Chickens in the City II

A follow up to Chickens in the City.
I found some language that looks like backyard chickens would be illegal in the District. In the “District of Columbia Municipal Regulations for Animal Control” (PDF)in sections 902 and 903 the language seems to say no fowl and they’re not too keen on pigeons either. 902.7 (a) states regarding a coop, “The proposed location is not within fifty feet (50 ft.) of any building used for human habitation;” and (b) says, “The proposed location is not within two hundred and fifty feet (250 ft.) of any property line or, if this is not the case, the applicant has furnished to the Director with the written consents of all householders and owners of property located within one hundred feet (100 ft.) of the boundaries of the premises upon which fowl are to be kept, and within the same square.” Sounds like the language for dogs parks in that by placing high barriers you essentially make them illegal.
It also looks like keeping bees is illegal too.
I consider those regulations unjust.

Small house design is a talent

Sometimes you don’t realize that certain things require talent until you’ve seen the task carried out so badly, you wanna cry. I pitty the real estate agent trying to push 1708 4th St NW, because it is 1,326 sq ft squandered. It’s supposed to be a three bedroom, more accurately, it is one bedroom and two small offices. Okay one of those offices could have a twin bed or child’s bed, but it would be tight and the closet door would need to be removed. I’m trying to think if my cubicle at work has more square footage than the other bedroom.
I could design something better than that with a pencil some paper and a copy of Not So Big House. Heck, with my own house, I think I did. Though the living area is about 1000 sq ft., I don’t think it feels cramped. Yes, my bedroom is the size of a nice walk in closet, but it is big enough for a bed, a small wardrobe, small dresser and a big pile of dirty clothes that I really need to wash.
There were several mistakes, in my opinion, with 1708 4th St. Let’s start with the 1st floor. The stairs are not up to code, maybe because to get anything big (couch, fridge, etc) through the front door and into the house, you’re taking out part of the stair railing. The fireplace is in a wierd spot. Does a gas fireplace add so much to a property that even a tiny wierdly placed one works? The kitchen is okay. I recognize it as an IKEA Akurum/Rationell style kitchen. IKEA understands small spaces. The second floor is where the tiny bedroom/offices are. The hallway is nice and big, but there is something wrong when the bathroom on that floor seems bigger than one of the bedrooms. I kid. However, I would have made the bathroom a 3/4 bath to get a few more feet for the bedroom. If a tub is needed, use the one on the 3rd floor. The thrid floor bathroom is big and the window faces the street. Plantation shutters will be required. Outside the back and front yards are paved with concrete. These can be improved with some container plants.

Affordable Housing in DC online

I have finally done my taxes and as I wandered over the the DC.Gov website to fill in the blank to do my DC income tax on line I noticed something on the front page about searching affordable housing on-line. Going back to search for the announcement, I can’t seem to find it but the link is on the Department of Housing and Community Development’s page.

It appears that the DC Dept of Housing and Community Development has partnered/contracted (I can’t tell) with Social Serve.Com in listing affordable housing in DC that is either for sale or for rent with the site DC Housing Search.Org. For fun I played around with it looking for ‘affordable’ housing for sale then plugging in some numbers for rent. I also searched to see what’s affordable in the 20001 zip code. The results were a bit wrong, bringing up some NE (20001 is Old City NW) addresses. Among the misses were some hits like a couple of 2 bedrooms on the 200 blk of Florida Avenue for $1,500, an apartment at 413 P St., Golden Rule Plaza, and the studios in the Phyllis Weatley YWCA on Rhode Island Avenue. I also fooled around with the 20009 and 20011 zip codes and found properties there too, but the search feature has more so one could search by distance to public transit, handicap accessibility, pets, security deposit needed, criminal check and you can exclude the properties on the waiting list. There is also a neat little chart to decide how much rent you should pay based on your hourly wage.

Is this neighborhood safe

A few months ago whilst shopping at Timor, I got to chatting with a fellow (cause , people hang out and chat @ the Timor) about a question. He was saying he was talking with a guy about become a roommate and the guy had asked if the neighborhood was safe. I get that question too when looking for roommates. I hate that question.
I feel safe, but I don’t know about you
Most of the time when I’m walking back from the metro after work, I feel safe enough. But I’m aware. I’m aware that muggings and other street crimes occur. And I remain somewhat aware of my surroundings, though Jimbo and I disagree on if I’m still aware with one earphone in my ear. Most of the time I feel safe enough, within reason.
However, when I get the question, “Do you feel safe around here?” I tend to dissect the question. I still have a reference textbook from library school with a section on questions. The problem is some questions that people ask are not the right questions to get to the information they want to know. So the question I think they are really asking is if they would feel safe around here. And I really can’t answer that well.
I can’t answer it because, typically I don’t know the person well enough. I don’t know what risks they take. Do they walk home after 10PM, at 1AM? Sober, buzzed or drunk? Do they constantly walk and yabber on their cell phone or zone out with their ipod? Do they have a car? How well do they lock their bike? But I do answer the question, and depending on my mood determines the answer I give. And really the neighborhood is as safe as you are.

Garlicy, feta pizza

I think it was on the Eckington listserv I saw mention of Italy Pizza, a hole in the wall pizza joint at 634 Florida Ave NW. From the outside it doesn’t look like much. Honestly, it look like a greasy carry out place you just keep walking by. But looks are deceiving. There is good pizza to be had.
I picked up a portabella mushroom pie. It was a thin crust pizza with a garlic herb sauce (not tomato), mozzerella and feta cheese, portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers and a lot of spinach. It was good. Not as great as Matchbox but a tad better than Ella’s. Looking at the carry out menu I see I could make my own stinky breath pizza with the garlic sauce, caramelized onions, red onions, white onions, fresh and roasted garlic and anchovies. When in the mood for pizza I’ll definitely choose them again.

Chickens in the City

I woke up this morning (cue blues riff), and heard a report on WAMU saying that “Officials in the mayor’s office say there is currently no law prohibiting raising chickens within city limits if residents follow guidelines on proper animal care and shelter.”
As I remember, I thought there were laws on the books that in one way or another say no to chickens. Just to make sure I checked The City Chicken, which according to it’s chicken law page says, “Washington D.C. Housing chickens here violates health laws and is not legal.”
Then I checked the online DC Code, plugging in Chicken, poultry and fowl. DC ST § 8-1808, says, “(d) No person shall change the natural color of a baby chicken, duckling, other fowl or rabbit.” and “(f) No person shall sell or offer for sale a baby chicken, duckling, other fowl, or rabbit that has had its natural color changed.” and more importantly:

(h)(1) Except as provided in this subsection, no person shall import into the District, possess, display, offer for sale, trade, barter, exchange, or adoption, or give as a household pet any living member of the animal kingdom including those born or raised in captivity, except the following: domestic dogs (excluding hybrids with wolves, coyotes, or jackals), domestic cats (excluding hybrids with ocelots or margays), domesticated rodents and rabbits, captive-bred species of common cage birds, nonpoisonous snakes, fish, and turtles, traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, and racing pigeons (when kept in compliance with permit requirements).

As I read that, I don’t interpret chickens or quail or ducks or any other fowl one may want to raise in the city as a ‘common caged bird’. And if I want pigeons, or squab, they’d have to be racing pigeons and have a permit, issued by what agency I don’t know.
So far with my limited knowledge it looks like chickens aren’t permitted, nor are they illegal.

Petitions, neighbors, and the long view

I’m supposed to be collecting signatures to try to open the Dunbar High School track to residents. Our Dear Mayor Fenty gets to run on the track in the mornings, it would be nice if residents had the option to do so as well. In a brief shot of energy, as I’m still recovering from a cold, I grabbed the petition forms and hit the block. The first group of people were some neighbors who several months ago had collected signatures for speed humps for our block. It’s been a while since anyone has heard anything about the progress of the humps. So that tempers/ clouds my perception of how useful the Dunbar petition will be. While collecting I was able to reconnect with neighbors I haven’t seen for a while because in Winter we all hide out, so this was an opportunity to catch up.
So far everyone is still employed! Woot!
However, with the few warm days we’ve had we’ve noticed our friendly neighborhood drug dealers (who I thought had left) back scoping out the corners. Looking at it from with a long view, things have gotten better. But not so much better that the block is drug free. It depresses me that there is still something about neighborhood that makes it an environment that the dealers think they can still profit around here.
As a neighborhood we’ve chipped away at the things that would make it too easy for the dealers. We’ve gotten residential parking for many of the blocks, which is annoying when you have long term guests and short term roommates. We call the cops. We clean up and eliminated most of the opportunities for dumping, as huge piles of trash make for good drug stashes. We work with the city’s elected officials and its agencies. We voted and contributed to campaigns. We turned on our front porch lights to brighten the block and reported street lights that were out so dealers would have less dark to hide in.
Not a credit to the neighbors but a change that makes the neighborhood less welcoming to dealers is there are fewer vacant houses and shells. Despite the slow down in housing, there has been a slight increase in owner occupied housing on my block, with a promise of more owner occupiers to come. More people to fight the good fight, or at least not be part of the problem. Though not so great for affordable housing, the amount of market rate rentals have outnumbered the “Section 8” houses. I hate to say that some of our drug fighting problems can be linked to a few of the “Section 8” houses. There is probably now only one or two houses on the block where the boyz may find safe harbor. It will be a brighter day when that number is 0.
A friend of mine who visits occasionally tell me how the neighborhood gets better and better in little increments. A new paint job here, a cleaned up yard there and fewer dealers on the corner.
Maybe in the near future we’ll have our street humps and access to the Dunbar track, and when the dealers come around to scope out the block they’ll decide it’s no good and move on.

Gardening in the front yard


I’ve admired the front yard of a house on the 1500 block of 8th St where raised beds bring forth lettuce and something that looks like bok choy. Currently the beds are covered in opaque plastic. That’s probably to protect seedlings, while providing light and warmth.
I haven’t gone the way of raised beds yet. I tested my soil last year and so far it’s biggest problem is that there is too much fertilizer, more than likely from my over use of compost. The soil has been amended and isn’t very clay-like anymore so there isn’t a need, I think, to raise the beds. However, due to a planned paint project a number of front yard plants will be in pots.
Despite being sick and woo-woo in the head from the cold medicine I’m taking, I filled some pots this weekend. Despite being less than charmed with Swiss Chard, I’m growing it again, but mainly for looks. Swiss Chard can be pretty growing in the yard. Prettier than arugula, which though tasty, is just green and leafy. The arugula is staying, but I am going to try growing it in pots this year.