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Volume 9, Issue 4, January 2003
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax
|Associations oppose new
Alcoholic Beverage Control rules change that could favor bars and harm
Foggy Bottom Association to get projected $3.6 million in development agreement
AAA denounces use of District speed cameras for the money
Associations oppose land swap for Mayor's mansion project
Building height: OP requests change of definition
Street-cleaning parking rules moratorium
Updating and upgrading the District's Comprehensive Plan
Video surveillance cameras: Patterson Committee nears final version of regulatory legislation
Pioneering neighborhood(s) emergency preparedness alert network begun
ANC vacancies need to be filled
Vacant property more expensive to keep
In Memoriam: Dr. Phil Ogilvey and Dr. Robert Stiehler
DC City Council enters field of foreign affairs
Court opens satellite domestic violence intake center
Officers and Board
Federation Board of Directors
The existing Convention Center
Transportation Department testing new parking meter types
Constitutional point: exclusion of minor candidates from election debates
New idea: Mayor calls for college student tax
Harvard to pay $12 million more in pilot to Boston over 20 years
Elsewhere: unrelated rental housemates limited to two
No District denial of license renewals due to outdated parking fines, penalties, fees
Board of Directors
Federation Assembly meeting dates
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
THE ABC REGULATIONS CONTROVERSY
Michael Fasano, President, Dupont Circle Citizens
The Charles Sumner School
ASSOCIATIONS OPPOSE NEW ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL RULES CHANGE THAT COULD FAVOR BARS AND HARM COMMUNITIES
Hot on the civic action agenda is a 100-page draft law ("rulemaking") that would overhaul current ABC regulations, reportedly tendentiously against the communities that contain or abut establishments that serve food and liquor. At issue inter alia are the percentages sold of each that would identify locations as either restaurants or nightclubs. A basic concern is that restaurants (cafes, conference centers, etc.) obtain licenses as restaurants and then quietly turn the licensed facility into a de facto entertainment locale (nuisance, late-night dive, etc.), with the attendant problems for surrounding taxbase neighborhoods of noise, late-night commotion and all-hour traffic.
Two ABC Board task forces have conferred and advised on new draft regulations. Both businesses and community representatives have participated in the deliberations. First came a general task force of some 25 members. Next, a successor group was appointed to focus on restaurants and bars specifically. It is the draft result of these groupings' efforts and ABC Board input that is at the point of final preparation and presentation to the city council for approval.
Mr. Michael Fasano, president of the powerhouse, high-profile Dupont Circle Citizens Association, sees "significant reductions in the rights of residents" in the new preparation, and announced that DCCA and other associations are arranging for legal help and will submit a legal analysis of the proposed rules to the ABC Board and city council. A number of Federation delegates are active in opposing the controversial draft regulations, and all should be aware of the far-reaching consequences of any such "rulemaking."
Putting the cart before the horse, inter alia, the new draft would require that proponents of renewing a moratorium on new liquor-servicing establishments or other expansion demonstrate at X time that conditions that engendered the moratorium still exist. Constant nagging industry agitation for such proof would be an easily foreseeable result of such a provision, if approved.
Another provision, that definition of restaurant status be by dollar amount of annual sales, was opposed by Kalorama delegate Ann Hargrove as cutting into percentage qualification ratios (of food to liquor) sales for restaurant status. Another aspect of the draft proposal is the impact on [Continued on page 2]property values by loosened regulations. Also in the worrisome draft is a provision for "special events" by bars and restaurants outside of normal practice -- a Pandora's box to some resident activists. In addition, up to four repeated violations of the new regulations would be permissible before a locale's liquor license would be lifted, and it would be easier to require a cover charge.
The response period on the new draft will end on January 30. After the ABC Board weighs and votes on the final proposals and its staff preparations, it will send the rulemaking proposal to the city council for approval.
FOGGY BOTTOM ASSOCIATION TO GET PROJECTED $3.6 MILLION IN DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT
The buyer of the decommissioned Columbia Hospital for Women will donate as much as $3.6 million to the Foggy Bottom Association in exchange for the association's full support of developer plans to turn the hospital into 200-240 luxury condominiums.
Trammel Crow Co. has reached agreement with the community and local ANC 2A, and plans to demolish all additions to the former hospital at 2425 L Street, NW, and build two nine-story towers on either side of the 1916 building. The development would also have a fair amount of "neighborhood-serving" retail space, including a grocery store, and a 330-car parking area. The company hopes to begin construction in about a year.
Without the Foggy Bottom Association's cooperation, the development could not move forward, as the association and the ANC hold a binding covenant with the hospital, signed in 1987, that prohibits expansion beyond 230,000 square feet. The Trammel Crow plan contemplates a total development of 350,000 square feet.
As a government body, the ANC is prohibited from accepting money. But the FBA -- which usually operates on an annual budget of about $6,500, mostly from the dues paid by its 500 members, agreed to release the hospital from the covenant, and to support the developer's plan "to the maximum density." The vote of the FBA board to support the project and accept the $3.6 million was 11 to 2.
There were no stipulations as to how the association would spend the $3.6 million. Many of its past efforts have been devoted to stopping the expansion of George Washington University. With the new funds, the association would be able to hire high-powered legal help, observed one reporter.
According to the agreement, the FBA does not get the money until ten days after "the receipt of complete building permits." If less that the 350,000 square feet is approved, the FBA gets less money, and there has already been one setback to the plan at the Historic Preservation Review Board. Even so, any eventual settlement will be huge.
This is an example to be imitated of an active, vigilant association's having concluded a farsighted binding agreement in advance, concerning a community property that can change status under possible area-impacting successor owners. In the Foggy Bottom instance, the association and the ANC were under their agreement enabled to condition and influence developer plans for the benefit and health of the community. Community spokesmen give high marks to Foggy Bottom Association president Ron Cocome for negotiating final arrangements with the developer firm.
AAA DENOUNCES USE OF DISTRICT SPEED CAMERAS FOR THE MONEY
In its "Transportation Cheers and Jeers for 2002," the American Automobile Association ranked Mayor Anthony Williams' admission in September that the District does use traffic cameras inter alia to raise revenue from fines, as its third-worst transportation development. Number 1 worst was the area's traffic congestion, which is the nation's third worst; and number 2 worst was Northern Virginia's defeat of the sales tax referendum for transportation. AAA's best development in the area is the tri-state decision in July to synchronize traffic lights in Maryland, Virginia, and the District in the next three years to ameliorate congestion and reduce air pollution.
ASSOCIATIONS OPPOSE LAND SWAP FOR MAYOR'S MANSION PROJECT
In a tentative land-exchange deal the tip of a future iceberg? The citizens associations of Foxhall, Burleith, Glover Park, and Palisades have united in opposition to a planned and dubious exchange of land by the National Park Service and the Casey Mansion Foundation, which is donating a Foxhall Road estate and endowment for a mayor's mansion. Specifically, the Park Service is set to turn over four strategic acres of parkland bordering pristine Glover Archbold Park, to augment to whopping 16.5-acre estate tract. A much inferior plot would be "exchanged" for the acreage. The augmentation is desired for construction of a large guardhouse and second entrance to the mansion.
Which is worrisome to some observers is the mindset at work with this project. This first move to aggrandize the mansion enterprise is likely to be the first of more such actions, once use of any future mansion takes off under future DC mayors. Endowments for the bare upkeep of such palatial houses are not of guaranteed sufficiency. Beyond physical maintenance, there is no need for a large swank mansion if it is not to be used for large-scale, expensive entertaining and crowd functions -- at city taxpayer expense, and apart from the Casey endowment.
Some official ostentation is necessary. US Ambassadors' mansions abroad are usually grand structures along the lines of the projected DC mayor's mansion, and are duly expensive to support in necessary style. However, a US city mayor does not have the same important representational responsibilities of an American ambassador abroad, nor does he/she have the US Treasury (unwillingly) paying for the entertainment and other operating bills. For cities there are normal alternatives, and the District's present arrangements for limited mayoral housing allowances and expense accounts are arguably sufficient.
The current issue facing the four protesting associations focuses on protection of parkland from undue encroachment. The larger issue is: does the perpetually cash-strapped, high-tax city need a palatial, likely-white-elephant mansion for its mayor?
Foxhall Citizens Association president Peter Ross will present on the mansion subject at the January assembly.
BUILDING HEIGHT: OP REQUESTS CHANGE OF DEFINITION
On August 30, the Office of Zoning received a request from the Office of Planning requesting a text amendment to change the definition of building height in the municipal regulations (11 DCMR sec. 199.1, July 1995, as amended). The proposed change is:
A public hearing on this case will be conducted Thursday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Office of Zoning. All individuals, organizations, or associations wishing to testify in this case should file their intention to testify in writing. Written statements may be submitted for inclusion in the record. The Zoning Commission's address is: Secretary of the Zoning Commission, Office of Zoning, Suite 210, 441 4th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.
STREET-CLEANING PARKING RULES MORATORIUM
Weekly street cleaning has been suspended in the District, along with the parking restrictions that go with it, through March 17. All other parking restrictions are still in effect, according to the Department of Public Works.
UPDATING AND UPGRADING THE DISTRICT'S COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
City council chair Linda Cropp will hold a public roundtable Tuesday, January 28, at 6:00 p.m. to discuss existing preliminary recommendations for an overhaul of the DC Comprehensive Plan. The hearing will take place at the Wilson Building fifth floor Council Chamber, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
A 29-person task force has been at work since May 2002 formulating recommendations for improvement of the vitally important Comprehensive Plan. Committee members were drawn from a broad based group of citizens, businesses, and institutions throughout the District, and were assisted by a consultant team. Penn Branch delegate Laura Richards, Esq., represents the Federation. Other delegates serve from their base organizations. These are: Ann Hargrove (Kalorama), Gregory New (Federation of Civic Associations), and Richard Wolf, Esq. (Capitol Hill).
Following the January 21 public roundtable, the Office of Planning (OP) and the Task Force will meet to discuss the feedback provided at the roundtable and modifications to the preliminary recommendations. A final report should be submitted by the OP to the Mayor and the Council by the end of February.
In addition to the Federation, associations and ANCs citywide will want to participate in this important effort. Delegates interested in reviewing the preliminary recommendations are encouraged to access them on-line in mid-January at the OP web site at www.planning.dc.gov or to call Ms. Julie Wagner at the OP, 442-7624, to obtain a copy.
Delegates and others who wish to speak at the roundtable are requested to contact Ms. Aretha Latta at 724-8196 and furnish their names, organizations, and contact data by close of business on Thursday, January 23, 2003. Pro se individuals have three minutes speaking time; representatives of organizations have five minutes.
VIDEO SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS: PATTERSON COMMITTEE NEARS FINAL VERSION OF REGULATORY LEGISLATION
The city council's draft legislation on the Metropolitan Police Department's (MPD) use of video surveillance cameras is reaching completion. Ms. Patterson held an 8-hour hearing December 12, participated in by an impressive group of experts, including Canada's Privacy Commissioner. Her staff has been redrafting the bill and will have a new version sometime in January.
One area the committee will address in the new bill, which was not in the draft on which the hearing was held, is the sharing of information from the cameras with other public agencies, such as the FBI, the Secret Service, Capitol Police, Maryland and Virginia state police, and neighborhood county police. Private entities, such as the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), are also being considered.
In the December 27, 2002 DC Register (pp. 11872-11873), the MPD gave notice that it will install more cameras to use during two upcoming marches in Washington, viz., the January 17-19 antiwar demonstrations and the January 22 pro-life demonstration. The Christian Defense Coalition noted it is going to court to protest video surveillance of its march on January 22. The police department is accepting comments on this deployment of surveillance cameras.
The upcoming bill to regulate surveillance cameras will cover both traffic surveillance cameras and stationary or mobile area surveillers. The two categories are widely different in their implications for the citizenry, and should be viewed separately rather than, as is tempting, to be lumped together as simple lookout surveillance. It is the broad-area, constant camera observation that has raised the most concerns and caused the most disagreement, even within the Federation.
All associations should keep close watch on the Patterson bill as it is presented in January-February, and participate freely in crafting the final version of the law. In the long term, this may be the most important legislation of the year.
PIONEERING NEIGHBORHOOD(S) EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ALERT NETWORK BEGUN
Representatives of Georgetown, Hillandale, and Burleith and Georgetown University, Georgetown Hospital, and the Georgetown Business Community have been participating in an emergency preparedness pilot project that could be the first step in developing a community-wide emergency alert network in the three-community area. This project is in collaboration with Roam Secure, Inc., an Arlington-based company that has developed a system used by thousands of government leaders and first responders, including the DC Emergency Management Agency, the Metropolitan Council of Governments, and Arlington County.
Basically, the project entails neighborhood residents and businesses registering themselves and their computer and cell telephone contact data with the project center, in order to receive quick warning of emergencies. Such advance warning is ahead of that of the news media, and kicks in even if normal TV and radio communication is knocked out or otherwise immobilized.
The Roam Secure Alert Network allows urgent text messages to be sent to all types of cell phones, pagers, PDAs, email and wireless carriers. The goal is to deliver tens of thousands of notifications in fewer than two minutes. The messaging technology has been proven to function during catastrophic events when cell phones continually rang busy. The network incorporates a web-based interface that allows for remote message generation from any Internet connection or mobile device and simplifies account management.
Although used successfully by other organizations, this is the first use of the plan on an area-wide basis. Over 100 participants have registered on line in the Georgetown plan. The project is temporarily in a pilot evaluation mode. After evaluation of the pilot, the three communities will have the opportunity to debate the pros and cons. Additional, technical information is being given by the Roam company at association meetings.
Associations and ANCs interested in inquiring about details and advantages of a similar quick-reaction preparedness program of their own may contact Roam Secure, Inc., telephone 703-294-6768, fax 703-294-6560, or www.roamsecure.net.
The Board of Elections and Ethics has given notice of 21 ANC positions that are vacant. They are:
For those who want to run for these positions, the petition circulation period is Monday, January 6, 2003, through Monday, January 27, 2003. The petition challenge period is Thursday, January 30, 2003, through February 5, 2003. Candidates should pick up nominating petitions at the DC Board of Elections and Ethics, 441 4th Street, NW, Room 250 North. For information, call 727-2525.
The District's unique ANCs play an important role in their areas and dispose of substantial money allocations for good works. Associations should monitor the positions above, with a view to encouraging qualified community-supporting candidates to run for office.
The DC Office of Tax and Revenue has notified owners of vacant properties on record that, as of January 1, 2003, vacant property will be taxed at $5 per $100 of assessed value, instead of the former rates of 96¢ for residential properties and $1.85 per $100 for all other properties.
IN MEMORIAM: DR. PHIL OGILVEY AND DR. ROBERT STIEHLER
Washington lost two of its oldest and wisest civic activists in late 2002. Dr. Phil Ogilvey was a delegate from the Oldest Inhabitants Association and Dr. Robert Stiehler is a former delegate from Chevy Chase. Dr. Ogilvey, inter alia a professor at George Washington University, long served as an important part of the city's institutional memory and was active in many civic causes. Dr. Stiehler was the city's leading authority on the citizen side on utility matters. We will miss them, their encyclopedic knowledge, and their constant contributions to the city.
Most local people don't know it, but by means of Resolution 14-626, "Sense of the Council on Criteria for Use of War Powers Against Iraq," in late November, the city council legislated advice to President Bush on how to proceed with Iraq. The resolution noted that: "Sec. 2(5) The recent vote by the Congress to authorize the use of force would place District of Columbia residents serving in the United States Armed Forces at risk of death and commit local tax resources paid to the United States Treasury by District of Columbia residents to support the purpose of making war. Because the vote by the Congress to commit lives and resources did not include representation by the citizens of the District of Columbia, it is all the more incumbent on the Council to publicly state its view on this issue."
The resolution goes on to specify the sense of the Council that, in brief, the president should refrain from use of the war authority until (1) there is proof of an imminent threat from Iraq, (2) "a demonstration of" support from the international community, (3) "a comprehensive plan for United States financial and political commitment to long-term cultural, economic and political stabilization in a free Iraq," and who will pay for it, and (4) a broad commitment "that the United (sic) will take all necessary efforts to protect the health, safety, and security of United States Armed Forces, the Iraqi people and existing infrastructure, and safety of United States allies and interests in the region."
The council measure was sent to (1) the mayor, (2) President Bush, (3) the Congress of the United States, and (4) representative organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures, National League of Cities, National Conference of Mayors, and National Association of Counties.
The District city council action, embarrassingly well distributed, is a venture necessarily outside the proper sphere of American domestic governmental divisions, and is for practical reasons an oddly inappropriate one. The council is best advised to concentrate its talents on straightening out the District, for which it was elected, rather than sallying into the field of foreign policy and compromising its general credibility.
The DC Superior Court opened its first satellite domestic violence intake center in the Greater Southeast Community Center. "More than 60 percent of domestic violence victims that appear before the court are from Southeast," said Brook Hedge, the presiding judge at the court's domestic violence unit.
At the satellite intake center, domestic violence victims may petition for a temporary protection order via web camera to a judge sitting in a courtroom in the Moultrie courthouse. The court will provide a domestic violence clerk to assist him with the proceedings, and an advocate from the crime victims compensation program will be stationed at the center to explain the resources that are available to victims and their families to deal with crime-related expenses.
The new center is a partnership of the Superior Court, Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE), the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Office of the Corporation Counsel, and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (The Daily Washington Law Reporter, December 24, 2002)
At its January 9 meeting, the Federation Board of Directors:
What to do with the convention center the District already has? Well, nobody knows -- yet. To address the need, the city council has required: "Any proposed exclusive rights agreement to redevelop the existing convention center site . . . shall be submitted with a proposed resolution by the Mayor to the Council for a 30-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed resolution within this 30-day review period, the proposed resolution and exclusive rights agreement shall be deemed approved." ("Council Review of Existing Convention Center Site Redevelopment Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2002")
TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT TESTING NEW PARKING METER TYPES
The DC Department of Transportation (DOT) in collaboration with the Georgetown Partnership business group implemented a pilot program to test two different types of parking meters. The two-month program, which lasted until January 15, is part of a citywide effort to update the city's parking meter system.
The SchlumbergerSoma model can be inspected in front of 1318 M Street, SW, and the Reino model can be found at 3403 M Street, NW, in front of the Bicycle Pro Shop.
CONSTITUTIONAL POINT: EXCLUSION OF MINOR CANDIDATES FROM ELECTION DEBATES
Everyone who runs for office has a right to be included in any and every candidate forum, as he pleases. Right? Not, according to a recent court decision in Massachusetts. This matter has arisen in District elections, and is likely to come up again. Interestingly, the National Law Journal (11/11/02) reports that a newspaper sponsor of an election debate could exercise discretionary exclusion. The Journal reports:
"Denying a motion for a temporary restraining order by a state treasurer to prevent a university from hosting a gubernatorial debate unless the treasurer is allowed to participate, a Massachusetts federal judge concluded that the university had merely provided the venue for the debate, while the newspaper that had sponsored the debate had a First Amendment right to exclude a candidate.
"Moreover, the exclusion of a candidate with no appreciable voter interest -- in this case, the treasurer had 1% of the vote in the recent polls -- was a 'reasonable, viewpoint-neutral exercise of journalist discretion.'" Johnson v. Suffolk University, No. 02-12063-PBS (D.Mass. Oct. 28)
NEW IDEA: MAYOR CALLS FOR COLLEGE STUDENT TAX
Erie, Pennsylvania, mayor Rick Filippi is calling for local universities Mercyhurst College and Gannon University to pay the city a $50 per-student fee for use of the city's services. This would add an estimated $300,000 a year to the city's coffers. The mayor is wrestling with problems shared by his District of Columbia counterpart.
Forty percent of properties in Erie are tax exempt. The city already has a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program in which nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, pay PILOT at a rate of about half of the normal taxation rate. Reportedly, Mercyhurst College's president stated, "We should do something to help the city out." He noted that the school has made donations to the city and purchased police vehicles -- something lacking in the DC equation. District leaders should keep an eye on the new Erie idea. A mayor-to-mayor telephone call in several months would be a good start.
HARVARD TO PAY $12 MILLION MORE IN PILOT TO BOSTON OVER 20 YEARS
According to the Boston Globe, agreement was reached in August 1999 between Boston and Harvard University for the college to pay $12 million more in lieu of taxes to the city over two decades. Since 1975, the university has been making payments to the city for its tax-exempt property there. In 1998 the figure was $1.3 million, and the university paid $2.3 million more on property that is not tax-exempt. In addition to PILOT Harvard will give the city some $300,000 in linkage payments from current building projects on its business school campus. Interestingly for the District, by way of comparison, Harvard plans to build housing for 554 graduate students, increasing by 33 percent the number of graduate students on its Allston campus.
Harvard will pay the city the same amount on its student housing in Boston as it would if it were being taxed on the property. On the rest of the business school campus, Harvard will pay about a dollar per square foot, the equivalent of what other institutions pay under in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, according to the Boston commissioner of taxation. Businesses pay four or five dollars per square foot.
ELSEWHERE: UNRELATED RENTAL HOUSEMATES LIMITED TO TWO
The Salisbury, MD, city council in mid-December 2002 adopted an ordinance reducing the number of unrelated roommates in rental homes in the city from four to two persons. The law takes effect this month, but current rental homes are exempt until July 2005. The limits apply to all single-family neighborhoods.
The proposal originated with homeowners near the Salisbury University campus, who complained that landlords were rapidly buying up homes for student rentals, squeezing out family buyers and creating nuisances. Two (of five voting) councilmembers tried to amend the ordinance to limit the change to neighborhoods near the college. This failed.
Although the new law was opposed by students and landlords, the city bit the bullet and openly regulated a perceived problem. What a contrast to the District of Columbia, which seems to have a terminal problem with defining what numbers of unrelated renters, particularly in impacted single-family communities near colleges, are permissible.
Which brings to mind: it is time to renew inquiries as to the status of Office of Planning regulations in preparation for over a year, which will regulate, inter alia, some college rental housing in impacted DC neighborhoods.
NO DISTRICT DENIAL OF LICENSE RENEWALS DUE TO OUTDATED PARKING FINES, PENALTIES, FEES
To prevent "unfair denial of operator license renewal and vehicle registration due to outdated parking fines, penalties, and fees that have not been paid," new temporary bridging legislation prohibits such denials by DC authorities, until permanent legislation kicks in in March 2003. The new law is "Motor Vehicle Registration and Operator's Permit Issuance Enhancement Congressional Review Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2002."
All Board members are requested to enter now, in advance, the following 2nd Tuesday monthly Board meeting dates:
The Sumner School has reserved the following dates for the Federation's Assembly meetings. Each meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. at 1201 Seventeenth Street, at the corner of M Street, NW.