Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: A city of contrasts


Photo by Jos Dielis on Flickr.
Gimme shelter: Residents of DC's biggest homeless shelter, DC General, suffer from poor conditions, including pests, lack of hot water and heat, and lack of ventilation at the shelter. (DCist)

Council votes to decriminalize pot: The DC Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession. If signed into law, possession would only mean a fine, but smoking in public would remain a criminal offense. (Post)

Too noisy?: A group of Dupont residents who live near the nightclub hub at 18th and Connecticut are mobilizing to fight noise, but at least one ANC commissioner thinks they might expect too much quiet given where they live. (City Paper)

Washington Flyer fare falling: With the anticipated Silver Line about to take off, Washington Flyer buses linking Dulles airport and the Metro will reduce fares, increase service, and debut new buses. (Post)

House of worship to housing: One church in Columbia Heights is being turned into a 26-unit condo project. The project, in an effort to retain the facade, will save 40% of the building. (Urban Turf)

To build or not to build?: The last phase of development in Clarksburg could impact a reservoir that provides the region's drinking water supply and undermine plans to build a walkable town center nearby. The Montgomery County Council will soon decide whether to allow it to go forward. (Post)

The psychology of cities: Scientists are mapping the brain's response to things like open spaces and street grids, which could influence cities of the future. (Guardian)

More cyclists, more rule followers: New York's investment in bikes is paying off in not just more riders, but also ones that are more likely to abide by laws. Cyclists are also now more likely to be female. (Atlantic Cities)

The cost of not investing: Not investing in system improvements like 8-car trains and bus corridor enhancements could cost the region 133,000 jobs and billions in property value over the next 3 decades. (PlanItMetro)

And...: Gentrification is displacing a gang in Los Angeles. (LA Times) ... Cameras on Montgomery school buses will issue tickets for drivers who pass the flashing stop sign. (Gazette) ... A long-buried stream will come to the surface in Forest Hills. (Connection)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
Elina Bravve moved to Washington in 2009, after completing a degree in City Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill. She's lived in the Columbia Heights neighborhood since 2010. After recently parting ways with her car, her goal is to learn how to bike around the neighborhood. 

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Non-paywall version of LA Times gentrification-gang story?

by DaveG on Feb 5, 2014 9:32 am • linkreport

Re: Clarksburg,

Wtf is the MoCo county council smoking? They're handwringing over whether to build a new urbanist community in Clarksburg while the story notes they just approved the building of a huge (sprawling) outlet mall just off of 270.

The entire point of building things to walkable/smart growth standards is so you STOP building sprawl-architecture.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 9:33 am • linkreport

DaveG,

It worked for me. Try this maybe?

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-echo-park-gang-20140126,0,6189192,print.story

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 9:34 am • linkreport

The summary about Clarksburg, "Should Clarksburg develop into a walkable urbanist community or is the risk of pollution to the region's water supply too great?" is not accurate. Development on Ten Mile Creek would not contribute to a walkable urbanist community in Clarksburg. Even the Clarksburg Master Plan never envisioned it as doing so.

A more accurate summary would be, "The Montgomery County Council is trying to decide how to balance the last phase of development in Clarksburg with the need to protect the environment and the region's drinking water supply."

by Miriam on Feb 5, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

@drumz -- the huge sprawling outlet mall is actually also in Clarksburg. It's part of Clarksburg Phase 3. What the County Council is debating is development on Ten Mile Creek -- Clarksburg Phase 4. The development on Ten Mile Creek would not be walkable, transit-oriented smart growth; it would be environmentally-damaging, car-dependent sprawl. If you're in favor of smart growth, you should oppose development on Ten Mile Creek.

by Miriam on Feb 5, 2014 9:41 am • linkreport

Thanks, drumz. Where did you find that? I love how it's bare bones and lacks all the ads and other unnecessary features of the typical newpaper web page.

by DaveG on Feb 5, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

DaveG,

Just press the printer button on any article, the print preview can be a savior if you don't want the hassle of clicking through multiple pages.

Miriam,

I'm not that familiar with Clarksburg but I will take your word for it. That again, makes me wonder if the county council "gets it" regarding these issues. New Urbanism/Smart Growth is meant to replace the previous way we were building our communities. It's all moot if we're going to have some new neighborhoods be walkable and such and other new neighborhoods be auto dependent.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 9:53 am • linkreport

There's always been some mirth among ANC 2B members about people who move in near 18th and Connecticut -- or "Club Central" as the ANC members call it -- and then start campaigns about noise. I can't really blame the ANC for that, and I'm not surprised that Kevin O'Connor is pretty dismissive. (In so many ways, ANC 2B is like the mirror-universe counterpart to ANC 2E over in Georgetown.)

In fact, a couple of years ago when a developer was proposing rehabbing one of the buildings right by the "Midtown Partyplex" to add luxury condos, one of the ANC members -- I think it was Jack Jacobson, before he left the ANC to run for school board -- had a pretty good wisecrack about how he really liked the building plan but he wanted to know how they would avoid having even more people move in who would immediately start wailing about the multi-storey nightclub next door that they should have known about beforehand.

by iaom on Feb 5, 2014 9:55 am • linkreport

I am glad to see the Washington Flyer is adapting to the times. I wonder what they will do when phase II opens? Shuttle from Bethesda? I dont know if anywhere will be profitable for that level of service.

by Richard on Feb 5, 2014 10:00 am • linkreport

I think they will just stop running the Flyer, isn't it a MWAA-run route?

by BTA on Feb 5, 2014 10:08 am • linkreport

If garbage trucks and construction can't operate before 7am because of the nighttime noise law why can nightclubs put out more noise?

Noise abatement of buildings isn't that hard.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 10:32 am • linkreport

What will it take to end Flyer's monopoly on cab service from Dulles? Phase II of Silver Line? (Speaking of which, where are we on that?)

by LowHeadways on Feb 5, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

If garbage trucks and construction can't operate before 7am because of the nighttime noise law why can nightclubs put out more noise?

Probably because night clubs are only in certain areas, and thus are fighting a smaller number of people where as garbage trucks travel far and wide and wake more people. Not that I mind terribly.

by Richard on Feb 5, 2014 10:35 am • linkreport

While I can't argue against requiring some noise abatement, nothing about garabage trucks makes the service something that needs to operate before 7 am whereas that is an inherent characteristic of night club operations.

by BTA on Feb 5, 2014 10:41 am • linkreport

Plus garbage trucks just show up, and then go away after a few minutes. People tend to stay awhile at clubs.

I'm not arguing whether that makes the clubs wrong or right, just pointing out where the comparison might fail.

But if you're unfamiliar with a neighborhood before moving in, make sure to visit both during the day and at night.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 10:42 am • linkreport

If garbage trucks and construction can't operate before 7am because of the nighttime noise law why can nightclubs put out more noise?

Because garbage collection and construction are activities which can be reasonably performed in the daytime. Clubbing is not. That said, noise that goes beyond what's necessary to operate a nightclub in the usual manner (such as people standing on the sidewalk outside the club being loud) should not be tolerated.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2014 10:48 am • linkreport

The noise limits at night are only in residential zones. Putting new nightclubs next to existing residential is yet another example of Tregoning and company's massive fail.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 10:58 am • linkreport

Are they new clubs? (or is a club-usage new to the space at least?).

Also, the distinction between commercial and residential in a place like Dupont circle is a very thin line where it exists anyway. Plus, the a big reason why people move to Dupont generally is to live in a mixed-use neighborhood. I don't think Harriet Tregoning is the one responsible for making Dupont Circle a neat place to live/visit.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 11:11 am • linkreport

@BTA
I think they will just stop running the Flyer, isn't it a MWAA-run route?

Which makes it all the more dumb that they are buying new buses and paying to maintain them to provide service duplicated by local transit agencies. MWAA should just throw some money at Fairfax Connector and pay them to operate more 981 service.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2014 11:11 am • linkreport

MoCo likes to present itself as environmentally conscious, and the Agricultural Reserve is an achievement, but in the developable area, they never met a sprawl project they didn't like. Walkable urbanism is all just window dressing, old fashioned lighting, stuff like that.

by Steve on Feb 5, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

The noise limits at night are only in residential zones. Putting new nightclubs next to existing residential is yet another example of Tregoning and company's massive fail.

Uhh, where are they putting in new nightclubs? This is about existing clubs and idiots who move to neighborhoods they know nothing about and then demand changes.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

another example of Tregoning and company's massive fail.
What?

What's happening is that living in the city has become hip and chic and all the cool kids are doing it. The problem is, these cool kids are a generation that grew up in the suburbs (or rural areas) and while they enjoy all the amenities that come with urban living, they simultaneously (and unrealistically) expect a peaceful suburban neighborhood in which to raise their children.

This is the next generation of NIMBYs sprouting their wings, marking their territory, and writing campaign donation checks to their CM.

by dcmike on Feb 5, 2014 11:36 am • linkreport

OP has been aware of the problem of "wrap-around" zoning allowing new nightclubs next to houses for several years. These are the side portions of commercial zones that front side residential-zoned streets, often low residential. They were traditionally housing themselves or small commercial shops. Now, especially off 14th, they are being given liquor licenses. New bars sometimes abutting single-family houses.

OP's response has been "too hard to understand" or "above our pay grade" trying to mask OP's total incompetence. In the past 8 years they've been completely brain dead.

And while some noise is expected from nightclubs, 120 decible loudspeakers and strobe lights on rooftops and other outdoor spaces and with doors left open with no barrier door is just plain arrogance next to residences. It comes from the "I have a constitutional right to be as loud as I want to be" crowd.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 11:37 am • linkreport

Steve, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville, White Flint, and Wheaton say hi. The first two are celebrated revitalized/expanded historic downtown. Rockville, White Flint, and Wheaton are in various stages of redevelopment too.

There are plenty of sprawl problems and we have a DOT that is perpetually part of that problem. I wouldn't say it's just window dressing. There is some seriously good stuff in the county along side the bad sprawl.

by Cavan on Feb 5, 2014 11:39 am • linkreport

DC General/ Hotels for Homeless

This whole scenario is just deplorable. A million a month to keep the Hospital open merely as a shelter, and no consistent venting/electricity/heat or water? Not to be facitious, but heated tents sound more hospitable than this.

I presume there is little/no food or other services being offered. Where is all that money going? It sounds like a public health crisis in the making.

DC needs to massively increase it's stock of section 8 housing (dipursed throughout the entire city), and work to encourage eased development of private sector housing (limiting/suspending historical protection I. anacostia, for example). This problem is apparently Growning to be one of DC's largest.

Gangs In Echo Park, CA

The article makes it sound like only rising rents for gang members is to blame for their abandonment of Echo Park, CA. Far greater a hand in the gang's weakening was the loss of a steady stream of pre-teen and teenage boys seeking protection by joining gangs. Without this source of expendable foot soldiers, even a gang in a non-gentirified neighborhood will wither and die.

by Adam on Feb 5, 2014 11:42 am • linkreport

As a suburban kid, I completely endorse what dcmike said. So many of cohort seem to be completely unable to hang in the city without whining about every minor inconvenience.

by BTA on Feb 5, 2014 11:45 am • linkreport

New bars sometimes abutting single-family houses.

Yes, this is what mixed-use zoning is.

The key to dealing with noisy neighbors is by having and enforcing laws that deal with making too much noise. Not banning types of businesses from operating in a neighborhood that's particularly famous for having those types of businesses.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 11:49 am • linkreport

@MLD, re Washington Flyer new buses, the Post article states "Washington Flyer will debut with new buses and a new name, MWAA spokesman Rob Yingling said. The buses will have an interior configuration similar to airport shuttles, with seats and large luggage racks,". I wonder if these new buses will be identical to or a larger version of the airport shuttles buses, so they can be repurposed when SL phase 2 opens and the Flyer service gets dropped.

The official new name for the service is a mouthful: "Washington Flyer Dulles International Airport Silver Line Express". Good thing it is not coming from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport...

by AlanF on Feb 5, 2014 11:52 am • linkreport

1. That biking in NYC is becoming more female and more law-abiding is probably not a coincidence. There are 15x as many men in prison than there are women and there is probably a reason for that.

2. I don't feel a lot of sympathy for people who move in only to discover that there has been a nightclub there for years, as they probably got a discount on rent/price because of it. They just don't notice it. But it might be a good idea for the nightclubs to find a company willing to do noise abatement at a reduced cost to anyone interested. The nightclub could even kick in a few hundred dollars. Then when people complain, they could offer to send their guy over to see what can be done. Still...these people are literally getting what they paid for.

by David C on Feb 5, 2014 12:00 pm • linkreport

@drumz, Miriam

I updated the summary to more closely reflect what the article's about. Builder Pulte's plan for Ten Mile Creek, which the County Council will consider, is a pretty conventional, auto-oriented suburban development:

Miriam's written a lot about the plans for Clarksburg being a transit-oriented community. While there are parts of Clarksburg that are pretty compact and walkable, there's nothing to walk to and very little transit to speak of other than infrequent, rush hour bus service.

by dan reed! on Feb 5, 2014 12:04 pm • linkreport

drumz- Your idea of mixed-use zoning seems to be no zoning. Let all uses mix.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 12:12 pm • linkreport

Thanks Dan,

Things like that absolutely betray the purpose behind the Ag reserve anyway, even if its in the buildable zone.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 12:14 pm • linkreport

Tom,

I'm fine with zoning that deals with health and safety. It's a harder case when it comes to use though. Especially one that is completely prevalent across DC and indeed one of the reasons that people like living in urban neighborhoods. We're not talking about an iron foundry here.

Again, I'd prefer a law that says "no one makes noise louder than X" and have it enforced than going through the backwards way of banning certain types of bars/restaurants from places where a defining feature of the neighborhood is it's bars and restaurants.

Past that I think David C's solution of some of the clubs bribing the neighbors by paying for some abatement is perfectly fine.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 12:22 pm • linkreport

I don't feel a lot of sympathy for people who move in only to discover that there has been a nightclub there for years, as they probably got a discount on rent/price because of it. They just don't notice it. But it might be a good idea for the nightclubs to find a company willing to do noise abatement at a reduced cost to anyone interested.

While I also have no sympathy for someone complaining about a reasonable/expected level of noise coming from a pre-existing nightclub, that doesn't excuse the nightclub from taking reasonable measures to abate noise pollution nor should it put the responsibility entirely on everyone else.

If people move in and discover that a factory is spewing air pollution from its chimney's with no scrubbers in place, should they also refrain from trying to make them change? Should the philosophy be, "well, it's the city. pollution is part of life there and anyone who expects clean air is just a suburban pansy."?

Are the people in Cap Hill NIMBY's for wanting to close down the Capitol Hill Power Plant (which has been there for 100+ years) even though -- by itself -- it produces the majority of the air pollutant in DC that is worst for human health? Maybe the residents of Cap Hill should just install air filters in their homes.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

As a suburban kid, I completely endorse what dcmike said. So many of cohort seem to be completely unable to hang in the city without whining about every minor inconvenience.

I agree as well. Further is a garbage truck or train going by or ship blowing it's horn and waking you up really such a bad thing? Unless it is constant and omnipresent like say living next to a major airport(yes that would be annoying) if it wake you, you wait 5 minutes, it passes and you go back to sleep.

by Richard on Feb 5, 2014 1:26 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

I think you're conflating nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, which undermines the premise of your argument. There's a significant difference between a nightclub, which operates with the loud amplified music and strobe lights you mention, a bar, which may or may not have music turned up, and a restaurant with a liquor license, which likely doesn't have loud music playing but might have an elevated noise level from people talking over each other.

I'm curious, do you have any examples of nightclubs "120 decibel loudspeakers and strobe lights on rooftops and other outdoor spaces and with doors left open with no barrier door" right next to residences and single family homes? There are a few bars on 11th Street in Columbia Heights that operate in close proximity to residences, but you could hardly call El Chucho or Meridian Pint a nightclub, nor could you accuse them of being particularly bad neighbors.

Granted, I haven't been to every block in the District, but I've frequented a number of nightlife spots, and I honestly cannot think of a single bar or nightclub operating as you describe next to a residence. That comment, combined with your tilting at the windmill of those who supposedly believe they have a constitutional right to be loud, reeks of Cleveland Park-esque NIMBY scaremongering.

by JDS32 on Feb 5, 2014 1:35 pm • linkreport

@AlanF If you look at the article, there is a picture of the buses WashFlyer is going to use for this service. They look like Fairfax Connector buses with different paint, rather than the coach buses they were using previously. Maybe MWAA is planning on selling them to FFX once Phase II opens.

by Mark P. on Feb 5, 2014 1:35 pm • linkreport

FC,

First point. Absolutely. Any club should be following the law and if they aren't they should get dinged. But that's not a zoning failure.

Second point. I told this to Tom as well but I think there's enough of a substantive difference between a club and a factory to say that it's not hypocritical to say one group should've known what they were signing up for and the other can go ahead and lobby to have something shut down over public health concerns.

There's also the general policy. It's a bad thing to coal burning power plants generally and especially close to neighborhoods full of people. Anything we do to move away from that is good, regardless of motivations.

But I don't think that flys with clubs near residences. It's a generally good thing that DC has nightlife and its a good thing that DC has mixed use neighborhoods. We don't maybe want to be the Las Vegas of the east coast but it would harm DC as well to make it really hard (via zoning) to open up a place where people want to dance/mingle.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

Richard, as a relatively light sleeper having lived next to train tracks and having been woken up many a time by garbage trucks I totally think they are annoying. But so is a neighbor in the suburbs that decides to mow their lawn at 7am on a Sunday morning. Unless you are talking about living in the deep exurbs escaping ambient noise is kind of a fantasy. Hell I remember being woken up by tree frogs and cicadas as a kid during the summer.

by BTA on Feb 5, 2014 1:43 pm • linkreport

Are the people in Cap Hill NIMBY's for wanting to close down the Capitol Hill Power Plant even though -- by itself -- it produces the MAJORITY of the air pollutant in DC that is worst for human health?
The MAJORITY of air pollution in DC is created by automobiles, not factories/power plants/buildings. You are perhaps siting the wikipedia article on the Cap Hill PP that site a table listing only point sources and their share of pollution. The article confuses pollution produced by fixed instillation with total pollution.

by Richard on Feb 5, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

Silver Line Phase II is planned for 2018 so assuming that is way optimistic they will probably get at least 5 years of useful life out of the new buses. What they should do with them is what you have in every other major city in a the world a bus that goes from the airport directly to city center locations so maybe West End/Dupont Metrocenter/Chinatown somewhere possibly Convention Center/Union Station. So not that much different than the 5A but it would be much faster with no intermediate stop.

by BTA on Feb 5, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

Drumz
Any club should be following the law and if they aren't they should get dinged.

I don't know the laws pertaining to this but if nightclubs aren't required to take common sense noise abatement measures like keeping their front door closed and not blasting music from open rooftops, then they should be.

@Richard
You're right. My source was Wikipedia and that source conflates single source pollution with total pollution. Nonetheless, that power plant is an abomination (not so much because it burns coal but because it's an exceptionally dirty coal burning plant that doesn't have modern clean features)...even though, Drumz, having electricity in DC is unequivocally a good thing ;)

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2014 2:06 pm • linkreport

If people move in and discover that a factory is spewing air pollution from its chimney's with no scrubbers in place, should they also refrain from trying to make them change?

Well, if they did refrain, we wouldn't be facing the great sriracha shortage of 2014 . . .

by dcd on Feb 5, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

If we didn't have electricity then the clubs can't play their music. Win/win.

Seriously though,
We should fix problems with the actual solutions (better laws,enforcement,actual noise abatement work done, etc.) rather than blaming the zoning, the way the neighborhood is built. Too often we see the latter being pursued (see: any time a liquor liscense moratorium is proposed) which I think is part of the reason people's first inclination was to scoff at the people complaining.

I can see a ban on outdoor amplified music (absent a special permit for things like a block party or something) as reasonable. I don't know if that was a factor here, just that you mentioned it.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 2:15 pm • linkreport

Falls Church, I think there's a lot of reasons why a power plant and a dance club are not analogous. And like drumz, I think clubs should have to follow the law. But assuming that their following the law, and that is inadequate for the neighbors I'm not sure that we need to accommodate them.

OTOH, if there is some evidence that the current noise laws are insufficient or out of step with national norms, there is nothing wrong with asking that they be changed. But that needs to be a city-wide ordinance, not a site specific ruling. The former is a pursuit of good policy, the second is NIMBY behavior. And after-the-fact NIMBY behavior at that.

by David C on Feb 5, 2014 2:28 pm • linkreport

I suspect, not surprisingly, that most of the people who advocate against "nimbys" in reference to nightclub noise are themselves traditional hypocritical
Nimbys where they are themselves concerned.

There's no constitutional right to make as much noise as you want at any hour. There is an immature total lack of empathy or sympathy where someone cannot understand constant unbearable noise on someone's bedroom windows all night every night. Especially when the solution via noise abatement is not that difficult and especially in cases where the noise is a new development which the resident had no reason to expect. Even basic city planning can forestall 99% of these problems with no detriment to residents or nightlife.

So if you think this is fine but you wouldn't want the sound equivalent of fists pounding on YOUR OWN bedroom window until 2 or 3 am every night, congratulations YOU are a NIMBY.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 2:34 pm • linkreport

Well, if you believe what's in the white paper then they aren't following the law.

Personally I don't think you're ever going to get to 60dB standing outside the club door. That's like the noise of you typing in your office. But you might get to 60dB outside the house down the street.

It seems to me from reading their document that there is one place with a real problem (Rosebar) because they have an exposed balcony where they are playing loud music. Cite them and fix the problem and move on.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2014 2:38 pm • linkreport

I've had to go through this a couple times concerning garbage trucks and construction not starting until 7am and it's always been my understanding it's 70db.

That's 70db that reaches into the residential zone, not at source.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 3:09 pm • linkreport

and MLD- The problem is that enforcing the law is somehow seen as retrograde when nightclubs are concerned. The issue is people think the law should not be enforced.

Using outdoor loudspeakers next to abutting residential areas until 2am or 3am is outrageous conduct.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 3:17 pm • linkreport

I want the authors of the white paper to lose just because of that snooty garbage in the white paper about it being a million-dollar neighborhood near the White House where diplomats and professionals live. As it happens, I live right around the corner from these snobs on 17th Street and I'm just some random schlub. I hope I can help depress their property values with my presence.

by feally on Feb 5, 2014 3:19 pm • linkreport

@Tom,

I feel like I have to say this once a week. Perhaps it is becoming my personal law, so I'll say it again. "If you're going to call someone a hypocrite, you need to show exactly which two things they did or said that show hypocrisy."

But actually, it is surprising that you would speculate that I would be a hypocrite if I were to have some situation that you don't bother to define. In fact it's totally bizarre.

There's no constitutional right to make as much noise as you want at any hour.

Good. We're in agreement. Because no one ever said there was.

There is an immature total lack of empathy or sympathy where someone cannot understand constant unbearable noise on someone's bedroom windows all night every night.

That does suck. But when you knew - or should have known - that there would be that noise and are getting reduced rent or a cheaper mortgage because of it, my sympathy becomes muted. That's not immaturity. I wonder what would make you label it as such? Are you calling me immature?

Especially in cases where the noise is a new development which the resident had no reason to expect.

That is a different situation than the one we're discussing here.

So if you think this is fine but you wouldn't want the sound equivalent of fists pounding on YOUR OWN bedroom window until 2 or 3 am every night, congratulations YOU are a NIMBY.

Well, not by most definitions. I don't want it in my backyard which is why I bought a backyard far away from nightclubs. But if I had bought a house with such a problem - and at a discount BECAUSE of this - it would take a lot of guff to then complain about it. I don't bellyache that there's no bus stop near my house, because I knew that when I bought it.

Now, if we were talking about a new nightclub or source of noise that would be a horse of a different color. But we're not.

Just out of curiosity, what do you call someone who calls someone else a hypocrite without any evidence? Whatever it is, it better be worse that hypocrite.

by David C on Feb 5, 2014 4:10 pm • linkreport

Especially in cases where the noise is a new development which the resident had no reason to expect.

That is a different situation than the one we're discussing here.

Quick caveat: rather than a new development, a change in previous zoning. There are plenty of places in/around dupont that could stop being what they are and very easily turn into clubs. If you live above or near a retail space, understand that the coffee shop may close and a bar/club opens in its place.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 4:33 pm • linkreport

@Tom
I've had to go through this a couple times concerning garbage trucks and construction not starting until 7am and it's always been my understanding it's 70db.
That's 70db that reaches into the residential zone, not at source.

Apparently the anti-noise residents don't think so, because they are continuously citing 60dB 1m from the club door as the measure. Which ain't gonna happen.

I would be really interested to know what the noise levels are at their residential area; unfortunately their paper didn't address that. That's another reason why their complaining is abrasive - they completely sidestep the issue of what the noise problem is where they live.

@feally
I want the authors of the white paper to lose just because of that snooty garbage in the white paper about it being a million-dollar neighborhood near the White House where diplomats and professionals live. As it happens, I live right around the corner from these snobs on 17th Street and I'm just some random schlub. I hope I can help depress their property values with my presence.
+1

"Home values are in the millions" doesn't make people want to have a ton of sympathy. You gotta make me want to care regardless of whether you are a gazillionaire or some schmuck in a shack.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2014 4:33 pm • linkreport

Clubs and noise

Quite a few nightclubs are near residential areas and have been so for years ones that come to mind are

Everything in Adams Morgan, Ibiza & Fur in Noma (there have been residences along North Capitol, M Street NW, New York Ave NE (torn down now where the billboard is) less than a block away for more than 50 years, Lux on New York Ave NW( if you go around the corner you have residences)

by kk on Feb 5, 2014 5:17 pm • linkreport

David C- The whole impact of the term "Not in My Backyard" is lost when people use it as simply as opposing what they perceive as "progress" or whatever. The term originally came out to shame liberals who certainly supported things like public housing, etc. but for myriad dubious reasons not in proximity to themselves. Removing it's aspect of hypocrisy negates it's purpose as a useful and potent part of language.

People who have reasons why noise of this level shouldn't happen to THEIR home, but are supporters of it happening to other people in other places are certainly saying "It's great urbanism, but Not in MY Backyard. (fill in the necessary reasons why not; mandatory but not important).

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 5:33 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

You're putting words in other peoples' mouths and tilting against windmills. Nobody here has said "nuts to these guys, but I sure wouldn't want to live near Midtown et al." I, for one, would gladly live in a luxury highrise in that part of town, and I'm willing to bet that others on here would as well.

As long as the walls aren't made of Swiss cheese, I suppose. It's which is the only way I can imagine 85 decibels coming from an alley, or the 86 decibels emanating from the front of a bar angled away from me leading to a sound level in my unit anywhere remotely near disturbing.

by JDS32 on Feb 5, 2014 5:55 pm • linkreport

Re: NIMBY

But in this case, the proverbial backyard was already there. If not the specific club then the possibility of a club. That area has been known as a nightlife destination for a long time.

So if the problem is recent and there's a particular bad actor then that doesn't indict the overall zoning.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2014 6:00 pm • linkreport

drumz- The "backyard" was not there, at least on 14th. It traditionally was car dealership and light service even on 14th itself.

And on the side streets the portion toward 14th had beauty parlors, real estate offices, etc. but not a single bar or thought one would ever be there. Even today real estate agents will not disclose to clients that a bar could open on their block by their house.

And no one would think DC would be so incompetent as to have wrap-around zoning to allow new nightclubs on residential streets.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 6:16 pm • linkreport

A: but that's 14th street which is a little different. DuPont has had nightlife for a long time.

B: but regarding 14th or similar neighborhoods. One should absolutely expect the possibility that a commercial space geared towards day time activity can switch to one geared towards night time activity.

Wantig to make sure establishments want to follow noise regs is reasonable.

Wanting to change zoning to prevent certain businesses from operating and making and it turn making it harder for the city to be mixed use because they might cause a problem is less reasonable.

Why is it the zoning that must change and not the noise regs?

by Drumz on Feb 5, 2014 6:47 pm • linkreport

Tom.

1. You're understanding of the term NIMBY is in contrast to what most etymologists think (that came out of local opposition to landfills and nuclear energy projects)

2. My problem is not with you insisting that all NIMBYs are hypocrits (which I agree with) it is with you calling me a NIMBY without any evidence to support it.

3. People who have reasons why noise of this level shouldn't happen to THEIR home, but are supporters of it happening to other people in other places are certainly saying "It's great urbanism, but Not in MY Backyard."

No. You have misunderstood it I believe. Being a NIMBY means opposing the moving of some new piece of the community near to you, not because you oppose it in general, but because you oppose it being near you. Simply saying "Grocery stores are great, but I wouldn't want to live next to one" does not make you a NIMBY.

I would not say I support other people dealing with loud noise late at night. We have noise regulations - I believe - and I support them. They should be enforced. But where a business is operating within the law (albeit loudly), and someone moves in next to it, and then complains about the noise, I have little sympathy for them. Buyer beware and all.

by David C on Feb 5, 2014 9:05 pm • linkreport

David C
I think there's a lot of reasons why a power plant and a dance club are not analogous.

True but the relevant similarities are that they both provide a necessary service but have negative externalities in the form of pollution (air and noise). So, they need to have strictly enforced regulations to mitigate those externalities. Great care should also be taken in locating them to balance the tradeoff between ease of access (or ease of distribution in the case of electricity) and keeping the air/noise pollution away from people.

Also, just because the source of pollution predates the people living there, doesn't mean they should have to put up with it. Everyone wants to make their community a better place to live and hopefully that's a sentiment folks can relate to.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2014 10:01 pm • linkreport

just because the source of pollution predates the people living there, doesn't mean they should have to put up with it.

Why not?

by David C on Feb 5, 2014 10:08 pm • linkreport

drumz- The best way to stop any support for "mixed-use" is to make it into a slippery slope. There's proposals for "corner stores" in residential blocks and special zoning for parts of residential blocks to allow commercial uses.

If those could easily become nightclubs in the future kiss any support for those "mixed uses" goodbye.

DAvid C- I never called you a Nimby. I don't know whether you support nightclubs or extreme noise sources next to your home or not.

Taking the hypocritical aspect out of the term "Nimby" makes it meaningless or at least destroys a potent term in language.

The issue is that clearly the law IS being broken but will the law be enforced. People who want the law enforced are vilified when the culprit is a nightclub.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 5, 2014 10:21 pm • linkreport

Tom,

I'm not worried about a slippery slope. Considering this isn't an area that is somehow some new clubbing spot. It's been this way for a while (certainly before 2011!).

This is still about enforcement and not about DC's zoning update.

by drumz on Feb 6, 2014 8:20 am • linkreport

Tom,

I don't want to get into an argument about who said what, but I want to explain why I think you called me a NIMBY. You said this:

I suspect, not surprisingly, that most of the people who advocate against "nimbys" in reference to nightclub noise are themselves traditional hypocritical
Nimbys where they are themselves concerned.

So, that's why I think you did, in fact, call me a nimby.

I don't know whether you support nightclubs or extreme noise sources next to your home or not.

I don't. Which is why I live where I live. There are many things I don't want to live by or that I do want to live by and those factored into my decision. If noise had not bothered me, I might have live in an apartment in Adams Morgan, but it does, so I don't. People have to take some responsibility for their decisions.

Taking the hypocritical aspect out of the term "Nimby" makes it meaningless or at least destroys a potent term in language.

I've already said that I agree with this. Why are you repeating it?

The issue is that clearly the law IS being broken but will the law be enforced. People who want the law enforced are vilified when the culprit is a nightclub.

Who's being vilified? And by whom? All I'm saying is buyer beware.

by David C on Feb 6, 2014 10:10 am • linkreport

drumz- But your premise is that any commercial could easily become a nightclub and people should have been aware of that.

Therefore anyone would be crazy to allow the new "mixed use" commercials to come into their block.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 6, 2014 11:29 am • linkreport

I think that's absolutely reasonable to expect in Dupont Circle and several other neighborhoods in DC.

Being close to things (including nightclubs) is a big reason people live and move to DC. That's why a lot of people may not empathize with the resident's outrage as much as they'd hope for.

It's not zoning's fault when its your neighbor being too loud. Why is it zoning's fault when it's a club?

by drumz on Feb 6, 2014 11:47 am • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

Why would people be crazy to allow mixed use zoning on their block? Not all commercial-zoned uses are nightclubs - in fact, they're quite rare. I'd still like to hear some examples of nightclubs opening next to residences. And please note, there's a huge difference between a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol and a nightclub.

Not to mention I'm not sure I see the validity in your slippery slope argument. 14th St and U St have historically been highly trafficked commercial corridors, so color me completely unsurprised that they have continued to be highly trafficked commercial corridors, just with a different set of businesses. I'm quite skeptical that opening a Capitol Hill corner store would be the tipping point that leads to nightclubs opening on every block.

Mixed-use zoning allows for boutiques, hardware stores, gyms, cafes, and even the occasional loud bar to be located near residences. This vibrancy is the reason many people choose to live in commercial corridors to begin with.

by JDS32 on Feb 6, 2014 11:48 am • linkreport

JDS32- Is that why most people moving to commercial streets are moving into vertical gated communities with as little contact with the neighborhood as possible?

It's bad enough that DC doesn't have any zoning rules (or ABRA rules) to prevent new bars from moving to the edge portions of residential blocks. But the new mixed-use proposals promise only certain types of commercial would be allowed further into residential blocks. If residents don't trust that they could never become bars there will be no mixed-use zoning.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 7, 2014 9:35 am • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

No, they're moving to "vertical gated communities" because those allow for more people to fit in the same footprint, thus allowing more people to live in a vibrant commercial corridor than would otherwise be possible in the case of a SFH.

And again, you have yet demonstrate why allowing commercial uses in residential neighborhoods is undesirable without invoking a slippery slope fallacy. The notion of residential corner stores inevitably turning into nightclubs doesn't fly.

by JDS32 on Feb 7, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

I blame myself for the thread that lead to the assumption that suddenly any commercial space could turn into a night club.

Generally, its reasonable to expect that when you move to a neighborhood, any store or commercial space could totally switch its use (i.e. a coffeeshop closes and a bar opens in its place). Obviously local zoning laws vary and I can't answer for every neighborhood but it's not an outrage when a club opens in space that formerly didn't hold a club.

So, if you're making a decision about where to move to then one should recognize that the commercial landscape may change. If that happens, it's not the zoning's fault.

by drumz on Feb 7, 2014 10:34 am • linkreport

People should be able to trust that mixed-use zoning in residential blocks has limits and those limits will be enforced.

No one trusts OP and OP gets nothing accomplished because of that distrust.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 7, 2014 12:20 pm • linkreport

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