Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A brief history of efforts to recall Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners in the District of Columbia

The effort to recall ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith that is currently under way started me wondering how many commissioners have had similar efforts waged against them in the past, and how many commissioners have actually been successfully recalled due to those efforts.

Below is a spreadsheet provided to me by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. It lists all ANC recall efforts that have been initiated since 1992 (why it only goes to 1992 I'm not exactly sure). Since that year, four Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners have been successfully recalled (their names are highlighted in yellow on the document).

According to the DCBOEE's recall process, residents of an SMD must gather the signatures of at least ten percent of the registered voters in the SMD (that means about 200 signatures, as each SMD has approximately 2,000 residents) before moving to the petition verification phase and, ultimately, the recall election itself.

ANC SMD Recall Efforts

WBJ: Wal-Mart applies for Georgia Avenue building permit in time to avert Green Building Act compliance

Wal-Mart and Foulger Pratt have submitted a building permit application, along with a check for $20,000, to the District, according to the Washington Business Journal:

Several agencies will get a look, including the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Department of Transportation, Office of Zoning, Water and Sewer Authority, fire department, Historic Preservation Review Board and the Department of the Environment. The reviews run the gamut from mechanical to electrical, structural fire systems, stormwater management, transportation, and plumbing.

The piece also includes this note on Wal-Mart's motives for moving the development along at this particular time:

Interesting side note: By submitting its building permit before the end of the year, Wal-Mart will not have to comply with the District's Green Building Act. The final phase of the 5-year-old law, which kicks in Jan. 1 , requires all nonresidential new construction larger than 50,000 square feet to meet Energy Star and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standards.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Behind the effort to recall ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith

John Beverly, the president of Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East and the man who has spearheaded the effort to recall ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith, says that he initiated the effort due to Smith's "lack of communication with residents" and "lack of involvement" in community issues. Smith serves as treasurer of ANC4B; he also created and co-chaired the Large Tract Review committee which examined Walmart's development proposal for the Curtis Chevrolet site.

When asked for specifics, Beverly said that Smith left 4B04 residents in the dark about issues surrounding that development. I told Beverly that, as a 4B04 resident myself, I've attended quite a few meetings on that very topic. When asked if he had attended any of the meetings, he said he had not, because he didn't know about them. He blamed Smith for not informing his constituents that the meetings were being planned.

The strange thing is this: Doug Smith is a contributing member of Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East. Smith told me that he joined the group around the same time he began campaigning. Smith said that since he was elected, he's communicated with the group regularly, even bringing flyers announcing his special 4B04 meetings to their meetings.

I thought this might be a digital divide issue, as older residents often don't make use of email, and 4B04 has a sizable number of senior citizens. One of the biggest topics of discussion at the Large Tract Review committee meetings was how to reach out to those community members who don’t have access to email and therefore may not be aware of the development’s progress. But when I asked Beverly how past ANC4B04 commissioner James Sydnor used to disseminate information to constituents, he said that it was mostly by email, and that he was satisfied with Sydnor's level of communication. (One thing Smith hasn't done is establish a list of his constituents' email addresses in order to disseminate information through email blasts; Smith told me this is something he will work on.)

I told Mr. Beverly that there have been questions about the recall effort posted on the Brightwood listserv and asked if he had seen them. He said that he was not a member of the listserv. "Other ANCs want to support him, and that's fine," he said, "but this is a 4B04 issue."

The recall election will be held on February 28 at MPD's Fourth District Headquarters (6001 Georgia Avenue NW).

By the way, I had been wanting to track down Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East for quite a while, and was happy to have reached Mr. Beverly. He informed me the the organization formed a little under two years ago, and generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month, though they're now in recess until March. A website is under construction; til it goes live, if you're interested in being alerted about Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East meetings, drop me an email and I'll make sure you get onto Mr. Beverly's notification list.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Who will implement Walter Reed's redevelopment?

At the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority meeting last week, the main topic of discussion was the key implementation phase of the redevelopment. The LRA had asked Victor Hoskins, the District’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, to perform an analysis of the implementation procedure.

The report (below) details the pros and cons of three different types master developers – a group made up of DC government agencies; a for-profit developer; or an SPE, a non-profit development corporation with DC government Board representation and funded through private capital, federal and other grants.

Hoskins intends to submit the final reuse plan to HUD in March, and HUD's approval is expected by August. LRA director Eric Jenkins said the goal is to have a master developer selected between March and August (a period of time that is craftily referred to in a timeline within the presentation below as “The Sweet Spot”).

The LRA will be dissolved once the final reuse plan is completed; then the city will establish an new LRA to advise on implementation.

“The goal of the ILRA (Implentation LRA) for Walter Reed is to be prepared to sit down with the Army in July to negotiate how the land would be be paid for and work out the terms of conveyance,” said LRA committee member Alice Giancola. “Selection of a Master Developer as a consultant is only one step in the direction of preparing a case for the Army that the City is a reliable buyer.” Going the private developer route would slow down the process significantly because an RFQ and RFP would be required; the SPE option would be also be slow due to the organizational structure and vetting process it would involve. The redevelopment process would be fastest if the District served as the master developer, but that would require the District to produce the funds to purchase the land from the Army...funding that isn't readily available.

Walter Reed Redevelopment Implementation Report

Recall election for ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith will be held Feb. 28 at MPD 4D HQ

Did you know that there was a recall effort underway for 4B04 ANC commissioner Doug Smith?

Yeah, I really didn’t either. I first heard about it on November 23, when the DC Board of Elections and Ethics tweeted that recall petitions were being collected. I did a little more research and found that the effort has been underway since at least September (see the hearing transcript at the bottom of this post). The folks who have spearheaded the effort seem to be members of Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East.

This morning, the DCBOEE tweeted:

So there you go. Recall election on February 28.

Doug Smith is a good commissioner who got caught up in a storm, and that storm is called Walmart. I believe that the people who initiated the recall effort were upset that Smith hasn’t publicly come out in opposition of the development. The issue of will-Walmart-be-good-for-us-or-not has divided the neighborhood deeply, and it has put Smith in the difficult position of trying to represent all of his constituents fairly in the midst of the uproar.

But here's the thing: if the planned development at Georgia and Missouri doesn’t happen, it will be because Walmart decided to pull out. And that would be purely Walmart's decision, not based on community opposition, and definitely not on whether an ANC spoke out against it or not.

Smith has done nothing to deserve a recall. If you want to oust a politician, save your energy and work to oust one of the many in this city who actually have done things that warrant a recall.

UPDATE: Please read this newer post, Behind the effort to recall ANC 4B04 commissioner Doug Smith for more background on the issue.

Hearing on Approval of Petition to Recall Douglas Smith

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Photo: the long-awaited Bikeshare station at Georgia and Upshur is finally a reality

This has been a long time coming. The Georgia/Upshur Bikeshare station (which, if you want to get more precise about it, is actually located at 9th and Upshur) was supposed to be installed during the first rollout back in September of 2010. The installation was pushed back, presumably due to the construction that was going on at the intersection at the time. The station was finally installed on Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Public meetings on development in Ward 4 tonight and tomorrow night

Four public meetings over the next two nights promise to keep us busy....

Can Small Businesses Survive in Ward 4?
When: Wednesday, December 7, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Where: Peoples Congregational UCC, 4704 13th Street NW
RSVP: kim@voteformax.com, (202) 695-3444
Sponsored by the Max Skolnik Campaign for Ward 4 Council.
"Given the economic challenges and the decision to locate two Wal-Marts in the Ward, this panel and community discussion will focus on developing a viable small business plan."

Panelists include:
Warren Brown, CakeLove Bakery
Veronica Davis, NSpireGreen DC
Andy Shallal, Busboys & Poets
Kim Weeks, Boundless Yoga
James Kerns, Corehaus
Max Skolnik, Ward 4 Candidate for the DC Council


Ward 4 Thrives monthly meeting
When: Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 pm
Where: Fort Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street NW
"Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins
has confirmed his attendance at this meeting. Our focus is how we can create
a 'win win' situation for the residents and business community in Ward 4."


Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority NOI Respondent Presentations
When: Thursday, December 8, 7:00 pm
Where: Tifereth Isreal Congregation, 7701 16th Street NW

"As required by the Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act of 1994, as amended (the Redevelopment Act) and its implementing regulations, the Government of the District of Columbia, the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, requested notices of interest (NOIs) for consideration in obtaining buildings and/or property on a portion of the previously unscreened surplus property at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"The seven (7) new NOI respondents have been invited to each present their vision of their NOI response. Each NOI Respondent will present a brief five-minute summary of its proposed program to the public followed by a general Questions and Answer session. The sole purpose of the NOI Respondent Community Presentations is to provide the opportunity for the community to learn about each NOI proposal. The participation request does not represent an indication of confirmed eligibility or qualification for selection.

"Both Homeless Assistance Providers (HAP) and Public Benefit Conveyance (PBC) organizations will be represented at the community presentation. An executive summary of the presentations can be found at www.dmped.dc.gov under the Walter Reed Icon. Below is the Schedule of Presentations:

  • Transitional Housing Corporation
  • National Capitol Veterans Coalition, Inc.
  • Global Schools Collaborative, Inc.
  • Washington Latin Public Charter School
  • Educational Services Overseas Limited FZ LLC
  • GA Ave Business Improvement District & Development Corporation and the Walter Reed Health Education and Research Foundation
  • CentroNia"


    Georgia Avenue Business Association meeting
    When: Thursday December 8, 7:00 pm.
    Where: Sweet Mango Café, 3701 New Hampshire Avenue NW
    "The Agenda:
    1). Introductions and Recap of our last meeting and minutes.
    Opportunity to highlight progress and insert additional ideas

    2). Discussion of organizational structure with guest speaker from Barracks Row Main Street

    3). Jump Start Committee Work
    Clean Streets and Safety Committee"
  • Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Developer Jair Lynch purchases three apartment complexes in Ward 4

    Yesterday Jair Lynch announced that it has acquired three apartment complexes in Ward 4. They are Aspen Court, 105 homes at 6676 Georgia Ave., NW; Petworth Station, 78 homes at 930 Randolph St., NW; and Fort Stevens Hill, 59 homes at 1339 Ft. Stevens Dr. NW.

    Jair Lynch issued a press release saying the acquisition will allow for the preservation of "affordable homes in neighborhoods that are experiencing an uptick in market rate developments and increasing property values but have a dearth of new construction starts for affordable housing. The company plans to make significant quality of life improvements to enhance each of the communities as part of its program to acquire, stabilize and improve dated tax credit financed properties.

    "Throughout the acquisition process, JAIR LYNCH worked diligently with each of the five communities’ individual tenant associations and their respective attorneys as part of the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (“TOPA”).

    "JAIR LYNCH Development Partners is investing in this portfolio (“Regenesis Portfolio”) through a joint venture with MacFarlane Partners, a real estate investment management firm that specializes in properties that promote place making through smart growth, urban revitalization and sustainability."

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Pierre's Attic vintage/thrift opens on Georgia Avenue

    Pierre's Attic opened last Thursday at 5320 Georgia Avenue NW. According to the website: "As a new addition to the Georgia Avenue shopping district, Pierre’s Attic brings a new edge to the neighborhood. Incorporating the changes in the city, a vintage boutique brings the green movement to Ward 4. Pierre’s Attic will feature apparel for all ages, furniture and everything in between."

    I stopped in over the weekend, and Pierre has set up a lot of items on his sales floor, and says he's still in the process of bringing more items in. Since his space is small, he plans to feature most of his larger furniture and appliances only on his website, so be sure to check in if you're looking for a new (used) couch or dresser.

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    The Modern Mobler gets a new facade

    The Modern Mobler vintage furniture store at 7313 Georgia Avenue gave its storefront a facelift recently, and the result is pretty striking.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    The state of Brightwood real estate - December 2011

    Time for our monthly look at neighborhood home sales with realtor Eric Brooks...

    Active properties on the market in November:
    32 properties are for sale now (one less than in Oct. 2011)
    Ranging from $52,900 to $575,00
    3 of these are foreclosed homes and 7 are short sales

    November 2011 Active Properties

    Properties that went under contract in November:
    22 homes are currently under contract (the average property is the high $200K's)
    These homes should settle over the next 30 days
    Ranging from $129,000 to $785,000
    3 of these were foreclosed homes and 5 are short sales

    November 2011 Under Contract

    November sold numbers
    8 homes sold in the month of November
    Ranging from $150,000 to $499,000
    All eight sales from the past month were normal sales (no REO's or Short Sales), which is good news for homeowners.

    November 2011 Sold

    Info provided by Eric Brooks, a Long and Foster Real Estate agent who works to deliver exceptional results for his clients in Brightwood and beyond.
    Contact to set up an appointment at 301-986-6476 or

    Montgomery County plans 50 Bikeshare stations near Red Line

    From the Gazette: Fifty bikeshare stations planned for stations along the Red Line; Montgomery County officials still seek funding for project

    Montgomery County officials and residents discussed Tuesday adding bicycle stations that would connect to the bike network in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va.

    The county hopes to add 50 stations with 400 bikes along and around Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail Red Line, focusing on places like Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Forest Glen and Wheaton.

    Many of the stations proposed by the county Department of Transportation were located at or around Metrorail stations, apartment complexes, parks, hospitals and community centers.

    The county is applying for a Maryland Bikeshare Program grant. The grant would fund 80 percent of the costs up to a certain point, Brecher said. The state grant application is due Dec. 15 and Brecher said she expected a response next year, since the grant would go toward fiscal year 2013.

    A Capital Bikeshare station with 15 bike slots and eight bikes would cost $48,000 for equipment and installation and $21,000 in annual operating fees. If the county receives the grant, officials will order the stations and bikes and draft a station plan for each location. The county would also have to talk to any private parties who own land on a planned station site and make private agreements. The aim is to install stations in winter 2012, Brecher said.

    Here's a list of the proposed station locations:
    Silver Spring: Lyttonsville, the Summit Hills apartment complex, the future Silver Spring Library and the Silver Spring Metrorail station.
    Wheaton: Westfield Wheaton shopping center, Ana Mendez University and the Wheaton Metrorail station among others.
    Bethesda and Chevy Chase: 13 sites including Suburban Hospital, Chevy Chase Lake and the Bethesda and Medical Center Metrorail stations.
    Takoma Park: Parks, Montgomery College, the Takoma Park Community Center, Old Town and Takoma Junction.
    Forest Glen: Holy Cross Hospital and the Forest Glen Metrorail station among others.