Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Neighborhood Meetings

Some things to put on your calendar:

ANC Stuff
The monthly ANC 2F meeting will be held next Wednesday, February 5th.The ANC 2F Community Development Committee (CDC) meeting will be held at the end of the month on Wednesday, February 2nd. All ANC 2F meetings are scheduled to run from 7 to 9 p.m. and are held at the Washington Plaza Hotel on Thomas Circle.

ANC 1B will meet on Thursday, February 7th from 7 to 8 p.m. at the True Reformer Building, 1200 U Street, NW.

As of today, no agenda has been posted for any of the above ANC meetings.


The third of four public meetings regarding the 14th Street streetscape will be held on Tuesday, February 19th from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Studio Theater. At this session draft recommendations for the project will be reviewed. As Mr. 14th & You mentioned in "P is for Phrustrating," it is a little scary to think of all of the pending NW street projects in and around Logan Circle. One of our suggestions would be to make sure that they are all very well scheduled so that we aren't beset with DDOT projects on P Street (in Logan, as opposed to the prior Dupont streetscape), 11th Street, 14th Street, 15th Street, and 17th Street running simultaneously or very close together.

There will also be a public meeting to review design concepts for the 17th Street Streetscape Project this coming Saturday, February 2 at the United Methodist Foundry Church, 1500 16th Street, NW.

Have issues with Verizon, Pepco, or Washington Gas?
Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh is holding hearings on the quality of utility services in our city. If you want to give praise, or more likely, gripe, plan on attending the Saturday, February 9 meeting at 11 a.m. in Room 412 of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Alternatively, there will also be a hearing during the work week at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 7 in the Council Chambers. If you are already thinking about how you'd love to rant publicly about your high home phone bill, contact Aukima Benjamin at (202) 724-8062 or abenjamin{at}dccouncil{dot}us to arrange to testify.

Less Lead in Your Water
WASA is holding meetings in each quadrant of the city to update residents on the current plans for replacing lead service lines. The NW forum will take place on Tuesday, February 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Fort Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street, NW.

Police Department PSA Meetings
On Thursday, Feburary 14th from 6:30 to 8 p.m. you can join local citizens and police from PSA 308 (Shaw) for a meeting about crime problems and potential solutions. Meetings are held at Gibson Plaza Apartments, 1301 7th Street, NW on the second Thursday of every month.

PSA 307, which covers Logan circle, also meets monthly. The February meeting is not yet on the calendar, but you can see more information about the meetings here.

Dupont Circle Citizens Association
The DCCA will meet on Monday, February 4th at 7:30 p.m. to discuss plans for a senior village to allow older area residents to "age in place" in their Dupont neighborhood. The meeting will be held at
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University Bernstein-Offit Building, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Room 500.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pimp My Ticket

Have you tried to buy scalped tickets outside the Verizon Center? It's quite the experience.

Mr. 14th & You and I like to take in the occasional Caps game. We root for the home team, but neither of us really considers ourselves to be dedicated fans. It's just good relatively inexpensive entertainment to go out to a game. Yet, for 2-1/2 hours of diversion it seems silly to pay the $35 box office price. So we hit F Street in search of nosebleed seats on the night of the game.

Wow, do you get the hustle out there. From what we can tell, there are ticket pimps and actual ticket sellers. The ticket pimps will grab you from the crowd and steer you toward someone offering $75 to $150 rink-side seats for "face value" — usually $10 over the value printed on the ticket. We openly declare that we're cheap seat folks, but every scalper tries to "up sell" us. One ticket pimp directed us to a man selling the pricey seats with the predictable $10 surcharge. We rejected the offer and searched the sidewalk for the next seller. The ticket pimp later returned and apologized profusely for his "friend's" behavior and then directed us to two other men who were selling the same class of seats at the same price.

Mr. 14th & You had the following typical exchange with them:

14th & You: What do you have?
Scalper: Center ice $150.
14th & You: Thanks, but that's more than we're willing to pay
Scalper: Make me an offer.
14th & You: You won't like any offer I make
Scalper: Try me. Make me an offer.
14th & You: No
Scalper: Make me an offer.
14th & You: $35 each.
Scalper: You can go jump in the river 35 times.

What's funny is that all of this takes place in front of the police and in front of the Verizon Center sign stating that buying and selling tickets at, above, or below face value is verboten. It's also interesting to me that neither the box office prices or the scalper prices go down after the puck drops. After all, if Abe Pollin will take a $50 million taxpayer handout for the new scoreboard and luxury suites, I think that he would also want to take another $40 from my husband for two tickets. There are a lot of fans dressed as empty seats at every game.

We finally found a guy whom we trust to give us a fair price and we seek him out. His tickets always scan at the gate too. If you believe in free markets, when a buyer and seller can reach a mutually agreeable price, the transaction is fair. I still have to say that the scalper hustle is really unappealing. How long has the ticket pimp phenomenon been going on at the Verizon Center? Do other cities/venues also have this quasi-organized black market?

A Really Easy Way to Do Some Good and Possibly Save a Life

It's always difficult for me to see the many homeless who spend the night on 14th Street and other nearby thoroughfares. In the winter it's particularly heart wrenching to see someone who is in immediate danger of dying from exposure. Though this week's forecast calls for daytime temperatures above freezing, overnight lows will still range from about 30 to 35 degrees.

If you see someone suffering out in the cold, please make a call to Shelter Hotline Transport at 800-535-7252. They make periodic rounds in the city, but, when alerted, will go directly to the location of someone who may be at risk for hypothermia. Those who turn down transportation to a shelter will be offered blankets and warm clothing. Last weekend when we called the hotline on behalf of a man huddled in the Zipcar lot at Corcoran and 14th Streets, the dispatcher not only sent a truck to his location, but also promised to check up on the man every hour through the night.

The hotline is a service of United Planning Organization, a DC nonprofit that provides human services to DC residents. Thanks to Street Sense for the information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where to Wine and Dine Tomorrow

If your Tuesday work day leaves you in need of a drink or if you just don't cook during the week, give Cork a try tomorrow night.

The new wine bar at 1720 14th Street (between R and S Streets) will debut publicly at 5 p.m. Late night sippers and the crowd-averse can pop in until midnight. If you and seven or more of your friends have theater tickets, you can also call ahead for reservations. The rest of us can call ahead 30 minutes prior to arrival to claim a spot on the guest list.

Though the wine and food menus have not been posted on the website, an email from Cork today promises a large selection and fair prices. Wine consultant Vickie Reh created a wine list of over 130 options. Prices for the 35 wines offered by the glass will range from $6-14. There's no word yet on how much wines by the bottle will set you back. Food pricing will start at $4 per small plate — on par with Vinoteca at 1940 11th Street, and consistent with the by-the-glass pricing of other DC wine bars like Bardeo.

It sounds like there will be no need to fear wine snobbery at Cork. According to today's email Architect Eric Gronning worked to create a "a warm, intimate and inviting space." Don't sweat choosing the perfect wine pairings; suggestions will be offered and tasting notes will be down-to-earth. As well, patrons will be supporting local business and local residents. Business partners Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts have lived in our neighborhood for over 10 years.

If you pop in and like your experience, Cork will also be available to private events and tastings. Happy sipping!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Get What You Ask For

If you have lived in DC for any appreciable amount of time, you have probably heard or made derogatory comments about DC city services. In fact, Jerome Sikorski, the recently elected ANC 2F-05 commissioner, included improved delivery of city services to ANC 2F in his platform. So why don't we all ask city agencies and the office of the Mayor's directly for the services we want? No, seriously. If you've never made use of the Citywide Call Center, you really should use it. I will put my reputation at stake and promise you that making service request really does lead to action and is not a frustrating process — as well all know it used to be.

Use the online Service Request Center here or the Citywide Call Center by phoning 311 to ask for what you need. The DC government must respond within a reasonable time period, and city employees are being held accountable. The list of city services that you can request includes:

  • Filling potholes
  • Street and sidewalk repair
  • Sanitation issues such as removal of dead animals, street sweeping, and missing garbage bins
  • Parking enforcement
  • Graffiti removal
A full list of services is available once you log in to the Online Service Request Center.

Starting with Mayor Fenty's administration, requests have not been going into the ether. Every request receives a tracking number and is assigned planned dates for inspection and subsequent resolution. You can track both phone and online service requests yourself by setting up a log-in at the above link. If the response isn't satisfactory, resubmit it easily including the prior request # (easy to find if you use a Service Request Center account) in your new submission.

Improving customer service operations is a stated goal of the new mayoral administration. Mayor Fenty's office is tracking customer satisfaction through surveys sent after service requests are closed. Survey results are included in the CapStat presentations to the Mayor during his weekly performance evaluations of city agencies. Review some of the CapStat reports yourself here. Service requests are also now released to the public by RSS, providing a level of transparency and accountability.

If you feel like DC agencies have failed to meet your needs, contact the Mayor's Office directly through this online form. You can also contact Mark Bjorge or Joesph Martin, Neighborhood Services Coordinators for Ward 2, at or respectively.
Another option: speak to Mark personally at the ANC meetings. (However, it's best to use 311 or the online Service Request Center to resolve your issue before you contact Mark or Joe directly.)

Attn: Dog Owners

The first of what is likely to be a series of Logan Circle public discussions about dog parks will take place at tomorrow night's CDC meeting (6-8, Washington Plaza Hotel). The meeting agenda seems to suggest that no one particular aspect of the proposed dog parks will be addressed. So if you want to suggest sites, protest sites, or volunteer to be part of a citizen action group, this is probably your meeting.

Other issues to be covered at the meeting include the creation of two parking spaces at 934 N Street, presentation by developer Giorgio Furioso, and discussion of a plan to form a committee to work with the Office of Planning. (On what the committee will be working is unclear. The agenda states that the goal is "promoting workable regulations to implement the regime.")

I wish I could have given you all more time to plan to attend the meeting, but I just received notice of the agenda on the Logan Circle listserve today. I think that Mike Bernardo is doing a great job of running the CDC meetings well, but it would be nice if we could get more advanced notice of scheduled meetings an agendas. I would also like to see more detailed agendas; items like "presentation by George Kassouf" aren't really helpful.


We spent part of the weekend just outside of Washington, VA at the home of a family member. This was the thermometer reading at 12 a.m. on Monday (indoor at top, outdoor at bottom). Thank goodness for fireplaces and Virginia wine.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

More Snow!

Images from the Cathedral CloseSouth entrance to the Washington National Cathedral as viewed from Pilgrim Stairs.
The George Washington statue on Pilgrim Road
The Cathedral Herb Cottage
Entrance to Bishop's Garden

The road conditions in DC right now are pretty good. When I was driving about an hour ago, Massachusetts Avenue was well salted, and I saw plows along the snow emergency routes. Please remember to clean off your entire car before driving. Snow on your roof can easily slip onto back or front windshields or blow onto the windshield of the car behind you. Snow on your trunk and bumpers can obscure headlights and brake lights. The last thing you need to add to your commute is a snow-blind driver behind you who can't tell that you are braking. This seems obvious, but a lot of drivers just don't take the time to brush off snow. Be careful out there!

P is for Phrustrating

According to a recent announcement from DDOT, next Tuesday those of you who use P St. to head from Logan into Dupont and other points due west might want to consider planning alternative routes. Beginning next Tuesday and extending for the next three months, DDOT will commence another one of their streetscaping projects along P St., extending from Dupont Circle east to 13th St.

Why am I skeptical that the proposed P St. streetscape will actually be completed in the time span DDOT is projecting, and why do I anticipate a litany of complaints from local businesses over the inconvenience this will undoubtedly cause?

Many of you probably remember the pain and frustration it caused to businesses along P St.'s "Restaurant Row" over the summer, when DDOT "streetscaped" the section of P St. between 20th and 22nd streets. As you may recall, that project broke ground in January of 2007, and was originally scheduled to take about four months — but ended up extending well into the summer, to the detriment of many local businesses located there. And while I'm quite certain that the infrastructure and utilities were improved during the course of the work, it's highly debateable whether the aesthetic changes were worth multiple months of frustration and low sales for the businesses there. Additionally, let's not forget the eternal project that is the utility-upgrading and repaving of Q St. between 14th and 12th. That project seems endless.

So brace yourselves. Anyone care to get in on the 14th & You pool as to the actual completion date of this? The full text of the announcement is included below.

*FOR RELEASE*: January 16, 2008
MEDIA CONTACTS: Karyn Le Blanc, 202-671-3490

*P Street, N.W. - Road and Sidewalk Repairs to Begin ****Three Month Project To Improve Streetscape *

(Washington, DC) The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is scheduled to begin repairs on the road and sidewalk on P Street, NW from DuPont Circle to 13th Street on Tuesday, January 22, 2008.

Repairs will include replacement of damaged sidewalks, gutters, bus stop concrete pads and the upgrade of all wheelchair ramps in the work area.

Work hours are 7am to 3:30pm, Monday thru Friday.

Work is planned to be completed by March 30, 2008 weather permitting, and plans to resurface the existing road pavement are slated for spring of 2008.

Vehicular and pedestrian access will remain available throughout construction. DDOT reminds motorists to use caution when traveling throughthe work zone.

Karyn G. Le Blanc Acting Public Information Officer & Public AffairsSpecialist Office of the Director District Department of Transportation
desk 202-671-3490 fax 202-671-0650 cell 202-497-4572
www.ddot.dc. gov
Serving with Integrity and Excellence

Monday, January 14, 2008

Other Notes from Wednesday's ANC Meeting

Some other news bits of interest from the ANC meeting:

Logan residents are looking for places to start dog parks in the area. The action is in response to recent rule making that allows for citizens to petition and apply for areas to be designated dog parks. Sites currently being considered are Bundy Field, the Kennedy Recreation Center, the Shaw Recreation Center, and the south half of the Garrison Elementary School field. As a first step the group making the application must first check the land ownership records through DPR. Then, as part of a lengthy proposal process, neighbors will be consulted regarding the plans. I'm sure that most or all of a future ANC meeting will be devoted to this issue.

Ed Six reports that the Crime and Public Safety Committee compiled a list of vacant properties in our ANC and shared their findings with DCRA and the Office of Taxation. The goal is to ensure that owners are being charged higher tax rates for vacant properties in the hopes that they will be motivated to sell or renovate. A little extra tax revenue never hurts either.

The developer of the Metropole has gone bankrupt. A new very preliminary plan under consideration will alter the building design to include and interior courtyard with restaurant. [I'm fairly sure that I heard Commissioner Reed say that it was the Metropole developer that went bankrupt. However, a comment caused me to double check my facts, and it appears that it was the contractor who went bankrupt. That probably explains why the construction company banner on the site is now Foulger Pratt.]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

ANC 2F Crime Updates

There weren't too many new matters at last night's ANC meeting, but there was some interesting information regarding crime in Logan/Shlogan/East Shaw.

Good news:
PSA 308 (adjacent to our ANC) will be getting Shotspotter. The date for installation has not been set, but it is definitely coming. Most of the shots fired in our PSA are close enough to the planned coverage area that we will also benefit from the technology.

In PSA 307, we had a 13 percent overall drop in crime in 2006, which amounts to the greatest reduction in the city.

The level of prostitution activity in the alley behind Mr. Wash has declined. Mr. Wash did install the motion detector lights as requested, and MPD assigned a prostitution squad to the area.

Sorta good news:
There was a nuisance property at 1107 11th St. (I think I have the address correct, someone please let me know if it's wrong), and a frozen pipe resulted in a round-about way to the place being secured. Essentially the report of a lack of water led to a city response and MPD discovering 20 people living on the property in 21 apartments; HUD only had record of four units in the building. Though Lt. Smith guesses that most of those living in the building were squatters, all 20 had a claim of residency at that address and were thus given temporary housing on DC's dime. While clearing the apartments before boarding up the building, police discovered very old water damage and severe mold problems. According to Mark Bjorge, The Mayor's office is considering "all options" in terms of bringing action against the property owner. On the up-side the owners have gone into bankruptcy, the building is in receivership, and there will most likely soon be a new owner who will renovate.

Not good news:
The gang problem in Shaw/Shlogan has reactivated. On Monday 13 shots were fired behind Shiloh Baptist Church. Though one teenager was wounded, no one was fatally shot. By the way, OffSeventh wrote that 31 shots were fired. I thought I heard Lt. Smith say 13, but I could be wrong about that.

About a half hour before the ANC 2F meeting, there was yet another shooting on the 1200 block of 7th Street. I'll be interested to hear Lt. Smith's report next month on the details.

Because El Sauce (1227 11th Street) has a pending ABRA hearing, Commissioner Reed has solicited more detailed information regarding past complaints against the establishment. If you've noticed any issues, please contact him so that he can raise these problems with their attorney during voluntary agreement negotiations. Lt. Smith volunteered that the MPD Gang Intelligence Unit believes this restaurant to be an MS-13 hangout. However, it is uncertain how much the issue may be owing to the adjacent property or apartment buildings down the block.

There have been a number of shootings east of our PSA. I'll refer you to OffSeventh for a good running total and editorial comments about the incidents.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

ANC Monthly Meeting

This is a reminder that the ANC monthly meeting is coming up on Wednesday evening. The full agenda, meeting times, and location are posted here. In summary, the meeting will cover the usual neighborhood news and matters — crime report, DDOT report, report from the Mayor's office, ABRA matters, etc.

Even when the meeting agenda is vanilla I encourage you all to attend. The ANC meetings are the best way to stay on top of neighborhood news. You can also get to know your commissioners, which will help you determine whether you want to re-elect them. I think it's fair to say that most Logan residents are not familiar with the ANC's actions. If you don't show up, you can't protest what's done on your behalf or bring up issues that matter to you. You might also be surprised to see how little public comment there is about some significant issues. If you're short on time, show up whenever you're able or leave early.

In mourning...

Curses, foiled again.

No smiling face on this Buckeye fan this morning, after watching the guys cough up yet another one in the Big Game last night. This business of losing to SEC teams in championship games is getting mighty old, mighty quick.

That being said, I do take some solace in the fact that a two loss team was declared BCS champion. Playoff, anyone?

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Construction Glut

Below is a photo essay on the new residential construction around U Street, almost all of which appears to be planned as 100 percent condo. These projects were most likely zoned and financed before the recent real estate downturn, and the market could be stable or rising before construction is complete. I still think that this many new units on the market will affect property values negatively. I count 11 new construction projects and I'm sure that I missed a few in the area.

Renovation at 13th and T Streets

The Moderno, 12th and U

The Lacey at 11th and Florida. It looks benign until you see . . .


Union Row, 14th Street just north of U

A Clark Residential project going up on the northeast corner of 14th and Florida

A Bogden Builder's complex going up immediately behind the new Clark Residential project

Solea at the southwest corner of 14th and Florida, just across the street from the Bogden and Clark Residential costruction

14th and W Streets

Soon to be the Privado on Chapin Street — about one block from the three new buildings at Florida and U

The Floridian at 9th and Florida. This is the "coolest building" with a "hip scene". It's also the runner-up for ugliest new building and the winner of the most ridiculous ad campaign.

The House on the Corner at 9th and Florida

Friday, January 4, 2008

Taxi Meter Rates: Last Chance to Protest

The comment period on the proposed taxi meter rates will end on Monday, January 7th. If you are concerned by the potential time and distance meter rates, please take a moment to contact the DC City Council over the weekend. You can do so easily by signing a petition here.

If you're interested, I wrote more extensively on the topic in a November post. The long and short of my concerns is that those of us who take taxi rides for trips of one to three miles will end up paying more under the rates planned for the new time and distance meters. I already find the rates to be pretty high, particularly as compared to other cities, so I would prefer not to see them rise further. To find out more follow the link above to the petition and then check out the links list at the bottom right side of the page.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I took an overly long and unplanned hiatus over the last two weeks; holiday preparations and travel overwhelmed us more than we had anticipated. But we'll be coming back over the next few days. As always there's plenty to talk about.

Farewell to Viridian

Yesterday we lost neighborhood restaurant Viridian. While strolling along 14th Street yesterday, I saw this sign:
As far as I know, there was no warning that the restaurant had planned to close. In an odd bit of coincidence, Mr. 14th & You and I had a New Year's eve dinner there. Without a doubt it was one of the best meals I have ever had in this city -- delicious and creative food, great wine selections, and impeccable attentive service. But since we tend to be a household fueled by inexpensive Lalibella meals and Trader Joe's prepared foods, that was both our first and last Viridian meal.

Last New Year's we lost another personal favorite along 14th Street, Red Sage. In their instance, veteran restaurant owners decided that a lease increase was too expensive for them to bear profitably. Though we were sad to lose them, we do gain a small measure of satisfaction from seeing the storefront empty to this day. I can only hope that the landlord kicks himself for being greedy rather than accepting another year's rent at a lower than desired rate.
Fortunately DC is becoming more known for great restaurants. Though I will continue to miss old favorites, I'm sure that great new places will spring up soon.