Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saint Martin again disturbs community members.

Its strange to me that the church whose mission is altruistic and beautiful is causing such complications and rifts in its own community. I have emailed then a few times asking questions but have never received any response. Why the shroud of mystery?

here is a community members retort of Father Kelly's assertion that the large scale affordable housing unit slated for t street will be for woking class people.

ere is the part that the neighbor has a problem with:
Kelley says the $31 million project will house about 50 formerly homeless men who are working to become productive members of society. It will also include 134 units for people earning about $30,000 to $54,000 a year -- cops, firefighters, teachers and social workers.

from The Washington Business Journal

the eckington neighbors response:

In response to Father Kelly’s quote in the Washington Business Journal, OK, let’s not be misinformed. We’ve gone through the salary information for police, firemen, teachers, and social workers before and most affordable housing studies put them in a group NOT covered in LIHTC funded apartments (like St. Martin’s). They are the middle class “forgotten group”. Too high an income for public funded housing, and too low an income to actually afford a home (80% AMI).

But let’s look at the numbers. I gathered this information almost one year ago so they may need minor adjustment. I’ve listed all of the sources for the following salary information, so if they are misinforming me please let them know.

DC Salary information
(From the Danter company’s market feasibility study for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program):
2005 County Median Income for the District of Columbia is $89300.

The chart below lists the maximum combined incomes for groups of family members in a household. Since those salaries are shared by household residents I have added the last column which shows what these numbers mean per person.
One Person: $37,500 $37,500 per person
Two Persons: $42,840 $21,420 per person
Three Persons: $48,240 $16,080 per person
Four Persons: $53,580 $13,395 per person

Note that the larger the number, the LESS money per person. So when you see the statement, “working people who make between $30,000 and $54,000 a year,” it becomes clear that an individual making $43,000 will be turned down for residence in St. Martin’s or any other LIHTC funded project unless they have 2 non-income dependents to become a household of 3 sharing the $43,000.

Salaries of DC Police, Firemen, Teachers, and Social Workers
OK, now lets look at the average salaries of the working DC professionals used as examples of the type of people they want to attract into their complex. Consider that most of this is old information (I posted it last year and it was old then) so it is very likely that these salary levels have gone up.
Teacher Salaries (From the NEA Rankings and Estimates report dated June 2005):
Average salaries of public school teachers, 2003–04 District of Columbia: $57,009
The average Teacher would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a five-person family. Although not impossible, it’s not likely.
Police Officer Salaries (From the website):
What is the starting salary for police officers in the MPDC?
The starting salary for police officers is $44,611 a year. After 18 months of service, most police officers can expect to earn a base salary of approximately $48,809 a year. Lateral officers' starting salaries range from $46,842 to a maximum of $65,907, depending on their previous experience.
The starting Police officer would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a three-person family. If they had 18 months of service they would need to be the only working person in a four-person family to qualify. If in that 4 person family they had a child with a part time job it is likely they would not qualify at all.

Fire Service District of Columbia Salary Schedule: (Union)
Class 01 (the lowest salary class of 9 classes) - Private Base Annual Salary October 3, 2004 $40,156 $41,361 $43,368 $45,376 $48,187 $50,999 $53,810 $56,619 $59,432
The lowest salary of a starting Fireman would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a two-person family. If they were in the middle of the Class 1 range they would need to be the only working person in a family of three. And this data is from 2004!

Social Worker Salaries (From a job posting):
Government Of The District of Columbia
Position Vacancy Announcement
Child And Family Services Agency
Human Resources Administration
Announcement No: Cfsa-05-P012 Position: Social Worker (Trainer),
Salary Range: DS-185-09 $45,721 - $57,079 PA
First Screening Date: DS-185-11 $52,078 - $65,803 PA
The lowest paid Social Worker filling this position would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a three-person family.

...ALL of these professionals would make too much money to qualify to live in the St. Martins complex if they were single or had a working spouse or child.

What does all this mean?

Well for one, it means it’s not likely to have many police, firemen, teachers, and social workers residing in the complex. Is that the issue? No, not really. But it does mean that those who planned the St. Martin’s apartments have not thought it out very well and have no idea who their market is; or it is intentional deception to appease a neighborhood. Either of these situations concerns me.

It also concerns me that they (CCS/St. Martin’s) have seen all of this information, and heard all of our concerns. But expressions like the one in the WBJ show that they still don’t understand them. How can they run a huge apartment complex when after a year of listening to community concerns, they still get them wrong?

What is the Issue?

Any large housing complex, outrageously expensive or affordable, should be built on the edge of R-4 zoned areas on major streets, not in the middle. Otherwise they should conform to zoning (with potential minor variances).

An affordable housing complex so large that it takes up an entire city block is a community within a community. Without an appropriate mix of unrestricted housing the complex is a form of economic segregation. Also, without a financially motivating amount of market rate apartments, the complex will not have to compete and keep to market rate standards.

Bottom line – We need affordable housing. We don’t need to hear about police, firemen, teachers, and social workers because it is clear that this complex and all other LIHTC funded projects will continue to treat them as a “forgotten group”. That does not mean that others won’t be served, but we can build it without compromising reasonable zoning regulations or ripping down potentially historic landmarks. Also, we should follow modern mixed-income best practices. The newest should be better then all that came before.

Father Kelley stated "It's almost like a war of words in a sense”. We should and could become partners in this. It need not be a war of anything.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

big bear cafe part two.

and no.. im not stalking you... i just want some coffee......

Big Bear Cafe

I never see anyone there, but works seems to be happening. Just today i saw a sign that says
Big Bear Cafe above the door

and paint swatches on the outside wall. i like the green, but the grey was cool too.

any word on the anticipated opening date?

Monday, August 28, 2006

where florida and new york avenues meet.

this project was ( maybe still is..) planned for the area of new york and florida avenue.

a post about cars

this post reminded me of a fascinating book i read earlier this year.

Its a great account on how the car has shaped our society. i truly recommend it for those of you that: appreciate urban communities; like cultural anthropology; think cars represent freedom.

i mean.. obviously a drive-thru is for cars only......

trader joe's near bloomingdale?

visit this site concerning a petition to entice trader joe's to the u street corridor. Well, i guess it worked with Whole Foods.

I, for one, am a huge fan of trader joes.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

updating links

if there are neighborhood, or dc links that you think i should have, please comment or email me. i'd like to update some stuff.

Recreation Centers

In response to the crime emergency, the Department of Parks and Recreation has extended hours at 10 sites throughout the city. The recreation centers are a safe haven for teens, offering sporting activities, games, movies, field trips and classes.
The following recreation centers are opening on Sundays from 12 pm – 8 pm:
Brentwood Recreation Center 2311 14th Street, NE (202) 576-6667
Emery Recreation Center 5701 Georgia Avenue, NW (202) 576 -3211
Harry Thomas Recreation Center 1743 Lincoln Road, NE (202) 576-5642
Kennedy Recreation Center 1401 7th Street, NW (202) 671-4792
King Greenleaf Recreation Center 201 N Street, SW (202) 645-7454
Petworth Recreation Center 801 Taylor Street, NW (202) 576-6850
Parkview Recreation Center 693 Otis Place, NW (202) 576-5786

The following recreation centers are opened Monday – Saturday from 10 am until midnight unless otherwise noted:
Bald Eagle Recreation Center 100 Joliet Street, SW (202) 645-3960
Benning Park Community Center 5300 Fitch Street, SE (202) 645-3957
Benning Stoddert Community Center 100 Stoddert Street, SE (202) 698-1873
Emery Recreation Center 5701 Georgia Avenue, NW (202) 576 -3211
Fort Stanton Recreation Center 1812 Erie Street, SE (202) 645-3920
Kenilworth Parkside Center * 4300 Anacostia Avenue, NE (202) 727 5440
Kennedy Recreation Center 1401 7th Street, NW (202) 671-4792
King Greenleaf Recreation Center 201 N Street, SW (202) 645-7454
North Michigan Park ** 1333 Emerson Street, NE (202) 541-3522
Sherwood Recreation Center 640 10th Street, NE (202) 698-3075

* Monday – Thursday until 10 pm; Friday –Saturday until 12 am
** Monday – Saturday until 11 pm.

1 million, 9 hundred thousand dollars

here is a very beautiful house in LeDroit Park. for a mere 2 million, it could be yours. Seems like it still need$ work, at least on the outside. and some color on the walls!

Monday, August 21, 2006

thinking of remoldeling?

this estimator might be helpful

neighborhood author, Natalie Hopkinson, speaks at Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets
November 10, 2006 (Friday)

6:30 - 8:00 PM (Langston Room) Authors Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Y. Moore discuss and sign their new book: Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation. In Deconstructing Tyrone, journalists Hopkinson and Moore examine black masculinity from a variety of perspectives, looking not for consensus but for insight. With chapters on Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, on the complicated relationship between women and hip-hop, babydaddies, gay black men on the so-called “down low,” strippers and their fathers, black men in the office, at school, and in jail, Deconstructing Tyrone presents a multifaceted picture of American black men. Hopkinson is a staff writer at the Washington Post and a Scripps Howard doctoral fellow at the University of Maryland-College Park, where she is also a visiting professor of journalism. A graduate of Howard University, she lives in Washington, D.C. Moore is a freelance journalist who has worked for the Pioneer Press, Detroit News, and Associated Press. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Bitch, Black Enterprise, and In These Times. She is a graduate of Howard University and has a master’s from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


My experience at Vegetate was disappointing.

I recall hearing about the restaurant before it opened. I remember when it opened i was excited to have a nice modern american vegetarian restaurant in the city, close to my house. I remember first seeing their menu online and while salivating, i looked at the prices and was distanced. I prefer to go out a lot to mid priced places than just a few times to expensive places. I only just made it to Vegitate this week.

So here's what my wife and i had:

Lime aid
- way too tart and acidic for me, and i'm a big big fan of limeaid.

first course-
Herb Risotto Croquettes with parmesan & tomato jam - This was tasty and the tomato jam was terrific. really terrific. the crouquette was sadly a little dull. If you 've had this dish at Two Amy's, you know what it ought to taste like. This was a bit bland in comparrison.

Heirloom Tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic, basil & grilled bread (vegan)- The "grilled bread" portion was a tiny sliver of homemade melba toast.. or may as well have been. The tomatoes were tasty. nothing great, but decent.

Second Course

Sesame Crusted Tofu with quinoa and gingered organic pea shoots (vegan)- This was good. nicely herbed and had the feeling of breaded fish, oddly. I'd have marinated the tofu first since the frying process doesnt give enough time for the herbs to soak in. it was a bit dry too.

Roasted Zucchini and White Beans on a corn grit crust with organic collards (vegan)
The corn grit crust was lacking in spice, in my opinion. justplain ole grits really. the zuchini was fine. The collard greans were outstanding. they were marinated and oozed with flavour. a sweet soy saucey vinegaryness. I couldn't quite place it. They were great.


Ice Cream Sandwich molasses cookies with Tahitian vanilla gelato
Local organic peaches with vanilla vinegar over Raspberry Sorbet (vegan)
the desserts were average. I'm not a big dessert guy, so it has to be outrageous good for me to care.

All in all i was very disappointed in my Vegetate experince. The food was generally lacking in flavour and i find the price a bit silly. To be fair, i do prefer spicy foods, exotic foods, Thai, indian , african, things with zing and perhaps i'm not as attune to the subtlties of this type of cooking. Perhaps it was "minimal" as is the decor.

So, the decor. The place is pretty cool. I'm excited that there is a place in that area of ninth, which when i first walked around there 10 years ago, was like a ghost town. SOOOO many boarded up places, so desolate. Now, its bustling. i like that. The walls are gray and green. I like the color combinations a lot. the furniture was a dark wook. very pretty place, though there werent really any focal points. i'd have pizazzed up a coupla walls. still, it felt cool. The look of the place was inviting though like the food, could use a bit more spice. just a bit. and oh..our waitress was about as friendly as a tax audit. The music was cool, and it was DJ'd. the place would be a great lounge.

I dont think i'll be back.I actually feel pretty ripped off. For a $70 meal for two without drinks, you'd think we'd get something more exciting than the collard greens.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

restaurant week

well, there are no restaurants in Bloomingdale participating so i decided on one in Shaw which i havent been to yet.

I'll be hitting up Vegetate this week. Since my wife and i dont eat meat, seems like the best choice.

here's the menu:

Fresh- Squeezed Juices (complimentary)

Homemade Ginger Ale
Strawberry Lemonade

First Course

Herb Risotto Croquettes with parmesan & tomato jam
Organic Melon & Habernero Soup with cilantro crema (vegan)
Heirloom Tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic, basil & grilled bread (vegan)

Second Course

Goat Cheese Tart with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted corn & arugula salad
Sesame Crusted Tofu with quinoa and gingered organic pea shoots (vegan)
Roasted Zucchini and White Beans on a corn grit crust with organic collards (vegan)


Ice Cream Sandwich molasses cookies with Tahitian vanilla gelato
Warm Chocolate Cake (vegan) with sorbet or gelato
Local organic peaches with vanilla vinegar over Raspberry Sorbet (vegan)

1414 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 232-4585 |

Bus Stop at North Capitol and Florida Avenue NW

If you have ever used this bus stop, walked by it, or even driven by, you know that its a troublesome place.

Its a small triangular park and the bus stop serves 6 bus lines. There are a few trees and some plants. A few years ago someone put very nice steel frames around the tree boxes. 1.5 inch tube steel. They instantly became seating since there is and was only one bench serving this large bus stop. I used the "seating" often. There someone installed spikes atop the planter boxes to impede sitting down. I argued against this on the eckington message board but was brushed off. A few months later the entire planter box was covered with large plastic containers that straddled the spikes. there was seating again. i dont use these, but many people do and they leave them there. all the time. What seemed like a simple solution was crippled with a complete lack of foresight. foresight that would have been obvious to those that utilize the stop and actually take the bus.

Now this year, there seems to be a call on the eckington listserve to reinstall benches, but with perhaps bars that stop people from laying down. old school bus/ train terminal benches. i remember these as a kid. i'm not sure why they disappeared for so long.

There is also talk of moving the bus stop altogether.where? i dont know. i can only pressume that the 80/p6 stop would be moved south of florida and the X/90 buses would move.... uh... either in front of KFC or Soul Day Spa. If we want to follow neighborhood revitalization practices we WOULD NOT move the stop to be plaed in front of existing business, but move them away from store fronts. Remember the old pay less on 8th se that had a bus stop? when it became a starbucks with outdoor seating, the barracks row lobby got the stop booted.

anyway, seems idiotic to me, at least as a bus taker. I imagine if i wasn't a bus user i'd want all these "eyesores" removed citywide. damn busriders.

Now, were the city to actually enforce anti public drunkeness/ littering laws, that bus stop would probably be pretty nice. till then, the problem wont go away by inconveniencing bus riders since the troublemakers don't really take the bus. they just sit there. all day. nearly everyday. With their community liquor bottle.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Natalie Hopkinson, writer and bloomingdale resident

Bloomingdale resident Natalie Hopkinson has co-authored a book titled "Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation" -- about "examining Black masculinity from a variety of perspectives, looking not for consensus but for insight."
Read an interview with Natalie and her co-author at

And read about the book

Congratualtions on getting the book out! and good luck with it!

Before either of us had moved to Bloomingdale, Natalie interview me about an exhibit i had. Read it here

war in our neighborhoods article/ my ramblings about dealing with crime and the tactics of my two neighbors.

here is a washington post article about dealing with crime in our neighborhoods.

The problem of conflict resolution surrounds us. One commenter on this blog recommended shipping troubled kids off to other neighborhoods, but the problem is actually embedded in our society, everywhere.

We stick to our own, however we define that. If our people get looked at the wrong way, we fight back. If our country gets dealt, we deal something harder.

It’s the same code for "civilized" America as it is in the street. It’s a problem I find deeply disturbing. We are very quick to look and to judge. We are quick to retaliate. As a society we support retribution.

I have two elderly neighbors that I deeply respect and admire. Both have lived in the neighborhood their whole life, both have live on my street for 30 years+. Both are among the friendliest people I have ever met. Both face down the thugs they encounter but in two different ways. Despite their similar experiences in location both deal with street crime and thugs very differently.

One, a former working class man with kids, and a bevy of grandkids who seems to know everyone on a strong basis. He grew up a trouble maker, not a fighter so much as a mischief maker. His experiences as a kid make me think of my experiences as a troublemaking street kid. He knows the thugs well, by name. He knows what they are up to. He knows a lot about them. When they cross his line of decency he asks them to stop. If they don’t listen, he calls the cops, and tells them so. His dealings are tolerant, frank, and clear. He comes across as just an average guy, but with an amazing capacity for tolerance and forgiveness. In his life he's needed to utilize that a lot.

The other is a woman whom for her age is a miracle. It’s crazy how strong and active she is. I pray I’m that healthy in my senior ages. She is a former professional and extremely crime intolerant. EXTREMELY. She expects and demands ZERO crime on our street. She too, knows the thugs, but won’t use their names because she feels they don’t deserve it till they shape up. She threatens THEM. She too, has had death threats made against her, but her bravery is unsurpassed. She laughs at them. Her approach to crime is to call 911; them call the police office, and then leave a message with the mayor’s office. Then call to check up on the action. She is a die-hard. She is a very classy put together woman that emanates the expectation that you will act your very best in front of her.

I feel fortunate to have these neighbors and feel that they have done tons to deal with crime on my street, in their own very different ways. Its seems to me that both of these tactics are necessary to deal with our street culture of lack of respect. I wish that this micro tactic could be brought to a city-wide level, but I don’t know how to do it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

little know facts about bloomingdale

passing this on since i thought it looked fun:

The Neighborhood of Bloomingdale: A Hidden Jewel in the Middle of the City
NE DC Historical Society Sunday, August 13, 2006 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
at Crispus Attucks Park (Use the alley entrance at 1st & U Streets, NW.) Washington, DC 20001
1. Why is the Neighborhood Called Bloomingdale?
2. What was Bloomingdale like at the start of the 20th century?
3. The Past, Present, and Future History of the People and Places of Bloomingdale to include: Gage-Eckington Elementary School, Crispus Attucks Park, and McMillan Reservoir
4. Little known facts about Bloomingdale

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Visit the new location:
1416 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Saturday

(202) 265 0179

the kids are not alright

here is a story about fighting that broke out at a teen concert near the florida avenue market.

anybody have solutions?

Friday, August 04, 2006

artists on north capitol?

maybe, just maybe some artists may be setting up space on north cap.

not me though.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the heat

the last few days my AC was "broken". i can mostly take the heat. but humidity? i cant deal with that. my wife and i didn't sleep too well. She took it worse than i did.
We bought a couple fans this weekend as we didnt get an AC guy out till today. the cats werent happy.

See, what happened was one day last week i saw water all around the AC unit in the basement. I shopped vac-ed it up, but wasnt really sure where it was coming from. Has the hot water heater bit it? is this from the rain from last weekend? I wasnt entirely sure. I supposed also that the drain from the ac unit was leaking. Still i kept the AC on. that night, there was more water and there was water INSIDE the AC. damn, not good. That prompted me to turn it off completely.

Turns out that the drain pipe was clogged. Now its fixed and my house is cooling down from todays interanal temperature of 95. tonight would have been too brutal for my northern states homeostasis. my wife would have just killed me.

i'm glad it was still under warranty.

This summer we've been keeping the AC set to 81. 79 when we're feeling luxurious. its crazy that we can really really tell the difference.

What do you keep yours set to?

and bless those people who dont have AC at all. this weather, combined with this polution, combined with all the concrete is just too brutal. even the breeze is hot.
even a cold shower is not cold..

beer in the fridge, beer mugs in the freezer.

what would you like to happen at the old sand filtration site?


Special Community Meeting


Special Guest

The National Capital Revitalization Corporation

Where: All Nations Baptist Church
2001 North Capital St, NE
When: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Time: 6 pm to 8 pm

Here is the meeting agenda:


Called to Order 6:00PM

Opening Remarks: Commissioners

Special Guest: NCRC

Community Concerns

Adjournment: 8:00 PM