Friday, October 26, 2007

Farmers Market Face Painting

If you haven't checked out the U Street Farmers Market yet, tomorrow might be a good time. Though the predictions still show a light drizzle, that's easily offset by fresh food and face painting!

Rain or shine or drizzle, we are open. ( And dry under the tents) Get a Halloween Painted face for yourself or your child -- much more original and fun than a mask! Pumpkins and lots of great food, too.

On the list of great things there are pumpkins, cider, honey, jams, and all the various organic vegetables, meats, and fruit you could want. Since it's finally feeling (sorta) like fall, I'm definitely going to pick up some cider.

Saturday October 27th
14 & U Farmers Market outside the Reeves Center
9am - 1pm

Bike Lanes on 14th Street

One of the items being considered by the Fourteenth Street Transportation and Streetscape Study is the reconfiguration of 14th Street itself. How many bike lanes? One way or two way? Turn lanes? Close the street entirely and turn it into one giant pedestrian walk? If you weren't at the meeting, take a gander at the take-out menu they provided, and the associated posters. You'll not only find out I made up that last option (about closing the street), but you'll get a really solid idea about what options are being tossed around.

One possibility that wasn't on the list, but was sort-of hinted at by a picture at the bottom of the poster, was the reconfiguration of 14th Street bike lanes on the curb side of the parking lanes. I'm fairly enamored with the idea, as I cannot count the number of times I've seen a bicyclist nearly murdered by passing cars. Worse, the bike lanes turn into impromptu parking lanes, forcing the bikes out into the street anyway. I have to imagine a buffer of steel between the bikes and the traffic would be a welcome relief for anyone riding the corridor.

The idea isn't without precedent, either. The New York Times City Room blog reports that New York City is experimenting with this exact idea on 9th Avenue. The picture is great, and there's also a link to a presentation by the New York Department of Transportation on their plans.

Now, I'm not a biker, I'm a walker. So I'd be really curious to hear opinions from the bicyclists in the neighborhood. Would a buffer like this be a good thing, or just a waste? Drop me a note, or post a comment, with your thoughts. I'm the LCCA representative to this study, so I would certainly appreciate the advice.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dalai Lama Vists N Street Village

If you felt a bit more centered on Friday, and were wondering why, then I might have the explanation for you. Mary over at N Street Village let us know that the Dalai Lama paid them a visit this past Friday.

For just over an hour, the Dalai Lama charmed 150 residents and supporters of N Street Village. After meeting meditation program participants in our Wellness Center, the Dalai Lama spoke before an assembly in our Multipurpose Room, commenting on a host of topics related to homelessness and poverty. His Holiness said that he identified with our women, because he was homeless, too, having lost his freedom at the age of 16 and his country at 24. Stressing the universality of humankind, the Dalai Lama told the crowd that only compassion and infinite love can bring internal peace. He emphasized that material wealth does not bring happiness, which elicited a nodding of heads from the first two rows, where our women sat. The Dalai Lama, speaking directly to the women, called them “his gurus” in teaching others about the importance of what matters.

We are just so proud of N Street Village. They've done a great job, especially in recent years, and this honor only adds to their ever-growing list of accomplishments, including winning the 2006 Washington Post Award for Excellence in NonProft Management. Nice job, all!

Here's some links to the Post coverage, the Washingtonian article, and to a Flickr Photo Set of the event, with lots of great pictures!

Veranda Finally Open

I got word that Veranda Restaurant on 11th and P is finally open. Has anybody been yet? How's the food? The atmosphere? I can't wait to go check it out myself...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Housing Downturn Means Higher Taxes?

The New York Time has an article about one of the side effects of the downturn in the housing market. Since flattening property values means flattening tax revenues, some cities are starting to talk of raising taxes to compensate.

It seems almost certain that this problem is eventually going to touch us here in DC, too, and that makes me worry about our city's continuing struggle to improve its services. Nobody disputes that we have a long way to go in a lot of areas, including fixing the public schools, improving and enlarging MPD, and continuing to work on revitalizing our neighborhoods through things like the 14th Street Transportation and Streetscape work; and in some of those areas, we've continued to struggle despite throwing more and more money and resources at the problem.

But if we haven't been able to achieve success in these areas during a time of massively increasing year-over-year revenues for the city, how can we hope to succeed when those revenues inevitably take a dip? Are our leaders prepared for this scenario? Are they ready to make tough choices about efficiency and triage, or will their solution be to hike up the tax rates to make up for budget shortfalls?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bank On It

Cue music.

Begin voice-over by that Movie Trailer Voice-Over Guy:

They're coming. You thought they were limited to suburban sprawl and strip mall stand-alones, but they're not. They've evolved, adapting to thrive in the revitalized urban neighborhoods, consuming blocks at a time with sterile storefronts of glass, proclaiming "The End of Fees", "Totally Free Checking", and "Interest Bearing Checking Accounts". They're coming - you can bank on it.

The continuing economic improvements in our neighborhoods have prompted a proliferation of bank branches in our city, and not everyone is happy about it.

So what's coming to Tenleytown in Northwest Washington and angering neighbors?

Not a liquor store or a nightclub, the usual sources of any community's agita, but a veritable pillar of the economy, one that is commandeering storefronts across the city: a bank branch.

Not unlike the seven branches already open within a half-mile of the Outer Circle theater's former site on Wisconsin Avenue.

Banks are some of our best neighbors, and have supported the neighborhood (particularly the LCCA!) in a myriad of ways. And a bank is certainly better than empty or abandoned storefronts. And who are we to tell a company where they can or cannot open businesses to maximize their profits?

But still, I find myself agreeing with the concerns of the people in article. Really - how many banks do we need in a particular area? Do we need multiple branches of the same bank within blocks of one another? I would imagine that the squeaky-clean, almost scrubbed-and-disinfected, look and feel that might be caused by too many banks in one strip could do as much to ruin a neighborhood commercial district as anything else.

I think the problem is that banks aren't really interactive in the same way as other businesses. You can't window-shop at a bank. You can't just duck inside to try on that fancy suede jacket in the window. You can't wander the block, perusing the menus, until the Chocolate Fudge Death Cake convinces you to grab a table for dessert. It takes intention to go to a bank. You've got to be prepared - ready for a discussion about seriously non-fun things like Accounts and Interest and Fees. If you're not really prepared to talk about things like that, you just ignore it and walk on by.

So while it's great to have them around and easily accessible, especially when you need them, it seems to me that too many banks in a tight area can easily make the neighborhood unapproachable.

What do you think? Would a restriction, like that proposed in Chicago, limiting banks to a radius of 600 feet from one another be a good idea? Something else? Or are we just naively complaining about a good thing?

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Dog Park Regulations

Via the Logan Circle News mailing list, there are new dog park regulations afoot - er, a-paw? - for the city, and they have been published for public comment in the latest DC Register.

A revised version of the final proposed dog park regulations has been published by the DC Office of Documents and Administrative Issuance and will appear in the DC Register on October 12, 2007 for a 30-day public comment period.

Copies may also be obtained from the Customer Service Desk at the Department of Parks and Recreation located at 3149 16th Street, NW, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

All persons wishing to comment on the subject matter of the revised proposed rulemaking shall submit comments, in writing, no later than the thirty (30) days after the date of publication (November 10, 2007) of this notice in the DC Register.

Now, I don't personally own a dog, but there are lots of people in our neighborhood who do. Heck, I'm not even sure where there are any dog parks in our neighborhood. Still, you might want to check them out. Since finding the DC Register online is kind of a pain-in-the-rear, I've saved you the trouble and posted a direct link here. The relevant sections are pages 140 to 146.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another Whole Foods Coming to the District?

Not exactly in our neighborhood, but:

Via DCist, it seems that our local neighborhood grocery chain is looking to expand its presence. There are talks in progress with Whole Foods to open a store in Gallery Place. The addition of grocery stores in the city - especially in newly revitalized urban residential centers - is always a good thing. The opening of Whole Foods in Logan Circle is widely regarded as one of the major catalysts that dramatically sped up the ongoing neighborhood turn-around.

Sure, their prices can be a bit high, but an expensive grocery store is better than no grocery store at all. At the very least, it proves to the other major chains in the area that a clean, safe, well-stocked urban grocery store can be quite profitable; maybe prompting them to finally clean up some of their more blighted stores.