Greater Greater Washington

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Hill ANC races may turn entirely on Hine, but oughtn't

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners work on many subjects besides development, but challengers for a few seats on Capitol Hill want to make the election a referendum on a single project, the Hine school.


Photo by Bill on Capitol Hill on Flickr.

Such a narrow focus ignores the many subjects that ANCs work on, like public safety, liquor licenses, and just helping connect residents with public officials who can solve their problems.

Members of ANC 6B spent hundreds of hours listening to resident testimony and brokering a compromise on the important Hine project. A committee negotiated with the developer, Stanton-Eastbanc, around community concerns, such as noise, loading, and accommodating the flea market that currently uses the parking lot each Sunday.

Many weren't happy with the ultimate compromise. The developer took off one floor to please neighbors. Some felt that made the building aesthetically worse, while other immediate neighbors wanted an even smaller building.

Another concession to neighbors removed street-activating retail at a prominent corner. Still, the ANC pushed for changes that allayed many residents' concerns while maintaining many of the benefits of the project.

A pair of residents who wanted the ANC to more strongly oppose the Stanton-Eastbanc proposal are running to unseat the commissioners in the districts right around Hine, Ivan Frishberg in 6B02, and Brian Pate in 6B05. These opponents, Gerald Sroufe and Steve Holtzman, respectively, specifically cite Hine as the primary, if not the only, reason for running.


District boundaries for ANC 6B post-redistricting. Image from the Office of ANCs.

The Hine project is a good one for Capitol Hill. It will activate this major corner, bring new customers to local businesses, increase housing choices near Metro, and add retail space to better connect Barracks Row to the south with the 7th Street commercial strip and Eastern Market to the north. If the election is a referendum on Hine, voters should resoundingly return Pate and Frishberg to the commission.

However, elections shouldn't turn on a single development project alone, especially not over issues that are now essentially settled. Hine isn't the only reason to re-elect these 2 incumbents. They have worked hard to listen to their neighbors on this and many other issues. They have toiled to improve the quality of life on matters that will ultimately affect residents far more than the number of floors on the Hine project.

Pate pushed to restore a Capital Bikeshare station at Lincoln Park after DDOT almost took it away. He and Frishberg both ran 2 years ago on a platform of improving the procedures of the ANC, involving more residents and increasing transparency.

Ironically, Frishberg and Pate had the support in 2010 of the Eastern Market Metro Community Association (EMMCA), an organization that fought implacably against the Hine project this year. EMMCA hasn't visibly supported one set of candidates, but Hine was the only concrete issue they asked the candidates about in their voter guide.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Hine aye votes Dave Garrison (6B01) and Brian Flahaven (6B09) are running unopposed, as is Francis Campbell (6B10), who voted against the project. There is also only one candidate in the open seats for 6B07 and 6B08, Sara Loveland and Chander Jayaraman, respectively.

Longtime commissioner Norman Metzger, who voted for the Hine compromise, is not running for re-election. 2 candidates are vying for the seat: Philip Peisch and Randy Steer. Steer says he would have opposed Hine, while Peisch would have supported it; single-issue voters would therefore be best off supporting Peisch.

But that's again not the only reason. When listing the challenges the ANC face, Steer's statement in the EMMCA voter guide focused primarily on opposing things, like liquor licenses on Barracks Row, or future buildings that might be even a little tall. On the other hand, Peisch talked more about building consensus and also helping Barracks Row thrive while balancing its needs against resident issues such as noise and trash.

Kirsten Oldenburg (6B02), another vote in favor of Hine, has a write-in challenger, Tim Britt. Britt does not make any overtly anti-growth statements and generally seems supportive of some change. Meanwhile, Nichole Opkins and Chris Harlow are running against incumbent Jared Critchfield in 6B06, who voted against the Hine project. Both Harlow and Opkins emphasize the bread-and-butter ANC issues like being accessible to constituents; Opkins says that she got involved because Critchfield wasn't reaching out to the people in his district.

I met Opkins at a recent event and was impressed with her commitment and energy, but ultimately, as with the districts where Hine is the primary issue, residents of these districts are best off trying to meet their candidates directly, or reading the candidates' online statements and platforms discussing the many issues that affect the community.

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. 

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The definition of "having too much disposable income" is when you are opposed to a sensible economic development plan that will bring jobs and tax revenue to the city because it will take away part of a flea market that sells overpriced crafts.

Welcome to Capitol Hill.

by dcdriver on Oct 23, 2012 2:24 pm • linkreport

It's not even taking away the flea market. It's just giving it a smaller space than previous. Unless something has changed, it's been a while since we've discussed it.

by drumz on Oct 23, 2012 2:30 pm • linkreport

Especially when that's not even true. The Hine project does not take away the flea market, NIMBY signs notwithstanding.

Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate are hardworking, contentious ANC members. Capitol Hill would be foolish to trade them in for people who only know how to say "no".

by Tim Krepp on Oct 23, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

Ha! Meant to say "contentious" not "contentious". That couldn't be farther from the truth on either of them.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 23, 2012 2:32 pm • linkreport

conscientious...

2. damn, I've been meaning to write about this topic too, but haven't gotten around to it. Might include it as an element of ANCs and community planning, which I'll write next week.

by Richard Layman on Oct 23, 2012 2:43 pm • linkreport

Yeah, let's keep talking about the totally non-threatened flee market and NOT about how people are getting ass beatings from thugs who have found a crime sweet spot in our neighborhood.

I can always count on my Hill neighbors to have the wrong priorities.

by MJ on Oct 23, 2012 2:46 pm • linkreport

I gotta wonder, what do people in other neighborhoods care about ANC 6B? This article is framed in terms of the Hine project -- it is amazing that single project meant that much beyond capitol hill. And since Hine is apparently so important to the author, this article undermines its own thesis.

The Hine project will dominate life in this neighborhood for decades. If the single member commissioners spent time on other issues to the detriment of the Hine project, then they do not have their priorities straight.

I am grateful people beyond this neighborhood will NOT get to vote on this.

by goldfish on Oct 23, 2012 2:48 pm • linkreport

Thanks Richard, I a. can't spell, and b. hastily agree with everything autocorrect says.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 23, 2012 2:50 pm • linkreport

The Hine development is directly across Pennsylvania Ave from the Eastern Market Metro Station. The intersections most affected by the development -- 8th and Penn, 7th and Penn -- are already backed up in all directions in the morning and evening rush hours. The new Hine space, with its 260 underground parking spaces for rent at whatever rate the market will bear, can only exacerbate the gridlock.

Maybe the people hoping to replace the Hine development advocates on the ANC don't think that inviting more cars onto our traffic-choked streets meets any standard of "smart growth." Perhaps what they don't want in their back yards, at the Hine site or elsewhere, is more automobiles from the suburbs.

by Incredulous on Oct 23, 2012 3:02 pm • linkreport

Maybe the people hoping to replace the Hine development advocates on the ANC don't think that inviting more cars onto our traffic-choked streets meets any standard of "smart growth." Perhaps what they don't want in their back yards, at the Hine site or elsewhere, is more automobiles from the suburbs.

Maybe I'm just thick, but I don't understand. Are the vehicles from the development or the suburbs?

by Neil Flanagan on Oct 23, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

Yeah, cause the flea market doesn't overrun the area with people driving in from the suburbs?

by Tim Krepp on Oct 23, 2012 3:28 pm • linkreport

Personally, I like to see good development no matter where and I'm disturbed by the processes in the city and other places that basically mean everything has to be negotiated ad nauseum.

When people are running for office off of the premise that they don't like a building I think we should we examine why that seems so normal.

by drumz on Oct 23, 2012 3:34 pm • linkreport

@Incredulous

7th/8th and Penn most definitely are not "backed up in all directions" during rush hour. There usually is a line of cars heading south on 8th between E. Cap on C st, but it doesn't cause significant delays. Generally, where there is notable traffic, it is due to MD commuters cutting through to access 295/395, and the major backups are around Potomac Ave/Penn, not Eastern Market. If you look at 9th/10th/C/D during rush hour, you'd see that they are generally empty, which would seem to indicate that local traffic almost certainly is not the problem.

by MM on Oct 23, 2012 3:42 pm • linkreport

I find it humorous that people opposed to the building are running for ANC now. At this point, it is basically a done deal. So, what kind of advocacy and leadership are they going to foster for the next term? A single-issue candidate for an issue that has passed is, well, useless.

by William on Oct 23, 2012 3:43 pm • linkreport

@Neil Flanagan

The setdown report from the Office of Planning -- which recommended the development as proposed to the Zoning Commission -- describes "Below grade parking with parking spaces leased separately from the units at market rate." In any case there are 60 more parking places than required by OP, even at the standard of "mimimum" parking that Harriet Tregoning and her team are moving to reduce.

@MM

I meet a child who is dropped off in front of the SE Library on 7th two days a week at 4 pm. When the light at Penn is red, cars back up beyond D St and and waiting to turn left onto 7th from South Carolina. There are indeed plenty of cars with VA and MD plates cutting to and from the freeway, presumably trying to avoid the back-up on 8th.

When I retrace my steps at 6, the backup is much the same. I don't know how many additional cars the market rate spaces at Hine will put on our streets at rush hour, but I am pretty sure that we would all be better off if the drivers did not have the option of paying to park right across from the Metro station.

by Incredulous on Oct 23, 2012 4:12 pm • linkreport

@William: it ain't over yet. The lawsuits will come.

by goldfish on Oct 23, 2012 5:05 pm • linkreport

As goldfish says, I assume an appeal notice of the BZA decision was timely filed with the DC Court of Appeals. No financing will come until that appeal is settled or decided. If it goes all the way to a decision, the BZA doesn't have the best batting average.

by Tom Coumaris on Oct 23, 2012 5:31 pm • linkreport

well, D Street is not even 5 car lengths from Pennsylvania Avenue SE. So of course it's going to back up. It's a bad intersection because of how the grid intersects with the Avenue, but it's not really traffic engorged--at least, plenty of times during rush hour I can ride through a red light on my bike using Idaho Stop.

And yes, Hine is an issue on many scales that deserves more than just the input of immediate residents, although immediate residents, particularly on 8th St. will bear the brunt of the impact and deserve extranormal input.

(One could counter and say, hey you live next to a commercial district and land use changes over time. On the other hand, they could counter and say, the school wasn't a commercial use and it was logical to believe that land use as a school would not change, and it was unreasonable to expect us to plan for the possibility that this land across the street from us would become partly commercial and more dense.)

OTOH, it's a 100% intersection for Capitol Hill, it's right at the Metro, and these kinds of development, if done right, help reduce overall traffic, while adding to neighborhood vibrance, it contributes to the DC tax base, if done right it will support the continued success of Eastern Market, but also the overall improvement of the 8th St./7th St./600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue commercial district, more residents will contribute property, sales, and income taxes to the city, etc.

OTOH, I would argue that many of the problems with community concern are a consequence of DC not doing adequate planning. There was an RFP process for the site, but not a plan. An RFP isn't a plan--as I argued at the time. At least there was a deeper community involvement in the development of that RFP compared to others. But it wasn't enough.

As part of not having a plan, I particularly rue that there isn't a transpo management district (something I've been advocating for in the area since probably 2008) and care should have been taken for the retail of the C Street building to be part and parcel of Eastern Market, an "east hall" so to speak, to enable the Market to remain competitive in the face of massive new competition--AND THIS OPPORTUNITY WILL BE LOST FOREVER, finally as part of the TMD there should be the development of a shared parking scenario (that could still happen).

But what's interesting in the SMD races is how you can get f*ed when you participate in the system. It's a problem for the Lib Democrats in the coalition govt. in England e.g. Basically, the way these development projects work, is that they are going to get built.

So people like Brian Pate can recognize and accept that and work to make the project the best it can be given all the constraints and the limited ability to shape the project in the context of zoning regulations.

Or he can oppose it to no avail, and as a result, not participate in the process, thereby not shaping it to be better, but maintaining oppositional "integrity," but at the same time failing to execute his Commissioner responsibilities responsibly.

It's the classic no win situation.

Disclosure: I am on the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee and so is Brian Pate, representing ANC6B, so I know him and we talk about development issues from time to time as they relate to Eastern Market and Capitol Hill.

Disclosure: I am probably losing my friendship with Mike Berman because from a planning standpoint, I think flea market functions can be accommodated in part from expansion to 7th St. between C and Pennsylvania Ave. (and maybe even southward to D St. across Pennsylvania Ave.) and that just because the flea market operated on the parking lot doesn't mean that if it has to move to the street to maintain the amount of space, that the flea market managers have a kind of ownership interest in that public space as a means to maintain their management of flea market functions and the profit that results.

On the other hand, they lose a business, and somehow maybe should be compensated. (Plus they do a better management job than the city or a separate Eastern Market Authority is likely to do.)

by Richard Layman on Oct 23, 2012 5:40 pm • linkreport

It's interesting that many of you seem to believe that residents who oppose Brian Pate And Ivan Frishberg would only have one issue with them. I'd usually never say the things in my comment below publicly, but your collective lack of knowledge forces me to speak up at this time. I am in Pate's district and I have worked with Pate closely for about 2 years now.

Brian's movements on the Hine situation mimicked his movements regarding the resurfacing of our alley in many ways. We feel like he started negotiations way too low in both cases. He wanted us to include stamped concrete in our letters about the alley while everyone clearly agreed that nothing less than brick would be acceptable in our historic alley. When he came back from the Hine negotiations with an uglier (shorter by only the recessed floor) building but with an office for the ANC included, yes, we questioned that. Nothing about that sounds fishy to you guys? Really? Read it again, slower.

Pate said that if we asked for the historic bricks to be used or for brick at all, we'd get asphalt. I think that's lowballing our negotiations and just plain silly. I've grown up on Capitol Hill and know you need to advocate for historic preservation or you won't get it at all. Our live-able, walkable community of Eastern Market didn't happen by ACCIDENT, we made it happen! I get that newer residents don't understand, but maybe this is where you guys need to be quiet and listen.

In the issue of our alley, Pate made my summer a living hell. Last year, my mom began organizing DC Water and DDOT etc to dig up of our failing sewer line and a total resurfacing of our alley. He repeatedly lauded thanks and praise on another resident who was using my mom to make herself look good. My mom would get people's email addresses and later the woman would not allow my mom to contact the neighbors, saying it was a "privacy issue" - it was pretty twisted. Then Brian would tell said woman she was doing a great job, so she'd get even creepier about the whole thing. He divided us rather than uniting us.

My mom was on the verge of a breakdown and I told her I would handle it. *I had to go around our block in 105 degree DC summer weather to get each person's email*. I stuck it out, because I saw the importance of getting everyone involved. However, that woman and Brian didn't care to reach out to the businesses and residents living and working directly on the alley (people with "rear" in their address), nor did they want to involve every resident. It was quite curious. But in the end, everyone who had an opinion got their say and the alley is now done and masterfully re bricked with beautiful new bricks in a similar hue, so we can stay the YellowBrickAlley.

Brian knows how I feel about Hine, because I asked him to not vote for his negotiations as did many neighbors. That is what we wanted him to do on Hine, so you can't tell us we are wrong for having an opinion about it and wanting to vote him out of office. I don't think any resident believes that the Hine debate is 100% over, nothing is impossible in this town. AND the old Hine School is STILL STANDING as far as I know. As a resident that can see the building, I would know. *Just like I know about working with Brian.*

This weekend I saw Brian arguing with vendors at the flea market, that is too much for me. People have a right to support who they want with out being confronted. The political process is awkward I know, but coming after folks aggressively when they express another opinion isn't really a good way to secure votes.

It would be nice to think that people trusted those of us who have lived her for 30 and 40 years to have an opinion that is actually informed. This morning as I walked the dog, I was shocked at the sheer saturation of the "Right Size Hine" posters that are still up even after their makers asked people to take them down. Obviously, about 80-90% of close residents aren't supportive of the current version of the Hine project and the developer could very easily reach out, make a few logical concessions and get our full support.

I get that Stanton EastBanc have made consessions already and it probably seems like residents will never be happy, but you don't know till you really try. And all the Hine subcommittees etc will never replace us just coming together and making it right like we usually do on Capitol Hill. The community will have to come back together eventually and blogs/sentiments like this only work to push us further apart.

Thank for reading.
Rosina Memolo,
30 year resident of
200 Blk of 10th SE

by Rosina on Oct 24, 2012 5:56 am • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] I've lived in Capitol Hill for 10 years and I really want to make clear that a large contigent of pple here support this hine project - we make up more than 10%. Let's not twist the record here to prove our points.

by Jerome D on Oct 24, 2012 8:05 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by MJ on Oct 24, 2012 8:54 am • linkreport

Wow--it's that level of anti-development sentiment that made me give up on living on the Hill. I'd love to say that Rosina is isolated, but sadly, she's not, and it's what's going to keep Hine from happening. I only hope that after the deal falls through, and the few remaining folks focused on smart growth rather than no growth move towards Navy Yards and H Street, that the empty Hine building will be left to rot as a visible reminder of to Capitol Hill NIMBYists that you reap what you sow.

by Circle Thomas on Oct 24, 2012 9:35 am • linkreport

I've only lived in the neighborhood for 18 years, so I am probably not entitled to an opinion nor know what I am talking about. But here goes. I am pretty sure that more than 10 percent of neighborhood residents support the Hine Project. (I think the only thing 80-90 percent of the neighborhood agrees on is the Presidential election!) I support the project and most people I know also support it. But it would be a stretch for me to use that as the basis for claiming that 80-90 percent of my neighbors agree with me. As for the flea market, it's nice, but really more for tourists/suburbanites. I browse but rarely buy anything there. Given the choice between a huge asphalt parking lot that is empty five days a week and a new multistory building, I'll take the new building, especially right across the street from a Metro Station. Plus, the flea market is not going anywhere, so it's a distraction to mention it. I really hope that Pate and Frishberg are reelected, and handily!

by rg on Oct 24, 2012 10:10 am • linkreport

I think that the people who live in 801, 803, 805, 807, 809, and 811 C St SE have ceded all their rights to complain about Hine since they regularly park on the sidewalk, consistently denying the disabled access to that pathway. In addition, they park in their driveways, which is also illegal in the historic district.

by CXZ on Oct 24, 2012 12:35 pm • linkreport

Listen, I walked around and counted signs the morning I wrote that email... Of course people support the project. A neighbor wants a condo there. One part of the development team lives a block from me. But from what I count in my little microcosm of a universe, only about 10 % of homes do not have "Tommy: Right Size Hine" signs on their properties. Many of the people who you so avidly want to make fun of here supported the Hine project from the beginning. Many of them ended up feeling betrayed by a "bait and switch" ie they voted on one thing but got another. Maybe they should have never been given a vote if they didn't really have a say...?

You call me isolated, but I'm out every day talking to my neighbors. I guess I haven't run into you yet. Who am I isolated from? I came here to read your opinions. Clearly you didn't read mine or don't care to see value in them.

You guys are pretty defensive, I just said I've lived here 30 years. That just means I am actually a product of this Eastern Market Community, as I grew up here. I balled like a little baby when Eastern Market burned in May 2007. My concerns are for our community, I'm glad they amuse you guys. I never said anyone of you didn't have a right to an opinion, I'm just telling you who I am. I'm not hiding. Real name, real address, real experiences.

I'm absolutely shocked that one of you thinks the Hine development will fall through. Hines Rec center/Junior high used to have basketball courts, tennis courts, and an open space for recess/ band to practice. So asphalt slabs aren't always all bad. It's only since they closed the school that is sits vacant for 5 days a week. You make like it's been a barren desert for 50 years! Cue the Good Bad and the Ugly music...!

So, you guys DON'T think the community needs to come back together on the Hine development and work it out? You'd all just rather trade jabs on some blog? Haha, great... Really positive. Honestly, it's gonna be developed, people just want it to fit into the neighborhood a little better and not crush our resources. I don't think that makes us the ninnys you guys have painted us.

In the reality, I think people are most alarmed by the height/look of the commercial building, NOT the residences. The loading dock is total chaos that shuts down 7th Street at random times. Residents are worried about added traffic and loss of public space. I just don't get who benefits from widening the chasm between our beliefs. If I agree the property should be developed but just at one floor lower, why am I so awful, terrible, isolated nimby blah blah blah??!?

Just curious, because i have had this same argument about a gazillion times and it's REALLY getting old.

BUUUUUUT we digressed from the actual point, which was my experience dealing with Pate. Yes Hine was a factor, but only about a sixth of my decision. If the Hine situation hadn't happened, unfortunately, I still would not be voting for Brian Pate. I do like Brian and appreciate everything he's done. I must admit he is the first ANC person who has made himself very accessible to our family and block. However, I feel like Steve Holtzman can do that and be a better negotiator for our community; in addition, Steve is retired, therefore he has more time to devote to the position. They are both great guys, but from my experience in the past two years, I feel like we should go a different direction now.

So, I'm voting for Steve Holtzman.

Best,
Rosina

PS I wondered about those driveways as well, CZX. There are many more than those addresses you listed. Good luck controlling their right to complain about Hine; I actually don't know any of those folks from the meetings, so maybe they don't...?

by Rosina on Oct 26, 2012 10:13 pm • linkreport

I agree with MM:

"7th/8th and Penn most definitely are not "backed up in all directions" during rush hour. There usually is a line of cars heading south on 8th between E. Cap on C st, but it doesn't cause significant delays. Generally, where there is notable traffic, it is due to MD commuters cutting through to access 295/395, and the major backups are around Potomac Ave/Penn, not Eastern Market. If you look at 9th/10th/C/D during rush hour, you'd see that they are generally empty, which would seem to indicate that local traffic almost certainly is not the problem."

I live on the 200 block of 8th Street and cross the intersection at 8th and Pennsylvania several times a day, including during rush hour. If you think that's gridlock, I guess you've never spent much time outside of Capitol Hill. The traffic is pretty light around here, and I really don't think a building that's across the street from a Metro station and served by multiple bus lines is going to make the traffic situation significantly worse.

Sometimes on the weekends, when Eastern Market is in full swing, I can't get a parking space in front of my house and might have to park an entire block away. I'm willing to sacrifice a little and park two blocks away for something that will benefit the community instead of just myself.

by Caroline on Oct 29, 2012 10:16 am • linkreport

Rosina,

If you believe the property should be one floor lower, I guess I am at a loss why the extra ten to fifteen feet in height brings certain doom?

Also, it's not hard to see on a stroll through the neighborhood that in no way do 9 of 10 houses have those green signs in front.

by Alex B. on Oct 29, 2012 10:30 am • linkreport

There are many people who need to be thanked for the beautiful and "beyond expectations" renovation of the yellow brick alley. Thanks to all! There was exceptional team work of many, but it should be said that nothing would have happened without the great work of Brian Pate. So, special thanks to Brian for his tireless dedication to the betterment of our neighborhood. I will always see his name engraved in the yellow brick alley.
Pierre
206 9th St.

by Pierre on Oct 29, 2012 7:05 pm • linkreport

Not only did Brian Pate strongly guide and promote the process for our alley restoration, his work with Crime Prevention, the Hine Development, our historic trees, the beautification of our neighborhood (i.e., Kim's Garden), etc., speaks volumes for the kind of ANC commissioner Brian has been. He is a good man with a strong sense of purpose and focus. Brian makes himself accessible to his constituents and he is knowledgeable about many of the issues we all face in our neighborhood.

by Cathy on Oct 31, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

Traffic is the biggest nonfactor in all of this. . . Now if you had said "parking", that might perk up some Hill residents ears. I personally think cars and transit issues are not really that big a deal here. It's scale, footprint, and community impact. I don't think the project will adversely affect the neighborhood, but it will alter its scale, and I'm not sold that it's for the better. Hine does represent the kind of broad transformative change seen routinely around DC, but generally not on the Hill.

by anon_se on Oct 31, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

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