themail.gif (3487 bytes)

July 23, 2014

Future Slums

Dear Washingtonians:

Liz Essley Whyte wrote an article in the Washington Post that highlights how expensive the rent is for tiny apartments that are being built in the newly fashionable neighborhoods of Washington, “Micro-Units Help DC Renters Live to the Max,” This gives the lie to the fantasy of DC’s planners, who believe that micro apartments will be affordable for the millennials who are willing to put up with their inconveniences, as long as they can live close to plenty of bars and street traffic. No, micro units will be as expensive as the market will bear. links to Whyte’s article with the remark, “What happens when you have a city fill [sic] of Millennial halfwits willing to pay $2000 a month to rent an apartment the size of a shoe closet? Articles like this, mainly.” What I’m worried about, and the reason I have written many times about micro units and shipping container apartments, is what happens when the city runs out of Millennial halfwits who are willing to pay two thousand or three thousand a month to rent apartments the size of shoe closets. Developers are perfectly willing to save money by skimping on the cost of building new apartments and to pocket the profits, but developers who are willing to do that are not likely to spend the money required to maintain those apartment houses in shiny, new, or even livable condition.

What our problem is, is that we are knowingly planning for our future slums to be built in what are currently our newly fashionable neighborhoods, and we have no plan to reclaim those slums once they have deteriorated.

Gary Imhoff


Power Undergrounding Project Update
Dorothy Brizill,

As I wrote in the July 20 issue of themail, Pepco and the DC Department of Transportation are about to embark on a one billion dollar construction project to put electric power lines underground in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 in an effort to respond to the persistent problem of electrical power outages. As part of its review of the Pepco/DDOT undergrounding plan (Formal Case #1116), the Public Service Commission is holding seven community hearings in the District to allow for public comment on the first three years of the proposed undergrounding plan, which will begin next spring, and which will require streets to be excavated so that trenches can be dug by DDOT’s contractors and conduit lines constructed by Pepco.

To date, civic participation and attendance at the hearings has been essentially nonexistent. For example, at the PSC hearing at St. Columba Church in Ward 3 on Tuesday, no resident or business owner testified, despite the recurring problems the ward has had with power outages over the years. This lack of interest and participation is due, in lage measure, to the fact that Pepco, the Public Service Commission, and even the Office of the Peoples Counsel has failed to provide the public with basic information regarding the undergrounding plan, including which Pepco feeder lines and streets would be impacted. Indeed, through Tuesday of this week, the PSC was insisting that individuals needed to read through Pepco’s voluminous case filing in order to find the specific locations of the feeder lines and streets to be excavated. By midweek, however, after a great deal of pressure and persistence by DCWatch, the PSC made some of the information citizens and civic organizations have been seeking available on its web site at Specific information on all the Pepco feeder lines to be placed underground as well as street maps are detailed in Appendices C, D, and E of the Pepco/DDOT application in Case FC #1116 on that page. In addition, the OPC has agreed to post information on the implementation of the proposed undergrounding plan. The web addresses for the user-friendly information on OCP’s web site are and http:/


Clyde Howard,

It is simply unreal how the National Planning Commission (NCPC), the House District Committee, and the US Attorney’s Office stick their heads in the sand like ostriches and ignore the violations committed by DC DDOT’s erecting overhead power lines within the city of Washington. DDOT continues with its ridiculous plans to extend the streetcar lines into Montgomery County believing that the elected officials of the county will just stand by and allow them to do it. To show how little DDOT researches the matter, when streetcars of years back started into Maryland the elected officials placed strict requirements on their use and how and where they were to operate. Little do they know streetcars into Maryland were to have horns similar to train horns to warn people at crossings. Cooler heads prevailed and the bells on the streetcars had to be loud enough to be heard.

The basis for DDOT’s efforts is a transportation initiative signed in 1973 by the mayor that there was no way to power streetcars other than by overhead wires and all would be all right as long as they did not infringed upon any property of the federal government. This initiative is the city’s undoing, because DDOT does not understand that only the Territory of the District of Columbia is excluded from the ban on overhead power lines and the City of Washington is the property of the Federal Government.

The streetcars and the routes planned by DDOT will be a commercial business killer. Ninety percent of the commercial establishments in Washington, DC, are storefronts with no loading docks. How many commercial establishments have gone out of business on H Street, NE, since the city started building the streetcar line? A review of parking on H Street, NE, revealed that there were many curb spaces available for parking. Will small commercial establishments of the mom and pop type go the way of high button shoes? Will commercial establishments move to Maryland and Washington, DC, become a bedroom community, reversing the roles of the suburbs and the present city? Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To change the E-mail address for your subscription to themail, use the Update Profile/Email address link below in the E-mail edition. To unsubscribe, use the Safe Unsubscribe link in the E-mail edition. An archive of all past issues is available at

All postings should be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.


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