Clouds and silver linings
I was going to post this for Tuesday, and remembered, hey I'm not posting on Tuesdays anymore...
Hi folks from the Truxton Circle Dispatch! These are not the meeting minutes or full notes, come back Wednesday for those.
Well I got out of the Special BACA meeting tonight, I may post my notes on Wednesday. Maybe. Dunno.
Anyway the big draw was the 4th presentation by Joe Mamo (bald black guy in black shirt w/ olive jacket standing in fuzzy picture) who wants to construct a condo building at the corner of North Cap and Florida and needs a zoning variance and community approval. Attendees had lots of questions and concerns and the statements brought me back to the whole "every silver lining has a cloud" post. We say we want development, but quake in fear about the extra traffic and the greater un-affordability of the neighborhood, that development brings.
According to Mamo and his development posse (fuzzy white guy and other fuzzy black man) 85% of the proposed condo will be market rate and 15% of would be affordable (80% of the Area Median Income). This started some chatter about the adult children of area residents not being able to afford to move back into the neighborhood. The lawyer (white fuzzy) said he had kids too and they have the same issues, but that is the way the market is. Jim our gracious leader later came back to that saying that the flippant 'that's the way the market is' is not the kind of answer that citizens deserve. Yet, for me the answer is that's the way of the DC housing market. One would do better to convince a neighbor to sell to your family members for a below market price than a for profit developer.
You know if Mamo said he was going to make it 100% affordable housing at 80% AMI, people would be up in arms. Don't believe me, talk up the Slater Langston School as senior housing 'cause that got a cool reception.
No pleasing us BACA people. If it is affordable we're afraid of it being overrun by Section 8'ers. If it is luxury, then it makes the whole neighborhood unaffordable. If it is affordable old people housing, then it doesn't attract hip cool business and we become a senior dumping ground. Oh yeah, and we really want a Harris Teeter and a Starbucks, but we don't want the incomes and the density needed to attract those businesses. Because the incomes will make the neighborhood unaffordable for the long time residents and their offspring and the density will take away the precious parking. PRECIOUS (channeling Golum).
Once again, and I'm typing this with feeling, figure out what you want and acknowledge the negative that comes with it. Don't pretend that you can become just like that other neighborhood X without the headaches that come with it. To get the cool stores and businesses means we need density with money. Density means big tall buildings. Density means more traffic. More traffic means it's harder to jaywalk. Density with money will attract that damned Starbucks everyone keeps coveting, but it raises the cost of living in the area. Starbucks coffee ain't cheap and they aren't going to give you a pre-gentrification discount.
Believing that you can bring in development that improves the neighborhood, cleans up crime, brings in high scale shops, "nice" restaurants, and the cache of some of the tonier neighborhoods without endangering your street parking, the density and scale of buildings, or the abilty for your kids and friends to buy in is an urban fairy tale.
It's late and obviously I'm grouchy and in a foul mood. I should stop typing now.