Back to Federation of Citizens Associations main page — Back to September 2006 Federation News
Volume 12, Issue 7, November 2006
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax
|President's Message, George Clark
Utility Consumers Bills of Rights (UCBOR)
Where's the Light?, Anne Renshaw
Officers and Board
D.C. Contracting Procedures, Carroll Green
A Reasonable Approach
Vote No on Bill 16-734, The Library Transformation Act of 2006
Neighborhoods for Sale, Sally MacDonald
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates
Tuesday, November 28
THE CHARLES SUMNER SCHOOL
|Patrick Allen, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants
Allen E. Beach, Treasurer
Francis M. Clarke, III
George Clark, Esq., President
Dino J. Drudi
Kathryn A. Eckles
Carroll Green. Past President
James H. Jones, Second Vice President
Ann Loikow, Esq.
Sally MacDonald, Secretary
Ann Renshaw, First Vice President
A.L. Wheeler, Esq.
The bribery and corruption trial — featuring key witness Michael Lorusso, a former official of the DC Office of Property Management — of noted developer Douglas Jemal was, according to many, but a brief glimpse into the somewhat hazy world of the DC contracting process.
An incoming Fenty administration says it would delve into DC government contracting and procurement procedures, and well it should. There are long-standing complaints about the lack of transparency in the municipal contracting process. The District residents’ and organizations’ inability to obtain contract numbers or copies of these very public documents is a commonplace problem.
There have been some questions about the awarding of "management contracts" for routine maintenance and services by various agencies to firms that let sub contracts to other firms to perform the required work. Some observers suggest that this practice is tantamount to 1) outsourcing the contracting responsibility, an inherently governmental function, and 2) waste and abuse of scarce taxpayer resources.
Under the guise of these "management contracts" the costs of service to the government are much higher with the added cost of management fees that add nothing to the final product. The issues of quality and value to the public are conspicuous by their absence in DC contracting. Interestingly, we have not heard from the DC auditor or the inspector general about these questionable practices.
We wish the new administration well in its efforts to bring about reform to a flawed municipal procurement system.
Faced with a tsunami of development requests from George Washington University (no less than 3.2 million square feet in three huge Planned Unit Development applications), which is at its density and limits in Foggy Bottom, the Foggy Bottom Association and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A have filed a request with the Zoning Commission in the GWU Campus Plan case.
The testimony presented to date has established that many of the "town-gown" problems identified by the Board of Zoning Adjustment in its 2000 Campus Plan decision remain unresolved. For that reason, among others, the FBA and the ANC have urged the Zoning Commission not to approve a new campus plan prior to the expiration of the current Plan. In the interim, there are several ways to make use of the years remaining on the current Campus Plan in a constructive manner.
The FBA and the ANC submit that this time could be profitably used to build something notably lacking here: a legitimate, best-practices-based plan for the future that respects and involves the community as an equal partner. The problem of town-gown relations is neither new nor unique to the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Solutions have been elusive, so much so that there is a federal program that makes grants to fund attempts between universities and their neighbors to forge "structural changes, both within an institution and in the way the institution relates to the neighborhood."
This is the description of a program operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of University Partnerships ("OUP"), which in turn operates a Community Outreach Partnership Centers ("COPC") grants program. The COPC program has awarded grants to help universities conduct outreach and applied research activities. While GWU is not listed as a previous grantee, we understand that Georgetown and Howard Universities have received grants under this program. One activity that is eligible for HUD funding is "[p]lanning activities that help local residents develop a vision for their community and a plan for implementing that vision." Such a planning exercise would be a good use of the time remaining on the current Campus Plan and could be a tool to demonstrate GWU’s commitment to its neighbors.
If GWU were to seek and obtain a federal grant under this program, the funds could be used over the next two and one-half years to develop a post-2009 plan through a legitimate collaborative process that would incorporate the community’s vision into the process. An effort that seeks to establish a multi-year vision for GWU and for the host Foggy Bottom/West End neighborhoods would be in everyone’s interest. This effort could address issues such as the sustainable maximum University development and student enrollment limits within applicable boundaries and the provision of tangible protections to the existing co-located residential areas from any further adverse university impacts.
A collaborative venture using current "best practices" would help address the unanswered question that has been lurking unanswered throughout the current proceedings. The community and the Commission know what GWU wants to look like in 2025. But what do we want Foggy Bottom and the West End to look like in 20 years?
A collaborative process that focused on the needs not just of GWU, but of the community as well is what has been missing to date. There is reason for optimism that such an approach, if supported by a HUD grant, would yield a better result. There is a wealth of recent planning literature regarding creative ways to resolve town-gown issues, and those efforts could be brought to bear on the present situation. The American Planning Association has a Planning Advisory Service ("PAS") that offers practical advice in this area, as evidenced by its May/June 2006 PAS MEMO on the topic. Similarly the American Institute of Certified Planners ("AICP") reviews examples of collaborative efforts. Examples are also available in publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education.
If there is one theme that is emphasized in the literature, it is that success depends on two-way communication, building mutual trust, and establishing a legitimate partnership in which the community has a real stake in the process. This is not the approach that has been utilized here by GWU. A HUD-supported grant would allow GWU and the community to undertake a truly collaborative process for planning the future both for GWU and for its neighbors.
For this additional reason, the Foggy Bottom Association and ANC 2A believe that GWU’s (PUD) applications should be denied and that the Commission should encourage GWU to undertake this approach to developing a post-2009 campus plan for the University’s Foggy Bottom campus area.
— Joint proffer (edited) of the Foggy Bottom Association and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A regarding Foggy Bottom Collaborative Initiative in DC Zoning Commission Case Nos. 06-11 & 06-12: GWU Foggy Bottom Campus Plan
As this edition of the Federation News heads to the printer, the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation is considering whether to move the controversial Bill 16-734, the "Library Transformation Act of 2006," forward. Board member Anne Loikow has been following this issue for the Federation, and sent this E-mail to the Committee:
Dear Members of the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation:
I strongly urge you to oppose Bill 16-734, the "Library Transformation Act of 2006," and not report it out of committee. I urge you to read the testimony I gave at the Committee’s hearing on June 15, 2006 for the Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia.
There needs to be significantly more examination of the alternatives for renovating the existing central library, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, despite the efforts of the Mayor and the CFO not to fully cost the renovation proposals presented to the Committee as the Chair has requested.
The Council should not rush into disposing of a significant landmark building. You should have learned with the renovation of the Wilson Building that deferred maintenance is not a justification for disposing of our patrimony. Rather, the Committee should direct the Library system to focus their efforts on speedily reopening the four closed branch libraries and improving the maintenance of all parts of our library system. Allowing our public buildings to decay should not be acceptable practice by any agency.
A couple of years ago, at a Woodley Park citizens’ association meeting, I talked about the fact that many/most of the houses on my block were being sold to young couples who were moving in to fix up the already-modernized houses, to stay for their two-year residency for a resale tax break, and then to move on. They were not at all interested in the neighborhood, any neighborhood associations, contacts or issues. At the meeting, one woman did not like to hear what I was describing.
Well, it has happened — at the two-year mark, in our short one block, right now, there are three houses for sale — all as I had described. It is interesting that in spite of this negative real estate market, the houses were put on the market, at the scheduled two-year time — one just sold for cash after two open-house showings; The other two are still listed. There are other such couples on our block — with their potential sales — and any number of such recent sales on other blocks of Woodley Park.
Each house had had long-term owners: one had been a rental before its first two-year sale, four years ago; and the others had been occupied by families, with children growing up in the neighborhood and parents taking part in the community. The new, two-year owners, during their residency, have hardly ever spoken to anyone! The only hope is that more permanent residents will move in.
November 28, 2006
Holiday Luncheon, December 19, 2006 (tentative)
January 23, 2007
February 27, 2007
March 27, 2007
April 24, 2007
Awards Banquet, May 17, 2007
June 26, 2007
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