Category Archives: Issues

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 >> http://www.dc4reality.org/unionmarketneighbors

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.

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.

 

Gavel

July is HOT & So Are the People!

JUST BEFORE THE 2018 LEGISLATIVE SUMMER BREAK — THE DC CITY COUNCIL IS HOLDING ROUNDTABLES, HEARINGS, AND VOTES THAT DEMONSTRATE, OR NOT, HOW MUCH THE CITY CARES FOR CULTURE, FAMILIES, AND HISTORY OF THE DISTRICT.

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

and . . . RUN FOR ANC!

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.

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.

 

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