Monday, June 15, 2009

Partner of ANC Commissioner Attempts to Scuttle Saint-Ex Agreement; Goes After Policy Employees

UPDATE: We have learned that the voluntary agreements for Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar were signed by all interested parties yesterday evening, and were delivered to ABRA this morning. For all intents and purposes, this means that Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar's license change request will go through.

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14thandyou has learned that neighborhood activist/filmographer Elwyn Ferris and his partner, ANC2B commissioner Ramon Estrada, have been involved in two dubious actions aimed at local restaurants Saint-Ex, Bar Pilar and Policy. These actions include delaying and attempting to scuttle an agreed-upon voluntary agreement, videotaping patrons, and recording--and identifying, possibly through illegal means--license plates of cars driven by employees whom Ferris believed were violating a voluntary agreement.

Two weeks ago, we reported that local restaurants Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar had reached an agreement with a group of citizen protestants and ANC1B to change their liquor license from a "CR" (restaurant) class to a "CT" (tavern) class, in spite of the best efforts of Ferris, who was seen videotaping Saint-Ex patrons as "evidence" to be used against the establishment. According to sources, the discussions were quite heated, with Ferris growing quite agitated and, in a truly ungrounded tactic, attempting to use Bar Pilar's conversion application as leverage against Saint-Ex's.

Failing initially to prevent an agreement being reached between the two sides, Ferris tried again. In a June 8 email sent to ABRA director Fred Moosally, ANC1B commissioner Peter Raia (who had agreed to sign the agreement), Saint-Ex attorney Andrew Kline and others two days before a status hearing before ABRA, Ferris--who is not the lead protestant--makes clear that his intention is to draw out the process for as long as possible. His reasons for doing so are not explained, nor is his apparent animosity towards two of 14th Street's most popular establishments.

"I want to remind you that there are 31 protestants to this...conversion," Ferris writes. "We are not rushing [this]."

Two days later, Ferris followed through on his threat. Ferris, along with commissioner Estrada, began a fervent campaign to strong-arm Raia and others into not signing the agreement with Saint-Ex that had been reached days prior. These actions led the lead protestant, who was furious at the back-door, 11th hour tactics engaged by Ferris and Estrada, and frustrated at what would inevitably be a futile status hearing, to ultimately decide not to attend the hearing. Ferris had succeeded in throwing an unnecessary wrench into the proceedings.

One week and several additional revisions later, an agreement still has not been reached, but sources have told us that one is imminent--news which will certainly not sit well with Ferris, who is largely powerless to prevent it.

The Saint-Ex/Bar Pilar fiasco is but one in an ever-increasing string of questionable activities engaged in by Ferris and Estrada, all built on a foundation of bizarre or absurd motivations. In addition to the filming if Saint-Ex patrons, you may recall that it was Ferris and Estrada who caused an uproar several years back by filming young, gay Latino men entering a U Street nightclub as part of a protest.

Privacy issues have been raised again, this time in the form of a complaint drafted by Ferris and submitted to ABRA targeting recently opened 14th Street restaurant Policy. In the complaint, which was not raised to Policy owner Omar Miskinyar until after its submission, Ferris breathlessly details seven full pages of complaints against the restaurant, ranging from a lack of a sushi kitchen on the second floor to deliveries being made on T Street.

Most egregious, however, is a section on "parking." Ferris, it seems, has a problem with Policy employees parking on T Street which, while legal, was in violation of the voluntary agreement. (As was the process Ferris used to issue his complaint, incidentally. The agreement stipulated that such issues should be directed first to Miskinyar, as opposed to being sent directly to ABRA.) Rather than approaching the situation as most neighbors would--that is, arranging to speak directly with the restaurant's owner and working out an arrangement acceptable to both parties--Ferris decides to stake out the restaurant and record the employee cars parking along T Street. But he doesn't stop there.

Using unknown methods that are frightening in their invasiveness, Ferris then provides not only the license plate and make/model of the car, but the name of the owner and other personally identifiable information in the complaint--a clear invasion of privacy, and one which did not sit well at all with Policy's personnel. How he managed to obtain this information is unknown. While license plate searches can increasingly be conducted online, there are laws that limit how that information can be utilized.

Also unknown are Ferris and Estrada's motivations for repeatedly engaging in behavior that borders on sociopathic. Of course neighbors and community associations have a right to have their voices heard with respect to the operations of neighborhood businesses, particularly when such operations could threaten the quality of life for a neighborhood' citizens.

But this kind of behavior extends far beyond that. Videotaping restaurant patrons, including personally identifiable information in overblown ABRA complaints, and working vehemently to make life as difficult as possible for popular neighborhood businesses are not the actions of individuals with a community's best interests at heart.

Viewed in the context only of how this relates to the aforementioned 14th Street establishments, Ferris and Estrada's actions constitute little more than a nuisance. But it is important to ensure that such actions do not foster the creation of a hostile business climate in the neighborhood. "Balance" in these issues is key, but actions such as spying on ones neighbors, engaging in legally questionable behavior and going out of ones way to create tension between businesses and residents does not lead to balance--it leads to confrontation, and is ultimately harmful to the ongoing development of our neighborhood.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm still a bit unclear as to what an ANC commissioner does? Or, the purpose of a voluntary agreement. Do commissioners live in the neighborhood? If Mr. Raia was going to sign the agreement, why would Mr. Estrada and/or Mr. Ferris's actions have an effect on whether or not he signs? Sounds like a cluster to me.

IMGoph said...

you're being quite diplomatic here, and bravo for that. it certainly sounds like the protestants' actions are moving towards the vile. it's really too bad to see some peoples' hatred for places and people who have helped make the neighborhood a better place...

Mr. 14th & You said...

Anon - "cluster" is a good way to describe it. The voluntary agreement (VA) certainly has its usefulness. Frequently, it is the only way to enforce issues such as noise, operations, parking, etc. that can affect the neighborhood. But the VA process can be abused, as is the case here. What makes this so preposterous is that, particularly with Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar, it involves two longtime, well-liked establishments. It's like picking a fight for no good reason.

Anonymous said...

I seriously believe there should be a recall effort aimed at Estrada. Sign me up for gathering the signatures.

WTF said...

We should videotape these gentlemen coming in and out of their house. Follow them to work, etc. See how they feel.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dcboee.org/regulations/recall_process.asp

There's the recall process for DC elected officials, including ANC commissioners. The tough thing is since the last election was a presidential and really rallied voters to get out, there's a larger number of signatures required to get to 10% of voters in the last election.

Anonymous said...

Just another example of the broken ANC system. I'm not against neighborhood involvement, but (not surprisingly in this federal city) the process is often hijacked by a small group of non-representative voices from the neighborhood (or sometimes from people who used to live in the neighborhood but no longer do).

A new system needs to be put into place that will work more smoothly. I'm assuming that ANC members are paid out of my tax dollars, and if they see fit to waste time and run unproductive meetings, maybe they should be downsized.

A serious analysis of what is needed TODAY should be undertaken, rather than clinging to something that is obviously broken and may have been more appropriate in a different era.

Anonymous said...

If ANC 2B does not remove Estrada from his seat, then there needs to be a popular movement to ELIMINATE the entire ANC system. Remove them from the city charter. ENOUGH.

Anonymous said...

ANON I am all for working with you on the recall process. I am sure there are some other readers out there that would help out too!!! We need to get this guy out of office before he does anything thing else to damage development and my property value. Look at the boundaries north and south. That could have been us.

How can we get this actively going?

IMGoph said...

first, the position of advisory neighborhood commissioner is unpaid, so no need to ask for a refund of your tax dollars.

second, to the person who things we should just blow up the system because of this—you're crazy.

should we get rid of any organization, system, or position just because we dislike the current occupant? would i have advocated getting rid of the US presidency because i disliked bush? c'mon, let's back off the crazy talk. recall is a logical way to move forward if you feel it's worthwhile, but let's step back from the ledge, ok?

Something should be done said...

I don't know; the lunatic fringe seems to gravitate towards this ANC system. Look at the debacle with Comet Ping Pong. Look at the state of Mt. Pleasant. Look at Glover Park and the grocery store renovation debates. It seems like a better system could be enacted that addresses the neighborhood's concerns without creating a needless hostage-type situation. For example, I am sure there are some "standard" ANC-demanded terms that show up in every "voluntary" agreement. Why not just make those law/regulation? Why create these little hoops that you have to jump through and interpose the ANC unnecessarily? Its inefficient and doesn't make sense. I'm not saying I have the answers, but the system could certainly be improved (and when that is readily apparent with only 5 minutes of thinking, the system is indeed "broken"). Unfortunately, it would involve taking "power" away from the existing ANCs, so you can bet who would argue against that.

A better way to deal with the "one person is the problem" scenario is to impose term limits, but I don't think that's the real problem. The real problem is that the ANC system fosters this type of poor management.

Anonymous said...

Scary that it's gotten to this point. ABRA needs to step in and do something about this system. I can't imagion how much Saint-Ex/Pilar/Policy are spending on their lawyers to fight these 2 nut jobs, and are they really representing the residents that only 1 of them was elected to represent. It's really very sad.

Jon Rybka-Wachhaus said...

This is such a corrupted use of power. We abhor the bullying when there are children involved what gives adults the rights to do it?

It may only be one couple and I hate to say this... but one BAD couple can ruin it for many others. This is what the "anti-gay" establishment will cling onto and run with....

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about all of this is that the people voted for Ramon Estrada and his partner Elwin The Ferret does all of the dirty work!

Imagine if we constantly had to deal with Barbara Bush bullying us around, OK OK .. Bad one :-)

Brandon said...

Unbelievable--those establishments are great places that really contribute to the community.

Anonymous said...

As someone who lives a block from both, I got to say, Estrada and Ferris don't represent me, even though supposedly based on the ANC system they do. These are good establishments and this personal crusade against them has got to stop.

Anonymous said...

Good idea about filming and photographing the Estrada-Ferris duo, but be careful your lens doesn't melt -- they are a couple of trolls. According to DC tax records, these two wackos live at 1417 S St NW -- or 2-3 blocks from Bar Pilar and Saint-Ex. Attend an ANC2B meeting and you'll see that the entire commission is a bunch of neighborhood nazis. The whole ANC system is an antiquated relic. Councilmember Catania tried to eliminate it a few years ago, but he was shot down by the little ol' blue-haired ladies (e.g., Estrada) that run the ANCs.

Anonymous said...

Email:
ramon.estrada@dupontcircleanc.net
Phone #s:
202-412-9434 or 202-387-3161

Picture of him:
http://www.dupontcircleanc.net/2B09.htm

This guy doesn't even live in the affected district. He lives in 2B; but the businesses affected are located in 2F.

Anonymous said...

Estrada, having already screwed up business development on 17th Street, now seeks to do the same to 14th Street by urging Jack Evans to support a moratorium on new licenses on 14th street. You should let Evans and Jim Graham know if you oppose this effort to stifle new business in our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I implore each of you to spread this posting far and wide. We must be done with this sort of counterproductive and outdated tactics and thinking. Estrada is holding on by a string and the ferret is just one step ahead of the scissors. Head or leave. Now would be good time to exit the stage. If not, expect more. I assure you.

quidire said...

Just to correct "Something should be done", the redevelopment of the Giant was supported by the local ANC; it was opposed by a local citizens' association. In many cases (including Dupont), the local citizens' association is as much or more of a factor in these sorts of debates than are the formal ANCs.

Whereas every registered voter in the ANC district get to vote on their member, often to vote in the __CAs, you need to become a member, introducing a barrier that while not insurmountable, makes the electorate selecting the __CA boards (as well as those representatives elected by them to the board) less responsive to the whole community, and less representative of that community.

I'm no fan of Estrada or his partner. I'm not a resident of 2B (1C, next door) but recall him if he offends you; the ANC system can best be fixed by encouraging attention to the ANCs by your friends and family in the area. Engage it, run for the seats, and you'll find it can be a very useful tool in trying to make the district government responsive to our needs.

No, I've never run for, nor been elected to, an ANC seat.

Anonymous said...

The venues are actually in ANC 1B - Peter Raia's district.

And everybody that doesn't like Ramon and Elwyn's tactics, should know that Mr. Raia is pushing for a moratorium, is in favor of restricting growth, and has become Ramon's new best friend. If you are calling for impeachment please include him on your list.

Anonymous said...

Peter Raia signed a Voluntary Agreement with St-Ex, and the Dupont Circle ANC automatically dropped their protest.

I don't think it's fair to say that Mr Raia has become Mr Estrada's best friend. Certainly not after this development.

verb said...

@quidire, a point well-stated regarding citizen associations. one thing i would like to point out is that the area in question is also part of a Neighborhood association, which has been to the betterment of 14th and U streets in that it has created a forum for businesses and residents to come together when development projects are up for consideration. unlike the "us vs. them" cultural attitudes at play in other mixed-use/transitioning communities.

most of us are not elected officials (nor do we want to be) but we do want to live, work, and play in a city, and in a neighborhood, that is welcoming to citizens, visitors, and employees, alike.

how does that happen?

by creating and then managing active social, cultural, and entertainment spaces. eyes on the street people! additionally, we are located in a central mass transit location. let us be better global neighbors and support development around locations that are convenient to those traveling by foot, bus, or subway.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Saint Ex and Pilar are not the only places Peter Raia has protested against. And harassment has started with others as well.

Anonymous said...

Residents in the effected areas of 1B and 2B are business friendly and are working for balance so that the neighborhood continues to flourish as a day and nighttime destination and livable community. What is most apparent by your posting and the comments, is that neither you nor your readers understand the ABC process or the situation at the establishments you include. Both Commissioner Estrada and Commissioner Raia are responsibly representing their constituents and working toward compromise with ABC establishments. And, it's well known that a small group of disgruntled detractors continue to try to smear Mr. Estrada with negative spin. You would do better to inform with facts than with unfounded gossip.

Anonymous said...

"Small group" of detractors? My butt. Estrada is universally reviled in the community as a total nutcase, as are all the ANC2B Commissioners with the notable exception of Jack J. The good news is that the neighborhood is changing -- the people who love city life are moving in, and the NIMBYs are either dying off or moving into retirement homes where they belong.

Clay Aiken's Half Brother's Friend said...

I've never understood Ferris's motivations. Estrada is worthless and doesn't do anything; Ferris is the one who goes door to door trying to rally support to fighting any business possible. Neither has ever helpse us when needed and ignore our emails and calls. I really wish someone would run against these bozos.

Anonymous said...

i don't want 14th to become adams morgan. if these establishments work with bordering ANCs and neighbors for solutions to potential problems, we all benefit. 'protestants' is the name given by the DC gov't to neighbors who want to be part of the legal negotiation process, where the gov't vets whether an application for a liquor license is appropriate. everyone has to abide by the rules and the ANC commissioners are following the procedures.

Mr. 14th & You said...

"You would do better to inform with facts than with unfounded gossip."

Anon - The facts in the post above are both sourced and supportable. If I've made an error, please provide me with specific examples and evidence and I will be happy to issue a correction.

"What is most apparent by your posting and the comments, is that neither you nor your readers understand the ABC process or the situation at the establishments you include."

Quite the contrary, I understand the process and situation quite well. I also understand shenanigans when I witness it, as is the case here.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous & Estrada's henchmen:

None of this posting is "unfounded gossip". In fact, anyone can request the ridiculous protest Ferris filed (in violation of the VA that Ferris himself negotiated and signed) from ABRA.

Furthermore, the Dupont ANC specifically voted NOT to sign the Saint Ex/Bar Pilar VA to keep Estrada & his partner from exploiting the process and holding the community hostage while they tried to drag out a VA for months.

The tide is turning. Wise up and work in good faith on behalf of the community you claim to "represent" or step down.

Mr. 14th & You said...

everyone has to abide by the rules and the ANC commissioners are following the procedures.

That's just it--they're not following the procedures. At least not in these instances. It's not typical ANC "procedure" to videotape a restaurant's patrons, or to circumvent prescribed remedial processes and direct complaints to ABRA that contain serious privacy concerns. No one is disputing the ANC or citizen's right of protest; what is concerning and upsetting are the methods being used and the negavity being developed as a result.

greg said...

Don't believe everything you read... Especially on this blog. It's obvious that the openly disgruntled, including Scott Pomeroy, who posts a link to this blog on the Dupont Forum, could be more productive by working toward a shared vision of the community. These ANC commissioners are committed, professional, and responsive to both their constituents & businesses.

greg said...

Mr. 14th, I hear your concerns, but are you sure you have the facts?

michael said...

for anon who doesn't know the role of the ANC commissioner:

Neighborhood Democracy

The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget.

In each of these areas, the intent of the ANC legislation is to ensure input from an advisory board that is made up of the residents of the neighborhoods that are directly affected by government action. The ANCs are the body of government with the closest official ties to the people in a neighborhood.

The ANCs present their positions and recommendations on issues to various District government agencies, the Executive Branch, and the Council. They also present testimony to independent agencies, boards, and commissions, usually under the rules of procedure specific to those entities. By law, the ANCs may also present their positions to Federal agencies.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Greg: As I've stated, I stand by the post and what is contained within it.

Tom said...

Mr. 14th please share your sources and facts. If we are not involved in the protest or negotiations, it's difficult to know exactly what's happening. Negotiation is a back and forth process and I heard that Andrew Kline is the attorney in this case and that he has been called before the DC Bar Assoc. for serious problems. Thank you.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Tom: I made assurances to those who provided information to me that anonymity would be preserved, due to the sensitivity of the discussions and the issues being addressed. I can say that I have spoken on multiple occasions with multiple individuals closely involved in the discussions with Saint-Ex, Bar Pilar and Policy. I have also been privy to email exchanges, multiple copies of the proposed VA and copies of complaints that have been filed.

The information is vetted and sourced appropriately--I would not have posted it if it hadn't been.

Julia said...

Please, rather than smear people who are trying to work toward compromise, could you provide useful information? I thought your policy was to steer clear of personal attacks and 'flame wars." Since so many of the posters don't know about DC Gov, ANCs, VAs, ABRA, maybe you could post info to elucidate.

Tom said...

Mr. 14th, who is the lead protestant for the neighbors?

Mr. 14th & You said...

"people who are trying to work toward compromise"

Stating that the individuals identified in the post were "working toward compromise" demands a rather liberal interpretation of the word "compromise."

okienoodler said...

Mr. 14th:

Great post and keep up the good work. Those of us in the community who do not want to see development restricted on 14th applaud your efforts to shed light on Mr. Estrada and his activities.

Mr. Estrada:

Please cease and desist with this ridiculous behavior. You do not have community support and I, for one, will do everything in my power to unseat you. If anyone wants to start the recall process, you've got my support.

RT said...

I see Estrada is posting on this blog under various names... how low. RECALL HIM NOW!!

Anonymous said...

So the comments started off with people attacking Estrada and his motives and now it seems like people are coming to the defense of Estrada and requesting facts to be presented.

Here are my thoughts:
I have lived and worked in DC for some time now. In terms of business, this is not a business friendly city. The amount of red tape you need to get through in order to operate is ridiculous. If you have never dealt with ABRA or DCRA I highly encourage you to try. Go sit in on a hearing or visit DCRA on North Capitol Street. It is a complete and utter disaster. That’s not to say however it hasn't improved over the years. I am a Republican and typically don't support the Democratic candidates but Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty have brought about a lot of progress and its only getting better.
Unfortunately for all the work they do, there are still people out there like Mr. Estrada and such that do not want to see the city they love grow and succeed. These people have been in the city since after the riots. They have seen the crime rate drop but at the same time they have been able to enjoy unlimited parking and peace and quiet.
Every time a business tries to come to 14th or U the ANC and in particular Mr. Estrada uses the scare tactic of "becoming another AMO" to rally support and bully the business out.
This city has unique spots all over and with proper rules and guidelines in place we can prevent another AMO. But the hostile acts towards businesses and business owners are not the way to prevent this. Look at how Columbia Heights is progressing for example! I go up there more than U and 14th because it is beginning to offer much more. Soon they will have a Chipotle. Now they have RedRocks, Wonderland, the Pizza Place, the place owned by Logan Tavern and much much more. Columbia Heights is an example of an area that’s embracing change and look whats happening?!?!?! Walk down 14th Street as I am sure most of you have and what do you see? A couple of crappy furniture stores at 14th and T. A post office that looks like a detention facility, a vacant/abandoned building at the corner of 14th and T, pawn shops and so on. Though it is SLOWLY developing, the section between P and U really does not offer much. It still looks like crap. Imagine if we stopped this bickering and started allowing IMPROVs, Yoga Studios, Diners, Cafes, Boutique Shops. What a difference. I am not bitter over the 14th and T Church of the Rapture building...but if Ramone hadn't of interfered so much perhaps we could have seen this change occur quickly. Sure with new restaurants and bars comes greater challenges but thats why we have ANC's they are supposed to deal with the challenges. Instead our ANC is not allowing the challenges to occur. I think Omar and his restaurant Policy are a great example of challenges and workin with your neighbors. Several people in the area have had "noise" issues with Policy. Upon speaking directly with the owner the issues were addressed an no longer pose problems. I for one am glad Policy came to town. Yeah we have drunk idiots on the street every now and again but where don't you find that in the city on a Friday or Saturday night?? The bottom line is more people are coming to our area. Now imagine of Constantines Diner came to 14th and T? That would have mean't more people during the day which ultimately could have helped neighboring boutiques and encouraged the development of other cafes or shops. Our ANC Chair is very self-serving as are most of the other ANC reps. This needs to stop. Yes the ANC is an unpaid official and technically doesn't hold a lot of clout. But you would never know that going to an ANC meeting where it seems like they are both judge and jury. Some people suggest getting rid of the ANC system. I disagree. Instead I propose this, engage the ANC go to the meetings, speak up. Join the citizens associations, go to meetings and speak up. The bunch of us rambling on through the comments section of this blog are not going to solve anything.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Estrada and Ferris fingerprints are all over several of these comments to your fine post.

em said...

I've lived here for several years and have known Estrada to be very professional and friendly with both constituents and businesses. Last election cycle, his opponent in the ANC race launched a hyper-negative campaign that mischaracterized Estrada as anti-business. This same falsehood pervades your blog.

Anonymous said...

Okay. So, this is about the sour grapes of someone who is still stuck on a 24-7 diner?

Tom said...

Mr. 14, who is the lead protestant for the neighbors on St. Ex and Bar Pilar?

Mr. 14th & You said...

"This same falsehood pervades your blog."

As I've said continually to others who have posed this same argument, please provide for me the issues in the post that you take issue with, and I would be happy to address them. If a legitimate falsehood is being perpetuated here, that's certainly not my intent. If, however, you simply disagree with the position of myself and others--that the actions described are not helpful to the neighborhood's businesses and residents--then what we have is a difference of opinion, not a falsehood.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Tom - The documents I've seen (that is, the VAs that were recently signed) list Ronald Clayton as the lead protestant, representing 31 total protestants.

mattyillini said...

http://borderstan.com/2009/06/17/a-story-about-ancs-small-businesses-liquor-licenses-and-more/

I think there are issues raised in this story by 14th & You that are bigger than go beyond this particular incidence. Our neighborhood and our city need to have a discussion about how we govern ourselves around zoning, development, small businesses, the role of ANCs, etc.

andy said...

Let Adams Morgan be Adams Morgan and Columbia Hts. be Columbia Hts. We can have a say in how 14th is developed. Let's keep it unique. Let's keep the variety. There will be more 'new' businesses to come, especially as the economy improves and development projects take shape. Meanwhile, let's be sure to patronize the businesses that we have now. (Personally, I like the pawn shops - a bit of the past alongside the new.)

Scott said...

Greg:whoever you are: I must disagree with your assessment.

I would have to consider myself "gruntled: put in a good humor (were gruntled with a good meal and good conversation — W. P. Webb)" every time I am able to walk out my door these days and not find a dozen crack whores, used syringes, burned out cars and abandoned buildings, which was the case when I moved to the U Street Neighborhood.

Instead I get to enjoy one of the culturally richest neighborhoods in the country. This past week, this extremely diverse neighborhood showcased talented Jazz musicians from throughout the world as part of the Duke Ellington JazzFest, is featuring Valerie Harper in Looped at the Lincoln Theatre and just celebrated the Pride Festival with a parade down 14th. I'm very gruntled.

However, I do agree with your statement that it is "much more productive to work toward a shared vision of the community" and that in most cases "These ANC commissioners are committed, professional, and responsive to both their constituents & businesses." I count more than a handful of ANC Commissioners from this community and around the city as some of my closest friends. Friends, who share your stated philosophy of working towards a shared vision.

The main reason I do not respect Mr. Estrada, and therefore posted the link to the Dupont Forum in response to the statements by other commissioners about the Dupont ANC being more business friendly, is that Ramon's approach when dealing with businesses is one of isolating and bullying individuals, by using delaying tactics that drain resources, and focusing on processes, guidelines, and rules to the point that they almost never deal with actual issues or ever develop solutions to existing issues.

The call for a moratorium on ABC licenses on 14th and U Street that Ramon Estrada, and now Peter Raia, are calling for is another example of focusing on rules instead of dealing with real issues. There has been a moratorium in place in Adams Morgan and yet the issues still exist and in many ways have gotten worse since they put the moratorium in place. A moratorium just says no more, it doesn't differentiate in quality or need.

It's like using a sledgehammer to drive a finish nail. It might work but it will not provide you with the results you really want. Me, personally, I like to develop and implement programs that actually deal with known issues and like to hang around long enough to see them through to implementation and make sure there is capacity to manage whatever new issues might arise.

Time to go outside and be gruntled on my front stoop…..

Scott Pomeroy

greg said...

Mr. Pomeroy, I, too, enjoy the neighborhood (except the 1300 block of U on the weekends). Hadn't heard about any plans for a moratorium, but isn't it simply a planning tool to insure the existence of many types of businesses and not just bars, clubs & restaurants? What other planning measures would you suggest?
The Adam's Morgan moratorium was put in place too late. Let's consider solutions before we face the problems there. I'd like to hear your proposal. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of provoking more strong reactions, I would like to defend people like Mr Estrada. Not Mr Estrada himself because I should say - I don’t know Mr Estrada at all.

There are people with deep knowledge of the history of an area, institutions, and the city. When they see something happening that they disagree with, yes often they overreact. My observation is that in many neighborhood situations or conflicts in DC, camps quickly divide and become apparent. Frequently people who end up getting called crazy and NIMBY and the like are the ones with the deepest knowledge of an issue. There are other people who work, for example, directly in the DC government. Lately (last 2-5 years) more and more of them are trending younger and younger – and I don’t mean that I am getting older! Their institutional knowledge is often weak, often they have been in their decision-making or impacting jobs less than a year. They look into an issue and see many people who are middle aged and opposing them in vociferous ways and see them as just plain crazy a lot of times. They are more easily swayed by newer residents who look like them and are closer to them in age, and are, frankly, calmer.

And many times that is too bad.

It’s a stereotype, but DC is not known for its passionate people with great social skills. It’s a shame that many of these passionate people cannot make their case more sociably, but it is also a shame that more people do not choose to know issues in depth, even to the extent that the long term residents that they are calling NIMBY do. What these “crazy” people know (and one thing that makes them angry) is that they will still be around after the often short-sighted people making decisions have left. These are the people who are still making eye contact with the mayor, with department directors long after others have shuffled off and are kicking the ground in boredom. These are the people who can maintain their concentration long enough to see something through and to understand what’s happening, why it’s happening and what X proposal’s impact will be. And they can explain it. Ad infinitim, and it drives everyone crazy. But, for better or worse, they often really know what they’re talking about.

Again, I do not know Mr Estrada, and I’m sorry, I’m not too familiar with this issue, I’m just defending the people who are often seen as obstructionist. (and probably I’m not doing it all that well) but are frequently are most valuable residents.

To the self-id’ed Republican, What’s wrong with slow growth? It’s so much better! (Unless the idea is to quickly exploit an area and then get out.) Adrian Fenty and Anthony Williams might well have been Republicans in any other city, one that did not vote 92% for the Democratic presidential candidate. As might, my best guess, one eighth to one quarter of DC residents themselves. We’re really not all that liberal. At least not to this lib.

Anonymous said...

To the last "poster" who thought through his or her response with such precision and terrific logic and reason -- I do not agree with a thing you wrote, but you make an incredibly compelling argument for a lost cause. Your definition and description of the argument is one of the best I have seen. Still, the process is fatally flawed, and you should know Estrada well and reassess your position. Maybe you should be our ANC Commissioner. I would likely vote for you. Great post and thank you for the time you took to write it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. 14th, just because neighbors 'protest' doesn't mean they're anti-business. Just because neighbors document disturbances or violations, doesn't mean they're crazy. Your blog would be more interesting if you were to present both or multiple sides and more fully analyze the situation. ABC protests and documenting disturbances happen all over the city. This case is not unique.

Anonymous said...

Elwin The Ferret - I love that name, It's perfect for the weasel with the camera!

Anonymous said...

This case IS unique, as there were no disturbances at St Ex or Bar Pilar to document. I think you will find that Estrada has been against every license. He is indiscriminate in his opposition to both good places and bad places. Why be a "good place" when there are clowns like he and Ferris around? If they had real interest in protecting the peace, rather than just harassing businesses, why wouldn't they contact the businesses to work with them instead of videotaping and filing complaints? There must be more interesting hobbies.

darbow said...

Mr. Estrada is not my commissioner, but I've worked with him on civic issues. I found him to be committed, smart, and willing to ask hard questions (of himself and others). I observed his skill as an effective facilitator and appreciated his directness and sense of humor. He showed genuine concern about people, the neighborhood, and making a difference for the city.

Anonymous said...

Darbow,

I was not aware that he had been committed.......yet.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Estrada or Ferret. I am a businessman, and I expect neighboring businesses to respect the surrounding environment, including nearby residences, and to run their businesses well without imposition on the rest of us. A VA is meant to make this responsibility clear to all the parties. If a licensee can't uphold their end of the agreement, they bear the consequences. If Sir Blog and the businesses you describe understand DC regulations you wouldn't be whining.

Anonymous said...

The solution is obvious: no businesses of any sort within the Washington, DC, limits! None! Back to the Manor House, we go! Sheep and cattle farms only! A bucolic country existence. I mean, don't we all know that only tacky people engage in trade? Really, Sir Geoffre, just not OUR kind of people, at all!

jeff said...

Mr. 14th & You,

Were you present at the negotiations?
Or, is your information second hand?
Are you a protestant in the case?
Did you speak with more than one of the protestants?
Did you interview Mr. Estrada or Mr. Raia or Mr. Ferris?
Did you speak with the applicant & his attorney?
Did you speak with ABRA?
Exactly how is the process being abused in this case?

Lynn said...

From the earlier post, what is up with the attorney, Kline?

verb said...

Wow, intense!

"It’s a stereotype, but DC is not known for its passionate people with great social skills."

hahahahahaha

Mr. 14th & You said...

"Mr. 14th, just because neighbors 'protest' doesn't mean they're anti-business. Just because neighbors document disturbances or violations, doesn't mean they're crazy."

I've said neither of those things. Nothing in my post indicated that people who protest these applications are anti-business. Nor did I say that people who document disturbances or violations are crazy. You might want to go re-read the post if those were your take-aways.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Jeff - I will kindly point you to my earlier comment where I reference my sources for the post. I'm not inclined to continually re-hash this point, nor am I inclined to divulge sources for this piece for whom anonymity was assured.

Mr. 14th & You said...

"If Sir Blog and the businesses you describe understand DC regulations you wouldn't be whining."

Please explain what regulations Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar were in violation of. I was unable to uncover any, but perhaps your investigative prowess is superior to mine.

Mr. 14th & You said...

To Anon 9:46 and Scott:

Thank you both for such eloquent, succinct thoughts. Different points of view, but very well explained.

Anonymous said...

Now the postings are just getting annoying! Seems like Mr. Estrada or the Ferrit got wind of this and decided to rally their supporters. Bottom line...when new businesses come to town Elwin and Ramone are at the front lines forcing them into voluntary agreements. The moratorium is a bad idea that would pretty much put a stop to any potential restaurant not just bars. Daytime cafes would not be able to open up nor would other restaurants. I want restaurants / cafes and bars.

Anonymous said...

Jeff ... Exactly how is the process being abused in this case?

How is the process being abused?

Elwin is using his partner's position to muscle the business's that is HOW. His way's are unfair and eventually holds the business hostage.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to know that Both Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar have Executive Chefs and truly wonderful menus. I spoke with the bartender last night at Saint-Ex and he said the reason to change from CR lic. to a Tavern Lic. was to comply with ABRA about kitchen hours. They wish to close the kitchen at 11:00 pm instead of 1:00am and to comply with ALL CR Lic. establishments you must have your kitchen serving food till 2 hours before you close. They have NO VA from when Saint-Ex opened 6 years ago (and the neighborhood was vastly different... in a bad way) and can be hardnosed by keeping their patio open till 1:00am. They have always listened to T Street residents and closed their patio early on their own volition. They have moved smokers to 14th Street to keep noise down from residents on T. They encourage Metro, bicycles (Mike Benson, the owner, spoke directly to former Mayor Williams about bike racks on 14th & T... I remember talking to him about it because he was concerned about bikes being locked to T Street neighbors fences), walking (creating fun maps) and taxi's (which used to avoid the section of 14th Street below U). They have no intention of becoming a club (it would be financial suicide from their investment in people/equipment/space and they have helped lead the charge for sustainable foods in DC). They (Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar) have helped build the 14th & U Mid-City Business Assoc. with John Snellgrove (the General Manager) on the board.
I am very frustrated with Mr. Estrada as his agenda is not in helping his neighbors, but in flexing his arrogance over 2 ANC lines. He has harassed several businesses for the benefit of nothing. I have met him on a few occasions and his rants do seem to be fueled by him wishing to have some self importance. I have not seen him at neighborhood clean-ups (I have seen Mr. Benson and members of his staff). I have not heard Mr. Estrada say nice things about having local/independent businesses on the 14th Street Corridor. He has taken a very angry and negative approach toward any change. Thanks for putting this blog up and continue the good work on informing the neighborhood on issues of substance.

Anonymous said...

The comment directly above this one is wonderful and, in my opinion, accuarte.

Part of the reasons we are having these problems with ANCs and neighborhood associations is that a limited number of people get involved with them.

Naturally, the ones who are regulary involved make the ANCs and the DCCA their life's work. They seem to have nothing else to do. And -- yes, I mean this -- these groups/bodies do seem to attract the fanatical element of DC society.

When one goes to an ANC meeting and watches the commissioners grill the small business owners, you get the feeling that there is a lot of built-up frustration on the part of the commissioners. Some of them seem to have larger goals and ambtions in life -- unfilled ones. Since they cannot sit on a Senate panel and grill the CEO of Exxon about oil spills, they take it out on local business owner about his trash cans.

The solution is simple: More involvement by people who have different views and will take a different approach. Decisions are made by those who show up (as the saying goes).

By the way, I think one of the reasons that so many of us keep posing as "Anonymous" is that we are genuinely worried about the likes of Estrada and his partner turning their wrath on us. Frankly, I don't want them videotaping my house! Yes, that is the point we have reached with all this.

Anonymous said...

don't be ridiculous. your exaggeration and fear mongering is absurd. documenting crowds outside establishments that are creating a problem for neighbors is routine for abc cases. it's that simple. don't make it into something more. mr. 14 can't even say if he's talked to the people he's writing about. too much bs from disgruntles grunting. if you want to tell the rest of us about the situation, why don't you really research and report? this site is simply a place to trash people.

sol said...

Moratoriums do not have to mean stopping restaurants from coming to the neighborhood. They can be tailored for each neighborhood.

rccola said...

Andrew J. Kline googled: http://www.dcbar.org/search/index.cfm?output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=dcbar&client=dcbar&filter=p&start=0&submit=Search&q=kline&site=default_collection&submit=Search

Mr. 14th & You said...

"mr. 14 can't even say if he's talked to the people he's writing about."

I can and I have. I haven't presented specific names, nor will I. But as I mentioned above, I spoke with multiple people closely involved with the negotiations. Also, as I have mentioned multiple times, if there is a factual inaccuracy in my post, please present it to me and I will gladly correct it...although I haven't had any takers on that one yet.

Mr. 14th & You said...

OK, I think things are pretty much going around in circles at this point. There have been some great and thoughtful comments here, on both sides of the issue and in between. This topic will no doubt crop up again, so I'm sure we can engage in further conversation at a later time.

Until then, however, I'm closing comments for this thread.