Friday, August 31, 2007


In July, I became aware of a protest against a possible addition of a rooftop deck to Black Cat. The reaction of three ANC’s has been to oppose the deck. I found the strength of the response to be noteworthy, and as a patron of Black Cat, I was really interested in what was going on.

At the ANC meetings, we tend to hear a lot about opposition to business, especially when it comes to the building/expansion of bars and clubs. So I spoke with both ANC 1B commissioner Dee Hunter and Black Cat owner Dante Ferrando as a case study about ANC/ABRA protests. I have a lot of interesting information from both conversations that I plan to share over a few posts.

I also have to say that both Ferrando and Hunter gladly agreed to speak with me. Both of them also know that I'm writing a piece for this blog. I am very appreciate for their help with this little local interest story on a fledging blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

ANC Monthly Meetings

Hi, all. ANC 2F will be meeting on Wednesday, September 5th, and on Thursday the 6th ANC 1F will meet. As of today, 1B has not posted its agenda to its website, but 2F's is pasted below. The most interesting 2F matters will probably be the crime report and the DDOT plans for 11th Street.

Call to Order - 7:00 PM

Commissioner Announcements - 7:00 PMPSA 307 Report - Lt. Mike Smith, Metropolitan Police

Department, 3D - 7:10 PMReport from Executive Office of the Mayor - Joseph E. Martin - 7:15

PMDDOT Report - Christopher Ziemann, Ward 2 Transportation Planner - 7:30 PMANC2F-05

Candidate Forum - 7:35 PMCommunity Question and Answer Period - 7:50 PMCommunity

Announcements - 8:00 PMDC Department of Health Get Fresh Open Air Farmers Market September 8,2007 10:00 AM-3-:00 PM RFK Stadium

- 10 Minute Recess -


Approval of Agenda - 8:10 PM

Approval of Minutes of Meeting of July 11, 2007 - 8:10 PMDDOT MattersStreet ClosingAIDS Walk, Saturday, October 6, 2007

Crime and Public Safety Matters - 8:20 PMANC2F Crime and Public Safety Committee Report Helen Kramer, Chair

ABRA Matters - 8:30 PMProposed rule changeK&D, LLC t/a Cork, 1740 13th St., NW, CR License. Voluntary Agreement

Community Development Committee Matters - 8:40 PMHotel Helix, 1430 Rhode Island Av.,

NW, BZA zoning variance, HPRB approval1430 K Street, American Sociological Assn, application for City financing

11th Street, Reconstruction project between L to O Streets

New Business - 8:55 PM

Treasurer's Report (Jim Richardson, Interim Treasurer) - 9:00 PMApproval of

ExpendituresRecurring expenses

Computer purchase

Fire at Alberto's Pizza

I didn't notice this along my walk to the Metro this morning (I usually come up Q St.), but there was apparently a fire overnight at Alberto's Pizza, located on the 2000 block of P St., just off Dupont Circle. No word yet on the damages to the building, which also included a Subway restaurant. Traffic was shut down on P St. for part of the A.M. commute, which I'm sure made a lot of people traversing into Georgetown very, very happy.

I hope the fire was nothing serious, because I'm quite a fan of Alberto's pie--it's pretty straightforward stuff, but the spices they throw on top of the pizza makes it a cut above the Manny & Olga's fare. It's also a nicely pedestrian alternative to Pizzeria Paradiso across the street (and one of the few pizza joints that will deliver to our corner of Logan). Here's hoping that they're back up and running soon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Summer Loitering = Summer Garbage

I am pleased that since I moved in to Logan four years ago the five apartment buildings on the 1400 block of R Street have started a daily morning garbage clean-up. Yet, a few yards east of the apartments, there's always street filth accumulating in every available corner the gutter, the treeboxes, and the Zipcar lot.
The trail originates across Corcoran from Kazanchi's, runs through the alley, and terminates just before reaching 1416 R Street. It's not as if the prevailing winds blow trash tumbleweeds in that direction.

It's just a bummer, if an inevitability, that some apartment residents feel that using garbage cans is too taxing. Is it too much to wish that A.Y.T., Zipcar, and Kazanchi's would also help out? While I await the unlikely, I'll put this area on my mental list of potential neighborhood clean-up sites.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Virginia: Not Just for Moonshine Anymore

We returned home yesterday from a very relaxing weekend in the Shenandoah Mountains, a regular excursion for us. Reminded once again of how much I love the Blue Ridge, I have to put in a plug for the area and for its wineries.

Over 100 wineries call Virginia home, and clusters of tasting rooms have formed around Leesburg, Charlottesville, and Shenandoah National Park. Every wine drinker has his own opinion, but some of us believe that the best Virginia wines are competitive with Napa’s products. Even better, the snobbery factor is much lower than in California. The upcoming harvest season as a great time to visit. After all, a spot at a tasting room bar is only an hour to an hour and a half away from DC.

Some wineries to try: Gadino, Linden, Farfelu, Rappahannock Cellars, and Naked Mountain, all within driving distance of each other. Between Labor Day and early October, there are also bunch of harvest festivals and special events all over the state, For a hands-on experience, consider volunteering at Gadino for harvest and crush.

Let me also state the obvious: Drunk driving on winding country roads, or any road, is beyond a terrible idea. If no one in your group can be a designated driver, limo services are a good option.

Fire! Fire!

So I'm quite certain I wasn't the only one who felt like I was placing my life in significant jeopardy by boarding a Metro train this morning. In case you missed it, Metro experienced more problems last night, with smoke emanating from several stations and forcing the closure of portions of the Yellow and Blue lines. This after significant amounts of smoke and other mechanical problems forced the closure of a freakishly high six stations on Sunday evening. Of course, as we're taught since kindergarten, where there's smoke there's fire.

Metro manager John B. Catoe called the events "baffling" and openly questionned whether it could be the work of sabotage or terrorism. It was also postulated that a power surge perhaps led to the problems with the third rail, but there's very little evidence to support any theory. I'll put forth another, more likely--and less onerous--theory:

Metro is getting old and quickly deteriorating. Additionally, Metro ridership is increasing every year, and Metro is coming closer and closer to exceeding the maximum daily ridership the system was built to handle back in the late 60s and early 70s. As this happens, the infrastructure begins crumbling, and more and more mechanical problems will crop up. Small problems which, ten years ago, would barely have registered as a disruption now cause the entire system to stutter to a halt.

I could write a treatise on the need for federal, state and local governments to better fund public and mass transit, and about how Metro's lack of dedicated funding, coupled with a woeful lack of long term strategy and sustainable planning has led to problems such as what has been experienced over the past couple of days. Instead, I'll only say this: so long as Metro funding remains a delicate issue, and Metro continues its reactive--rather than proactive--approach to maintenance and growth planning, I believe problems such as these will become increasingly common. It should come as no great surprise to anyone that a system carrying as many people as Metro does, but as significantly underfunded as Metro is, encounters these issues with increasing frequency.

So, be careful out there. And the next time you smell that acrid, burning electrical smell in a Metro station, you might want to head for higher ground. And perhaps consider taking a cab.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Agressive Treeboxes

I applaud the Treebox Vodka blog for highlighting the decrepit state of some of Shaw's landscape. I am particularly impressed with the genuine efforts to do something about the mess.

My treebox rant is one of a different sort. Some of those who may plant their boxes nicely and keep them picked up nonetheless manage to forget that cars park next to virtually all of the treeboxes. I set out to document the phenomenon and I only had to travel one block on my daily stroll to find some great examples.

This hedge is more than one car length long. As far as I can tell, there's no way to park within a foot of the curb and not open your door right into the shrubbery. This must be a particularly lovely experience on a rainy day.

This is a rosebush. Rosebushes have thorns, lots of thorns.

The driver of this car got out one of two ways: (1) Nearly removing his door from the frame as he opened it into the very high box border or (2) flattening his body against the rear door while squeezing into the small space between the treebox and his car.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Streetcar Named (Un)desire(able)

I was of the mind that the District never takes a holistic view of traffic congestion and parking planning, but I recently heard some news about the Anacostia streetcar plan, which seemed like a step in the right direction. After some rudimentary research I found two relevant websites — the Streetcar Project page on within DDOT's site and DC's Transit Future, a fairly comprehensive report on where we need more mass transit and the available types of transit.

I really really like the idea of streetcars, both because I think they are charming and because I welcome non-vehicular transportation options. However, in order to ensure the success of any new mass transit initiative, DC has to completely understand problems with the existing transit systems, particularly the bus network. As well, they need to know why and how people travel through the city as they presently do. I encourage everyone to provide their input here and here.

One of my concerns us that any streetcar that makes the same number of stops as a bus and is subject to the same traffic lights (the current plan), would probably just be a large expensive vehicle that is not particularly convenient to use. I also fear that the definition of corridors per the Transit Future site will lead to more meandering transportation routes that no one wants to take the time to figure out let alone the tourists and weekend drunks that we really don't need driving on city streets. So go forth and submit your comments. And keep your fingers crossed!

CDC Meeting Wrap-Up

As it will most likely be another two months before the ANC 2F Community Development Committee (CDC) minutes are posted, and no one wants to slog through them anyway, here's a summary of the news from last night:

Old Convention Center
Developer: Hines

The plans for the Old Convention Center site are progressing. In short, the bulk of the development will be three groups of two buildings each. One grouping will be offices, one rental housing, and one condo housing. On the first floors of all buildings and the first and second floors of the office buildings, there will be retail. Another nice feature is the preservation of open park land. It is still unknown whether the DC main library will relocate to this site. If the City Council decides to forgo that relocation, the space currently reserved for the library may be leased to a department store or a grocery. A local resident made sure to register her support for Nordstrom during the Q&A.

This huge project will be in the planning/permitting/contracting stage for the next 14 months, and construction is slated to run from fall of 2008 until 2011. With all of that planning left to go, there's no word yet on what the first deliverable will be and when we can expect to see it. I should also mention that the RFP for this project was issued in 2002. Way to go, bureaucracy.

Giant/O Street Market
Developer: Roadside Development

Roadside Development owns the 4-acre site where the crummy Giant and crumbling O Street Market structure presently exist. The ambitious redevelopment project's centerpiece is a new 56,000 square foot Giant that will incorporate the existing market facade into its design. There will also be 600 new housing units including 100 senior living units (watch out, Shiloh). A hotel, one-story retail shops, and 700 parking spaces (above and below ground) will finish the project off nicely. It seems that the developer is also concerned with aesthetics, aiming to hide loading docks underground and to make the whole development attractive when viewed from the street.

11th Street Reconstruction Project

Eleventh Street between L and O is the next Streetscape project. Though it's not being called by that moniker, the components of the reconstruction are remarkably similar to what's happening on P Street and what will happen to 14th Street. In any event, starting next spring and for nine months thereafter, 11th Street will be torn up in order to improve parking, replace the water main, add more trees, and increase green space. A huge change to the street will be the removal of one traffic lane to provide for a five-foot wide bike lane in each direction.

DDOT's representative acted as if sharing this information with the CDC was merely a courtesy. In the aftermath of his presentation, residents rightfully griped about a few things. DDOT claimed that having three lanes of traffic, down from the current four, would be a "traffic calming" measure, eliminating cars weaving between lanes to avoid buses and turning vehicles. Residents seemed less concerned about the calming effect and more bothered that they would be stuck behind a bus in the only available vehicle lane. Rerouting buses to reduce congestion or eliminating parking to provide room for four traffic lanes were suggested by residents as alternatives to the present plan. DDOT also failed to present a detour for southbound traffic during construction, which had 9th Street residents very concerned.

In light of the intense conversation between residents and DDOT, Commissioner Dyer requested that DDOT return for the ANC meeting in two weeks to present a plan for dealing with the bus, parking, and detour issues. Unfortunately for DDOT, they had declared planning to be 90% complete and hoped to begin the contractor selection within seven to ten days. Shucks.

Humorous moments of last night's meeting:
A committee member whom I won't name emphatically and repeatedly insisted during the O Street Market/Giant redevelopment Q&A that Roadside Development work to improve the poor service at Giant. Umm . . . they are developers.

The Roadside Development representative stated that the project would include some "very high end condos that we hope to sell for lots of money."

A resident suggested that a light be added to the intersection of 11th and O or that we "ban all Maryland drivers" from the thoroughfare.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Veranda Issued "Stop Work Order"

As reported on Leslumhistorique, Veranda, the new Mediterranean/Italian restaurant set to open at the corner of 11th and P, was unfortunately tagged with a "Stop Work Order" last week due to some non-permitted work on its outdoor patio. I'm not certain what, specifically, the SWO pertains to, but seeing as how the restaurant will be located in the Shaw Historic District, it likely has something to do with that. Here's hoping the Duni brothers are able to quickly resolve whatever issue led to the SWO, and can get the opening of Veranda back on track, as we're both anxiously awaiting its opening.

You can visit Veranda's website here: . Make certain that you suggest a beer!

Resurfacing Work to Begin on S St.

A heads-up to those of you who use S St. as a rush hour commuter route: DDOT has sent out a press release announcing that a resurfacing of S St. between 15th St. and New Hampshire Ave. will commence "on or about" August 23rd, and end approximately one month later. Work crews will also be replacing gutters and storm drains, and repaving alleyway entrances along the street. S St. will remain open during the project, but will be restricted to one lane. Since S St. is two ways, I doubt they will restrict it to a one-way street during this time, so it's likely that drivers will get the pleasure of having their lives placed in jeopardy by careless construction crew workers waving cars around the project and--perhaps--into oncoming traffic. So be careful out there.

With that being said, this work is long overdue and is much anticipated by Mr. and Mrs. 14th and You, both of whom frequently traverse the minefield of cracks and potholes that populate the 1600 and 1700 blocks of S. My car's suspension unleashed a cry of joy at the news of the resurfacing project. I've included the text of the release below, for anyone interested.



The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) advises residents, pedestrians and motorists that roadway restoration is scheduled to begin next week on "S" Street NW between 15th Street and New Hampshire Avenue in the Logan Circle/Dupont Circle areas.

The work is slated to begin on or about August 23, 2007, weather permitting. It's scheduled to be completed by September 22, 2007. The streetscape work will include the milling and overlaying of the roadway surfaces as well as curb and gutter replacements. Alley entrance ways in the area will also be repaired or replaced.

Work will take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. One lane of traffic will remain open for use at all times during construction.

Access to adjacent houses will also be maintained however parking will be limited. DDOT advises residents, motorists, and pedestrians to be safe and stay alert when traveling through the work zone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Commercial Development News

Prepare for what seems to be an oxymoron: The upcoming ANC 2F Community Development Committee (CDC) meeting has some interesting items on the agenda. Specifically, redevelopment of the old Convention Center site and the O Street Market/Giant will be discussed.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 22nd at the Thomas Circle Washington Plaza Hotel (the same site as the ANC meetings). The above agenda items are toward the bottom of the list; my guess is that you could arrive around 8 and still get the bulk of the information.

If you want background on these two redevelopment issues, check out the following:

The Sense in "Street Sense"

Out of curiosity, I picked up a copy of Street Sense this week. Until now I'd been walking by vendors near Whole Foods and the Dupont Metro almost daily. I'm happy to share that it appears to be a legitimate paper backed by a great pro-homeless organization. (Admittedly, I had originally expected to deride the publication as a load of bunk, and my motivation for purchasing Street Sense was mostly to provide fodder for this blog.)

What's very cool about Street Sense is that 75 cents on the dollar goes to the person selling it. All of the vendors are indeed homeless who work as independent contractors, and some also serve as contributing writers. I was very pleased to learn that this paper has provided a more dignified alternative to panhandling as a source of income for those on the streets.

The organization itself is an above-board 501 (c)3. (I haven't conducted any serious investigative journalism, but I have confirmed that they are listed by the IRS as a non-profit.) Page two of the paper gives a full disclosure of their donors, vendor code of conduct, board members, contact information, mission, and editorial policy. Better still, the inside back page is used for a "Community Service Index" of shelters, food banks, and other services for the homeless.

The content mostly relates to issues of concern for the homeless and low-income communities such as the location for the new Central Union Mission and Fenty's poverty agenda. For those who are not personally involved in issues of social justice or homeless advocacy, it could be a little overwhelming to regularly read the biweekly paper. But perhaps it could be an occasional alternative to passing time on the Metro with the Express.

Monday, August 13, 2007

ANC Stands in the Way of You Getting a Beer

A lot of us were thrilled when Stoney's opened on the 14oo block of P Street. So you should then also be excited to hear that Stoney's is expanding to the the second floor of the building they occupy. When I last heard an update in July, construction work was almost complete. However, such an expansion requires the approval of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). ANC 2F is trying to get in the way of this approval.

In May ANC 2Fdecided to file a protest with ABRA on the basis that the expansion would "disturb the peace, order and quiet, of residential tenancies and lower property values." Apparently, the one story Stoney's does not cause any peace, order, or quiet issues. Nor do Halo's large open window or the outdoor seating at Logan Tavern and Merkado disturb the peace. In reality, the protest appears to be about the terms of the voluntary agreement (VA).

My understanding is that Stoney's found the VA, as drafted by the ANC, to be unacceptable and, therefore, declined to sign it. The Stoney's ownership, protecting its interests, then showed up to the monthly ANC meeting with an attorney. The rejection of the VA and presence of an attorney caused Commissioner Charles Reed to accuse Stoney's of not negotiating in good faith. At the last ANC meeting, there was no hope of progress at that time, and, the matter will be settled during the September meeting at the earliest (the August meeting was canceled). I'll try to provide updates as I find out more.

Streestcape Woe

The Washington Post recently reported on the P Street Streetscape project and its consequences. In short: not good. Along the way toward prettier sidewalks, nicer street lighting, and repaved streets, a 16 month project, business volume is down. The article sites loss of parking, narrow sidewalks, a reduced number of traffic lanes, and obstruction of storefronts by construction as possible causes of the downturn. Apparently, the effects are so severe that some are pushing for tax relief for affected businesses and low interest loans to help them weather the interruption.

I'm not implying that we do not want a Streetscape project in our area. I also think that every neighborhood is unique and will be affected in different ways by these sorts of construction projects. I do think, however, that we should keep the P Street challenges in mind during upcoming public meetings for 14th Street. I also really encourage local businesses to show up and defend their interests.

By the way, Commisioner Dyer is representing the ANC at these meetings. You can share your ideas and concerns with him by using his contact information as posted here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Planning the 14th Street "Streetscape"

For anyone who hasn't heard, I want to get the word out about the 14th St. Transportation and Streetscape Study. DDOT has teamed with some consultants to plan for growth along 14th St. NW. More about the goals of the project can be found here:

The project team is involving DC residents in the planning process through a series of four public meetings. The purpose of the first meeting, according to the website, was to "outline the project, discuss existing conditions and develop a shared vision for the future of the corridor." From that meeting it was determined that top priorities for the neighborhood are encouraging arts, retail, and entertainment while also considering "bike/pedestrian orientation," which I presume to mean encouraging the use and safety of non-vehicular transportation.

During the next public forum the development of options for the 14th St. corridor will be discussed. This meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on September 25th in the National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle . I think that all who can should take advantage of this opportunity to shape the future of their neighborhood. However, anyone who can't make it out should at least share their input using the online form on the Streetscape Study's website.