Small assessment increase rant

Apparently for our block the assessor decided to tack on $60K to the previous year’s assessment. I talked to B&I and M&K and $60K range was what was tacked on to their assessment as well.
Dude, I have no AC, no legal basement, no fireplaces and the city knows this so why is my assessment the same as houses with AC, fireplaces, and legal basements?
Before some wiseacre tells me how great a larger assessment is let me just say that a higher assessment does not give me free money. Doesn’t do me any good until I sell the house. I was happy with the $100K in equity I got several years ago, because that’s as much as I can borrow with my salary (maybe). Anything above that does me no good as I can’t use it, unless another income comes in, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Spending in Shaw

I could complain about my real estate assessment I got in the mail…. bastards! But I’m gonna cool off and get some data and form an argument before that.
I’ve been trying to complete my taxes by the end of this month and the taxes would be done by now if it weren’t for the fact that I neglected updating my finance program and got 6 months behind. Anyway, in typing stuff in and monitoring my spending habits over time I saw myself as a consumer and tried thinking of myself as a consumer in Shaw.
For one, I spend a lot of money at the Ghetto Giant. At least, at least once a week I’m plopping down some amount for food and supplies. Lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been spending at least $40 a week on food. What the heck am I buying? Veggies. I’ve noticed that some fruit and fresh vegetables cost more per pound than some meats. I also buy lamb and lots of it, especially when it is on sale, and lamb is not a cheap meat. The Giant serves my needs. I can get veggies, but it can be hit or miss at times as I have seen the most sorry looking broccoli or spring onions.
The other Shaw business that sucks money out of my pocket is Whole Foods/ Fresh Fields. Can’t seem to leave that store without spending at least $10. I go there for stuff I wouldn’t want to bother with in Giant. I go there for there salad greens, wine, fish, brown rice, desserts, granola, dried fruit, milk (which strangely is cheaper than Giant milk), cheese, and anything that MUST be fresh.
The third business in Shaw where I spend a good amount is my hairdresser Ms. Mary. I have been going to her for nearly 10 years now, long before I lived in Shaw.
Restaurant wise, I have been recently visiting the three Thai places in the U Street region. I might wander over to Cake Love for a $2 cupcake. The German Chocolate cupcake is my personal fav. I have been stopping into the Cake Love cafe just across the street from Cake Love simply because I can’t seem to hit Cake Love when it is open.
What of Truxton Circle? Do I spread the financial love here? Um, not often. I might wander over to the corner store but only when I am so lazy that I can’t drag myself the extra few blocks to Giant. Ella’s? I’ve been there a handful of times. I like it but beyond waffles, which are very good by the way, I’m not that familiar with their menu so there isn’t one dish that draws me. The chicken place near Ella’s? Not a fried chicken fan. Dunkin Donuts, is not good for me, but I’ll plunk down a dollar for a bowtie.
One thing I have noticed is that I’m not spending a huge amount in other parts of the DC metro area. I might venture over to Uni Sushi in Dupont once a month or pick up stuff at the CVS in the Penn Quarter (Archives/ Navy Memorial) but the largest chunk of my spending cash (not including utilities and those other bills) is spent in Shaw, apparently on so-so broccoli and brown rice.

Musical Treat: Green Line Blues

Okay some of you may have already heard this song but it was commissioned by me and Mr. Andrew Pants who wrote and performed the music, my credit is for the crappy lyrics. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time crafting good lyrics, as I did for If the metro don’t go there it don’t exist. It’s a 1meg file so enjoy it and the Shaw references.
Green Line Blues [dead link]
note: download it and play from your own computer, it doesn’t play well from the site.

Convention Center Area Strategic Development Plan

Okay, I’ve read the plan put out by the city planning office and it wasn’t easy reading. For one it is a couple of separate PDF files that I had to download and read separately and at a %50 reduction because it was on abnormal sized pages. Almost made me think DC don’t want me reading this.
Historic Districts
I have dedicated my adult life to history, and so I might have a strange bias. I was and still am a bit concerned about the idea of creating historic districts for reasons other than a deep desire to preserve the historic character of an area. Reading the development plan, I became concerned when I read that a reason for creating a historic district was to control growth. I don’t doubt that but it doesn’t help history any. Another, slightly more acceptable reason other than a focus on the historical character of an area, was the desire to maintain the architectural character of rowhouses. That’s okay, but still where is the history? It can be in there, but when it is not expressed, I get concerned. There may be a community desire to keep rowhouses and keep a lid on growth, but will the community support the expense and headache that comes with maintaining property in an historic district when history was not the main push to designate the area historic in the first place. If there isn’t that communal desire by businesses and neighbors then there isn’t that pressure to conform to those rules and the designation becomes weak and useless. Kind of like eating on the metro, rarely enforced.
Dueling ideas
I noticed some conflicting ideas. They kind of conflict with affordable housing for poorer residents. Under the idea of creating mixed use development along 7th street up by the Giant there was a statement on page 6 of the guidelines about Kelsey Gardens getting redeveloped and would make a good mixed use site. Um. This conflicts with the other idea of maintaining and increasing affordable housing. Back on the historic bug and affordable housing, affordable and historic don’t mix well. The higher quality materials and the type of systems demanded of the historic ain’t cheap. Like no through the wall HVAC system, read ugly AC units built in. No gotta be replaced with CAC or the HVAC put out back.
Kids and other people
Another concern was making school areas mixed used areas as well. For me it might not have been clear, but if I understand it, there would be residences on school grounds? The things that I think allow a school the freedom to protect it’s students and allow kids to be kids (loud and annoying) is the school’s ability to close itself off and keep it’s grounds secure. I can see potential problems with a large scale school (small charter sized schools, different story) and residences. I would like to know about current set ups where there is this mixed use of public schools and residences.
There were some things I did like about the report. For one a clear definition of the AMI (average medium/median income?). That is always helpful because when officials and other types talk about affordable housing they go on and on about the AMI and never tell you that 100% of the AMI for a single person is $58,833, $84,000 for a family of four, so %50 AMI is $29,400 for a single person and $42,000 for a family of four. Second, was a desire to encourage retail that would attract convention attendees and tourists. I’d like some of that retail (exceptions being a souvenir shop) too. I’m thinking a CVS and stores with large clean windows that allow me to see in, clean well lit interior spaces, and businesses that display store hours clearly. Lastly, I also liked the desire to keep the medium density feel of the area, but I wish there was another way to preserve it without having to become “historic” when preserving history is not the goal.

Because Robbie asked: Convention Center Area Strategic Development Plan

Robbie pointed out in the comments a post on the DCist site about the city’s redevelopment plan for Shaw. Well that’s Ward 2’s Shaw. Those of us over on the other side of New Jersey Ave are just screwed or not, depending on how you look at it. Also I feel a bit slighted because one could come away looking at this plan that Truxton Circle isn’t in Shaw.
I took a quick look and I’ll make a few quick comments, with the choice of coming back to this topic and posting at length when I’ve read the whole plan. First, I am very wary of an Eastern Shaw Historical District. I love history but it can be a burden. I’ll write later this week on this. Second, I see the recommendations for the area around the Convention Center are okay but I worry about the type of retail. Hair & nail salons are retail. Got them a plenty. There is a coffeeshop (Warehouse)but it needs something, what I don’t know. But anyway it is something beyond signage and facades that the 7th and 9th street areas around the Convention Center need.

Eminent Domain and Baseball

For those who are slightly following the SCOTUS arguments of Kelo vs City of New London, the Post has an article in it’s business section about how the outcome could impact the Nationals Stadium and the Skyland shopping center over in Anacostia. Yet I am trying to figure out how the stadium fits into all this, as I thought (correct me if I am wrong) the stadium would remain the property of the city. My idea of public use does include stadiums, provided they are publicly owned so if the city needed to, it could have other city functions during the off season or decide to blow it up when the Nats leave DC for a prettier much younger city.
The area in SE where the city is thinking about plopping the stadium is not the greatest part of town, but that’s just my outdated opinion. I haven’t been out there since Tracks closed down. Wait? Am I thinking of the right neighborhood? And really I’m a bit less sympathetic to commercial property being seized for a commercial but publicly owned project. I do feel a bit bad for the sculptor working over there, as good studio spaces are hard to find and art a pain to move.
I am very thankful that areas around and near southern Shaw were nixed as places for a stadium. Shaw is coming out of it’s blighted stage. We haven’t reached the non-blighted, non-transitional stage yet, but at least we are in little danger of the the city grabbing large parcels of land.

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In Shaw Brothers Grimm

Okay, I’m walking home with my neighbor B and there is this guy in a big black SUV honking in front of the house across the street from ours and he’s just honking. B remarks that this has been going on since Valentine’s Day with the guy and the on going honking.
Me (loudly): Little pig, little pig let me in
Honk, honk
Me: Little pig, little pig, let me in!
Honk, honk, honk
Me: Then I’ll blow
Me: And I’ll blow
B: I think I saw movement
Me: And I’ll blow my horn and your house down
guy drives off
Me: House of bricks, still standing

And the big bad SUV wolf sped away and the little piggies inside the 100 year old brick house lived happily ever after.

I really hate it when people use their car horns instead of walking up to the house and knocking. I can understand it for cabbies. Maybe I can forgive one honk, but honking over and over deserves an egging.

Evil Evil Gentrification goes to court

Today the US Supreme Court, over where the 96 bus passes, will be hearing arguments of Kelo vs New London. This case regards the rights of the city to prostitute itself to private developers so that they can seize people’s private property for a private entity’s gain. The libertarian Institute for Justice is representing the homeowners who don’t want to sell. I’ve commented on this situation before here and here and figured I could follow up.
No comments please, not really feeling tolerant of other opinions on this topic. But feel free to strongly disagree with me on Thai food or the blue recycle carts.

Stop asking me about the house

Right now I’m taking a break from doing anything with the house. I’ve been lazy and enjoying the other parts of life that include socializing, dancing, and gardening. I had the energy to do everything, where did it go?
Anyway, if you really want to deal with house fixing drama, wait till Spring because I need to start painting the rear of the house. Otherwise you can visit House In Progress, a Chicago blog about a married couple with bungalow who have been fixin’ up their place and documenting it. Everyso often they mention products they’ve been using (hey there is an idea…) and really that is incredibly useful when you are trying to fix up an older home.

I will love him an’ hug him an’ call him George

We got our shiny bright blue recycle bins. I dragged “George” my bin, down to the basement to tag him as my own because looking at it, this would make a great little old lady cart. Really. And I already had one recycle bin stolen (gone missing) and I don’t want to be without the power to recycle again.
I was looking around the house for a good marker. I thought about one of those stickers I get from WAMU or my alma mater (the one I give money to, not the other 2 I ignore) and slapping it on my bin to show my Terrapin pride or support of public radio. Sadly, I remembered I toss those things as soon as I get them. But next time, something is getting bumper sticker stuck to it so when DPW throws it back on to the sidewalk, I’ll know which is “George”.
Anyway, the old brown recycle bin has been sent to the backyard and looks as if it will begin a new life as a planter box. I need more planter boxes. Um, I guess I can go around asking neighbors, “hey whatcha’ gonna do wit cher old bin?”