Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Skinny on Low Income Housing at St. Martins

The St. Martins proposed 184 room development has been a community wide issue for the last year. This topic was picked up by the Washinton Business Journal last week. For those without a subscription, the full text is in the comments section.

Below is a response to the article from a local Eckington resident who has been active in this debate. The following was taken from our local listserv.

"In response to Father Kelly’s quote in the Washington Business Journal, OK, let’s not be misinformed. We’ve gone through the salary information for police, firemen, teachers, and social workers before and most affordable housing studies put them in a group NOT covered in LIHTC funded apartments (like St. Martin’s). They are the middle class “forgotten group”. Too high an income for public funded housing, and too low an income to actually afford a home (80% AMI).

But let’s look at the numbers. I gathered this information almost one year ago so they may need minor adjustment. I’ve listed all of the sources for the following salary information, so if they are misinforming me please let them know.

DC Salary information
(From the Danter company’s market feasibility study for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program):

2005 County Median Income for the District of Columbia is $89300

The chart below lists the maximum combined incomes for groups of family members in a household. Since those salaries are shared by household residents I have added the last column which shows what these numbers mean per person.

One Person: $37,500 $37,500 per person
Two Persons: $42,840 $21,420 per person
Three Persons: $48,240 $16,080 per person
Four Persons: $53,580 $13,395 per person

Note that the larger the number, the LESS money per person. So when you see the statement, “working people who make between $30,000 and $54,000 a year,” it becomes clear that an individual making $43,000 will be turned down for residence in St. Martin’s or any other LIHTC funded project unless they have 2 non-income dependents to become a household of 3 sharing the $43,000.

Salaries of DC Police, Firemen, Teachers, and Social Workers

OK, now lets look at the average salaries of the working DC professionals used as examples of the type of people they want to attract into their complex. Consider that most of this is old information (I posted it last year and it was old then) so it is very likely that these salary levels have gone up.

Teacher Salaries (From the NEA Rankings and Estimates report dated June 2005):
Average salaries of public school teachers, 2003–04 District of Columbia : $57,009

The average Teacher would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a five-person family. Although not impossible, it’s not likely.

Police Officer Salaries (From the website):
What is the starting salary for police officers in the MPDC?
The starting salary for police officers is $44,611 a year. After 18 months of service, most police officers can expect to earn a base salary of approximately $48,809 a year. Lateral officers' starting salaries range from $46,842 to a maximum of $65,907, depending on their previous experience.

The starting Police officer would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a three-person family. If they had 18 months of service they would need to be the only working person in a four-person family to qualify. If in that 4 person family they had a child with a part time job it is likely they would not qualify at all.

Fire Service District of Columbia Salary Schedule: ( Union )
Class 01 (the lowest salary class of 9 classes) - Private Base Annual Salary October 3, 2004 $40,156 $41,361 $43,368 $45,376 $48,187 $50,999 $53,810 $56,619 $59,432

The lowest salary of a starting Fireman would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a two-person family. If they were in the middle of the Class 1 range they would need to be the only working person in a family of three. And this data is from 2004!

Social Worker Salaries (From a job posting):
Government Of The District of Columbia
Position Vacancy Announcement
Child And Family Services Agency
Human Resources Administration
Announcement No: Cfsa-05-P012 Position: Social Worker (Trainer),
DS-185-9/11/ 12
Salary Range: DS-185-09 $45,721 - $57,079 PA
First Screening Date: DS-185-11 $52,078 - $65,803 PA

The lowest paid Social Worker filling this position would not qualify to rent in the St. Martins complex unless they were the only working person in a three-person family.

ALL of these professionals would make too much money to qualify to live in the St. Martins complex if they were single or had a working spouse or child.

What does all this mean?

Well for one, it means it’s not likely to have many police, firemen, teachers, and social workers residing in the complex. Is that the issue? No, not really. But it does mean that those who planned the St. Martin ’s apartments have not thought it out very well and have no idea who their market is; or it is intentional deception to appease a neighborhood. Either of these situations concerns me.

It also concerns me that they (CCS/St. Martin’s) have seen all of this information, and heard all of our concerns. But expressions like the one in the WBJ show that they still don’t understand them. How can they run a huge apartment complex when after a year of listening to community concerns, they still get them wrong?

What is the Issue?

Any large housing complex, outrageously expensive or affordable, should be built on the edge of R-4 zoned areas on major streets, not in the middle. Otherwise they should conform to zoning (with potential minor variances).

An affordable housing complex so large that it takes up an entire city block is a community within a community. Without an appropriate mix of unrestricted housing the complex is a form of economic segregation. Also, without a financially motivating amount of market rate apartments, the complex will not have to compete and keep to market rate standards.

Bottom line – We need affordable housing. We don’t need to hear about police, firemen, teachers, and social workers because it is clear that this complex and all other LIHTC funded projects will continue to treat them as a “forgotten group”. That does not mean that others won’t be served, but we can build it without compromising reasonable zoning regulations or ripping down potentially historic landmarks. Also, we should follow modern mixed-income best practices. The newest should be better then all that came before."

Extended Neighborhood Restaurant Review

I took a moment last evening to "dine" at Duffy's Irish Pub on Vermont Ave.

This is part of an ongoing quest to support local entrepreneurs in their ventures in the hopes that more and more bars and sitdown restaurants will come to the Eckington-Shaw-Bloomingdale area. Having no choices is frustrating. One can only subject themselves to the "bullet-proof" KFC and Full Yum so many times. Delivery from local restaurants is a pipe dream. You have a choice of terrible chinese or nothing.

Back to Duffy's. I sat down at the bar for a post softball gnosh. There were only about 10 people in the place, and the music was low, and the nationals game was showing on both tvs. The atmosphere is different than most Irish bars. The walls are lightly colored, only a few beer and whiskey mirrors and signs. Clever quotes from Irish authors are on each wall panel. the place was clean, as was the restroom. People didnt have much to say, nor did the bartender.

Ordered the fish and chips. the cod was flaky and the batter was golden fried, but a bit bland and slightly over cooked. Slaw was not so good, but the fries were good. Bottled beer was only 3$, so that was good. 2 beers, fish and chips 17$. not too bad.

I will go there again, but need to bring a group for entertainment.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Turf War Continues

Here are a couple of reports of violence in Eckington this weekend. Note that you will probably not see this on Fox 5, or in the Washington Post A section. That is reserved for violence in "white" affluent areas like Gtown and Dupont.

"Last night (Sunday night), at approx 9:11 pm, we heard 8 shots being fired on Todd Pl NE (unit block). Within a couple of minutes, about 7-8 police cars showed up, followed by an ambulance and a fire engine. It was determined that someone had been shot, most likely in the alley behind Todd Place. Police taped off the entrance to the alley, and the shooting victim was taken away. Crime scene investigators took several pictures of the house where the shooting allegedly took place. We don’t know who the person was who was shot, nor who the perpetrator was. That’s all for now."

"Tonight (Sunday am) about twelve shots were fired in front of 1713, 1715 Lincoln Road NE. Several neighbors were awaken from their sleepy slumber around 1:15 a.m. to the sounds of helicopters circling the alley and Lincoln Road NE and MckKinley Tech. The shooter got away. A woman was shot in the leg and should survive.... Per officers on the scene the shooting is a part of the ongoing drug and turf war between Todd Place, 1st & O Street NW and Lincoln Road NE."

This is a continuation of the violence earlier this year in the same area. Let me make it easy for the police. There are bad people with guns and drugs that live on the unit block of Todd Pl. Please continue patrols and your policing efforts. One night of a spotlight wont do the trick.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Robberies and the Crime Emergency

Here is some info from MPD-5:

"Over the pastfew weeks we have had about five burglaries on the Northwest side ofP.S.A. 501. They have happened in the very late evening or earlymorning hours. The suspect entered through a first floor window and did this while the residents were home. At least one resulted in a confrontation with the owner and was heading towards a sexual assaultwhen the suspect decided to flee the house.So with that please secure your windows as best you can to prevent anyone from coming into your home. "

In related news, DCWatch has some interesting data analysis on the effectiveness of the crime emergency. Hope you are having a great vacation chief!

Dear Criminalists: on the controversy over Chief Charles Ramsey’s vacation says, “When the crime emergency started, robberies were up by 14 percent compared with the same period last year. As of yesterday, robberies were up 8 percent. . . .”

In any case, both a 6 percent decrease and an 8 percent increase are within normal variations in crime statistics, which are often very slippery things. I’d have eaten my words and apologized if the combination of the emergency crime bill and the declaration of a crime emergency had really resulted in a 50 percent reduction in violent crimes. But it didn’t, so I won’t.

Dont Drink the Water

There are nitrates warning on water cited by stop, blog and roll in Brookland. And there is lead in the Districts water.

Now, the WASA has failed yet another test of the water supply. How is it possible that WASA cant get it right, they have discontinued filter distribution, and continue to fail tests and no one is up in arms? Maybe I am a little Opie like, but being able to drink the water is pretty basic, and very important. Where are we Haiti?

While Ms. Holmes Norton has asked for WASA to brief her, what will the outcome be? In the meantime, it looks like I will have to resort to a water cooler. A sad state of affairs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What? You Aren't a Cute White Girl Debutante?

There has been an inordinate amount of coverage over the last decade over the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey. Yes the incident is tragic, a little strange, and plagued by poor police work and media speculation.

I can't stand the fact that the media has spent all of their time sensationalizing this topic, to the point of arresting a man that most certainly did not commit the murder (i will take all bets). Why do they do it?

What really bothers me is that this cute, beauty queen wannabe has been sucking police resources for over a decade. During the same period of time (1996-2006) there have been approximately 2,530 murders in DC. (source MPD and DoJ).

Many of these are unsolved, most are not covered in the TV or print, even in DC much less nationally. The one exception: Chandra Levy. Case, still open. There have been manhunts, scouring the park and intense investigation.

Wouldnt it be nice if the resources could be reallocated from high viz cases to an equitable effort for all murder cases whether it be a black, brown, yellow or white victim? And even better, what if we spent money on patrols, better trained and equiped cops and community policing rather than bloated overtimes by senior MPD staffs and whiz-bang technologies like cameras?

Just one more point; it is interesting to me that the recent spate of violence in Gtown and the mall has sparked a ton of interest. Where was Fox 5 when there were about 6 shootings on my block in a week?

Crime needs to be addressed city-wide (and accross the country) and not based on color, race or religion.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sumpin Different

As mentioned in an earlier post, I will try to frequent as many local restaurants as possible. Hopefully, doing my part to spend money at the places of business of Shaw, Bloomingdale, Ledroit merchants would help them succeed, and hopefully lead to more business starts.

Tonight I went over to infamous Thai-Xing. I have heard great things about it, and finally had a chance to check it out. I ordered ahead, which shortened my wait (which is apparently legendary already). I spent only about 5-10 minutes in the cramped English Basement as Kaw prepared my food.

The smells coming from my carry-out bag were wonderful. I couldnt wait to get home to taste. I started with the spring rolls which have been described by another blog as "tight as Cohibas". It is true, there are many layers of wrapper, crispy even after the trip home. They are hearty and dense without the greasiness that normally accompanies such fare. I found the filling to taste good, but a bit dry. The wonderful spicy sweet sauce was perfect accompaniment.

This was followed by an interesting dish called Yum Woon Sen, which is billed as translucent chicken mushrooms spring onions and cilantro in lime sauce. Mine was missing the mushrooms, but the flavor was fresh and tasty. Cilantro and lime gave a great bite to the noodles.

For an entree, I was pretty conservative and tried the beef penang. The sauce smacked of fresh homemade cooking. The cream of the coconut milk was jazzed up with a good amount of spice. It was very tasty, albeit a bit salty.

All in all, very impressed. The food tasted fresh unlike many of the "new" Thai places in town. I strongly recommend this place and will visit again soon.

Crime Cameras to the Rescue?

Another article from the Washington Post "Four neighborhood surveillance cameras will be installed this week on D.C. streets as part of the city's crime emergency plan, which will bring as many as 48 cameras to some of Washington's more violent areas in the coming weeks.

The first cameras will be installed in the Northeast, Southeast and Northwest quadrants, on blocks where robberies, drug dealing and assaults frequently occur, police said. All will be encased in bulletproof boxes."

At the risk of being labeled soft on crime, or a crazy lefty who is in the pocket of the ACLU, I have serious reservations about this $2.3 million program.

-This is an emergency program that is creating a potentially long-term program without proper planing, total cost of ownership or measures of effeciveness.

-While cameras can be a valuable tool for the police, proper resources, training and effort must be undertaken.

-Cameras cannot compete with beat cops. A strong police presence is much more valuable than cameras.

-Who will be monitoring these computers? Out good friends at the Unified Communications Center?

-The broken call center cannot adequately handle calls from residents on either the 311 or 911 lines. Those calling 911 have been put on hold, ignored, or had the information dispatched to cops too late for anyones good. 311 has a reputation of being a garbage bin of unactionable tips. Many which could be valuable in fighting crime, building cases against scofflaws.

-Looking at the track record of the UCC, I am dubious of the effectiveness of this new camera initiative.

-There is also the big brother thing. But in general, I feel that DC will "eff" it up, resulting in a waste of money while incorrectly focusing police from the streets to the computer monitor.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Politics du Jour-- Crime Emergency

The WashPost has an article this morning on a new flyer circulated by Linda Cropp highlighting the differences between her and Adrian Fenty (who has a significant lead). In particular she has honed in on his nay vote on the Crime Emergency Bill.

"According to that page, there were 39 assaults from July 16 to 22, up from 25 during the same week in 2005, an increase of 56 percent. In one category of robberies, the site lists 383 incidents from Jan. 1 through July 22, compared with 284 during the same period last year, an increase of 35 percent.

However, the statistics that Cropp offered stopped short of painting a complete picture of the city's crime problem.

For example, the police department released statistics yesterday that said there have been 2,376 robberies this year through yesterday, up 11 percent from the same time last year. Assaults with a deadly weapon increased 2 percent, and sexual assaults are up 16 percent this year compared with last year. There were 13 homicides in the first 11 days of July, although homicides are down 7 percent from the same time a year ago."

While this is politics as usual, is there a valid claim that Fenty is soft on crime for not supporting the emergency crime bill? Do either of the candidates have a real plan to attack crime in the coming years so there will not be the need for emergency bills?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Green Line

I took the bus and metro combo today to get to work. The bus was quick, convenient and pleasant. I got onto the Shaw metro around 8am, which is generally considered rush hour. It was kind of surprising that the green line train didnt arrive for 7 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, seven minutes isnt a big deal. But wouldnt one think that during rush hour on a Monday morning that there would be more frequent trains?

Eckington Hotel?

What's Up With The Eckington Hotel? (Courtesy of Scott Roberts Bloomingdale list)

The ANC 6C report in the August 2006 Hill Rag provides an update on the hotel slated for 201 Florida Avenue NE:

– CSC Urban Partners, developers of the new Eckington Hotel to be located on 201 Florida Ave., NE , came before the Commission seeking support for a zoning variance and several special exceptions to accommodate building plans on this irregular shaped parcel.

The hotel, with plans for 242 rooms, is envisioned to accommodate travelers doing business at the ATF Building and other new office complexes planned for the NoMa, North Capitol Street Corridor.

The proposed hotel complex is situated snugly between the new bike trail that runs along the rail lines, Patriot Plaza, and the New York Avenue Metro Station. Plans for the hotel include retail space designed to attract metro riders. After much discussion regarding the planned number of parking spaces, street access for metro buses and other vehicles, the Commission voted to approve the zoning variance and special exceptions.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Kudos to Cops.

Saturday morning around 3:00 there were some shots fired off around North Capitol and T Street N.E.

A neighbor provided a description and the Hot Zone Unit was able to chase one of the suspects down and recover the gun as well. The suspect was arrested and arraigned for carrying a pistol without a license.

One more gun off the street.

Friday, August 04, 2006

mmmm blacktop

In a nearly unparalleled move, the city has taken to paving the patchwork quilt that has been U St NE. They began by stripping off the whole top layer of pavement (kinda cool) and now they are getting ready to put down new blacktop.

Yesterdays work was hamperd for a good hour as one lonely car was in the way. neither contractors, cops or others were able to get a towtruck to move it. Kind of comical.

But hopefully we will have a nice new street to drive over soon.

(Update: Street is all repaved and smooth like Billy Dee Williams. It looks great!)


I know that making comment son this topic is at my own peril. But, isnt 6 hours of overtime a day for 365 days a bit excessive? This particular cop made over $250,000, more than Chief Ramsey. The most senior cops get first dibs at overtime, but 14 hours a day for a year? I am doubtful that all of that was actually worked, I will leave the investigation of that to the WashPost.

Wouldn't an active manament structure ensure that the proper resources and cops are on the street? Does expert management spend 150K on overtime rather than adding 3-4 new beat cops? Couldnt that money be more wisely spent?

Now, here is the best part... The crime emergency which is going to make us all safer is primarily suspending scheduling rules, and providing additional millions of dollars for what, (wait for it) overtime pay.

MPD continues to throw money at the problem, and ask our cops to do more with less, rely on a broken 311 and 911 system and work extra hours to make up for not enough cops.

It would be really nice if there were an actual top to bottom review of the management of MPD.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Love Pepco

No, actually I dont.

This summer there have been two outages. Once a few weeks ago, which had been the hottest at that point in the year. The second, was last night, the hottest day of the year, and even flirted with the record for hottest day.

The worst part is the outage only affects the East side of First back up U and Todd. My neighbors accross the street all had power as I sweat it out a mere 30 ft away.

Luckily last night the power went back on around midnight. The question is, why does this portion of the grid go out?