Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Support a Worthy Cause Tomorrow Night: Community of Hope's 30th Anniversary Event

One of the 14thandyous favorite nonprofits, Community of Hope, will be celebrating their 30th anniversary at a gala event tomorrow evening at the Willard Hotel downtown. Tickets for the event ($75 single/$125 couple) can be purchased here.

Based in Columbia Heights, Community of Hope provides healthcare, housing, and educational support to underprivileged individuals and families throughout DC. We've been supporting them for years and find them to be one of the most helpful and support-worthy institutions in the city. If you've got not plans for tomorrow evening, we urge you to consider attending this event and contributing towards a very worthwhile cause. More details below:

* * * * * *

Help Community of Hope celebrate our 30th Anniversary at our signature event, Feeding the Soul, Strengthening the Community, on September 30, 2010 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at the Willard Office Building (1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). Proceeds benefit Community of Hope's health and housing programs and help improve the health and quality of life for DC's most vulnerable families. Join Lesli Foster of WUSA Channel 9, Platinum Sponsor Freddie Mac Foundation and Gold Sponsors MeadWestvaco and National Air Traffic Controllers Association to enjoy tastes from Participating Sponsors CEIBA, FINEMONDO ITALIAN COUNTRY KITCHEN, NEW HEIGHTS RESTAURANT, and GEORGETOWN CUPCAKE. Tickets are $75 per person or $125 per couple. Sponsorships are also available. Contributions are welcome.

A portion of the proceeds will be matched by The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation as part of Community of Hope's "$30,000 in 30 Days" Fall Campaign, up to a maximum of $30,000.

To get more information or purchase tickets, please visit our website at or call us at (202) 407-7753.

Community of Hope works to improve the health and quality of life for low-income, homeless, and underserved families and individuals in the District of Columbia by providing healthcare, housing with supportive services, educational opportunities, and spiritual support.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Dead in Drive-By Shooting @ 11th and U

EDIT: MPD have made an arrest in the shooting, which appears to be a case of two rival gangs getting into an altercation at a funeral which led to the gunfire. Stay classy, street gangs.

On a related note, the victim who died--Jamal Coates--appeared in a campaign video for Ward 1 council candidate Bryan Weaver.

* * * * * *

DCist is reporting that one person has died, and two others have been injured, in a drive-by shooting this afternoon at 11th and U streets. Apparently, the shooting somehow involved the procession for Ashley McRae, who was found shot in the backseat of a car on September 18 after a night out at a nightclub in NE.

Ward 1 ANC commissioner and city council candidate Bryan Weaver tweeted at approximately 12:45 that police had covered the body of an African-American male in his 20s, and that Weaver "might know him".

From DCist:

Details about the actual gunfire are scant -- a Ben's Chili Bowl employee that we talked with on the scene said that he saw gunmen fleeing from the scene southbound. Other eyewitnesses also said that two men escaped from the overturned car after the crash and fled on foot. D.C. Fire and EMS are on the scene and evaluating injuries, but there is no word yet on specifics. The car was completely totaled.

Several people were in hysterical tears by the entrance to Solly's at the intersection of 11th and U, and it took several authorities to calm them. Emotions were running very high at the scene; several people who were yelling at police had to forced to leave the scene as they investigated. Detectives with MPD were on their way to the scene when DCist came back to file this report.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Transit Tuesday: Capital Bikeshare Launches, Public Meeting for 14th Street Streetscape Project

EDIT: From an email I received from Mike Bernardo, chair of ANC2F's Community Development Committee:

On Wednesday, September 29, 2010, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) will
hold a public community meeting on the 14th Street, NW Streetscape Design Project. The meeting will
take place from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm in the 2nd Floor Community Room at the Reeves Center (2000 14th
Street NW, Washington, DC 20009).

The 14th Street, NW Streetscape Design Project area covers from Thomas Circle north to Florida
Avenue, NW. At the meeting, DDOT will present its intermediary design, which was developed after
several public meetings in 2009. Public input on the intermediary design will also be requested.

If you are interested in the future streetscape design of 14th Street, NW, please plan to attend this

* * * * * *

In case you missed it, today was the official launch of the Capital Bikeshare program, which is being billed as the largest bike sharing program in the country. With an eventual 110 stations and 1100 bicycles throughout DC and Arlington, it may soon become one of the best ways to get around the city.

We've written about some of the details of Capital Bikeshare previously, including information about the location of stations in the Logan, Shaw and Dupont areas. And in case you're intimidated by the process of renting a bike, DDOT's got you covered with a handy little video.

Want more information? Check out Capital Bikeshare's website.

Speaking of transportation, we have been talking for years about the forthcoming 14th Street Streetscape project. And next Wednesday, September 29, we'll get the opportunity to talk some more. DDOT will be holding a public meeting to discuss the project on that date from 6:30 pm - 8:00 PM in the second floor community room at the Reeves Center, located at 14th and U.

I haven't seen an official agenda circulated for the meeting, nor could I locate anything on DDOT's website, but it's likely that DDOT officials will be presenting an overview of the project, timeline (to the extent that one is available) and other such information.

Monday, September 20, 2010

First look: Yards Park

Yes, I know that Yards Park isn't in or near Logan. In fact, it isn't even in NW. But the 14thandyous had an opportunity to head down to scope out DC's latest riverfront park recently, and came away duly impressed. We only wish the light tower had been operational...and that, you know, there was other stuff down there (even the Starbucks was closed). But seriously, it's a nice park that will prove to be a great amenity for current and forthcoming residents of the so-called Ballpark District.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hank's: Analysis of a Liquor License Protest

Frequently, on here and elsewhere, we delve into discussions about liquor licenses; specifically, the frequent protests that are brought by ANCs and other citizens groups in an attempt to regulate the licensee through the voluntary agreement process. In the majority of instances, both the licensee and the protesters are able to reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both.

There are instances, unfortunately, when an agreement cannot be reached amicably. Sometimes, this is the result of one party believing that it will prevail in a hearing before the ABRA Board. In other instances, it is simply a case of a group of protesters abusing the protest process. Such is the case with the current protest of expansion plans by Hank's Oyster Bar.

The timing here is interesting, as the status of Hank's liquor license will be addressed at an upcoming meeting, on October 13, at ABRA (scroll to the bottom of the page for information on Hank's).

First, a bit of background. Hank's opened in their location at 17th and Q streets in 2005, the recipient of a single license expansion of the liquor license moratorium in place along 17th Street. The license was protested furiously--not by the Dupont Circle ANC, but rather by a group of residents who live near the intersection of 17th and Q streets. Nevertheless, Hank's prevailed, and chef-owner Jamie Leeds' establishment was quickly cemented as one of the area's most popular eateries.

Fast forward to 2010, and Leeds announces plans to expand to the adjacent space and add 20 outdoor seats. Fans of Hank's applauded the long overdue move, which well help alleviate some of the long waits for those attempting to dine in the crowded space. However, some of the residents, many of whom were among the original protesters, were not amused. And, in spite of the fact that ANC2B voted not to protest the expansion plans, nor to protest Leeds' request to vacate her VA (on the grounds that her license includes all of the stipulations in the VA, making it redundant), they filed a protest anyway.

At this point in other posts, I might say a few words about the dangers of abusing the liquor license protest process, or about the reflexive opposition that seems to rear up from time to time around here. Instead, I'm going to let the protesters' words speak for themselves, so that readers can see--and judge for themselves--the merit of the arguments made by the protesters. As ANC2B commissioner Jack Jacobson noted recently, this seems to be a case of a group of protesters singling out a business without cause. Not only that, I might add, but the protest they have filed is completely baseless. Thus, below, I'm providing a point-by-point analysis of the specific issues raised by the protesters in their protest which was filed with ABRA on July 26.

First, a word about the protesters. The two lead protesters, David Mallof and Alexis Rieffel, do not live along the same block as Hank's. In fact, none of the protesters do. Most live along the 1700 block of Q, with some living as far south as 17th and Massachusetts. Why someone who lives at 17th and Massachusetts would be provoked to such a degree of outrage over an additional 20 outdoor seats at a restaurant 2 1/2 blocks away, I can only imagine. Anyway, onto the Re: line:

Re: Protest of Substantial Change Request to Dramatically Increase Seating and Use of Public Space within the Already Overconcentrated East Dupont Moratorium Zone at the Hyperconcentrated (sic) Street Corner of 17th and Q Streets, NW

Note the creative use of adjectives and adverbs: "dramatically increase," "overconcentrated" "hyperconcentrated". The intersection of 17th and Q features Trio, Hank's, the Java House coffee shop, and Floriana, along with a valet service and a residence. "Hyperconcentrated" doesn't mean what it used to, I guess. Moving on...


Actually, Hank's request is not "prohibited" by the Agreement, it simply isn't included in it. Hence Leeds' request to amend her license to include the adjacent building and outdoor seating area.


There's a lot to parse through in this one, not the least of which is the use of a phrase--"myriad concentration"--for which I am unable to discern a definition. No matter. The gyst of what is being argued here is that because the 17th Street "emergency" moratorium is in place (now going on 19 years), by default ABRA should not approve Hank's expansion plans, because it would seem to be in contradiction to the purpose of the moratorium. There is one small problem with this position: it ignores the ruling by ABRA on the moratorium, published just this past May. Remember, Hank's is seeking to expand its operations, not obtain a new license. From ABRA's ruling:

"Public comment received by the Board reflects that there is a need for more than the two (2) lateral expansion applications requested by ANC 2B. Specifically, there are establishments with significant neighborhood support, who would not be able to file if lateral expansions were limited to only two (2) applications. As such, the Board now finds that it is appropriate to grant four (4) lateral expansions, rather than the two (2) that were originally requested."

In other words, what Leeds is requesting is entirely permissible under the adoption of the moratorium by ABRA earlier this year.

A. We appreciate the ambiance, diversity and positive externalities created by the ABC licensing, as well as the community benefits of allowing responsible licensees the use of scarce public space for ancillary sidewalk cafes.

The emphasis on the phrase "public space" was their's, ostensibly to remind us that Hank's is seeking a permit to place tables and chairs in a space that resides within the public domain. Which is true. But this isn't so much a legal argument against Hank's as it is a fantasy devoid of 17th Street reality--the space Leeds is seeking to expand into is vacant, and has been for years. The "public space" Hank's would be utilizing is not currently being used by anyone, nor are there any plans for it to be used by anyone. Basically, this is an argument that the neighborhood is better served with a vacant property than by allowing a popular--and well-run--neighborhood eatery to expand into it. How many people are honestly buying that argument?

B. It is because of the overcontration's negative impacts that moratoriums are critically important and specifically authorized under Title 25.

This is another appeal to the intention of the moratorium. But, as we've already demonstrated, the intention of the moratorium was to allow the expansion of up to four licensees--precisely what Leeds is seeking to do.

As to these perceived "negative impacts," the protesters go on to list things like "property values," "peace, order and quiet," and the ever-mysterious "and more." The mind reels at what "more" negative impacts Hank's could be imposing upon the Dupont citizenry. The issue of property values is a complete non-starter, as anyone who has watched property values climb over the last decade would attest. (In fact, I'm more inclined to believe the counter-argument: that property values are enhanced by the proximity to establishments such as Hank's.) And to the "peace, order and quiet" argument, as Commissioner Jacobson noted, he represents the residents who live directly across the street from Hank's, and has never once received a complaint about the restaurant.

C. The Board has never found that any of these impacts are in remission, which would be the only reason to allow any expansion of impacts, seats or licenses.

Yet again, it should be pointed out that the moratorium allows for the expansion of an establishment such as Hank's--there is no burden upon the licensee to show that "peace, order and quiet" has been somehow recaptured to a greater degree than it was five years ago.

D. Further, the Board had no data whatsoever in hand, rather pro or con, regarding property values.

To this, we are obliged to point out that whether the Board possessed any evidence of a decline or rise in property values is irrelevant to the question of whether Hank's expansion plans are appropriate and within the bounds of the law. There is no obligation for a licensee to provide an enhancement of property values, nor is there a requirement for the Board to consider such a thing when the moratorium stipulates that expansion is permitted. The protesters, for their part, are unable to present any data that their property values have declined, and they have certainly been unable to present data to show that their property values declined as a result of liquor licensees such as Hank's. (For what it is worth, median home sales prices in Hank's zip code have increased by 15% since 2005--peaking at a rise of 42.8% in 2007.)

Any further expansion of seats in the moratorium zone cannot be consistent with existing laws, or compatible with the broad interests of the District of Columbia, in the absence of factual, empirical, quantitative evidence that it will not result in greater overconcentration or yield some compensating benefits to nearby residents.

Notice the slippery-slope tactics employed here: Hank's request for an additional 20 outdoor seats is now a matter of sufficient concern for residents throughout the entire District! Mr. Mallof already presented a similar version of this argument when he, along with another Q Street resident, urged ABRA to reconsider its position on expansion--specifically, he requested that ABRA limit expansions to interior spaces only, which ABRA declined to do. And again, there is no burden that the licensee present "compensating benefits" to nearby residents, although it could be argued that providing additional seating at one of the brightest restaurant stars amongst an otherwise lackluster corridor constitutes a "compensating benefit".

In the face of repeated findings of overconcentration, we question whether the Board has the authority to grant an increase in net ABC seats in the face of the obvious negative externalities.

To begin, the Board does indeed have that authority--for if not them, then who? Secondly, the existing rule governing the moratorium permits just such an expansion. And it is certainly a matter of opinion as to whether the so-called negative externalities are indeed "obvious".

G. Title 25 makes it clear that the greatest weight must always be accorded to the most proximately affected and impacted residents, including abutting commercial property owners.

On this we agree, and it makes the absence of any of Hank's immediate neighbors--nay, any residents or businesses along Hank's entire block--from the protest all the more interesting.

If the tone here sounds harsh, it's only because I view this as a clear example of a flat-out abuse of the protest process. Leeds has implied in the past that, if things get too difficult for her in Dupont, she'll pack up and head elsewhere. I would not take that as an idle threat.

The thing to keep in mind here is that these protests, no matter how frivolous, have very real consequences for the business owners, who must employ legal counsel, use up vast amounts of time, and defer operating plans until the protest can be resolved. This case is particularly egregious, as it includes protesters who have protested Hank's before, largely regarding the same issues. If the issues were not valid before, what makes them valid now? And why must Leeds, and similar business owners, face down protests such as this time and again?

These are questions that should be asked, as not only can situations like this adversely impact good local business owners, but it also threatens the ability of residents to reasonably address legitimate issues with the business operating in their neighborhood. In this instance, Hank's immediate neighbors may in fact be well-served by the execution of a reasonable, balanced voluntary agreement--only the behavior of the protestants in this instance has been so abysmal, it's no wonder Leeds doesn't want any kind of agreement with them.

Ultimately, there are few who believe that Hank's expansion plans will not be approved, largely because they are reasonable and within the bounds of the law. But that simply makes us question the purpose of engaging in this protest. District law, rightly or wrongly, permits it--but to what end?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vince Gray = Tea Partier?

Yeah, seems a bit of a stretch to me too.

But you tell me what this screenshot from the Huffington Post this morning is implying:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Third Arts District Branding Public Meeting Monday @ Jewish Community Center

The third public meeting regarding the branding and marketing of the so-called Mid-City Arts District will take place tomorrow (Monday) at 6 7:30 pm at Theater J in the Jewish Community Center, located at 16th and Q streets NW. Among the items up for discussion include:

-What do you think are the unique/special characteristics of this district?
-What does "ART" and "ARTS DISTRICT" mean?
-How do you think the district should be named?
-Do the proposed boundaries capture the intensity of the marketable arts assets in this district?

The last point is something that has come up at both prior public meeting; that is, the question of whether the boundaries for the arts district are too large. How, it has been asked, can a singular brand be applied to an are that encapsulates both 7th and M streets and 16th and U?

The simple answer is that it can't. The arts district, as it has been defined, includes a number of neighborhoods with established identities, such as Shaw, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, U Street and LeDroit Park, among others. Clearly, no single brand can effectively convey the unique attributes of each of those areas. Thus, the arts district should be thought of more as a collection of established neighborhoods--perhaps even a small city--with an overarching identity as a center for the arts and for commerce. Think "U Street in the Arts District", or something similar.

If you have thoughts or opinions to share about this or the other topics listed above, please plan to attend tomorrow evening's meeting and have your voice heard. Participating on the panel will be two executives of the Toronto-based design and branding agency L.A. Inc., who will share their thoughts and perspectives about establishing an identity for and marketing urban neighborhoods.

Additional information about the Mid-City Arts District project can be found on their blog,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Election Madness

Over here at 14thandyou, we're big believers in fulfilling your civic duty by voting, even if our Democratic process can seem a little crazy at times.

Unless you've been living in a cave (or perhaps spending too much time hanging out in a local basement), you know that this coming Tuesday you have an opportunity to vote in DC's primary elections, which means a chance to elect DC's next mayor, city council members, ANC commissioners.

The DC Board of Elections has a lot of really helpful information on their website, including a list of polling places, information on early voting (which started last week) and sample Ward 1 and 2 ballots for the Democratic, Republican and Green parties.

But what of the actual races, you ask? Rumor has it that some mayoral race or something is going on, but I haven't heard much about that. There's also an at-large DC Council seat (a battle between Phil Mendolson, Clark Ray, and Michael D. Brown--no not THAT Michael Brown, the other one) and Council Chairmanship (where you have a choice between two colors--Brown or Orange) up-for-grabs. In Ward 1, longtime incumbent Jim Graham is up for reelection, with City Paper-endorsed challenger Brian Weaver nipping at his heals.

At the local level, all of the local ANC seats are will be up for grabs in the general election in November, but only five are contested. Two of the most interesting include Peter Raia's seat on ANC!B and Ramon Estrada's in ANC2B. Borderstan has a great recap of the contested ANC races. In addition to all of the other press, the City Paper has also put together complete endorsements and an interesting 2010 elections poll (sample: How many Vincent Gray supporters are Redskins fans?).

The only people who can't vote in the primary elections on Tuesday? Those who aren't registered members of the Democratic, Republican or Green parties. No worries, though: you can register at the polls if you haven't already.

See you on Tuesday!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Car Strikes Pedestrians at 18th and U, Destroys Front of Restaurant

Via DCist, a car being driven at a high rate of speed careened out of control at the intersection of 18th and U last night, striking two female pedestrians and destroying the front of the Keren Restaurant.

One woman who was struck apparently had life-threatening injuries, although neither her condition, nor that of the other pedestrian, is known.

The driver of the vehicle, a female, was arrested at the scene after refusing treatment for her injuries. According to eyewitnesses, the driver approached the intersection of 18th and U and attempted to make a left turn while traveling at a very high rate of speed. The driver drove over the triangular median and struck the pedestrians before smashing into the front of Keren, an Eritrean (NOT Ethiopian, as has been reported elsewhere) restaurant. Fortunately, no one in the restaurant was injured in the crash. The building's structural integrity is being studied this morning.

According to TBD, as of approximately 4:30 this morning all roads around the area have been reopened.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Capital Bikeshare Installation @ 14th and Rhode Island

As promised, the city has begun installing each of the 100+ bike stations that will constitute the new Capital Bikeshare program. The program is a replacement for the existing SmartBike program, which will be discontinued this fall.

I don't know if you can tell with the crummy camera phone-quality pic, but the new stations look a bit more space-agey than the SmartBike stations.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Next Arts District Branding Meeting to Take Place on Tuesday @ Warehouse Theater

Welcome back, everyone. I hope your commute back into the city were painless (if you left, like we did) or that you enjoyed a long weekend around our fair city if you stayed local.

If you're out and about tomorrow evening, I'd urge you to drop in on the next meeting of the Arts District Branding discussion, taking place at the Warehouse Theater from 6p-8p. This is a tremendous opportunity to engage community leaders, artists, business owners and are organizations in a discussion about how to brand and market what is currently termed the Mid-City Arts District. The decisions that come out of these meeting will ultimately have a substantial impact on the marketing of the neighborhood to city residents and tourists alike, and will thus impact the arts organizations, artists, businesses and residents of the neighborhood.

If you missed the first meeting last week, Borderstan has a great recap of the event. The agenda for tomorrow evening's presentation can be found below. For more information, please visit

Presentations & Street Graphics Competition Update:
6:00 PM - 6:45 PM:
-Welcome by Co-Hosts Alex Padro / Paul Ruppert
-Welcome and project overview by Andrea Doughty, Project Coordinator
-What do we mean by “Branding and Marketing an Arts District?” by Carol Felix, Lead Branding Consultant
-Update on the Streets Graphics Competition by Carol Felix

Dynamic Panel Discussion:
6:45PM- 7:30 PM:
-Jennifer Cover Payne: President, Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington
-Paul Ruppert, Producing Director, Warehouse Theater
-Alex Padro: Executive Director, Shaw Main Streets
-Myla Moss: Board of Directors, Howard Theater Restoration
-Martin Moulton: President, Convention Center Community Association
-Gerry Widdicombe: Director of Economic Development, Downtown DC B.I.D.

Public Dialogue, Questions:
7:30 PM- 8:00 PM:
-Michael Altman, Facilitator
-Andrea Doughty, Project Coordinator

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ANC to Seek New Agreement for Black's Restaurant on 14th Street

At tonight's ANC2F meeting, the Commission discussed the as-yet-unnamed Jeff Black-operated restaurant coming to 1612 14th Street (next door to HR-57).

As you may recall, the space was originally slated to become a sustainable seafood-focused restaurant from local restaurateur Barton Seaver. Seaver had negotiated a voluntary agreement for the space with the ANC, however construction of the restaurant never moved forward. Jeff Black, whose other restaurants include the eponymous Black's in Bethesda and Blacksalt in the Palisades, announced plans to open a restaurant in the space in July.

At tonight's meeting, ANC2f commissioner Charles Reed said that Black notified the ANC of his intent to vacate the Seaver-negotiated VA for the space because of disagreements with certain components of it. Among those reasons cited was a clause forbidding the opening of an outdoor summer garden, which Black would like to include in his plans. Citing concerns over potential noise and vermin problems for nearby residents, Reed indicated that the ANC would protest the license application in order to negotiate a new VA with Black.

The issue was supposed to have been discussed this evening; however, the space did not have placards posted yet so no discussion could take place. Stay tuned for more on this one...