PSA 501

PSA 312 is gone.




No more.

Some of the neighbors went to Jack Evans to complain, but I knew it was too late cause if people had been going to the boring PSA 312 meetings, or the Bates Street Civic Association (slightly less boring), they would have known.

So now we have PSA 501, which is big. It includes a lot of NE DC. It has Catholic U, Trinity, the Hospitals, some other large campus of some sort, Eckington, Truxton, and that other stuff on the other side of North Cap.

At the meeting the cops were talking big. We’ll see. That’s my view. Right now my big thing is getting the kids off the R and 4th corner. Some neighbors attributed the crowd of kids on the corner to the arrival of Dramma Mamma. Well I can’t blame her or her son entirely. There were people hanging out on that corner before her. Just now, they are younger.

Well, if I see them I will try to remember to call 911 when they start fighting with each other.

New PSA 501 Meeting


Please be reminded that there will be a meeting of community residents

from PSA 501 (i.e., the PSA that we are now located in) on Thursday, May 20,

2004. Specifically, the meeting will take place in the auditorium of

Dunbar Senior High School, New Jersey Avenue and O Street, N.W., between the

hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. This is the first meeting of residents from

this newly configured PSA, since the time of our relocation from the Third

to the Fifth District.

Please make your best effort to attend this important public safety


And, also bring some neighbors.


Jim Berry


Best real estate quote on a discussion list

I roam the Washington Post’s Real Estate discussion lists. When people from other areas or first time buyers start looking for houses the usual exchange goes something like this:

“Ohmagawd it’s expensive”

“Go live in West Virginia, BFE Virginia, Baltimore, Anapolis, St. Mary’s Co.”

“Traffic horrid”

“Don’t go to PG County or live in DC”

“Please suggest a nice safe neighborhood for a family”

“The Real Estate bubble will burst”

Well of all that I came across this:

From: dariaesq May-13 7:45 am


I think anything in that price range is going to come with some negatives. In the end you have to balance what negatives you can live with….moving a gazillion miles away to farout counties as I see people on boards suggesting West Virginia even!!! thats not a realistic or desirable option for many people (may not have to sit in traffic for a short distance but you’ll drive twice as many miles???); is living within the vicinity of METRO (not VRE or MARC…but the actual METRO System) important; dealing with Rt 7, 66, 270, American Legion Bridge, Wilson Bridge, 95, yadda yadda yadda (there are choke points all over this area…even those living in $600k plus neighborhoods have choke points to deal with and even if you live and work in the city sometimes getting from one part of DC to another part of DC can take 45 minutes!); you might compromise on neighborhood aesthetics and safety…but look into the neighborhood yourself versus assumptions about what it is like, the cheaper neighborhoods are not all as bad as many stereotype them to be; you might be limited to condos vs. townhomes or single family; it may need a lot of renovation if you are up to that.

I guarantee at $130k you’ll have to bend on one of those negatives, but despite the hype you CAN find something in that range close in, in nice neighborhoods and move in ready with limited renovation without having to give up or move to Bmore West Virginia Fredericksburg or some other extreme. Good luck.

Article of interest: Risky Neighborhood Or Investor Paradise?

Bold mine

Tired of selling Shaw

I like Shaw. It’s my neighborhood. It is close to the metro, so I can ponder getting a car, and not get one. It is within biking distance of Dupont and Downtown. The buses take me straight through Dupont to Georgetown, or the Business district, or Catholic U, or Adams Morgan. But I think I have gotten tired of trying to sell it to middle class suburbanites who like a Disneyfied DC.

There are certain people who should stay in Arlington and Alexandria. Those areas fit them. There’s parking and lots of winding roads. At 40 mph you can ignore the immigrants. Oh and there are good schools for the children they hope to have. In DC, now I don’t want to seem as if I’m hating ’cause I do like a lot of NW DC. But parts of NW DC is too homogeneous and doesn’t reflect the diversity of the city. Some areas do, but we must face some folks aren’t comfy with a lot of diversity. That diversity could be economic, age, family, orientation, and race.

Shaw is a wonderful neighborhood. It is a very diverse neighborhood. It might not fit some folks vision of a “nice safe” neighborhood, but it is mine.

Dang Kids

The house that we were all hoping that would sell, didn’t. The owners, developers were too greedy. It was on the market for $400K, the highest offer was $380K, and that was generous, ’cause the quality of the house wasn’t that good. So the owners rented out the two unit property to a working class family and some guys.

With the family came a new crop of kids. Now I can’t say for sure that the crop of kids all live in the house. As these things go you have cousins, playmates, what have you who join the kids who do live there. They have been playing with the crop of kids who normally play on their block. 90% of these kids are boys. Little boys. So you have a gaggle of rough housing, ball throwing, ball bouncing, fight starting, highly competitive boys. One block cannot hold all this energy.

Most of the families on the block, I speak of, have been there for a while. Majority of the boys’ families are home owners and longtime residents. They know better than to run into their neighbors’ yards and tree boxes while playing. Yet, with the arrival of the new family this ‘knowing better’ seems to have gone out the window.

It is true that it takes a village to raise a child. It takes several adults who happen to be outside observing this bad behavior to yell at the kids. Apparently one lone adult isn’t enough. By yelling, I mean asking “what are you doing?” or saying loudly, “get out of Mr. X’s yard” or “why don’t you play over there?”. Kids.

Uncomfy aspect of gentrification

There was another post but I think it is lost to the ether that is the Internet. Anyway, despite my odd posts about gentrification, I haven’t been able to define it in a way that is simple and oh, politics-free and maybe even free of racial context. I don’t think gender or orientation have a lot to do with it, but plays a minor but maybe pivotal role. I’m more than happy to define gentrification as an economic thing. Face it when the real estate taxes go up 200%, believe me it is very much related to money.

My own problem relates to where I fit in all this. I was raised in a working class family in a poor black neighborhood in the South. Currently, I guess you can call me middle class, definately a professional (if I’m not can I stop paying the student loans?), and still black. I laud the arrival of folks who are “middle class like me” regardless of color or orientation. But I do admit it is troublesome to those who have been here longer, who now have to keep up with the newcomers who have raised the value of the properties and rents. None of us who are middle class come in with the intention of pushing out the oldtimers or the poor. (We won’t cry a tear, however, should the loud section 8 house, or the drug dealers get moved out.)

The visuals of this gentrification are seen in the homes and in the people. Abandoned homes are restored to their former glory, or torn down to make way for something better. Other homes are bought, rehabbed, and made to look nicer. These homes sit near, or are right next to homes that are still abandoned, falling down, or just ghetto looking. The front yards are different, some with dirt patches made from years of hanging out in front, others with many dollars worth of plants, or new walkways and fencing. Oldtimers might keep up, or join in, if they had given up the effort before. The face of gentrification, is white. Despite a fair number of blacks such as myself moving into these ‘up and coming’ neighborhoods, we blend in with the old population. The ones who stick out a bit more are my white neighbors.

Please keep note that whites are a minority in the District of Columbia, making up 30% of the population. Blacks are 60%, Latinos about 8% and the rest being everybody else. In my little area of Truxton Circle (still Shaw dammit) in 2000 the Afr-American population was 90%. So when whites move in, it is very noticable. So far that group has been very middle class.

With Spring the visuals are all there. Well the “For Sale” signs are. The building and rehabbing continue. Yards in the winter that have much in common with the ghetto looking yards, bound forward with color and other greenery. And I see joggers. Joggers? Where the heck are these people jogging to? I see more dog walkers. In Winter they seem to be the most miserable sort, now, all happy with their pooches, meeting up with others pooches for doggie smootches. Then there is what I don’t see. There are places where crowds of black teens would congregate in large numbers. I see fewer of them, of course, it is still early. I hope that I will see fewer kids hanging out on street corners.

I guess I have been running around the topic of race and gentrification. As far as I see, so far I’ll probably keep circling.

Spring Clean-up Day


Saturday, May 1, 2004 has been declared “Spring Clean-up Day” in our

neighborhood. This is the 10th consecutive year that this event has

been promoted in the community by North Capitol Neighborhood Development,

ANC 5C, the Bates Area Civic Association, and other neighborhood groups. In

this regard, residents are asked to use the day as an opportunity to begin

the process of “spring cleaning” by also sprucing-up and/or fixing-up

things around their respective properties or households. Where possible,

residents are asked to perform these tasks between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and

1:00 p.m. on Saturday to show solidarity with this community-wide


And, it is hoped that this type of clean-up activity will be ritualized

on every Saturday morning until the Fall.


Jim Berry


Gentrification and British people: Or gentrification and me with an accent

Allo Govener’

Went looking for some gentrification sites again and came across a British site What is gentrification? There is a mild hostility towards gentrification with a bit of Marxist theory. Oh I miss Marxist theory, makes me pine for grad school again. A tad different than some other sites, the creator throws in how gender adds to gentrification, which gave me a bit of pause.

As the theory goes if you look at gentrifying couples they are DINKs (double income, no kids) so they have greater spending power over working class families because the woman in the DINK couple is not tied up with childrearing. Nor is the woman’s or family’s resources eaten by childrearing that could better be used in home buying and home improvement. I also found this statement of interest: “Tim Butler and Chris Hamnett have stated that gentrification is “not solely a class process, but neither is it solely a gender process. It involves the consumption of inner-city housing by middle-class people who have an identifiable class and cultural formation, one of whose major identifying characteristics centres around the occupational identity of its female members” (Butler and Hamnett, 1994, p.491). ”

Spring you lying season you

This weekend I fell for the warm weather and bought many plants. Now it’s getting colder again. WTF? So I had to cover my semi-hardy plants. Come on Spring, get back to the warming, chop-chop.