Monday, April 27, 2009

DC Green Agenda

Dear Neighbors,

The Green DC Agenda, Mayor Fenty's government-wide initiative for a more sustainable nation's capital, is officially live and online. In the next few days, you'll also be receiving a postcard at home directing you to our website. The Agenda is a list of green action items your District Government has underway, or will undertake soon.We want to hear from you! Please visit the Agenda website, give us your feedback, and take the Green Pledge today to demonstrate your commitment to a greener District of Columbia. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to the community to seek feedback and identify green initiatives and opportunities to include in future updates of the Agenda.

Green DC Agenda home:


George S. Hawkins, Director
District Department of the Environment

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Take the Save The Anacostia River Trust and License Tag Survey

Save the Anacostia River Trust and License Tag Survey

The Anacostia River is an urban waterway that reflects the health and environmental well-being of its surrounding communities. A healthy, clean Anacostia River is a sign that the communities along its banks are concerned about their health too. The Save The Anacostia River Trust and License Tag Program (START) will create the Anacostia River Trust, an independent, non-profit organization that will allocate funds raised through voluntary donations from individuals, companies, foundations and decedents' estates. The money will be used to fund grants for schools, community organizations, environmental research, trash removal programs and other activities that engage the public in the clean up and restoration of the Anacostia River.

START will raise funds from three sources (1) A special license plate for $25 above the normal registration fee; (2) A DC income tax form check-off; and (3) Donations from individuals, companies and decedents' estates. Based on the experience of the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), the model for the proposal, the first two revenue sources alone will generate at least $350,000 - $500,000. With tailored marketing, the revenue stream could increase, perhaps, significantly.

By way of comparison, the Anacostia River Clean Up/plastic bags bill requires ten million bags purchased at the point of sale at five cents per bag to raise $500,000 like a minimum START program. After the participating merchants receive their one to two cents a bag allotment, ten million bags will only return $300,000 to $400,000 for river clean up. The plastic bag/fee-based measure is also self-extinguishing. As consumers begin using reusable bags, revenues from the program will decrease. It's success leads to an extinguished source of revenue.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Will the Broken Glass Theory work for Parking too?

Every urban planner knows about the broken glass theory. The basic concept is that if there is a broken window in a neighborhood and it is left broken, then eventually there will be more broken windows. More broken windows leas to the spiral down the slippery slope of blight. Therefore the reverse is also true. If there is a broken window and you fix it, crime will in general go down. The theory rest on the fact that criminals will avoid the neighborhoods that continually fix the windows because the community cares and they will attract to neighborhoods with broken windows because no one cares. Now... I'm hoping this will work with parking.

Fairfax Village is made up of several smaller villages. Each smaller village has it's own parking lot. The annoying thing about the lots is the alley from main road, in between the parking spaces, and the garages is all public space. The wonderful laws of the District require that a ticket be issued before the vehicle can be towed.

As a Village IV resident we have complained extensively about the parking situation in our lot. Any given night you'll find cars parking in the fire lane, in front of the dumpster, and blocking the garages. As a garage owner, I have been blocked in on more than one occasion. Me being the neighborly person that I am, had them ticketed and towed. Even if I can slightly get my car out, I still at least have them ticketed. It's just plain rude.

I will give MPD their props. Any time that I have called, they respond in about 10-15 minutes. However, when they arrive they will only ticket the car blocking my garage, while all the other violators get off scot free. Rather than fight this battle alone, it's time Village Four to fight back (sorry can't speak for the other villages on this issue). One of my neighbors and I have drafted a new parking policy to be implemented in two phases. The goal of the policy is to bring order to the parking lot and maybe it's wishful thinking, but I also hope this will help with reducing crime. Granted, crime isn't that bad, but we do have incidents of armed robbery.

We are presenting to the board this Saturday. Wish us luck.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Safeway Needs to Step it Up

The closest grocery store to Fairfax Village is the Safeway is located at the intersection of Alabama Ave, Naylor Rd and Good Hope Rd. It is a walkable distance from Fairfax Village and a few bus routes will get you to the front door. The great thing about City living are amenities within walking distance.

BUT… if you have EVER been to that Safeway, you probably avoid it like the bubonic plague. The fruit and vegetables are never fresh. The store isn’t filthy, but at the same time it never feels clean. As soon as you walk in, you are bombarded with high fructose corn syrup containing items that are on sale 10 for $10. The staff are loud and rude. I use to drive all the way to Alexandria for grocery shopping. I only went to the Safeway in dire situations like I’m in the middle of cooking and I need eggs.

Then I found the Giant at Congress Heights. Based on my experience with Safeway, I will admit my expectations were not that high the first trip. As an urban planner, I think that property could be more pedestrian friendly instead of the Big Box retail look. However, as a resident, I LOVE that Giant. It is clean and well lit. The staff is polite and professional. I was so impressed that I had to write Giant thanking them for giving us a Class A grocery store, when other stores tend to give us their C team at best.

Thanks to the newfound gem in the East, I rarely shop in Alexandria anymore. I am proud to say that I am spending my hard-earned dollars in my community. Now if I can only get Safeway to upgrade their store to the caliber of the Giant, I could do most of my grocery shopping trips via walking or bus.

Friday, April 10, 2009

You live where?

When someone asks me where I live the conversation usually goes something like this...

Person: So where in DC do you live?
Me: I live in SE
Person: In Capitol Hill?
Me: No I live east of the River.
Person (with look of horror): Oh I heard about SE. What's your neighborhood called? Is it safe?
Me: I don't feel unsafe, but it's still a City. I live in Hillcrest. Fairfax Village.

This is the point where 9 times out of 10 the person gives me a blank stare. This is a such place called Fairfax Village. It is a small neighborhood of garden apartments and townhouses located in the Hillcrest area. Our little community is bound by Alabama Avenue SE to the northwest, Penn Avenue SE to the northeast, Suitland Road to the southwest, and Southern Avenue to the east.

I like to refer to my neighborhood as "the oasis in the east" and "the suburb inside of the city". We have amenities of the suburbs, like trees, grass and bunnies. Yet, we have an occasional police chase to remind us that we are still in the City. It's generally quiet and the neighbors are friendly. I can't think of any other place in DC I would rather live.