Thursday, January 29, 2009

bloomingdale featured on yesterday's daily show!

check this out! world missions for christ, a church at the corner of 1st and randolph nw in bloomingdale, was featured in a segment on the daily show last night about which church the obama family should choose for worship. the clip is featured below.

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(big hat tip to elizabeth for pointing this one out last night!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

february 7—the next mcmillan meeting

there were a couple comments on previous posts about the mcmillan sand filtration project asking if the meeting that was supposed to happen on january 24th had happened.

that meeting did not, in fact, occur when we were told it would. but, it will be taking place on february 7th. the flyer announcing the meeting can be seen above. here are the important details:
February 7, 2009
10:00am to 12:00pm
Trinity University Social Hall
125 Michigan Avenue NE
if you have questions before the meeting, call vicky chambers (in councilman thomas' office) at (202) 727-8204 or john basile (from eya) (301) 634-8600

Monday, January 26, 2009

one of the best 404 pages ever

i noticed this the other morning when surfing the washington post's website. when you enter a URL that can't be found on their site, you get the message at the bottom of the image above, which is akin to a 404 messsage. a hearty well done to the folks at this is reality!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

poor urban design coming to first street?

it was first noted by scott roberts on both the bloomingdale and eckington listservs on saturday:

Your moderator notes that there is a curb cut request on the agenda of this Tuesday's, 1/27/2009, ANC 5C meeting. Prior ANC 5C commissions handed out requested curb cuts like cotton candy. Will the 2009 ANC 5C commission do the same?

1817 1st street, a house that had been vacant and crumbling since before i moved into the neighborhood, was sold recently. i was very excited to see that this old house might finally be getting some attention. more eyes on the street, more neighbors to say hello to, one less eyesore, and another beautiful house to add to the many that line 1st street northwest down the spine of our neighborhood.

the house, which had at times been listed near $600,000, finally sold for $310,000 to a mr. thomas d. crowley, as noted in the real estate transaction notice listed below:

Address: 1817 1ST ST NW
SSL: 3106 0089
Neighborhood: ECKINGTON
Homestead Status: ** Not receiving the Homestead Deduction
Mailing Address: 1817 1ST ST NW; WASHINGTON DC20001-1069
Sale Price: $310,000
Sale Date: 11/13/2008

1817 is the second house south of the intersection of 1st and seaton, and can be seen in the picture above. here's a straight-on picture of the house (i apologize for the shadows, the picture was taken close to sunset):

there have been many posts at greater greater washington regarding curb cuts. to summarize, curb cuts are generally a negative thing here in the city. they lead to automobile vs. pedestrian conflicts, they take away public parking spaces, and, in the case of this one, a tree (located in front of 1815 1st street in the picture above) would likely be required to be cut down.

i am not certain why a curb cut is being requested for this house, but the only logical reason would be to put a garage in in the first floor of this home (the house does not have alley access in the rear). the only way that could be accomplished would be to tear the stoop out and radically redo the house's fa├žade. while the property owner has the right to do what they wish with their house, i strongly feel that this outcome, if true, would be a negative for the neighborhood.

there are no residential curb cuts on 1st street NW between the mcmillan reservoir and florida avenue—the entire length of our neighborhood. this would set a terrible precedent if it were approved.

anc5c will be meeting this tuesday, january 27th, at 7:00 p.m. at the first new hope baptist church, which is located at the corner of 3rd and seaton NE, in the eckington neighborhood, to hear the petition for this curb cut. if i understand correctly, ddot will then rule on whether or not to grant this petition.

i will be attending this meeting, hoping to hear the details regarding this curb cut request. i hope to have the opportunity to convince the commissioners to turn the request down, and keep the neighborhood from being irreparably damaged. if you feel as strongly about this as i do, i urge you to attend this meeting. perhaps the owner can be convinced that this is not the right choice for a vibrant urban neighborhood.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"no good deed goes unpunished"

that's what david smith, the person behind the fifth and oh blog had to say on the shaw neighborhood listserv with respect to a complaint that had been filed against anc2c02 commissioner kevin chapple.

it turns out that, in the last year, a complaint was filed against mr. chapple over the publication of his neighborhood newsletter "anc2c02 & you". the newsletter was published under the aucpices of a for-profit organization called "anc-2c02 LLC". money to produce and print the newsletter came from advertising dollars that local businesses and politicos gave to have themselves publicized in a forum that was meant help disseminate news for everyone in the neighborhood. from an admittedly brief reading of the findings that were published yesterday on the shaw listserv, it looks like commissioner chapple even put up his own money to help publish the newsletter.

the newsletter was a breath of fresh air for the shaw community, so used to being kept in the dark about the goings-on of their elected officials. the shaw ANC had, for years, refused to adopt many of the trappings of a modern, open, inclusive government that other ANCs around the city had, such as office space that would allow public interaction, a website to allow dissemination of information (like agendas), and wide publication of phone numbers that would allow constituents to get in touch with their elected representatives. commissioner chapple was showing the rest of the ANC what was possible if information was set free.

unfortunately, to co-opt a common phrase, "freedom isn't free". the cost of getting this information out to the public, while not enormous, was apparently substantial enough that it wasn't something that could be completely handled with out-of-pocket funds. having a newsletter or website for the entire ANC is something that probably could have been funded by the ANC itself, but the previous regime would never have allowed that to happen. thus, commissioner chapple did what was necessary to get a framework of what could be with regards to communication up and running. unfortunately, he ran afoul of current law and some of his political enemies in the neighborhood.

the complaint against his newsletter, initially filed by a constituent, was joined by the gentleman whom commissioner chapple defeated in two consecutive elections, leroy thorpe, less than a week after he had lost to mr. chapple in that second election. a comment on the shaw listserv noted that this appeared to be "sour grapes" on the part of mr. thorpe. one can't help but agree, noting the opportunistic timing of the addition of his name to the complaint.

in the end, the city's office of campaign finance found that a $2,000 fine should be levied against mr. chapple, but given the circumstances, the office ruled that

such fine shall be suspended because although respondent created the offending ANC 2C02 LLC to generate a profit in any legal manner, the overriding sole purpose of this venture was to promote the civic, cultural, and social interests of residents of the District of Columbia and especially the residents within the Shaw community; and, the intent was to use any proceeds, and none were realized, above paying expenses for the publication of the ANC 2C02 community magazine for projects to benefit the Shaw community

so, as a result of all of this, if you try to access commissioner chapple's newsletter, what you find is the screen shot that i've captured in the image above. hopefully, commissioner chapple, wiser in the way things work and aware of the minutia of district law, will be able to continue to publish his newsletter and informative website, thus letting all who are interested in the betterment of the shaw community find out what's happening in the neighborhood, and what we all can do to make shaw and the surrounding neighborhoods even better places.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

demolition by neglect

in september 2007, i documented the beginning of a pop-up at 100 seaton place nw. in the course of a week or so, the turret at the top of this house was removed, and the walls were extended to add enough space to the top of the house to create another floor. once the turret was replaced and shingled, i expected to see brick work on the walls that would complete the job.

instead, 16 months have passed, and the tyvek wrap continues to blow off the building, exposing the wood underneath to the elements. enormous amounts of water from the rains of the last year must have managed to seep down into the walls of this old rowhouse. i'm sure there must be structural damage, and i worry that the tenants inside might be without a place to stay if the house is continued to be neglected in this way. seems to be yet another unfortunate example of disinvestment in our neighborhood. does anyone know if the city can require building owners to complete projects like this in occupied buildings?

downtown bloomingdale tagged extensively

following are a few pictures of the tagging that has happened recently in downtown bloomingdale, along 1st, seaton, and rhode island. these pictures were taken on saturday morning, so i wasn't able to get photos of tagging on the roll-down screens that cover bloomingdale liquors windows as well. whomever "che", "nuk", and "kgb" (oh no, the russians are coming!) are, they seem to think that the spaces on privately owned homes and stores are their personal canvases.

the shame is that the places that have been tagged are, for the most part, vacant and crumbling. it appears that some owners don't seem to be in any kind of rush to clean up these eyesores that keep our community from reaching its full potential. while there have been fantastic signs of growth in bloomingdale (yoga district and the future baraki, to name two), there are still pockets of disinvestment in our "downtown" waiting to be cared for.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

1st street is about to be torn up

i noticed the standard no parking signs were put up on every pole on 1st street nw between seaton place and rhode island avenue today. from the picture to the right, you can see that parking will not be permitted during daylight hours for the next week. the reason? WASA is going to be tearing up first street for pipe replacement. i thought it had been announced that they would be terminating that program before they had finished replacing all the lead pipes in the city. though, this sign does say "sewer lateral replacement", so we could be talking about a different program here.