The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


ANCs just got better

While DC's ANC races garnered relatively little press coverage compared to Congress and local governors or councilmembers, voters in DC make important decisions when they cast their ballots yesterday in these local races. Overall, our ANCs are going to get better, thanks to involvement by the voters of DC.

Photo by ImaginaryGirl on Flickr.

For example, we're very excited that David Garber decisively won his race to represent Near Southeast. Tom Quinn struck a blow for smart growth on Wisconsin Avenue. Lisa White beat Kingman Park community garden critic Veronica Ranglin.

A lot of good challengers didn't win, but a lot did. A lot of good incumbents kept their seats, and few seats are going to get worse as a result.

Along with coverage of ANC races has come the periodic introspection of whether ANCs are doing good or ill.

Matt Yglesias suggested giving them more of a stake in the economic success of their neighborhood, and Lydia DePillis followed with a bunch of great ideas, including requiring ANCs to reach out to the public in the ways the better ANCs already do.

Good ideas aside, as DePillis points out, the best way to fix ANCs is to get involved:

But the most critical way in which ANCs can be made more useful—and I'm sorry if this sounds trite—is simply to find ways to increase participation. It's not like structure is the only reason ANCs tend to be anti-stuff, after all. There are plenty of anti people in every community, and when they're the loudest voices, even the most perfectly designed institution will bend to their will. You really have no right to complain about an ANC's activities if you're not involved in the first place.
We illuminated a number of problems with current ANCs, most notably the conduct of ANC 6D in Southwest and Near Southeast toward potential retailers. That's naturally generated a lot of calls to simply abolish ANCs entirely, but hopefully it also stirred some energy to go vote or tell your friends to vote.

Now, that problem with ANC 6D is largely fixed. The commissioner representing the area with all these new buildings and retail (at least until redistricting makes the district smaller) is now supportive of lively streets.

Likewise, ANC 5C got copious bad press for its shameful treatment of Big Bear, but now, the commission has at least two more Big Bear supporters than they did before. Barrie Daneker, the Bloomingdale commissioner who opposed Big Bear and a member of the DC Democratic State Committee with support from many entrenched pols, lost to challenger James Fournier, and J. Jioni Palmer is replacing Marshall Phillips. Once again, reform accomplished, at least on this issue.

Capital Bikeshare cheerleader Brian Pate unseated longtime incumbent Kenan "Ken" Jarboe on Capitol Hill, who opposed the Capital Bikeshare station on the southeast corner of Lincoln Park. Rachelle Nigro took out Theresa Sule in Shaw, and assuming Nigro won't pull the same strange betrayal of her supporters that Sule did, this heralds a long-sought end to the deadlock on ANC 2C.

ANC 5C will also be less hostile to businesses, 6B more friendly toward bike sharing, 7D less suspicious of community gardens, 3E more favorable to smart growth, and so forth.

We could have reformed the ANCs structurally, and perhaps some changes are still appropriate, but we've also quickly reformed that particular one in the simplest possible way: with an election.

Of course, even the best commissioners need constant feedback from us residents to make good choices outside election season. So few people show up to most ANC meetings or lobby most ANC commissioners that even one engaged resident can persuade an ANC on many issues. It's just important for supporters of retail and smart growth to be some of those engaged residents.

How did Greater Greater Washington fare overall?

In 13 of 38 races where we endorsed a challenger over an incumbent, the challenger won:

  • Rachelle Nigro took out Theresa Sule despite a crowded field with some spoilers in Shaw's 2C04
  • Jioni Palmer beat Marshall Phillips in 5C08 in Edgewood. Phillips failed to qualify for the ballot but tried to keep his seat in a write-in.
  • James Fournier unseated Barrie Daneker in 5C07, covering northern Bloomingdale and Stronghold
  • Vaughn Bennett surpassed Rayseen Woodland for southern Brookland's 5B04
  • Brian Pate beat Kenan Jarboe for 6B05 south of Lincoln Park
  • Brian Flahaven won in Barney Circle's 6B09, site of the recent and ongoing historic district debate
  • David Garber will be the new commissioner for Near Southeast's 6D07
  • Lisa White ousted Veronica Ranglin in Kingman Park's 7D01
  • Robert Jordan beat absentee commissioner and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council appointee Richard Evans for 7B06, which includes Fairfax Village.
  • Liz Pecot bested Rick Tingling-Clemons in 7D05 around Benning Road Metro
  • Louise Thorne defeated Von Pariss to represent 8B07, Shipley Terrace and Douglass
  • Brenda Shields took out Cardell Shelton in Southern Congress Heights' 8C07
  • Angela Hooker displaced Karlene Armstead for the 8E06 district spanning Congress Heights and Washington Highlands.
In one race, a different challenger won:
  • Aaron Spencer edged out Tucker Gallagher to take the U Street 1B02 seat held by Peter Raia. We liked both but gave the edge to Gallagher; Spencer will likely be a good step forward for the ANC as well.
In 22 races, the incumbent won:
  • Juan Lopez kept his seat against a spirited challenge by Brittany Kademian in the Meridian Hill 1B07.
  • Lenwood "Lenny" Johnson fended off Jonathan Madison in southern Park View's 1A10.
  • Gregg Edwards held onto his Mount Pleasant 1D04 seat, though only with 51% to Phil Grenier's 45%.
  • Ramon Estrada withstood the challenge from Sunit Talapatra in 2B09 southwest of 14th and U, but by a smaller percentage margin.
  • Doris Brooks, who obviously has a strong base, kept her Penn Quarter seat 2C03, though also by a far smaller percentage than in 2008.
  • Beverly Sklover won in AU Park's 3E01 against Jonathan McHugh
  • Ann Haas was reelected in 3D09 in Foxhall Village
  • Tom Smith defeated AU write-in Tyler Sadonis in 3D02
  • Mary Farmer-Allen turned back Darin Allen in 5C06 (Eckington/Edgewood)
  • Carolyn Steptoe will continue her controversial representation in Brookland's 5A07
  • David Hooper turned back Laura Casperson and Arthur Yarbrough in central Trinidad's 5B07
  • India Henderson won in 5B10 in Carver-Langston
  • Joyce Robinson-Paul was victorious in 5C02 (Eckington and Truxton Circle)
  • Gladys Mack outdid Necothia "Nicki" Bowens in Rosdale's 6A07
  • Mark Dixon fended off Rob Amos in 6C02 on New Jersey Avenue, with a fairly disappointing (for Amos) 65-33%. All involved members of the neighborhood we spoke to were excited about Amos, who ran originally on the assumption that Dixon wasn't going for another term.
  • Catherine Woods beat the Capitol View Civic Association's Ronnie Streff for 7C03
  • Sharita Slayton will get another term in Eastland Gardens' 7D02
  • Carolyn Bridges-Ward kept her seat for 8A05 in Historic Anacostia
  • Darrell Gaston prevailed in 8B03 (Woodland)
  • Mitchell Hawkins carried the day in 8B06 (Shipley Terrace)
  • Dion Jordan and Mary Cuthbert won in 8C02 and 8C03 (both spanning Barry Farm and Congress Heights)
In 17 of 21 races where we endorsed an incumbent, they won:
  • Deborah Thomas prevailed in 1B04 around 14th and W
  • Bill Brown was victorious in Columbia Heights' 1A06
  • Kevin Chapple beat back another challenge by Leroy Thorpe in Shaw's 2C02.
  • Anne-Marie Bairstow will keep representing Woodley Park in 3C03
  • Jackie Blumenthal was reelected in 3B02 in Glover Park
  • Angel Alston got another term in Riggs Park's 5A03
  • Thalia Wiggins narrowly won her first full term in Trinidad's 5B06. She gained the seat in a special election during the past cycle.
  • Tina Laskaris gained a more decisive majority in 5B08, farther to the east in Trinidad
  • Norman Metzger, Kirsten Oldenburg, and Carol Green will remain in their seats (6B03, 6B04, and 6B07) in an otherwise significantly changing southern Capitol Hill ANC.
  • Ron McBee, Roger Moffatt, and Rhonda Hamilton will keep representing their Southwest districts 6D03, 6D05, and 6D06.
  • Villareal "VJ" Johnson finished in front in 7A07 on Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Evelyn Hunter Armstrong won in Marshall Heights' 7E06
  • William Ellis held his seat in 8C01, Barry Farm
In 3 races, the challenger won instead:
  • Ahnna Smith beat RT Akinmboni in 1B08, one where we had nice things to say about both candidates.
  • Bobby Holmes beat LaKeisha Thomas in 1A09; we fell down on this one by missing Holmes on the BOEE list and only evaluating the other challenger, Sam Moore.
  • Ivan Frishberg, one of the EMMCA candidates on Capitol Hill, took out Mary Wright in 6B02.
In 9 of 10 open seats where we endorsed, our choice won:
  • Lauren McKenzie took the prize in Pleasant Plains' 1B09
  • Olivier Kamanda beat Jose Sueiro in 1C03 in Adams Morgan. Political insiders had said they expected Sueiro to win, but Kamanda got 66% of the vote; we probably can't take credit for that but it goes to show you can't always believe the predictions.
  • Laura Phelan won over write-in Adam Hoey in 1D02 in northeastern Mount Pleasant.
  • Tom Quinn surpassed Sally Greenberg in 3E04 in Tenleytown and Friendship Heights. Our endorsement of Quinn in this race generated intense debates on the local listserv about whether Greenberg really was for smart growth as she claimed, or not.
  • Deon Jones will represent AU students in 3D07 as long as Tom Smith's challenge to his candidacy doesn't succeed in keeping him from taking office.
  • Corey Griffin emerged victorious in the three-way 5A10 in eastern Brookland.
  • Adam Healy came out on top of the three-candidate field in 6A01 north of H Street.
  • Sharee Lawler will represent 6A05 in eastern Capitol Hill.
  • Kevin Wilsey prevailed in the Penn Quarter's 6C09
In the other one, another candidate won:
  • Adam Tope took the Van Ness area 3F01. We hadn't been able to gather much information on Tope when we made the call for Mike Siegel and there was little on Tope's website, but he followed up with a very nice email and comment explaining his smart growth support. We look forward to working with him.
A few are so close that absentees could swing the balance:
  • Challenger Tim Clark is ahead of Denise Wright by 3 votes in 5C02 in eastern Eckington. We endorsed Clark.
  • Neil Glick, whom we supported, is holding on to a 9-vote lead out of over 650 votes cast to keep his seat in 6B08 southeast of Lincoln Park.
  • Incumbent Keith Silver leads our endorsee Marge Maceda also by only 3 votes in 6C01, with 5 write-ins.
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


Add a comment »

The most remarkable thing to me is that so many people run and serve. And they run hard. All the candidates deserve our respect for dedicating their time to what I think of as a fairly thankless civic duty. ANC members do not get paid and they must devote a lot of time both to getting elected and to serving once they are elected. When running, they put themselves out there for bloggers like us to say possibly negative things about them based on the shreds of information that we can dig up. I hope we don't forget to thank all of them for their service.

by Steven Glazerman on Nov 3, 2010 11:16 am • linkreport

anyone know who won in 1D01 (also Mt. Pleasant)?

by weshla on Nov 3, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

"most notably the conduct of ANC 6D in Southwest and Near Southeast toward potential retailers "

In what geographical area does "Near Southeast" cover? I don't think I've ever heard of that particular distinction.

by HogWash on Nov 3, 2010 11:50 am • linkreport

"Near Southeast" refers to the area where the new ballpark exists by Navy Yard.

by Snowpeas on Nov 3, 2010 12:00 pm • linkreport

Can't wait for Marion Barry to annex the prize SW (development) area.

by Snowpeas on Nov 3, 2010 12:05 pm • linkreport

@Steven Glazerman

I respect your perspective but some ANC commissioners are buffoons and bring little to the table. The commissioner in my single member district has roughly 6th grade writing skills and our neighborhood leaders need to work around him rather than with him. I'm convinced that while the job can be thankless, and even opens him to public criticism, that he'll never give it up without a dog fight because it's part of his identity. The ANC makes him somebody who matters and amplifies his voice.

by North Cap on Nov 3, 2010 12:05 pm • linkreport

All the candidates deserve our respect for dedicating their time to what I think of as a fairly thankless civic duty. ANC members do not get paid and they must devote a lot of time both to getting elected and to serving once they are elected.

Isn't this the problem? It's a thankless, unpaid job, but there are lot of them required, and it takes a lot of effort to get such a position, so the city only functions if you have a bunch of egomaniacs obsessed with the idea of being a "Commissioner," and they're going to decide to leverage what little power they have to use against whatever convenient target happens to be in front of them.

Kind of funny to see Sule go down by such a big margin: she forgot that you have to dance with the one that brung ya. There was a similar dynamic at work in ANC5C, I think: the anti-big-bear commissioners were demagoguing about issues outside their SMD for issues of ego and to curry favor with some loud voices while ignoring the interests of their own SMD. For the most part, I'm gladdened by the ANC results around the city.

by JustMe on Nov 3, 2010 12:08 pm • linkreport

It's not like structure is the only reason ANCs tend to be anti-stuff, after all.

What at enlighting comment ... Isn't everyone anti-'the other side of the issue'? I mean, should we be saying cyclists are 'anti' because they view the whole car/bike interaction from the other side ... What I'm reading into this is someone who can't understand that there are many facets to an issue, and no one is 'anti' an issue ... but instead 'pro' another issue ...

Honestly, people who aren't able to understand that there are always to side to an issue, are dangerous in their simplemindedness.

by Lance on Nov 3, 2010 12:10 pm • linkreport

Any reason why GGW didn't cover any races in Ward 4? I kept waiting, as posts on all 7 of the other wards in DC were covered, for the GGW take on Ward 4... but it was never posted.

I know that the election is over, but I'm wondering what GGW thinks of ANC 4B.

by James on Nov 3, 2010 12:19 pm • linkreport

Lance, the point is that ANCs have little power to support anything in a tangible way, but a lot of power to oppose. So there is a structural imbalance involved: no matter how many voices might support something, the power of the ANCs llies in their ability to oppose it. This is similar to the dysfunction of liquor licenses where your voice can't be heard if you support it, only if you oppose it, giving a natural advantage to opponents.

by JustMe on Nov 3, 2010 12:21 pm • linkreport

It's been my experience that most ANCs don't want to "oppose" but they have no other way for the community's voice to be heard when developers and the city try to shove projects down their throats. Let's not overlook the fact that ANC members are community residents and are usually advocating on behalf of the constituents that elect them. So to frame the discussion as reps being anti-development, anti-smart growth, anti-bike lanes, or anti-retail is to not understand what ANCs are elected to do. If they "oppose" a plan it is probably because they believe the plan can be improved to the benefit of residents. At least that has been my experience in SW ANC 6D.

by Snowpeas on Nov 3, 2010 1:00 pm • linkreport

Let's hope all 5 of those write-ins go to Maceda in 6C01. She will really bring change to the ANC.

by Shipsa01 on Nov 3, 2010 1:01 pm • linkreport

@ James: I asked the same question the other day...see here (a few comments down):


by Jeanne on Nov 3, 2010 1:05 pm • linkreport

@jeanne: you can use that little "link" icon next to the name for a comment to link directly to a comment. Just for future reference.

I think David said that there were no 4th ward endorsements because we weren't able to get any information about candidates that would lead to conclusions.

by Michael Perkins on Nov 3, 2010 1:50 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: Yes, that is indeed what David said, and I find it pretty humiliating. It's amazing that there's enough information out there to glean from Every Other Ward, but so little about Ward 4 that it gets passed over entirely. Were the ANC candidates (and I realize that very few seats were contested in the first place) really that bad at getting the word out about their ideas, agendas, and plans for the ward?

And I apologize for my non-use of the link icon. (Then again, what can you expect from a lil' ol' Ward 4 bumpkin like me?)

by Jeanne on Nov 3, 2010 2:14 pm • linkreport

I just want to emphasize for everyone feeling left out about Ward 4 that we really, really tried hard to get some ward 4 info. The contributors can tell you how many times I emailed to ask people to find out info about Ward 4 and come up with something.

As it turned out, Monday afternoon I finally heard from someone who had info on Ward 4, who I hadn't realized lived in Ward 4 or I would have asked him sooner. Unfortunately, there were only a few hours left in the day, and our process for having consensus endorsements involved giving all contributors a chance to review and sign off on each other's endorsements, and there just wasn't time left to do that.

Next time, I promise to have Ward 4, now that I know at least one source from whom I can get needed info.

by David Alpert on Nov 3, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

David, no hard feelings toward you or any of GGW's contributors. I don't blame you, I just think it's really interesting (and somewhat embarrassing) that the information flow from all of the other wards seemed to come so easily, whereas getting information about Ward 4 seemed to require hiring a private investigator. I just can't believe it was that hard. It *shouldn't* be that hard!

by Jeanne on Nov 3, 2010 2:30 pm • linkreport

I was also disappointed that there was no coverage of Ward 4, especially 4C where one of our famously bad ANC commissioners, Timothy Jones in ANC4C08, was being challenged. Well guess what - no coverage and he got re-elected.

I'd think that this blog would be interested as this guy basically opposes everything - he's against trees, against walkability, against the Great Streets program, generally against anyone under 50 who moved to Petworth in the last 20 years. I kept looking for the Ward 4 post and commented a couple times to ask when it was coming...Alas, no.

by SL on Nov 3, 2010 2:35 pm • linkreport

I think you missed the ANC 3D01 race, which the challenger Kent Slowinski beat the incumbent Betty Sandza.

by ah on Nov 3, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport

Thanks for answering my question Jeanne, David and Michael. No love lost for GGW.

by James on Nov 3, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport

BTW, the "other" AU contest for 3D07 (which is/was not represented) received a grand total of 24 write-in votes. Presumably the AU candidate got a majority of those, but that's a pretty pathetic turnout for that campaign. They got only 39 write-ins against Tom Smith (not necessarily all for the AU candidate).

So either there was AU apathy or Tom Smith's voter intimidation tactics worked.

by ah on Nov 3, 2010 2:46 pm • linkreport


While the write-ins for that race received 24 votes, there are scores of provisional ballots. It will take 10+ days for BOEE and Tom Smith's attorneys to sort it out.

One entry at the Facebook page said:

"The current ANC commissioner does not understand the lives we lead as students. He has already begun to shake in his boots this morning knowing that when students unite we have a strong voice! Don't believe me - try talking to him outside the polling place. He was there this morning and must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed".

by William on Nov 3, 2010 2:55 pm • linkreport

@SnowPeas "Near Southeast" refers to the area where the new ballpark exists by Navy Yard."

Thanks for the info. Guess I don't understand why someone would name a part of a city as "near [insert location]," especially that particular area which is already located in SE. Isn't it actually in SE already, not near it?

Hey, where do you live? Oh I live in "Near Northwest."

Doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. You are close enough to SE without being in it?

Sounds strange.

by HogWash on Nov 3, 2010 3:00 pm • linkreport

It's "near" as in "nearby." The part of Southeast "near" the center city.

by MLD on Nov 3, 2010 3:04 pm • linkreport

@HogWash - we have "Near Northeast" above H Street and below Florida Ave.; why not "Near Southeast" too?

by Jeanne on Nov 3, 2010 3:08 pm • linkreport

I think it is named "Near" southeast because of it's proximity to the the quadrant axis(or Capitol if you prefer). Near as in closeness to the core as opposed to near as in next to. Besides "Northwest" has positive cache, no need to dilude it where as Southeast generally has negative cache, hense the need to distinguish it.

by Scott KC on Nov 3, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

@Scott, Besides "Northwest" has positive cache, no need to dilude it where as Southeast generally has negative cache, hense the need to distinguish it..

Thanks Scott, that's pretty much why I thought it was named such. Thanks to others for your thoughts as well. But I think it bears repeating that the area in question (from what I now understand) around the new baseball stadium is in SE so I still don't understand how it's "near" what it is already "in."

This isn't much of an issue but I'm hoping that all of you all consider your explanations and really think about whether they makes sense. Eastern Market in IN SE not NEAR SE. Hopefully you follow my point.

I live in SE, minutes from the Waterfront SW area, VA, NW, and NE. Should I say I live in Near NW? lol

To be honest, this sounds like an attempt by recent DC transplants to rebrand areas of DC to their own liking.

by HogWash on Nov 3, 2010 4:20 pm • linkreport

"Near Southeast" IS SE but is not "across the river" which is sooooooooooooooooooo far away from "near DC" it is considered another city.

by Snowpeas on Nov 3, 2010 5:02 pm • linkreport


Rebranding aside, Eastern Market isn't in "near southeast" anyway. As I understand it, Near Southeast represents the area to the east of South Capitol Street, south of the SE/SW Freeway, and North of the Anacostia River.

What else would you call that area? Capitol Riverfront? The Navy Yard? Capper Carrolsburg?

Near Southeast sure isn't creative, but it took root because that's no longer a place that has an identifiable name. Only a small portion of the site is the Navy Yard. Capper is gone.

If you want some more dry definitions, try the area elements of the DC Comprehensive Plan:

Check page 8 of that PDF, and you'll see the area we're talking about (Near Southeast) is the portion of the Comp Plan Area of "Near Southwest and Lower Anacostia Waterfront" that's actually in the SE quadrant.

If you want to talk about rebranding, then I'd focus on something like Capitol Riverfront - which is actually a rebranding. A name like "near southeast" is something completely analytical. I don't know why anyone would pick that - dry, legislative, and boring - as a new brand for a neighborhood.

by Alex B. on Nov 3, 2010 5:08 pm • linkreport

We have high hopes for Charles Wilson in ANC8A04!

by Anacostia on Nov 3, 2010 10:31 pm • linkreport

Funny, for years this area was simply called 'Southeast' ... with the area of the southeast quadrant on the other side of the Anacostia being called "Anacostia" or, nowadays, "River East" if you're referring to a large section than just "Anacostia". In any case, this WAS "Southeast" and known as such until it was sacrificed to the wrecking ball ... and repurposed from a nationally known nightclub entertainment district ((and warehouses around it) into a baseball stadium and offices/residences complex. I'd say the "Near Southeast" moniker is indeed an attempt to re-brand it now that it's been repurposed.

by Lance on Nov 3, 2010 11:15 pm • linkreport

That you an others keep busy by writing about DC is admirable.
However, the pervasive air of self-importance is a bit off putting.

by Mike on Nov 4, 2010 12:38 am • linkreport

However, the pervasive air of self-importance is a bit off putting.

Are you auditioning for Courtland Miloy's spot at the WaPo?

by Tyro on Nov 4, 2010 6:46 am • linkreport

Come on folks! Why are you so stubborn as to not understand that "near Southeast" does not refer to being "close to" Southeast, but rather it refers to being the opposite of "far Southeast", meaning of course across the river and in the outer portion(s) of the quadrant. There is little doubt that this designation is the brain-child of real estate interests, trying to convince potential buyers that "near Southeast" is a desirable location, just like the area close to RFK Stadium is now referred to as "Hill East". All of these designations are just so much bovine scatology, but of course the urban gentrifiers have to be lured with special branding that puts a new face on traditional DC neighborhoods.

by KevinM on Nov 4, 2010 9:12 am • linkreport

"requiring ANCs to reach out to the public in the ways the better ANCs already do." No, it's not up to an ANC to "reach out" to the public; it's up to the commissioners, as individuals, to reach out to their constituents. Because of conflicting opinions among commissioners, an ANC as a unit cannot do effective outreach, other than tabulating its activities, much as the DC Council lists bills under consideration. Individual commissioners, like Councilmembers, can and should communicate with their constituents, advising them what that commissioner thinks and plans and proposes. Being a single elected commissioner, he/she can speak forthrightly, whereas "an ANC" must be neutral, avoiding expressing any opinions.

I do "outreach" in my Mount Pleasant district via intensive Internet activity, and a monthly printed newsletter hand-delivered to every one of my 720 households. I can freely express my opinions about what's going on at ANC1D. I don't want "the ANC" speaking for me, any more than, say, Jim Graham would want "the District Council" to speak for him.

by Jack on Nov 4, 2010 9:53 am • linkreport

Another mistake made here (and by Lyida DePillis) is to imagine that ANCs can be "proactive" organizations. The essential duty of ANCs is to be "reactive", responding to "proposed matters of District government policy". Only when "reacting" to such "proposed matters" does an ANC have "great weight".

Yes, an ANC "may initiate its own proposal for District government action", but that does not entail "great weight", and District agencies are quite free to ignore any such proposals. Generally speaking, they do. After all, ANCs have no authority over any DC Government employees, nor control over any agency's budget. Our ability to bring about any new District action is feeble, far weaker than our power to say "no" to any proposed District action.

by Jack on Nov 4, 2010 10:02 am • linkreport

@Alex, Thanks for the links and please note I made clear in the previous post that I knew where Eastern Market was located, in SE, not near it.

After reviewing the PDF, I think my original question,

can be summed by what Lance, KevinM, ScottC and even Snowpeas wrote in their posts. It is the only reason I can imagine creating such strange designations for areas in the city, as if Wards and neighborhood names were not enough. I think if we’re serious enough with ourselves, we’d admit how really ridiculous it is. Trust me, I understand how creating alternate names for certain areas can make those places more attractive to potentials. In SE, some newer residents decided that the longtime “East of River” designation was no longer appropriate and favored “River East.” So I get it. But it doesn’t make the attempt any less ridiculous in this case.

My interest was sparked because I never heard the “Near Southeast” designation until reading this blog. It really was my first time. And thanks to the link provided, I now realize that the name (Near Southeast) does not exist. As Lance stated, that area has always been known as SE.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2010 10:17 am • linkreport

Breaking News: All place names are arbitrary and created by humans! More at 11!

by MLD on Nov 4, 2010 10:36 am • linkreport


For the Comp Plan, wards are insufficient because ward boundaries will change - they will change next year with redistricting following the release of 2010 Census data. The Comp Plan needs more geographic stability than that. So, they chose something else.

Neighborhoods are very subjective and hard to define. The borders are fuzzy, and that kind of plan demands a sharp delineation. So, they create something else - it's cold and bureaucratic, but that's what it's supposed to me.

I'd also note that those Comp Plan areas are all far larger than what we'd normally consider a neighborhood, and the one in question is certainly larger than the 'near southeast' area.

For more on the definition, please see:

-More wiki:,_Washington,_D.C.

The point is that this isn't some sinister re-branding as you seem to imply, nor is it creating an alternative brand for an area. The simple reason is that using the name for an entire quadrant of the city (like Southeast) to define a small area of a neighborhood is a severe mis-match of scale. That's like you asking me where I live, and I reply "the United States of America!" Is it accurate? Yes. Useful? No.

If you want to call it the Navy Yard instead, that's fine. I actually prefer that name myself, but fully admit that the name "Navy Yard" tends to describe the actual navy yard, and doesn't do justice to the neighborhood that surrounds it.

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2010 10:36 am • linkreport

Alex, No that isn't a good parallel. If I asked you where you lived, you would more likely describe either the state, city, or area. It's illogical to think that a stranger would know where "Near Southeast" and I doubt you would tell someone that. In fact, how is that more "useful" in describing where you actually live than saying, uhm, "I live in the Navy Yard/Annex area" or in "Near Northwest."

Yes, you are making an intellectual/analytical argument that makes no sense. My view is basic, simple, free from the complexity you describe. The area in question is already located in SE. Logically, there is no reason that thinking people should refer to it as “near” where it already is. There are many things the government does which I believe are dumb, and this is an example of such. Outside of a few, I doubt we will ever use the term “Near Northwest” in our everyday discussions.

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2010 12:56 pm • linkreport

Near Southeast. As opposed to Far Southeast.

Near Northwest. As opposed to Far Northwest.

All of those distinctions are within those Comp Plan areas. They are not meant to be neighborhood names. Your view is basic, simple, and free of complexity - but it also completely misses the point of what I'm saying.

I'm sure I could refer to your neighborhood by census tract number, too. That probably wouldn't mean much, since tract numbers are a purely analytical set of nomenclature. Near Southeast falls somewhere in between a census tract number and a descriptive, defined name like "navy yard." I don't know why you seem to question the need for different kinds of names to serve different kinds of purposes.

No, we won't use the term "near northwest" in our everyday discussions. That's the entire point! The term is specifically crafted for use outside of everyday discussions, because the terms we use everyday are insufficient.

by Alex B. on Nov 4, 2010 1:08 pm • linkreport

Hogwash- you have reverted to the same fallacy. The term "Near Southeast" is not meant to describe the area as being near Southeast DC, but rather as being the part of S.E. close to the center of the city. Honestly, I doubt that the DC government created this description to begin with, but more likely some real estate people. Indeed, nobody needs to refer to "Near Northwest", because generally, ALL of Northwest DC has at least a modicum of "cache". This is all smoke and mirrors for you folks new to DC, since long time residents and natives don't need convincing, by way of fancy branding, to buy or live in those parts of the city that have been re-branded.

by KevinM on Nov 4, 2010 1:13 pm • linkreport

Hogwash, do you also find the terms "near east" and "far east" to be confusing as well?

by MLD on Nov 4, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport

People refer to "upper northwest" all the time. I've heard the term "near southeast" ever since I moved here in 2002; it's always pretty clearly meant the part of the SE quadrant that is closest to downtown. It was a meaningful distinction because it described an area of proposed development where hardly anyone actually lived (hence no real neighborhood name) as opposed to the populous parts of SE, which actually have neighborhood names.

by Neil on Nov 4, 2010 1:59 pm • linkreport

Did I not just mention that this is one of the many things the goverment does that I think are dumb? Did I not admit that I looked at the Comp plan? So what are you still harping about. I wouldn't care if the terms were used in the master plan for creating Shangri-la. The designations are still dumb. Can I not have an opinion that these designations are dumb? Must I agree with the rationale? No I do not. What's so hard to understand about that. This whole conversation surfaced because david used this weirded out term to describe an area.

@Kevin, I agreed with you earlier when you stated this was likely a term designed by real estate people and that it's likely meant to lure people to this area through crafty advertising. So I don't think I'm really confusing anything here. Alex had already posted why the names were used. I still think it's dumb, especially since I've lived here since the late 90's.

@MLD, no I don't think they are necessarily confusing but I would neither is Near SE. My point is that the designations are simply dumb since no one outside of a few will actually use the terms. I compare it to the distinctions between upper and lower "middle classes." For the purposes of academia, it works. Outside of that, they are dumb distinctions.

@Neil, I think you are absolutely wrong and wager that if you asked most DC residents (outside of this "Near, Far crew), they would have no idea where "Near Southeast" is. That's something I can go out on a limb and claim as fact. And I think we should point out that according to the Comp Plan, there is no "Near Southeast" since the plan itself refers to the area as "Lower Anacostia Waterfront" and "Near Southwest."

by HogWash on Nov 4, 2010 2:56 pm • linkreport

@Alex B. The simple reason is that using the name for an entire quadrant of the city (like Southeast) to define a small area of a neighborhood is a severe mis-match of scale..

Actually, your analogy (about 'USA') doesn't hold because as far as I know 'Southeast' was never really used to refer to that part of the Southeast Quadrant on the other side of the Anacostia. "Southeast" was (and is) that sliver of the Southeast Quadrant that lies between South Capitol Street and the Anacostia River. Everyone knew where 'Southeast' was ... before it got torn down to put in a baseball stadium. Do some Googling on the 3 words 'Southeast Baseball Stadium' and I think you'll see what I mean ... First a DC treasure got razed and now it's being renamed.

by Lance on Nov 4, 2010 8:31 pm • linkreport

@Neil I've heard the term "near southeast" ever since I moved here in 2002; it's always pretty clearly meant the part of the SE quadrant that is closest to downtown.

And by the time you got here, that area was already slated to be torn down and replaced by a baseball stadium and new development. But it wasn't empty as your suggesting. Do some Googling, you'll learn that despite what the politicians, the media, and the developers said about it being 'empty', nothing could have been further from the truth. It was DC's SOHO, SOMA, and more ... Nationally known ... if not internationally. While I recognize that CM Evans has been instrumental in spurring development in this city, this is one area where he erred seriously. I'd bet the baseball stadium brings in far less in taxes, than the taxes these clubs brought in ... Actually, from what I hear this stadium is costing us money ... And, a whole part of the DC nightlife experience got destroyed to bring in ... the Nationals ... who can't seem to win much ... Sad ...

by Lance on Nov 4, 2010 8:41 pm • linkreport

I agree, my 6C02 loss was a disappointment, but was even more disappointing was that in my SMD, only 214 people actually voted out of a possible 1164 registered voters - that is what is really disappointing.

by RobA on Nov 5, 2010 10:35 am • linkreport

ANC 4C (Petworth-16th St Hts-Crestwood) also elected two, great new Commissioners: Jean Badalamenti, very active in 16th St Heights elected in SMD 4C03 and Rob Mandle in 4C10. Rob is one of the founders of the Petworth Community Market. Rob, by day, works with the Crystal City BID.

I am delighted they stepped forward and now will be joining our very productive Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

Joe Martin

by Joseph Martin on Nov 8, 2010 9:23 am • linkreport

Hope GGW gets more into the issues that just creating hyperpolie over just one issue like the Big Bear Cafe ABRA applicaiton. Furthermore if JustMe would get a grip on what is said instead of being another blogged without any sense of what is really going on this community will be in much better shape. There has been a lot love lost with GGW and with supporters of BBC.

by Barrie Daneker on Nov 15, 2010 1:09 pm • linkreport

Congrats to Lisa White! She won 60% of the vote in SMD 7D01 Kingman Park! Lisa White will bring the much needed change to the community! Go Lisa White!

by felix on Nov 16, 2010 10:14 am • 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)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

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.


Support Us