Category Archives: Government

This Sounds Awfully Familiar

Photo by Flying Lester.

Stop GM if you’ve heard this before: A venerable boathouse, which has stood for decades on a river in an American city, providing boat rentals to generations of residents and visitors, suddenly loses is lease with the government, and has weeks to get out.

Sounds like Jack’s Boathouse, no? Close, but in this case, the river is the Charles and the city is Boston.

From the Boston Globe:

For decades, Charles River Canoe and Kayak has been moored to the state’s historic boathouse in Newton, offering paddling classes and renting equipment to scores of area families and boaters. But change is ahead…The company has been at the boathouse…for 40 years. “We built it to what it is today.”

The five-year permit to operate out of the boathouse went instead to Boston Outdoor Recreation, an 11-year-old company run by Michael Aghajanian.

Recognize that last name? That’s the exact same vendor that is taking over Jack’s space. Continue reading

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DC’s Useful Zoning Map

GM thought he’d use today to share with you a tool he uses quite frequently in his research: the Office of Zoning’s Zoning Map.

This is a simple Google Maps utility that allows you to zoom down into any property in the District and quickly find out useful information.

As you zoom in to any particular property you start to learn certain things. First you’ll see was zoning district the property is in. For instance, most of Georgetown is R-3 (rowhouses), but the commercial strips are C-2-A, and some of the north east sections are R-5 (detached houses). Interestingly there’s a fourth major zone in Georgetown: W (Waterfront). The only other areas of the city with this peculiar zone are around Buzzards Point and Anacostia.

Zoom in further and you’ll see the Square number (i.e. the block number). This is the official ID the city has for a particular block. Zoom in further and you see the lot number. Someone once told GM that if the lot number is a small number from 1 to 200 or so, it is a lot that has been surveyed. If it’s in the 800 range, it hasn’t. Continue reading

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DPR Agrees to Add Second Volta Park Co-Op

Last week, GM mentioned that on the agenda for the ANC meeting tonight was a request to expand the Volta Park Cooperative Play program by one class for 18-29 month-old children. Currently there is one class and it is only open to 2 1/2 – 5 year old children. There was a lot of positive response from parents when asked whether they’d be interested in a program that starts earlier.

DPR didn’t initially agree to expand the program. However, GM can report that after polite pressure from ANC Chairman Ron Lewis, DPR has reversed course and will add the second class. As a new parent and a neighbor of Volta Park, GM is excited this new option will become available.

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Tax Day

Photo by 401k.

GM’s a bit of a procrastinator, so he spent last night desperately finishing his tax return. Thus he didn’t have time for a normal article for today.

That said, GM would like to take a quick moment to cut through the normal cynicism that accompanies this day and say this: Thank you DC government! GM knows you get a lot of heat, but he’s been around this town long enough to know that the city services we receive are miles ahead of what we used to get.

Just last week, GM stopped by the Homeowner’s Center down by the SW Waterfront. Walking in with just a few pictures of what window he wants to replace, GM received prompt and incredibly helpful service from a rep from HPRB. She took the time to explain to GM what he needed to do, and made sure he was able to complete the forms and turn them in thus avoiding a second or third trip.

GM knows the DC government has its issues, but his experiences with the government is way more like the one he had last week than anything unpleasant. So he pays his taxes with a smile.

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City Updates Vacant House List

Photo by ~ragio~.

Via Michael Neibauer, the city recently updated its list of vacant and blighted buildings and several of those buildings are in Georgetown.

The city keeps track of vacant and blighted buildings since it charges a much higher property tax on those properties. For instance, an ordinary residential building is charged 85 cents for every $100 of assessed value. If a building is found to be vacant, though, the rate is $5.00 per $100 of assessed value. If the city finds that the house is blighted, the rate jumps to $10. The purpose of these increased rates is to discourage extended vacancies, which have a long list of negative societal impacts.

Typically the discussion of vacant and blighted buildings focuses on transitional neighborhoods like Shaw. But vacant buildings exist in neighborhoods like Georgetown, and their negative effects can impact any neighborhood, rich or poor. Continue reading

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ANC Redistricting Ahead?

In April, GM forecasted the possible changes to the ANC boundaries that could come as a result of the redistricting process now underway. Well, yesterday the Subcommittee on Redistricting issued guidelines for ANC and SMD redistricting that put more meat on the bones and can start to color in what changes Georgetown could see.

According to the guidelines, each SMD (that’s single member district, or practically speaking the district of each commissioner) ideally must contain 2,000 residents. The SMDs can vary from this ideal measure by 100 residents in either direction. So in other words, each SMD must have between 1,900 and 2,100 residents.

By GM’s calculations, after the last Census, the SMD populations stack up like this:

  • SMD 1 – 2449
  • SMD 2 – 1919
  • SMD 3 – 2037
  • SMD 4 – 3102
  • SMD 5 – 2529
  • SMD 6 – 2308
  • SMD 7 – 2122

Note, SMDs 3 and 1 include several GU dorms, but there is no Census data broken out by dorm. So GM used the dorms’ capacities, which is actually how they did in ten years ago. Continue reading

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Georgetown Votes Heavily for Mara

On Tuesday, a tiny electorate sent Vincent Orange back to Council (despite GM’s clear instructions to the contrary). But it was with little help from Georgetown, which went heavily for Republican Patrick Mara.

Here are the numbers:

  • Mara – 463 – 61.41%
  • Biddle – 116 – 15.38%
  • Weaver – 79 – 10.48%
  • Orange – 60 – 7.96%
  • Other Candidates – 36 – 4.77%

This may support the widely held suspicion that Georgetown is a hotbed of Republican voters. While Georgetown votes more Republican than the District at large, it’s still typically votes overwhelmingly Democratic. For instance, while Georgetown gave about 16% fewer votes to Obama than the rest of the city in 2008, it still gave him about 75% of its votes.

GM thinks that this election is a perfect argument for the adoption of the instant run off system, an argument he’s made elsewhere. The way that would work is that you would rank the candidates by your preferences. If one candidate doesn’t get 50% of the first choices, then the last place candidate is thrown out and the second preferences of his or her voters get spread out to the other candidates. If that doesn’t put a candidate over the top, then the process is repeated until it does. Continue reading

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