Author Archives: d.c. forrd

Tax Increment Financing, It will TIF you off

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a municipal financial scheme whereby DC taxpayers fund and support private development projects throughout the city.

TIFs allow the diversion of taxes that would otherwise be generated by these new projects away from the city’s general budget for social needs (schools, parks, affordability, services, etc.), and instead these taxes are used to pay back private bankers whom authorized the TIF credit and municipal loan.

TIFs act as blank checks from the public to fund and externalize private development costs and is considered a form of corporate welfare.


Governments often use TIF resources to prepare land for development or redevelopment. In addition, governments may use TIF revenues to underwrite certain public structures, such as parking garages. If permissible under state statute, the construction of municipal facilities can be financed using TIF revenues. An Elected Official’s Guide to TAX INCREMENT FINANCING by Nicholas Greifer & The Government Finance Officers Association, July 2007.


The most recent District of Columbia TIF is for Union Market developers.

WARD 5 TIF

THE SOUTHWEST WATERFRONT aka WHARF TIF

The Living Social TIF Gift

TIFs as political hot potatoes, a DC neighborhood-level discussion in Bloomingdale in 2010.


Many of the District’s special deals have been very costly. In 2002, Gallery Place, a mixed-use transit-oriented development, received about $80 million in subsidies. To sell the TIF bonds for just this one project, DC had to pledge that incremental sales tax revenue from a much larger area would be made available if necessary. In 2006, another development in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, the DC-USA mall project anchored by a Target store, received a $42 million TIF package. The District justified the deal in part by claiming it would enhance sales tax revenue in the surrounding neighborhood (DC has a problem with sales tax “leakage” to Maryland and Virginia), but DC has no method of tracking sales tax by location to determine if that worked. Good Jobs First, “Tracking Subsidies, Promoting Accountability in Economic Development,” Accountable USA – District of Columbia webpage.


ANALYSIS: Before [Baltimore] City Hall loved TIFs, it shunned them as bad policy

Tax Increment Financing: A comparison between Washington, D.C. and Chicago, by Jasson Perez, University of Illinois Chicago, 2015.

Big Thank You!

The Thank You & No Thank You Update

DC4RD’s latest: The “Thank you & No Thank You” Update

The people of Brookland Manor want to stay together in their homes.Giving thanks to Brookland Manor folks, supported by OneDC and Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights who are standing up to Mid-City Financial greed mongers seeking to displace hundreds of black and brown families from their Ward 5 home.

Congress Heights Fights Slumlords & DisplacementGiving thanks to Congress Heights residents and president, Ruth Barnwell who along with Justice First and other allies are pushing back against slumlords and winning the AG’s help.

Barry Farms Tenants and Allies Don't Want To Be Displaced from Ward 8Giving thanks to Barry Farms Tenants and Allies – Ward 8 families and residents supported by Empower DC among others – who are protesting the razing of their home and the 1.6 billion giveaway to an out-of-town private developer of one of the most, if not the most historic land and culture in the city.

No Thanks
Brianne Nadeau Councilmember Ward 1No thanks Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau for making it even harder for homeless folks to seek services in this so-called progressive city.

No thanks to cheerleaders of the Union Market Tax Gift — Mayor Muriel Bowser and Councilmembers Phil Mendelson, Charles Allen, Robert White, and Kenyan McDuffie.

Phil Mendelson Council ChairKenyan McDuffie Councilmember Ward 5Charles Allen Councilmember Ward 6Robert White At Large Councilmember

They talk being progressive, but they support funding monied investors and out-of-town developers who want to construct an exclusive and segregated high-rise high-luxury brand new community on top of what was the Florida Avenue Market (the only wholesale market in the District razed for the rich) and hand over an 85-million dollar blank check. (The Mayor funds “affordable housing” at $100 million annually).Mayor Bowser Strikes Again

Department of Consumer and Regulatory AffairsNo thank you the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“DCRA”) for issuing permits to unethical contractors and developers who f**k up people’s homes and allow developers to build luxury cracker-jack boxes that won’t be resilient to climate change.

Mary Cheh Councilmember Ward 3No thank you Councilmember Mary Cheh for giving away the historic Franklin School (13th and K Street NW) to a group of inside players who want to operate a private museum (despite the CFO exposing how private museums are failing in the city).  In a startling display of ignorance, Cheh supported the gift of this prime property without even knowing how many available public assets (buildings/land) we have left downtown for social needs (say for the homeless).

Jack Evans Councilmember Ward 2No Thank you Councilmember Jack Evans and Metro for not ensuring developers (“foreign investors” who intend to make bank by constructing luxury developments on prime time land next to our public transit hubs) share equitably in funding the gaps in the Metro budget.  Instead Evans wants to force working DMV residents to cough up more taxes and pay stricter higher fares for less services.  But thank you to the SaveOurSystem campaign.

affordabullshitNo Thank you to the so-called “smart growthers” and the Mayor’s “planners” in defining an affordable housing in the District as $1500+ a month for a studio/one-bedroom.

Thank You District Defenders

But big thanks again, and love to those doing something, especially those residents and families directly impacted by the overdevelopment of the city and sheer greed of the monied classes and privileged politicos.

Please do and try to find the time to see and hear public housing residents tell their own story fighting displacement in their upcoming play, “On My Mind/In My Heart” with several production dates coming up. Also starring the legendary, DJ RBI.

On My Mind, In My Heart, a play by and for DC residents and families fighting displacement

Thank you to all the amazing organizations and individual community leaders trying to make a difference in fighting displacement and seeking to ensure EXISTING residents, families, culture, and DC life is protected from the influx of “outsider” global capital and invasive force of well-heeled single professionals.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

DCRA Threatens DC Property Owners; Lawsuits

Based on the recent Council hearings, it has become clear that the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has exposed DC taxpayers and property owners to negligence and serious injury with a lack of accountability from the Mayor and Council.

A review of the October 24, 2017, City Council hearing shows numerous cases of fraud and injury perpetrated by this agency and the director, Melinda Bolling, who was chosen to lead this agency by Mayor Bowser.

This follows on in a series of hearings that the Council acts out before the taxpayers, but does little else to enforce the laws or address accountability.

 

DC MUGGY ANTI COLONIALIZATION UPDATE

The displacement we see now in the cities around the world is neo-colonization — not by Columbian-swords and fighting ships — but by bankers, speculation, and racism in planning.  Here in DC we are under full assault by ignorance, ad-hockery, and unreal estate costs.  If we don’t continue to push back, we will lose the city and our place in it forever.

‘Plymouth Rock landed on us!’ Malcolm X

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SOME IMPORTANT DATES THIS COMING TIME
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This is a good week to engage on critical socio-economic-cultural issues of our time in the District of Columbia, and beyond.


1. Thursday, Oct. 12 — COURT BATTLE AGAINST DISPLACEMENT
2. Saturday, Oct. 14 — FORUM: AFFORDABLE TO WHOM?
3. Sunday, Oct.15 — TOWNHALL: AFFORDABLE ARTISTS SPACE IN DC?
4. Tuesday, Oct. 17 — FUNDRAISER: SaveOurPlaza.com



1. THURSDAY MORNING COURT BATTLE: Fighting Displacement Around Union Market. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017, 9:30AM, DC COURT OF APPEALS,
430 E Street NW, Courtroom 2, Judiciary Square Metro (redline). Be there in person to see and hear one of the top zoning/planning lawyers in the District, Aristotle Theresa, Esquire, as he presents the argument that the massive overdevelopment of unaffordable studio/one-bedrooms in the District is an absolute adverse impact to longstanding District residents and families. We stand with Union Market Neighbors who are tired of city planning officials putting luxury greed over neighborhood needs.   http://www.dc4reality.org/unionmarketneighbors
PLEASE RSVP: unionmarketneighbors@gmail.com || (240) 308-8872

2. AFFORDABLE TO WHOM?  Affordable Housing and the Comprehensive Plan. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1:30 to 3:30pm. BENNING LIBRARY
. http://tinyurl.com/affordable-to-whom-oct2017 The DC Grassroots Planning Coalition hosts this forum on the definition of ‘affordable housing’ in the District of Columbia.  We will explore what the DC Comprehensive Plan says about affordable housing and discuss why city planning officials cannot seem to systemically and consistently contend with this number one crisis in the District (for more than a decade now)! District residents from around the city will be in attendance, with experienced housing organizers to help facilitate the forum.  Be there and be ready to act for the benefit of your friends, family, and neighbors in your community. Event time and location: October 14, 2017, Starts 1:30pm, at the Benning Library. https://www.dclibrary.org/benning, 3935 Benning Road, NE, WDC 20019. Please RSVP: dc@grassrootsplanning.us || 202-234-9119 x100

3.
[[ location change ]] Artists Town Hall: Space is the Place. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2:00pm to 5:00pm. UPTOWN ART HOUSE. http://www.tinyurl.com/artists-townhall-oct2017  Gather with artists from around the District, including the ArtsxAction, NomuNomu, and 411Collective crews to discuss the number one issue facing artists in the city today, affordable longterm collective artist space.  Why is it disappearing?  How do we preserve and protect existing artists space?  Why is affordable artists space important to our community health and campaigns for justice?  We will explore these and other questions together as we build an action plan to win permanent affordable artists space in the District. Use Redline (Cleveland Park stop; 1 block south on the west side) Please RSVP: collective411dc@gmail.com, like the Facebook page >> http://www.tinyurl.com/artists-townhall-oct2017

4. SaveOurPlaza.com Fundraiser at Madams Organ.  TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017, 6PM. http://tinyurl.com/sopa-mo-fundraiser-oct2017 The people of Adams Morgan DC fought racist redlining in the 1970’s and won.  Now bankers and developers want to sweep this victory under the rug (under a wall of luxury condo units) and crush the peoples plaza at 18th and Columbia Road, NW.  However, modern day Adams Morgan anti-displacement organizers are winning and are preparing for trial to protect the people’s victory and preserve the historic plaza at the center of their community. Be there to find out more and have a great time! Please RSVP: admo4rd@gmail.com || 202 670 2366

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MORE EVENTS (Calendars & Bulletin Boards)
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* EmpowerDC >> http://www.empowerdc.org
* ONE-DC >> http://www.onedconline.org
* DC for Democracy >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/2540176953/
* SURJ DC >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/652826544817571/
* Food Not Bombs DC >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/foodnotbombsdc/
* The Peace House >> https://www.facebook.com/thepeacehousedc/
* Washington Peace Center >> http://washingtonpeacecenter.net/calendar/
* Neighborhood Network >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/NeighborhoodSolidarityNetwork
* DC Organizing Posse >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/235632049818909/
* The Great Ward Eight >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/161579963922562
* DC for Reasonable Development >> https://www.facebook.com/dc4reality/

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THANK YOU!
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Chris Otten, Co-Facilitator DC4RD
ANC Commissioner 2008-2010;
Homeless services advocate;
Statehood activist;
Public property watchdog
202-810-2768

PS: Watch one of the  #JusticeForBarryFarms videos here >>
https://youtu.be/dX9CaTCcq-g

WDC vis-a-vis London

A recent Washington Post article highlights the Grenfell Tower fire, a building poorly constructed with questionable materials that was approved with little accountable municipal permitting review.

The Grenfell fire illustrated in searing fashion the perils of life in Britain’s public housing high-rises, where years of unheeded warnings, slashed costs and deregulation all added up to a tragedy unlike any Britain has seen in at least a century.

But the aftermath has shined a spotlight on a different problem with Britain’s strained-to-the-breaking-point housing system — a severe shortage of affordable options that has left people desperate for a roof over their heads.

The article captures London’s construction boom in a way that closely matches the problems in the District.  DCRA is DC’s permitting office which is under much scrutiny for similar oversight and permitting failures.  And DC has been experiencing an affordable housing crisis for more than a decade.

The article sheds light on DC’s major planning and permitting problems.  It’s a good read, if sad for all those families hurt or killed and displaced.

Police Harassment

Gendarme: Unconstitutional Displacement

DC’s Attorney General recently said, “Obeying the Constitution is Not Optional” after filing complaints against the “President.”

Perhaps Mr. Racine ought to be on the phone with Police Chief Newsham to discuss training on the rights of Americans to peacefully gather in public spaces when organizing against displacement.

On Monday, June 12, 2017, just a mere couple of weeks after the DC Zoning Commission rubberstamped the approval of a project that will destroy #BrooklandManor, the cops are acting as developer agents to harass and finish off the displacement of existing DC families and residents living in Ward 5.

Of course, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie favors this displacement, as he goes on and on writing letters consistently supporting these projects and the wholesale removal and police harassment of black families from DC.

MLK on War and Poverty

Disperse Poverty! Concentrate Wealth!

DE-CONCENTRATE POVERTY MEANS GETTING RID OF POOR PEOPLE WHILE THEY CONCENTRATE WEALTH IN NEW LUXURY HIGH-RISES

We must de-concentrate poverty.  It’s a refrain we are hearing alot from city officials lately, especially now as East of the River communities are facing the first big swells of the massive gentrification wave heading that way from the westside.

Those screaming for the dispersal of poor communities have usually been the developers, more recently the “smart” growthers, and now City officials are parroting it up on their John A. Wilson dais.

“The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty” — Dr. King, “Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community”, 1967.

But, instead of seeking tools and policies like a guaranteed basic income, or robust job training programs, feeding programs, good quality schooling, and social uplift, the de-concentration of poverty advocated for by the DC’s developer-class and the City Council and Mayor is that of dispersal, i.e. getting rid of the poor by way of streetcar, condos, hotels, stadiums.

The New Communities program, following on from the Hope VI programs, in turn from Urban Renewal is referenced across many Housing and Urban Development documents as “dispersal projects” no matter what new euphemism they want to call them.

Due to the self-selection inherent in voluntary dispersal programs, and to the screening that these programs apply to applicants, participants are likely to be more motivated and possess more human capital than the families that do not participate. Program operatives choose the families they think will succeed, based on these families’ being organized enough to pass home inspections and other steps in the application process. Still, mobility programs typically have a low success rate, because fewer than half the applicants who are accepted are able to lease an apartment. The Reality of Deconcentration, By Edward G. Goetz

Simultaneously, while the city disperses the poor to heed the call to de-concentrate poverty, the DC Zoning Commission, Office of Planning, Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development, alongside Ward level Councilmembers push hard for new projects that have only 8% to 15% “affordable” units in them, and those are usually for singles, not families.

That is, city planners and officials are encouraging, even touting projects that concentrate wealth with 85% of the housing units being built for wealthy single new DC residents.

So, the developer-class wins again with each call from advocate-community and pronouncement by city officials saying we must de-concentrate poverty and rip up generational familial networks with innate powerful neighborhood connections that have grown in some ways to supersede abject poverty through mutual aid and reliance & trust.

The reality is, the development underway in the District is dispersing and displacing poor DC families (the census numbers don’t lie), but consistently concentrating wealthy singles and somehow that is considered good planning in DC.

It’s not, it’s unreasonable and unacceptable.  This purposely poor planning has resulted in DC’s #unRealEstateMarket


Deconcentrating poverty is a smokescreen. It camouflages forced relocation of low-income house-holds. What do we mean when we talk about  deconcentrating poverty? As it has been implemented to date, deconcentration has meant manipulating the spatial arrangement of federally subsidized low-income families to either disperse or dilute poverty. — The Smokescreen of Poverty Deconcentration, by Edward Goetz


 

In their own words . . . opinion by Chris Otten, co-facilitator, DC4RD

 

 

 

 

Office of Planning’s Zoning Rewrong Now Hurting Supporters

ANC 6B, particularly Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg, has championed everything that the Office of Planning has thrown at them, including the DC Zoning Rewrite.

The 2016 approval of the ZRR allows commercial creep into residential areas of DC and weakens the rules making many zoning issues a “matter of right” meaning they don’t need any community feedback or administrative process for approval from the city (many zoning issues also went from the a stricter variance test to the easier special exception request).

Now the ANC is feeling the effects of their forthright push to support the Zoning Rewrite, that is they are fighting the commercial creep that is just starting under the new rules.  See the article below.

‘Party House’ Hearing Before Board of Zoning Takes Place Wednesday

TwilightZoning: Record RubberStamp!

Amazing!  The DC Zoning Commission has hit a new record in approving a Planned Unit Development in a mere 26 minutes (video)!

A twenty-six minute review of a 11-story behemoth in the middle of the historic Shaw neighborhood, despite the precedent setting victory at the highest Court in the District regarding the landmarked McMillan Park showing that the Commission must consider adverse impacts from any major project they are considering.

A record project approval in the face of the people calling out Zoning Commission attorneys for their disregard of fundamental planning impacts like displacement.

Doesn’t matter! The Zoning Commission goes hard and rubberstamps an 11-story Planned Unit Development in the middle of the historic Shaw neighborhood in record time.

Things may be looking up though — the Office of the Attorney General is seeking to hire a land use attorney!

Using Law for Good & Bad

While the corporate “journalists” attack the character of local activists when they use the law to demand accountability for developments in the District, slumlords can use the law (Bankruptcy) to avoid accountability and dodge their ethical duty to provide clean and humane residential units to District residents.

That is, when activists use the law to protect their communities they get attacked in the press. When slumlords use the law to cover-up their negligence and assault on poor people and families, the monied classes get a pass.

#tiltedpress
#lawforgood
#legalaction