Renovation 2007: Good news, Bad news

Okay first the bad news. Whilst chatting with the contractor about tile, he mentioned with happiness and glee that my house should be completely white because they put the primer down.

Me: Oh, okay. Except that one wall upstairs in the bedroom?
Contractor: Oh, sh*t.

Then he quickly got off the phone to see if he could stop the painters. Alas, he was too late.
I know everyone and their grandma has the red brick exposed in all of its red brick glory. I wanted to be different but then thought, it might be nice to leave one wall unpainted. So much for that idea.
When we got back in contact with each other he then mentioned maybe I could paint my walls this weekend. Huh? Wha? Paint? Now? So some of you, my dear, dear, friends, have received an email calling for a paint crew. I know I will need people next weekend, as I still haven’t settled on a tile still and was planning on picking a tile this week. The contractor would like me to paint before the carpet goes in, and it would be even better if I could get to it before the wood floor comes back (HA!). I haven’t picked out a paint color for any part of the house, except the brick wall, which will be a white egg-shell or semi-gloss. Worse yet, I want to use a low voc paint, and honestly I know of two places in car-accessible Maryland where I can get it. Please if anyone knows where I can get metro-accessible eco-friendly paint inside the city that can customize the color, tell me.
The good news? As soon as the tile goes in, the toilet goes in, and I get closer to moving back into my house.

Alternative Future

In the book “Washington DC Present and Future” published in 1950 by the National Capitol Park & Planning Commission (so its a govt doc, copy away) there is a proposed idea, that never came to be. The above picture (from shows an area bound by 7th, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York Avenues NW. The left is a part of Shaw in the late 1940s, the right is the idea of what it would be, large apartment buildings, snaky townhouse rows, and lot of open space. Roads went missing in this alternative future, M & N Street are gone as well as small road like Warner and Franklin. Anyway, never happened, well not in this version. 1/2 of Franklin did disappear and there are a bunch of apartment buildings along 7th.

The road to Hell is paved with the very best of intentions

So, former Mayor-for-Life, current Ward 8 Councilman has proposed some housing bills recently, some not bad, others…. I don’t want to call them ‘stupid’ but I can’t find another word. It seems his heart is in the right place.
Let’s start off with the not-bad proposed legislation, Housing Support for Teachers Act of 2007 B17-0095, sponsored by our own Harry Thomas Jr., Vincent Gray, Carol Schwartz, Kwame Brown, and Marion Barry. A quick look at it seems to offer funds of $5K for individual teachers with moving expenses, housing down payments, and housing stipend. Good stuff for teachers. No complaint here.
The next one I mentioned to someone and he proclaimed the “Evictions with Dignity Amendment Act” as stupid. To me it is not so much stupid, but it looks like a huge liability for the city. Does the city have tons of storage space for people’s stuff? And what happens when someone precious thingamabob heirloom dohicky gets damaged by a water leak while in the City’s care? Anyway it is co-sponsored with Kwame Brown.
And the last of Barry proposed legislation that should be cause for concern for anyone who is/ will/ has rented out their basement, condo, house or part of their house, the Rent Control Expansion Amendment Act of 2007 (PDF). Barry is the sole sponsor of this really bad idea, that would seem to make every rental-able unit in the city subject to the Rent Control laws, which are now just limited to units of 4 or more. If I’m interpreting this thing right (and I hope I’m not) this would mess with owners of single units, and increase their risk. Also there are a lot of things that go into the expense for a single (or double if it is a house with a rentable basement) landlord that are beyond the control of that person that it seems rent control ignores, like condo fees and skyrocketing tax assessments. The proposed bill is very short and left me with two big questions. One was does it include single and half units (room in house)? And in Sec.3 ‘Fiscal impact statement’ is the language saying there will be an study of some sort to see what economic impact such legislation would have or is it saying that this will be based on a fiscal impact statement that was done already? If there is a study to be done, I hope the city would take a look at incentives for people to decide to make their basements rental units, or to rent out their condos or houses (short-term/ indefinitely) over just selling their properties. People make choices about what to do with their homes and the city shouldn’t put something out there that would give homeowners second thoughts about renting out their place as an extra source of income, and thus taking some units off the legal* market.

*Regarding basement units there are height and other requirements, but some folks rent out their basements regardless, and illegally.

Accentuate the positive

I haven’t been feeling very virtuous for the past couple of days so I’m going to try to make up for it…
I’m coming from a ‘thank you’ dinner held for volunteers at a soup kitchen I ‘occasionally’ help at and I’m going to try not to toot their/my horn but just let people know there are volunteer opportunities out there that do not require a huge commitment and do some good. The commitment for the soup kitchen is usually 1 hour or 2, time goes fast, so let’s say 2 hours max if you are putting together sandwiches, on a Sunday or Monday evening. It maybe a little longer if you are assigned to go out on the Salvation Army van, where you quickly serve the sandwiches and soup/salad to people at various sites downtown. And once you are done, you’re done. Show up next week, next month, next year, or whatever, as I said no long term commitment.
My church that sponsors Sunday and Monday night, finally has a decent electronic sign up system, so email me (mari at inshaw dot com) with “soup kitchen” in the subject line and I’ll point you to where you need to go. Also if any of you non-profit people have other low-commitment programs that people can pop in and out of, especially those in Shaw and the surrounding area please mention them in the comments.