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October 24, 1999

Why I Live in themail

Dear DCitizens:

In this issue, more on why we live in DC. It seems the top reason we like living in the central city is to be close to each other. Now, wait one minute here. The next time you're on the bus or subway, or walking down the sidewalk, take a good look around. Are you sure we're right, and we really want to be this close to each other?

Gary Imhoff


Top 10 Reasons Why I Live in the City
Jamie Treworgy, Mt. Pleasant,

1. Reverse commute to anywhere in the metropolitan area.
2. My neighborhood hasn't been a farm or forest in the last ten years.
3. I have my choice of three airports within 35 minutes' drive.
4. Neighbors know each other and look out for each other.
5. No speed bumps!
6. Have no idea where closest Bennigan's or TGI Friday's is.
7. Lack of representation in Congress means no excuses needed for political apathy.
8. Hundreds of restaurants, shops, museums, theaters, and so on within minutes of home.
9. Rarely have opportunity to drive on the Capitol Beltway.
10. Next year could be last chance to see Bill Clinton jogging.


A Reply to A Newcomer
Ann Loikow,

Dru Sefton asked about the advantages and disadvantages of living in DC. First of all, on the advantages side, Washington is a beautiful city thanks to the height limitations, its many beautiful parks and green spaces, and L'Enfant's plans for the city. It also has many very livable neighborhoods, each with its own identity. I also like having good access to public transit, whether subway, bus, or taxis and the ability to walk or bicycle easily to places I would like to go because cities, unlike many suburbs, have sidewalks. This becomes particularly important the older one gets (assuming you are moving here for the long term). Because of the city's relatively compact size, it is also fairly easy to get places quickly. It is possible in many neighborhoods to walk to the store and, in the case of my neighborhood, Cleveland Park, to the best movie theater in the region (the last of the old movie palaces that hasn't been subdivided). Another nice thing about the city are its alleys, which often are the heart of a block and where kids play and folks meet their neighbors. That is another major thing I like about the city. Folks, and shopkeepers, know their neighbors! It is surprising how untrue that often is for folks I know in the suburbs. In addition, there are just so many interesting people living in the city. Diversity is a strong point of city living. Cities, unlike many suburbs, were built over a period of years and are full of neighborhoods that contain housing of many different price ranges right next door to each other. As a result, you don't have cookie-cutter neighborhoods where everything looks alike (including the people).

On the negative side, you identified the biggest negative already -- the city's colonial status. However, to get that changed, we need the help (and awareness) of folks from all over the country about how outrageous it is that American citizens living in an area that was part of the original United States are deprived of the most basic rights of citizenship. As William Henry Harrison noted in 1841 in his inaugural address: “It is in this District only where American citizens are to be found who under a settled policy are deprived of many important political privileges without any inspiring hope as to the future. . . . Are their rights alone not to be guaranteed by the application of those great principles upon which all our constitutions are founded? We are told by the greatest of British orators and statesmen that at the commencement of the War of the Revolution the most stupid men in England spoke of 'their American subjects.' Are there, indeed, citizens of any of our States who have dreamed of their subjects in the District of Columbia?" DC's colonial status is the root cause of much, if not most, of its problems — from limited tax base, limited authority over its own internal affairs and lack of control over its own budget and spending of DC tax revenues, to the ability to attract the best public servants and citizens to aspire to local offices. I hope you will move into the city and help us right this incredible injustice.

PS: (Depending where you live of course), the rats aren't that bad — certainly not as bad as the mice overrunning large areas in Florida as reported in the Washington Post last week!


Not All Suburbs Are Created Equal
John Whiteside,

Don't get me wrong, I love DC, I have lived in DC, I may do it again, but as I read the advice to newcomers, I was struck by how clueless many people are about what the world looks like when you cross the Potomac. Not all the places outside DC are car-choked freeways and cul-de-sacs filled with look alike townhouses. Places like Clarendon, Del Ray, and Takoma Park offer many of the great things about city life that drew many of us to DC in the first place.

And if a newcomer's job in the suburbs — which is where more and more of the area's jobs are these days — living just outside the city can give you a shorter commute without stranding you in an unappealing slice of suburbia. That's what brought me here. As much time as I spend in DC, and as seriously as I'm considering buying in the city in the next year, the fact is in Clarendon, I live in a walkable, friendly neighborhood that's more diverse than where I lived in DC, overflowing with restaurants, shops, cafes, and nightclubs, where I can get on Metro and be downtown faster than someone who lives in Chevy Chase, DC, and where my local government functions well. A newcomer would be foolish not to at least consider VA and MD as options.


Living in DC
Mary Lou Fahey,

I have lived all my life in the DC area, but it was not until six years ago that I actually moved into the city. Having lived in both the Virginia and Maryland suburbs (Virginia is the best here), I wouldn't live anywhere else but in the city. I love being able to walk to Wagshal's Market and the grocery store, having two restaurants around the corner where the proprietors know my name, and tossing comments to my neighbors over the backyard fence. I can also walk to the library and the movie theater. (Okay, the theater is a bit of a stretch, but it's good exercise.) When I go to the Kennedy Center, I'm home in 15 minutes. Our local elementary school (Janney) is a good one and last year I discovered the fun of going to the local junior high musical production at Deal. (They're doing “Annie Get Your Gun” in February. Try it. It's loads of fun and the kids are good!) Our church (St. Columba's) has many outreach programs and let's me meet my neighbors.

I knew I would be disenfranchised when I moved in. Sure it bothers me, but I have met and talked with both Tony Williams and Eleanor Holmes Norton — something I could not say about the local leaders in the 'burbs.


Life in the Big City
Willie Schatz,

To Dru, our very harried house hunter: I've experienced better constituent services in alleged Third World locations than I receive in the nation's capital. We've got the second densest traffic on the planet. We have a model train, not a subway. We've got the worst reputation in the country. Ninety percent of the taxi drivers at National can't find your way home. We are the ultimate political prisoners. But here I am, still livin' on the DC fault line 30 years after I came here to attend Georgetown Law School. (There was an intervening three-year exile in Miami, but, in as they say in my native land, FUHGEDDABOUDIT). And every time I get the chance to leave, I stay. Why? So, for what it's worth, don't 'burb it.


Living in D.C.— What I Love
Mary Vogel,

Gloating at the morning traffic report . . . “Wherever you are going, it's clogged this morning. . . ,” prattles the commentator. I have a 5 MINUTE commute — via bicycle and it's NEVER clogged. Watching the leaves fall on the sugar maples on my block (600 block G St. NE). Watching the DPW crew come through and rake and vacuum them up — at least those that I didn't get first (for my composter).

Neighbors I've never met before who come by and ask if I'd like a hand putting in my native plant landscape. Neighbors who listen with interest while I explain WHY I am putting in a native plant landscape. Neighbors who sit out on their stoops and remind me that life doesn't have to always be about DOING! Corner stores and neighborhood dry cleaners. Voices of kids playing on the basketball court of the nearby school. East Capitol Street at Halloween. Glimpsing the Capitol from Maryland Avenue or North Capitol Street.


Why Do I Live in D.C.?
Steph “Nowhere else to go” Faul,

Why do I live in D.C.? I always have, so I'm pretty much used to it. While it irritates me not to have any say in Congress, that's mostly a matter of principle. I've never been all that sure about what elections are for, since I didn't see one until I was 16 years old. The sad part is that most of the city I grew up in is gone, destroyed by developers, but still I can walk to shopping, walk to the Metro, and if I had kids they could walk to school. All that, and a yard with a garden. Eat your heart out, suburbians.

However. Can we talk about the water and sewer people? Now THERE is a reason to leave town. Back at the beginning of September I called WASA about a leaking water meter in front of my house. I even told a WASA work crew I passed on the street. Someone came and moved the grass around but the leak persisted, so I called again. And again. Finally, three weeks ago, a crew came, dug up a huge pile of dirt, and left. So I called AGAIN last Monday and was routed from Kathy Patterson's office and the mayor's office to customer relations at WASA, which has done nothing. The pile of dirt is still there, as hundreds of gallons of potable water run down the sewer every day. Meanwhile WASA is boosting our water rates by another 30 percent. What I want to know is, if water is so dammed valuable, why is WASA throwing it away?


Clean City Campaign
Ralph Blessing,

At a recent ANC meeting in Ward 4, I spoke with Vince Spaulding, DC's Clean City Coordinator, about the need for trash cans in certain heavily littered areas near the Takoma metro station. He suggested that I call his secretary and provide details. Within days of my speaking with his secretary, Mr. Spaulding called back to tell me that his office would be looking into the matter. A couple days later, not one, but two of his staff called me to explain what they could and could not do (i.e., they can place trash cans in commercial areas but cannot place them in residential areas, as I had requested, unless petitioned by the people who live there). While the matter still isn't totally resolved, I was greatly impressed with the prompt response and attentiveness on the part of Mr. Spaulding and his staff. Anyone wishing to contact him about efforts to help keep our city clean can do so by phone at 671-1403 or by E-mail at

Now if I can make a somewhat convoluted segue into the discussion of city vs. suburbs, I believe that city neighborhoods are far more likely to create the level of intimacy that helps unite citizens around common concerns. In my neighborhood, for instance, the Shepherd Park Citizens Association has spearheaded efforts to deal with the seediness on Georgia Avenue near the DC-MD line. I may be wrong, but I can't imagine community groups in the suburbs getting too involved with, say, a clean-up campaign for Rockville Pike. Of course, this may just underscore the fact that a city's vibrancy can also be the source of some of its warts. A city, by its very nature, is likely to have more problems than newer suburban developments and thus requires a higher level of commitment among its residents. As a 20-year resident of the District, though, I feel that the trade-offs (except for our being disenfranchised) are definitely worth it. And if I needed any convincing, I recently had to drive out US 50 during the PM rush hour for a dinner party in Falls Church. AGGHHH!


A Step Towards Accountability
Ed T. Barron,

Mayor Williams' has initiated a plan to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of management of the D.C. Government. The plan calls for all managers to be offered a raise in exchange for eliminating the Civil Service protection for their jobs. Those who decline the raise and loss of protection will be demoted. This may seem a bit heavy handed as the method to begin establishing accountability in management, but it is likely the only legal way that the Mayor could accomplish his well intended initiative.

Managers will then be evaluated in their jobs on a periodic basis. This approach will work fairly for all concerned only if the Mayor and each of his managers agree on the specific goals for each agency and a reasonable timetable for accomplishing these goals. The mayor will also have to provide the support needed by each of the managers in accomplishing these goals. This is a welcome step for all D.C. residents who should be getting what they are paying for — good, hard working administrators.


Why I Won’t Be Watching the Marine Corps Marathon
Leila Afzal,

This weekend the Marine Corps Marathon will be run. It will be the first time in a decade that I won't be among the cheering crowd. My brother has run the marathon year after year. I am a seasoned spectator, I know at which mile posts to stand for the best view, etc. I have taken my son from the age of two to cheer on his uncle, rain or shine. But not this year. The “People's” marathon is no longer. It has become commercialized like most good things. In the past, runners have been able to sign up as late as June for the October run. This year, many, if not most, of the slots have been reserved for charities — so individual runners were shut out as early as March. The Marines, however, gladly supplied those runners with the names of the charities which had “numbers.” Many of my friends were shut out for an individual “number,” so one called one of the charities. She was told that for $1,000.00 she could get a number, and she would have to promise to raise another $2,000.00 during the race. (Sounds like extortion to me.) So what was once a local activity and family affair has now become another fund raiser for politically powerful charities, all being paid for by the taxpayer. My brother will running the New York Marathon, and I will learn the ins-and-outs of being a spectator of that marathon.


Hail to Hearst
Ed T. Barron,

And another hail to Paul School for putting pressure on the DCPS for major and rapid reform of the public schools. Both Hearst and Paul are readying applications to become Charter Schools. These will still be public schools in that students from any part of the District will be able to attend. But these schools will be freed from the oppressive and mean spirited bureaucracy of the DCPS and freed from the clutches of the Teachers' Union. Without these encumbrances and threats from downtown both these schools, which are heavily supported by the parents of students attending the schools, they will undoubtedly continue their winning ways in providing a fine education to their students.

I have already volunteered my services to Hearst as a Team Builder with finance and business background (and some ability at the keyboard to present the truth in its most favorable light) to help them with their proposal to shake free from the bonds of the DCPS slavedom. I would hope that other highly successful schools in the District, like Janney in Ward 3, will set themselves free. For any of these schools I willingly volunteer my services to help them in their quest to become Charter Schools.


Broadband Cables, Narrowband Traffic Lanes; Garbage Pickup Footnote
Paul Penniman,

About nine days of digging up Connecticut Avenue started today, and the plan, according to the foreman, is to progress southward from Albemarle Street down to Van Ness Street, one block about every three days. The man said it was necessary to post “no parking” signs for the entire three blocks, and in fact, that was their intent. However, for some reason, the middle block, between Yuma and the light by the Giant and erstwhile Texaco/Mobil, has "no parking" signs with only one date — October 17, a Sunday, instead of October 19-29, as the other two blocks have.

To whom can we protest their taking away parking way ahead of time as well as inform about the apparent mistake on the middle block? I'll try the 727-1000 number; it did work for our garbage pickup.


Taxicab Rules and Regulations
Michele Rhodes,

Are there any laws regarding destinations for taxi cab drivers in the District? In New York if you pick up a fare you have to take them to their destination. (Many cabbies try to skirt this law by saying, “I'm off-duty but depending on where you want to go I'll take you,” this too is illegal). It is outrageous that cab drivers can refuse to take you home because they don't like your neighborhood or because you live somewhere where they won't be able to pick up a fare for the return trip. Although by the sound of it, it is prickly these neighborhoods that are screaming for cabs to come out in the first place. Does any one out there know what laws are in place and have any ideas about enforcement?


Missing Dogs
Mike Hill,

Caesar & Tony, last Seen Tuesday, October 19th, on New York Avenue, NE. Six-month-old male fawn pups, weight approximately 15-20 pounds. Please help me find my babies! REWARD for safe return. NO questions asked. Please keep your eyes open. I have traced the van that they were taken away in to a church in Columbia, Md. Please send this on to anyone who may care. Julia, 202-277-5266,


Deer in NW
Greg Jones,

While running along 31st Place, NW this morning about 10 AM (Saturday), approaching the intersection with Utah, I spied a buck trotting toward Nebraska Ave., along Utah.. He took a left on 31st Street and continued on his merry way. I know there are quite a few deer in Rock Creek Park; however, is it common for them to venture into the adjoining neighborhoods?


No Speed Bumps
Alan Teitzman,

1) There must be another way other than speed bumps or rumble strips; Irving Street could be a great money maker for the government of this city with its speeders. Lets try a stop sign at Irving and Hobart first. Secondly, there are so many out of state license tags every night on Irving and 18th S Streets; why doesn't the city try to tax those who sleep/live here? It seems very legitimate to collect revenues from these people.


Stop Signs to Stop Speeding
Ed Dixon, Georgetown, Reservoir,

In response to Marie Collins' problems with Q Street, I would like to add that Q Street is also residential west of Dupont Circle, all the way to the Potomac River in the neighborhood in which I live. The stretch of Q from the Q Street Bridge over Rock Creek Park until Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, has a STOP sign on almost every block. Perhaps you have to find out what your street mates in tony Georgetown are doing to get that treatment on a “cross-town thoroughfare.”



Lowell School Lecture Series
Saskia van Groningen,

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Lowell School Lecture Series. The first lecture will be held on Thursday December 2, 1999, at 8 p.m. The speaker will be Beverly Tatum. She will be talking about her book Why Are Al The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. The second lecture will be held on Thursday April 6, 2000, at 8 p.m. The speaker will be Kevin Jennings. He will be talking about:making schools safe for gay and lesbian youth. Both lectures will be held at the Washington Hebrew Congregation at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Macomb Street, NW. The tickets are $20 for the series and $12 for individual lectures. The lectures will be signed for the hearing impaired. Books by the speakers will be available for purchase at the lectures. For tickets and more information call (202) 557-2000.


Halloween Party
Michael Karlan,

Sunday, October 31, 8 p.m.-midnight. Over 500 people attended our Halloween party last year. Win prizes for best costumes. The party is at Relish (formerly Fellini), 1800 M Street, N.W. (near the Farragut North Metro). The price is $10 at the door or $8 for VIPs. To be on the VIP list, email me at by midnight on October 30. Bring canned food for the homeless and receive an additional $1 off your admission price. For more information, or to be added to our email list, E-mail me at, visit, or call (202) 686-6085.



Tree Service
E. James Lieberman,

Potomac Lands Tree & Shrub, 703-450-4475. We originally found them highly recommended in Washington Checkbook, and over the years have found them good and reasonably priced, but sometimes hard to get.


Erica Nash,

Re gardening recommendation. I forgot to give you Zoe Richardson's number. 362-9309.


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