Greater Greater Washington

Links


Brunch links: Downtown building angst


Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.
Franklin occupied: Occupy DC protestors occupied the Franklin School, protesting the 2008 homeless shelter closing and plans to sell the building for private use. 11 were arrested, and organizers call for a community meeting Monday on the issue of the building's disposition. (City Paper, Post)

Add 2 floors to MLK Library?: The panel studying the MLK Library suggest adding 2 more floors and renting that space to fund library maintenance. Mies probably would approve of a taller design. (DCist, City Paper)

Evans the paradox: Jack Evans says this is the worst DC Council in his 20 years. Why? Colleagues don't respect chairman Kwame Brown and too many are under ethical cloudsthough Evans sometimes pushes the ethical boundaries as well. (City Paper)

Bill pays WMATA, changes MWAA: Congress gave Metro its annual $150 million for repairs, and made some changes the MWAA board that Virginia Republicans sought after its reps didn't toe the party line on the Dulles Metro station. (Post)

How WMATA got religion on open data: Former Post tech columnist Rob Pegoraro chronicles the 3-year saga for WMATA to open up schedule data. (ReadWriteWeb)

TEDxPhilly learns problem with car dependence: If we want vibrant downtowns, cities need to move away from cars-only planning and better balance their transportation modes, says Diana Lind of Next American City at TEDxPhilly. (Smart Planet)

Fixing vacant lots is healthy: When vacant lots are cleaned up and refreshed with new grass and trees, crime declines and public health increases, according to a 10-year epidemiological study in Philadelphia. (Science Daily)

What avenue are you?: What if the Manhattan street grid extended to the entire world? An interactive map application shows you. The White House would be at 543rd Ave and South 3,819th Street. (ExtendNY, Neil)

And...: Marc Fisher reviews "Lost Washington, DC" ... The Intercounty Connector opens Tuesday to I-95 ... After the Latino Museum, a women's history museum? (Post)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

Add a comment »

From this linked articles, and from other materials on the web (including the Free Franklin group's statement), this seems like a great example of nonviolent civil disobedience.

The city has done nothing with this building since closing it in 2008, neither building more shelter nor doing nearly enough to get a growing homeless population into housing. The issue was often ignored or swept under the rug by all but the homeless themselves and those who actively work to support them. Now, thanks to people willing to be arrested for their actions (but harming no one), the issue is back on the table.

There are lots of possibilities for the Franklin School and similar community resources, and I give credit to the protesters for not saying specifically that it should go to this or that use. Instead, they're saying that the community should determine what happens with this important public asset, instead of letting it sit idle while politicians dilly dally. Sounds good to me.

by Mister Goat on Nov 20, 2011 10:44 am • linkreport

The Franklin School is a great example of community activism gone wrong. Why?

The "activists" decry cutting the social services budget (despite its annual growth and poor outcomes), yet when a proposal is on the table to redevelop a building to not only bring in revenue (for said social programs) and to bring to live a dead part of downtown, they just won't hear of it. Let's keep it a crappy homeless warehouse instead!

If these Occupy folks knew a thing about DC or Franklin, they would start selling burritos on Phish tour to raise the $20-30 million needed to renovate it.

As long as the "activists" continue their misguided ways, the building will sit vacant, the city will lose out on tax $$$ that these folks cry about the loss of, and our downtown will keep these dead zones.

by Davison Peters on Nov 20, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

Davison, amidst that lovely set of ad hominen attacks, you make the interesting claim that its the "misguided ways" of "'activists'" that lead the building to sit vacant. Perhaps you can remind of of how these mean ol' (but clearly powerful) activists have kept the city from doing anything with the building since Fenty closed it in 2008?

In the past several years, the city has subsidized a number of private "development" projects like the boutique hotel proposed for Franklin. By your logic, projects like these should bring in money to subsidize emergency services. But instead, Franklin was closed as a shelter in 2008. La Casa closed in Ward One was closed last year. Despite your assertion otherwise, a number of housing-based services have been cut, and more and more people are living outside. Seems the money just ain't trickling down, is it?

by Mister Goat on Nov 20, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

@Mister Goat, "I give credit to the protesters for not saying specifically that it should go to this or that use. Instead, they're saying that the community should determine what happens with this important public asset, instead of letting it sit idle while politicians dilly dally.

Pointing out a problem is easy. Solving one requires much more skill and hard work. One of the first lessons I learned when I started in the work world was 'ALWAYS have a solution to go with your problem, or at a minimum a means of addressing the problem'. That's what earns the respect of others. Being the big mouth who just 'exposes' the problem doesn't do much. I mean, it's not like these problems aren't already known. It just makes people like these look really foolish ...

by Lance on Nov 20, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

ExtendNY was fascinating. Maybe someone could do the same for Washington DC's streets. The DC project would be a bit simpler, since the north-south streets actually follow the meridians.

One minor aspect that was interesting - seeing the street grid extended over the older grid south of Houston Street.

by Frank IBC on Nov 20, 2011 11:54 am • linkreport

Re: upthread---the mission of some people on the Right seems to be one of getting "talking points" "out there" whether they have any veracity or not. They've succeeded in scaring people about social security, WMD in Iraq, etc. DC is supporting less shelter space and has loosened the mandates for homeless people compared with what was done in the past. Franklin School is something of a white elephant--there's no real municipal purpose for it and it would require a large investment to make it work for something else. I usually assume public-private partnerships are simple corruption, but I suspect that tax breaks are the only way to get this structure on to the tax rolls at some point in the future.

by Rich on Nov 20, 2011 12:40 pm • linkreport

American poverty policy is a total shit-show. But that's not really a reason that the District of Columbia to commit slow economic suicide. It's possible that some governmental entity that is huge and somewhat self-sustaining (think CA) could somehow singlehandedly move the numbers. Given how precarious its economic fundamentals are, DC is not that entity.

The poverty rate in PG County is 8%. The poverty rate in DC was 18% in 2009. When the percentage of DC residents living in poverty gets down to where the surrounding suburbs are, then we can talk about how DC's not doing its part.

by oboe on Nov 20, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

It's really sad to see the Franklin School building sit empty. Yes, it needs a lot of expensive renovations. Some of that comes from the need to preserve history both inside and outside the building. Ironically, this preservationist mandate is what's keeping the building shuttered and unused.

So sad.

by Ward 1 Guy on Nov 21, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

@oboe - well I suspect that DC has more high income people than PG does - so if and when poverty in PG reaches the level of DC, PG will probably in worse shape financially than DC.

Anyway, while I tend to agree with you that the gradual shift of poverty to the suburbs is a good thing, this last post came off as a little cold - "Why should DC make any provision for the homeless while we still need to shovel them off to the suburbs?" There are still homeless folks on DC streets and they arent necessarily going to be together enough to go through a list of suburban shelters. (note well, I do not know enough about this particular building to comment on the proper disposal of it - Im just concerned about the attitude of "we dont need any more low income housing provision till neighboring jurisdiction X has as many" here in FFX co, I could imagine some people using Loudouns poverty rate as the standard, which would justify even FFX not providing more housing, shelters, etc)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 21, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

So funny to see "ExtendNY". Just another example of how New Yorkers think they are the center of the universe. LOL.

by Mike on Nov 21, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:

If and when poverty in PG reaches the level of DC, PG will probably in worse shape financially than DC.

I only mention PG because that's always trotted out as the poor stepchild of suburban municipalities.

Anyway, it's a very curious way of looking at things: To argue that we must only compare median income of PG County to DC. We mustn't bring in suburban Maryland as a whole. Or Northern Virginia. After all, we've got these arbitrary political boundaries that we've created for the express purpose of segregating the haves from the have-nots, and those boundaries must be respected!

If DC were to wave a magic wand tomorrow, and declare dissolved any economic ties between wards, would the richer parts of the District suddenly be released from their moral obligations to the poorer? That would be a neat trick. If you want to play the game where we're comparing PG County in isolation with DC, we could just as easily compare PG County with Ward 8.

I think we should do as much as we can to address the issue of regional poverty. But the operative phrase is "as much as we can". DC has well-documented structural issues that put its long-term fiscal health in serious jeopardy. I'm just tired of the finger-wagging from folks who simultaneously assume that a) the city is where the poor people belong, and b) that the existence of any poor people is air-tight evidence that DC needs to do more. And shame on DC residents for ignoring the plight of the neediest among us.

Frankly, DC's been making an heroic effort for decades, in the face of incredible odds, and it's a certainty that we'll be more effective as the numbers in DC continue to come down to some reasonable level.

Im just concerned about the attitude of "we dont need any more low income housing provision till neighboring jurisdiction X has as many" here in FFX co, I could imagine some people using Loudouns poverty rate as the standard, which would justify even FFX not providing more housing, shelters, etc)

No need to be concerned about it; we have a variant of this already: since the mid-sixties folks in the suburbs have looked at regional demographics, and decided that poverty isn't their problem. DC is where the poor people live, DC is where the poor people are supposed to live, therefore, it's DC's problem. Aside from the occasional $50 contribution to various DC-based charities around Thanksgiving, that's where it usually ends.

Of course, we're seeing the same thing now with PG County. "Oh, but that's a completely different *county*! That has nothing to do with me!" It's all about maintaining economic segregation. The DC metro area has a poverty problem. But so long as we can manage to keep it largely confined to PG and DC, folks get to feel morally justified in ignoring it. After all, I live in a different township.

While I tend to agree with you that the gradual shift of poverty to the suburbs is a good thing, this last post came off as a little cold - "Why should DC make any provision for the homeless while we still need to shovel them off to the suburbs?"

Generally speaking, I doubt there are a whole lot of long-time DC residents who are really susceptible to emotional blackmail or finger-wagging about "tone". This is given the disproportionate contribution they (i.e. residents of DC, PG, and other economically diverse communities) are making to solving the problem.

But if you can find somewhere in my previous comment where I suggested that DC not "make any provision for the homeless" I'll be happy to retract it. As far as provisions go, my neighbors and I walk the walk and the numbers bear it out.

by oboe on Nov 22, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

@oboe

Im not interested in finger wagging at DC overall. I would point out that this "DC is where the poor people live, DC is where the poor people are supposed to live, therefore, it's DC's problem. Aside from the occasional $50 contribution to various DC-based charities around Thanksgiving, that's where it usually ends." is dramatically incorrect. Fairfax has poverty http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/legislation/2010/humanservices/human-services-fact-sheet.htm and spends on poverty http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics/post/nonprofits-unite-to-maintain-fairfax-county-services-for-poor-vulnerable-residents/2011/03/21/ABD78nCB_blog.html

I personally think poverty is a national problem and needs addressing nationally. However I was responding to your turning a debate about a particular push by some people to restore a homeless shelter, into a regional issue. Beggar thy neighbor, but from the (arguably more justified) POV of DC taxpayers. Finger wagging at protestors because the facility they were supporting this time happens to be in DC.

I dont think pushing for regional and national equity is undermined by Occupy DC, and I don't particularly think they deserve criticism for it. I will criticize my neighbors who see the poor only in terms of their impact on FFX budgets and relative competition with other neighbors. I don't think I need to be silent when that same attitude is expressed in other jurisdictions.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 22, 2011 12:07 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us

How can our region be greater?

DC Maryland Virginia Arlington Alexandria Montgomery Prince George's Fairfax Charles Prince William Loudoun Howard Anne Arundel Frederick Tysons Corner Baltimore Falls Church Fairfax City
CC BY-NC