernardo is now heading the CDC. Though Dyer remains on the ANC, he has resigned his position heading up the CDC. Also Commissioner Reed has recommended petitioning the Council to allow ANC input into upcoming city-wide zoning changes. Though the changes are not anticipated to substantially affect commercial or residential zoning, Reed would like to have CDC committee involved in the review.

The agenda for the ANC 2F meeting next week was released today. It is as follows:

- ANC 2F05 Commissioner Election
- ANC 2F Crime and Public Safety Committee Report
- A monthly report from Executive Office of the Mayor
- DDOT's monthly Report
- A Voluntary Agreement Modification for Stoney's, 1433 P Street, NW
- A Voluntary Agreement Modification for Mar de Plata, 1410 14th
Street, NW (10-seat sidewalk café)
- A Voluntary Agreement Modification for Logan Tavern, 1423 P Street,
NW (add 46 seats inside and 14-16 outside to café)
- A Substantial Change in Liquor License for El Sauce Restaurant, 1227
11th (from DR to CR license)
- Hot Spot No Loitering Zone Amendment Act, 2007 Bill #17-111
- Trash Collection at 1107 11th Street, NW

We're happy to see that the Stoney's issue will finally be resolved.

Random note: Have you noticed the large ads for Universal Gear on the east side of the 1500 block of 14th Street? Anyone know if this is an additional location or a wholesale move of the store on 17th Street? I guess it's good that we're getting some non furniture retail between P and U.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More to Celebrate at the Source Festival

By May, the Source theater at 1835 14th Street is scheduled to complete a $1 million renovation. Arts organizations that will call the new Source home are Constellation, Catalyst Theater company, Washington Improv Theater, In Series, and the DC arts and Humanities Education Collaborative. These organizations will offer diversity of performances including comedy, opera, chamber music, cabaret, and experimental theater. Those of you who have come to enjoy the month-long Washington Theatre Festival will be happy to know that it will be reincarnated as the Source Festival next year.

It is fantastic how this stretch of 14th Street is changing. In the past four years that I have lived here, many businesses have opened, and the whole atmosphere of the block has brightened. I imagine that the theater renovations will improve the looks of the area and draw more people to the neighborhood for performing arts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Letter to ABRA

As a result of some comments received in an earlier thread, this morning I drafted and sent an email to Mr. Fred Moosally, general counsel at ABRA and the point of contact for the Queen of Sheba's liquor license application urging the Board to render a decision as quickly as possible (rather than the two month time frame they are operating under). I do not know if there is a precedent for ABRA expediting decisions in matters such as these, but I'm operating under the "it-can't-hurt-to-try" mentality.

For those of you who wish to contact Mr. Moosally and make your views on this matter known, his contact information is as follows:

Fred Moosally, General Counsel
(202) 442-4423
License No. 73644, Case No. 61017-07/043P

I've copied the text of my letter below. Here's hoping common sense prevails and a decision in favor of the Queen is rendered sooner rather than later.

Mr. Moosally,

I'm writing to you regarding the pending liquor license application for the Queen of Sheba restaurant (#73644), the protest hearing for which was conducted on September 20, 2007.

It is my understanding that the hearing ended with the pronouncement that no further protests would be heard, and a decision rendered on the application within two months time. I would urge the Board to reconsider this time frame and expedite a decision on behalf of the restaurant.

Mr. Misgina, owner of the Queen of Sheba restaurant, has endured an overly lengthy process as well as a slew of protests to his application based on tenuous assumptions, ignorance and fear-mongering from a small (and non-representative) collection of protesters. The protests were unwarranted and frivolous, at best, and the fact that they were allowed to continue in spite of insufficient numbers present at hearings, unwarranted requests for continuances and repeated assertions lacking any basis in fact is preposterous in its own right. That the ABRA board would then further delay a decision on this application for two more months--when a decision in favor of Mr. Misgina's restaurant seems the only rightful course of action--is patently absurd.

I'm quite certain I do not need to remind you of the importance of an establishment such as the Queen of Sheba holding a liquor license. That Mr. Misgina has proceeded to operate his restaurant throughout this entire application process is a testament to his desire to succeed in a neighborhood that so desperately needs businesses such as his. This process has already been frustratingly lengthy, thus I urge the Board to do everything in its power to expedite a decision on this matter and render a decision in favor of the Queen of Sheba as quickly as possible.

Sincerely yours,

14th and You

Monday, September 24, 2007

Compromise is Preferable to Conflict

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 Cathedral Heights reluctantly supports the conversion of the Zebra Lounge to a wine bar under new ownership. One concern was that the wine bar would have 32 outdoor seats. Across Macomb Street, Cactus Cantina patrons such as myself swill margaritas on a large outdoor patio. That a classy wine-based operation replacing an existing bar garnered only reluctant support surprised me. Aside from a brief period when Brother’s Coffee first opened at this location, an alcohol serving establishment with the same square footage has been located at the site of the Zebra Lounge since the 60s.

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 EMS access to a property they don’t own — an issue considered by the Zoning Board anyway. These residents were also bothered by the planned removal of a tree that had to be removed anyway. Another issue of protest was that Helix may be inappropriately using public space by providing two parking spaces in its driveway. ANC Commissioner Chris Dyer had to point out that those parking spaces were completely irrelevant to the present discussion and no reason to “hold hostage” the current expansion plans.

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 Connecticut will always be tight. A house guest or a new car owner could just have easily occupied one more space in the neighborhood. The residents were also equally rude in covering this car in nasty-grams, not a productive way of dealing with a conflict.

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.

News Flash: Convention Center area needs more development

It seems like something from the Dept. of the Obvious, but an article in today's Washington Post presents clearly the argument for an increase and focus on development around the Washington Convention Center. I wonder if Jack Evans, Adrian Fenty and the rest of District leadership are paying attention.

The article quotes various conventioneers remarking on the contrasts between the area sorrounding the convention centers in other major cities versus D.C. Not surprisingly, the article finds that the lack of a major hotel hurts the ability to lure large conventions, but that "a headquarters hotel is only part of the equation in turning the District into a destination for large conventions."

Now, perhaps there is a larger point I am missing here, but why is this case still being made years after the convention center has opened? Shouldn't we be past this point by now? If the impetus behind moving the convention center to Shaw wasn't to spur development in an under-utlized and under-developed area, what on earth was the purpose?

The piece points out what many area residents have been saying for years:

"If you go and see a beautiful city with a lot of cool things to do, a lot of times you will want to come back during a more leisurely visit when you don't have a lot of work," David White, 35, a delegate from Charleston, S.C., said last week. "D.C., it's a great town with a lot to offer, but I don't know if the convention center promotes that as well as it could."

To be fair, this article does come on the heels of the recent announcement that the long-proposed and nearly dead headquarters hotel was back online. And with plans for the redevelopment of the O St. Market and Kelsey Gardens the area sorrounding the convention center is showing signs of turning around. Let's hope it continues. But the failure of the city to effectively promote and facilitate development in the area (including Jack Evans' frustrating comments about the near-demise of the convention center hotel) and to effectively deal with the Shiloh properties situation is beyond aggravating. This article could have been written four years ago, and without a significant focus on the part of the District government in encouraging development near the convention center, it could easily be written again.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Metro NextBus to Go Offline

The Post Metro section ran a story on Metro NextBus technology today. I have never used this service, but I can understand how much it helps daily bus commuters to have arrival time information available by mobile phone. Unfortunately this system has been accurate only 80 percent of the time, which, for regular riders on the pilot routes, amounts to not having reliable information for one to two days per month. The good news is that after a software upgrade scheduled to take 18 months to complete the system will be back. For now you can use NextBus until the end of October.

P.S. I really dislike made up compound words for the sake of branding. NextBus, ReadyMop, and GlaxosmithKline are a few that come to mind. Grrr.

Queen of Sheba Gets a Decision...No, Wait...

The longer this drags on, the more ridiculous the District's alcohol licensing process looks. As many of you may (or may not) know, the Queen of Sheba restaurant had their ABRA hearing yesterday, which apparently went on and on and on and on. Campbell Johnson and Mary Sutherland and their henchmen, er, fellow protestants were there. 5th and Oh graciously showed up to support the Queen (thanks!), but aside from him and Alex Padro (who, apparently, also gave very supportive and positive testimony) it was simply the Mr. Misgina and his lawyers versus the muckrakers.

Fine, whatever. This decision should be a no-brainer anyway, because the issues the protestants are hanging their hats on are so absurd that you'd think the hearing would have been over before it began. Not so. The hearing went on until almost 5 PM, at which point ABRA declared the hearing over and notified all parties that a decision would be two months. Which is patently ridiculous. Two months may seem to be a reasonable time frame for the ABRA folks, but it's two more months of the Queen hemmoraghing money due to their lack of a liquor license. It really gives one pause to think why *any* restaurant owner would want to come into a neighborhood such as Shaw and deal with the grief that has been flung towards Mr. Misgina et al.

Personally, I support continuing the eat-ins to support the Queen until this issue is finally, and mercifully, put to bed. If the various Shaw bloggers could propose a recurring weekly/bi-weekly time to go, I'm sure we could get people to clear their schedules, go enjoy a wonderful meal, and show Mr. Misgina and everyone at the Queen how much the neighborhood *truly* supports him.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yes! Organic Market Coming to U St. Corridor

Thanks to Prince of Petworth and Columbia Heights News for alerting us to this. Apparently, the folks at Yes! Organic Market plan to open up a new shop in the Union Row development at 14th and V St. This is very good news, and is further evidence of how far along the U St./14th St area has come (as if further evidence is needed). I'll spare you the regurgitation of the press release, which can be found on both blogs I posted above. However, I did have a couple of thoughts on this that I haven't seen brought up yet.

First, I wonder whether or not this will affect the decision being made by Ellwood Thompson's as to whether or not to open up a store further up 14th St. in Columbia Heights. With the Whole Foods on P St., and Yes! at 14th and V, I wonder if there will be sufficient demand for yet another organically-based market in the neighborhood. As I mentioned, it's great that the U St. corridor is coming along to the point where businesses such as Yes! can open up, but I can't help but wonder about the potential cannibalizing effect this may have on a neighborhood like Columbia Heights.

My other thought is how great it is to see a locally based retailer such as Yes! assuming such a high profile space in a major development in D.C., but I wonder what effect--if any--a project like this will have on the neighborhood. I noticed that the press release stated that one of the retail spaces will become a "major national retailer", which I suppose is somewhat inevitable. But it's nice that another major space was filled by a local retailer who should have the ability to attract customers from all backgrounds--something of vital importance to the U St. area (and one of its charms).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ANC 2F CDC Meeting Agenda

As circulated by Mr. Mike Bernardo, below is the agenda for next Wednesday's CDC meeting. A bit of a letdown from last month's meeting, when three major projects were discussed. Oh well...guess not every CDC meeting can be an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 7:00 PM
The Washington Plaza Hotel# 10 Thomas Circle, NW

*Meeting Agenda*
- Approval of Agenda

- BZA Variance, 1515 Vermont Avenue, NW
- HPRB and BZA Variance, 1454 P Street, NW

Why I'm Married to My Car

Last weekend we had occassion to go to Rhino Bar & Pumphouse on M Street in the middle of Saturday afternoon. (Buckeye football is very important in our household, and the local OSU alumni association holds game watches at Rhino.) Facing a $28 round trip cab fare and tip (three people, two zones) we elected to take the Metro bus. Mistake.

We jumped on at 14th and P right on time. Then we sat and sat some more. Apparently it was time for a driver shift change, and the new driver could not be bothered to show up on time. Once he did arrive, he spent a good five minutes chatting with the driver going off duty. During this time passengers in the back of the bus heckled him. Loudly. Our fellow passengers then requested every stop between 14th Street and Dupont Circle; no passengers disembarked during our wait in order to walk the one to five blocks to their destinations. Our average speed for the first half of the trip was two miles an hour, and the total duration of our 17 block ride was a half hour.

Now, Mr. 14th and You is a better citizen than I. He will not contribute to pollution and congestion by driving when it's not strictly necessary. He also happens to hate driving in the city. I, on the other hand, love my car. Driving a five speed with the sun roof open makes me happy. I have my limits; tight parking in certain neighborhoods and rush hour traffic quickly diminish my happy driving experience. However, both my husband and I agree that we would have been far better off parking on Wisconsin north of R Street on Saturday than taking the bus. We came to a similar conclusion when a southbound 14th Street bus between R Street and McPherson Square took over twenty minutes to get us to our destination.

Granted we could have opted for the Dupont to Georgetown mini bus on Saturday. But is it too much to ask that something be done to improve Metro bus travel in the city? Do we have to have stops on every block? Could we add a certain number of express buses with fewer stops on their routes?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Breakwell's Hit by Fire

Since I'd seen a few comments on the various blogs about this, I thought I'd make a quick post to update everyone as to the status of Breakwell's Coffee on 9th St. As you may (or may not) know, there was a fire at Breakwell's early on Sunday morning that at first looked to be quite extensive. However, it turns out that the fire was contained strictly to the outside of the building. According to Russell, the owner, the interior was essentially unscathed. I didn't get a chance to stop by there this morning, but from what I heard yesterday he hoped to have the place reopened as soon as he was able to get the electricity turned back on.

There have also been rumors that the fire was arson-related, due to the spate of fires that seemed to erupt in Shaw over the weekend. Near as I can tell, the Breakwell's fire appears to be electrical in nature, not arson. (Edit: Not true; apparently the fire was sparked by children playing with fireworks that ignited a Pepco fuse box.) At any rate, it's good to know that the fire didn't do any significant damage (although the exterior sure didn't look that great) and that Russell will have the place back open soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Black Cat Crosses Dee Hunter's Path

I’m picking up where I left off a couple of weeks ago with the Black Cat story . . . After talking to Dee Hunter and Dante Ferrando, I was interested in how differently they each interpreted recent events. Below I’ve written a comparison of their statements. I must admit that I did not ask the gentlemen to address each other’s comments. Read on and see what you think , . .

The Deck
Ferrando expresses that he may or may not build the deck; the potential costs of the project may limit its profitability, and Ferrando might not be permitted by DC to build the structure. Ferrando shares that he is not thrilled about having smokers standing outside of the club because of security issues and possible complaints from neighbors. The deck would be one way for him to provide a smoking space while mitigating the current liabilities of the outdoor smoking space.

Hunter says that he represents residents who take issue with the traffic, noise, and rowdy patrons brought to the area by Black Cat. He also states that there have been “numerous complaints about the current operation.” These factors are what have encouraged him to lead the protest against the deck, which he says will accommodate 450 people and amount to a one third expansion of the club.

The major neighborhood protestant is ANC 1B. According to Hunter, once they knew of Black Cat’s plans, “ANC 1B quickly reacted and came out against the proposal.” Hunter also says that he met with about 50 residents of the area about the issue.

Two ANCs, 2F and 2C, have, at the urging of the 1B Commission, written letters in opposition to the modification. Hunter tells me that a P Street group opposed to the modification had circulated a petition and collected 100 signatures from project opponents. However, they were not able to register on time as protestants. As mentioned before, Commissioner Phil Spalding did not support the protest. Dee Hunter considers Spalding’s support of Black Cat “amazing because his constituents are opposed.”

Ferrando seemed disappointed that ANC 2F would unanimously vote to support the protest without having seen the plans for the deck. Ferrando is somewhat limited in what he can say about the protest because he has not been provided a witness list from the ABC Board though the protestants’ presentations are set to begin on September 19th.

When a liquor license is protested, ABRA asks that the parties involved engage in mediation. What is clear from both Ferrando and Hunter is that the mediation between Black Cat and ANC 1B was not particularly fruitful. Both do, however, agree that the protestants from the ANC would drop their protest if Black Cat would not serve alcohol or have music on the deck. The way Ferrando sees it, “the opposition didn’t really have any interest in a voluntary agreement. There were some mediated discussions. It wasn’t in the realm of compromise.”

Ferrando was sure to say that most people in the neighborhood “have been pretty reasonable.” He says that he has met with residents to discuss his plans and that he’s redesigned the deck many times to accommodate their input. Contrary to Hunter’s statement, Ferrando says that the club has no formal complaints against it right now. As a good neighbor and a good businessman, Ferrando would like to keep it that way. He says of his possible plans for the deck, “it’s a pretty thoroughly researched project . . . . there is no motivation for me to do it and do it poorly.”

To accommodate concerns about noise and sightlines, Ferrando would partially enclose the space. He must, however, leave the area somewhat open in order to comply with the provisions of the DC smoking ban. (Other establishments have had partially enclosed spaces sited as being in violation of the ban.) Currently planned noise-dampening provisions include eight foot high soundproof walls. Music in this space would be limited to what Ferrando called “background music,” and sound tests indicated that the music would not be audible in all portions of the deck area. As for his motivation to have a bar on the roof deck, it seems to be a business decision; building the deck requires an investment in architectural plans, permitting, and construction, and selling alcohol helps pay those costs.

Continuing Conflict
Based on Hunter’s statements, he either does not know about the details of the deck plans or does not believe Ferrando’s description to be truthful. Hunter says that Ferrando “has no plans [and] does nothing for the community” Hunter was critical of the way that Ferrando has handled the ABC Board hearings by attending without a lawyer and by “tying up” the time of the protestants. Hunter also insisted that Ferrando has “incurred no expense in this matter.”

In contrast Ferrando states that it “costs a lot of money to fight a hearing.” He also says the liquor license modification process has been ongoing for over a year and may take another six to 12 months to resolve. Interestingly, his opponents question whether the deck is really planned as a smoking space and they use as evidence the fact that the smoking ban has already been in place for eight months. However, it seems possible that Ferrando began considering the deck well before the ban’s effective date.

In Summary . . .
Ferrando, though he has the support of his ANC Comissioner and some neighborhood residents, may not win approval to serve alcohol on a rooftop deck. He feels that the “ABC tries to force you into a settlement,” and he sounds unlikely to want to revisit negotiations with ANC 1B. He also says that when a credible protest is filed that “even if you are completely convinced that you’re going to win,” that the outcome of the hearings is uncertain. Yet, Ferrando expresses a desire to be a good corporate citizen. He agrees that it is reasonable for neighborhood groups to ask businesses for their cooperation on such matters as keeping their property clean and preventing noise from being heard outside. He just wishes they would choose to enforce adherence the goals rather than prescribe the means for achieving those goals.

Hunter expresses strong doubts that the license modification will be granted. He stated “it would amaze me if the Board would grant permission with so much opposition from the neighborhood.” And for his part, Hunter appears to be doing the best he can to represent that opposition and to seek others who may be opposed.

Stuff You Oughta Know About

In the past week, there have been quite a few news items that impact our neighborhood. Unfortunately, I’ve been a little slow to aggregate and post them all. Below is a summary of some stories you might want to read for yourselves.

Embassy Tour This Weekend
This coming Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. you may take a self-guided tour of some of the embassies and ambassadors’ residences in Kalorama. This event, the 23rd Annual Kalorama House and Embassy Tour, is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson House. If you would like to participate, tickets are available for $25 in advance. Visit link above or call 202-387-4062 x18 for information.

Convention Center Hotel
The planned 1,400 room convention center hotel at 9th and Mass. may ever materialize. Though the developer RLJ states that they are still interested in the project if further investigation reveals it to be “economically viable,” Council member Jack Evans has already declared the hotel DOA. Steven Pearlstein also seems happy to ring the death knell. However, others such as OffSeventh are voicing their extreme displeasure at the near collapse of the hotel plans.

The September 5th issue of the Dupont Current ran an article about DC’s streetcar plans. Unfortunately, the Current does not make articles available online. The gist is that the Sierra Club has written to Mayor Fenty to express their disappointment at the pace of the streetcar line construction. They characterize the DDOT schedule, which calls for construction in Anacostia to begin next year, as “too little, too late.” (H Street construction is to begin once the Anacostia test case is complete.)

The Sierra Club supported a 2004 proposal calling for 40 to 50 miles of streetcar lines. However, they were disappointed by a 2005 document which they believe sets a much longer timeline for the project. DDOT has a fairly sound response; they say that they have spent the past three years conducting environmental studies, obtaining federal funding, and soliciting construction bids. DDOT also says that streetcars are one of their top priorities right now. Though I do understand the government processes and I do not think that the current timeline is unreasonable, I am hopeful that the Sierra Club’s pressure can help nudge the streetcar construction along a little faster.

No Decision on Cab Meters
The taxicab commission voted yesterday to . . . punt the meter vs. zone issue to Mayor Fenty. Fenty must now act before the October 17 deadline for responding to U.S. Senator Carl Levin’s demand to create an official meter policy. Council Member Jim Graham, in typical style, has pledged his involvement by convening his own task force to review taxi regulations. The Post covers the story here.

Leroy Thorpe
In a September 5th article, reporter Erik Wemple of the CityPaper enlightened Washington Post reporter Omar Fekeiki and editor Carol Morello on Leroy Thorpe. The Post had reported in glowing terms about Thorpe’s Muslim crime fighting group while neglecting to learn about all he has done to divide/harm/antagonize his neighborhood. The Post also skipped a key statistic: the number of violent crimes in the patrolled area over the past two months is equal to the number reported for the same period last year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Eat-In" at the Queen of Sheba

This has been going around the Shaw blogs for the past couple of days, so I thought I'd post here too, just in case anyone missed it. If you don't have dinner plans this evening, I'd strongly urge you to head out to the Queen of Sheba and show your support for the restaurant, which has been dealing with a ridiculously lengthy petition for the approval of their liquor license. The text below is copied from Kevin Chapple's ANC2CO2 blog. My wife and I are planning to go, so hopefully we'll see you there!

Eat-In at Queen of Sheba: Beer and Wine available too!
7:30pm, Tuesday, September 11
Queen of Sheba 1503 9th Street NW (at the corner of P, across from Shiloh)
September 8-12, Ethiopian Millenium and New Year

The Queen of Sheba has secured a series of special one day ABC event licences to celebrate the Ethiopian Millenium and New Year.

The Queen of Sheba restaurant has for months now been trying to get a liquor license so that their patrons can simply enjoy a drink with their meal. Even with the liquor license still pending, the Queen of Sheba has pioneered the revitalization of 9th Street amidst an over-abundance of vacant properties, and enhanced the appearance of the areas adjacent to them. In addition to their delicious Ethiopian cuisine, they have Italian and American food, and great made-to-order fruit smoothies.

Some people, many of whom do not even live in the neighborhood, seem determined to deprive our neighborhood of such amenities by keeping the Queen of Sheba from getting a liquor license. They have been dragging out the ABC Board process for months on end. All the while, the Queen of Sheba is having to continue to pay attorney fees, and are losing revenue through not having a liquor license. Sit down restaurants depend on drink sales to survive. A restaurant without a liquor license does not have much of a business.

Let's get together and show support for the Queen of Sheba, and protest the intolerable delays to the Queen of Sheba's liquor license by having an "eat-in" at the Queen of Sheba on Tuesday, September 11, at 7:30PM. All you have to do is to show up at the appointed time and have a meal with your neighbors. And, you will even be able to have a beer or glass of wine with your meal.

You can also still send letters of support or even better, show up for the next hearing. The next hearing, which should really be the final hearing, is on Thursday September 20 at 10:00AM.

UPDATE: Letters of support can be emailed to ABC board General Counsel Mr. Fred Moosally, - include "Queen Of Sheba" in the subject line.

100% Mexico - What will it be?

Many of you familiar with the 14th St. corridor no doubt know about the vacant storefront on the 1600 block that was formerly the "100% Mexico" store. The store vacated the premises over the winter/early spring, and soon thereafter a notice of a liquor license application was posted inside the door.

That was in March. Since then, nada. So, does anyone have any info on this? Any idea on what the space might become? If I recall correctly, the petitioner was an LLC of some kind, but beyond that I don't have any other info. My apologies for not providing a snapshot or something, I neglected to bring my camera with me this morning.

Inquiring minds want to know...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ANC 2F Meeting Tonight

Hi all. I won't be able to make it to the ANC meeting this evening. If anyone wants to take notes and fill us in, please feel free; just email info. to 14th and you {at} gee As always, the meeting is at 7 p.m. in the Washington Plaza Hotel off of Thomas Circle. If no one wants to be class secretary, I understand that too.

I also want to thank all who have visited and commented so far, particularly la petite princess, poo poo, and imgoph. Thanks also to PQ Living and Fifth and Oh for linking to us here. Of course, referrals to this blog are always welcome.

By the way, more is to come on the Black Cat issue.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Claws Out

I heard about Black Cat’s deck plans while attending my ANC's (2F) monthly meeting. Dee Hunter, chairman of ANC 1B, came to make a last-minute presentation to 2F. Hunter’s ANC has filed as a protestant to Black Cat’s request for an ABC license modification (necessary when an alcohol-serving establishment changes its operations in almost any way). Though the deadline for filing protests had passed, Hunter asked that 2F file a letter in support of 1B’s protest.

Hunter’s presentation was not on the agenda, and only the 2F commissioners could have known about it in advance. According to Ferrando, he was not made aware of the presentation or invited to attend. Ultimately, the 2F commissioners voted unanimously to support 1B’s protest. I understand from Hunter that ANC 2C has also agreed to submit a letter in support of the protest.

Hunter stated that one of his reasons for coming before our ANC to enlist support is that the Frontiers condo association president (and a resident of our ANC) is concerned that the sight lines from the deck would be directly into the homes of Frontiers residents. Stand on the east side of 14th Street and judge for yourself. No representative of the condo association was present at the meeting.

Hunter also spoke out against Ferrando generally. He voiced doubt that the deck was really being built to facilitate outdoor smoking and complained that Ferrando had tied up the ABRA hearings with extensive testimony. Hunter also accused Ferrando of representing a bouncer as a sound engineer during the hearings. Commissioner Dyer jumped in the fray stating dismissively that Ferrando “is basically looking to expand his club.” Dyer also voiced concern that clinking glasses and intoxicated people create lots of noise.

The one ANC commissioner who has voiced dissent – although not at Hunter’s presentation to ANC 2F – is Phil Spaulding. Spaulding represents the single member district where Black Cat is located, and Ferrando shared that Spaulding had been very supportive of the club.