February 2013 Archives

Truxton Circle- WP Bibliography

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August 19, 1993 notice of meetings

I decided to do a little ProQuest search of the term "Truxton Circle" in the Washinton Post that reflects the last 30 years of this 'problematic' name of the neighborhood. Limiting it to 30 years I've left out the time period of when it was a traffic circle and when the term was used to describe a post office of that name.

The first thing you see here is a neighborhood meeting announcement. I decided to include the one for the Shaw Project Area Committee to play it against the Shaw-Truxton Circle heading for a BACA meeting. Of course these are the old days of 1993, 20 years ago when it was called the Bates Area Civic Association. It met in what I'm going to guess is the basement of Mt. Sinai at 7:30. The next BACA meeting will be on March 4th, but at 7pm. Someone should thank Mt. Sinai for letting us take up their basement for so long.


The next thing I'd like to share is a ad for the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and their effort to create some affordable housing and rehab structures. There are two mentions in this 1989 announcement. The first is a 4 bedroom Bates St house for $80,000. That was a pretty good amount for the time period. The second, on Hanover, looks like a give away at $250 per unit. So I'm guessing that in 1989 it was in pretty bad shape.

The post- Home Rule District government has used Truxton Circle to describe the area. The DHCD ad clarifies a bit where. Other descriptions, articles, and ads from the DC government have the TC lumped in with Blooingdale, and Eckington.

The following is a list of the articles and advertisements (Other and Display Ad) mentioning Truxton Circle as a neighborhood descriptor. Lastly, the October 1991 article "Community Outcry Wins Reprieve for Lenny's." mentions a Truxton Circle Coalition, described as a "umbrella group for civic assocations in the area."

Wheeler, Linda. "Ward 5: A Mosaic of Neighborhoods." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 2. Jun 23 1994. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Other 41 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Jul 22 1993. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Other 20 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Jun 24 1993. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Other 32 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Jun 10 1993. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Elizabeth Wiener Special to The,Washington Post. "Community Outcry Wins Reprieve for Lenny's." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Oct 31 1991. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Display Ad 117 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 14 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013 .

"Display Ad 66 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 13 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Display Ad 52 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 10 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Display Ad 113 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 07 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Display Ad 28 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 06 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Display Ad 78 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 05 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013 .

"Display Ad 46 -- no Title." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Dec 03 1989. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

By Marcia Slacum Greene Washington Post,Staff Writer. "D.C. Cable Firm Unveils Wiring Schedule, Seeks More Concessions." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 2. Sep 04 1985. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

By Sheilah O'Connor Special to the,Washington Post. "$5 Million Goes Begging." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 2. Oct 11 1984. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

"Subsidy Program's Nuts and Bolts." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Aug 02 1984. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1996). Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Wednesday Misc

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DC flag fence

Parcel 42- There was some notice on the neighborhood lists, but East Shaw has a decent write up, with pictures.

Wall down- Also speaking of neighborhood lists there was some mention of a wall collapse on Q Street. According to the DC Fire Fighter tweet it was 517 Q St. NW, a 1890 house.

Shaw Tavern's Community Festival- I'mma gonna cut and paste- "Shaw Community St. Patrick's Day Festival hosted by Shaw's Tavern on Sunday, March 17th 2013 from 11am-5pm.  The festival will be held on 6th St. NW between Florida Ave and S St.  It will feature live music, children's activities, food and beverage as well as local community vendors and information booths."

Tuesday Miscellany

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Historical Food Shacks- The House History Man has a picture that is of an African American man's stand at 1st and Florida NE. Close enough to the TC, well the northeastern part that I never write about.

2 Mil for a Corner Lot- The developers got approval for and then tore down the buildings at 1330 North Capitol NW, and then did nothing. Now this empty piece of dirth is for sale at deep pocketed developer prices.

Taxes- I'm annoyed with the Tax Office, last year I filed my DC taxes online for free. I paid either Turbotax or the H&R Block for the federal taxes and enjoyed just filling in the blanks with DC, on the DC.gov site. It was simple and easy. Now I go to the site and it is a mess. The layout is unclear. They've added options for people whose adjusted gross income is less than $57,000 for federal and DC taxes. Great but I just wanna do DC. The page for the individual tax payer is cluttered. Did I use eTSC in 2012? Beats me, did y'all call it that last year? I might take my sweet time and file in April since I have to write them a check anyways. Refund? Ha, ha, yer funny.


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Sunday afternoon, when I was in the yard planting pea seeds, I saw one of my old roommates walking down the street. Dave is a tall handsome brown man with a really super nice guy personality that surrounds him and touches all who come into his sphere. We engaged in some minor chit chat and catching up, before he headed to his SUV, which happened to be parked near the house. He is a super swell, super nice guy.

This reminded me that I've been through at least a dozen roommates in my house in Shaw, most of them were very good people, and several of them I see or contact every so often. Looking back, I am thankful I haven't had a bad roommate situation, but at the end of some tenant's times there were things that weren't working out for me and it was good that they were moving on. One of the reasons for so many roommates was I catered to short term tenants, so if it didn't work out, I'd just have to tolerate the situation for a few months and then I'd get my house back.

My roommates have been a diverse lot, black, white, lesbian, gay, asians, a latina, native born Americans, foreigners, students, fellow feds, vegitarians, a super carnivore, people years younger than me and someone's mom. Their short time, usually from 3 to 8 months, enriched my life and my bank account. My roommates had their own lives but I would spend some time with them talking and learning about them and their take on life, even though their outlook may have been opposite from mine. It might be a mistake for people to look for roommates too much like themselves, they are missing out from hearing other perspectives.

I think it worked out well for me because of what I did before anyone moved in. Because it was a roommate situation I could be picky, and insisted on in person interviews and checking references. The neighborhood had been evovling so I needed people to come to the neighborhood and see if it was their cup of tea. I asked for contact info for former roommates to interview them to find out what kind of roommate they were. I also had to be okay with saying no to people who could not come to DC for the interview (seriously the interview was more about them walking or driving to the neighborhood) and other things I didn't think I'd be able to tolerate. 

I mentioned they enriched my bank account. My fixed rate mortgage used to be somewhere around $600 a month, or less. I charged my first roommate $290 plus 1/2 utilities, it didn't seem right to charge more than half the mortgage. I got over that, and tried to figure out with each new ad for a roommate what the market would bear. Roommates, they make the housing more affordable. So when you wonder how on earth a single person can afford a house that's hundreds of thousands of dollars? Roommates. My last roommate, I think was paying around $800 a month, for a single furnished room, at this point, a little less than half the post-renovation mortgage.

So Dave, Libby, Mary Ann, Josh, Romina, Belinda, and the rest, thanks for being my roommate. 

History of Sq. 520

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This will be cross posted at TruxtonCircle.org.
I looked back at my history of Sq. 618, the block bounded by N St, New York Ave and 1st St. I see the problem with it, I tried to say too much. That's the problem with the census data and looking at the detailed changes over time, there is just too much. So I decided to switch it up and tell a tale where the info isn't that new to me and I can try to keep the stories simple. Try.
In 1880 there were only 6 people listed as living on the square. There was a carpenter living alone at 305 Q St and the Miller family at 1600 3rd St NW. The Franco-Prussian Miller family interests me (not as much as the 100% German Glorius family on Sq. 519), because the head, John Miller's name is shown as owning most of Sq. 520 and a good portion of Sq. 509E. You can see it on the map shown here, where a tiny bit of the neighboring square is shown. At the time of the 1880 census Mr. Miller had reached the ripe old age of 77, so you can imagine by the 1900 census, he was very, very dead.
In 1900 the whole block had changed, like most blocks in the Truxton Circle area. Notice in the 1887 map there are mostly of empty lots, by 1903 (the date for this map) 4th St had filled out and there are several new structures on 3rd St. The population changed from just 6 people to about 179. As time goes on the few empty lots continue to fill out an there are more people.
There is a thought that this is a place where families put down roots, however, in the case of Sq. 520 (and I believe with many blocks) most people are just passing through. I took the names of everyone from the 1900 to 1940 census and looked for similar names and duplicates across the censuses. There are some people who are found in 2 censuses. Very rare is it to find someone who has managed to stick around for 3 or more with the same address. One of these rarities is Mrs. Mary Davis who lived at 1623 4th St NW from the 1910 to 1930, possibly 1940. Possibly, because the info doesn't match up, as I suspect it may be a same named relative or she was lying about her age. In 1910 she was 38 years old and living with her husband of 13 years, John, mortgage free. There is no change in 1920, except she's 48. By 1930 John is no longer in the picture and she is a widow, working as a matron for the federal government. But here her age changes, she's now 55. By this time she should be 58 years old. In 1940 we have a Mary Davis living at 1623, but she is listed as being 60, when she should be 68 years old. It is not uncommon for a woman to lie about her age.


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I was recently talking with someone about the current state of the real estate market, that it is such a sellers market that sellers are getting away with selling no so great houses at, what to me are inflated prices. And when I say 'not so great houses' I mean houses with flaws and other issues. The person I was speaking with mentioned that sellers are getting away with not even disclosing the problems with the house and mentioned an example in Bloomingdale. If I gave a general description and time period of the sale, some of y'all could pin point the house. I'm not too sure about disclosing the information I got since it was 2nd/3rd hand, but I do believe it. I truly believe a seller, in this case a homeowner, sold their property at a profit, without telling the buyer about some serious problems the house had that would not be revealed in the inspection... if the buyer bothered with one.
Regarding disclosures and DC property transfers I found Rule 17-2708 in the DC Regs. The way I read it, there is a loophole big enough to drive a space shuttle through so that most buyers would not see the disclosure form. If it is a foreclosure, estate sales, or a landlord selling off property, the buyer is not going to get useful information, like, was the house ever on fire or does the basement leak. The disclosure thing looks like it only applies to owner occupants selling their house.
It is a seller's market in this city. The inventory is low and I think buyers are making desperate moves just to get a place, moves that they might regret.

Safe and Secure

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G'town window bars

Lately, I have taken an interest in what I'll call the architecture of security. That would be buildings that reflect a time when the environment was unsecure or high crime. These would include buildings that have tiny little windows and lots of concrete, such as the old Shaw library before it was replaced with the open and airy library. I'd also include bars on windows, like these from a house in Georgetown. When I was visiting New York, I took a few pictures of window bars there. Some are quite pretty.

"Don't you feel like you're in a cage?" is a question I hear when talking with someone where window bars are a rarity. "No," is my answer. When I am looking out the window, I look past the bars. Besides, I'm not caged in, but the world is caged out. The barred security door is a barrier between me and the fake Pepco workers and other random people who come to my door, who might wish harm. In an apartment the equivilant would be that little chain on the door.

Bars on windows and doors is a part of making our home secure, but I have noticed other efforts as others secure their homes. Alarms are great, but only work when they are on, as I can remember a few crimes that have occured at houses with alarms, but the alarm wasn't on or the theif managed not to trip the non-existant motion detector.

Another step some take is not to have anything worthwhile visible or make their insides hard to observe. Though some don't like being in 'a cage' they don't seem to mind being in a fishbowl. I do enjoy glancing into people's living rooms when walking down the street or being driven by the Help. I like seeing how differently people decorate their homes, but I'm sure people with less benign motives look in the same window and wonder what is worth stealing (besides decorating ideas). Some windows scream, "HEY EVERYBODY I GOT A 60" TV!!!! On the first floor." Many neighbors keep their lives very private with drapes, shades and blinds, so their movements and stuff cannot be observed by the man on the street. Also with the heavy drapes, you never notice the bars.

Monday Misc- President's Day

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Florida and R St- On tomorrow's agenda for the 5E ANC meeting, there is a proposal for a traffic light. All I know is that would be great for pedestrians, as all the signs in the world don't seem to help matters when trying to cross at the crosswalk in that spot. Some cars stop and some cars don't.

Big Ben Liquors on Sunday- The BACA blog mentions the Ward 5 Heartbeat reporting that Big Ben on New York Ave got approved. Really? REALLY?

Call for papers for the DC Historical Studies Conference
You don't have to be an academic, but the theme this year is "Marching on Washington".

House History Workshop- The DC Humanities Council is hosting on March 30th a House History Day, and I will be one of the presenters. My bit ill be about 3 minutes on what is the Truxton Circle Neighborhood Genealogy Project (that's what I call it) and the rest of the time how you can do something similar for your street or block. There are two workshops and space is limited. Sign up here.

1622 4th St NW sold- As some of you may have been aware I (and a few other neighbors) had taken issue with the flipper of this property and how he/they had badly treated the neighboring properties, flouted DC laws regarding permits and trash, and messed up a young tree that neighbors had planted a few years back. Unfortunately, with it being a sellers market, with low inventory and multiple bids, flippers can get away with the crap that was done at that property. Though it was no longer listed, it seemed to have found a buyer via word of mouth. We approached the new buyer, extending the hand of neighborly friendship, as he bears no responsibility for the poor actions of the seller/flipper. It seems those 3rd party inspections, that were supposed to be submitted to DCRA back in 2012 never got submitted. And I told the buyer what I suspected about the framing and insulation. You new homebuyers have my sympathies.

New Real Estate plug-in- Well your poor unfortunate buyers have a new tool you can use if you have Google Chrome. Census Connect allows you to use recent census and other data (ex. sex offender list) to find out about the various neighborhoods you might be investigating. I'm gathering there might be Fair Housing rules that would not allow the real estate websites to have it on their sites directly.

Education and inequality

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NOTE: This was an unpublished draft that for one reason or another I did not publish on the date given. In order to clear out my draft folder on 12-16-2013 I chose to publish it. However, I won't vouch for the completeness or accuracy of it, and it most likely does not reflect my opinion anymore.

One of my more prouder moments more than likely occurred in the space of 10 to 15 minutes, when I as the chair of the Library college's alumni group spoke in front of a graduating class of shiny new librarians, archivists and other information professionals. I don't remember my exact words but I did say something along the lines of you've got an MLS don't take a crummy low paying library job, your degree has value. I said this because, at the time, there were advertisements for library jobs, requiring a graduate degree, at near minimum wage levels.

When I was working towards my MLS, I had a part-time job, but I was in awe of the women (and really it was a female dominated program) who managed to not only hold down a job but raised kids while in the program. I'm still in awe. Though the library sciences (to quote a library director who shall go nameless) is not 'rocket science', neither is its study a walk in the park. The Help, who went through the same program, but roughly 10 years after me, resisted going in, because of all the opportunity costs associated with pursuing a degree, even though tuition was free.

What does this have to do with anything? Well going back to my first paragraph, a degree tends to have value in the marketplace. I know this may ring hollow for my un/underemployed friends with graduate degrees, but for the most part, they do have value. In this city, they have a lot of value

see- http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/02/class-divided-cities-washington-dc-edition/4299/

Another Good 311 Experience

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I'm sure there will be more frustrations with DC government, but once again I got great service from the city, and to be fair, I shall write about it.

Not too long ago I went to lunch at some fancy schmancy place in Penn Quarter/Gallery Place, that shall go unnamed, and got what I believe to be food posioning. Not to go into too much disgusting detail, my insides revolted, but not enough to sent me to the doctor. Just enough to keep me in bed (with trash can nearby) the next day. The more I thought about what I ate, the more I wondered if it was a problem with the lunch crew of the dining establishment, as sometimes the lunch service is as different from the dinner service as night and day in some places.

So I called 311 to get in touch with whomever I'm supposed to report food posioning. The operator put me in touch with someone at the Department of Health who took my information and asked me some questions about what I've eaten for the past few days. About 3 days later I got a call from a Health Inspector, who told me how the inspection of the restaurant went and that I could find the report on line in the next 24 hours. The inspector was very friendly and described his interaction with the restaurant staff and the few problems he found. Later, I looked at the report by name and it had some critical violations that may or may not have anything to do with me getting sick. Many problems were corrected on site, the restaurant didn't have to close and I am pretty happy with the results.

I may continue to eat at various places that serve raw food, I'll just avoid the undercooked stuff.

DC I love you

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Platonically, and with great affection, I love the District of Columbia. And like the way I love a lot of my friends, DC, I love you, despite you.

Loving you DC isn't always easy. Parts of you are corrupt, lazy, insane, and down right slow, mentally and physically. But then you have these flashes of brillance, bursts of youthful joy and energy, with ideas and action that enrich my life. I love the fact you have a public transit system that has allowed me to go for years and years without a car. I love that you have seasonal and year round farmers markets that allow me to eat somewhat local and generally better. I love all these new restaurants popping up nearby. I love the bike lanes that invite me to travel the city on two wheels. I love the opportnities that exist when you look for them. Oh, I also love my job, which regionally you provided. I couldn't have gotten this in my native Florida.

And DC, as your friend, I have something very difficult to tell you. I know how you want a vote in Congress or/and Statehood, but I see your hopes get dashed often when the Democrats are in control of the White House and one or two parts of Congress. It happened with Clinton, its happening with the current president. You deserve better than getting strung along and taken for granted. You're looking good. You've got your finances in order, you're mostly employed and educated. You've got a good reputation and you're no longer synonymous with crack and murder. Maybe you should try something new, see how independent you can be, or get back in touch with your Statehood Green side. Just sayin'.

The Call

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NOTE: This was an unpublished draft that for one reason or another I did not publish on the date given. In order to clear out my draft folder on 12-16-2013 I chose to publish it. However, I won't vouch for the completeness or accuracy of it, and it most likely does not reflect my opinion anymore.

DNC- Hey gurl, whatsup?

DC- Oh, nothing, just working on Statehood and voting rights in Congress. You know the same old same old.

DNC- Uh, yea. I need you to drop everything and come on over.


DNC- I was just thinking about a rally against gun violence or income inequality, and I know you down with dat, so come on over.

DC- Yeah, I am, but I'm really busy with, and speaking of....

DNC- Aw gurl, you know how I feel about you...

[call from New York coming in]

DNC- Hold up. I gotta take this call.

[DNC puts DC on hold and connects with NY]

DNC- Hello, NY darling. How is one of my favorite states? Can I get you anything?

NY- Oh, fine. No, I'm good for now. Did I catch you in the middle of anything?

DNC- No, nothing important.

NY- Good. I'm just calling to remind you pick up California tonight. That's all.

DNC- Sure, my dear, anything.

NY- Ok, bye.

DNC- Bye and I love you.

[line with NY disconnects and DC reconnects]

DC- Hello?

DNC- Yea. How soon can you get here 'cause I got something else going on tonight?

DC- Well what about voting rights?

DNC- Huh? Oh, yeah, maybe we can talk about it when you get here. 

Ashy Wednesday Misc

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Smudges for everybody- Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church is having 4 Ash Wednesday masses, 8AM, 12:15, 5:30, and 7PM. There is music for the 5:30 and 12:15 masses.

Visiting a squatter, but not a squatter- I wrote about the fire in SE DC and the problem of squatters. Well it appears that one of the vicitms of the fire was just visiting.

Any mention of the District in the SOTU speech? Thanks for putting on the licenses plates, but any mention of DC lack of a vote in Congress? Any mention of the District at all? We went out to dinner and missed the 1st half of the speech. Somebody's press release gave me the impression that DC might get a shout out.

Income requirements not as low as you think- City First Homes, is a non-profit 'launched' by the DC Government, selling condos and sometimes the odd house. Anwyay, their income requirements are pretty up there, the maximum for a household of 1 is $90K, 2 is $103K, and 3 is $116K, and so on a so forth. Also you don't have to be a first time homeowner nor a DC resident.

Billy Mitchell's killer to get 21 years in prison- The person who killed Bloomingdale resident William R. Mitchell was sentenced last week.

Black and white shorthaired dog found on 1600 block of New Jersey Ave NW- See PoP for details.


UPDATE- Regarding point #3, no. Remind me how DC is not the DNC's booty call?

Westward ho!

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This weekend our little block had another great social gathering for the Asian New Year. The hosts had wonderful food, as always and if they need help with leftovers, call me. Seriously, that cole slaw was to die for and I couldn't get enough. Anyway, in this gathering of neighbors and the hosts' friends and family I had one of those conversations that I want to share.

We have an urban planner person on our block, who also happened to be at the party and we got to talking about the Truxton Circle Neighborhood Genealogy Project, in this case called 'local history'. We were both talking history but we had different foci, I on people and he on the built environment. I believe we were talking about how the neighborhood has a western orientation, when in the past it was eastern. In the past in the early 20th century, according to my work, TC people had jobs at the Government Printing Office which is SE of the neighborhood. But times have changed, and GPO isn't as great of a neighborhood employer. Now there is a metro station (Shaw/Howard), which is closer (I think), to our west, which as me going west. For many of our neighbors, their jobs or the method to get to work is westward. The needs of the people are to the west. There is good stuff to the east (Bloomingdale), but not as much. Besides to get to the red line fron here requires crossing the Road of Death (New York Avenue) and maybe traveling along the Path of Confusion (Florida Ave circle-ish thing) and possibly encountering trolls (people who never seem to get on the bus at the bus stops).

Lesson in 311

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I want to thank the operator Ms. Tanya for working with me in trying to figure out what happened with one of the items I reported to 311 that got closed out, with the trash still in the alley. I also reported the large graffiti on the 600 block of R/Rhode Island NW, 311 closed that out and it is still there. So instead of going on a tirade about Parcel 42 and the need to remove graffiti ASAP, I'll tell what I've learned today.

Construction debris behind 1622 4th st

I reported this construction material that I guess was dumped in the alley by those working on 1622 4th St NW. I take this guess because the stone matches the stone in the backyard patio. I reported it as illegal dumping. Someone else also reported it too under "illegal dumping". Apparently, "illegal dumping" does not apply. It is like the broken passenger side window issue I have with MPD, if I don't see the wrong doing in action, it didn't happen. It is only illegal dumping if you see someone dumping.

Ms. Tanya was helpful enough to put it in the system again under "alley cleaning" with the new tracking number (29915). So I need to figure out how to correctly report crap I see dumped on the street that needs picking up, like the trash always at Florida and 3rd.

I'm going to end this without going on a tirade about all the other things I have reported with the  311 app, where it gets closed out without much of an explaination. We had a little trouble with the dumping issue because the tracking number was useless and I guess no one is expecting anyone to follow up on their 311 requests. Lastly, there is a tree at Rhode Island and New Jersey with a big rotted hole at the base I've told the Help to avoid driving anywhere near this tree. Despite reporting it a while ago, I'll just let you look at the pictures here and here, and let you decide if this tree is a danger to drivers and maybe pedestrians.

Thursday Misc

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Household Stuff- Some agencies consider you and your roommates a household. I discoverd this when talk ing with someone from a minor DC agency (or it could have been an office within a larger one) that when determining a household's income it is you and your roommates, even if your roommates all lead separate lives. Though I no longer have roommates, this seemed odd, because as long as everybody is paying rent, their incomes are none of my damned business.

Vintage transit- Old 82 streetcar line The Eckington List had this lovely gem:

 I watched it and nearly punched a dent in my monitor when I recognized the flatiron building on Baltimore Ave/Route 1 attached to Franklin's in Hyattsville. There are some buildings that haven't changed much. In the first few and last few frames of the video there is a map showing the old streetcar lines. The video is for the 82 line which goes up New York Ave, crosses through Eckington and then heads up Rhode Island/ Baltimore Ave.

DC Humanities Grant $0-$5000 for Humanities related projects- I wrote $0 because you don't have to take the full amount, also you have to match the funds. The deadline is March 11.  

Rogue 24's Restaurant Week- Until Feb. 9th the 4 courses are $60.13, the 16 course Progression is $100.13, and the 24 course Journey is 120.13.

Table- Speaking of restaurants, I've heard from a friend who has been several times to the N Street dining establishment and really likes it.

City Market at O- They have a facebook page.

The Danger of Blighted Buildings

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Crossposted with Vacant Properties blog.

When I am done with the InShaw blog I hope to spend more time and energy on other projects, one being the Vacant Properties blog, because vacant and blighted residential buildings hurt all neighborhoods, gentrified, gentrifying and DC neighborhoods with so much blight that they are called blighted. A recent fire in S.E. DC which claimed the lives of two adults demonstrates the danger of having blighted properties, particularly in attached housing.

In the Washington Post article about the fire, resident Ericka Walker is quoted in saying that she tried to alert authorities, but "couldn't find anyone to help." The article says that the police and zoning (zoning? why zoning isn't this a DCRA issue?) have nothing about anyone saying anyone was living there full time. Full time was not defined, and I wonder how soon after Ms. Walker complained did anyone follow up and what entails following up.

DCFD has some video

When it is cold it is not unheard of in the history of this city that people get into vacant buildings. They may start fires to keep warm, and in the case of 1704 R St SE, there was cooking.

You can report vacant and blighted properties to DCRA but there doesn't to be any clear course of action when there is squatting. All the city seems to be able to do is tax the properties at a higher rate and reboard/secure the property. The owner of the property (unless this has changed) is the only one who can ask the police to remove tresspassers/ squatters, which is problematic when you have an absentee landlord who has essentially abandoned their property.

Buyer be aware

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The internet is a wonderful thing, at times. It has made available information that would have been too hard to cobble together years ago. However, the information is only as good as the body putting it out. The body in this case is DCRA, which can be hit or miss.

On a lark I decided to give some houses I saw listed for sale the 1622 treatment (check the permits and owner's past history if it is 'newly renovated'). I did this with a house the Titan of Trinidad featured in his "Bargain or Hoodwinked" post about 1132 Neal Street NE, which sold. Anyway, I discovered via the PIVS that DCRA considers the soil to be unstable there. I found that shocking becasue most of the NW addresses I looked at never, never, had that statement.

There are other things you can find out as well, such as if the basement that's being hawked as a possible income unit has a certificate of occupancy. Of course, people illegally rent out their basements all the time around here. It's just that the DC laws favor tenants over landlords, so that it would be in an owner's best interest to get a CofO. The ease of getting a CofO depends on where the stars are, sometimes super easy sometimes very hard. But if you are buying a house with the idea that you'll be able to afford the mortgage if you rent out the basement, you can now check to see if that thing is legally ready to rent out.

When getting your house renovated you'll want to check out your contractor, but with a newly renovated houses, you don't get that option. In the craziness of escalating clauses and multiple offers, I gather judging the quality of the renovation is at surface level. With PIVS and the Permit tracker you can look back at the permits. Use PIVS to find all the permits and the permit tracker to see details of the permit, like who the agent is/was for the property.

If the house was renovated by a flipper, there is a chance to judge their past flips by using Blockshopper, where you can search by name. Blockshopper is a little behind with change of ownership, but it allows for seeing where in DC they had owned, provided their name isn't something like Mike Smith. Depending on the price of what you're buying you might want to ask people who the flipper sold to their thoughts.

Or you can buy a house for over half a million and be blissfully ignorant. That works for a lot of people too.

House of Cards- Monday Misc

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We have Netflix and we are enjoying House of Cards. Particularly the opening credits, where I get to explain to the Help where on North Capitol Street the camera is shooting from. The Bloomingdale blog has some nice screenshots. Other than that is is a slight guesing game of where the other DC scenes in the credits were shot. After that we know it is all Baltimore pretending to be DC. We are half-way through the series. It is nowhere near as good as the original British version, but it is very enjoyable and I look forward to finishing it out.

BACA is having a meeting tonight. Someone please take notes as I got volunteered by the Help to assist at another gathering.

Field to City formerly, Timor's, Kim Wee is back and offering up a new website and some butchering service. [Bloomingdale]

I'd really like it if the idiot near 3rd St NW would stop blowing up fireworks. Last night, I guess after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, somebody decided to set off fireworks. Well I hope they were fireworks.

Once again on parking, I'd like to thank my church for giving some forethought to the parking crunch caused by the DC Car Show at the Convention Center and making parking available for the Saturday evening mass. Church leaders should plan for church growth and how to deal with competition for parking.

Regarding the InShaw comments, I'm going to allow comments with emails again, unless the Chinese spammers slam me again.

Church parking solutions

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To continue on the conversation I was having with a neighbor and fellow believer regarding parking and churches, we also mentioned solutions.

One solution is to form relationships with other organizations with parking. When I was attending a church in Arlington, pre-Whole Foods. Yes, that Whole Foods wasn't always there. Anyway, there used to be an empty lot across the street from the church. That was fine until someone decided to throw a building on top of the lot. So what the church did was form a relationship with a nearby bank that was closed on Sunday, and get parking passes for parishioners who needed them. These passes would be highlighted in the church bulletin and mentioned during announcements. Church members were told if they park illegally they would get ticketed or towed, this was also mentioned during announcements. Come to think there are many churches I've visited that have such an arrangement, where they seek out extra parking from businesses and non-profits that have parking spaces on Sundays. My neighbor mentioned a church that formed a real relationship with the neighborhood, so that neighbors allowed church members to park in their driveways. No such relationship seems to exist here in Shaw, so moving on.

Once I was visiting St. Johns Episcopal near the White House. They have valet parking. I have no idea where the valet goes when they park a car when we go out to a restaurant, so I have no clue where church valets park either.

Another solution, get your own friggin parking lot. There are several churches and worship centers with some parking. The mosque on 4th St/Islam Way has a parking lot. Scripture Cathedral has a parking lot. But then again so does Shiloh Baptist, but there are more member's cars than there are legal spots.

A more drastic solution is move to where your congregation lives. The Help and I have been working on the archives of his church and his church started off in the early 20th century in DC. Then when the congregation started moving to the burbs, the church moved with them. In the 21st century they moved again and built a new church, selling their old church building. The congregation continues to grow and so the church plants daughter churches. I have a friend who belongs to a tiny Antioch Orthodox church. It is only tiny because it only wants to be a certain size, when the congregation gets to a certain size it also plants daughter churches to maintain its smallness, which is more suited to its character. It would not be the same church if it were bigger. Regarding parking, many congregants are encouraged to live within a close distance in order to participate fully in church life, so no car is needed for services. Then there is the old idea of going to the church that is closest to you, the church in the parish where you live.

Sadly too many Christians mistake a church building for the real meaning of church. A church is the body of Christ, in the people of Christ, not in the building the people gather in. Lastly, the roads are government's, or the District's. The DC government maintains them, cleans them, repairs them and has the right to meter them and charge for using them, so remember Matthew 22:20-22.

Dance the Happy Dance- Natwar Gandhi is resigning

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Ok he won't be gone till June, but I'm over the moon anyway. DCist has the resignation letter.

I don't care why.

Looking forward to a new CFO who may be less tolerant of corruption, shopping-spree embezzeling employees, and screwing with the tax rolls. This city is fiscally better despite itself.

Church Parking and History

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1957ChurchMapI hope that by looking at old documents regarding the history of the neighborhood, I can dispel some bad histories or myths that get told to gobble up some present day gain. A neighbor and fellow Christian presented two articles regarding parking and churches for discussion. One being the recent Atlantic "A Separation of Church and Parking", the other "Parking conflicts prompting churches to flee D.C." from the Examiner. The bad history, I believe, is the idea a majority of worshipers lived in walking distance of their churches.
It is a multipage document, and I didn't copy all the pages of the Church Survey, Northwest Urban Renewal Area, from 1957 (PDF). If you're at the Yale library you can borrow a complete copy. But I did get a few important pages. If you go to page 5, of the 42 churches reporting in the NW Urban Renewal area (see map), only 14 had 40% or more of their membership in the renewal area in 1957. Yes, that is 56 years ago, but as present day churches grousing about parking dredge up members who've been attending for 40-50 years as an excuse to ignore parking violations of members of undetermined tenure, I say it is fair to look at membership patterns from way back then.
In the Examiner article Lincoln Congregational Temple is mentioned as one of the complaining churches. On page 39 of the 1957 survey only 25% of its congregants lived in the area and supposedly of that, most were elderly, people who should be by now at home with Jesus. With the Savior and not driving and trying to find a parking spot. In '57 a majority of their membership where up in Brookland and over in Kenilworth. It is possible that the church recruited a ton of members in the Shaw area since the survey, who then moved out of the area and come back on Sundays.... However, I don't think that gives anyone a moral right to a parking spot, no more than having the right to use the toilet in your first apartment years after you turned in the keys and gotten your deposit back.
Shaw is chock full of churches, and some of them have figured out how to worship without double parking and the like. Sadly it is the ones who haven't seriously looked for solutions, other than breaking the law, who seem to scream the loudest. It is embarrassing as a believer, when some church leaders try to make parking a theological issue. Parking ain't in the Bible.