Wednesday, October 15



The movement to destroy one of the essential characteristics of Washington - a uniquely comfortable relationship with the sky thanks to its height limits - continues to churn ahead thanks to local business interests and people like Christopher Leinberger, who is described by AP as a "a land use strategist and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution" but who is also a developer working with firms that have projects spread from Pennsylvania to Florida to New Mexico. These people are serious, and it would not be surprising to have the new Congress force a height limit change down our throats. The perps are extremely well connected and use all sorts of misleading arguments such as blaming the downtown's ice cube tray look on the limits when in fact it's the result of laws that allow developers to build to the final centimeter of the zoning envelope instead of requiring setbacks and open spaces. The AP even cites the claim that " Within 15 years, according to one analysis, no more space will be available in a 3.5-mile stretch from Georgetown to Capitol Hill." No more space? What about all the open space, wide streets and access to the sky? Or is the only space that counts anymore that which developers can rent? This is an extremely serious threat to the city that local groups haven't yet dealt with sufficiently.

Got a note from Gail Enns who used to own Anton Gallery, first on Capitol Hill and then in Dupont Circle. It's coming back to life but on the on California's Monterey Peninsula in an old church originally called the Hawthorne Mansion. The first exhibit will be curated by Patrick Frank who was in Washington in the early 1980s and had reviewed a couple of the gallery's shows. He was walking by the church one day and recognized the old Capitol Hill sign on its way inside and one thing led to another.

ANC commissioners in the Tenleytown/Friendship Heights area sent a letter to DC officials, strongly urging them to cease negotiations with LCOR over a public-private project that would involve the construction of a mixed-use residential building on school and library land at the corner of Wisconsin and Albemarle Street. The letter, which has thus far gone unanswered, was addressed to Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Mayor Adrian Fenty, and Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, and was signed by four of the five Commissioners in ANC 3E and by leaders representing eight local stakeholder groups. The ANC may consider a resolution regarding this issue at the October 16 public meeting. Citing the letter sent last week to Mayor Fenty by the Janney Elementary School SIT withdrawing its support for further consideration of a deal that would deprive this already-overcrowded campus of land needed for its expansion and outdoor athletic facilities, community leaders argued for an immediate end of negotiations with LCOR and for the already-funded, designed, and approved reconstruction of the Tenley-Friendship branch library to proceed at once as a stand-alone project. The letter also urged that Janney Elementary School be moved forward in DCPS's modernization queue to relieve its overcrowding.

Committee to Save Franklin - Franklin Shelter must be brought back on-line as a 300 bed low-barrier shelter. DC needs downtown, low-barrier emergency shelter. We need shelters with services and dignity: Low barrier shelters in DC, such as 801 East and New York Ave. must open by at least 4:30pm, and have services available, including: - consistent, frequent, and adequate transportation to and from downtown services - medical van visits; medical, mental and substance use treatment availability - job training - access to day work programs - adequate, safe, locked storage for all residents - adequate bed space; no more overcrowding - clean, safe facilities. The city needs to provide a real hypothermia plan for the upcoming winter season, with verification and genuine input from local NGOs, and from people experiencing homelessness. The city must provide a regular accounting of the number of people who have turned down permanent supportive housing, or have otherwise left or lost their permanent supportive housing, with information about the whereabouts of those people, and about the use of the apartments. We need more low-income and subsidized housing in the District for working people, disabled people, elderly, and others.

Amber Harding, Washington Legal Clinic - This isn't just a "homeless issue," it's a social justice issue. Do we want to live in a community where people die on the street in the winter because of the Mayor's stubborn adherence to an arbitrary deadline or because of the Council's inability/unwillingness to take effective action? Do we want-- through our silence-- to support the administration's breathtakingly misguided paternalism in claiming that they are closing a life-saving shelter with no replacement because it is in the best interests of people who are homeless?


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