Author Archives: d.c. forrd

Racine endorses Silverman 2018

Racine’s Tartuffian Endorsement of Silverman in “Opposing Developer Giveaways”

> DC4RD press release :: nov 2 2018 :: contact c.otten 202 810 2768 <<

Racine’s Tartuffian Endorsement of Silverman in “Opposing Developer Giveaways” || UNION MARKET COURT CASE NOV. 13

Washington, DC — As election day nears, the mailboxes fill with the latest electioneering propaganda including Elissa Silverman’s latest flyer showing DC’s Attorney General, Karl Racine giving robust endorsement of her at-large campaign.

With rhetoric like “Representing people, not corporations,” and “Opposing developer giveaways,” Racine is full throttle for Silverman while ignoring his own role in promoting corporate developers and giving away significant air-rights entitlements.

On a near weekly basis, Racine’s zoning attorneys provide the now infamous DC Zoning Commission with legal cover to approve major luxury projects citywide, resulting in land use approvals that greatly benefit the bottom-line of the Mayor’s corporate-developer friends while completely ignoring the impacts on existing DC communities and families.

For example, Racine and his zoning lawyers took no issue with the Zoning Commission rubber-stamping hundreds of new luxury hotel rooms & 6,000 new homes across 20 new projects at the blinging new Union Market, with the Office of Planning only brokering 10-units qualifying as “affordable” family-sized (3+ bedrooms) homes.  This type of valuable air-rights giveaway with little in return for existing DC residents holds similarly true for the deals at the Southwest Waterfront and Navy Yard developments, among others.

Racine’s band of top-rate OAG attorneys at the DC Zoning Commission include: Alan Bergstein, Esther Bushman, Hillary Lovick, & Jacob Ritting.  The veteran Alan Bergstein, Esquire, has been plying his trade for more than two decades in DC, directly playing a role in the massive displacement of black residents throughout the city without blinking an eye.

“Racine’s attorneys make it difficult for everyday people and impacted communities to engage in the zoning process and to actually win any permanent equity and compensation out of these disruptive and impactful luxury land deals,” said Ilaf Ayyash who was pushed out of the longtime artists incubator at 411 New York Avenue, NE for a luxury hotel project. “We had to fight just to be heard, and now the OAG is staking claim to the Zoning Commission’s indefensible positions in Court.  It’s such hypocrisy that Mr. Racine decries corporations and land giveaways when that is who his zoning lawyers excel at benefiting.”

Union Market Neighbors will be clashing with Racine’s lawyers again on November 13, 2018, at the highest Court in the District, the DC Court of Appeals, in seeking remedy from impacts due to another massive luxury project at 4th and Florida Avenue, NE. For more info >>

DC General Hospital & Now Shelter

DC Generally a Mess: Timeline

DC General Hospital was hailed as a top emergency trauma center for victims with gunshot wounds, that is until Anthony Williams shut it down as part of the citywide divestment of public services serving working DC residents at the start of the millennium.

2001 – 2013

Over the past decade plus, DC General shifted from a closed hospital to an emergency hypothermia shelter, then to a family shelter as other shelters around the city were shuttered continuing the social service divestment in DC.  The shelter filled up as local politicos luxury-visions for, and gentrification of the city unfolded and homelessness skyrocketed.  Families were forced to pile into expensive motels (and still are today).   Christmas back at DC General was a depressing exercise.


In 2014, the DMV was shocked by the story of Relisha Rudd, a young child living at the shelter who disappeared, furthering calls to close the shelter down.


in 2015, the DC Council had already voted to support the Mayor’s $300 million dollar dispersed family shelter plan and subsequent real estate deals.  In the discussion, Mary Cheh (Ward 3 Councilmember), declares “What’s wrong with us?” as they weaken basic amenities at the proposed family shelters.


Starting off 2016, Mayor Bowser unveils her plan to shut down DC General so she can replace the shelter beds in new family shelters across the city. Legislative support was affirmed again by DC Council vote in 2016, making the closure required by law.


There was immediate pushback by some DC neighborhoods, but with Council support & zoning agency approvals certain to follow, the Ward-based shelter plans moved forward in 2017.


In 2018, the DC General closure plans get real for the families at the city’s biggest, and only shelter available to them in the city.  Advocates speak up and say “Families, not Developers, Must be Primary Drivers of DC General Timeline” as the Mayor discretely sought Amazon’s pick to land in DC.  The Mayor wasn’t budging, DC General will close by year’s end.

As voices got louder both in critique and in seeking clarity about DC General’s closure, transition of current shelter families, and planning for Ward-based shelters, DC Councilmembers started growing spines and demanding answers and holding hearings.

What became clear at the hearings was the rush to raze all buildings at Reservation 13 (the public land where DC General exists) will impact the lives and health of families still living at DC General. The Mayor’s homeless service executives were exposed as frauds.

People demanded the shelter closure be delayed.

Advocates turned up the heat heading into June and July, 2018, gathering steam for the Council to consider legislation that would delay the closure.  Pushback from the Mayor led to the Council weakening the bill, disappointing advocates, and indeed leaving the families now at DC General exposed to injury.

DC is considered a United Nations Human Rights City.  In the midst of the DC General controversies, a report was published showing how the city policies and politcos are falling short as to this acclaim.



July is HOT & So Are the People!


DC Feedback put out our press release with an update on the July calendar here.

and . . . RUN FOR ANC!

Office of ANC logo

Run For ANC! 2018

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are the most locally elected body in the District.  They advise the executive, and independent agencies like the Zoning Commission, as it regards planning, programs and other major decisions that will affect DC neighborhoods and citywide policies.  ANC’s were created by the DC Home Rule Act.


There are more than 300+ ANC Commissioners that sit on almost 40 ANC Commissions, citywide.  Each ANC Commissioner represents about 2,000 people, your neighbors.  It is a 2-year term & commitment to represent your Single Member District.  Who is your ANC? Find out here, or here.


Allies are hosting training sessions for new ANC candidates that are worth checking out if you’re passionate about transit justice, housing justice, or economic justice:

Saturday, July 14: The DC Grassroots Planning Coalition is hosting a session about ANC’s:

Sunday, July 15: Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America is having their session:

Nominating petitions will be made available by the Board of Elections on Monday, July 9. You’ll need to collect 25 verifiable signatures of registered DC voters in your single member district. Standard practice is to collect 2-3 times that amount to account for any errors. Petitions are due to the BOE by Wednesday, August 8th, to get on the ballot.





Juneteenth, Zoning & Land Use

Displacement of residents because of their class or race has become commonplace in every community in this city and in too many cities across this nation. This in large part is because [city planners] allow our land use decisions to be guided by marketplace principles and ‘highest and best use’ principles.

~~ Ronald Shiffman, FAICP, Hon. NYS AIA, Professor Emeritus, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, Pratt Institute Director Emeritus, Pratt Center for Community Development  1964-2004, Member of the NYC Planning Commission 1990-1996, Jane Jacobs Fellow, APA Planning Pioneer Award.  Shiffman on Land Use & Displacement.

Non Sui Juris: Who can you sue?

Non Sui Juris = can’t sue me!

While you can appeal administrative decisions by most agencies to the DC Court of Appeals, if you think an District agency and/or officials screwed you and your community over, or is about to, be prepared to know who you can sue when you are going to Superior Court or the Circuit Court in DC.

For more insight, see this case:

From this case: As a preliminary matter, defendants assert that certain parties named in this suit are non sui juris, that is, that they lack the legal capacity to sue or be sued. Specifically, defendants argue, and the Court agrees, that agencies and departments of the District of Columbia government are not amenable to suit. See Community Housing Trust v. Dep’t of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 257 F. Supp. 2d 208, 217 (D.D.C. 2003) (“The law is clear that `agencies and departments within the District of Columbia government are not suable as separate entities.'”) (quoting Does I through III v. District of Columbia, 238 F. Supp. 2d 212, 222 (D.D.C. 2002) (citations omitted)). The plaintiff’s claims against the District of Columbia Office of Planning, the District of Columbia Zoning Commission, the District of Columbia Department of Health and the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs therefore will be dismissed from this case.

But what the Foggy Bottom community got right in their suit is the naming of the Mayor.  From the case:  The Mayor of the District of Columbia, Anthony Williams, sued in his official capacity, is a proper defendant, and the suit against Mayor Williams shall be treated as a suit against the District of Columbia. Arnold v. Moore, 980 F. Supp. 28, 36 (D.D.C. 1997) (“It is well settled that if the plaintiff is suing the defendants in their official capacities, the suit is to be treated as a suit against the District of Columbia.”). Thus, the Court may proceed to consider the merits of the claims against the District of Columbia itself (a named defendant) and the Mayor of the District of Columbia in his official capacity.

The naming of individuals carries to others under the Mayor too, like the DC Zoning Administrator.

The  acting  Zoning Administrator  for  the District  of  Columbia,   Olutoye    Bello,    sued   in    his    official    capacity,  is  a  proper defendant,  and  the  suit against  Bello  shall  be treated  as  a  suit against the  District  of  Columbia.  See  Kentucky  v.  Graham, 473  U.S.  159,  166 (1985); accord Arnold v. Moore, 980 F. Supp. 28, 36  (D.D.C. 1997)(“It   is   well   settled  that   if   the   plaintiff  is   suing   the  defendants   in   their  official   capacities, the suit is to be treated as a suit against the District of Columbia.”).  Thus,  this suit  may  proceed  against defendant Bello.   COMMUNITY HOUSING TRUST, et al., Plaintiffs, v. DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS, et al., Defendants. No. CIV.A. 01-02120 (HHK). April 16, 2003

For more on Non sui juris, see this case, and this case, and google it!


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.



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.


2018! Energized to Act!

Happy 2018 to the Dissenters and Disaffected! 

Key events to start the year:

MORE EVENTS (Calendars & Bulletin Boards)

* DC Grassroots Planning Coalition >>
* EmpowerDC >>
* ONE DC >>
* DMV Black Lives Matter >>
* DC for Democracy >>
* Food Not Bombs DC >>
* The Peace House >>
* Washington Peace Center >>
* Neighborhood Network >>
* The Greater Ward 7 >>
* The Great Ward Eight >>
* DC for Reasonable Development >>

Chris Otten, Co-Facilitator DC4RD
ANC Commissioner 2008-2010;
Homeless services advocate;
Statehood activist;
Public property watchdog

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.