Category Archives: DC Law & Code

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.

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.

 

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

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:
FOGGY BOTTOM v. DIST. COLUMBIA OFFICE OF PLANNING, 441 F. Supp.2d 84 (D.D.C. 2006).

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!

 

§ 1–306.01. District elements of comprehensive plan prepared; purposes.

§ 1–306.01. District elements of comprehensive plan prepared; purposes.

(a) It is hereby declared that:

(1) The District of Columbia has prepared, through an exhaustive process of research, analysis, and review, including citizen involvement and consultation with affected federal, state and local governments, and planning agencies in the National Capital region, District elements of a 20-year Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital as required by § 2‑1002(a) and by § 1‑204.23(a).

(2) Ten District elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital are contained in this part: General Provisions; Economic Development; Housing; Environmental Protection; Transportation; Public Facilities; Urban Design; Preservation and Historic Features; Downtown; and Human Services.

(3) The District elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital contained in this part do not extend to any federal or international projects and developments, or to the United States Capitol buildings and grounds, or to any buildings and grounds under the care of the Architect of the Capitol.

(b) The purposes of the District elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital are to:

(1) Define the requirements and aspirations of District residents, and accordingly influence social, economic and physical development;
(2) Guide executive and legislative decisions on matters affecting the District and its citizens;
(3) Promote economic growth and jobs for District residents;
(4) Guide private and public development in order to achieve District and community goals;
(5) Maintain and enhance the natural and architectural assets of the District; and
(6) Assist in the conservation, stabilization, and improvement of each neighborhood and community in the District.