December 2011 Archives

New Years Miscellaney

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Rogue 24 Chef RJ Cooper is having heart surgery and having guests such as José Andrés temping [CCCA, DCist, RenewShaw, Curbed]

There was a double stabbing at Mood Lounge [ShawDeservesBetter]

Oy Vey in a Manager contest winner Michael would like to share his best photos of 2011 [Mystery Incorp]

Winter Garden Salad

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Salad in a pot 1
What you see pictured is a plastic pot of corn salad, also known as mache. For you Whole Foods shoppers there is a big plastic container of them in the salad section if you want to see them up close and personal. I brought this pot of salad greens inside the house for a brief moment, because it was cold and dark outside and I wanted to pick that night's salad inside. So I put down newspaper and brought in the pot. I picked enough for two, and it was tasty.

I broadcast the seed for the mache sometime in Fall. Some from seed from a previous planting and a lot from seed bought off Ebay.  I noticed that the corn salad survived the previous winters, and as long as the ground and everything else wasn't frozen solid. Corn salad, some other salad that I think is Black Seeded Simpson, and arugula all do okay with winter weather. However, corn salad and the other salad are mild tasting and lacks the peppery bite of arugula.

I've got other salads in other containers. Some aren't doing so well. I think it is because they are too crowded and don't get as much water as the pots sitting on dirt. Others, like the ones pictured below, are okay and provide some variety.
Salad pot2

Homicide Watch and the Death of Bill Mitchell

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Homicide Watch is an excellent source, it's main writer and editor Laura Amico is doing the Lord's work by reporting on every murder. Not just pretty people, or sensationalist deaths, but every homicide no matter where in the city, no matter who. What you don't see from her blog is her sitting in court and the many hours dedicated to this work. What you do see and what I hope residents, city officials and politicians see, are the patterns, and behind all those numbers is a human life.

And that brings me to one death in particular interest to those in the Bloomingdale/ Truxton Circle area, William Mitchell. The latest posting from Homicide Watch has an affidavit detailing, from witnesses, what happened. It is an interesting read.

I would encourage you to support Homicide Watch with a donation by clicking the Paypal button on the site.

Man Charged in William Mitchell Murder

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Scott Roberts caught it in todays paper buried in the Metro section.

The National Archives social media side has this Citizen Archivist Dashboard thing where normal people all over the nation, and the world can help the Archives tag, transcribe and upload things. I was thinking this would be a good opportunity for someone, who might want something to do over the academic winter break to bring some Shaw history out of the Archives and on to the web.

What I am thinking of particularly is something out at College Park, MD, because that's where they keep the photographs called Photographs of Low Rent Housing and Housing in Inhabited Alleys in the District of Columbia. There be some photos of Shaw area alleys there. They are arranged by name of alley, but it is good to know the square the alley was on as well. Square numbers have not changed.

Sadly, the citizen archivist thing is limited to images, if they ever open it up to PDFs there is a whole world of reports relating to urban renewal and the whole "slum" thing that Ray M of sunshine likes to wax on about.

Cut & Paste-Save your home- DC program

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The District of Columbia government, through the Home Saver Program(https://www.homesaverdc.org/), now offers forgivable loans to homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages because of unemployment. If you own a home in DC, are receiving or have received unemployment benefits at any time during the last 6 months, and are behind on your mortgage because you were laid off, you may be eligible for a loan to help bring your mortgage current. Call (202) 667-7006 or attend a FREE foreclosure clinic to find out more about this program and other realistic options for avoiding foreclosure.

When:
Wednesday, January 4--12:00 P.M.
Wednesday, January 11--12:00 P.M.
Wednesday, January 18--12:00 P.M.
Wednesday, January 25--6:00 P.M.

Where:

Housing Counseling Services
2410 17th Street NW
Suite #100
 

HT- Frozen Tropics

The Florida Avenue Park

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Look pictures!

Park plan

 

B ball court

Seating is closer to the road so occupants can't comfortably hide in the back.

Playground 2 Playground 1

 

Get better Kim

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Yesterday we popped by Field to City for milk and cookies, and cream and eggs. Unfortunately, Kim could not speak, he lost his voice (Laryngitis?), so the store was shuttered for a time. So if you went there because I said it was open, I'm sorry.
Kim is such a trooper, he saw us coming by the store and opened it up so we could pick up the items we needed. Where else are you going to get such service? Regulars to Field to City know that Kim is just amazing in some ways, like what he did for us yesterday. Yes, he runs his store in his own unique way, but it grants him the flexibility to get wonderful and personal service.

Thinking and planning for 2012

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I don't make resolutions, those are too prone to failure. The weight loss, good habits to take, those are usually Lenten tasks, with a start and possible end. To take one something new for 365 days, is too much. Anyway, since I am a planner I figure measurable goals would be a better.

For the blog I'm hoping to do a date night post once a month as I'd like to hit some of the restaurants on U Street, in Logan and random places along the bus routes and within a decent cab ride back home.

There has been something else on my mind, and it may come out a little bit in my postings. Since getting married, the Help and I have been talking about creating a family. I love my neighborhood and would like to remain. I like my house but it's small for the size family we want. We can only squeeze in 80-90 more square feet if we renovate. So as a long term plan (5 years out)  I'm paying attention to the housing market in Truxton, and surrounding neighborhoods. The thing working against the area isn't the schools, or the lack of representation, or government corruption, it's price of more square footage.
 
My hang up is I don't like the idea of paying half of a million dollars for a house. Half of a mill ey on dollars. Could we afford it? Possibly, maybe. Do I want to pay that much? No. So, angling to stay close to where we are now will require long term planning, and patience. There are houses that pop up on Redfin now and again that are under $500K, and they give me hope that as our needs change we can continue to call this city home.

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas, if you're still sticking around here.
And if you are, keep an eye out for your neighbors houses.  Be nice and remove the chinese take out menu from their door.
Since we've got local family we'll wander out across the border to the wilds of PG County. Due to a misunderstanding Mr. InShaw did not get a "male" gift for tonight's familial gift exchange so we're going to see what is open today. So far I've narrowed t down to movie theaters, 7-11, Starbucks, and Field to City. Unfortunately Kim doesn't sell gift cards, and since most of my family are semi practicing Baptists, a good beer or nice bottle of wine would not go over well. I need to get to Field to City anyways, I owe Kim money, and we need eggs and milk.

Have a safe and sane Christmas weekend

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Even if you don't celebrate, you'd be a fool not to take advantage of the general expectation that you'll take off anyway. And should you take off BACA president Geovani Bonilla has some pointers if you are heading out of town.

The Bates Area Civic Association Wishes you and your love ones a very safe, happy and joyous holiday season and new year.

As some may be preparing to go away for the holidays, we wish to remind you to take the following safety precautions:


1. Stop newspaper deliveries. Newspapers piled up on your front door make your home a target for break ins.

2. Stop mail delivery. You don't want mail overflowing or the magazines and sales ads letting people know you're out of town.

3. Set your external lights on a timer. Leaving your external lights continuously indicates you're not home during the day to turn them off.

4. Ask a neighbor to hold any UPS/FedEx packages left at your door. Also to remove any flyers or menus left at your door.

5. If it is too late to takes steps 1 - 3, ask your neighbor to do these things for you.

6. Email MPD and let them know you'll be away. You may notify the following [this is for 5D, y'all on the other side of NJ are in 3D]

a. Commander Andy Solberg at Andrew.solberg AT dc.gov

b. Lt. Ronald Wright at Ronald.Wright AT dc.gov

7. Let your alarm company you're away and who the contact person is.

The basic precautions can help your return to a safe home after a lovely time with family.

--------------------------------

The Help and I will be hanging around here this weekend spending time with the local relatives. This will be the first Christmas where the Help is not in the home state of his youth with his west coast relatives. So the stress of the Christmas holiday, with the travel and stuff is zero. Also I did most of my Christmas shopping online with Etsy, Bed Bath and Beyond, a soap maker, a Texas purveyor of British goods, and in person at the market in Penn Quarter and some other small businesses between Penn Quarter and U Street, so I skipped the hassle of big box stores and mall crowds. I made some gifts that were in the hopper long before Thanksgiving, such as the lemoncello, the cherry liquor, the drunken cherries leftover from making the cherry liquor, and some other fruit sitting in vodka combos that just need bottling and giving.

Need a quick idea for a Christmas, under $20 to give your boss, or grab from the kitchen shelf idea? Simple syrup. Take water, take sugar, put them together in pot. Disolve the sugar. Cool. Bottle. Give.

You can use a clean empty twist top wine bottle, just remove the lables with hot soapy water and replace with your own. I've handdrawn mine. You can get fancy by adding flavors to the syrup such as peppermint extract, vanilla, lemon, etc. Also throw in a little vodka to help with the preservation, but it is best if it is stored in the fridge.

Plans of Mice, Men, and Goverment Agencies

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ModelCities.JPGI want to thank RayM for allowing me to use this image of a sign reflecting another time and another era. He put this up on the Shaw listserv. Say what you will about the listserv, and some of the listserv's more active posters, but Ray does actually bring information to the table (like the above photo), even if it is not packaged in a way that some more sensitive readers would like. 

With the work I've done with the National Capital Planning Commission files, I don't remember seeing this shape. But then again, I kind of ignored whatever was planned for NE DC in the 60s. I can definately make out the Shaw part of the Model Cities. As part of President Johnson's War on Poverty, the plan was big enough, but well other stuff happened (riots, Nixon, the 70s). According to the Shaw listserv chatter, initially the urban planners wanted to level the area as seen in map above, and make it "modern" (1970s idea of modern, ick). This would have given it an East Berlin look and feel. Thankfully, a lot of activism saved the area from being overwhelmed with a lot of large multi-family buildings with subsized rents.Those type of buildings do nothing for encouraging home ownership.

Anyway, I always find it interesting to look back at the people of the past (which one day we will be), and their grand sweeping plans and then find out why it flopped, failed, fizzled or fell a short.

 

Side note- Columbia Heights has been deemed a desirable neighborhood and is not, I repeat is not, an underserved neighborhood in need of any government funds, according to Senator Tom Coburn. (HT: Curbed)

WINNER of the Theater J Oy Vey in a Manger

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Oy-Vey-Graphic-with-Dates-and-TJ-Logo.jpgI woud like to congratulate Michael the winner of one of the very few contests I ever run around here, for the Theater J's Oy Vey in a Manger. Take a look at Michael's blog Mystery Incorporated, featuring some fun, yet odd ball looking, Christmas fun called Santarchy. 

Enjoy! 

OMG! Girl with the Dragon Tattoo @ Lincoln Theater

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PoP mentioned a press release from the Mayor's office about it, but go to Landmark Theater's website, change the date to December 21 showings, and scroll down.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be showing at 1:00, 4:00, 7:30 and 11:00. Sadly, GwtDT is designated to Netflix in our mind, the Help really wants to see Tin Tin, War Horse, and the Artist. Realistically we'd be lucky to see Tin Tin.

Tuesday Miscellaney

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Dumpster in front of Sunset Liquors!

Well Scott Roberts of the Bloomingdale Blog finds it interesting. I'm guessing it may have more to do with the park renovation more than an overhall of the liquor store we love to hate.

Finally a map of Ward 5 I can see

Scott Roberts is everywhere, even on the BACA blog, writing about the District Curmudgeon's post that shows something that everyone on this side of New Jersey Ave have been talking about, the proposed SMD borders. Ah, I see. What I don't see is why civic associations should even need to rethink their boundaries. Yes, it is way easier when your boundaries mirror the SMD (Single Member District) boundaries but the civic associations have been around way longer than the wards or even the SMDs.

Get your bike stolen at the Shaw/Howard Metro

Finally, after so many years, they have finally, finally put in bike racks at the R St entrance at the Shaw metro. Before you just had to take your chances with a street sign or on the chain link fence if you wanted to leave your bike for a mo'. More recently you could leave it over at the library across the street. Now you can take your chances nearer to the metro. Now remember if it is quick release, it can go missing and don't leave your $3000 racing bike there with a widdle bity cable lock.

Wrestling with the O St Market

Wrestling, the first thing I thought of when the O St market blog mentioned pile drivers. Yes, the residents near the O St Market can get to wake up to the soothing sounds of pinging from the pile drivers that will be at O, P, 7th and 9th Sts, at about 7AM. Don't worry it's only for January. If it is still going on in March, then you can get annoyed.... if the take over of the sidewalk and bus stop on 7th hasn't annoyed you already.

You can't just throw money at kids

I will have to say Paul Schwartzman and crew wrote a pretty engaging series in the Post regarding a classroom of kids the late Abe Polin and Melvin Cohen promised to pay for their college. If you haven't read it, read it, all three parts. The story really made me appreciate my aunts and my grandfather who died before I was born as it pointed out for me the importance of family im making sure kids go to college and finish college.

and

Happy Christmakuh

Cut & Paste Langston School

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100_0400.JPG

From the BACA blog:

From Bradley Thomas, ANC-5C01

Friends and Neighbors:

Please see the attached notice I recently received from the Department of General Services regarding a public hearing on the surplus status of Langston and Cook Schools. Please plan to attend on January 12, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. This is exactly the input we were denied the first time Cook went on the surplus properties list. The current city administration is making sure the community is heard at every stage of the process this time around and we need to take full advantage of it. I have put in a call to clarify that the address of Langston is 43 P Street and that if the building being surplussed is 45 P Street, then they are talking about the Slater School. At any rate, all three buildings are vital components of our community so let's spread the word to our neighbors who are not on this e-mail chain and make sure we have a good turnout.

Thanks.

Bradley A. Thomas

Please see the full hearing notice below
Surplus Schools Public Hearing Notice

 

I hate brick sidewalks

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I reported this crime to MPD's 50411 line this morning, by texting the photo by what little I observed.

Car brick break in 

Please note the brick near all the broken glass. It looks like the brick may have been at one time a law abiding sidewalk piece before it got loose and turned to a life of crime. Loose bricks that can be used to smash and grab are just one reason why I hate brick sidewalks. Oh, yes they are so pretty when they are first put in. But then life happens. Tree roots, soil density, flooding, and the odd utility crew who need to bust it up come by make it an uneven surface, where a brick can come loose and be used for evil.  

I can't stand the rain
I hate brick sidewalks when it rains. When it rains I must look like a drunk weaving around on the sidewalk trying to avoid puddles. The surface is very uneven. Everyso often when I am avoiding a puddle, I'll step on an uneven brick that will shoot cold wet gadknowswhat up my leg.

I dislike them when there is snow and ice. It's that uneven surface again when manually shovelling, I can't go far before jamming the edge of my shovel into a brick that is slightly upturned. Which is why I'm thankful the sidewalk outside of my house is concrete.

Brick looks historic to present day people. However I can't find any proof that my street's sidewalk was ever brick. In 1880 my street was "unimproved" which hints that it probably had no real sidewalk at that time, considering how much thought the 21st century DC government gives to sidewalks compared to roads. The earliest photo I can find of my street is from the 40s which shows some pretty even concrete. I love my historically accurate concrete sidewalk. 

I want to thank Martin Moulton for putting up on his website and Youtube the meeting of the Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings (BCIB) regarding the vacant and very blighted looking property at 509 O Street NW.  Martin has 3 videos on his website, though the last one, where the owner of 509 O St NW, Ms. Beverly Bakeir storms out had me ROTFL!!!!! You have to see video number 1 and epecially #2 where she plays the race card, to get the full impact of her statement as she packs up and heads out in video #3.

Full out laugher is the most positive emotion that these videos have produce. Negative fell somewhere near Jeezzus f*ck. Ms. Bakeir is very good at going on and on and on at an emotional tenor, and she has no interest in securing her property or fixing up her property until a vaguely mentioned federal case is solved. She does hold back for a little bit, until she can't, while Alex Padro talks (in video #3) about vacant buildings in general and 509 O in particular.

Now reality. In my world wood exposed to the elements unless it is locust or similar rots. Ms. Bakeir appears to be under the impression that once you put a board up over a empty window of a vacant it will remain for years and years on end. She apparently cannot or will not account for weathering destroying wood or mortar or brick. In my reality, a roofless house will overtime collect water in the bottom and weaken the structure. Part of being a homeowner is the constant battle of keeping water from destroying your ceilings, roof and foundation. Another dose of reality, public meetings can be recorded. She storms out/is kicked out around the 17 min mark in video #3, yelling (compared to video #1 where I can hardly hear her) something about privacy. If a public meeting wasn't visiable to the public, be they neighbors or the mainstream press or the citizen press, then it wouldn't be public.

Not so much reality, but I have a hard time seeing how a truth in lending case with a bank makes it impossible for the owner to maintain the yard and make sure the windows and doors are unaccessible. That's the federal case that Martin found.

Bates Market door

The Washington City Paper's Housing Complex blog has a summary of what should happen with DC's zoning code. One thing that caught my eye was:

  • Allowing commerce in neighborhoods: At the moment, although some of them were grandfathered in before the current generation of regulations, corner stores in the middle of residential neighborhoods are against the law, as is selling produce in your front yard. The rewrite will foster urban agriculture and allow more little grocery stores to be scattered through neighborhoods, while keeping them far enough away from commercial zones so as not to drain those retail strips. In addition, the rewrite junks regulations that now prevent stores and restaurants on major commuter thoroughfares that are primarily residential--like Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues--from advertising on the street.
  •  First, I didn't know I can't sell produce from my front yard. I guess I fell into the seedy criminal underworld when a woman wanted to buy up my green tomatoes (back when I had a bumper crop). Get it? Seedy? Tomatoes?

    But then I got to thinking about the old Bates Market on the corner of P and 3rd. The top floor is rented residential, but the bottom has remained empty. The owner wanted it to be a Georgian culture based business. It seems it is grandfathered to be a retail store to sell milk and bread, and nothing else. Well that's what I've heard. It appears the old store's ABC license did not grandfather over, thus creating another burden. Maybe a rewrite to the zoning regs will give the property a little more wiggle room and attract a tenant to this really cool block.

    Theater J, on 16th Street is apparently letting me hold a contest for two tickets to a drag accapella performance between 12/24-12/26 (Christmas Eve thru Boxing Day). Here's their description:

    America's favorite Dragapella Beauty-Shop Quartet brings its irreverent humor and harmonies back to DC just in time for the holidays. With gut-busting parodies and raucous schtick, The Kinsey Sicks offers wholesome favorites like "I Had a Little Facial," "Harried Little Christmas," and "'Tis the Season to Drink Stoli"!

    The contest? Well I'm debating between straight up send me your name and contact info and I pick the name out of a hat or a short history of drag in Shaw. I think I'll go for the first. Please submit entries before sundown Sunday December 18th, with your name, phone number or other useful info, to mari at inshaw period com, with "Theater J Tix" as the subject line. I'll delete the entries later, as I don't like keeping info.

    History of Redlining, is it still applicable?

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    Thinking back at the traveling book group, and something the Director of the Office of Planning had said is slightly bugging me. She mentioned redlining. Redlining was when banks and insurance agencies refuse to service or provide loans to certain communities (typically African American). The 1968 Fair Housing and 1977 Community Reinvestment Acts combatted redlining. But later there was reverse redlining which brings subprime mortgages, which is more applicable, I think to our situation than the original redlining.

    The other problem, if we are just talking mortgages and redlining (not an expanded definition that goes into retail), is that a lot of properties in my neighborhood, were rentals. The residents were mainly renters, which means, they weren't looking to buy. There were homeowners, and I can think of a couple households made up of really old timers (pre-1980s, pre- 1st wave of Shaw gentrification) who own, or at least grandma owns. But those homeowners are outnumbered by the renters. My house has a strong history of being a rental for most of the 130+ years it's been standing. These things have been bought and sold by investors who are not too dependent on the whims of some random loan officer. Buying a place with cash makes the process go by sooooo much faster.

    But I digress.

    My block, I believe, are made of mostly owners. When I bought it 10 years ago wasn't like that. There were (what I thought were) Section 8s, a few low priced rentals, and a bunch of vacant townhomes. The block was not suffering from redlining. It suffered, for a brief time, from the loans given out to every Tom, Dick and Harry who was breathing, regardless of if they were already leveraged to the hilt, couldn't afford to maintain the home, or couldn't pay the mortgage when the rate eventually adjusted up.

    Protest sign 2
     I was looking through my flickr photos and came across these taken back in in July 2010. So the long term camp out protest in DC isn't new.

    For those of you are are new, that piece of land near the Shaw library on R St, was the site of a protest regarding affordable housing. Passing by it now, there is little left of that protest, except for the rock labrinth formation. As you can see from the sign the issue was affordable housing. However, the problem would have been concentrated poverty (note Lincoln/Westmoreland across the street was an issue) if another large affordable housing project popped up on that spot. If you want to find out more Google "Parcel 42 DC".

    Do I miss the Parcel 42 protest? No. Nor I am a fan of what's going on downtown. I'm trying to be consistant.

    I do wish the DC government would do something with the land. I mean if nothing is going to happen in the next few years, a community garden would be awesome. Southern view, throw in some raised beds, it would be great.

    Additional thought- I haven't heard anything bad about Lincoln Westmoreland lately. So does that mean the place has improved? Or is my memory crap?

    Is this anything new- Wonder Bread and Jemal

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    Wonderbread Douglas
    I was walking along S street and noticed a whole bunch of business types exiting the Wonder Bread building, and I noticed a huge Douglas Development pick-up in front. 
    I know it's a Douglas building (like a lot of  vacant Commericial buildings in Shaw) and there are plans for it, but seeing the group of business jacketed people wander out made me wonder if anything is going to happen soon.
    With the big 1/2 block building chugging along next to it, the movement at the old Giant location/ O St Market, possible (not holding breath) development of Kelsey Gardens, and a bunch of other little development, I sense a huge change for central Shaw for 2012.

    Earthquake Damaged Church Holds Benefit

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    I got an email from a Logan Circle church that I had mentioned back in September that suffered some damage from the earthquake. They are raising money with Handel's Messiah.

    Handel's Messiah at Ascension and Saint Agnes

    December 18, 2011, at 4:00 pm

    Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes
    1217 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005

    The Choir and Baroque Ensemble of the Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes, conducted by J. Owen Burdick, present Handel's Messiah in its most vivid and authentic form. A professional chamber choir and orchestra of period instruments convey not only the monumental sweep but the intricacy and subtlety of Handel's masterpiece--as well as its considerable spiritual power--all within a glorious acoustic that reveals every nuance. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the organ restoration fund. For tickets, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/211641.

    Tickets: $35-$75

    CM Tommy Wells visits Shaw

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    Tommy Wells in Shaw Yesterday I skipped the BACA meeting for the Traveling Book group with Councilmember Tommy Wells. Also at the head table was the Director of the Office of Planning, Harriet Tregoning. She did a lot of the talking and question answering. She disagreed with the author Edward Glaeser regarding the issue of height and historic districts. She pointed out that if you build more housing where the land is cheapest, over on the other side of the river in DC's case,  then you're concentrating poverty. She also seemed to say that even with more housing units (currently mostly multifamily housing units- apts & condos) the price doesn't go down to the levels that would make them very affordable.

    Martin, the CCCA prez, apparently was there, but I didn't see him. Anyway he's got a posting about Councilman Wells' visit. I see that Wells went to the Shaw Main Street shindig, and I'm glad I didn't go as I see a huge Florida State banner there. I had a negative reaction just seeing that online. GO GATORS!!!!

    POS is now 'luxury' apartments

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    Fugly popup

    Wait a minute, wait, hold on..... I could be wrong, but I think I'm right.

    Out of curiosity I wanted to see what rents were going for in the TC via Craigslist. And found the following:

    $2950 / 2br - Furnished 2bedroom ,2baths (North Capital (Truxton Circle))

    $2850 / 2br - 950ft² - Brand New Fully Furnished (North Capital,Truxton Circle)

    $2850 / 2br - Furnished 2bedroom ,2 full bath (North Capital Truxton Circle)

    My 1st thought was wow! If rental prices are going for that much, heck I could retire at the ripe age of fortymummble and move back to Florida and live cheap. But a closer look I noticed these places all listed the address of 26 P St. No NW or NE. G-d Bless Google streetview, because there doesn't appear to a 26 P St NW that's a residence. But there is a 26 P St NE, and guess what? I've blogged about it before, and I didn't like the building. If I can direct your attention to the photo above, you can see why. The photos in the ads show a tree beyond the window and I think I can make out the parking lot of DDOT.

    It's furnished & painted nice but....

    That's some fancy expensive department store lipstick on one ugly pig. 

    Harry, Harry, Harry

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    Harry Thomas Jrs new beard

    Okay so I guess most of y'all know my Councilman, the Ward 5 CM, Harry Thomas Jr. had a little visit from the Feds where they towed his SUV and motorcycle and walked off with only 3 garbage bags of stuff. It doesn't look good as the IRS are involved and Thomas is no Marion Barry. Barry has magical anti-law anti-tax enforcement powers.

    I'm torn. Here's the problem. I've met Harry Thomas Jr. on several occasions because he shows up at community meetings, like the BACA meeting. The photo above is from an ANC meeting. He's a likable guy. He's also been very helpful with grassroots community things, of which I don't want to give him too much credit. Minus this whole Team Thomas thing, crappy bookkeeping, he's not that bad of a councilman. Compared to Vincent Orange, who he replaced, he's an excellent councilman. Course, then again I really dislike Orange. But the whole Team Thomas thing can't be ignored and I'm not about to dismiss it.

    Not reporting income to the taxman, that's not good. Not reporting a couple of hundred thousand dollars as income to the taxman, that's really bad. Justice, federal justice, has to run its course and of the charge of not reporting income, I don't believe he's innocent. What's already out there doesn't look good. Even if it was really sloppy bookkeeping, and if he really thought he was spending his own funds (as the owner of 5+ bank accounts I can see how that happens), it is still unreported income, and I don't see how he can get out of that.

    What I hope that comes out of all of this is a closer look at all the local level non-profits littered around the District. Developments and other businesses are supposed to throw money at stuff "for the community." A lot of times that shows up as something residents can see, like a playground or improvements to a community center, but other times it can go to a non-profit that few have heard of that do little. Before this I really hadn't heard of Team Thomas (however in 2007 I did a copy & paste of a BACA meeting that mentioned Team Thomas), well at least nothing done by TT in our neck of the ward. 

    This is going to be a huge distraction in 2012, so I don't expect anything useful to get done.

    Give the gift of declining property value

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    About 2 years ago, after a lark got serious, I bought a piece of investment property in my homestate of Florida for the price of a nice used car. Then as is now, Florida property values were going down after the crazy heights of the housing bubble. In the few years I've owned this thing, the property value, according to the county, has gone down 10% each year. My primary home in DC, while going down from its heights, has kept its value for the most part. And for that I'm thankful. It's only through the Florida property I too can feel the pain that the rest of America is going through, watching as the property value plummets with each tax statement and when I bother looking on Zillow.

    Recently one of my parents' (who live in FL) neighbors discovered a law saying my dad couldn't keep his commericial trucks in his yard in town. So to help him out, I went online and looked for a lot somewhere near where they lived with the vague idea of seeing what's out there. Unfortunately there isn't anything dirt cheap outside of the city limits, but there are plenty of fraction of an acre lots for $2000 in unbuilt and half built developments in Central Florida towns. Yes, for 20 Benjamins you can own a piece of dirt in Nowhere, FL. Heck depending on the size of your Christmas budget you can give the gift of a piece of Central Florida. I don't know how much further down from $2000 can an empty lot go, but hey don't you want to find out?

    I guess you can find something similar in Nevada.

    So back to DC, back to Shaw. Yes, the prices for houses here are crazy. Yes, housing in town isn't cheap, and housing in NW DC definately isn't cheap. If it were we wouldn't be throwing the gentrification word around so much, now would we? Having a foot in a world where there is no new investment and things aren't going great makes me appreciate how great and wonderful DC is.

    Yesterday in the Washington Post there was an article about long lines to get on the waiting list for a federally subsidized apartment complex in Columbia Heights. Though one could really sympathize with the folks in the line, the article left me with questions.

    The article is short so that may have had something to do with the lack of saying how much these places were going for. Yes, they are low cost rentals but what exactly is a low cost rental in Columbia Heights in 2011-2012? Is it $400? $500? $800 for a 2bedroom? Is it a sliding scale based on income, and if so what is that? Comparatively what does the average 2 bedroom apartment (non-basement) go for in Columbia Heights. Also are there any like complexes in other parts of the District that have the computer room and an after school program? Do they generate such turn out?

    Yes, Columbia Heights is gentrified, but why does that attract a low income population? Okay, that question may take an academic level of inquiry. If this complex was in Deanwood or Avondale or Ft. Lincoln would there have been a long line up? If it were in those places would the WP readership care?