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Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 7, Issue 8, June 2001
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

June Assembly Is Election Meeting
Legal Aid Foundation Board Meets June 21
Federation Awards Banquet
New Zoning Commission Member
June 26 Assembly Is Election Meeting — Plus
Officers and Board
President’s Message
Associations Should Consider Subscribing to the DC Register
Is This Resolution Necessary? Council Declares Dinosaur Fossil an Official Symbol of DC
Ward 3 Democrats Weigh in for City in GWU to Evade Zoning Regulation
Hearing July 9 on Mobile Telephone Driving Safety in the District
Another Delegate Appointed to Commission
Lest We Forget
New Man at the Helm of DCRA
DC Government Anomaly: The Office of Zoning Administrator
City Issues Final Notice of Disposition of Surplus Schools
City Honors Palisades Delegate Harold Gray
Future Federation Assembly Meeting Dates

7: 00 P.M.

Election of Officers and Board Members for 2001-2002
Legal Aid Foundation Status
Report on GWU Lawsuit and its Implications for Residential Neighborhoods
Other Business

The Charles Sumner School
1201 Seventeenth Street, N. W. (at M)


The June elections launch the Federation into its 92"d year, with the nomination of fresh faces (as well as some old ones). A basic slate of candidates for all officer and board positions is on page 2. As many nominations from the floor may be made as desired. Officer nominations are voted on by individual (one person for one office). Board nominations are voted on as the top ten choices from all Board nominations made, i.e., a printed (and cleared with the candidates) list of 10 candidates plus al nominations from t e floor. :nominators are requested to ascertain a willingness to run on the part of their nominees.

The Federation is able to field impressive officers and directors because it is itself a pool of impressive talent from the organized citizenry. Membership and activity in some of the major Federation committees is, in practice, as useful and important as serving as officers and board members. And maybe more fun, although Board meetings tend to be as lively as they are crucial to the broad range of interests and activities of the Federation. By way of example, while the Board is expected to invite new and reportedly promising - DCRA director David Clark to meet with them soon, the committee on telecommunications towers and electric power delivery interfaces interestingly with the Public Service Commission, other city agencies and PEPCO. The Federation independent legal aid foundation of primarily attorney delegates is impressive from any angle.

The Tuesday assembly meeting will enable delegates to get to know more about our new officers and directors, and will include a brief State of the Federation wrap-up and a Foundation status report on the spider's nest of legal activities and concerns in the initial stages of the George Washington University suit against the city. All delegates and alternates are urged to attend this last assembly before the July and August summer break. The next Federation assembly will be on September 25, with a quarterly luncheon in August.

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Legal Aid Foundation Board Meets June 21

The combined board and advisory board of the Federation legal aid foundation met June 21, to consider next steps in the crucial George Washington University lawsuit against the BZA and the city. The university is reacting to a recent BZA campus plan decision that regulates GWU's expansion and property use, and its attempt to exempt itself from zoning regulation altogether.

Sitting in with the legal aid foundation attorneys were two Corporation Counsel attorneys. The Federation and the independent legal aid foundation are supporting the BZA and its decision and will coordinate intervenor actions and assist with preparation of amicus briefs by citizens associations.

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Federation Awards Banquet

The good times rolled at the Federation's 915` Anniversary awards banquet June 5. Put on as usual at the elegant Fort McNair Officers Club, this year's fete's array of association tables with their proud identifying signs took on the aspect of a jolly political convention. The mayor was at his keynote speaker best for the occasion, and the four awardees showed off their ample talent. Year 2001 awardees were:

  • Ms. B.J. Gerber, for leadership in a myriad of civic endeavors, including heading the National Capital Bicentennial project.

  • A.L. Wheeler, Esq., for outstanding civic leadership and very broad achievement on the civic, political, business and professional fronts.

  • Mr. Andrew Altman, D.C. Director of Planning, for Professionalism Under Fire. Mr. Altman has brought back professional planning to the city (under some fire) and is now making it stick.

  • City at Peace, Inc., for youth development through the performing arts. By motivating young people to form and express their aspirations for a better life and a better community, the foundation affords head starts in life.

Surprise awardee Mr. Harold Gray, 94 years old and from the Palisades community, thought quickly on his feet and extemporized a graceful and meaningful thankyou speech for his city council ceremonial citation and name day. Mayor Williams gave welcome, enthusiastically received assurances to the communities on city determination to regulate universities when they need it.

Once a year the 91-year-old Federation likes to give serious recognition to outstanding civic contributors and to have some fun to boot. This year's banquet was right in step. Some associations are planning their tables for next year. Right on.

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New Zoning Commission Member

Mr. James H. Hannaham has been confirmed as a member of the D.C. Zoning Commission, vice Kerry G. (Kwasi) Holman, whose term ended February 3, 2001. Mr. Hannaham's term will run until February 3, 2005.

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June 26 Assembly Is Election Meeting - Plus

Bracing for subdued fireworks, the Federation will hold its annual election of officers and board members Tuesday, June 26. All delegates from associations in good standing are eligible to vote and run for office. On the supposition that two years running is sufficient for: most officers (the term limit is three years), several officers will step down, to make room for younger candidates and perhaps different approaches.

As usual, there is a presented slate of candidates in order to insure that each office has at least one candidate. In addition, nominations will be called for from the floor, and it is fine to have multiple candidates for each officer or board position.

The initially proposed slate is:

Officers (5)

President  Buck Clarke (Cardozo-Shaw)
lst Vice President Ann Loikow (Cleveland Park)
2nd Vice President Carroll Green (Manor Park)
Secretary Jane McNew (Capitol Hill/Oldest Inhabitants)
Treasurer Allen Beach (Chevy Chase)

Board Members (10)

Patrick Allen, Esq. Georgetown CAG
Jack Batham West End
Mary Bresnahan Spring Valley Court
Dino Drudi Michigan Park
Kay Eckles Residential Action Coalition
Guy Gwynne Burleith
Jim Jones Crestwood
Miles Steele, III Hillcrest
A.L. Wheeler, Esq. Oldest Inhabitants
Barbara Woodward-Downs Georgetown CAG

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Officers and Board

Patrick H. Allen, Esq.
Citizens Association of Georgetown

Gracie V. Baten
Shepherd Park Citizens Association

John C. Batham
West End Citizens Association

Rhoma Battle
Penn Branch Civic Association

Allen E. Beach
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Larry Chatman
16th Street Heights Citizens Association

Buck Clarke
Cardozo-Shaw Citizens Association

Dino J. Drudi
Michigan Park Citizens Association

Kay A. Eckles
Residential Action Coalition

Lois Forster
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

Guy Gwynne
Burleith Citizens Association

James H. Jones
Crestwood Neighborhood League

Miles Steele, III
Hillcrest Civic Association

Alice F, Stewart
Palisades Citizens Association

A.L. Wheeler, Esq.
Oldest Inhabitants Society

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President's Message — Guy Gwynne

The past two years have gone by quickly and the Federation, with the guidance of the current officers and board members, has been busy. Apart from the normal program of testifying before boards and commissions, working with city agencies, lobbying and conferring with city officials, urging and dealing with the city council and moving from one urgent issue to another, we most notably:

  • Launched the Federation Legal Aid Foundation and assembled a blue ribbon foundation board and advisory board;

  • Worked intimately, along with others, to assist the city devise important new draft regulations to govern institutional campus plans;

  • Worked with the Corporation Counsel, to help inform and organize its defense of the BZA, city and taxbase communities against an aggressive, likely precedential lawsuit by a major local university;

  • Coordinated testimony on vital open access to telecommunications cables in the District;

  • Testified on the Hill on reopening Pennsylvania Avenue; and

  • Coordinated efforts to help persuade the Zoning Commission to assume jurisdiction over college campus plan cases, from the BZA - a major forward step.

It is likely that in June a largely new set of officers will assume Federation leadership for the next year(s). Several outgoing officers will, if elected, serve on the board of directors, along with a number of continuing and new board members. This serves to insure continuity of Federation efforts, while allowing due scope for new personnel and ideas.

Facing the new administration are:

  • The necessity to carry on normal coordination and lobbying efforts, and testimony on issues;

  • Seeing to a successful conclusion the no-holds-barred precedential George Washington University lawsuit against the city, that could exempt aggressive colleges from zoning regulation and likely doom some of our impacted taxbase communities around colleges;

  • The issue of proliferating telecommunications towers and their orderly regulation;

  • The urgent need to upgrade the office of DCRA Zoning Administrator, in charge of enforcement of zoning orders and decisions in communities;

  • The need to work to establish, via the mayor, the precedent of securing expert, city-financed outside counsel to assist the Corporation Counsel in high-stakes, sophisticated cases;

  • The usual ad hoc, immediate-attention issues that intermittently arise; and
    The final preparation and promulgation by the city of effective new regulations governing institutional expansion.

  • I have no doubt our new officers and board, with united community help, will be able to carry these projects through to successful conclusions. Always formidable, the Federation stands to grow and increase its efforts on behalf of the organized communities. E pluribus unum, and there are lots of us.

As I depart the presidency, sincerest thanks for the superb cooperation, work and advice of our current officers, board members, associations and individual delegates over the past two years.

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Associations Should Consider Subscribing to the D.C. Register

For $150 per year-postpaid associations and individuals can subscribe to the District of Columbia Register, the city's official certifying publication for all rules, laws and documents, The Register notes, "Except in the case of emergency rules, no rule or document of general applicability and legal effect shall become effective until it is published in the Register. Publication creates a rebuttal presumption that a document has been duly issued, prescribed, adopted or enacted and that the document complies with the requirements of the D.C. Documents Act and D.C. Administrative Procedure Act."

The Register is published every Friday. Documents which are published in the Register include: (1) Notices of final, proposed, and emergency rulemaking; (2) Acts and resolutions of the Council of the District of Columbia; (3) Notices of proposed Council legislation, Council hearings, and other ,Council actions; (4) Notices of public hearings; (5) Mayor's Orders, information on changes in the structure of the D.C. government, documents having general applicability and legal effect, and other notices and information of general public interest.

It is hard for interested parties to ease something by public notice when everything is published in advance: say, hearings on obscure matters or unpublicized intended official actions. But associations, ANCs and individuals must be duly alert. The cost of the Register is minimal for our association treasuries. It is a good investment.

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Is This Resolution Necessary? Council Declares Dinosaur Fossil an Official Symbol of D.C.

Say what? Well, a May District Register reports that the city council on February 6, 2001 passed a resolution "To recognize the dinosaur fossil named the `Capitalsaurus', that has been declared an official symbol of the District of Columbia, and to declare January 28, 2001 as `Capitalsaurus Day' in the District of Columbia."

Wise heads may fret that the rest of the country might seize on typifying the District as dinosaurian, in our quaint ways and approaches to government. The reform city administration may want to keep a wary eye on this possibility.

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Does the National Park Service know something the District government doesn't? The question arose at a Ward 4 Carter Barron Theater performance in June of Shakespeare's long drama "King Lear". An observer noted that, although the outdoor theater is set in a lush, damp-at-the-time forest area, there were no, repeat no, mosquitos. The same is true in miles-long, pristinely forested Glover-Archibald Park. At the same time, residential neighborhoods in the Georgetown area, for example, often are unable to use back yards, gardens and decks without biting insect problems.

In recent years the type of mosquito prevalent in Washington seems to have changed. Now, a small black variety is common, and its bites bring itchy and/or painful welts wherever they occur. Reportedly, too many Washingtonians are having to give up use of the night (porches, decks, yards, patios) to mosquitos.

It is time the city started thinking about and weighing options with regard to a mosquito spraying program. Someone, on federal park property, is doing something right. The city can do likewise.

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Ward 3 Democrats Weigh In for City In GWU Suit to Evade Zoning Regulation

In June, the Ward 3 Democrats organization voted to join the united Federation communities by resolving to file an amicus brief in the George Washington University lawsuit against the BZA and the city (and the mayor, individual members of the zoning board, etc.). The suit alleges that the college is exempt from normal zoning regulation of its "business".

Currently there are the defendant (the city et al), three intervenors (the Foggy Bottom association, one Foggy Bottom ANC commissioner and one Watergate former ANC commissioner) and some 14 Federation associations poised to file amicus briefs. The associations are of taxbase communities that adjoin and are impacted by expanding, heretofore effectively unregulated universities.

Interested delegates are urged to line up their other appropriate organizations in support of the city and the Federation in this case. This includes the Wards 1 through 8 Democratic and Republican organizations, in the interests of our impacted taxbase communities citywide. Also, opinion pieces need to be sent in to newspapers - ASAP.

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Hearing July 9 on Mobile Telephone Driving Safety in the District

With the increased use of car telephones while driving, the city council has decided to do something about the risks involved. Chaired by councilmember Carol Schwartz, a July 9 hearing will address two proposed bills: Bill 14-130, The "Mobile Telephone Driving Safety Act of 2001 " and Bill 14-141, the "Responsible Use of Cell Phone Act of 2001 ". The latter incorporates the former, and adds provisions. Together the bills propose:

  • Restricting the use of hand-held telephones by operators of moving motor vehicles;
  • Requiring the police to include on motor accident reports information concerning the possible role of a hand-held telephones by drivers;
  • Requirement of published statistics regarding the relationship between accidents and the use of mobile telephones;
  • Penalties for violations;

  • Banning the use of cell phones by school bus drivers; and

  • Requirement of an annual mayoral report to the council concerning motor vehicle safety.

Bill 14-130 was introduced by council chair Linda Cropp and councilmembers Sandra Allen, Harold Brazil, Kathy Patterson and Carol Schwartz and cosponsored by councilmember Phil Mendelson. Bill 14-140 was introduced by Councilmember Harold Brazil.

Delegates who wish to testify at the hearing should contact Ms. Adrienne Brooks Carter, Committee of Public Works and the Environment, at 724-8105 by Thursday, July 5.

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Another Delegate Appointed to Commission

National Cathedral Association delegate Robert Brandon, Esq. has just been appointed and confirmed to membership on the Statewide Health Coordination Council, for a three-year term. The purpose of the SHCC is to "Advise and make recommendations to the Office of Health System Development (OHSD) on the development of the proposed comprehensive Health System Plan (HSP)." Duties of council members are to "Assist the OHSD in developing the Health System Plan; and review and make recommendations to OHSD on an application for a Certificate of Need." There are 15 D.C. resident members on the SHCC.

The coordination council is lucky to have such a talented civic leader as Mr. Brandon on its governing board. It is voluntary, uncompensated membership on such boards and commissions that goes far toward making the city a better and more interesting place in which to live and thrive. All interested delegates and alternates are urged to inquire periodically at the mayor's office of boards and commissions about current vacancies and opportunities. The staffer and number to call are: Ms. Jackie Randolph; 1 Judiciary Square, Suite 1050 North; Washington, D.C. 20001; Tel: 7276744; E-mail jrandolph-com@dcgov.orgLet's: Go fish.

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Lest We Forget

This year's annual city audit showed a $240 million surplus. This is the prescribed fourth year In which the city has balanced its books. Ergo the financial control board should go out of business before October 1.

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New Man at the Helm DCRA

The mayor has appointed Mr. David Clark director of the grab-bag D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Clark comes from the postal service, where, inter alia, he had to use a broad range of administrative skills. DCRA, with its many and ramified areas of responsibility, requires an administrator rather than a specialist in a particular field at its head. Hence, the frission of hope for Mr. Clark that seems to be running through the organized citizenry and the city council. The mayor has hit it right with a number of his senior appointments (e.g., Andrew Altman at the Office of Planning, Daniel Tangherini at Public Works). Has he done it again?

Key voices in the city council have expressed hope bordering on enthusiasm for the prospects of Mr. Clark succeeding in one of the city government's least desirable positions. It is well known that the purview of DCRA encompasses everything from dog licenses to doctor's licenses, housing inspection to zoning decisions enforcement. (The latter often honored in the breach.) Council support means funding support, and Mr. Clark has apparently wasted no time in getting tight with his key council collaborators in governing. That they seem to be fans already bodes well for the future. The Federation will likely have Mr. Clark address the September of October assembly.

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D.C. Government Anomaly: The Office of Zoning Administrator

Arguably the sick man of the D.C. government is the DCRA Zoning Administrator position. The littleknown office, created years ago when the government structure was overhauled, is an important one. A DCRA Zoning Administrator is tasked with:

  • Interpretation of zoning law (i.e., zoning regulations passed by the Zoning Commission);
  • Enforcement of certificates of occupancy;
  • Oversight of the city's zoning inspectors;
  • Enforcement of zoning commission and board (BZA) orders in general.

Wisely, land use attorneys realized the importance of the Zoning Administrator office years ago, long before the organized citizens and, arguably, even the city council focused on it.

However, successive Zoning Administrators have had to cope with:

  • Extremely low, inadequate budgets;
  • no real staff;
  • no real legal backup; and
  • no technical backup to speak of.

The individual incumbent is left largely on his own, heretofore to be influenced as possible by attorneys in land use cases, only too glad to help with formulating ZA opinions. This has tended to be one more weight on the scales of contested, community vs. developer cases before the zoning bodies. The end to this may be in sight.

Reportedly, high on the agenda of new DCRA chief David Clark is building and land administration, which encompasses DCRA zoning administration. Reportedly also, Mr. Clark has been given one year after the beginning of the current budget cycle to get the agency's building and land administration act in order, or moves will be made to spin the office off into a separate entity or bestow it elsewhere. Whatever changes are made, chances are good for a major upgrading of the office of Zoning Administrator, big time, in terms of resources and personnel. Alternatives for the office seem to be: (1) being greatly strengthened within DCRA, ( 2 ) removal to the Office of Planning or (3) absorption into the zoning apparatus.

What does this mean for residential communities, among others? To begin with, they could finally see some enforcement of zoning board and commission orders and zoning code enforcement. Such enforcement has been arguably the weakest area of D.C. government to date. In residential neighborhoods, for instance, uncontrolled illegal property conversions, nonenforcement of campus plan elements and unavailability of zoning inspectors have beset residents for decades. Let's see if we can help the new DCRA appointee with his building and land administration reforms, as well as with Zoning Administrator reinvention, in the interests of the taxpayer communities.

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City Issues Final Notice of Disposition of Surplus Schools

In accordance with mayoral order 2000-150 of October 2000, surplus schools to be sold or leased on the open market are:

  1. Bruce 

  2. Crummel 

  3. Franklin

  4. Old Congress Heights

Franklin and Old Congress Heights disposition will be determined by the residents through the OP Neighborhood Planning Initiative.

Schools to be retained by the District of Columbia are:

  1. Addison

  2. Blair

  3. Bundy

  4. Gales

  5. Grimke

  6. Madison

  7. Old Emery

  8. Reno

Schools reserved for exclusive bidding of Public Charter Schools are:

  1. Armstrong

  2. Blow Pierce

  3. Carver

  4. Chamberlain

  5. Kingsman

  6. Langley

  7. Military Road

  8. Nichols Avenue

  9. Slater

  10. Woodridge

  11. Woodson

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City Honors Palisades Delegate Harold Gray

June 5 was proclaimed Harold Gray Day by the city council. As circumstances would have it, Mr. Gray did not learn of this until 9 p.m. the same day at the Federation banquet, when Councilman Phil Mendelson presented him with the council's ceremonial resolution that commemorates such proclamations. Still, it was a memorable occasion. Here's how it happened.

Mr. Harold Gray, civic activist for over half a century, former president of the Federation and leader of much else in the city and the Palisades area, is an icon of Northwest civic life. In honor of this, Council member Kathy Patterson sponsored a council ceremonial resolution. The trouble was, the council vote was not scheduled until June 5, the chosen presentation date. In the end, after a midday vote and quick footwork by delegate Buck Clarke in securing the handsome resolution presentation scroll, an admirable presentation at the banquet by councilman Phil Mendelson crowned the council action. It was a superb honor for a superb civic activist.

Benchmark: The Palisades community is now an upscale, modern and lovely place in which to live. Mr. Gray helped bring it to this level: back when, he succeeded in having the last outdoor privies in the neighborhood torn down and removed.

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Future Federation Assembly Meeting Dates

The Sumner School has reserved the following dates for the Federation's Assembly meetings. Unless otherwise identified, each meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the School and Museum, which is at 1201 Seventeenth Street, at the corner of M Street, N.W.

Tuesday, June 26 (Election Meeting)

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