Monday, June 16, 2008

UPDATED: bloomingdale meeting at big bear cafe

well, i went to the meeting at the big bear cafe this evening, and i could write a lot about it, but i'm kind of tired, and just wanted to get a few pictures up and a brief summary. perhaps tomorrow i'll update this. i just wanted to get a few big facts across now.

1) we need to support our local businesses. more so now than ever, if you really want a certain coffee place, store, grocery, or any other business to stay in bloomingdale, you have to stop just talking about it and put your money where your mouth is.

these stores require our patronage to survive. this is one of the basic tenets of capitalism folks. businesses have to make money to exist. if we don't spend our money at these places, they will fold, and then all the complaining about how "we don't have the stores i want" will be a bunch of sour grapes, because you can't complain when a business closes if you never shopped there.

2) there is money out there to be had by the businesses of bloomingdale and eckington. they just need to go out and get it. councilmember brown talked a lot about how, as chair of the committee on economic development, he's working to do what he can to funnel funds towards small businesses for things like start-up costs, fa├žade improvements, and small loans. the north capitol main streets group appears to be working towards incorporation as a non-profit entity so that they can take advantage of these funds and disperse them to businesses and property owners in the community. here's hoping that becomes the case.

3) councilmember thomas showed up as well (i thanked him for coming, and he told me "i'm supposed to be here, this is ward 5"), and he and councilmember brown talked a LOT about how important their efforts were in relation to each other when it comes to getting legislation passed. made it sound at times like they were joined at the hip.

councilmember brown did promise that he would take things away from the meeting, and get back together with the community down the line in order to get things moving forward. he wants to be held accountable along with members of the neighborhoods in the near future, making sure that we're all moving forwards towards achieving the goals we all have for the future of the neighborhood.

some apologies for the photos below. you can see both councilmembers and ANC 5C03 commissioner stu davenport in these photos (which are not the clearest that i've ever taken). other members of the ANC were in attendance, as well as other neighborhood bloggers and listserv regulars. i'm sure they'll have more to say about the meeting in the coming days, and i will as well.

overall, it was a good meeting. we are all getting a sense of where the neighborhood has to go moving forward in order to see the changes we want in bloomingdale.






UPDATE: i promised a little more information, and here it is. we were provided with a rough agenda (which said "topics to be addressed" at the top of the page), as well as the copy of an message that had been posted to the eckington listserv in recent days that discussed how we'd like to the the neighborhoods develop. the topics included (and i'm paraphrasing here):

1. larger themes (organic vs. corporate growth)
2. locations of improvememt (north capitol from seaton to florida and 1st from seaton to rhode island)
3. types of business we want to see (included restaurants, hardware store, yoga studio, theater or rehearsal space, multi-use space (a la busboys and poets)
4. wayts to get city support for business
5. next steps

it was quickly affirmed that everyone wanted to see more local investment, and less corporate chains, etc. once that was clear, ideas starting flying in from all quarters. talk of a rehearsal space for shakespeare theater, or a pet groomer/vet were two of the first clear ideas. the idea of a theme for the area was brought up, yet all in the room were clearly not on board with that idea. when councilmember brown finally showed up (he was late due to council debate on the trinidad police checkpoints), he spent a lot of time discussing how this was something that can't be done overnight, and how it will involve the work of the executive branch, the legislative branch, business, and people in the neighborhood.

i don't want to dive into the politics of the meeting right now, that might be fodder for a future post. suffice it to say, when all was done, it seems to me like stu davenport is probably going to be coordinating something in the near future get people together to discuss how to bring desired businesses to the area. a steering committee of some sort seems like a logical next step.

public meeting tonight

should have posted about this earlier, but here it goes. meeting tonight, 7 p.m., at big bear with kwame brown (note to councilmember brown—you might want to update your website. it's not february 2008 anymore). here's the note from our south bloomingdale ANC man, stu:

This Monday, June 16th, we are having an informal get-together with Councilman Kwame Brown and local residents at the Big Bear Cafe.

Councilman Brown, our councilman at-large, is going to show up with members of the DC Committee on Economic Development to meet with neighbors and discuss local issues face-to-face.

There is a lot of development coming to the area -- NOMA to the south, the massive plans with the McMillan site and the old Soldier's Home to the north, Main Street Program funding for North Capitol and Rhode Island Ave to the east and west -- and many changes are going to take place.

This is a good opportunity for people to meet and discuss how we'd like to shape those changes, and how we'd like to see our neighborhood grow in the coming years.

We have a lot to look forward to.

We all hope you can make it.

post no bills

at least, don't post them on trees. i took this flyer down from one of the willow oaks on the road in front of mt. pleasant baptist church on the corner of 2nd and rhode island nw. there was one more on that block, and i've seen others around town.

these signs are annoying enough, going up all over town, but when you post them on trees, you make me and a lot of other citizen foresters pretty angry. don't staple stuff on trees, jerks.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

way to go, wasa and ddot

yeah, there's a healthy dose of sarcasm in that headline. what's that you say, you couldn't tell by just reading it? well, you can thank the internet (and my inability to write very well) for failing to transmit those emotions very well. regardless, check out these photos:






these were all taken today at the corner of 7th, r, and rhode island, nw. the puddle in the fourth picture has been there for a month now. the first day i saw it, i thought it was a remnant of the torrential rains we've had over the past few weeks. when lake shaw took up permanent residence, i knew it was most likely because of a leaky main under the road. the corner has been torn up for a while whilst work has been done to fix those pipes under the intersection.

yesterday, the city repaved everything that had been torn up. guess that means everything is fixed, right?

uh...FAIL!

there is still water bubbling up through the pavement. anyone from WASA or DDOT care to comment? i don't think you guys accomplished what you had set out to do.

Friday, June 13, 2008

UPDATE: real estate correction

there is a house across the street from me that's been on the market forever for over $500,000 (i think it was most recently listed at about $565,000). the problem with this house (which you can see next door to the corner house in the photograph here) is that it's vacant and in need of tons of work. the owners must have thought that it was still 2004 and they could get people to pay more than twice what a house is actually worth.

well, looks like they finally came to their senses. i noticed a new "for sale" sign in the front yard today, and a lot of people pulled up in their cars with virginia plates to take a look. you see, the house (at 1817 1st St. NW) has been relisted at the more reasonable price of $239,900. i guess a lot of people would be interested in a 6-bedroom house for under a quarter million, don't you think?

UPDATE: turns out that, looking at the old and new listings for the house, they formerly listed the neighborhood as ledroit park, and now it says eckington. still haven't figured out that they're in the heart of bloomingdale, but i could scream 'til i'm blue in the face to get some people to realize that. plus, it was listed with 2.5 baths, and now just one. either way, it still is a shell.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

UPDATED: blogroll updates

noticed that the blogroll had some stale/dead entries on it, so i updated with some sites that i've been following.

gone:

dc under construction — hasn't updated since last august
off seventh — brian retired his blog at the end of march scratch that, brian just restarted the blog yesterday (woo hoo!)
snapshots of a life (in truxton circle) — hasn't updated since last august

added:

new columbia heights and the heights life — two newer blogs from up in columbia heights
greater greater washington — david alpert's amazing blog covering everything about life in dc. the transit studies caught my attention, but i stayed for the insight into everything else...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

what's race got to do with it?

ok, i just need to share this.

the day i moved into bloomingdale, a 'friendly' neighborhood denizen let me know that 'his people' never did anything to 'my people'. it was a comment on my whiteness, and his blackness. i didn't know how to respond, so i didn't. it made me mad, because i wasn't moving into the neighborhood to judge people based on the color of their skin. i got over it, though, because every other single person, regardless of who the hell they are, has been friendly and treated me with respect since i've lived here.

until today....

i was biking home in the rain (loads of fun, trust me) and was on the home stretch: rhode island avenue between 3rd and 2nd streets, when i heard a horn behind me. i hear horns a lot. usually, it's people just letting me know they're getting close and are going to pass (likely closely, so i know not to suddenly lurch to the left). well, this car came up along side, and the guy driving took the time to roll down the window and yell, "hey, get your stupid white ass off the road!"

take note: i'm not just stupid, i'm white. that's all you need to know. forget anything else about me, i've just been defined exclusively by my race (ok, maybe not exclusively, maybe 95%, with the other 5% my apparent lack of brains).

i was immediately angry (i would argue that it's hard not to be in that situation, and i threw the guy the bird and yelled "f*** you".

well, guess what? he turned down seaton and pulled to the side of the road and got out of his car. as i biked by, he said, "what the hell did you say to me back there?" i ignored him and biked past, went to my house, and went right inside. i didn't want to start a fight (because i'd get my ass kicked....i'm 145 pounds soaking wet).

when i got up to my apartment, i looked out the window and realized this guy had driven halfway up the block, parked, and got out of his car. turns out he lives in a basement unit across the street, a few doors down.

so, i've had a wonderfully negative interaction with someone i didn't know was a neighbor. i know i'll bump into him again, since i see people on my block outside all the time. part of me would want to get right in his face and tell him what an idiot he is and how he started this whole thing, and another part of me is scared about losing teeth.

but the race thing. oh damn, i'm still sitting here shaking because i'm so mad about it. (the beer is helping a little). he could have called me a stupid biker, or a dumb kid, or who knows what, but he focused on my skin color. i've yelled at people before. but i've never yelled "hey, get your black ass off the road." that's not me.

i don't know how to end this, so i'm just going to say to everyone out there, be careful when you're on your bike. there are a lot of drivers who don't respect your right to be on the road, for various reasons.

oh, this is rich

ok, this is far from bloomingdale, but i just couldn't pass it up.


national harbor
is the huge new convention center built just south of the wilson bridge in PG county. it's just off the beltway, built in an area with no current transit capability. if i was an urban planner (which i'm not, but damn, it sounds like a tempting field to move into), i'd encourage my jurisdiction to build things like this where there is ease of access for many more people by ways other than automobile. but, i'm not going to discuss that too deeply. here's the kicker:

the post has an article where we get this quote:

The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center wants Metro to expand its bus service to National Harbor to accommodate employees who say they are having trouble getting home from work because of limited transportation.

really?!? people are having difficulty getting there because of limited transportation? color me shocked! didn't they think about this beforehand? of course they did. the article says that the state has spent $312,000 for bus service to this massive new construction. $312,000.

how much did they spend on improving roads to get there. millions? tens of millions? if one considers all the work being done on the wilson bridge and surrounding interchanges on the beltway, you can argue that they've spent billions to improve automobile access to this site, and all they can manage to spend for transit is a measly third of a million?

i'm not surprised.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

prediction: we're going to regret losing these homes

i've mentioned before that i think it's a terrible thing that we're knocking down historic row houses in favor of new construction here in the old city. well, it looks like we're going to be losing even more in the blocks around north capitol street.

scott roberts, who runs the bloomingdale listserv, posted a message on the eckington listserv (you have to subscribe to read the messages here) about the impending razing of 4 houses:

32 P Street NE
24 P Street NE
27 Florida Avenue NE
29 Florida Avenue NE

that's another 4 old row houses that are going to be knocked down for who knows what.

to those of you in bloomingdale and eckington who think that it's not a good idea to get the neighborhoods historically designated, let me just say that i think you're wrong. we can disagree on this fact, but i believe that eventually, this is going to lead to the destruction of the fabric that makes these neighborhoods unique, and that's the almost entirely intact rows of original row houses.