Speakers Table

A Georgetown resident speaks out against proposed East Banc expansion

December 5, 2011

This past Monday, Nov. 28,  2011, at the ANC meeting, local residents near the public alley behind 3200 M St. and Prospect Street voiced their strong objections to plans by EastBanc, Inc. to add a mezzanine level and rear alley access to the Coach store at 3259 M Street.  At the OGB meeting on Dec. 1, EastBanc representatives stated that they planned to make changes to the existing building because the Coach store lease was almost up and they wanted to make the renovations before the next tenant moved in. EastBanc, Inc. owns five properties along the alley.  EastBanc representatives indicated that the modifications to the Coach store were only the beginning of their planned development of the alley behind M St. According to The Patch, Phillipe Lanier, a principal at EastBanc, said in a phone interview “it is our intent to make this a version of another Cady’s Alley.”

(Photo by: Maria Kinnane)

I am a resident on Potomac Street, with my private parking spaces on this alley.  I wish to bring to the public’s attention that the proposed changes in the alley, as apparently envisioned by EastBanc, would significantly compromise the usability of the alley for residents, impeding their access to their homes and businesses, due to the increased traffic, pedestrian and vehicular,  brought by the commercial development of the alley.  Several businesses also have private parking spaces  in the alley.  These spaces would also become unusable with the additional foot and commercial traffic. It is very important to note that the alley access on Potomac Street is only 7 feet wide, due to a railing along one wall.  Further down this dead end public alley, the width is only ten feet.

I also have grave concerns about the increased noise and disruption which would be brought by the conversion of this small space into commercial use, greatly affecting the quality of life of the residents and businesses along the alley.  We also expect that our property values will decline with the proposed development.

(Even for any new businesses that EastBanc may bring in, the existing space in the alley would be extremely difficult to navigate, even if primary access would be through Prospect Street.)

 It is clear that the rights of the existing residents and businesses in this alley would be significantly compromised by the planned development.

I believe that the point of view of the residents and businesses in this small area need to be presented to the public, otherwise, commercial interests may continue to slowly infiltrate and change the nature of our community, concomitantly violating the rights and interests of its residents. 

I do not believe that Georgetown residents wish to cede their lifestyle and community to commercial interests.  However, I do believe that Georgetowners would be strongly supportive  of commercial enterprises that would work to integrate the needs and welfare of the community in their proposed development plans. 

I do not believe that EastBanc is working in a constructive way with the community in their development plans on the alley behind M St. and Prospect Street.

Written by Maria Kinnane

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Resort to yoga

November 28, 2011

I love my morning ritual. To wake up and be able to enjoy the stillness that comes along with early morning rising is one of my favorites things in life. As I sit here with a hot cup of French Press I am realizing just how much I love the mundane of the everyday.

As humans we are creatures of habit.  And with life being as impermanent as it is, we rely on the comfort our daily routine offers.

But only so much is possible in this routine state because we can only grow as much as our space allows.  And when we reach our limit, change becomes essential in order to expand the experience of self.

Down Dog’s Yoga retreat at the Haramara Resort is fast approaching, and I can still remember how I felt the first time I experienced life there. It was incredible.

Admittedly, the mind is fickle, and it can be easy for us to lose details along the way. But what we never forget are the feelings that we felt and the people that we felt them with.

What I hold onto the most are the memories of how the group grew together in this shared experience; each one of us discovering a piece of ourselves that we never knew existed. 

So I invite you to join me, and the Down Dog team in March to make our own wonderful memories together.

So what if you’ve never surfed before? Who cares?

Whether it be surfing, cooking class, or just enjoying the beauty of the ever-expansive ocean, I dare you to break your routine and step into what newness a week away from the norm can offer. I dare you to discover a new side to you.

Grab your passports, suntan lotion, and your yoga mats, and meet me down at the Haramara Resort ( haramararetreat.com) in Mexico for a week of yoga, surf, adventure, good food, and great company as you explore the depths of you.

Sometimes a simple change in scenery is exactly what we need to appreciate life for what it is.

See you there!

Patty Ivey


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Take this ethics bill...and improve it

November 27, 2011

After a reading the ethics bill "Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011" introduced by Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, I have many questions.

One of the biggest problems with the bill concerns why councilmembers would still be allowed to collect money for what are euphemistically called Constituent Service Funds but in reality are personal slush funds. The bill cuts these back from $80,000 to $40,000, but we should ask why are they allowed at all? Among other problems, these funds give councilmembers an unfair advantage over any challenger as they can literally buy votes from constituents with donations to individuals from these funds.

I would question why the Council isn’t forced to go on the record regarding a nomination to this Board? Section 202 (2) states, “Within 45 calendar days of the effective date of this act a nomination shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the nomination by resolution within this 30-day review period, the nomination shall be deemed disapproved.”

Is it a 30 or 45 day review period and why should they not have to vote to disapprove a nomination and go on record doing so? Then it states, The Mayor shall, from time to time, designate the Chairman of the Board. 

Either he always designates the Chair or not.

How large does the staff of this new board need to be to accomplish their directives? Someone needs to think about this and look at comparable organizations around the nation.

Other concerns with this bill are the low fines and lack of specificity for penalties for infractions of the rules. At one point the bill states that aggregate fines for certain infractions can’t exceed $5,000.  Who can pay these fines? Are they just another charge to a councilmember’s campaign committee?  There appears to be no set fines for not abiding by the new regulations for transition committees, inaugural committees etc. If the fines aren’t large enough, they will have very little meaning.

There is a saying “Half a loaf is better than none.”  In this case I don’t think that’s true.  If we allow the Council to pass an ethics bill with only half a loaf and then pat itself on the back for a job well done, we are giving them a pass. We need to hold their feet to the fire and demand that any ethics bill have real teeth and is strong enough to curb the sleazy practices that some councilmembers are guilty of.  In the long run, every elected official in the District is tainted.

The people of the District deserve an open an honest government. While I personally believe that we aren’t necessarily any better or worse than governments around the nation, we now have the opportunity to set an example on how to run a clean, honest, open government.

Let’s pass a bill that others can emulate for its comprehensiveness, not for its loopholes.  

By Peter D. Rosenstein

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