Organiza.gif (1182 bytes)

Home     Organizations

Forward to February 2004 Federation NewsBack to Federation of Citizens Associations main pageBack to December  2003 Federation News

Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia

Federation News

Volume 10, Issue 4, January 2004
3710 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-5164 phone/fax

Watchdog Agency Head Elizabeth Noel Assures Fair Deal for DC Consumers
Alert Associations
Rise in Contribution Limits for Elected Officials
Real Estate Taxation Adjustments Likely in the Offing
Federation Board Meeting
Proposed Disposal of the Old Convention Center
The DC Democratic Primary
Charity Auction Proceeds Tax Free
Officers and Board
Move to Ban Single Container Alcohol Sales
That Saturday Parking Meter Moratorium
Federation Assembly Meeting Dates


Tuesday, January 27, 2004
7:00 p.m.

Speaker: Elizabeth Noel, Esq.
People's Counsel for the District of Columbia

Other Business

1201 Seventeenth Street, NW
(At M Street)


Most delegates are aware of the virtually unique efficient operation of the Office of the People's Counsel during past administrations of poor government in the District. Operating as a public interest law firm, Ms. Noel's office represents utility ratepayer interests before the Public Service Commission, which regulates all DC-area utilities; the Federal Communications Commission; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the DC Court of the Appeals; and the federal courts -- a weighty portfolio if ever there was one.

At the same time, the OPC and Ms. Noel herself have been consistently available to associations and community leaders with advice, information, and, at times, heavyweight assistance. Much of civic Northwest remembers the helping hand and advice to communities of Ms. Noel during the infamous case of an attempted installation by Georgetown University of a private commercial power plant on its property in residential Georgetown bordering other communities.

A latter-day heroic intervention on behalf of Washington electric power ratepayers is a successful lawsuit concerning the Mirant bankruptcy case, now before the US District Court, 5th District. (Under a Back-to-Back agreement, Mirant purchases from PEPCO the capacity and energy PEPCO is obligated to contract to buy from two wholesale suppliers.) If Mirant had been permitted to reject the agreement, as it tried, District ratepayers could have been faced with $227 million in additional power costs, costs Mirant agreed to bear when it bought PEPCO's generation facilities in 2000.

OPC was the only District regulatory agency to participate in the Mirant case before the court, and its participation made a substantial contribution with its amicus brief. (Where were the Public Service Commission and, possibly, the DC Office of Energy, we may ask.) Appeals may be in the offing, but for now OPC is congratulating itself.

In the always interesting Q and A session at our January meeting, the question of underground wiring, after the disastrous storm that wrought havoc with electric overhead lines, is sure to surface, and should be of broad interest.

On the civic front, Ms. Noel has served as Secretary of the Parents Association of the Holton Arms School in Potomac, Maryland, and serves as co-chair of its Fine and Performing Arts Committee. She is also a past recipient of the Federation's award for Outstanding Public Service.

Back to top of page


Kalorama Citizens Association

On February 17, the Board of Zoning Adjustment will consider an appeal of the Kalorama Citizens Association from an administrative decision by Director David Clarke of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to allow an oversized construction project in the neighborhood. The BZA is called upon to adjust the proposed height of a structure to 70 feet and to revise penthouse roof structure plans to construct a five-story apartment house in the R-5-D district. The association alleges that the building, under construction, is in violation of the building height, floor area ratio, and roof structure setback requirements of the zoning regulations. The subject property is located on posh Belmont Road, NW.

The association is exercising its duty to keep a watchful eye on often discreet construction projects that are out of keeping with both zoning regulations and the character of the neighborhood.

Foggy Bottom Association

Due to a timely transferable covenant negotiated by the Foggy Bottom Association and the now defunct and sold Columbia Hospital for Women, the association secured a legally binding interest in any future development of the large, choice downtown property. The developer of the hospital building and campus plans to put "The Columbia" way-upscale apartment complex on the site and is duly keeping the community informed. Happily for the Foggy Bottom area, which is "retail deficient" according to one delegate, beneficial amenities such as a dry cleaner, florist, bakery, and hardware store will be included in the high-end project.

Anticipated pricing of The Columbia condos will start at $380,000, with the largest and most luxurious top-floor unit costing "in the range of $3 million." The Historic Preservation Review Board has raised concerns on eight occasions to date, some seen as unnecessary in the community, buteventual city clearance of the project seems to be in the offing.

The Foggy Bottom Association, often at odds with an aggressive, community-devouring university, stands to receive a gratuity for its cooperation on the project, variously estimated at from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Informed observers have seen the association and community fail in unequal combat over the years with a mega-university detractor, and look forward to a leveling of the playing field afforded by the extra resources due for the deserving beset association.

Chevy Chase Citizens Association and Kingman Park Civic Association

The DC Court of Appeals reports in the Daily Law Reporter weekly publication that the two associations challenged city action under the Ward Redistricting Act, alleging that recent redistricting in Washington improperly transferred, "a significant portion of the Chevy Chase neighborhood from Ward Three to Ward Four" and shifted "approximately 1,840 residents of the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Kingman Park from Ward Six, located on the west side of the Anacostia River, to Ward Seven, which otherwise is located completely on the east side of the River."

The gravamen of the appellants' complaint was that the transfer of the Kingman Park residents diluted African-American voting strength, as did transferring residents of Chevy Chase from Ward Three to Ward Four. "Ward Four is considered by some to be 'the heart of the city's upper- and middle-class black establishment,'" observed the Daily Law Reporter. The District Court dismissed the associations' initial suit, for their having lack of standing to challenge "citywide" dilution outside Wards Six, Seven, and Three, and concluded that, even if they did have standing, they failed to state a claim under the pertinent Voting Rights Act.

The Court of Appeals, interestingly, pointed out that, "Appellants have not alleged that African-American voters in Ward Six and Ward Three are politically cohesive or that Ward Six or Ward Three is characterized by racially polarized voting," but "repeatedly state the legal conclusion that the redistricting plan 'unlawfully diluted' minority voting strength."

The court(s) ruled against the associations and for the city and its redistricting plan. Even so, in this case two associations saw benefit in collaborating in a community protection suit and appeal, worked together to right a perceived wrong for the good of the city, and represented two very different city neighborhoods working in tandem for a mutual goal. Such collaboration is a useful practice, and underlines the principle that there is strength in unity, no less than there is mutual good will to be had in striving together, rather than working or agitating at cross purposes.

Back to top of page


When the Congress approves a recent District law in about 30 days, the following changes will pertain to contribution limitations by supporters of candidates for President of the Board of Education and for members of the Board, and for ward-elected Councilmembers.

    (1) (Maximum limit) Contributions in support of a candidate for President of the Board of Education or for a member of the Council elected from a ward, or for the recall of either, $500.

(2) (Maximum limit) Contributions in support of a candidate for member of the Board of Education or for the recall of [such a member] elected from a school district, or for an official of a political party, $300.

If the applicability of the new legislation to city councilmembers seems oddly oblique, that's the way the law reads.

Back to top of page

Real Estate Taxation Adjustments Likely in the Offing

Council hearings on two bills were held January 13, relating to (1) limiting the increase in real property taxes to 10% and deferring for one year any property tax increase above a 10% increase and (2) increasing the homestead property tax exemption from $30,000 to $100,000. The hearings included in their purview "the topic of reducing real property tax rates for owner-occupied Class 1 property."

The latter item is of interest, since it is the rate (percentage) of taxation that is key to the new upward evaluations for DC residential and other properties. The Office of Tax and Revenue assessess properties. But it is the city council that fixes the rate of taxation on that reassessed property. The present rate for Class 1, (owner-occupied) property is 96¢ per $100. Property owners are waiting for the results of the January hearings.

Interestingly, one real estate broker delegate noted, "I don't think the present system is fair. It may be good for the city to assess properties upward and levy taxes immediately, but it's not good for the people. Better would be to leave taxes as they were, and take a portion of the eventual, real selling price."

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently offered rebates after a goodly rise in property taxes there. He reportedly observed that a total $250 million rebate would help console residents for a "painful" 18.9 percent property tax boost in 2002. New York's "painful" tax rise makes the District's latest venture in real property taxation increases of up to 100 percent appear "excruciating."

Back to top of page

Federation Board Meeting

The February Board of Directors meeting will be on Thursday, February 12, at 1524 T Street, NW, at 7:00 p.m. The most convenient route from downtown is out 16th Street, and right on T Street.

Back to top of page

Proposed Disposal of the Old Convention Center

Interesting facts were contained in a December 26, 2003, Fiscal Impact Statement from DC Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi in the city council. Under the subject "Transfer of Site Control of the Old Washington Convention Center to the Washington Convention Center Authority Approval Resolution of 2003," the statement reads, "This fiscal impact supercedes (sic) the version entitled 'Lease of Parcels of District Owned and Controlled Property in the Washington Convention Center Authority Approval Resolution of 2003,' which was signed and transmitted to the Council on Ju-- 7th, 2003."

Under "Background," Mr. Gandhi notes, "The proposed resolution would approve a lease for the Old Washington Convention Center Property to the WCCA for $100 per month for up to 10 years. The WCCA would be required to raze the site, construct a parking facility and public green space on the property. The District would retain the right to terminate the lease in order to turn the property over to a developer for permanent use. . . ."

Back to top of page


Democratic Party discipline held, against the District's recent feisty attempt to hold the first primary in the country. The hope and theory was that if the District weighed in with the first primary before heavyweight elections, it would take over attention-getting news headlines and television air time — and edge out New Hampshire, which heretofore had held the first Democratic primary. The hoped-for publicity would serve to dramatize the District's congressional nonvoting plight; to what extent was not clear.

As luck would have it, however, the national Democratic Party had an agreement with New Hampshire, and refused to agree to the District's out-front primary. Following national party disapproval, five of the nine Democratic candidates refused to campaign in DC, gutting the primary. In the end, only one heavyweight candidate, Howard Dean, ran in the District, along with lesser-known candidates Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, and Al Sharpton. (Sharpton on political endorsements: "You don't need endorsements if your credit's good.") Besides the Democratic relative biggies, seven mini-candidates entered the primary, scoring 0% to 1% of the total vote each.

As the Georgetowner newspaper waspishly notes, "In the old days, when the Senators were still alive and kicking, the derisive slogan was, "First in war, first in peace, last in the American League." In light of this most recent embarrassment, the slogan should be, "First in peace and last in the Democratic Party, just after Rodney Dangerfield" (who, it will be recalled, famously "gets no respect.")

Back to top of page

Charity Auction Proceeds Tax Free

Most associations indulge in benign fundraising from time to time, ranging from auctions of contributed goods to house tours to spaghetti suppers. New DC law 15-250 exempts goods sold at certain charity auctions from sales taxes, for no more than five times a year by nonprofit organizations.

Specifically, "(B) Casual and isolated sales at a charity or other fundraising activity not held more than five times a year by a nonprofit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia, provided that the proceeds of the auction of other activity is solely for charitable purposes providing a benefit for the District of Columbia."

That about does it for normal association fundraising activities, except for that sixth spaghetti supper or white elephant sale. Presumably nonincorporated associations as well as incorporated ones are safely within the law, in the interest of peace in the city.

Back to top of page


Robert Andrews
Foxhall Citizens Association

Allen E. Beach
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Francis M. Clarke, III
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

George Clark, Esq.
Forest Hills Citizens Association

Dino J. Drudi
Michigan Park Citizens Association

Kathryn A. Eckles
Residential Action Coalition

Elizabeth Elliott
Foggy Bottom Association

Carroll Green
Manor Park Citizens Association

Guy Gwynne
Burleith Citizens Association

James H. Jones
Crestwood Citizens Association

Ann Loikow, Esq.
Cleveland Park Citizens Association

Sally MacDonald
Woodley Park Citizens Association

Ann Renshaw
Chevy Chase Citizens Association

Laura Richards, Esq.
Penn Branch Citizens/Civic Association

A.L. Wheeler, Esq.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants

Back to top of page

Move to Ban Single Container Alcohol Sales

Councilman Adrian Fenty (D-Ward 4) is resubmitting a bill to ban the sale of single containers of alcoholic beverages in Ward 4, adducing such reasons as "resultant from these sales are the obvious problems: public drunkenness, loitering, littering, panhandling and public urination," and a "just as pernicious . . . aspect: they instill a sense of helplessness and unease, robbing the citizens of Ward 4 of their right to enjoy their homes, their streets and their neighborhoods." Residents of university-impacted communities may find resonance in this reasoning as well.

Noting his efforts to remedy a perceived problem, Mr. Fenty noted, "To ameliorate this situation . . . I introduced in July 2002 a bill to ban the sale of single containers of alcoholic beverages in Ward 4, but this effort did not pass due to a tie vote. I reintroduced this bill in January. I intend to ensure that this bill comes before the Council, which is why, should this bill appear to languish in committee, I will move [it] on an emergency basis.

The proposed legislation is titled the "Ward 4 Prohibition of Single Sales Act of 2003" and simply states, "To amend, on an emergency basis, Title 25 of the District of Columbia Official Code to prohibit the sale of single containers of beer, malt liquor, or ale, 70 ounces or less in Ward 4."

Back to top of page

That Saturday Parking Meter Moratorium

Rightly or wrongly, the Washington Post recently felt constrained to apologize in print for possibly misleading District motorists regarding the much-discussed free metered parking on Saturdays. Here, for all to receive from the horse's mouth, is quoted DC Act 15-226, "To continue, on an emergency basis a parking meter fee moratorium on Saturday, and on other days between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m." The act was published in the official District of Columbia Register and stamped December 19, 2003.

"Sec. 2. Parking meter fees; exceptions.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, no citation shall be issued for a parking meter fee violation at any time on Saturday, or on other days between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
(b) No person shall park at a parking meter on a Saturday between 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. For more than 3 hours, unless signage permits parking for a longer time. . . .
(c) The Mayor may promulgate rules to exempt certain streets from the provisions of this act when necessary to accommodate special needs or situations identified by proximate business or District agencies, subject to approval by the Council.

"Sec. 3. Applicability.

This act shall apply as of November 5, 203. . . ."

Back to top of page

Federation Assembly Meeting Dates

January 27, 2004
February 24, 2004
March 23, 2004
April 27, 2004
May 19, 2003, Annual Awards Banquet
June 22, 2004
July No Meeting
August No Meeting


Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)