Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coming for you

One of my neighbors shared the story from the Washington Business Journal about Yes to Organic Markets coming to The Gray Development. (Don't forget that yours truly broke the news too). Also appearing at the bottom of the article is the following: D.C. has already acquired 2337 Pennsylvania Ave. SE and Mayor Adrian Fenty has proposed legislation that would allow the use of eminent domain to acquire property on the 2200-2500 blocks of Pennsylvania Ave. and the 2200-2400 blocks of Minnesota Ave.

The neighbor wanted to know what was currently on those blocks… Well after digging (I could have found WMD faster.. YESH), I found the legislation that outlines the addresses in question.

I'll save my ideas/suggestions for those blocks for another day (sorry it's the urban planner in me). Today I must focus on this notion of eminent domain. I have very strong feelings against it, except in extreme circumstances. While I'm happier than a pig in slop at the possibilities for what a Great Street Pennsylvania Ave SE can be, I'm still uneasy about the government coming in and taking private property after providing "just" compensation.

I just feel that governments have so many tools in their toolbox. Why go to "ED"? (lol... no pun intended). Perhaps the DC government has tried to work with the property owners (the legislation doesn't provide much background... that's a whole other issue). Thinking out loud the government could have:
  • Worked it out with the property owners. Who knows maybe they did... maybe they didn't.
  • Enforced existing laws... A few of the properties are vacant. There is a Vacant Property Law. Not to mention there are laws that regulate liquor stores and food establishments. I'm sure that some of these establishments are violating a health code or two.
  • Create new laws... the DC government could have just as easily passed new zoning laws specific to this location, or design guidelines.

I just hope once the properties are purchased they don't go to one of Fenty's cronies.... Just saying.

1 comment:

  1. Well of course it will go to one of his cronies, assuming its something he wants to see happen. I agree with you about ED, but the courts have ruled this is ok. As to your bullets, 1) they probably did not try to work it out with the owners. It's usually several small owners, none of whom want to give up their property. As an urban planner, I'm sure you know how hard it can be to assemble a parcel for development. can take years and this administration is not one that likes to wait for its projects. (as opposed to other people's projects like Skyland) points 2 and 3 have nothing to do with the ownership of the property. even if they enforced all the codes they still would ultimately have to purchase the property. and the property is already zoned commercial so no need to change the zoning.