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Articles and news on development.

DC Council Dumpster Fire

Dumpster Fire Smoke Screen

DC Council "This is Fine"

While the nonprofit complex pulls out the stops to stem the Council bleeding the people of DC even more, the smokescreen from the “dumpster fire” “debacle” “sh*tshow” of a DC Council budget vote on Tuesday July 21 has worked.

The fog of class war has the Council Chair saying things like it would be tantalizing to cut immigration services, emergency rent support, and other human services to make up for a stupid move to tax small publications in the District (The Ad Tax).

Playing both the perpetrator and now the self-proclaimed hero, CM Mendelson says he can eliminate the ad tax on small publications by moving some money around from the capital budget, cutting mental health services, and some other piddly wrangling. If this all seems a bit hexing, and wrong, it is.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to the Rescue
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to the Rescue

What a slick move, a smokescreen. First, this “debacle” has got the advocacy community to scramble their bases to beg the Council not to cut $18M more in services to real DC people instead of bringing on fire from the people demanding that the overall first budget vote be completely trashed and we start over. See FBC breakdown of the first Council vote on July 7th below:

The DC budget vote as shown above, even if the recent threats of 18M in cuts is reversed, is an absolute atrocity and in fact criminal to the working people of the District during a pandemic. There are no cuts to the Metropolitan Police Department budget for example!

Second, this confusing creepy clown show led by the Chairman during DC’s FY2021 budget process has allowed all Councilmembers, even the so-called progressives on the dais to deflect away from the broader call of the people to take the capitalists boot off working families necks by defunding MPD, raising taxes on the rich, and moving monies from proposed luxury projects to projects that could really help people now in the pandemic such as from the proposed McMillan Park giveaway to the long-stalled reopening of Crummell School for those families who are struggling in Ivy City.

That is, Councilmembers can avoid dealing with the obvious huge gaps in human service funding by tweeting out memes and rhetoric about a “dumspter fire” and receive rounds of applause by advocates who in turn move back from stronger positions to the passive prone begging not to hurt the our people further.

Result: the Council, yet again, escapes accountability as to how really horrid that first budget vote is and the continued harm that DC’s budget will bring onto the most vulnerable in the District, especially now during pandemic.

Meanwhile, with all the content that the so-called urbanists pull off with the help of developer contributions, the budget vote is as important as one retweet of a DCist report. David Alpert is far from concerned about what this budget means for DC’s communities of color.

Conclusion: Its all perplexing but a skillful clumsy show put on by the Chair, Phil Mendelson and sheepish Council colleagues. The Chairman however is in the driver seat, commanding control over the city and outcomes for all its people in perpetrating an oppressive racist corporate agenda to crush Black families and communities of color and working residents of the District of Columbia.

To see this agenda and the people who pull the puppet strings, click the following links:

By: Chris Otten, DC4RD, co-facilitator

Mumbo vs. Muriel

Remember when Muriel Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia said Mumbo Sauce — DC’s famed condiment choice for chicken wings, fries, and pretty much anything yummy — annoyed her.

Well apparently rich white dudes don’t annoy her, whether it be out-of-town developers salivating over the latest public land giveaway, or most recently her stooping for Michael Bloomberg who is running for President in 2020. Bowser demonstrates that if these dudes got the money she is ready to serve up her soul and most certainly without the #MumboSauce.

However, the resultant socioeconomic policies promulgated by Bowser and city officials in service to wealthy white men is actively harming local Black residents and longtime DC families living in established working-class neighborhoods of color.

D.C. has the highest ‘intensity’ of gentrification of any U.S. city recent studies show. Wapo story || DCist story.

Colby King’s May 24, 2019, opinion piece in the Washington Post discusses the actions and consequences of Mayor Bowser and DC government in forcing, “poor folks…out of their neighborhoods.”

King describes how the city plays an “active role in development [by] selling or leasing publicly owned land, changing zoning laws, closing alleys and providing developers with inducements to construct new — or refurbish old — buildings [putting] upward pressure on rents and housing values [forcing] poor folks…out of their neighborhoods… .”

DC PEOPLE ARE THE SAUCE. DISPLACEMENT IS A CRIME AGAINST PEOPLE AND CULTURE!

View this post on Instagram

#mumboss #mumbomuriel #mumbosauce

A post shared by Aquiles Holladay (@chucosan) on

DCHA’s “Repositioning” Plan is Privatization of Public Housing

On Friday, January 31, 2020, Councilmember Anita Bonds who chairs the DC Council Housing Committee, hosted a hearing on the DC Department of Housing Authority (DCHA) and their “respositioning” plan for DC’s public housing stock — real homes where real people live and have real personal and professional networks.

Some public housing residents were in attendance and testified to the deplorable conditions that Chairwoman Bonds has heard about with public housing continually for years — mold, pipes leaking, rodents, infrastructure, etc.

There were ANC Commissioners and Ward 6 Public Housing residents there, like Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton who says she knows of pets living in better conditions than that provided at housing managed by DCHA.

There were other residents testifying from Greenleaf Public Housing in the Southwest, DC, Ward 6, testifying about the terrible living conditions that must be repaired now, not over a 17-year DCHA plan.

Mrs. Shawnta High, President of the Park Morton Residents Council in Ward 1 describes how DCHA has begun the plan to “revitalize” her community. She speaks about being thrown out of her home of nearly twenty years by DCHA’s repositioning plan.

Denise Thomas lives/ed in Ward 7’s Kenilworth Gardens, which has seen DCHA begin its “repositioning” on her home and neighborhood and how its destroying all of it.

Chris Otten, a DCHA client in Ward 1, describes what it is like living in a DCHA-subsidized unit that is managed by a private slumlord with toxic dust and mildew never being remedied.

Paulette Matthews, bounced from Barry Farms Public Housing in Ward 8, now lives in Ward 1, who describes the horrendous disruption from displacement and how it has changed her life and that of her family.

Councilmember Elissa Silverman actually sums it up DCHA’s “repositioning” plan during her opening remarks:

I am extremely concerned that DCHA is not just drifting away from serving its most vulnerable residents but deliberately abandoning our most vulnerable residents. I fear that DCHA has grown into an appendage of the real-estate division of our Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). And, this is going to lead to the continued gentrification of our city.

For the full Council video, all 13GB’s of it, click this link.

Myth Busting!

Housing: Supply & Demand MYTHBUSTING!

In a recent post to a popular DC listserve, there was this comment:

A new ADU (and ADUs at scale) will “contribute to affordability” in terms of adding supply, and thereby reducing the overall pressure for price appreciation and the concomitant pressure to convert existing lower priced housing to standards and expectations which satisfy higher priced segments of the market.

Richard Layman rlaymandc@yahoo.com, Saturday, February 1, 2020, Comment on Columbia Heights listserve columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com

The above intriguing comment seems to not consider the concept that #HousingIsNotACommodity and rather #HousingIsAHumanRight . . . right?

Moreover, the lack of a race and class analysis in pubic discussions around housing and jobs at this point is frustratingly maddening. Essentially, one can enjoy a “LIVABALE WALKABLE” city only if you are young, professional, single, and likely white.

Going to the facts spells that housing is a human need not a product and exposes this false sense that supply of any new housing relieves some kind of “pressure.”


First, let’s take a gander at the Income Gap analysis vis-a-vis housing costs in the City:
* https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/11/02/net-worth-of-white-households-in-d-c-region-is-81-times-greater-than-black-households/
* https://www.dcfpi.org/all/economic-inequality-in-dc-reflects-disparities-in-income-wages-wealth-and-economic-mobility-policy-solutions-should-too/

economic-inequality-blog-fig1-768x908.png

This means the posture of continuing to construct more and more of the status quo unaffordable housing for single wealthy professionals without an equally important push for getting longtime DC residents and Black families real jobs with real pay to be able to stay here during the modern day goldrush is simply ignorant and discriminatory. 

And, even if policy makers and the Mayor could wrangle some economic systems that actually helps longtime DC residents and families, there’s no way they will be implemented in a timely way to keep up or be substantial enough to help most people becoming more and more vulnerable to displacement. 

The HOT real estate market in DC is appreciating way too fast for most folks to keep up with rents, taxes, and housing costs generally:
* https://dc.curbed.com/washington-dc-market-reports
* https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2019/09/04/as-d-c-area-housing-market-booms-researchers-warn.html

Bottom-line, given the absolute real estate fire of the last decade and construction of tens of thousands of unaffordable single professional housing, there is absolutely no excuse that anyone should be pushing the idea that constructing any housing type at any cost is ok without a race and class analysis, especially considering the ballyhoo’d equitable development as expressed in Comp Plan Framework changes.


MORE FACTS THAT DISPEL SUPPLY & DEMAND MYTH:

NEW UNITS DON’T BRING PRICES DOWN

The DC Zoning Chair suitably explains as follows:

Tens of thousands of new largely luxury studios/1bedrooms have been built in DC, but prices keep going up and up and up:
* https://twitter.com/ecoylogy/status/1224692194277298179
* https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z3bnme/tons-of-new-apartments-are-being-built-that-almost-no-one-can-afford

DC POPULATION GROWTH SLOWING DOWN

The influx of DC newcomers (old rhetoric: 1,000 new people a month as routinely expressed by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson) has become a trickle now, and in some months there’s more a net exit of people.
https://wamu.org/story/19/01/30/the-reason-d-c-s-once-dramatic-population-growth-is-slowing-down-and-why-thats-not-so-bad/

WE MUST ACCOUNT FOR THE CURRENTLY VACANT UNITS IN THE CITY

So what of the 30,000 vacant units according to the census, where the vacancy information gathered by the American Housing Survey (AHS) conducted biennially by the U.S. Census (more info about the survey below) shows this:

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 6.19.35 AM.png

This table (B25004) represents the 5-year estimate from the AHS for Washington, D.C.  This timeframe reflects 60 months of collected data and is the most reliable metric for estimating how many housing units fall into each of these categories.  There are also 1-year and 3-year estimates, explained here.  The Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is the smallest level at which the survey reports data.

The substantial numbers of vacant units demonstrate how much foreign investment capital is parking itself in these new luxury buildings:
https://www.bisnow.com/washington-dc/news/capital-markets/foreign-investment-in-dc-expected-to-increase-next-year-102315

Empty units do not create successful inclusive DC communities.


The biggest purveyors of the supply & demand myth are the so-called urbanists — largely white single professionals moving back into the cities after their grandparents and parents failed suburban experience, or their cohorts from the mega-real estate industry. 

We’ve asked them to publicly debate these issues openly: David Alpert, Alex Baca, and Cheryl Cort.
* https://ggwash.org/about/staff-board
* https://www.smartergrowth.net/about/contactstaff/


In conclusion:

IF WE WANT A SUCCESSFUL INCLUSIVE CITY — THAT MEANS WE GOTTA HAVE POLICIES AND PEOPLE THAT ESPOUSE SUCH IDEALS, NOT JUST STATE THE RHETORIC. WE ALSO HAVE TO HAVE REAL FACTS AND PEOPLE-CENTERED ANALYSIS BEFORE US, NOT JUST REAL ESTATE DOGMA.

MW COG

MW COG SETS 2030 HOUSING NUMBERS

UPDATE ON SEP. 11, 2019, MEETING AT METRO WASHINGTON COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS (COG) REGARDING HOUSING IN THE DMV THROUGH 2030

On September 11, 2019, the COG passed a joint resolution that sets into motion the coordination of housing preservation and production targets across the DMV. The goal: 320,000 new or preserved housing units by 2030, and of these 2/3 of the units should be considered “affordable.” Chair of the COG, DC City Councilmember, Robert White, emphasized that these units should be built to include 3+ bedroom units, aka family-sized units.

Find the COG documentation and resolution below:

* https://www.mwcog.org/newsroom/2019/09/11/officials-set-regional-housing-targets-call-for-collaboration-to-address-production-and-affordability-challenges/

============================
RESOLUTION R27-2019
============================

Major points:

  • 320K Housing Units Added 2020-2030 (an additional 75,000 units beyond units already forcast)
  • 75% of all new housing should be located in activity centers and around high activity transit (see definitions above)
  • 75% of all new housing should be “affordable” to lower- and moderate-income housing (see definitions above).
  • To share these goals to all constituents and set targets for each jurisdictions.
  • To work with non profit private and philathnropic entities to advance these goals

ROBERT WHITE — AYES UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION MWCOG R27-2019 PASSES SEP 11 2019

============================
DEFINITIONS
============================

In reviewing the resolution and information from the COG about the Housing Production targets please understand the following definitions as they can be interpreted:

  • Accessibility — Locating housing close to transportation, transit centers, or “activity centers.” This term has almost nothing to do with universal accessibility a principle of the disability advocacy community.
  • Affordable Housing — Housing that costs $2,500/m or less. There is no mention of bedroom sizes or housing costs as a percentage of one’s income. It is strictly the government setting levels of profit making, shifting market forces and volatility from the private sector onto the public.

============================
NEWS REPORTS
============================

Some news reports that came out after:

============================
OMISSIONS IN THE DISCUSSION
============================

The following are basic planning concepts that wasn’t discussed at all or just briefly by COG before passing the resolution:

  • Expiring Affordability — What is the duration of affordable covenants that may run with the land? Shouldn’t we be ensuring that any new or preserved affordable housing exist in perpetuity.  What’s the point of expiring affordable housing covenants?
  • Public / Universal Housing — The COG made no mention of the importance of public housing and public land while setting these housing targets.  Public housing is a permanent safety net to prevent homelessness.
  • Analysis of $2500/m — How realistic is it to say “affordable” housing set at $2,500 a month.  Doesn’t this just push the status quo?

============================
SOME QUOTES FROM THE COG MEETING
============================

* CHRISTIAN DORSEY, ARLINGTON, COG — “Ready and willing to do our part” “I love three simplistic targets” “This is a big setp for our region” “Our region has failed to effectively deal with housing” “Its complicated” “Roads are full of traffic” “Net effect people are harmed” “Targets are based on thoughtful analysis” “Provide accountability” “Concept of regionalism should not be understated” “lets get it done, im excited”

* DERRICK DAVIS, PG COUNTY, COG — “we explored, what the heck is ami” “no better place to be than the dmv” quotes victor hoskins … as a great thinker.  “messaging is absolutely important, crucial to drive home, to give politicos the right message to communicate with our folks”

* JOHN FOUST, FAIRFAX — “economic development critical” “Fairfax board has committed to 5,000 units over 15 years”

* NANCY NAVARRO, MOCO — asks about the “defintion of high impact areas” when referencing jbg report; emphasizes “social justice and racial equity”

* JUSTIN WILSON, ALEX — “addressing concerns about impacts such as overcrowding schools”

* BEV PERRY, DC — “more work needs to be done”

* KATE STEWART, TKPK — “Board Retreat was helpful” quotes Matthew Desmond “Its hard to argue that housing is not an fundamental human need” … “we’ve been echoing that sentiment” “this is an historic event today” “wants to partner with Mont County”

* RUTH ANDERSON, PRINCE WILLIAM, — “Cast vote in favor” “this will help us forge our comprehensive plan”

* SENATOR GEORGE BARKER, VA, “we gotta keep stepping things up” “things already happening that are pushing us in the right direction” “fairfax is doing a tremendous job in preservng affordable housing”

* BRIDGET NEWTON, ROCKVILLE — “i think this is wonderful what we are doing with housing” “something mr jackson said, taking over current garden style neighborhoods and that we need to build hi-rises — its a problem. its a quality of life issue, displacement of current families. there’s something to be said about having a balcony, to play outide, etc.” “we don’t need 2 types — hi rise or single family” “we need a mix of housing and therefore we lived in communities with all kinds of careers and picture, and we must look at the whole picture” “climate of fear — when people hear about more housing they immediate fear the impacts to roads and schools”

* TODD TURNER, PG — “impacts that come along with the housing” “what the pressure brings to things like infrastructure” “we have to be very careful about that”

* SHARON BULOVA, FAIRFAX — abt to introduce resolution “region forward compact in 2010” “we’ve had more success in the goals than we’ve realized” ** “our air is better” “we set targets to clean up our air, and we’ve done that.” “amazon — needs affordable housing” “we need to make sure weh have housing and quality of life for the industry we want to attract and retain in our region” “we want to create affordable housing for the folks we want to work here and live here”

===
end
===

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.

2014

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.

2015

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.

2016

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.

2017

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.

2018

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.

 

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.

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

Accountability of Developer Promises, NOT

City officials gets wooed constantly by developers pleading for handouts and corporate welfare and these officials (city council, mayor, planners) have dutifully served their campaign contributors well.

Since activists shined the light bright on this corporate welfare during boomtown DC, the City Council had to begin giving the appearance they expected returns on the promises instead of just dispossessing the public farm.

But, as should have been expected, these same city officials gifting the monied classes never actually followed up to see if those promises were fulfilled or that the city got a fair return on our investments.

DC taxpayers continue to still be robbed by the developer-class for a myriad of large financial gifts of public land, tax breaks, and zoning entitlements.

And now the dot on the exclamation point — the independent DC Auditor pulled together the stark data and concluded what we all intuitively knew — city officials (planners, city council, mayor) are suckas for corporate-driven development and the monied classes.

#DCfiresale
#corporatehandouts
#welfare4therich

Fall on Fleek :: Get Active & Involved

DC4RD Fall on Fleek Update

~~ This year’s fall theme is finding accountability in the courts because the woeful City Council and Mayoral oversight of agency action is no longer cutting it.

—————–
HOUSING ACTIVISM
—————–

* Barry Farms (Ward 8) in Court this Wednesday >>
https://www.facebook.com/events/1784614785138267/

* Kenilworth Courts (Ward 7) in a zoning battle against displacement >>
http://www.dchousing.org/property.aspx?id=5N

* Brookland Manor (Ward 5) residents take racism and classism to court >> http://thehilltoponline.com/2016/09/23/brookland-manor-v-gentrification/

* Congress Heights (Ward 8) rally to defend their homes >>
https://dcindymedia.org/node/1246

* Museum Square Tenants (Ward 2) win in Court of Appeals >>
http://dcist.com/2016/09/museum_square_tenants_win_another_c.php

—> If you have questions about any of these above items, contact us:
dc4reality@gmail.com 202 810 2768

—————–
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
—————–

* McMillan Park (Ward 1 & 5; National Landmark) has its day in Court >>
https://www.facebook.com/SAVEMcMillan/

* Buzzard Point (Ward 6) residents air and water quality under threat >> http://planning.dc.gov/page/buzzard-point-urban-design-framework

* Zoning Rewrong (The whole city) — The ZRR passed with no impacts studies conducted >> http://www.twilightzoning.org/legal

* The ZRR is still being amended >>
http://www.dc4reason.org/updates/316

* [new] DC Consumer Utility Board >>
http://www.dcconsumerutilityboard.org/

—> If you have questions about any of these above items, contact us:
dc4reality@gmail.com 202 810 2768

—————–
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
—————–

* Adams Morgan Suntrust Plaza (Ward 1) — PN Hoffman wants it all >>
http://www.saveourplaza.wordpress.com

* Union Market (Ward 5 & 6) facing serious upheaval >>
http://tinyurl.com/wapo-union-market-sep-2016

* DMPED Land Disposition Agreements (The whole city) — Finally put online >> http://dmped.dc.gov/node/1019962

—> If you have questions about any of these above items, contact us:
dc4reality@gmail.com 202 810 2768

—————–
MORE EVENTS (Calendars & Bulletin Boards)
—————–

* 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

—————–
DON’T AGONIZE, ORGANIZE!
—————–
* 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/
* DC for Reasonable Development >> https://www.facebook.com/dc4reality/

Thank you!
Chris O. & The DC4RD team!
www.dc4reality.org
202 810 2768

PS: If you haven’t already seen this weeks big event, check out >>
http://www.BreakingThroughPower.org