Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PSA for Those with Fur Children

It may be a little late for this message but I'll put it out there anyway:

I saw a few small dogs on 17th Street last night that looked totally freaked out. (Great race, by the way.) One shaky little guy nearly got stepped on a few times and then, while circling nervously around, wrapped his leash around my ankles. I adore almost all mammals and it kills me to see dogs in crowds shaking, whining, or getting the dribbly poos.

Seriously, think about the things that might make some people anxious -- loud unexplained noises, feeling confined/constricted, or physical discomfort; these things will also make your dog anxious, and he doesn't have the cognitive ability to reason himself out of panic. If you feel really confident and want to take your dog out tonight for a party or to greet the tricker treaters, please be a good parent and tune into signs of distress.

I'll get off my pulpit now . . .

Humane Society Article on Pets and Halloween

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

O Street Market Update

At the end of my Friday post I mentioned that the O Street Market plans may have hit a hitch. Thanks to Kevin Chapple's ANC2CO2 Forum for reporting on the zoning board meeting for this project. The board's major hang-up seems to be that the current O Street Market plans call for structures as high as 110 ft. and a higher building density than the surrounding area. Despite Fenty's support for Roadside Development's construction plans, the zoning board is requiring that the developer either re-draft its plans or come up with further justification for a height variance. Apparently there is concern that the planned redevelopment would be out of character for the neighborhood. Hmmm, out of character for a neighborhood that already has the convention center? Anyway, the ANC2CO2 Forum post and comments do a much better job than I could outlining the issues. Seems like the DC gov't. is once again out of line with what many residents and ANC commissioners want for their neighborhoods.

Drag is a Beautiful Thing

The annual high heel race down 17th Street is tonight. Somehow I have managed to miss this DC event in all four years that I have lived in Logan, but this year I'm going to be there.

The race itself runs between Church and R Streets at 9 p.m. However, the scene starts well before then around 7 o'clock. Some suggest getting down to 17th Street around 6 in order to get a patio table from which to watch the festivities.

[Photo taken from 2003 race photos at]

Pre-Gentrification Local History

I was walking along U Street during Howard homecoming when I overheard an interesting conversation. A Howard alumnus who appeared to be well under 30 commented to his friend that gentrification had overtaken U Street since his student days. So without digging into current gentrification debates about race and income, I became curious about the history of the neighborhood. I found that there was a lot about 14th and U that contributed to its current state, much of it I didn’t know about previously. What follows is a little lengthy but worth knowing if you live here.

I'll follow up not long from now with more recent events; there was just too much material for one post.

How U Street became a center for the black community
The history of African Americans in the neighborhood dates back to the Civil War when war refugees flowed into military encampments north of DC. Immediately after the war Howard University was founded in 1866 and helped to draw the black community’s intellectuals and artists to the neighborhood. In fact, until the 1920s, the 14th and U Street area it was the largest black community in America.

A lot of the residences in Logan/U Street were built during the Civil War and post-war population boom. In fact, the 1400 block of S Street, the 1400 block of Swann Street, the 1200 block of T Street, and the 1800 block of 12th Street all have homes dating back to this era. Driving at least part of the late 19th century boom was the installation of a major horse-drawn cross-town streetcar line on U Street.

As early as 1948, professional African American families began to leave the U Street corridor. The oft-mentioned “white flight” started around 1950, and the 1980 census showed the lowest reported number of white residents. Though the number of black residents to leave the city was fewer than white residents, the black population still fell by 88,000 between the 1950 and 1980 census. During the same period the city’s overall population fell by almost 164,000 and continued to decline another 66,000 between 1980 and 2000. By basic rule of supply and demand, housing prices sunk as people left the city.

Of course, we all know of the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Stokely Carmichael, a black activist, led crowds gathering at 14th and U to demand that local businesses close out of respect for King. Before long the mood of the crowd turned violent and looting had broken out. The following day, Carmichael addressed a rally at Howard after which rioting spread to 7th Street NW and H Street NE. An article in the Howard Hilltop states $24 million of damages were sustained in the five days of rioting, and a Wikipedia article estimates that the damages totaled $27 million is 1968 dollars.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Metro Floats Proposal to Increase Fares

This morning the Post reported that Metro is considering a significant fare increase. On a positive note, no decision will be made until December after the Metro board holds public hearings. After all is said and done, I think that it's unlikely that rates will increase as much as proposed. Unfortunately, if the proposal does pass, it will only cover $89 million of the current $109 million budget shortfall leaving us with some continuing safety and service issues as well as higher fares.

Rush hour train
Current rate: $1.35 to $3.90
Proposed rate: $1.65 to $4.70

Bus fares
Current rate: $1.25
Proposed rate: $1.25 for SmarTrip users, $1.35 for those paying with cash
It has also been suggested that paper transfers be eliminated. There are plans to distribute free SmartTrip cards to low income residents.

Parking fees
Current rate: $3.75-$4
Proposed rate: $3.90-$4.15
Reserved space: $45/month + daily fees

Post reported that board representatives from the 'burbs tried to keep maximum fares and parking fees low while Council member Jim Graham, the DC rep to the Metro board, was most concerned with keeping bus fares down because of the lower income of DC riders.

I like the idea of increased Metro funding, and I can afford the extra $0.60 a day to get from U Street or Dupont to downtown destinations. Some city residents will also be more than happy to pass the burden of the fare increases on to suburbanites
after all, they use DC's resources without paying taxes. Nevertheless I have two big issues with this proposal.

1) Would it be so bad if all Metrobus users had to pay a $0.10 or more fare increase? If bus riders made a round trip every day the total increased cost would be $6 per month, assuming that no transfers are used. Metro also has in place a number of discounts that help some low income riders; I assume that similar policies would remain in place

* Students who are DC residents pay a reduced fare.
* Children under 4 ride free.
* Seniors and the disabled pay half the regular bus fare when using a special fare cards, senior SmartTrip cards, or a Metro issued ID.
* Some Anacostia routes cost only $0.75.
* Riders in Fairfax County pay $1 for regular buses and $2 for an express bus.

If the fares are truly not affordable for some, could we not implement a discount SmartTrip fare system similar to the one used for seniors?

2) I think that unlike gasoline demand that demand for Metrorail will be more elastic; there are alternatives to training into the city — driving and the express bus chief among them. The express buses currently cost $3 each way, and I haven't read of any proposals to increase the fare. If a suburban rail rider defects to the bus, he would contribute up to $3.40 less per day to Metro. A park and rider could save up to $7.55 per day by taking the Express bus.

Here's the really scary scenario: more people drive into the city. If it costs a park and ride customer $317 a month to have a reserved parking space and pay for his Metro fares, doesn't a monthly parking contract downtown look appealing? If nothing else, the occasional downtown drive with early bird special parking rates may be enticing. Of course lengthy car commute times will continue to encourage some to use public transportation.

Granted, I have no idea if the Metro board has considered the above issues in their discussions. They also may have access to commuter data that I don't have. But I want to be assured that we have some realistic estimates on demand elasticity and revenues before this proposal moves forward.

Am I overly paranoid? What do you think about the fare increase?

I'm working on an entry about the history of U Street and Logan. I hope to post it later today or tomorrow. The thesis that I've developed is that it's not just traditionally defined gentrification that has changed our neighborhood.

There may also be zoning trouble for the proposed O Street market/Giant/hotel mega complex. I'm so bummed. More to come on this soon.

Veranda = Yum

So the Mrs. and I finally had a chance to scope out Veranda last night. Normally, going out on a chilly, drizzly Thursday evening in October to a restaurant that has only been open for two days isn't at the top of our list, but I am happy to report that it was worth itthere were positives all around.

First of all, the space is really well done. We sat at the bar, and they had a couple of tables up front, with more in the back and around the kitchen in the dining area. Kostas the bartender was very friendly, and was more than happy to serve us our Chimay and Allagash. (Chimay, Allagash and Yeungling appeared to be the beers they had on tap, but they seemed to have many more in bottles including pumpkin ale, my personal favorite).

We were initially disappointed because we were told that the first two items we wanted to order, the dolmades and the pita pizza, were unavailable. Drat. However, as we were making up our minds about alternative selections, Paul, the chef, happened to come out and strike up a conversation with us. Lo and behold, it turns out that he had one order of dolmades left, as well as enough ingredients for the pizza. (I guess it pays to talk to the chef, eh?)

Both, it turns out, were fabulous. Mrs. 14th & You who happens to be half Greek and thus a fine judge of the quality of such foods deemed the dolmades to be exemplary. I had to agree. The pita pizza was a nice plate of salty goodness with feta, tomatoes, olives and other spices. Both are definitely recommended. Unfortunately, neither of us were overly hungry, so we stopped there. Actually, that's not entirely accurate as we DID save room for the tiramisu, which was also fabulous.

More than anything though, what I liked most about Veranda was the neighborhood feel it had. From the wonderfully pleasant hostess who welcomed us to the restaurant (I only know her as a friend of Alex, one of the owners, and unfortunately did not get her name), to the friendly people whom we met who live down the street from us and also have a fondness for Lalibela, to the overall coziness of the place, everything seemed about right. It was precisely the kind of atmosphere that can only be generated at a local neighborhood establishment. The food was a little slow in getting out to us, but that is a minor complaint considering that the place has only been "officially" open for two days. In fact, I'd consider the service and quality excellent for an establishment that has only been around for such a short time.

So, long post short, if you haven't yet been able to check it out, try to make your way over to 11th and P sometime this weekend and sample what Veranda has going on. We run the risk of potentially becoming regulars at the place, and it's great to have them around.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Veranda Is Open!

Thanks to for stumbling upon and subsequently alerting us to Veranda's "soft opening" last night. Our plans took us elsewhere, but it's good to know that some people were taking their chances with the limited menu last night (a picture-perfect evening to dine outside, I might add...who says global warming is all bad?). It seems that their "full opening" will be tonight. I don't know yet if we'll be able to make it, but here's hoping.

If you haven't yet been by the place, it looks fantastic. The bar is in a nicely-done classical style, and the outdoor patio will surely be a lively place during the warmer months. As to the menu...I'm salivating just thinking about the braised beef or grilled red snapper entrees. And don't even get me started on the pita pizza or the dolmades. I hope that Veranda takes off there, because it will surely add some life and energy to an otherwise rather un-lively corner.

BTW, their full menu and wine list is now posted on their website, so hop on over and take a look. Better yet, head over to Veranda some evening this week and check out the menu for yourself!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yet Another Streetscape

Seventeenth Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire Avenues will be one of the upcoming streetscape projects with construction scheduled to begin in fall 2008. Those interested in the project should consider attending the public meeting 7 p.m. on October 22 at Foundry Methodist Church.

Shortly after the P Street streetscape is complete, we will soon see the start of the 11th Street reconstruction project (spring 2008), the 17th Street streetscape (fall 2008), and the 14th Street streetscape. The ANC and DDOT assure us that these projects will amount to a little pain now for large gain later. I can't help but notice, however, that we'll have a lot of torn up streets and sidewalks next year.

ANC Meeting Notes

I'm just now getting around to reviewing my notes from the October 3rd ANC 2F meeting. So here they are:

2F-05 Election
The election for 2F-05 commissioner was held during the meeting. Jerome Sikorski won receiving 17 votes to Dustin Cole's 16. Sikorski, a DC resident for over 25 years, has been living at 13th Street and Massachusetts Avenue for four years. He is recently retired after working for 10 years on the Hill, and his volunteer activities include extensive involvement with the Whitman Walker Clinic and serving as an usher at the Washington National Cathedral. Sikorski's main platform issues were combating nighttime crime, particularly prostitution, pedestrian safety in his SMD, and road improvements. He also pledged to bring a level of city services to the neighborhood commensurate with taxes paid.

PSA 307 Report

  • After what Lt. Mike Smith called a significant burglary arrest, property crime and burglaries are down 47 percent.
  • Police have three teenagers in custody who have confessed to six robberies. The M.O. also fits the Be Bar assault.
  • There was a robbery at the 10th Street CVS, but police do have a good quality security video of the suspect and believe that they also have several good fingerprints.
  • A representative of the US Attorney's office has agreed to attend ANC meetings. The ANC hopes to address mishandling of evidence, outstanding warrants that are not entered into computerized systems/shared with DCPD, and felony charges that are reduced to misdemeanors.
Report from the Mayor's Office
  • Mark Biorgi is new to the Office of Community Service
  • DCRA has taken over trash management at 1107 11th Street and has levied fines.
  • Helen Kramer, on behalf of the Iowa building condo association, complained of cars parked too close to the curb cut at the O Street garage exit. She requested new pavement markings to mitigate this problem.
  • There have bee problems with folks driving the wrong way on N Street because of confusing traffic signals
  • One resident reports that poor sidewalk conditions in SMD 2F-05 hamper those with mobility impairments.
Crime and Public Safety Committee Report
  • Council member Graham introduced a "hot spot" no loitering act, which would allow the chief of police to declare a no loitering provision, permitting no more than two people to congregate in certain areas. A hot spot would be defined as an area with a high number of arrests for homicide, robbery, and/or assault. There are no such qualifying areas in Ward 2, the closest would be Sursum Corda.
  • The recent burglary incidents have been focussed in new condo buildings during workday hours. The committee recommended that condo presidents meet with Lt. Mike Smith to conduct a security assessment.
  • The committee recommends calling 311 if residents witness excessive vehicle idling, defined as three or more minutes. The concern is that a long-idling vehicle could potentially be used as a means of fleeing a crime scene.
  • The committee is pursuing the issue of vacant properties where higher taxes are not being collected.
  • A resident complained of frequent prostitution in the alley behind the 13th Street Mr. Wash. Residents and the ANC will work with Mr. Wash to add an additional light illuminate a now-dark corner. More details can be found on the front page of the Wednesday, October 10 Dupont Current.
DDOT Matters
No DDOT representative was present so Commissioners Dyer and Reed shared what they knew of current DDOT matters.
  • Resident advice with regards to the 11th Street streetscape project has been heard and implemented.
  • There is a proposal to make 15th Street two ways.
  • The Q Street improvements between 14th and 13th Streets are in the sixth month of work. The estimated completion date for the work is two months from now.
  • Reed believes that the water main and electrical improvements will minimize the risk of another manhole cover blow-out. (Apparently there was one this year that blew out windows on the block but didn't cause personal injury.)
ABRA Matters
  • Logan Tavern seeks to add seating to the restaurant -- 46 new seats in the expanded dining room and 14 new outdoor patio seats. They will, however, be reducing the seating in the existing dining area by 18. The ANC has successfully negotiated a VA and will not protest the license modification.
  • Stoney's finally negotiated a VA with the ANC for the proposed opening of a second floor on top of their existing space. As no representative from Stoney's was present, Reed went on a long ramble about how he believes the process to have been unnecessarily difficult. You can seen some of the history of the dispute here. Stoney's has been granted an extra hour of late-night operation. Though this is one more hour than the other restaurants on the block will remain open, it is in line with the operating hours of Halo and Vegas Lounge. After one year, the condo residents and the ANC reserve the right to revisit the VA and evaluate any noise issues. The VA negotiation process dragged five months from May until October.
  • Mar del Plata wants to add 10 seats to its outdoor patio. The ANC will not protest this addition.
  • El Sauce restaurant wants to change their license from a class CR to a class DR. As no one present knew the difference between the classes, and no representative from El Sauce was available, Dyer moved to protest so that the ANC has standing at the ABRA hearing.
  • Nema's and the ANC have successfully negotiated a VA, and the ANC will withdraw its protest.
The Fannie Mae Walk for the Homeless will be held on Saturday, November 11th. Rolling street closures are planned from 7th Street to Independence Avenue. However, no street should be closed for more than an hour at a time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Rates and effective dates have yet to be declared, but I am so excited for the impending installation of meters in DC taxis. Though I have myself not been gouged by a DC cabbie nor am I particularly confused by the zone system, Fenty's decision appeals to my basic sense of fairness.

Most importantly, I'm hoping for less expensive fares. Mr. 14th & You and I might be able to travel the 0.9 miles from our home to the Dupont Metro for less than the $9 plus tip that we now pay during rush hour. That same trip in NYC would only cost $4.30 ($2.50 initial fare + $0.40 per each 0.2 miles + $0 for additional passengers). I'll also be pleased when the 5.7 mile trip to National Airport does not cost me $6.10 more than the 4.7 mile trip to my parents' home on Capitol Hill.

Drivers might even make out ok in this transition. As demand is a function of price, I think that many folks traveling within one or two zones will take cabs more often if the fare is lower. Now if only we could get taxis with working seat belts and credit card readers . . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We're Ba-ack

Hi all. After a 10 day assault on the French language, we have returned from the Province of Quebec. It was fabulous to see the historic sites and to experience an honest-to-goodness fall season. We also ate our fill of fattening food from Swiss fondue to cheese plates and plenty of French onion soup.

The plane travel was also relatively pleasant. The trip is only an hour and a half from gate to gate, and we were able to disembark at National, collect our baggage, and return home by Metro within an hour of landing. However, we did experience some unusual security measures.

The departure area for our return flight was a human corral; after arriving at the gate a half hour early, as required, our passports were checked for a third time by security personnel. Some passengers were pulled aside at this checkpoint for random bag screenings. We then entered a sterile gate area with no trash cans and no bathrooms. During the boarding process, our passports were then checked a fourth time and compared to the passenger manifest. We couldn't help but notice that Denver-bound travelers did not appear to go through the same rigamorale; we stared jealously as they freely roamed the terminal.

After we boarded an inspector of some sort searched the bathroom and the cockpit thoroughly and spoke at length to the crew, which seemed interesting for a 26 passenger plane flying such a short distance. In all the search delayed us a half hour past our scheduled departure time. I am, however, grateful for one thing: the restriction against leaving your seat within a half hour of landing at National has been lifted.

The whole experience left us wondering if there was some sort of specific threat to DC-bound flights. Has anyone else had an experience similar to ours? We're just curious if we can expect this sort of security on subsequent trips. We're also unsure if the measures taken are that protective: Can't passports be faked? Are random bag searches as unproductive as some say? Can one person successfully detect a sabotaged plane with a half hour visual inspection?

In unrelated news, I unfortunately lost my aunt to organ failure two days before returning home. Accordingly, postings will be somewhat less frequent in the coming days. Thanks for your well wishes. We'll be back soon with more editorializing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Au revoir!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Mr. and Mrs. 14th & You are taking off on a week-long and much needed vacation to the lovely Province of Quebec. Though I've been trying to hone my French speaking skills, we're undoubtedly going to be relying on the Quebecois and their propensity to learn English (and perhaps frantic hand gestures) to get us through. Hopefully the world won't blow up in our absence, and we'll soon get back to blogging about our little neck of the woods.

A bientot!

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.