November 2016 Archives

1420 4th St NW - Don't trust, verify

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First off, I want to write that it is up to the residents of square 553W (1400 blk of NJ, 3rd and 300 block of P & O Streets) to care more about this than me. I don't live on that block, it isn't my rear yard parking that is at risk. And for those of you who have skinny funky alleys that you use regularly use, let this be a cautionary tale.
Behind 1420 3rd St NWAt yesterday's ANC 5E05 meeting at the Dunbar High School, there were a few residents in attendance who, I gather live on square 553W. They were angry and frustrated. A new infill property at 1420 4th St NW was causing problems. The construction is not finished, but they wanted DDOT (the agency at the meeting) to do something about a pole in the alley, but it became clear that the pole was not the worst of the problem. Apparently residents have been trying to deal with the city for 14 months. The DDOT people said something about yards had encroached upon the alley. I, Scott Roberts and Jonathan Rogers have been twittering about the issue since the meeting.

After the meeting Scott and I wandered over to see what the fuss was about. The front just looks like new construction near a super skinny alley, however when you wander down the alley and look in the rear, that's when you see what the big deal is. In short, it's f'ed up, if a car is parked behind 1420 no one else is getting their car down the alley. I'm not totally sure what is wrong. It sort of looks like the property is at 100% FAR (everyone should be at 60%) and the parking pad looks like it juts into the alley.

So today I decided to look into how this came to be. I blogged about this in fill back in April and July of 2012, and even then no one seemed to care. I looked at the video segment of the BZA hearing and related material. I'm not going to say that the photographs and the drawings lie, but they are very inaccurate and they leave important details out. There are also other little easy to miss problems with the application. No one opposed the application, as noted in the BZA video, and the BZA let the lack of real communication with the then ANC slide, so it was approved.

I only care because a) I feel badly for the residents who now see they have a problem and b) it makes people like me who try to do right and follow the rules feel like suckers. When I had my addition put on, I paid $1,500 for surveyors to come out to survey my property. There is no such certified survey in 1420's BZA application that I can see. Without such a thing, any developer can make up crap, photograph things 'just so',  as long as no one from the neighborhood calls them on it.

The submitted drawings show that the alley from 3rd St is 10 feet wide. I decided to verify that with my little laser measure/ cat toy. The cat toy says it is 9'10" near the front and 9'7" in the rear. Don't trust, verify.
Width of an Alley

Do Not Vote for Thorpe

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Just don't.
I have no idea who else is running in the ANC 6E-02 race on the other side of New Jersey Avenue and I pray that the vote isn't split, but do not vote for that man.

There used to be a site up but now it only lives on's Wayback Machine, here. The last update was sometime in 2010 and the site went down around 2014-2015. It went into more detail of why residents shouldn't vote for him.
Walking around last week I saw a number of new Thorpe signs, so once again he keeps trying to get his old seat back. I'm not too worried. Even if he wins his old seat the demographics have changed enough that I really don't think he'd be able to keep the seat for longer than a term, once the electorate are reminded of what a demagogic, homophobic, misogynistic jerk he is.
So, vote this November 8th for someone who isn't a meanie.

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

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