Friday, August 29, 2014

85% of ANC1A commissioners go to their meetings, but a few miss most meetings

Yesterday I wrote about commissioners in ANC1B, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for southern Columbia Heights and U Street: turns out some of them rarely go to their own meetings. One commissioner, Deborah Thomas, only went to 1/3, while a couple others only made 57%. ANC1B as a whole attended only 71% of their own meetings, meaning they aren't representing the constituents who elected them almost 30% of the time, and also meaning a few times the meetings didn't reach a quorum, so no votes could be taken.

I decided to do the same thing for ANC1A, which covers northern Columbia Heights (roughly north of Girard, see the map below.) Turns out, ANC1A does a much better job of making their meetings, with a total attendance of 85%. There were a few bad apples: commissioner Thomas Boisvert of 1A07 only made 7 our of 16 meetings, or 44%, and 1A04's Morgan Corr only went to 6 of the 11 meetings while he's been on the commission. Boisvert and Corr have also missed the last 6 and 4 meetings, respectively. Neither are running for reelection, which seems like a good thing. (Of course, there may be some good reason for them missing so many meetings. I reached out to both, will let you know what they say. Update: Corr responded, see below.) Daniel Kornfield of 1A01 also only attended 63% of his meetings.

However, some members did a great job: chair Kent Boese (1A08), Rosalind Gilliam (1A12) and Vickey Wright-Smith (1A02) made every meeting, while Patrick Flynn (1A06) only missed one while Anthony Cimino (1A10), Kevin Holmes (1A05) and Dottie Love Wade (1A11) only missed two. Others who served shorter terms also made all their meetings.

So it looks like, as representation goes, ANC1A members take their jobs seriously. Glad to see it.

Here's all the data below, gathered from the minutes posted on ANC1A's website, and from chair Kent Boese. They don't meet in August.

Update: Got an email back from Morgan Corr:  "Unfortunately, I now have a standing professional obligation which prevents my attendance at full ANC meetings, and I'm not running for re-election because of that conflict. However, since the time these obligations started preventing my attendance the time had passed when a new commissioner could legally be appointed to fill the seat had I resigned. I resolved to hold the seat and do my best to address constituent concerns until the end of the term when a new commissioner could be elected. 

I remain dedicated to Columbia Heights and the further growth & improvement of our neighborhood, and look forward to supporting the new Commissioner in my SMD when he or she is elected."

Great article on the history of Wonderland

Oktoberfest at Wonderland Wonderland, our beloved local watering hole, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary -- 10 years of trivia, dancing, hanging out and the like. Eater DC has a great retrospective on the place, an interview with owners Matt McGovern and Rose Donna.

There's a lot of good stuff in there, like how they celebrated a 6-month anniversary of the bar because they weren't sure it would make it to one year. Donna and McGovern, who are married, met while McGovern was bartending at Madam's Organ. They moved to Columbia Heights and talked about opening a bar. Looking through the city's tax records, they found the address of the owner of Nob Hill, the longtime African-American gay bar that was located where Wonderland is now, dropped a note under his door that they'd like to buy the place, and he got right back to them. (Here's more about Nob Hill, which opened in 1957, or maybe in the 1940s.)

It was also one of the first establishments on 11th, along with Columbia Heights Coffee, which was since replaced by Maple. Matt and Rose also talk about how taxis started to come by without anybody else calling, hoping to take home bargoers, and they knew they made it when group houses in the area started to mention their proximity to the bar.

The article also talks about the vibe and crowd -- pretty diverse and friendly. Matt recounts one story where police officers, who came in for a while, would recognize people they busted also hanging out at the bar.

That reminds me of my favorite story about the bar from its early days: one day, some guys in ski masks came in and they were robbing the place. The crowd of regulars all laughed, assuming it was some other regular playing a joke, and went back to drinking and chatting. Then when folks realized it wasn't a joke, they cleaned out the register and left in about three minutes, after which everybody went back to drinking and talking like it was no big deal. Another time, a guy showed up with an inflatable penis costume for no reason.

Obviously I'm a big fan of the place, and do yourself a favor and read the article.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some ANC commissioners don't go to their own meetings

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) is an elected body in the city that serves to advise the city council and government agencies about local issues -- things like alcohol licenses, development and construction, and quality of life issues. However, it looks like some members from ANC1B, which serves southern Columbia Heights and U Street, are not going to many meetings.

Short Articles about Long Meetings, a blog that covers ANC meetings, has data from ANC1B volunteer Nick Baumann, who reports that some members failed to show up for even half the meetings -- one commissioner, Deborah Thomas, who represents 1B04, came to only 33% of meetings -- 7 out of 21. In fact, with that record, saying she represents the district would be a stretch. Other members didn't fare so well either: Jeremy Leffler from 1B02 and Sedrick Muhammad from 1B03 both only made 12 out of 21 meetings, for 57%. (SALM also suggests that the data may be too generous, as E. Gail Anderson Holness was counted as present for several meetings that she was very late for, missing votes.)

So, why is this important? Aside from not being able to represent their district's interests at the meetings, the ANC must have a quorum to have votes, and were not able to reach a quorum on July 10 and 17. SALM reports this meant they were unable to protest the Signature Lounge or New Town Kitchen's liquor licenses -- apparently New Town has not complied with noise guidelines they agreed to.

It would be interesting to see if anybody else has done this for ANC1A, which serves the rest of Columbia Heights. Below is a map of all the ANCs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gap Factory Store coming to DCUSA!

Some good news for DCUSA -- the long vacant space between Staples and Children's Place is getting a tenant: The Gap Factory Store.

The Washington Business Journal reports that the company filed for a construction permit for space 116 in DCUSA, on the lower level fronting on 14th Street (marked "Rainbow" in the original DCUSA plans.)

This sounds like a good fit: the Gap has some good stuff, and a factory store presumably means it'll be less expensive. Can't beat that.

Looks like they're also soliciting for jobs, so if you're interested, check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Weekday breakfast deal at Room 11: pastry & coffee or tea for $5, 8-11am

I'm always looking for coffee deals, and the other day I spotted this in the window of Room 11, the wine bar/cafe/restaurant/cocktail spot at 11th and Lamont.

It's called Quick Start, and it's a pastry and drip coffee or tea for $5. Seems like a pretty good deal for a lazy weekday or telework day.

The pastries are from Paisley Fig, a local one-woman bakery, and are pretty tasty. Here's Room 11's full bakery menu.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Independent bookstore planned for Upshur Street from Room 11, Petworth Citizen folks

For as long as I've run this blog, people have been talking about wanting an independent bookstore in the area -- and it looks like one may be coming to Upshur Street NW!

Paul Ruppert, the man behind Room 11, Petworth Citizen and the new Crane & Turtle, wants to launch Upshur Street Books, an independent bookstore at 827 Upshur Street NW. Calling it the first new independent bookstore to open in DC to open in 20 years, it would be next to the Petworth Citizen, and separate from their Reading Room, which is more of an event space/free library (and also quite cool.)

Aside from books, they'll stock indie publications and gifts and will host events like readings or book clubs. "We want Upshur Street Books to become a central gathering place for the community and we need your help to do it."

Ruppert and team launched a Kickstarter to help with the build-out and acquiring books to stock. There are 25 days and about $10,000 left on their goal of $17,000. He's joined by Kristina Bilonick from the Pleasant Plains Workshop art space, who will be managing the project, and Nick Pimentel, a co-owner and designer of Room 11 and other spots, will be the creative director.

Check out the full details on the Kickstarter (and the stuff you can get if you donate.) They also launched a website for the store.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why is there a big sign with the address of the Columbia Heights Metro?

I've walked past this sign many times but never really noticed it: it's a big, brown Metro sign with the address of the Columbia Heights Metro outside the eastern station entrance. And that's it. It's sort of beat up and doesn't look like the rest of the canopy, which is quite nice.

Seems strange -- who sends mail to the Metro, other than Metro? Why not just put some plaque on the canopy itself, or the concrete wall there?

The mysteries of our neighborhood.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mike Brown Black Lives Matter rally on the Civic Plaza tonight at 6:30

Just saw this on Facebook, folks are organizing a Black Lives Matter rally on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (the plaza in the triangle at 14th/Park/Kenyon.) It's organized by a St. Louis native named Lydia Marie, and she says:
Friends -
As a St. Louis native, its only right that I invite you to gather with me to express solidarity with the family of Mike Brown, the Ferguson Community, and all Americans who have suffered and will continue to suffer at the hands of police brutality. Lets show our support and inform the D.C. community.

Signs will be provided, as well as informational flyers. We'll take a group photo to send to the people of St. Louis to show them they aren't alone. St. Louis NEEDS your support! 
Please invite anyone and everyone to join us. We need your voice.
Here's the RSVP.

So far 200+ people have RSVPed. It's a smaller area than the large rally at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park last week, but sounds like it'll be a big crowd.

(And minor thing, it's not called "Columbia Heights Square," it's the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza.)

Co-working space Cove coming to the old Dunes location at 14th and Meridian

There's a new place to work in the neighborhood: Cove, a coworking space, is coming to the old location of the Dunes gallery and art space at 14th and Meridian. If you recall, the Dunes was located above the Getaway and closed in April of this year while the Getaway closed on New Year's Day, 2014. 

We haven't heard anything lately about the Getaway space, but this sounds like a good addition to the area.

The idea with Cove is:
Meet cove, a network of neighborhood productive spaces with a community defining how to be productive together. Ditch the busy coffee shop, boring cubicle, and lonely living room. Come join the cove community and get things done! 
DC - we're starting with you.
There's already three locations in town, this being the 4th.

You pick a monthly plan (the hours per week that you need a space), pick a space, then use a QR code from your phone when you get there. The rates go from $24/month for 8 hours to $124/month for 50 hours, both of which seem pretty reasonable. They also offer conference rooms and are currently offering a free trial.

From the video on their website, they seem to have coffee and such, or you could just go down the street to Le Caprice.

I feel like the area could use something like this. I often see folks working from coffee shops, and wrote about good places for teleworking a few weeks ago.

Hat tip to PoP for the news, the company tweeted at him with confirmation.

Weird ATM at 14th and Spring


This seems legit.

There seem to be a fair amount of weird ATMs in our area (like this other one next to Five Guys), and the other day I spotted this freestanding one at 14th and Spring, next to the Carolina nightclub. Yikes. Even if it was working I'm not sure I'd use a freestanding ATM next to a rowdy nightclub.

It's interesting what you see in the neighborhood when you walk around.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Update on Bacon Funeral Home: construction underway, next hearing Sept. 10

A couple of weeks ago I noticed some work at the Bacon Funeral Home, the cement block construction site at 3447 14th Street NW. The building has been a shell for years, with no progress at all. The only work that has been done was to secure it against vagrants and to finish a roof, both ordered by the city because it's abandoned. 

The company's plan for years has been to complete that building as their new facility, then turn the existing one next door into a parking lot. Of course, very little has changed as the building sat abandoned, aside from that city-ordered work. But now there's finally some news.

Last week I got an update from Councilman Jim Graham, who forwarded emails from Todd Starke with DCRA, which manages sites like this. The next hearing is to see if they are making progress on the building.

...I contacted a Mr. Torrance Colvin of The Colvin Law Firm. According to Mr. Colvin the property in question is currently under active construction. He also stated they have all of the proper permits which were signed off on in the beginning of June. I informed him of the next hearing date which is September 10th. He stated he or someone from the property will be there on that date with the building permits and evidence of progression. 
At this time, we have no updated information for this property. We can only wait until the 10th of September. An inspection will be conducted a few days prior to the meeting. Any violations the inspector notices, he will site. A 30 day re inspection will be conducted. Once the re inspection is conducted, if the violations are not abated at that time and/or there is no evidence of work being performed  to correct the violations, a Notice of Infraction will be issued. This will place a lien on the property owner’s taxes.
We'll see what happens, but this seems like a tiny glimmer of hope to make this longtime eyesore into something productive. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Columbia Heights house, condo sale prices keep going up; some are 78% higher than 2009

If you bought a house a few years ago, it seems like you're in luck. Slate Properties, a local real estate firm, just published a chart of historical house sale prices for our area.

Basically, the average list and sale prices have increased dramatically for houses and condos over the past 5 years: a three bedroom house sale went from $308,852 in 2009 to $539,231 this year so far, a 78% increase, while houses with more bedrooms have gone up about as much, 71% and 68% for four and five or more bedrooms. If you compare this to inflation between 2009 and 2014, which is 11%, it's still quite large.

The differences between list and sale prices have also gone from negative to positive, meaning people used to have to reduce prices to sell, and have now been increasing them -- I would guess either due to bidding wars or just high demand. The average time on the market has declined too, from 49 days in 2009 to 13 this year. Houses are really jumping.

Condo prices have also gone up, though one bedroom condos are not up as much, just 7% since 2009 (or, if I'm using these numbers the right way, less than the 11% inflation, so they're technically down.) However, two and three or more bedroom condos have increased by 27% and 63% since 2009 respectively. Like houses, condos have also been on the market for a much shorter time, and their sale prices are higher than their original list prices.

So, what does this mean? It's good for current homeowners, as their houses are worth more. We don't know for sure that this will always continue, though it doesn't seem like there's a bubble coming either (then again, I'm no economist.) At the same time, it means it's tougher for people to buy houses since prices are going up and time on the market is lower, meaning you have to move fast.

I figure most affordable housing isn't sales but rentals, but this could also mean bad things for affordable housing in the area as it prices go up, presumably developers will build more (and bigger) homes since they can get more money from them. That one I'm not as sure about, however.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This baby on bus stop ads looks like Macklemore

I noticed something a bit ago on the bus stops at Georgia & New Hampshire: this baby looks like Macklemore.And I think it's more than the haircut -- the baby looks older than a baby, or something, and they even kind of have the same face.

That said, Shiners Hospital is a good cause. I wish them luck.

Residential development heating up on Spring Road

Looks like Spring Road in northern Columbia Heights is starting to heat up as a location for residential development.

A couple of years ago we heard about apartments coming to the southwest corner of 14th and Spring, to wrap around the existing corner store and Chinese takeout. Those are making progress, there's workers out there a lot and the building is covered in tarps. Then we heard about two sets of condos coming to 14th and Quincy, a block north of Spring -- one replacing the burned C&K transient hotel, (said to include a 7-Eleven) and the other replacing the Austin Royster Funeral Home.

And recently there's new work: the house on the southeast corner of 14th and Spring, 3619 14th Street NW, was just recently demolished (seen above in progress), and workers have been gutting a house down the street at 1337 Spring. Neighbors told me the project will consist of renovations to 1337 and construction of a new building in the small, empty lot next to it, with about 6 units total.

I guess residential development is catching up to all the bars and restaurants moving northward, like Mad Momos, the Red Derby and newer spots like Lyman's and the coming Laotian restaurant, Thip Kao.

(Before and after of 1337 Spring below.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recap: Big, peaceful rally at Meridian Hill Park for Mike Brown and Ferguson, Mo.

This Thursday night starting at 7, hundreds of people came together in Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park in solidarity of Mike Brown, the teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. The rally was a nice scene: many people united by anger and pain, agreeing to do something non-violently about it.

It was difficult to judge the crowd size, but to me it was at least a thousand people, and there was a lot of diversity -- young and old, black and white. Folks filled the area around the Joan of Arc statue, stretching into the playing field. Starting about 7pm, a couple of young organizers led the crowd in a number of call-and-response chants like "What side are you on, my people? We on the freedom side," while one of the main themes was non-violence: "turn anger into power and pain into organizing." Others talked about using this incident and the response as a launching pad to get things done. Chants included "black lives matter," and the organizers read stories of other young people who were shot by police.

That was followed by a moment of silence, which was somewhat interrupted by a couple of angry men shouting, despite being asked to be quiet repeatedly.

But rather than being an anti-police rally, it was more of a call to action and against police brutality. People focused much more on that, with chants like "hands up, don't shoot" and a poignant, emotional speech by another Howard student who said he was a friend of Mya White, a Howard student who was shot two days ago in Ferguson, where she was protesting. I tried to get his words, but this may be paraphrasing: "Do something, but don't do violence. Do your piece. You're here for a reason. Nobody asked you to come. This shit is crazy. Wake the fucking world up." Others talked about being respectful of others' pain and not listening to violent voices and organizers circulated sign-up sheets for people who wanted to do more.

All around, it seemed like a very positive but emotional event. Organizers talked about marching, but quickly changed their minds, maybe they didn't have a permit. People stayed in the area for about an hour, including some music and singing. A couple people yelled on a megaphone saying a civil war was coming and something about weapons, but those two were the tiny minority overall. There was a small police presence, maybe 4-6 officers, but the only time I saw them near the event was when a few were near one of the militant guys who was having a loud argument. After that, they were all farther away in the middle of the park chatting.

Overall, it was a good event about a sad topic. People were especially enthusiastic when speakers talked about organizing, and I hope they make that happen. See below for photos and tweets from the event.

Moment of Silence tonight for Mike Brown and Ferguson, Mo. at Meridian Hill Park

The recent events in Ferguson, Mo., where police officers shot an unarmed young man, followed by unrest and protests, has some local reactions as well. Today a large group of Howard University students took a picture of themselves with their hands up inside Burr Gymnasium as a show of solidarity. The photo happened during the midst of freshman move-in day.

And tonight, some folks have organized a moment of silence for Brown at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park starting at 7pm. 1,800 people have said they're going so far, so there may be a big crowd.

h/t DCist

Big fire in an apartment building on Belmont: here's how to help fire victims

Last Thursday, the DC Fire & EMS Department responded to a fire on the 1400 block of Belmont Street NW in southern Columbia Heights. It turns out an apartment building caught fire in a two-alarm blaze and dozens of residents were displaced. Thankfully only three people had minor injuries, but in total 74 people were forced to leave their homes.

That's a tough situation, and luckily there's a few ways to help them. NBC4 reports that the Latin American Youth Center, a really good local nonprofit, is taking donations for the displaced residents and families. You can donate here, and make sure to select "Columbia Heights fire victims." Glad some folks are helping.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pretty funny truck: giant tomato-head man the electrician

Last night I was at Looking Glass Lounge for trivia, and we spotted a funny van outside: advertising a company called Tomato Electric, the van featured a red man with a tomato for his head with a lightning bolt going through him, plus another on his chest, and the tagline "We're ripe for your business." He's smiling and winking, too.

We used it for our trivia team name, but sadly did not win the prize for best team name. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a funny sign.

Here's the same logo on their charmingly lo-fi website. They get good reviews online, too.

Meeting on 1125 Spring housing: city adding a new building, most people want senior, some affordable housing

Old Jewish Home on Spring RdLast night was the community meeting on the redevelopment of 1125 Spring Rd NW, the old Washington Hebrew Home. As you may recall, the city plans to make it affordable housing, but at the meeting it was clear that local residents disagree on how much it should be. 

The meeting also included a new detail, that the total project will have about 200 units, with 70-80 in the old Hebrew Home and the rest in a new building to be constructed adjacent to the existing building. I hadn't heard that before.

As I wrote yesterday, one group called Friends of the Hebrew Home is arguing for very little affordable housing, about 20%, while another called Neighbors for Affordable Housing advocate for a larger percentage. (The city's plan calls for the housing to be for people making less than 60% of the area median income.)

In my opinion, the FOHH group is using misleading tactics, and at the meeting last night, according to the City Paper, those two camps got into it a bit, with one person yelling, "Friends of the Hebrew Home, you are no friends of this community!" while others accused the Neighbors group of being from outside the neighborhood. The City Papers says most are from nearby but some are from farther away, and the group was organized by Jews United for Justice. (The name of the "Friends" group is also strange to me: what are they friends of, the building itself? And I had never heard about this group before, either.)

The city's Department of General Services, which handles buildings and such, revealed the results of the survey from a few weeks ago. Eighty percent of people wanted housing on the site, and 80% wanted some senior housing there, while 26% of people wanted only 10% to be for lower income people while 16% of people wanted the whole thing to be affordable. Others argued the survey wasn't representative, since it was just an only Survey Monkey and might exclude older people, poorer people, people without computers and the like.

It sounds like there wasn't a resolution, but at least the city (and local residents) have a better idea of what locals want, which seems to be a mix. What do you think?

WAMU's Martin Austermuhle and the City Paper's Aaron Wiener were both on the scene, so I made this rundown of their tweets from the night.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Holy crap! Progress on Bacon Funeral Home!

I never thought I'd see the day. A couple of weeks ago I was walking by Bacon Funeral Home's vacant concrete block expansion, and it seemed like some construction had been happening there, but I wasn't certain. Then I walked by again the other day and there had definitely been some work done, all of the junk had been cleared out and they were starting to lay down a floor.

Pretty amazing. Of course, a floor doesn't mean there's actually going to be significant progress on the building, but after being completely unbuilt and a terrible eyesore for seemingly longer than anybody can remember, this a great start.

If you recall, the plan is that they're going to finish this building as their main office, then turn the existing one into a parking lot. They've faced a number of fines and complaints in the past, including a few orders that they finish the roof and secure the site so people don't sneak in and squat or do drugs or whatever. The last we heard, they were working on getting financing, so maybe that's actually come through.

Of course, the other thing is if them using this concrete block building as their main office and demolishing their existing one to use a parking is a good idea. But I have a feeling that may be a ways away.

Here's photos from a couple weeks ago, the photos above are from a few days ago.

Here's what it looks like from the street. 

Community meeting tomorrow on affordable housing at old Hebrew Home -- locals disagree

There's a bit of a fight brewing about affordable housing in the area. If you remember, the city plans to redevelop the vacant Hebrew Home building at 1125 Spring Road NW as affordable housing. There's a community meeting tomorrow at the Raymond Rec Center at 3725 10th Street NW about it, and it looks like two camps have formed, both of which are advertising the meeting.

On one side are proponents of making the building 100% affordable. They have a Facebook group and argue that the city's house prices are going up and despite growth, there are fewer affordable units in the city (they also quote statistics.)

On the other side are a group distributing flyers (pictured above) that say the city is "quietly pushing plans" to turn the building into 100% affordable housing, and that concentrating low income housing in one place is bad for everybody -- they also include a picture of Park Morton, the troubled housing complex on Park Road, which is not related to this at all. In my opinion, that's basically a scare tactic: this is what could happen!

While I don't disagree that concentrating poverty is not good, this certainly isn't some kind of nefarious secret plot by the city to sneak the plan past local residents. This is at least the second meeting about it, and the city also put out a survey to judge opinions of the community. Could they do more to advertise it? Sure, but community meetings and surveys are a good way to let people know.

The second group argues that the building should be a combination of senior, affordable and market rate housing, which sounds a lot more reasonable than the rest of the flyer.

In any case, it should be an interesting meeting.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dine out with dogs to benefit City Dogs Rescue, next Monday the 18th at The Heights

If you have a dog, or just like them, this event at the Heights sounds like a fun one. EatWell DC, the group that runs The Heights, Logan Tavern and more, are hosting an event Monday the 18th where 15% of all dinner sales to City Dogs Rescue.

You can bring your dog to the restaurant's patio, or just hang out with the pooches while eating. Sounds like fun. Here's more, and click the press release at right for even more info on City Dogs Rescue and the event.
EatWell DC’s restaurants will host their 3rd Annual Dining Out With The Dogs on Monday, August 18, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to close to benefit City Dogs Rescue. Participating restaurants Commissary, Grillfish, Logan Tavern, The Heights & The Pig will all donate 15% of dinner sales to the organization that works to rescue adoptable dogs in overcrowded and high-kill shelters throughout DC.

This year's goal is $7,000. To increase contributions, EatWell DC has partnered with American Harvest, and each restaurant will feature a vodka cocktail with 100% of proceeds donated to City Dogs Rescue. Happy hour will run as usual until 7:00 p.m. at all restaurants, but each bar will have a "late night" happy hour revival from 10:00 – 11:00 p.m. In addition, any child can receive a free meal from the kids menu up until 6:30 p.m.

 Dogs welcome to join on Commissary, Grillfish, Logan Tavern & The Heights’ patios, where City Dogs will also have adoptable pups greeting guests.

"Metro: tear down this sign" -- Somebody is mad about an inaccurate bus sign

I spotted this the other day at 14th and Irving. Apparently the northbound bus stop there is mislabeled, the bus doesn't stop there.

I'm not sure I get it though, as the bus runs in a loop -- it goes up 14th, across then into Mt. Pleasant (hence the bus amusingly having "H8 MT PLEASANT" on its marquee.)

If it's really inaccurate though, I'd suggest they contact Metro and Jim Graham rather than make a kind of funny sign. It's not exactly the Berlin Wall.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lower Georgia Ave Community Review is tomorrow; come let your voice be heard

Tomorrow is a big community meeting for folks living around Georgia south of the Petworth Metro: the idea is to get feedback from the community, from business owners, and from other stakeholders and talk about the future of the street. There will be refreshments, talks by council and ANC candidates, and also presentations from students who helped with the Community Review by doing mapping of all the businesses and other analysis (who I actually worked with too! More on that to come.)

Here's the details, hope folks can make it for some part!

The Lower Georgia Avenue Community Review is tomorrow!
Please don’t miss this opportunity to engage on the major issues facing the community.  Attend all or part of the event.  If you would like coffee and continental breakfast, please arrive on time since food or drinks are not allowed in the session rooms or the auditorium.
There has been further discussion of the Park Morton Redevelopment process by DMPED New Communities Director Kimberly Black-King at the Park View UNC meeting held Wednesday August 6th.  Notes from this meeting can be read at
Representatives from DMPED and DCHA will be at the sessions tomorrow.  The developers are welcome to attend but not present.
WHEN: Saturday August 9th from 9-4

WHERE: The Howard University School of Architecture at 6th and Howard Place NW

DIRECTIONS: From Georgia Avenue traveling south make a left on Howard Place.  The School of Architecture is on the right at the next intersection.

PARKING: There is a lot on the side of the building.  The parking lot entrance is just south of Howard Place on Georgia Avenue.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBILITY: Available from the parking lot entrance

Who is this Review for?
This review is for residents, business owners, property owners and other stakeholders of Lower Georgia Avenue.  We especially want the residents to see what’s happening in the community and bring fresh ideas.

What will happen?
In the morning participants can attend small group sessions focusing on three important issues affecting the Lower Georgia Avenue corridor:

The Park Morton Redevelopment Project: Four development teams have submitted proposals to redevelop the Park Morton site.  The extent to which the community will be engaged in the process is still unclear.  Representatives from DCHA have been invited to to discuss this and other related issues.  All stakeholders in the Park Morton community should attend this session.

The Bruce Monroe Site: As a community we need to gather our thoughts on the long term use of the site. Should it stay a park?  Should it include a public facility?  Development?  This session is the start of a longer process to determine what we want.

Community Benefit Packages: Developers often include community benefits as part of their projects, but the stakeholders are not often asked for their preferences.  This session will be a guide to the realities of community benefits, with a list of our priorities.

A free lunch will be provided by the Georgia Avenue Businesses, followed by a large group session which will include:
A presentation from the Youth Ambassadors
Session summaries and further dialog
Statements from Mayoral and Ward 1 candidates in attendance

The schedule will be:

9:00     Continental breakfast
9:15     Orientation
9:30     First session – participants select one of three sessions
11:15   Second Session - participants select one of three sessions
1:00     Free lunch provided by the Georgia Avenue businesses
2:00     Large group session – Reports and further dialog

Do you need Spanish language interpretation or childcare?  If so email Sylvia Robinson at or (202) 462-2285 as soon as possible.

What is the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force?
The GACDTF is a community group representing merchants, non-profit organizations, individual community residents, and other stakeholders on Lower Georgia Avenue.  It was founded in December of 2009 to promote active citizen involvement in the redevelopment of Georgia Avenue.  The focus of the Task Force is the stretch of Georgia Avenue from New Hampshire Avenue to S St, with the two blocks east and west of Georgia Avenue included in our scope.  We meet every 2ndMonday and 4th Wednesday each month. 

If I can’t make the Review, how can I stay in touch?
Contact Sylvia Robinson at (202) 462-2285 or , or join the Task Force listserve directly at

Thank You to our sponsors who are making this possible:

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C
The Georgia Avenue Business Alliance
The DC Prevention Center for Wards 1 and 2
The Development Corporation of Columbia Heights

Chess tournament Sunday at Red Derby, also help students w/ school supplies

If you like chess, get yourself to the Derby at 14th and Quincy for a tourney on Sunday, starting at 6 pm.

And as well as that, the folks at the Derby are continuing their help for the District Alliance for Safe Housing, a local nonprofit, by hosting a school supply drive. Whether you're participating in the chess tourney or not, why not bring by some supplies and help out some kids! See below for what they need.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Milk Cult Sanctuary, the breakfast taco, coffee and ice cream sandwich popup, is no longer at Park View Patio

Late last year I was raving about Milk Cult, the pop-up shop that operated inside the Park View Patio bar at 3632 Georgia during the day -- they sold delicious breakfast tacos, good coffee and fancy ice cream sandwiches. However, they have now moved on from our area, looking for a permanent space while appearing at local farmers markets.

The Milk Cult Sanctuary, as they called it, was an awesome place to get a morning meal or hang out during our many snow days that winter, and also an interesting symbiotic use of PVP's space -- the bar was closed anyway, so the Milk Cult guys could put the space to good use. (And if you recall, Milk Cult got started selling their ice cream sandwiches out of a specially modified motorcycle sidecar, which is pretty awesome.)

They told me via Twitter a bit ago that they aren't at Park View Patio anymore as they're looking for a permanent space. As mentioned they're still setting up around the area, like at local farmers markets, Union Kitchen and special events, so follow them on Twitter to see where they are these days. In addition, their sandwiches are sold in a few local stores.

I haven't had the ice cream sandwiches, with flavors like salted butter caramel w/ chocolate chip cookie, buttermilk lemon zest w/ ginger molasses cookie, and milk & honey w/ corn flake cookie, but they all sound awesome. I was a big fan of both the coffee and tacos as well.

So good luck to the Milk Cult guys, we'll miss you! Don't forget about the Columbia Heights area.

Bands in the Neighborhood: Dot Dash

It's been a while since we've run a Bands in the Neighborhood post, where we talk to a local band about their music, their gigs, and their story. 

Today's installment is on Dot Dash, a post punk band with members who were previously in other notable DC bands like Minor Threat, Youth Brigade, Julie Ocean & Saturday People. The foursome is made up of Terry Banks (guitar/vocals), Steve Hansgen (guitar), Hunter Bennett (bass) and Danny Ingram (drums). 

They just played the Black Cat opening for The Clientele, and here's what they had to say.

How did the band form? It sounds like almost you're a supergroup of DC bands. And where did the name come from? 

We really just formed from being friends, friends of friends, ex-bandmates -- that sort of thing … The band name comes from a song by Wire -- it just seemed like a good handle – concise and kind of abstract but also something in the vernacular…

What are some of your influences? I hear some Teenage Fanclub and the catchier parts of The Replacements in there.

Thanks!   We definitely dig both of those bands.   We all have our own musical inspirations, some of the main ones include:

Terry:  The Jam, The Byrds, Joy Division
Steve:  The Beatles, Brian Wilson, The Who
Hunter:  The Jam, Motorhead, Burt Bacharach
Danny:  Joe Strummer, for inspiring me to get in a band.  Jet Black, for inspiring me with his longevity. The Beatles, for every little thing. 

Any memorable gigs in Columbia Heights or the surrounding areas?

Suppose the main one would be playing for 90 minutes, outside, on the corner of Columbia Road and 18th Street, in 100-degree weather.  There’s a video clip here.   You can fry an egg on your laptop merely from watching it. 

What's your take on the current-day DC music scene? Any trends you've noticed or good bands you'd recommend?

It seems really good.  We’ve played with some cool D.C. bands… Sending good vibes to:  Alarms & Controls, Regents, Highway Cross, History Repeated, Black Checker, The Shifters, America Hearts, Screen Vinyl Image, Beach Week, Golden Looks, Technicians -- hopefully we’re not forgetting anyone.  

I'm a big power pop fan, especially from the 90s, but it seems like there aren't many popular bands in the genre these days. Why do you think that is? 

Who knows… we have sort of a love-hate thing with the “power pop” tag.  It’s definitely a part of what we do, but we also feel like we weave in kind of a post-punkish thing, too… suppose we like/love the melodic part of power pop, but maybe not some of the more tame or odious aspects of the genre…  Anyway, you can’t quibble with what people make of your stuff.  If they like it, great -- If not, that’s what spells, incantations and voodoo dolls are for.
And, I am required to ask: if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?

Maybe 1412 Harvard?

Thanks guys!

More Info & MP3s:
You can learn more about Dot Dash from their Facebook and Bandcamp pages, and below are some free MP3s. They're looking to book some shows soon, so keep checking their page!

Free MP3s:
from most recent record:  '(Here's to) The Ghosts of The Past'

from second record:  'Countdown'
from first record:  'The Color and The Sound' 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What are good places to telework in our area?

The other day I got a chance to telework, something I'm not familiar with, and I was trying to think of a good spot. I decided on Qualia Coffee up at Georgia and Randolph, as I figured it wouldn't be too crowded and there's a big patio spot. There actually was a decent crowd but I was able to find a shaded spot in the back.

That got me thinking, what are other good places to telework in our area? I always see folks with laptops at Tynan Coffee & Tea at 14th and Irving, but they also had a no-laptops-before-3pm rule to make sure people didn't camp out there for hours working and only have one coffee, thus preventing other customers from staying. I'm checking to see if they still do that. (In general I think a good rule of thumb is that if you're going to hang out somewhere for a few hours, at least buy a couple of things -- these are our local businesses after all.)

I also think The Coupe at 11th and Park and Coffy Cafe, the tasty coffee, tea & creperie on 14th just north of Irving and Panera could be good options, all are fairly large inside. And of course there's the Starbucks at 14th and Irving, but it's always crowded.

There's some local libraries too, but they wouldn't let you snack or drink coffee I bet.

What do you think, local teleworkers? Any recommendations or spots to avoid? 

Meeting today on the fate of the Twin Oaks Community Garden

The Twin Oaks Community Garden, located at 14th and Taylor, is a nice and surprising little spot -- one day I was wandering around up there and stumbled upon it, it's two big areas on either side of Taylor Street with all kinds of plots growing all kinds of veggies. It's been there for some time and looks to be quite popular.

It was no wonder, then, that when the city announced plans for the renovation of neighboring Powell Elementary School, and those plans involved removing part of the garden, people were upset.

Tonight at 6:30 pm, there's a community meeting about the issue, which includes moving part of the garden to near Upshur Street. Here's all the details.
Dear Columbia Heights

As many of you know, the north side of Twin Oaks Community Garden—which is located on either side of Taylor St NW at 14th St–has been slated for demolition to make way for a parking lot as part of the renovation of the neighboring Powell Elementary School.

We are writing to inform you that, after receiving suggestions on alternative parking options from Twin Oaks as well as comments from the community, the D.C. Department of General Services (DGS) has decided to proceed with the destruction of the north side of the garden. There will be a community meeting this Tuesday to announce the decision as well as plans to build a new garden in Upshur park, and we invite all community members to attend to weigh in.

Where: Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Ave NW
When: Tuesday, August 5th, 6:30pm

Thank you for your support,
Twin Oaks Community Garden
I haven't written much about the garden, but there was this interview with an organizer from a few years ago.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wonderland turns 10: tenth anniversary party this Sunday, starting at 4 pm

Wow, it's been 10 years since the Wonderland Ballroom, our neighborhood's first new watering hole, opened. The spot replaced Nob Hill, a gay bar catering to African Americans, and evolved from a sparsely populated, locals-only relaxing spot to a popular dance bar on weekends -- but it's still a lot of fun on weekdays (and when you want to get sweaty and dance on weekends.)

The food, which was originally just hot dogs for dinner and make your own waffles and bottomless bacon baskets for brunch, has also improved significantly, with tasty sandwiches and a full brunch menu. They've added all manner of events like Monday night trivia, comedy shows, bands and dance nights.

The owners, Matt and Rose, also bought Temperance Hall, renaming it the Looking Glass Lounge, which was later bought by staff. And Matt keeps acquiring old signs from defunct local businesses, (DCCD, Kung Food, etc.) keeping the insides interesting, while stickers and funny graffiti continuously cover the bathroom walls.

There were even windows upstairs in the early days. I don't even remember that!

It's been a fun ride, and I've seen a lot of crazy stuff there: a guy in an inflatable penis costume walking in on a random weekday (which was treated like no big deal by everyone else there,) to contestants in the National Air Guitar Championship at the 9:30 Club coming in after their contest and jamming on the bar, to all manner of smaller shenanigans: breakdancers upstairs, couples coming out of bathrooms together, and so on. Halloween is often a wild time (I was there a few years ago in full yeti costume, dancing like crazy, and wasn't the only person looking hilarious) and most other holidays are bonkers too. When it snows, people rush over once the official call goes out that work is closed the next day. One of my good buddies even met his wife there. In short, Wonderland is all of ours, and it's a lot of fun.

And this Sunday, they're celebrating that big anniversary, with happy hour deals starting at 4 pm. I'll be there, celebrating another 10 years.

Do you have any good memories from the 10 years of Wonderland? Leave them in the comments.