August 2016 Archives

The picture is of RI Ave NW and 7th Street. You see the large building in the background, then Shaw School, for which the neighborhood is named after, now the Asbury Dwellings. There is an Esso gas station, where now stands a 7-11. There is a traffic island on Rhode Island, and there was a traffic island then. The buildings on RI Ave between 7th and 8th Street look pretty unchanged. Comparing it with Google Streetview, get rid of the Esso sign, add the odd mural, change some paint, and clutter the traffic island with signage, and you have the same scene.IMG_3517.jpg
This week I saw two opposing messages on email lists regarding neighborhoods. On the Historic Washington Yahoo Group "Customized Zoning to Protect Neighborhood Character " vs on several neighborhood Yahoo Groups "Better Planning in DC". The one on customized zoning appears to be an effort on residents of Chevy Chase and similar areas to resist the trend of greater density to keep a vague thing called "character" through zoning. On the other side are a retired dude from the ACLU who I think wants more "affordable" housing and inclusionary residential zoning. The inclusive zoning, calls for affordable housing and the like is a normal thing in Shaw, so I ignored it. But the "Neighborhood Character" thing is bugging the crap out of me.

For one what the heck is neighborhood character and why should the government preserve it? If I were of a certain mind, I'd think some people believe the character they are trying to preserve is that of older upper income white people. I know that's a demographic, not a zoning thing. But make new buildings and the repair of old buildings expensive you can exclude the poor by making residences unaffordable. You can continue to make them unaffordable by limiting density, making every square foot more precious. I totally get why present day residents want to keep out possible future residents. No one wants to have a tall apartment or condo building spring up on their block so new tenants can gaze down into their backyard. A thriving city needs a lot of things people don't want to live near and it is unfair to force poorer and middle class neighborhoods to bear those burdens.

But I digress.

Let's return the the 700 block of Rhode Island Ave NW. It is in the Shaw Historic District and I guess the only character preserved are the buildings, as the block shown here, possibly circa 1968 is not the same as the 700 blk of RI Ave NW 2016. The demographics have changed. The rents have changed. The amenities have changed. The crime has changed. The housing quality has changed. City services have changed. Traffic has changed. Parking, despite various churches, has and is changing. Those houses are probably less dense with DINKs and singletons, replacing the Greatest Generation families and their Baby Boomer kids. The school that inadequately educated those kids (Shameful Shaw) now house them as senior citizens. The buildings have remained the same but the character has definitely changed.

Going on a anti-Maryland rant

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John Cook School Girl doorI have a problem with Maryland (and Virginia) residents using DC resources that are meant for DC residents, particularly schools. So it warmed my little heart when a few weeks ago when I read that the Attorney General Karl Racine's office fined a Maryland couple over $500K for having their kids in DCPS (DC Public Schools). I was so happy to see that I sent his office a letter thanking them and saying it is a good start as there are many more people doing the same. I have witnessed way too many Maryland license plates dropping off kids at KIPP to believe there aren't hundreds of more Maryland kids denying DC kids spots at DC Public and Charter schools. Before the Washington Post story another news outlet actually followed parents back to Maryland, proving what I suspected.

There is this attitude of Marylanders regarding DC which grates at me. There are Marylanders who used to live in DC and now live in Maryland and people who do things in DC (go to church, work, etc) and live in Maryland who have certain attitudes towards DC and her CURRENT residents. One is parking. Marylanders, including the ones I'm related to and love, believe they should have free parking, because they always had free parking and plenty of it. Other problem are city services meant for DC residents, this ranges from schools to homeless and other services. A while back the Washington Post ran a feature on some families at DC General. One of those families was living in Maryland before landing at DC General. If your last residence was in Maryland, then maybe Maryland should help you. I have been around long enough and met enough of the right people to believe that there are people collecting DC welfare payments while actually living in Maryland.

Part of DC government shares the blame. But what should I expect when a lot of people who operate DC government, the workers who do the business of the government that is supposed to serve DC, live in Maryland? I get that people move around and qualified applicants are more likely found outside DC. Fine but something needs to balance out the non-DC resident nature of DC government or else you'll have weird stuff like what happened less than a decade ago when a job fair sponsored by DC government  (DOES) was held in a Maryland suburb.

Maybe my problem is Marylanders', particularly those in PG County, sense of entitlement to DC. Once I was chatting with a friend who lives in PG and he mentioned, "Our mayor." I thought he was talking about the mayor of his itty bitty suburban town, but no he was talking about the Mayor of Washington, DC. I went to 'gently' correct him.

Okay, I've vented. Now I will suggest curing this with love. Lovingly remind people who were born in DC but left in the 80s that they are not guaranteed a parking spot, and parking is not awarded based on seniority. Besides, there is not enough on street parking for current, let alone former residents. Lovingly press the needs of Home Rule and real representation in Congress. With love, remind them that maybe they should take the metro instead of driving and yes, WMATA should have dedicated funding from Maryland. Love. I'll try to remember that the next time I see a vehicle with Maryland tags blow through a red light.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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