Notes on neighborhood activity in Washington D.C.

Introduction and preliminary explanations

These notes have been written parallel to actual research, so it seems reasonable to place description of that and that interview or running analysis at their position in time. Structurally it had to be a kind of climbing up, step by step, from the lowest level to the higher one, but life itself made certain corrections to that scheme inevitable, as my research ran parallel to electorial debate in D.C. getting more heat and venom to it every week. I've preserved personal remarks to the events of 7 weeks in the Capitol City, starting from July 6 and ending in August 26, 1994.

Being long engaged in urban development policy in Russia I underwent a long road before getting to understand the crucial significance of the neighborhood community for building democratic counterweight to the Municipal bureaucracy omnipotence. Natural enough to use my longer visit to USA to learn as much as possible about dramatic History of neighborhood communities in action. But why Washington of all places? None of Washington D.C. neighborhood communities had got Nationwide appraisal or was awarded for astonishing results of their activity. It would be easy to find far more spectacular examples in Philadelphia or Phoenix and elsewhere and yet I think it most substantial to undertake preliminary research in Washington D.C.

Strange as it is, not many researchers have shown much interest to Washington D.C, as a living City. Definitely, the National Capital is not as intriguing as New York with its Babylon touch, nor as appraised for its architecture as Chicago, nor as socially strained as Detroit etc. And yet Washington D.C. is of great interest especially for a Muscovite who is experiencingseemingly similar problems with his/her own City. The very fact that functioning as a National Capital does heavily burden the City itself in both cases, make investigation intriguing enough. For someone from Moscow which had been squeezed and crushed by that very functioning to an unprecedented degree, the fact that attempts to humanize the city in a down-up manner have been at least partly successful in Washington, is of tremendous value. Any Capital City has got problems with defining the border between it being a center of governmental bureaucracy and it being the place where ordinary people manage to live. Any Capital City shares problems brought by hordes of guests and tourists crowding its streets. Any National Capital is the most expensive place to live in the Country it is expected to control.

There is remarkable dissimilarity nevertheless and any Capital City would be best understood if treated like an entity in itself, as environment highly individualized. And still the eternal conflict between the Capital-in function and the living City is universal. That allows us to lay aside the fact that Washington is relatively small in comparison with London, Moscow, Paris or Berlin, that in contrast to European capitals, it has never had big Industry, so it is practically free from necessity to oust that troublesome heritage, but is most suffering from being near tomonofunctional. If we were to consider the Postindustrial City, then its ability to produce information and to distribute it Nation-wide and World-wide would be a primary asset, and to that criterium Moscow and Washington would seem alike. What is important to stress is the biggest discrepancy between Washington and Moscow, which lies in the fact that quite an important part of Washingtonian political and intellectual elite would be reshuffled every four years, adding strongly to the mobility factor, while till this moment Moscow has preserved its one-pole magnet character. Moscow absorbs more human energy than lets it out, so that neither emigration nor quasi-emigration (nobody has revealed statistics as yet, but thousands of Muscovites are working in the West for years with but short visits home) since Perestroyka years could not play any important role. The other important difference lies in a known fact that Moscow's input to National Economy has been ever bigger, than its share in the National Budget spending, while Washington seems to be a consuming area par excellence. Speaking in a pure theoretical way, this incongruity would mean that Moscow would have far bigger active citizens' movement than D.C., and yet nobody would be too much surprised to know that the order of things has been reverse.

As anybody knows, one can not observe new phenomena without comparing it to one's previous experience, so, whenever speaking on Washington D.C. I am bound by compulsion to think about Moscow.

Washington has long been first Capital, then the City. Moscow has been first the Capital, then — one of the biggest Industrial agglomerations, then — an intellectual center, then — a huge and loose agglomeration of high-rise housing, never a City. What makes me think Washington and Moscow comparable is artificiality of a Place. While so many words were spent to stress artificiality of St.-Petersburg in Russian literature, artificiality of Moscow has always been masked by its long History, by its being a Place for so many Centuries. Time is not as important as in Europe, when having Russia in mind, and though many things have been changing, and the urban tissue is not the same it used to be, the City structure the City "shape" have preserved practically intact.

It is worth notion that, though some citizens associations in Washington have been operating 50 years or more, Washingtonians have initiated the movement towards their City self-identification for good just a little earlier than their Moscow counterpart. After their upstart in mid-80s, about 500 Self-government commissions or committees have been registered in Moscow, so formally the two parallel processes might be comparable. Comparable as well is an explicit shift from the initial "counter-anything" attitude of the grass-root movements to their partial collaboration with the municipal authorities, that has taken place with the end of the 80s in Washington and from 1993 on in Moscow. Comparable is the fact that in both Cities but a small fraction of population really cares, that the number of active citizens that would devote a lot of their time to common affairs is in both cases relatively small, and any commission or association would rarely enlist more than 40 to 50 active members who are able to get support from something like 10 to 15 people each. One might add that in both cases the bulk of the volunteers' corps at any commission would be comprised to a great degree of people agitated over than average, of lonely women with kids and of ambitious men who could not have achieved the level of success in their professional life, they would consider satisfactory. And last but not least, in both cases one would expect that the lowest level of social organization would be used as a spring-board by ambitious young politicians, yet till this moment it is not so in Moscow, where elections to the so-called Municipal Districts Boards have been postponed several times through 1994.

With so many similarities actualized or potential in mind, I've long wished to know more about Washington D.C. as an urban arena where social action has well started to emerge through a thick layer of the Capital functions. I've got certain first-hand experience in understanding urban self-government issues in Berlin and London, so the only thing I had to be cautious with, was a self-imposed taboo or any preconceived opinion as to what self-government is and how it operates. The eyes were to be wide open first, reasoning should be invited a little later.

Curiosity has been accompanied by pragmatic interest toward the state of the art, as, trying hard to play in earnest my role of an adviser to the Moscow Mayor's Office, I felt obliged to find those simple tools of linking the Local, i.e. the Community at its neighborhood level, and the whole of the City, that might be useful for the Moscow Statute project — soon to be presented for the first reading at the Moscow Duma (Council).

I am most grateful to the Woodrow Wilson Center and to its Director, Blair Ruble in particular, for presenting me with a possibility to proceed with this work in Summer, 1994. I am most thankful to Margarita Gutman, Ney Dos Santos Oliviera and Anne Whiston Spirn, whom I own much of understanding better my own City through discussions within the "urban cluster" at WWCIS. I also am to express my gratitude to many people who have devoted much of their time to patient answering my numerous questions during hours and hours of interviewing.


It is often reasonable to start, just diving in a given situation, prior to reading through pages and pages of reports, articles or surveys — especially on those cases, where information already gathered definitely exceeds one's ability to study it all. Such is for sure the case with both the Neighborhood Advisory Commissions and the Civic Associations in D.C. There are too many of them and certain monotony, being result of briefing their activity, is forbidding. One would find it hard to penetrate deeper, using written matter only and so, finding establishing contact at various places quite easy, I've had to use the opportunity. The only exception was the police officers, perhaps used to be cautious because of the Mass Media impertinence and irrelevance, who as a rule asked me to switch the tape-recorder off before answering the simplest question.

Perhaps the most significant innovation in urban governance coming with the Home Rule Charter, that gave Washington its City Council and its elected Mayor, was the formation of official neighborhood commissions in 1976 (section 738 of the Chart).

The ANCs are advisory boards composed of residents elected from the District's neighborhoods. They are independent bodies which advise the government on policy issues affecting their particular neighborhoods. There are 37 such commissions in the District, each divided into sub-areas called Single Member Districts (SMDs) with about 2000 residents each. In all, there are 299 individual Commissioners, representing these SMDs.

Formally, the ANCs consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods. These include traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection as well as the District's annual budget. In a sense, the ANCs are the body of the government with the closest official ties to the people in a neighborhood.

The law requires that ANCs be given prior notice before proposed government action which affects the Commission area is implemented. In many cases ANCs are given at least thirty days written notice of proposed actions, and their formal comments are invited. The law further specifies that comments from ANCs must be given "great weight" when the final decisions of the government are made. It is quite understandable that even in an old Democracy like USA, the law in itself is not too much unless it is imposed at any given situation, and I could quickly discover that ANCs are not an exception to that general principle.

The operations of ANCs are funded by the District of Columbia tax revenues. It is interesting that ANCs may not solicit funds in excess of $400 from private sources, unless specifically authorized by the Council. There are four basic requirements for an ANC Candidate:

-must be a registered voter in the District of Columbia;

-must be a resident of the Single Member District for at least 60 days prior to the filing of the nomination petition,

-must present to the Board of Elections a nominating petition signed by at least 25 registered voters who reside in the SMD,

-must hold no other elected office (Mayor, Chairman or Member of the Council, Member of the Board of Education, or Delegate to the House).

So far the official side of the stage.

Case-study 1. ANC meeting. Palisades Station, 3D. July 11, 1994.

Scenery — a small hall belonging to the American University, with which the ANC is struggling on one particular case, neat and clean, though there is not enough light and acoustics is poor. The meeting that started at 8.00 PM, took full 3 hours till 11 PM.

An affluent neighborhood of appr. 14.000 people, mainly White, mainly living in their privately-owned houses. As it might be expected, the agenda of the meeting deals not so much with Crime or the Schools, yet first of all with preserving the quality of the Place and its value. That's definitely a Place with distinctive features and though particular houses would be aesthetically better or worse, their appearance reveals high level of care and love.

Treasurer's report shows that of the money received from the City-Hall ($8,000 for every Commissioner, as with any other ANC, so, $56,000 the annual Budget) about $4,500 still were laid for smaller grant-making to be provisioned for September). The Administrator's letter (the woman has been doing part-time job for $1,360 a month) concerning renewal of the contract for the next year with a 9% increase was discussed and approved without longer debate. It's interesting that the reason for an increase was never discussed, provided that Administrator was doing her job well, and the only question raised was about the earnings of Administrators at neighboring ANCs. It is valid to notice that this personal question was discussed with the petitioner coming out of the hall -in Russia that would be impossible, and these minor differences are of utmost importance when thinking about specific know-how to be transposed, borrowed and implemented. Several features more are worth attention.

a.Not too many people were willing to attend the meeting and of some thirty persons present at the beginning nearly two thirds happily marched out after what proved to be the main point of interest.

My later discussion with the Eleanor Lewis, the Chairlady, has supported the observation brought from Russia that no more than 2.5% or 3% of the residents at best might be considered really concerned citizens. The same proportion, or still less, was given by my British and German colleagues from their experience. 3 of a 100 seem to be a realistic ground for any program that would include training for action and the like. I've never heard of a bigger number and to a certain degree that both clarifies situation and makes it practical. One would easily imagine working with some 30 people who would stand for a Thousand, while to work with several Hundreds (not in uniform) is near to impossible.

b.Both high living standard and education at the Palisades should be considered a foundation for this particular ANC (as well as some other ones of the same quality) to make real use of its right to make an opinion on D.C. legislative acts and to initiate their revision. One of the residents had proposed a highly professional and elaborate project of change to "Probate Reform Amendment Act of 1994" in order to introduce a "Flexible System of Administration" for admitting a will to probate.

The proposal was taken with full understanding as local residents would have too often felt in person or through working with their clients, unnecessary hardships of probating real estate in D.C. They would know how to compare that to the same procedure in other States, i.e. they would be directly interested. No wonder that project was approved without hesitation, being supported by the opinion of the Chairlady who was the one to read it with attention.

The Bill 10-554 on "Juvenile Curfew Amendment Act of 1994" to establish a curfew for juveniles under the age of 17 from 11 PM to 6 AM. Sunday through Thursday and 12 AM to 6 AM Friday and Saturday met as much attention. And again, as it might be predicted, at ANC 3D, this Bill was severely criticized on the ground that it was one of those Acts that would be first of all impractical, because the existing Police force was not enough to pursue the goal and that the obvious goal — to have formal ground for detention of petty drug traders among the juveniles — would be hard to tie to the traditional Democracy values.

c.Status report on "Chicken Out Rotisserie" as a project for rehabilitation and use of the former Exxon gasoline station and the discussion that followed were lengthy and full of minute details. One could see that all of the parties interested — the restaurant-chain proprietor, the developer and the architect — were very careful in preparing their argument. They well understood that ANC could really bring any further work to a halt, so each question was answered by the person best qualified. One could witness as well that the ANC members and speakers from the floor would express notions balanced, well-worded and to the matter. There were naturally protective-oriented arguments in favor of the project that would eliminate suspicions as to possible negative effects, but there were as well positive-oriented arguments stressing importance of adding life and bringing new jobs to the community.

It is of interest that the architect was careful to stress her real involvement into preserving the local character — entrance to a new restaurant is meant to preserve the entrance canopy for the cars of the former gasoline station, for example. The residents felt it important as well to save this particular land-mark of the Thirties from oblivion.

When later I was discussing the type of contacts architects and developers would have with ANC, with the Author of that small rehabilitation project (she would not agree to call it small, by the way, which once more has shown me the deep imprint of 'soviet' grandeur on my own mentality), she revealed that the owner — earlier operating in Maryland — would never expect so lengthy a procedure, so that his plans had to take 6 to 9 months more than anticipated). From various sources I've got confirmation that adding obstacles to quick investment projects, the ANCs had practically brought improvement to the urban environment and the urban economy as well — far less badly-prepared projects have got a chance to be implemented than 10 years earlier when the ANC system started for good. Architects got used to it, although it is rather hard with the old-timers in the job. In a way that strengthened the local element in their activity and made competition from outside more difficult, as a developer would rather seek for an architect's office, strongly anchored to a particular part of the City, with an established reputation there. Being aware of the interaction duration, architects are careful to make a contract in that way, that all the preliminary stages of research and design would be paid monthly in proportion to time spent. In a way it looks like restitution of a Medieval type relation between the community and the architect and it is quite possible we soon will be able to speak on Community-based architectural practice, being private and at the same time responsible before ANC and the Citizens associations.

d.A discussion on the American University attempt to move its Law School to an old building, while presenting falsified data on the Parking. The problem is connected to inevitable negative impact on Spring Valley Shopping Center parking, so a must to make a second move after the Board of Zoning Adjustment has justified the University action and the D.C. Court of Appeals has denied the protest. Here a group of citizens is taking action while the Commission is to approve that or rather to be aware of that.

e. An exchange of opinion on a typical dispute between neighbors proved to be most interesting for various reasons. A new owner of the house was eager to destroy a pool-house that was there before, and to replace it with a new, bigger one. Everything went smoothly enough, and the neighbors expressed no objections till construction was started. Then the owner of a neighboring house made a sudden move giving a paper to the ANC insisting that his rights were violated as the far side of the pool was to be only a foot from the dividing fence. The plaintiff was absent, so only the architect and the owner were present, and the most interesting was the fact that the architect insisted that the ANC would address the City-Hall concerning necessity to clarify the regulations as to the secondary buildings, because those in action have left too much uncertainty in situations like that. (Precisely speaking, two rules were used: one that spoke that a shed would not be appropriate to be used as a bedroom, the other — that food could not be prepared there. It is obvious that, technically one could sleep inside under a pool-house roof and one could make food there as well, so the pool, treated that way, could not be placed nearer than six feet from the border, while treated as any other secondary structure like a garage or a bunker for trash, it could be placed that way).

Nothing could be decided with the plaintiff's absence yet the very understanding attitude expressed by the ANC Commissioners, speaking as home-owners to a home-owner is worth mention.

Concluding the impressions, one is to not some hints that far more unites the Palisades with adjacent communities of Virginia, that are physical continuation just on the other side of the Potomac, than with centrally located neighborhoods of D.C. Be it in their reach, the Palisadians would surely prefer that the D.C. border was driven a little further to the East, leaving them in peace.

Case-study 2. ANC meeting. Dupont Circle. ANC 2B 01.

Scenery: a Methodist Church, second floor hall, with an interior comfortable and well lit — at least 150 people could be sitting there, some 70 people were present. The meeting started at 7.00 PM and lasted till 10.30 PM with no significant defection.

Population mixed, so there were about 30% Blacks present and a diversity of attitudes was more obvious than in the Palisades. It is apparent that only the better-to do were present — it would be really strange to see at such a gathering somebody of those who are paying with Food Coupons at the Columbia Road Store. It is worth mentioning that for many years homosexuals have been one of the moving forces for the neighborhood, of necessity to secure their own rights giving it much of their time and effort.

a.First of all the Municipal Police Divisions 3 and 4 present reports on the state of affairs in comparison with the previous month — a visible decline is registered (it looks that situation back in Moscow is far more dangerous): 1 homicide, no rapes, no arson, mainly automobiles stolen. A lady from the audience speaks about 2 suspects seen on the roof nearby (I have a confirmation that's typical "Neighbors watch" activist attitude.

b.A question of the Francis Pool, the only facility of that kind where payment has been just introduced a week before, causing outburst of anger and dismay. It is outspoken that not the fact itself is so enraging, and majority of those who are taking floor stress that to pay $3 for adults and $1 for both children and the aged ones is no problem for them personally. It seems that the majority would take justification, that a bigger renovation of the Pool has taken place, that's now the best facility in D.C. for granted, if that question would be properly discussed with the ANC.

That never happened, so a definite violation of Law — that was question number one. It is important that both Mr. Lightfoot, a Council member, who had previously worked at this very ANC and now was responsible for Sports and Health facilities, and a deputy Director for D.C. Department of Recreation and Parks, understood that it was important to come to that meeting at their after hours. The Deputy presented justification for the Head of the department being unable to come because of a previously arranged Seminar of a kind, but that did not meet much understanding from both the ANC members and the audience. Both officials stressed that introducing payment at one Pool only was considered a beginning and that without that still more pools were to be closed because of their desperate technical and sanitary state.

Both officials stressed their fault of not reporting to the ANC but both tried to present it as a mistake — a stand severely opposed by the ANC that stressed the violation of Law that would make decision unlawful. The Councillor tried to divert attention and to "buy out" the Audience that with payments activated, the residents could hope that the Pool would be open later than the Independence Day in September. That did not received applause at all. People from the floor stressed various aspects: that the Pool did not present all the services that would in part justify additional payment because of being understaffed; that this was the only place where racial desegregation was an important asset and that the first weekend after introducing the payment the place proved to be too calm with diminished number of black children there; that renovation of Francis Pool was initiated by the ANC and a lot of effort was there; that nobody asked the community to build such an expensive renovation program, and that the ticket-booth was interpreted officially as a place to pay for special training courses and not for using the pool itself; that though, by Law, i.e. in theory the poor could not be forbidden to use the Pool because of lack of money, practically they would be thrown out. A young man from the floor witnessed that he tried that on that very legal basis and that he was refused entrance. Another former ANC member who turned a Councillor, Jack Evans, stressed that up to 80% of the Department of Recreation and Parks were being spent on salaries, so their cuts should be sought instead of seeking for several thousands dollars through selling access cards and tickets etc. One could see that the election debate has started full swing, though the matter was not mentioned at all.

As far as I could get that properly, the ANC unanimously voted for continuation of the campaign against introducing the payment, but decided not to initiate legal action being too expensive and too time-consuming, while the result was dubious.

c. A very interesting discussion was going on for about 40 minutes on a question of organizing a bakery at the ground-floor of a building just at the Dupont Circle. As it was in the Palisades, the owner, the developer and the architect were all present.

Nobody among those taking floor severely opposed introducing new business and new work-places. All of the questions were technically correct and touched the issue of a danger that still another food enterprise would worsen the sanitary situation in a narrow alley between the building in question and the one that is facing the Circle. A lady who owns a bigger building with apartments for rent said that she has been already paying $10 an hour for additional sweeping the side-walk, as people coming from the let-out restaurants would throw paper on the pavement. She stressed that rats were a nuisance already and that might be still worse, so a lot of technical questions were dedicated to the issue of how, who and when will take the garbage out, at what hours the bakery would be open etc. The owner was promising in so many words all kind of accuracy — that was rather sourly received (too many experience proved that the results would not necessarily meet the promises), so he used the last argument, inviting everybody who was undecided to pay a visit to the same type of institution operating in Alexandria.

Nobody insisted, so the necessary approval was given.

d. I've found the next discussion centered on a project for using the underground space below the Dupont Circle still more interesting. An architect was present all right, yet his role was restricted to showing illustrative drawings in time, while the developer has taken command for good. He was excellent in careful wording as well as in his ability to propose what might be considered alternative solutions for the ANC judgement. Nobody could question obvious benefit to improve safety and aesthetics at the Dupont Circle, especially that a Health Center is to take half of the underground space. So, technically speaking that hearing was more ritual than anything else — the project was already preliminary approved by the ANC 6 months before, it was approved by the Zoning Adjustment Board with a stipulation that the ANC should give judgement as to two smaller questions. One was the locating of a guard's kiosk (Moscow type as was said!) in the middle of a new orderly space to be seen by everybody or at one side of that space with less exposure. The other question was of stylistic similarity of canopies over the entrances.

Opinions, as predictable, were immediately divided as to the kiosk, which in the end has left the developer with freedom to choose. Yet, rather unexpectedly for me, a lot was said about the design of the canopies (that really looked rather heavy, though the developer deliberated long on their 'lightness'). An elderly gentleman took the floor to stress how important that would be if the architect looked carefully around the square to seek for stylistic analogue. Another one gave professional opinion on the signing over the canopy. And still another was accurate enough to pay attention of the audience on the importance of material and the finish for such a project in such a place.

When it was clear that the project has been already approved and the time-table would leave so little time, that any change was practically excluded, and the developer in nice words told that he would like but he would not be able to make everybody happy, a necessity to 'save face' was hanging in the air. So, a nice decision was taken, that though the project was approved, the developer and the architect were obliged to present additional information on design and finish. I doubt it much that this decision will be practical, or, rather one of the Councilors will have a look at the drawings and the samples, and yet the very fact is of major importance: the feeling of belonging to the Place and of personal responsibility for its human value is present with the active minority of the neighborhood without doubt. And that feeling could and would be verbalized with high degree of clarity.

e.It was several times stressed that a cooperation between the Municipal Police and the Park Police has been good, and I've got a chance to see that the Secret Police which is mostly engaged with safety of the Embassies, takes trouble to intrude as well — I was a witness to a careful search through a Hippy-looking young man's belongings at the Church back wall made by the Secret Service. After a short discussion the young man was left in peace.

Case-study 3. The Reed-Cooke preparatory meeting, Adams Morgan.

Scenery:a small canteen attached to a poor Methodic Church. Just a block off 18th Street, at an intersection of Kalorama and Ontario roads. Poor, mainly Black people are present (a look around the other day reveals that though poor, the neighborhood is rather dignified: majority of buildings have been painted this year, there are small flower-beds and not too many signs of abandonment and vandalism could be traced. The canteen has no air-conditioning and four fans are rotating with noise under the ceiling. Cockroaches are everywhere, and that place looks exactly like small canteens in the worst among far-off company-towns in Russia. Those attending the meeting (not too many of them, just around 20), both Black and White, look dignified and speak understandable American English.

The meeting had to start at 7.30 PM, yet everybody was late, the ANC Chairman included, so they seem to be less aware of time pressure than in the places I was before. It started at 8.00 PM with a report from the District 3 Municipal Police — it's worth noting that both the Captain and the Sergeant were waiting without any sign of haste or irritation. One could feel that warm relation does exist between the community and the officers who were later seen off with applause from the audience.

Only two items are on the agenda of the meeting.

The first one was connected with reporting and discussing the running campaign against what they called "the Kelly Garage" after the Mayor-in office name.

That is a typical collision of traditional bureaucratic rationale and the local understanding. The City Hall expressed a wish to build a multistory garage and enforced the decision on every other level. The ANC is expressing feelings of the majority of residents (or it has helped these feelings to be created) that the Garage will lead to further deterioration of the neighborhood without much contribution to its economy. To strengthen its pressure on the Mayor, the ANC has used a popular technique: a post-card was printed bearing a color image of Washington National Cathedral with the following text on its back side:

"Dear Mayor Kelly: Don't destroy our neighborhood!

Here is what Adams Morgan needs:

A shuttle to Metro stations, extended weekend Metro hours, wider 18th Street pedestrian and business-friendly sidewalks, bile lanes, less exhaust fumes, 50% of parking preserved for residents 24 hours a day, and a comprehensive transportation plan that will serve the long term interests of both residents and businesses in Adams-Morgan.

Here is what Adams-Morgan DOES NOT need:

A massive, city funded parking garage that will bring even more cars and pollution into residential side streets and degrade the air, safety and quality of life of our children, adults and neighborhood oriented small businesses. Spend $12 million on something better!".

Being already paid for, the card is easy to be sent to the Mayor's office with a petitioner's signature and address.

It is obvious that the text for that card was written by a person who has more to say yet chooses the simplest possible form of explanation, understandable for anybody who can read.

Still simpler leaflet was xerocopied in numbers to be seen at any exposed surface assigned for that purpose. The simplest possible graphic image of a garage building encircled by a ribbon with lettering: STOP THE KELLY GARAGE/SAVE ADAMS-MORGAN and crossed by a black stripe to remind a 'no transit' road-sign. To strengthen that picture additionally, another inscription has been added: this neighborhood opposes the Kelly Garage.

The second half of the meeting was in full dedicated to a dispute between candidates for the City Council membership (Democratic Primaries planned to take place in September this year). Two candidates out of eight were present at this preliminary meeting (as well as a Black lady whom I've met at every meeting before — she was busy distributing leaflets trying hard to build support for her re-election to the Senate). Discussion proved to be purely technical and in the end a small preparatory committee has been formed of three volunteers.

I've used this meeting to speak longer with Police officers trying to know their opinion on cooperation with neighborhoods. If they were sincere, it seams that they really appreciate establishing good attitude and support on the residents' part, that they get some important information free and that they are happy to be in contact with ANC that would distribute information around, like it was with a Police leaflet informing that:

"The Third District has established an anti-violence initiative which focuses on the removal of illegal firearms at the street level. The primary goal of this program is to reduce the level of gun related violence in our community. To assist in achieving this goal, we have established a CONFIDENTIAL "HOT-LINE" at which members of the community may report persons in possession of firearms. You are not required to give any information about yourself. We only need to know WHO is carrying the gun, WHERE they can be located, and a brief rescription of WHAT they are wearing at the time of call.


Then the Office telephone and confidential hot-line telephone and an addition in brackets: we pay for information leading to the recovery of guns.

One can not avoid certain comparison: people in Russia still have preserved long-possessed hostility towards the Government as a whole and to any governmental agency in particular, with special degree of suspicion toward Police. The fact that there was no Municipal Police lest only local departments of Federal Police and so Police never was responsible before the community or responsive to its interests is of utter importance as well. Attempts have been made to change this attitude, several times a high reward was offered for valuable information concerning homicide and racket, a parallel Municipal Police has been established in Moscow, and yet it would be practically impossible to imagine that people in Moscow would address Police as THEIR Police. An attitude is different: Police is not to be entrusted.

Naturallyenough, when a Police sergeant repeats the words he has been drilled to remember by heart, that the Police task is to provide better services for the community, it is no more than a rehearsal. And yet even that mechanical repetition is of intense value — police work is really understood as a public service. That attitude can not be changed either by countless films with corrupted cops every second step, or by newspapers that have been constantly feeding the public with stories about corrupted cops. All that still is perceived as exceptional while the local cop as a help to the community is taken seriously enough.

It is obvious that neither the Police officers nor the ANC members never have mentioned to me the small riots of 1990, started with a quarrel between Blacks and Latinos, and of big riots that had taken place nearby in the Sixties, with National Guard interfering etc. That events, sad as they were, had caused a major change in attitude of the Government to the neighborhoods along U-Street, so partial rehabilitation, building a Community Center and opening a subway station are to be considered a kind of answer to situation that was definitely overstrained for two decades.

Case-study 4. Ward One Democrats Candidates' Debate. July 19.

Scenery: The Marie Reed Learning Center, relatively new modern style school-building at 18th and California Streets. Spacious playground at the front, as formal and pathetically unfit for children as any other facility of that kind in Russia. Predominance of the Blacks (or Afro-Americans as they are officially called now) is visible everywhere, be it a basket-ball pith outside, children pictures hanging in the halls, advertisements in the lobby, and the big amphitheater itself.

The average would be 3/1 and that same proportion was true for the candidates: of the seven there were only 2 White people among them. It is interesting that there was a significant number of Viets within the audience (there were some leaflets in the Vietnamese language on the tables in the lobby), though no one of them has yet been ambitious enough to risk running for candidacy.

In a way it is a little strange that local elections should copy the bigger ones, being organized to a Party pattern — after all, these are the problems of everyday existence for the big City and those problems have not much to do with being Democrat or Republican way voting residents (in my own Consultant work in Moscow I've tried hard to avoid the Party factor in the City policies at the basic level). It looks like a habit and in part a resulting effect of using the same pattern and the same activists to work for any election campaign. So, the debate I was witnessing, was a try-out before the Democrat Primaries in September that are to result in having a single Ward 1 Democrat Candidate for the City Council.

One thing was evident for sure — each of the Candidates (even Dorothy Brizill who was known to support the Garage) was wearing a "No to Kelly Garage" label, so the pressure from Adams Morgan was taken seriously enough and none of the Seven would even think of opposing the mainstream attitude, turning inevitably a stand for future policies whoever would win.

A number of Candidates had their support-groups seated in the hall ready to applause at moments prearranged, so, to a degree it was a kind of cartoonist's image of the American electorial campaign seen from within. Being impressed by TV short-cuts of the Senate or the House of representatives debate at my Moscow TV screen, I was rather surprised to discover that the majority of the candidates, an active Councilmember not an exception, can not speak clear, and both the wording itself and the pronunciation were rather poor. As it should be wherever seven people would try to persuade the same audience of their abilities to solve the local problems, they were doomed to reshuffle the same items several times. And yet two hours of beating around the bush were not spent for nothing and some hints as to the inner conflicts behind the screen seem to be clarified.

Who the candidates are?

Careful examination of leaflets together with impressions from the debate and tape-records give some understanding.

Dorothy Brizill, a Black lady in her late forties, with two Masters degrees from Columbia University and 12 years of experience in political issues. It seems that after her upstart with the Carter Administration (special assistant to Warren Christopher) her political career had swayed and she is full of energy to start anew at the D.C. Council scene.

She is campaigning in most aggressive way, being the only one to attack the Ward One representative, Frank Smith, directly accusing him in many words of little efficiency if not laziness in promoting Ward One cause. Her campaign is typical for those type of populist aggression that is never constructive in any way:

"Protest marches can't close down street corner drug sales and street prostitution. As your councilmember, I'll see to it that all Departments and Agencies in city government work together with the police to shut down the open-air drug and prostitution markets in our Ward.

"Everybody agrees that Adams-Morgan has a parking problem. Why has it taken over a decade to begin to do anything about it? When I am your Councilmember I won't allow problems in the Ward to remain unaddressed for so long that they divide our community.

"Construction of the next segment of the METRO Green Line is now underway in Ward One. Metro must not tear up our neighborhoods again like it did in Shaw and on U Street. This time must be different, and I'll make sure it is.." And so on and so forth.

Zhirinowsky-like attitude that meets with much approval because offers easy answers to any problem and so, no wonder that Dorothy Brizill has got a profound number of devoted supporters among both Black, blue collar White and Hispanic communities. The manner of her self-advertising is assured and it has got a nice to everybody touch:

"I'll work hard against crime and drugs. I won't just talk and I won't just march. I'll work hard to make sure that the criminals who make our streets unsafe and our citizens afraid are arrested and punished-not just sent straight back to our neighborhoods after they are arrested.

"I'll keep Ward One first...

"I'll be there when you need help. Nothing a Councilmember does-nothing-is more important than providing services to the citizens in the Ward.

"I'll work for you. When you need help with the city's bureaucracy, you need a Councilmember who'll work for you, who isn't afraid to take on powerful interests on your behalf.

"I'll talk strait to you. You'll always know where I stand. I won't waffle; I won't waiver; and I won't say one thing on the east side of the Ward and something else on the west side.

"I'll listen to you. Your opinions, your concerns, are important. All public servants, including your Councilmember, should listen to you". And so on.

Ken Fealing — a Black man about 35. Nothing has been said about his education, so it seems it's only a high-school. Fealing once held the Commissioner position and still is rather active, though his manner of speaking does not reveal any special talent. His points for a program look like Safety first, better education second, yet Fealing tries to stress all the problems with certain elements of constructive attitude, although one would wonder where from money could be gathered to insert, for instance, "Fully implement Community Empowerment Policing in every Ward One community" by means of establishing police mini-stations in every neighborhood as well as bi subsidized housing complexes.

Keeping Ward One schools open after hours, developing peer-pressure and conflict resolution programs-to be created and directed by youth, make parents' greater control of schools (by the way there are hints as to tension growing out of so-called Afro-American programs, sometimes coming near to more than excess in stating that not Clinton but Mandela is to be considered "their President") make to another point with Fealing's ideas and again the financial support looks more than vague.

Fealing's more elaborate program might be seen in his statements on quality of life. "Creating tax incentives for home improvements and for home-based businesses that hire neighborhood residents" or "strengthening linkage between commercial development and the building and rehabilitation of low-income and affordable housing", or "implementing cooperative conversion of apartment buildings" sound quite reasonable. Understanding of the link between economy and quality of life is obvious in Fealing's program and his concept of "Roll back District of Columbia sales taxes for a year for small businesses that improve their store fronts" would be reasonable enough were it not that the D.C. Budget is cut down again and again. Last but not least, Fealing was the only one who would look forward to securing each ANC with computer access to informational network on city resources.

Although Ken Fealing's program is more than idealistic whether the money factor was taken seriously, it is far more serious and realistic than what Dorothy Brizill is playing with, and yet Ken's poor eloquence and lack of a leader's charisma are evident, so, he has no chance. (By the way, Fealing's leaflet proved to be the one that bears a Hispanic slogan "Fealin para el Futuro" on top of the English text).

Four candidates could be omitted without any loss, because two of them could not produce any program that would sound personalized

to any considerable degree. One is an old-timer, a Black man in his late Sixties and he would do nothing more than to stress his being successful Councilmember years ago. Another one, a White young man with low voice and uncertain features would mainly claim that his leaflets were torn off be the Brezill supporting team (there was no leaflets of his on the table in the lobby). And the third one is Frank Smith, a Black actual Councilmember, severely criticized by his opponents, without loosing neither self-control, nor self-assurance. His supporting group was the biggest one at the meeting and though he could not present a balanced program and was just trying to have a good show of his merits, it looks like he is doing his campaign pretty good. That leaves us with one more candidate who deserves special attention.

Robin Stallings, a White businessman, before 30, well educated, a little stiff and uneasy with an audience that does not embrace too many people whose attention he might would have easily won. I am still to know why that person is trying to get elected to the City Council having small chance to win Democrat Primaries.

More money were evidently spent for the start of Stalling's campaign than it was with other candidates and his leaflets are written better, being both aggressive and clear in stating things.

"Robin Stallings is the candidate for City Council from Ward One who offers DC voters the opportunity to choose a new generation of effective, aggressive, creative leadership ...

"Robin Stallings has demonstrated time and again his ability to get things done — whether as an involved resident and community organizer, an innovative small businessman and entrepreneur with community spirit and vision, as environmental activist, or as a successful international consultant — not only to make his ideas heard, but to make them happen..." etc.

It is of interest that Stallings is the only one who can produce visible proof to his own efforts — this is a corner of Champlain and Euclid Streets, in the very heart of Adams Morgan. Seven years ago there was an abandoned gas station and a run down apartment building. Stallings founded the City Bikes bicycle shop to replace the gas station. The shop was sponsoring fund-raisers for various programs and Stallings had managed to pool money from local residents to buy and renovate an adjacent run down building and managed to make Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream to open their first DC store there. With their support of the neighborhood, the corner was changed enough to bear a known landmark in Adams Morgan: a nice mural with three cows eating ice cream and riding a bike. Stallings managed to fight back and to save the mural when it was threatened by D.C. inspector — that made to a precedent that helped to save that type of murals throughout the City. This is a fact that work that was done at the corner provided a dozen of jobs to local residents.

Robin Stallings with his good academic training and vision was the key figure among the founding board members of the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy to promote non-motorized transportation in developing countries, and he took part in a bigger project, that sent thousands of recycled bikes, carts and wheelchairs to Africa and Central America, by means of that project he acquired certain public and businesslike reputation with various International organizations. It is evident that all of that activity was good for his baby-business. His activity was rewarded and in 1993 he was honored by the DC Metropolitan Police Department for his "Dedicated Service and Contribution" on implementing "police officers on-bike" project.

Robin Stallings has made it clear that his business starting with bikes has brought him to better understanding of the bulk of transportation problems, so he was ready to present a comprehensive transportation plan for Ward One and the City. That neatly linked his campaign with "No to Kelly Garage" movement. Stallings was the one among speakers who insisted that all the problems, be it crime, education or rehabilitation, being dependent on financing, should be considered as secondary to encouraging local economy and creating new jobs.

Stallings' leaflet has a nice ending: "As a ten years resident, homeowner and small businessman in Ward One, Robin Stallings is calling on others — residents and business persons alike — for their support and their votes in the September 13 Democratic Primary".

And still I was sure that Stallings had no chance to be elected — he is White, young and successful — enough to be beaten by a Black angered person with strong populist touch and no need to prove anything. Stalling's campaign seems to be an "overkill", and the fact that he offered a special brochure "Towards a sustainable transportation plan for Ward One" did not strengthen his position at all. Perhaps, that has weakened it, as the majority of those present at the debate had started to make allusions as to his personal financial interest in introducing that plan, than on the plan itself.

Stallings had stressed the impact of visitors' traffic on the existing parking capacity of the Ward One residents and, in contrast to tradition, made it visible that only a kind of public transportation, like a neighborhood trolley line from Metro station U Street-Cardozo to Woodley Park Metro, might be considered a radical solution. This concept, as well as a detail proposal for restructuring usage of 18th Street and analysis of the flaws for the "Kelly Garage" project, are too good defined. They aim at an intelligent person, ready to compare factual data. I felt positive that competing candidates would do their best to ignore or to dismiss what Stallings was to offer, or, still more effective, to steal his argument — I was a witness to that already, when one of the candidates, who was to be heard earlier because of the alphabetical order of presenting his views and opinions, had just snatched two or three points from Stalling's leaflet in order to pronounce that first and thus making Stallings to look secondary.

I discovered in a couple of days that Stallings as well as Morgan and Mosley were technically ruled out of the run: Gary Imhoff, Brizill's husband and campaign manager, was successful in challenging their lists of supporters (not all of those who signed, being sure they were registered Democrats, bothered to make the annual registration in time and properly), including his own (!) signature under their petitions.

Some of the people present were taken aback by the violence of rethorical exchange among the candidates, so Rob Hodgson, a Sheridan-Kalorama resident said "I guess we, Ward 1 Democrats read Tip O'Neill's book wrong (referring to "All politics Is Local") — I guess we thought it was 'all politics is vocal'". Hospitality, like good manners, was in short supply that evening. When Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly appeared mid-forum (a brave gesture), leading a throng of her Ward 1 supporters, a chorus of boos greeted her. One man rushed to the well of the Roman-like auditorium to plead frantically, "Don't let her speak! She's no Ward 1."

There was more theater-like effects that evening. Robert Clifton who had been excluded from the debate after withdrawing from the Democratic primary to run as an independent candidate, rushed down to present Brizill a blowup of an ANC check for $1,000, dated 1991, a research grant to an organization Brizill headed. Clifton claimed that although Brizill accepted the money, she never submitted reports showing she had done the work. Brizill answered that she had given written reports to the ANC, but the ANC, apparently because of frequent turnover, lost these reports etc.

Case-study 5: Stephen Koczak, President, Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia.

The man seemed rather suspicious, perhaps due to his former diplomatic activity with the State Department, so I'd managed to make an appointment for an interview after 3 successive telephone conversations. The last one proved to be satisfactory, as Stephen Koczak started to utter accusations addressed to all kind of politicians in D.C. giving certain parallel to what his personal understanding of problems in Moscow was.

He stressed that the whole of Home Rule system with its Mayor, its City Council, its ANCs and citizens associations have proved to be a complete failure. He was sure that the previous system where the 3 Commissioners used to be in direct contact with the citizens associations was in fact far more democratic and served better because control on executive decisions was short-term, simple and evident. He expressed his opinion that private law firms who are representing the developers' interest, actually do rule the City. He also expressed his belief that the Gay minority and especially 17 Gay Bars, relatively closed for Police inspection without notice, serve important role for large-scale drugs traffic, and that money acquired that way are used to support those in the City Council who would secure the donors' interest. He also stressed that not everything should be discussed over the telephone.

Case-study 7: John Ray and his campaign to run the Mayor's office.

At first there were modest slogans in the Northeast part of Washington D.C.: "John Ray for the Mayor". Then there were glimpses at Ray's taking floor at the City Council discussions on running affairs at TV Channel 13, exclusively occupied by the Council. Then I've read Ray's leaflets at any meeting I've attended, then again some articles in "The Washington Post" and finally I've attended to two of his meetings with voters. One was a brief "vote for me" intrusion, all smiles, to an ANC meeting, yet the second one was more interesting, because here Ray marched in a night club at Tacoma Station to sit there with younger people, answering all kind of questions, some being not too pleasant.

(I try to imagine someone in Moscow making attempt to beat Louszkov at the next election, who would think of working that way and I can not: bigger meetings, yes, TV discussions, yes, but never at the street level or in the communities. Louszkov, being Mayor, has been careful to play the publicity game with full use of his possibilities — opening this and opening that around the new developments, or angrily attacking "municipal bureaucrats" for neglecting the city Center. Whether somebody would risk competing with him in earnest, is a big question.)

The drama of John Ray is that, him being a member of the City Council for 16 years, he can not successfully prove his claim for a number of good decisions of that collective body. He can just state that it has been his personal success to pass the law prohibiting the conversion of rental housing to condominiums unless a majority of tenants want it, or 1991 legislation to exempt senior citizens from capital improvement rent increases. Things he might prove his Authorship to, like creating the Tenants Assistance Program, providing government subsidies to help low- and moderate-income tenants to pay their rent, or the Distressed Properties Program to renovate run-down apartment buildings for the tenants who live there now, are not spectacular. Him losing campaign for being the Mayor thrice at a row, kills enthusiasm with some of those people who were supporting him before.

So, it was most interesting to observe just how this Black gentleman, a good-looking lawyer, born and grown up dirt-poor in rural Georgia, who made his way through joining Air-Force, later to enter a Law school, was trying hard to look more emotional, more charismatic than he really is, fighting that stiff-suited image, his opponents successfully used to beat him before. It is hard for Ray to run ahead of Mrs. Pratt Kelly, the actual Mayor, and Mr. Barry, the former Mayor, and yet he desperately continues his fight, it being his last chance. I can but quote Thorn Pozen who was managing Roy's campaign in upper Washington Northwest Ward Three: "Both Kelly and Barry light up a room when they walk in. But we've learnt the hard way that charisma doesn't balance the books or fight crime". That argument may perhaps be appraised by some middle-class Black neighborhoods and a number of White neighborhoods in that part of D.C. that is located to the west of Rock Creek Park, but I doubt it much it has bigger chance with that very Black and poor majority, Ray needs to win the elections.

(Some additional information acquired later with the help of Robin Stallings might alter the picture drawn. As previous Primaries have shown, with three leading candidates and several secondary ones, to win means to get something slightly over 30% of those who would bother to vote. So, the final result might be unpredictable — Mayor Kelly had but 8% of supporters as shown through the Polls three weeks before the elections, then a strong Newspaper support and victory followed with a fraction of votes to her advantage).

Case-study 8: The Georgetown Citizens Association.

Georgetown being the oldest place in D.C. area, where every successive wave of immigrants had marked its road to social advance and where still former Black inhabitants would come on Sundays to the church (one of Black ministers is a Deputy President for the Association) is relatively expensive, be it the real estate value or the prices, and its Day population far exceeds its stable population, as it's typical for any tourist place.

The Association is the oldest civic organization in D.C. being a merger of two associations established in 1878 and in 1920's, aimed at preserving and improving the quality of life in the community.

The number of members is rather high — more than 900, i.e. about 10% of population. Reading the Annual Report circulation letter, one may discover that in 1993 the Association:

-established more than 60 neighborhood watches throughout Georgetown,

-provided a mechanism for residents to hire a security guard,

-surveyed street lighting in residential areas and campaigned to upgrade the system,

-mounted a campaign for residents to turn on their front lights,

-successfully prosecuted a protest against Annastasia that resulted in revocation of the nightclub's liquor license,

-worked with other sectors of the community to pass a comprehensive parking plan.

There 15 committees, dealing with:

-Alcohol Beverage Control,

-Airports and Utilities,

-Business Community Improvement,

-Canine "Scoop",

-Crime and Public Safety,


-Historic Preservation,


-Neighborhood Watch,


-Streets and Sidewalks,


-Traffic and Parking,


-Zoning and Building Regulations.

It is obvious that the Committees were established through years, partly their number being a result of the merge of 1920's as their fields of activity are definitely overlapping. When comparing this list with the list of priorities for 1994, it is possible to see how difficult it is to cover the new goals with the Committees stable system:

-historic preservation (ibid.),

-illegal signage,

-lack of recreational facilities and parks (ibid. yet with a new accent),

-litter an canine "scoop" regulations (new accent),


-number of bars/taverns in the area,

-parking (ibid.),

-personal safety (new accent),

-planting of trees (ibid.),

-police presence (new accent),


-street lighting,

-streets and sidewalks (ibid.),

-taxation (ibid.).

The Association is careful to publish a nice looking monthly report on every Membership meeting, to preserve Style in outlay and quality of printing. So, looking through several successive issues one may know more.

The report is titled "Georgetown Citizens".

March, 1994: a Police report, stating the same decline of crime as in other police districts of D.C.: 7% reduction in 1992 compared with 1991, 13% reduction in crimes against persons with but a tiny reduction of .3% in crimes against property. Police was stressing the importance of the Neighborhood Watches for that reduction yet it is hard to guess, how sincere the officers are, taking to consideration the Police element in general politics.

There is still a controversial question of a Metro stop in Georgetown — so the CAG had to stress that it never did oppose a Metro stop, though the Washington Post article published a month before wrote that Georgetown was not included when Metro was planned 25 years ago, because of opposition from residents "who feared that a subway line would bring more people and crime to the area". The real reason seems to be the price of tunneling through solid rock south of M Street.

The group is backing the project to establish a "Potomac Heritage" Museum and Visitor Center at the abandoned Georgetown Incinerator Site at 31 and K sts. The group is operating out of offices of the Georgetown Heritage Trust.

The Hospital for Sick Children presents its annual Flower and Garden Show.

Visiting some of Georgetown's handsomest houses is sponsored by St. John's Episcopal Church ($20 per person per day!). A Garden Tour as well — things for the benefit of G. Children's House and the like.

There is a kind of analytical article on renovated Coffee Houses and the new ones as well as the latest news around Georgetown shops etc. closures or openings.

There is a very interesting short report worth citing here:

PEPCO No Longer Places Meters on G'Town Houses:

...PEPCO began placing meters outside dwellings in 1980's. The Citizens Association received complaints of premises being defaced by the meters and called upon PEPCO to discontinue this practice, stressing that it degraded the distinctive appearance of houses in Georgetown and that it detracted from the areas historic ambience. PEPCO has since cooperated and no longer sites meters in external locations.

Eventually, PEPCO plans to adopt remote reading of meters, a procedure now employed by the Washington Gas Company, obviating personal inspecting of meters...

There are small advertisements taking one full page of the six and, most interesting, there is a small note of big significance:

"Georgetown University Outreach.

Earlier in the meeting, James Donahue, Dean of Students at Georgetown University, announced that the University was creating a new position, Assistant to the President for Community Relations, who will serve as liaison to community groups...He noted that CAG President Shorey has agreed to serve on the University's selection committee for the position."

That last issue is of interest as relations between the community and the University have been strained for years. The biggest concern of residents is linked with the University actually going out of its territory: a lot of homeowners have found that renting apartments to students is a profitable business. Herefrom a number of violations connected with overcrowding apartments, shared by a number of students, fire regulations being broken, especially in cellars and attics, poor maintenance, trash etc. In a way that's repetition of the eternal dispute between the Universities and the towns starting in the Middle Ages and continued to this day in those rare cases, when Universities continue to be encircled by housing and town cervices.

April, 1994:Efforts to revitalize the Georgetown Arts Commission in order to regain reputation as Washington premier arts community.

A report on March meeting, that included Volunteer Leaders, speakers for the Jelleff Boys & Girls Club (4 acres since 1952, 400-plus members, 100 Georgetowners, team sports, arts and crafts program); for Meals on Wheels (delivering meals to people who can not get around "allowing many people who would otherwise be in nursing homes to keep their dignity without being 'warehoused'", most clients pay $24 a week, some are charity, one driver, one 'jumper'), for Georgetown Ministry Center (15 to 20 people in dialogue with sandwiches, provides shelter for homeless in various participating churches), for the Georgetown Senior Center (home-cooked meals three days per week at St.John's Church, excursions and outgoings for lonely elderly people).

A report on "Scoop Your Pet's Poop" signs, 125 of which were put up throughout Georgetown (only one resident on N Street has objected to a sign near his property — Weaver's Hardware on Wisconsin Ave. donated necessary nuts and bolts).

The Police has agreed to make a monthly report on crimes on a block by block basis.

Mt.Zion Methodist Church (Black) has been recognized for its efforts to "preserve and catalogue" records documenting the church's history — the Humanities Council has made a grant of $8000 to the project, the Historical Society of Washington has given the church its Rencard Prize for Historic Preservation.

They are publishing full list of 162 new members!

Information on "shaping up" facilities in G'Town.

Correcting the record on Metro subject — John Gill: "It is true that it would have been very difficult tunnelling under M St. and Wisconsin Ave. But it is also true that the Georgetown Citizens Ass'n voted against Metro because we feared the subway would bring crime onto the area. Still further, there was a fear that the tunnelling might harm the old buildings. I know this because I was chairman of the Transportation and Parking Committees of the Association.."

"Let's Clean Up on May 7".

"Friends of Montrose Clean Up Parks"

Some 90 good citizens have been quietly working behind the scenes to help restore two parks familiar to generations of parents, small children, of owners, tennis players and walkers. As "Friends of Montrose Park" founded two years ago by Scott Bush of Q St., they are contributing time and money to rescue both Montrose and Dumbarton Oaks parks from "years of neglect" — cleaning out the boxwood gardens, adding new benches, installing new tennis nets, repainting the gazebo, and this year redoing the rose garden initially planted in 1956 by the Georgetown Garden Club.

This year a major cleanup of Dumbarton Oaks Park (behind Montrose in Rock Creek Park) is underway as well, with a number of landscape firms donating their services along with those of volunteers. Bush notes that these naturalistic Italianate gardens — designed by Beatriz Farrand for the Bliss family — "have not been touched in 40 years" although they are a landmark in landscape architecture.

Asked how "Friends" began, founder and first president Bush says he frequented park with child and dog and noticed the neglect. "Here was an opportunity for users of the park to give something back", he says (names, telephone numbers for contact).

A nice little note among the news: "Although apparently no date's been set for his marriage to Noel Soderberg, rumor has it that Jack Evans is buying a house on 32nd St. We'll be delighted to welcome our Ward 2 City Council member — and his bride — to Georgetown".

"We heard at the last meeting that there are some people putting counterfeit "Visitor Parking" cards on their autos. Residents report that some counterfeits are on xerox paper. whereas authentic ones are on card stock. Although the question is "Can't these ubiquitous uniformed ticket-givers tell the counterfeits from the real?" the answer is "Apparently not" Don Shannon brought this matter to our attention, noting that parking is worth some $50 a week in Georgetown and that in Alexandria, visitor parking cards are written in disappearing ink so that they cannot be used ad infinitum. Police Capt. Malkin said that parking enforcement is in the Dept. of Public Works, so apparently that office — not the police — is the one to call if you spot phoney cards on your street."

{I've quoted the whole note to underline how difficult it would be to get to such feeling of a threat to the community by personal dishonesty of unknown people, there in Russia. The old anti-police attitude would still make it rare that people would think about informing the police, and the police is absolutely not prepared for the actions needed, so the vicious circle is difficult to break.}

A page dedicated to variety of flowers and bushes recommended for planting in Georgetown by an expert would complete the picture.

May, 1994: A report on the arts state in G'Town has included noting the demise of some book shops, panelist Marcia Carter urged Georgetowners to patronize local book shops.

President's letter: "Using the neighborhood watches as the organizational base, we have formed six security guard units, with one more in formation, covering a large part of Georgetown. Each unit has approximately 100 participants, which shows that about 700 people were recruited — a massive undertaking.

"As I forecast in my last letter, the newsletter received an award from the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations as the "Outstanding Association Newsletter".

That's important to note personal qualifications of the new officers: former staff attorney on Capitol Hill, a retired lawyer; attorney in private practice; Pastor of Zion Methodist Church; former Capitol Hill staffer, volunteer with Hospital for Sick Children and Children's Museum; on board of Washington Studio school, longtime volunteer in D.C. arts organizations; former general counsel at Dept. of Agriculture, attorney.

Initiative with a reprimand to CAG because of its omitting the Waterfront... an answer describing thirty years of effort to rescue the Waterfront on the remaining land which is 'temporarily' occupied by a commercial parking lot and a Dept. of Public Works construction yard (D.C. holds title to this land by virtue of transfer from the federal Dept. of Transportation, and the land can only be used for highway construction or a park.

Panelist Max Berry, fonder of Georgetown Waterfront Arts Commission: "We should have something in a class with Via Veneto or Champs Elysees". Hopes to bring to Georgetown a Victorian bandstand (now in storage) for concerts on the waterfront.

"Georgetowners who love near Volta Park are sparking a community effort to revitalize the park..They have already raised some $2,000 and are working with the Recreation Department and ANC to make major improvements... This year they have gotten together to repaint the pool-house and are making a cooperative effort to install new fences and improve the baseball field as well as to resurface tennis ad basketball courts.. ANC-2E has recently allotted $500 to Volta Park, giving $500 each to Rose and Hardy playgrounds as well.

"One of our members has analyzed the detailed February crime report — the first comprehensible statistical report made available to us by the police... some possible patterns.

"The police officers were making themselves known to all block captains (guards, neighborhood watches).

From the University: The Office of Student Conduct and Pff-Campus Affairs encourages Georgetown residents to contact their office if there is a problem with students' trash and bulk items being left behind... 'hot line" for community complain.

A letter from vice president of Reed Electric:

"..Being in the electrical business and an owner of property in Georgetown, I have wondered many times why Fine Arts approval was required just to replace a small lantern on the front of the house when Pepco could ruin the looks of a gorgeous antique home with their horrible meters with no Fine Arts Approval.

Now that you have helped correct this situation, it is now time to start a campaign to have all existing meters in Georgetown moved to inside."

A note on students: "we try to call them in and talk to them when we have received a complaint, and I hope that in communicating with each other, we get the point across. If not, we try again.

With Spring in the air, and the academic year end in sight, let's try to fill these last months with good cheer, good will and a good measure of tolerance. After all, we were all young once."

Gossiping: The Washingtonian has it that the co-creator of Giorgio Beverly Hills perfume, Gale Hayman, is now residing amongst us. Having sold Giorgio to Avon Products for $ 165 million and divorcing Giorgio's co-creator, she is now stirring up a "softer" fragrance (called "Delicious"). In her new incarnation, she is married to molecular biologist...Rumor is that the dynamic duo reside on P St.

"Dogs and dryads": What started out as an innocent look at Georgetown's streets and sidewalks from the viewpoint of a dogwalker has uncovered a subtle and multi-faceted subculture of almost Byzantine complexity...

The Aged Woman's Home of Georgetown, Wisconsin Ave., founded by the Female Union Benevolent Society of georgetown on 1868! — 11 old women no rent, with a private room and a kitchenette each. The Home is privately funded.

June, 1994: a report on CAG annual meeting, describing in detail emerging of a last-minute opposition to a new Board. People attended were handed a brochure entitled "Bring Back CAG; Elect the Residents' Slate" by a group of members. The Brochure charged that "over the past two years, the officers of CAG stopped representing the residents and started representing special interests — the University, the developers, the liquor lobby, etc... this Board and its slate have shown themselves to be out of touch with our membership" etc. Yet the election result was a win for the Board slate.

A police report stating April crime was down in Georgetown, including theft from autos, with the only exception for the number of stolen cars, that rose from 9 to 15 in comparison with 1993.

A resolution concerning future legal position on Hurt Home — a typical situation: "Whereas, commencing on August 1987, the District of Columbia Government, without consulting the Georgetown community and in violation of applicable D.C. zoning laws and regulations, contracted to purchase the Hurt Home at 3050 R Street, N.W. in Georgetown for use by the Commission on Mental Health Services as a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children.." — postponed to be voted at June 1 special meeting, after the Court of Appeals ruling. In all three pages out of eight and an additional two page leaflet were devoted to the Hurt Home/Devreux Childern's Center.

An article on the Washington Harbour restructuring produced by Arthur Moore, the architect, with rather positive attitude to the results.

Around Georgetown column gives a.o. that "we hear from a neighbor of the International Scholl property at N and Olive Sts. where apartments and townhouses are contemplated that the Old Georgetown Board has asked the architect/developers to leave more 'visual open space" and make the housing less dense, but otherwise okayed the project".

Summing up, one is to state that thriving civic life is present in Georgetown, that the community really cares for the place self-identity, and that in spite of perpetual change of population, an imposing number of newcomers are rather eager to join CAG or any other civic organization, or some of them simultaneously, than to be apart from that all.

While still in Georgetown, it is reasonable to look deeper to what might be seen as the attempts to boost local activity from just advisory position toward certain constructive actions going far out the usual practice. In a way, it might be seen as the beginnings of real self-government.

Neighborhood guard patrol in Georgetown is one of these actions. A special leaflet issued in Summer, 1993, describes that in the following way:

"As a step toward taking back the safety of our streets and protecting our homes, the Citizens Association of Georgetown has successfully established Neighborhood Guard Patrol Units east of Wisconsin Avenue through our Neighborhood Watch program. There has been a significant reduction in crime since the program was initiated last May, 1993.

An unarmed, uniformed Wells Fargo guard patrols the streets of the designated unit for 20 hours, 4-5 days per week, with a varying time schedule based on the periods of risk.

The guard carries a cellular phone for direct contact with the police and reports any suspicious activity immediately. A daily report is filed by the guard with the designated Unit Captain.

Benefits of the Program:

-A visual deterrent to criminal activity.

-Guard has direct contact with police through cellular phone.

-Guard provides escort services to subscribers from house to cars upon call.

-Guard provides check on street and house lighting and unlocked cars.

-Guard reports on a daily basis.

-Guard will check front and rear doors of subscribers' home when out of town.

-Wells Fargo provide subscribers with free home security check-up.

Operation and fees.

After the establishment of a neighborhood patrol unit and the solicitation of 100 subscribers per area, CAG will contact with Wells Fargo for the services of a guard. Subscribers cam choose to pay an annual fee of $160 or a semiannual fee of $85.

These fees cover the payment to Wells Fargo and a small amount covers CAG's administrative costs for billing subscribers, sending out information, maintaining a separate bank account and paying all bills."

Officer Ron Pander, with whom I managed to speak, is one of security guards hired through a contract with Wells Fargo. He walks his beat unarmed and says he figures the criminals see the signs posted, see him and "just keep on going". Inspector Kenneth Hutson, commander of the 2nd Police District, assured me that D.C. officers are instructed to cooperate with special police officers. Poppy Denham, leader of the Dent Place Association, whose area Pander patrols, says that "it's a shame to spend money that way — the City should be doing this work, but the police can't get out and do these things. Visibility is the whole point. People feel safer knowing the guard is there, and every member has the guard's cellular phone number". Rod Johnston, the organizer of a patrol area bounded by 26th, 28th, N and P streets NW, said: "We are getting a high rate of return on our investment. We were having about one incident a week, vandalism or an occasional robbery or worse. Since May, 1993, we have had a total of two incidents reported".

It is worth notion that the first attempt of this kind was in 1991, when a former D.C. police officer Bonnie O'Neal began a similar service in Mount Pleasant for small businesses, apartment buildings and private homes. The District government tried to close O'Neal's operation in 1993, saying her guards should not be allowed to walk between clients' buildings. Yet 6 weeks later, the D.C. corporation counsel decided the city could not dictate where the private security officers worked.

Baltimore has experimented with private security guards patrolling the city's downtown area with funds raised through a special tax — naturally there is a strong opposition from those parts of the city that were nor covered with patrolling and it seems that the Georgetown model is more successful, provided we are dealing with neighborhoods, where living standard is more or less the same for the residents (see The Washington Post, March 29, 1994).

In 1992, when I was working on a program for "Chistye Proudy" neighborhood in Central Moscow, I've made that same proposal for the self-government board, based on inviting active police officers for after hours work, free-lance. It did not work at that time. It is of interest that the cost of $15 (Rbls.30.000) per month would not be considered exaggerated by those in Moscow who can afford new housing as well as by a good part of those residing in apartment blocks. As with other things, the Russian mix of people with various education and varying income in any apartment block makes any constructive scheme based on self-imposed payment unrealistic.

Another question that is of greatest importance to my work in Russia is the extent to which other than 'defensive' constructive initiatives could be traced in Washington D.C. While working for Moscow downtown neighborhoods I thought that a kind of local business corporation for development could consolidate the active few in order to propose a scheme that could invite far more people into, and be an obligatory long-term action of any business, that would possess or rent space inside the bordered territory. To a certain extent I was surprised to know that in the majority of cases local Business Associations are no more than 'clubs' for a fraction of local businessmen. The only exception that I've managed to find as yet is an initiative taken by Arthur J.Schultz, who had proposed a paper on "Business Improvement Districts" in April, 1993.

A long list of advantages to downtown improvement districts was made, based on experience gathered nationwide and especially in California where that movement had started as long ago as in the 60s:

1. The district is one of the few ways to solidly organize downtown and to keep it organized and running for the long term.

2. The district provides a firm, long-term funding base. It is not dependent on capricious annual voluntary funding campaigns, the vagaries of city budgets or the whims of federal and state legislation.

3. Since the district is permanent or at least fairly long lasting, it becomes possible to plan ahead for the mid- and long-term as well as for annual projects and programs.

4. A district centralizes the decisions making power about downtown firmly in the hands of the people most interested in downtown's welfare. Those who will benefit or suffer are the ones to make the decisions and pay the bills. The care!

5. Through a district, downtown can break free of public sector control. The public sector is certainly not the villain, but it is locked into certain complex considerations and may not address the needs of downtown from downtown's perspective.

6. A district makes it possible to recruit and to pay a strong staff to work for downtown. The jobs, the money and the long-term prospects necessary for hiring good people exist within the district structure.

7. Holdouts are wiped out. Property owners or tenants who often refuse to support downtown under voluntary plans are all locked into support via the district. The district has legally enforceable powers to insure that everyone pays a fair share related to benefits. The district can't force active participation but it can enforce financial commitment.

8. The district puts strong financial leverage into downtown's hands. Since funding is secure, downtown can borrow to finance important projects that will through off long-term benefits in return for initial high cash demands.

9. Finally, the district is a "businesslike entity". It is not an amateur operation or bureaucracy. It is organized, staffed and funded, topped by a real board, and enjoys the ability to speak with one strong, clear voice in the community.

I could have signed under each line of that list — as it practically coincides in both meaning and form with what I've proposed for "Chistye Proudy" or "Yakimanka".

The question of what "fair payment" should be is complicated, so it is worth notion that each one out of a number of Management District in operation has chosen its own formula:

Orlando (established, 1972, 1000 acres, 1 ml annual budget) $1.00 per $1.000 of assessed value;

New Orleans (1975-, 100 sq blocks, 6 ml annual budget) 10% of individual parcel -13,1 mil from assessed value;

Tulsa (1980-, 1,4 sq.mi., 0,710 ml annual budget) Gross Area x Block weight x Base Assessment Rate;

Denver (1983-, 77 blocks, 1,781 ml annual budget) Assessed on square footage;

Charlotte, NC (1984-, 37 blocks, 0,377 ml annual budget)

$.015 per $100 assessed value for Zone B — Zone A is $.03 (Mall);

Mesa, AZ (1985-, 1 sq. mi., 0,378 ml annual budget) Based on parcel's square footage — base rate of $.01 per square foot;

St.Louis (1985-, 120 blocks, 0,415 ml annual budget) $.034 per $100 assessed value;

Ft.Worth (1986-, 140 blocks, 0,793 ml annual budget) Authorized for $.085 per $100 of assessed value — currently $.08;

Seattle (1986-, 15 blocks, 0,472 ml annual budget) Rate for marketing $.20 per sq.ft., Rate for maintenance — $.10 per sq.ft.;

Buffalo (1987-, 30 blocks, 1,270 ml annual budget) Basis x Location Factor x Use Factor — % then taken of each one;

New York City (1988-, 50 blocks, Grand Central Partnership, 5,200 ml annual budget) $.10 per sq.ft.;

Portland, OR (1988-, 208 blocks, 1,870 ml annual budget) $ 1.33 per $ 1,000 assessed value on each property;

Rochester, NY (1989-, 13 blocks, 0,400 ml annual budget) 50% of assessed value and gross area.

With all the differences, one feature is the same practically everywhere — payments never exceed 1% of assessed value and usually is no more than .1% of that.

We shall not discuss other cities' Downtown Development Districts (New Orleans and New York examples are the most interesting for our case, if Moscow is in mind, the more so, that the NY case includes Brighton Beach Business Improvement District). It is more interesting that the "Four Corner" project for Georgetown, Washington D.C. never worked — the question of "fair share" was never solved and conflicts between small business and bigger business stopped the whole affair in its very beginning. (I hope to get more information after a meeting with mr. Schultz).

Case-study 11: BZA (Board of Zoning Adjustment) hearing

(in the D.C. Council building. July 28, 1994, 7 PM to 10 PM.)

Not only the subject was of interest (proposal to relax the time limits for projects when opponents file court appeals challenging the BZA decision), but the number of organizations present and their character as well:

-a number of ANCs giving testimony,

-Federation of Citizens Associations,

-Residential Action Coalition,

-a number of local (Foggy Bottom, Glover Park, Columbia Plaza etc.) citizens associations,

-Capital Hill Restoration Society and

-Committee of One Hundred on the Federal City (a closed urban planners 'club' that invites members on recommendation ).

The initiative was issued by Wilkes Artis Hedrick and Lane, the city's dominant zoning counsel, overtly representing the case of the developers, although a lot of words on "public good" etc. were said as well as the initiative meant to be a mere legitimization of practices, they said, have been widely used already. As usual a particular case was maid a precedental one: an owner of a big mansion, 2110, Leroy Place, had not filed for permits "due to the cost involved" and so, she would lose her rights. As always, digging deep into the matter one is able to know that the question was far more controversial: there was an Italian mission at the mansion before, and the neighborhood did not want that the place should be occupied by offices, being turned back to its initial housing function — a permit was given by BZA in its time to use the place for non-profit functions, yet the neighborhood had enough ground to suspect that the change would be inevitable, if the previous permit were prolonged.

The lawyers of Wilkes etc. got the floor for a long speech, being followed first by the D.C. Building Industry Association speaker and by each of the speakers for the opposite side.

It was especially instructive for me to register the high level of argumentation, presented by both the ANCs and the public organizations. All of them were quick to grasp the real meaning of the amendment proposed, though they had little time to prepare their case (only a week after it was publicized in the D.C. Register). All were stressing that this was practically an attempt to deprive the citizens of their only weapon against the developers' quick jump. It was stressed that it never happened that the work strongly advanced in construction would be torn down even if an appropriate decision by the Court of Appeals were issued (examples testified by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society), that any decision by the BZA would of necessity be of provisory character and that changes in situation and the attitude might have often cause the BZA changing its decision etc. The general attitude was best expressed by an independent voice presented by Robert Mead form Glover Park Citizens Assn. :"No automatic action that might exclude the public opinion, could be approved, whatever the reasons or the matter" Peter Espershied, an activist from the ANC 3C, who presented the necessity to make another amendment that would define that no implementation process could be started till all the appellation was considered in proper manner.

The Committee of One Hundred on the Federal City, presented by Cornick Hitchcock, was harsh on the issue, stating that "the Law is what Corporation Counsel says, but the Home Rule Act had stressed independence of BZA" and that the property owner could use a proposed tolling not only as a shield to his interest but as a sword as well.

Two extracts are worth citing here.

One, coming from the Federation of Citizens Associations of the D.C.: "The Federation objects most strenuously for a body, like the Zoning Commission which enjoys quasi-judicial status, to try to preempt influence or obviate a decision in a higher judicial body by taking ex parte actions while that other body is deliberating its decisions. The Federation believes it prudent that the District authorities await the decision of the D.C. Court of Appeals and not intervene in apparent subservience to the proposals for a text amendment by a law firm which seems to have far too much ex parte access to all zoning authorities in the District".

And the other, coming from Dorothy Miller, giving testimony for Columbia Plaza Tenants Association: "I have been instructed to speak in opposition to any proposed change in the text amendment. "It is the right to proceed" that bothers us the most. This change will set a precedent for all other cases and take away from the residents of the District about the only option which they have to protect themselves from decisions of the Zoning Authorities that adversely affect the health, safety and general welfare of their communities.

"The second point in this tactical game that Wilkes Artis is using in their request for a change in the text amendment is a familiar one. This requested change is to prevent hardship and expense for their client and as they put it "for general good". Whose good? None except their client's and this is not the main point. The communities should fear (1) the larger, bigger and richer clients which will follow this client and (2) how the proposed changes will adversely affect them and their residents, the taxpayers of the District.

" Third point, we at CPTA are aware of the classic example of what happens when holdings of courts/commissions and the rules and laws are usurped. The expense of removing work that was started or even completed when the court rules against the Zoning Authorities far outweigh the inconvenience of time lost or the refiling expense. It reminds me of the child who killed his parents and then asked the Courts for mercy because he was an orphan. I am referring to the case of the Western Presbyterian Church and the IMF who was and is also represented by Wilkes Artis. They made certain assurances to the community and the governmental agencies in their proposal, which assurances have been totally disregarded. Undoubtedly, the specifics with regard to the IMF/Western Presbyterian Church and their joint development, as well as the violations will be set forth by other witness/residents of the Foggy Bottom. It appears that the end result of Wilkes Artis' representation and actions result in the non-conformance with the rules and regulations and the holdings of the governmental offices.

"Returning to my first point, the tactic being used here by Wilkes Artis is one than showed up very clearly in the cross-examination of this firm before the Stark Committee in the hearings respecting the Height Act. Under oath Wilkes Artis admitted to providing less than complete information to District Agencies, like the Zoning Commission, the Mayor's Office of Planning and the NCPC. Had these agencies received complete and correct information concerning projects submitted for their approval, these projects would either have been denied or modified. Certainly changes would have been requested. Wilkes Artis then used the rulings and decisions by these agencies, based on less than complete and correct information, to obtain approval for other projects. They admitted to the Stark Committee that they were involved in most of 20 or more cases in which the Height Act had nor been adhered to. The "Finding of Facts" proposed by Wilkes Artis in these cases were utilized by the agencies, were published in the DC Register, and became the laws of the District. The afformentioned tactics worked to the disadvantage of the communities, the residents and taxpayers.

"In conclusion, we at Columbia Plaza feel that to-date "the playing field" has nor been fair to the residents/taxpayers of Foggy Bottom. To grant the proposal involved herein would further handicap us and give added impetus of the rush of DC taxpayers to the suburbs. Accordingly, CPTA request denial of the proposed changes to the Text Amendment to 11 DCMR 3104.5 in Z.C. Case No. 94-10."

This long text is needed here to show how carefully and in what a professional manner documents issued by public bodies like the citizens associations could be and should be. It helps as well to understand to what extent relative attention to the rights of communities depends on the scope and the quality of actions, like the one described above. One should have no doubt that without this kind of communities' engagement into running city's policies, the law would be nothing but letters, and that the executive authorities would always favor the strongest lobbying groups.

Case-study 12: Interviewing Robin Stallings.

Scenery: a medium-sized apartment, that Stallings shares with another young businessman, who is promoting a project of acquiring a piece of land in Virginia for housing development of 24 units, having experience, but no money, so it's a "friends' business", without support from the Bank. Everything in the sitting-room is upside down bearing signs of an election campaign the ashes of which were still warm.

The young man was already two days after his failure with the elections, accusing nobody but himself for not paying enough attention to technicalities that proved to be of bigger importance. He was disappointed and bitter because he felt the difference between being beaten at the election proper or being pushed out after so much time and money spent.

My question about the reasons for him, being a successful young businessman, to endure all that trouble with campaigning was answered in a way, that I've known good since my engagement with the Memorial Society Conference in 1988/89. That's idealism for sure and yet a hint of possible political career is there all right.

When I expressed doubt concerning his ability to really change anything even if he would have won the election, Stallings responded that he was sure that concentrating on several items every year he could have managed to get the necessary majority of seven voices among the 13. He was sure that the change for a model when the City Council is turned to a Board for Corporation in order to maintain financial City management with the Mayor turning more a representation figure, was both needed and achievable. That a possibility exists to lessen confrontation with the Congress paying more attention to professional management.

It was more interesting for me to understand how small business could be started and developed and to what extent the local Business Assn. was a real force for changing things for the better. As to the Business Assn. Stallings expressed his opinion that this has been no more than a small 'club' not being representative for the businesses in Adams Morgan and that two or three people have led it for their personal pleasure. I am not so sure — it might be that Stallings was not invited or could not see his position there or he would prefer to build a kind of BID mentioned above — it's a pity I had not enough time to check that with the business associations around the City.

Some days later I was able to check Stalling's skeptical outlook on the Business Assn. The August issue of "The InTowner" paper included a bigger article by P.L.Wolff (I've discovered later that nearly all journalists writing for small local papers use pen-names) and titled "Adams Morgan Merchants See Threat to Survival in New Comprehensive Plan Changes". It is obvious that the article was an outward interference into the electoral campaign though the essence might be deeper than that.

Pat Patrick, vice president of the Adams Morgan Business Association, undertook a severe attack on Frank Smith, already mentioned above as an acting Councilmember, standing for reelection, accusing him of "in-camera proceedings without ever consulting with the affected business owners about proposed changes". The day before final passage of the plan revisions, the association strongly opposed an attempt to give preference for business "serving only local residents". It is worth paying special attention to the wording of the proposal adopted by the City Council when it listed among other development objectives for 18th Street and Columbia Road in Adams Morgan "the provision and retention of retail and services establishments needed by local residents "be encouraged", instead of a regional clientele". As I have been renting an apartment in Adams Morgan, it is easy for me to stress that this populist thesis, would it be turned into practice, would mean that Latino population, already being near to 50% of the customers at local food-store, paying with Food Coupons, would be considered first, while hundreds of tourists and people coming from various parts of D.C. to enliven the streets and to strengthen local tax-payers, would be secondary. "We are pleased", the business leaders continued, "that the Adams Morgan shopping area is one of the most successful in the city: it is attractive to neighbors and tourists, it is multi-ethnic and it has store that pay taxes and are not subsidized... If the city wants to subsidize stores that will sell only to 'local residents' we will be happy to support such city stores. It is an entirely new idea in sales and we don't know where it is a success or even where such stores exist. Why do you want to impose this restricted sales plan on Adams Morgan businesses?". It is of interest that such a big enterprise as Washington Hilton is participating in the local business association. It is of interest that the business association proved to play against the citizens associations and the ANC with the case of the "Kelly Garage", but it joined the attack on Smith from the other side, as the Council has limited the projected parking garage capacity to "approximately 300-350 spaces", i.e. 200 places less, that would make a deal with a selected private developer less profitable. The business association was sure that the amendment introduced by Councilmember Smith was meant to block the project in a "shy" manner etc.

Stallings proved to be very professional in describing the ways the small business like his own has been organized. He made it clear that there was no chance to get a Bank loan, that only the first promises by "The Nation's Bank" were expressed in Washington to help creating new businesses, that the only way to start, if not inherited money, was to get trust from a group of relatives and friends and the friends' friends. That was exactly what happened with his two projects: the building at the corner of Champaign — he had organized a Limited Partnership, being himself a General Partner (i.e. personally responsible) with 3 General Partners more and rest of the Partners who now owned 3,5% of the building each.

Only when approximately 40% of the sum needed was accumulated did the Partnership Ltd. get a Bank loan. All of the partners were ready to have their profit accumulated without demanding it divided each year etc. The dark side of that was that both Recession and the local riots had struck simultaneously, pushing the real estate value in Adams Morgan some 10% down. Stallings assured me that they survived because he never agreed to take in more than 20% of 'liquid' money the partners had possessed and because they were not paying tax for a year allowing it to be accumulated and had no profit at all. As far as I could get it, both the Bike store and the building could bring no more than $60,000 a year at least 5 to 7 years more, which is not much.

It was interesting to know that the Bike store was also started without loaning from the Bank, through good contact with the industry that has given the partners credit for their product (it was 30 days free credit, so they had to work really hard to get to practical turnover, achieving $1,000,000 in sales a year.

It is of interest that the general non-community tradition in D.C. has made the place so retarded in promoting small businesses and the Business Improvement Districts, compared to any other City in USA. The hard breath of the bureaucracy omnipotence is being felt in D.C. nearly as much as back in Moscow.

Case-study 13: Interviewing Stephen C.Taylor, Legal counsel for Councilmember Jack Evans at the District Building.

Scenery: an office which, rather unexpectedly for me, is far more chaotic than I could have imagined. It reminds me more of the Moscow places, as if ready for a sudden assault, than clean and neat offices of businessmen. It is obvious that everything already is subjected to the goal of oncoming elections and that the running affairs are allowed to gather without too much respect for the paperwork.

Stephen Taylor, all smiles, is quite cooperative in manner, yet I practically could not get new information — whatever he cites I've already found elsewhere. So, the most interesting for me is the manner in which information on the actual Counsilmembers is presented in an official brochure. "The Honorable Marion Barry, Jr.", a well-known former three terms Mayor (a Civil Rights activist in his youth) is impertinent enough to run for the Mayor once more. His scandalous behavior does not exclude him from the run though — to cite the Brochure — "Marion Barry experienced difficulties during the last year of his administration stemming from his unfortunate addiction to drugs and alcohol. He overcame those difficulties with a good treatment program, support from his family and friends, and a deep abiding faith in God. His characteristic perseverance and strong belief in himself enabled him to learn from his adversity and to use it to help others."

(It is fascinating how various political hypocrisy might look in different Countries. Up to now, the text as cited above is absolutely impossible in Russia, where "being not caught one is not a thief", yet being caught once, one is definitely thrown out. It might change however, and the dubious character of the two political investigations after the 2 Putsches and the Amnesty might change the Russian political life, making it a little nearer to the American one. Especially, I think, it must change when Russian business people will enter the political scene for good — at least, the fact that quite a number of people were ready to support Mavrodi, the MMM Godfather, against the Government is expressive.)

Our discussion with Stephen Taylor was still more interesting to me, as I was already well oriented to understand that whatever was said should have been understood through a prism of oncoming primaries, with Jack Evans obviously not yet making his choice of a leading partner: John Ray or Marion Barry, or even Mayor Kelly.

I've read already enough at that time to be prepared for some joker to be on the table. So, it was no surprise to know about two of them. One — a strong cut to the D.C. Budget imposed by the Capitol Hill, that immediately revealed the mechanics of choosing priorities by the Mayor and the Council — the Mayor being interested in loyalty by the municipal servants, the Councilmembers seeking for public support first of all. The second — was a strong move from an unexpected side, when Superior Court Judge Steffen W.Grae decided to place the Department of Public and Assisted Housing in receivership, i.e. taking it away from the Mayor. Whether that move (well motivated because of years and years of mismanagement, not too surprising especially if one would consider that as many as 13 directors to that department were changed during 12 years of Barry and 4 years of Kelly as Mayors) was in fact initiated by John Ray or not, is of less importance. Yet it made a strong case for John Ray, who has got a magnificent card in his hand against both rivals, while Mayor Kelly's attempts to answer with accusations that he himself, as a Councilmember was just a passive observer, did not sound convincing. Frankly speaking, I've lost interest to those pre-electoral battle, because its political nature was so obvious and that had so little to do with the ANCs or citizens associations, or the communities, or the neighborhoods. Similarity with the Moscow situation is more than transparent — in neither place only political function for creating cliques or defeating the rival cliques was and is considered "a real thing" on the managerial top.

Supplement 1. Baltimore impressions.

The necessity to have a look on what is going on in a "normal" city was obvious, as without that comparison it would be hard to insist on the D.C. unique profile. I was lucky to have a prolonged interview with two "veteran community activists", as they were recommended to me by Charles Walker.

Betty Hyatt, who has been presiding over the Washington Hill Corporation for 20 years and has resigned a week before my visit, proved to be the most unusual personality. Her neat 2 bedroom apartment is filled with framed prints (old maps, architectural drawings and etchings) and books on History of Medieval Europe and History of Architecture and Urban Planning. Betty is unusual also, because she belongs to those few people who were born and bred in Baltimore, living there all her life (her children and their families are in Baltimore too).

The Washington Hill Corporation has proved to be that lucky exception to the rule, that it was conceived in time, got proper people on top in time and proper support from the City government in time. The co-operative concept for renovating a set of 8 quarters was approved by the Church parish, that owns a lot of land and particular buildings in the vicinity, by some of land-owners and by the City, and it was treated from the beginning as an Urban Renovation District, which meant that the City subsidized it heavily through a low-interest loan as well as through taking all the extra costs. The final result is really impressing — old row-houses were carefully renovated with some restoration of architectural detail as well, some small business is there, and a racially integrated community proved to be vital. Here they voted for a community landscaping, maintained by a professional gardener. A common children playground look well maintained as well.

From the beginning the initiative body managed to persuade the City-Hall that they would not be a victim to overkill overlooking from the government that proved to be a tragedy in so many cases, so the budget has been worked out independently ever since. From the beginning the group managed to secure its say as to the planning process, so that an official planner was working with strong support from the community in what considered research and analysis and in close cooperation as to planing and architectural work on particular quarters, buildings and courtyard itself. That led not only to higher degree of consensus inside the community, but to a smooth procedure of approving the plans by the Planning Office and major economy with the implementation process.

The most important thing is real ownership, that contributed to a balanced community, that takes in new members instead of those who died or went somewhere else after careful examination of their finance and them signing to certain social obligation with the corporation. After gaining applause from the media it was far easier for the corporation than for anybody else to come to an utterly new phase of its development.

The corporation has started a non-profit program for further improving adjacent quarters with the City-Hall assistance still continuing. I've seen both completed quarters (the Corporation has fulfilled a good job advertising, so a group of younger Baltimore artists were happy to get a place there, and the quarters in transition. A developing company, supported by the City-Hall has been operating in Washington Hill for several years and they have a permanent show — a renovated row-house with two apartments (3 bedrooms and 2 bedrooms) finished and furnished with old and new furniture to look really inhabited. That works — a list of subscribers is long, so that the Corporation has started a new quarter not yet completing the one in progress, selling smaller houses and apartments in bigger houses for low price (a 3 bedroom apartment costs $72,000 with $20.000 added by the city budget). Small businesses are well seen there as well and the Church combines effort with the Corporation with a program to renovate several row-houses belonging to it, so that the whole street would look better and would be better with inevitable rising of land value and the real estate value. Resigning from her position with the cooperative, Mrs. Hyatt still is the President for the Development Corporation and there is no wonder that she was selected as the one to have a lively discussion with Prince Charles when he paid a visit to Baltimore.

Mrs. Carolyn Boitnott, who is chairing a community Council 10 blocks further at the same street, presents another interesting case. Her family owns a bigger row-house of four floors, she does not need to work, so, with children grown up and out, she has been a partizan for community control over the urban development in wider scale. The community itself is in transition with some upper middle-class urbanites coming in lately and with lower middle-class families feeling bad about it, so with a big amount of work with particular poorer families being done, nothing like a really mutual action inside the neighborhood is possible.

On the other side, Mrs. Boitnott together with other activists has been playing a key role in creating the Southeast Community Organization (SECO), the Southeast Planning Council and the Southeast Community Plan, presented to the Mayor's Cabinet in november 1993 and its updated version in Spring, 1994. Ever since the famous "road wars" of the 70s — when they defeated the city's plans to bulldoze their homes for an interstate highway — the residents of Baltimore Southeast have relied on a network of community organizations to improve the quality of life and protect their interests. In an interview to the Business Record, April 8, 1994, Charles Graves, the city planning director declared that he felt excited by the plan because "it is a process where the community took the initiative, other communities are now looking at that model for developing other neighborhood plans" (If that was says in ernest, that would mean Mr.Graves is not an architect, as architects, with minor exceptions, just hate it when somebody takes initiative).

The Plan got its start during a battle over encroaching luxury waterfront housing in the late 80s. The development directly threatened some working-class communities, and indirectly — a lot of others, killing the waterfront view from their windows for good. It is of interest that the Southeast Planning Council's work was significantly funded by the Goldseker Foundation ($45,000), while the City Planning and Housing & Community Development departments did provide necessary technical assistance. The area was divided into four quadrants and a series of workshops was held to identify local problems and resources. Three task forces were established with over 50 community participants and outside advisors. Five outside bus tours were organized to acquaint southeast residents with problems and opportunities outside of their immediate neighborhoods. Mr. Graves found it important to stress that the Plan "is not typical, because it addressed not only physical development but also social and economic development" (I've always had to deal with that kind of astonishment presenting my projects to both the planning authorities and the municipal government).

The plan identified the plethora of urban problems, from declining employment and an eroding manufacturing base to deteriorating commercial strips and the spread of vacant housing. Then it proposed more than 40 actions which southeast Baltimore inhabitants believe are needed to combat those problems. None of the recommendations are quick-fix solutions, which makes it so different from the majority of community planning efforts in the USA and elsewhere. Many, like a proposed industrial park, are to take millions of dollars and many years to implement, others, like the affordable-housing set-aside idea, or advance legislation requiring that developers of publicly-assisted development projects recruit city residents as a first source of skilled and unskilled labor, would need City Council approval (which is easier with but 16 Counsilmembers, representing 8 wards). Some ideas need time and effort to be implemented but they can be started practically without delay, like initiating a Baltimore Community Development Loan Fund to make available flexible capital for business and affordable housing development. And again some ideas, like increasing business-education links or strengthening city/county alliances for mutual promotion of economic development planning and labor force development need nothing but a huge and long-term effort of dedicated people.

Most important is that the very fact of the Plan presented in clear-cut form has already started to work: a community-based group called the Patterson Park Neighborhoods Initiative has received a two-year $300,000 grant from the city to strengthen housing and home ownership. Safeway Stores that previously insisted on building a luxury high-rise condominium on Boston street, in Canton, now is working closely with the community groups in planning the supermarket, which is much needed in the area, another study of the Highlandtown business district is funded by the Goldseker Foundation etc. Mrs. Boitnott has stressed in the interview that "as important as the plan is, it's as important to continue the planning process. This is just a starting point".

Supplement 2. The Philadelphia impressions.

It was definitely little time to get first-hand information on Philadelphia set of problems, but enough to see it clear. We've got a strong impression of a cross-cut through the City, starting with charming downtown housing, renovated or gentrified, with a lot of new fill-in structures in place of the disappeared ones, with imposing freeways and city-houses, making small neighborhoods amidst the woods, and ending with despair and decay at the western Philadelphia, that wood fit the lower Bronx or Harlem in N.Y.C. In a way, it was a strong warning against what may be the result of the authorities' blindness in Russia. I've seen nothing like that back home, but in ten to fifteen years up to a quarter of Russian towns' territory might look the same way. That's a pity that never, never have I succeeded in persuading the bosses to open their eyes to the futures inevitable, predictable, calculable. They would not listen to or they would impatiently shrug shoulders — they have always had "really important things" to think about.

The works by "Fight Graffiti Assn." on many a blind wall are impressive for sure. Their artistic quality is secondary to their social impact — we haven't seen a single mural that would be covered by graffiti afterwards, and I am absolutely positive that any work of art, that would be done for the people, not with them (if only kids), would be covered with a carpet of graffiti. The locals would feel it as an insult, they would have revenged a work of art as if that were their deadly foe — I've discovered that phenomenon in Russia in mid-60s, when they started to break glass in that shiny telephone booths that were meant to represent

"Progress": it was sufficient to break one window, as to drag a hated thing down to the level of the surroundings was the only subconscious goal.

The small community gardens, organized at some of the vacant lots among row-houses, are charming indeed, and one can see how important these things are, being a result of long-term effort that had started with flower pots and minor repair of the fences. I know what a profound amont of energy on the side of Anne Spirn and other devoted people had to be spent in order to get to those results, modest as they could seem to an unprepared eye. And at the same time one gets a strong feeling of disproportion between these efforts and the scope of social tragedy that could not be helped much unless Federal money were directed to supporting the right people on the right places, which thing rarely had happened with any bureaucracy in the World.

The Community garden, cherished by Anne Spirn and maintained by residents under Mr.Ford, a born leader with velvet manners and authentic humor, is really something. Yes, it was the only solution — to make it 50 small gardens with 50 gardeners, and building the central "avenue" with its benches and a gazebo, as well as inviting the "Fight graffiti Assn." to make a beautiful pastoral mural upon the blind wall, which architecturally "sets" the whole thing, has reflected huge effort in creating the sense of carefully bordered commonness. It is obvious that without professional assistance from one of Anne's students that would never be achieved. I can imagine doing thing like that in Moscow, somewhere in the city center, be it Yakimanka or Cheestye Proudy and once again I feel how strong is the impact of the housing construction type on making a "frame" for human activity. Finding a place where 30 to 70 families could have a place to fence as the "their place" is a problem, as usually, because of the scale of the buildings, that would be at least 200, which far exceeds the manageable task force. Even if I could find such a place, and I could organize a mutual effort for 50 to 70 gardeners, and I could help them create certain common space, finding somebody who would work the same way as the "Fight Graffiti Assn." would be the most difficult task. It's like with our 'Democrats" who know better what people would need than the people themselves. No problem in finding an ambitious young artist who would make the work free of charge, but to find one who would suppress his self-expression urge in order to give kids their say, that's the problem. As far as I know, all of the studios' leaders of that kind are rather using children as perfect tools than helping them to do things. They are competing with each other trying hard to 'beat' rivals with artistic perfection of the result, not with humanity and fun of the process.

And another remark: I could well imagine the gardeners in Moscow giving the surplus to their relatives and friends, or to an orphanage or a kindergarten free. Yet I can not imagine my compatriots imitating these Philadelphians in what I consider the most beautiful — them hanging bags with vegetables and fruits over the fence, so that people who are deprived of that privilege of a garden (and it is a privilege now, when there are 150 willing for a place that soon is to be vacant) could take what they need. It is pragmatical all right, as it blocks vandalism inevitable without that practice, and yet more than that: with all the Russian Orthodox Church hypocrisy, we have not had Christian tradition of doing good anonymous. Because of that, in my practice of cooperation with residents I usually rely more on vanity, egotism and the urge for self-expression, that have been suppressed in Russia for ages, than on Christian morale.

General conclusions

Hypothesis as to comparability between Moscow City and Washington D.C. has been supported by research beyond doubt. Washington D.C. is the US City that might be mirrored in Moscow attempts to create the Home Rule after decades of suppression by the Federal bureaucracy. That makes it so important to make deeper analysis of Washington D.C. as a city in crisis with certain progress in what considers the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and the Citizens Associations. The resulting knowledge and know-how might be practically used for bringing the seeds of democratization to the Russian soil at that neighborhood level where real Democracy might start the sooner the better.

The field research in D.C. helps to understand that so much in the nature of the city-in crisis has nothing to do with what has been so often contradicted as 'capitalism' and 'socialism'. Relation between self-government and the two bureaucracies — the Municipal and the Federal ones — is far more important. The research has proved that formal democratic process, that does not really touch the self-government conscience and mentality, has as little relevance to the state of the city, as the 'soviet' formal procedures, that basic alternatives to the status quo urban policies might be as well omitted through political polemics among rival candidates in Washington D.C. as they have been omitted in Russia. Preliminary research, that made it possible to be better equipped before interviewing people, had disclosed really tremendous interdependence between the level of legal knowledge, and the level of analytical habits of the activists involved and the final results of their efforts. I have understood that interrelation through my work home in Russia, yet in D.C. I was still shocked by that explicity. No wonder, the more well-to do (levelled to a degree) and the more educated the neighborhood is, the better the results are. The more diversified is the neighborhood (without including the 'underclass' level of course), the harder the process, but the more interesting the results are. When a really poor neighborhood is to be considered, there is little hope for that to come to any valuable result without incessant effort of the volunteers 'from outside'.

Comparison of experience gathered by a Russian, a US scholar from Philadelphia, a scholar from Brazil and a scholar from Argentine has proved to be most productive, because all of us have discovered that some of the urban processes, especially in the underdeveloped parts of the cities, have got similar structure with all the difference in historical/cultural background. All of us seem to fight the same mighty opposition, coming not only from the traditional urban authorities, but from traditional architects and urban planners, who have been formatted by the same classicist and the same modernistic ideology (being direct continuation of the classicist tradition to a degree the Pioneers could never believe.

There was not enough time to get deeper to the gist of the urban maintenance and the urban management and to what might be changed there, whether experience gained in Baltimore or other 'cities per se' could be implemented in places like Washington D.C. or Moscow, Russia.

Going deeper would mean getting to be better acquainted with the ANCs and the citizens associations on a personal basis and in conditions more favorable than the pre-election months, to proceed with the analysis of the city budget and to the ways and manners various groups of influence have or have not got a say in that key matter.

Going deeper would mean proceeding with the analysis of the so-called Comprehensive Plan — it seems to me that though the Comprehensive Plan has more to do with reality than the so-called Master-Plans of Russian tradition, a lot of underskin activity goes unnoticed by the public.

Going deeper would mean as well getting better understanding of the underlying thick of developers-lawyers-bureaucrats links that might be the real social infrastructure in D.C. and in Moscow with all the understandable differences taken into consideration.


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