Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association 2010 Questionnaire for Candidates

The Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association developed a questionnaire for Candidates for the 2010 election containing questions related to Brookland and Ward 5 topics.

This questionnaire was sent in early August to 2010 candidates for Mayor, Chairman of the Council, At-Large Member of the Council, and Ward 5 Member of the Council. BNCA posted the results on BNCA website and sent the results to various neighborhood listervs.

BNCA president Caroline Petti stated via email

Various organizations, interest groups, and the candidates themselves are providing information on issues generally affecting residents of the District of Columbia. The BNCA questionnaire digs a little deeper and elicits information on the candidates’ views on and plans for addressing issues of specific concern to Brooklanders. Our hope is that this will be additional useful information for Brookland voters.

Below is a reposting of the BNCA Questionnaire

Question 1 Development: City planners are encouraging “transit-oriented” development around Metro stations and the area around the Brookland/CUA Metro station is beginning to attract the attention of developers. Many Brookland residents look forward to the new restaurants, shops, and jobs that new development entails. At the same time, many are concerned about potential ill effects such as increased traffic, increased population density, and loss of open space. If you are elected, what will you do to ensure that new development will not come at the expense of Brookland’s character and liveability? What will do you to ensure that Brookland residents will have a meaningful voice in development decisions?

Vincent C. Gray (Democratic Candidate for Mayor): As Mayor, I will ensure the Government of the District of Columbia is open, responsive and accountable to the residents which it serves. This commitment to transparency extends to neighborhood development projects. My administration will ensure that any development in Brookland is implemented through a set of guiding principles developed with the direct input of the community and which are designed to both enhance the unique character of the neighborhood and protect the low- density residential areas east of 12th Street. Development around the Brookland/CUA Metro Station will require a number of government reviews and approvals which will provide additional opportunities for the public to be actively involved in the process. I will also direct the DC Office of Planning to work with community residents and organizations and establish a community review process of new development to address issues of density, design and scale, pedestrian and vehicular traffic and parking, and preservation of open and green spaces.

Kwame R. Brown (Democratic Candidate for Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia): Brookland is one of the District of Columbia’s greatest neighborhoods because of its character and livability. I was proud to support the “Brookland/CUA Metro Station Small Area Plan Approval Resolution of 2009.” This resolution proclaimed the Council of the District of Columbia’s firm dedication to ensuring that future development of the neighborhood respects, and is compatible with, the nearby residential area and takes into consideration the desires of its residents. The resolution also committed the District to coordinating with the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority to ensure that the community will have a meaningful voice in development decisions. As Council Chairman, I am committed to ensuring that both of these promises are realized.

Darryl L. C. Moch (Statehood Green Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): As Council Member At-large, I plan to hold regular meetings in each ward, to allow for focused discussions about ward-specific issues and concerns. I plan to oversee a robust constituent services component within my office for real-time communication regarding concerns of importance to the residents of D.C. I support the Open Government is Good Government Act of 2010 to hold the Council accountable for improved transparent governance. I will undertake efforts to strengthen agency reporting requirements and the mechanisms that result in a more inclusive and responsive Council and will maximize the resources of ANCs and my constituent services arm to liaison with neighborhood civic and community-based organizations. I will also engage the community using innovative communications strategies. Retaining Brookland’s character and livable community will only be achieved when residents feel included in any land development planning. I am committed to ensuring their participation is informed and their presence meaningful.

Clark Ray (Democratic Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): If elected, I would propose the formation of a working group, working with the Ward 5 Council Member, Brookland Business Association, Brookland Civic Association, community leadership, citizens and other stakeholders, to facilitate an on-going dialogue with the developers about the specific plans for development and the wants and desires of the residents with respect to ensuring Brookland’s livability and character, as new development begins to take shape. Brookland is a very unique enclave in Washington and it has an active, diverse community that deserves specific input into the growth of its community. I will be an advocate for smart growth and citizen-engaged development.

Kenyan McDuffie (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): Community input must be the cornerstone of every development project in Brookland and throughout Ward 5. Too often, developers are allowed to change the character and makeup of communities with little or no input from residents. Every development project should be driven by the affected community’s needs and wants, not the developer’s bottom line. As Councilmember, I will promote the exceedingly important concept of community building in Ward 5 projects and push to incorporate it into a coordinated city-wide economic development strategy. Ward 5 has several projects slated for development and some that are underway. However, there has been no comprehensive examination of the potential collective impact (e.g., traffic, environmental, etc.) of those projects on the community. As Councilmember, I will introduce legislation that requires the completion and publication of a comprehensive community impact statement that analyzes the potential impact of multiple development projects within a certain radius.

Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): As the incumbent Ward 5 Councilmember, I have a strong record of working with Brookland residents to ensure their voices are heard as part of any development decisions. I have both sponsored meetings and attended numerous others so as to hear and respond to residents’ viewpoints regarding development. For example, I hosted a series of meetings with 10th Street residents with concerns about the Colonel Brooks project. I have met with residents about the Abdo/CUA South Campus project. I have participated in Single Member District meetings for which development projects have been on the agenda. As your elected Ward representative, I have been and will continue to be responsive to the residents of Brookland on development issues – and all other issues – and make sure that city officials and developers work closely with this community to achieve positive growth that retains both the character and livability of this city gem.

Question 2 Parks and Green Space: City planners have identified an expanse of lawn abutting the eastern border of Metro property between Newton and Otis Streets, NE as a prime development opportunity site. This area — known as the “Brookland Green” — is treasured for its tall, mature trees, the beauty it brings to the neighborhood, the environmental benefits it brings in terms of cooling shade, cleaner air, and stormwater control, and the potential it offers as a pleasant community gathering spot. If you are elected, what will you do to help Brooklanders protect and preserve the Brookland Green?

Vincent C. Gray (Democratic Candidate for Mayor): I understand the importance of open, passive green space to the quality of life of a neighborhood. The preservation of the Brookland Green provides a challenge because the land is owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and not the District government. Nonetheless, my administration will review the feasibility of acquiring from WMATA the Brookland Common land in order to preserve the open, green space. In addition, my administration will require that any development around the Brookland/CUA Metro Station integrate open and public gathering spaces into the development and provide for green space along 10th Street. In addition, my administration will seek ways to improve and enhance existing park space by engaging with the community and by having the Department of Parks and Recreation coordinate with the National Park Service to identify creative funding opportunities for park improvements at Noyes and Fort Bunker Hill.

Kwame R. Brown (Democratic Candidate for Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia): The Brookland Green is a very important part of the Brookland neighborhood. Any future development of this site must take into consideration the views and opinions expressed by Brooklanders. As Council Chairman, I will work with the residents and the Council to make sure that the Administration continues to incorporate the concerns of the residents.

Darryl L. C. Moch (Statehood Green Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): I will take several steps to working alongside Brookland residents to ensure their interests are upheld during land development negotiations regarding their community. I plan to engage both residents and developers separately, first, then jointly if potential resolutions and agreements are possible. I’d want to gauge majority residents’ opinions about, as well as the developer’s objectives for, the proposal. If warranted and legally permissible, public opposition may dictate revisiting proposed plans. I would support the majority community. Meanwhile, I would work with local DDOT and federal EPA, where appropriate and feasible, to obtain reports that buttress residents’ arguments for retaining “Brookland Green.” Most importantly engaging the community in real solutions that work for the community is vital and necessary.

Clark Ray (Democratic Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): As the former Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation I know how important it is to protect green space. I believe that the voice of the citizens of any community is paramount. If the overwhelming majority of stakeholders are interested in preserving Brookland Green, I will work to uphold the wishes of the citizens through legislative authority.

Kenyan McDuffie (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): With any development project, preservation of green space must begin with community involvement and a transparent planning and design phase. Green space should not be sacrificed at the expense of development. With the evolution of LEED design and a recent push towards environmentally friendly development, green space preservation should be a required facet of new developments throughout the city. As Councilmember, I will ensure that developers are sensitive to existing green spaces and look for innovative ways to increase the amount of green space in their projects. I will also make sure developers understand that “open space” does not constitute green space. Green space not only improves the livability of communities, it helps to decrease respiratory diseases such as asthma, which is at an extremely high rate in Ward 5. I will also ensure that our city’s tree bill is enforced, and that developers who violate it face stiff consequences.

Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): Because the “Brookland Green” is owned by WMATA, it is important to work with the district’s representative on its Board of Directors to lobby for preservation of the beautiful green space that means so much to many Brookland residents. Because the Small Area Plan supports development around the Brookland/CUA metro stop, fighting to keep this space green will be challenging. Even so, I will – as I always have – champion the viewpoints of residents on development of the “Brookland Green”.

Question 3 Diversity: Brookland residents choose to live in Brookland because we enjoy life in a diverse community of young and old, rich and poor, deaf and hearing, gay and straight, and all races, ethnic backgrounds, and creeds. Prejudice and intolerance have no place in Brookland. Please describe the work you’ve done to work with and unite diverse constituencies around common goals and aspirations.

Vincent C. Gray (Democratic Candidate for Mayor): As a native Washingtonian and life- long resident of the District of Columbia, I have worked my entire life to unite diverse constituencies and rally around common goals and aspirations. As a student at George Washington University, I was the first African-American admitted to the white fraternity system and within a year, became its President. Throughout my professional career, I have united diverse communities first to fight on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities as Executive Director of the Arc and then on behalf of homeless youth as Executive Director of Covenant House Washington. I am running for Mayor under the banner of ‘One City’ because I believe we can do much, much more to bring people together to build better schools for our children, reduce crime, and generate real jobs for our city’s residents.

Kwame R. Brown (Democratic Candidate for Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia): Prejudice and intolerance have no place in Brookland— or in the District as a whole. I am committed to making our city one in which everyone is welcome and has the opportunity to participate in and enjoy all that our nation’s capital has to offer. Among my efforts, I am proud to have co-sponsored two important pieces of legislation that directly impact our citizens and protects them from discrimination: the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009” and the “Prohibition of Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Expression Amendment Act of 2008.” As Chairman, I will ensure that all District residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender—are served, represented, and protected by the Government of the District of Columbia. Finally, I will work with my colleagues to strengthen and enhance the District’s “Hate Crime” legislation to increase penalties for individuals that seek out victims because of their protected status.

Darryl L. C. Moch (Statehood Green Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): Throughout my life’s work, in a variety of places and on a lot of issues, none of this work was more rewarding then maintaining or encouraging the rich diversity of experience that comes from the full inclusion of people from every sphere of life. I worked to secure place and support for the LGBTQ and Ally relationships, communities of color, and intergenerational activities. I have served on a racial profiling commission working to improve relations between community and police, worked on LGBTQ Pride organizations, and served organizations whose missions include building for diversity of experience, thought, and participation. I serve in inclusive ministries that uphold the sanctity people without prejudice. Let me state clearly that in every aspect of my life working to maintain the diversity of influence is primary. I cannot imagine living or working in anyway that was not inclusive and inviting for all people.

Clark Ray (Democratic Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): I am an openly gay man and have always lived my life out and open. As Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) I required all DPR employees take sensitivity training classes. I also served as a Reserve Metropolitan Police Officer where I was assigned to the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit. I have worked all over the city, first as a neighborhood services coordinator in Wards Two (2) and Eight (8) and then city wide as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Service and Director of DPR. I have an extensive record of public service to the residents of the District regardless of race, ethnic backgrounds, creeds and sexual orientation.

Kenyan McDuffie (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): As a Justice Department attorney, I traveled the country enforcing federal civil rights statutes which protect the rights of institutionalized persons in nursing homes, mental health facilities, and prisons. I worked with adversarial groups to formulate cooperative consent decrees and memoranda of understanding, as well as with police departments and community organizations to reform unconstitutional police practices, including racial profiling. As civic association president, I embraced diversity within my own community to bring seniors, youth, and new residents together for our inaugural Community Day event and other community- building activities.

Ward 5 is beautifully diverse. Accordingly, our government must deliver services and meet the needs of its residents in a fair and equitable manner. As Councilmember, I will celebrate Ward 5’s diversity, encourage tolerance and inclusiveness, and work to institute programs and policies reflective of the community’s diverse needs, in order to meet our common challenges and move Ward 5 forward.

Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): As the incumbent Ward 5 Councilmember, I have demonstrated that I embrace diversity and shun prejudice and intolerance. My voting record on the city council is evidence of my openness and commitment to ensuring that each and every one of us has equal human rights, particularly my vote for and support of same sex marriage. I will never waiver in my commitment to diversity and will remain steadfast in my efforts to unite diverse constituencies.

Question 4 Economic Revitalization: 12th Street, NE — Brookland’s “Main Street” — was once a thriving place to shop and do business. The businesses currently there do a good job of serving the needs of the community, but many would like to see 12th Street enlivened with more small, independent boutique/specialty businesses and sit-down restaurants. What steps do you believe can and should be taken to attract new businesses to 12th Street without sacrificing its present small-town, small-scale character and appeal?

Vincent C. Gray (Democratic Candidate for Mayor): I understand the urgent need to take action to address our city’s economy – both to revitalize our city’s many neighborhood main streets and to create real jobs for District residents. As Mayor, I will develop a detailed economic development strategy for the future, coordinated by a Deputy Mayor focused on local business growth in commercial districts like 12th Street, NE. This work will begin even before I take office. As Mayor-Elect, I will convene a DC Economic Development Task Force during my transition – with a Jobs Summit to take place during the fall of 2010. The DC Economic Development Task Force will include business owners, organized labor, government officials, job training providers, representatives of the higher education community, and other key stakeholders. The Task Force will identify strategic opportunities and targets for growing the city’s economy and creating jobs. The Task Force will develop specific strategies to grow specific commercial districts – while maintaining a balance between new development and the traditional look and feel of the community itself.

Kwame R. Brown (Democratic Candidate for Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia): When we invest in our neighborhoods and local businesses, we create a stronger community. That is why I have consistently introduced bills designed to change the overall environment for businesses in the District. We can ensure the long-term vibrancy of the business community by:

  • Requiring government agencies consider the financial impact of their regulatory proposals on small businesses by passing the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • Adequately funding the business micro-loan fund, an effort that I supported in the FY09 Budget Support Act
  • Preserving government funding for businesses—resources like the Main Streets program, a goal that my Committee was able to realize in the FY11 Budget Support Act without assessing one new fee, tax, or other revenue generating proposal
  • Creating and supporting new resources for District entrepreneurs, like the opening of the District’s first Women’s Business Center by the Small Business Administration

Darryl L. C. Moch (Statehood Green Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): I believe this to be a classic textbook case for resident engagement, coupled with public-private partnerships. First, I would solicit input from residents. What is your vision for 12th Street, Brookland’s “Main Street?” Second, I would encourage residents and community-based organizations and small to mid-size developers to establish a blueprint for small business development, including independent, non-franchise entities. As Council Member, I would advocate to bring in federal, foundation, and other funding that the Council would award with complete transparency to organizations and for-profit companies who commit to First Source and other laws conducive to training and employing DC residents, with priority preference given to Brookland residents, particularly and where appropriate our teens and young adults.

Clark Ray (Democratic Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): I would support and work with the Ward 5 Councilmember to create a “Doing Business in Brookland Campaign”. I would also work with stakeholders to create a city-wide message about Brookland and 12th Street to help drive consumers to the commercial corridors and I would help sponsor special events on 12th Street to attract visitors to the neighborhood.

Kenyan McDuffie (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): The first step in revitalizing the 12th Street corridor has to be th empowering the existing business. It is imperative that the current businesses along 12 Street are given the resources to compete with the new development proposed for the Brookland area. As Councilmember, I will ensure that the city makes an investment in the 12th Street corridor for façade and streetscape improvements that actually work. There are also zoning issues that must be addressed so small businesses can expand and offer more services without going through the more stringent PUD process. In order to attract new small business to this corridor, DCRA should streamline the business startup process and make it more business-friendly. As Councilmember, I will work to ensure that existing businesses remain competitive, and that new businesses receive technical assistance and microloans to facilitate startup and are more consistent with the architecture, character, and scale of existing businesses.

Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): 12th Street is a wonderful neighborhood business corridor that I have frequented since I was a child. I recognize the need to implement a revitalization strategy for 12th Street that not only includes recommendations from the Office of Planning’s recent study of neighborhood business corridors, but also some other creative ideas. For example, I have advocated for municipal parking adjacent to neighborhood business corridors to increase accessibility, encouraged our larger institutions to “buy local”, and have sponsored a number of events at establishments on the corridor. We also need to support our small businesses by providing them with technical assistance. Too many times, a small business opens without a cohesive business plan and, consequently, fails. My office has been working closely with the GWHCC, which has had grants to provide small business technical assistance in Ward 5.

Question 5 Trees and Utility Lines: The pruning needed to accommodate overhead utility lines is preventing the growth of a healthy tree canopy along 12th Street. A healthy tree canopy would contribute significantly to making 12th Street a more attractive and inviting shopping destination. People are drawn to areas cooled and shaded by trees. As an elected official, what will you do to improve the condition of trees along 12th Street? Will you work with Brooklanders to implement cost-effective ways of undergrounding 12th Street utility lines?

Vincent C. Gray (Democratic Candidate for Mayor): I believe it is essential that we support the growth of a healthy tree canopy along 12th Street. As Chairman, I worked with Councilmember Thomas to pass a resolution that declared a sense of the Council on the need to temporarily halt activity on the 12th Street streetscape improvement project in Ward 5 to support the Brookland community’s desire to explore placing all utility lines underground. As Mayor, I will work with the Brookland community to reach the best environmental and aesthetic outcome for 12th Street, which includes a healthy tree canopy, and to ensure 12th Street once again becomes an attractive and inviting shopping destination. The community’s desire for a healthy tree canopy and for underground wires should be integrated into how we approach the overall revitalization of the 12th Street, NE area.

Kwame R. Brown (Democratic Candidate for Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia): I supported the “Brookland Streetscape Temporary Act of 2010” to determine the funds remaining for the 12th Street streetscape project and to determine the costs of burying the utility lines along part or all of the length of the project. The condition of the trees along 12th Street is a major concern for the neighborhood residents. You deserve to know—as soon as possible—what the options are when it comes to both the care and maintenance of the trees and the cost of burying the utility lines. I pledge to work with Brooklanders to explore ways of implementing a cost-effective method of burying the 12th Street lines.

Darryl L. C. Moch (Statehood Green Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): Yes, I would work with Brooklanders to preserve the healthy tree canopy on Brookland’s “Main Street.” First, I would research and inform myself of both my constituents’ and the utility company’s perspectives, including the arguments for and against replacing the existing overhead utility lines. My motto “For the people…for a change” is not just a platitude, it characterizes my life’s work as a servant-leader. I pledge to represent you; if a majority of Brooklanders agree to cost-effective implementation of underground utility lines along 12th Street, I will work with you to ensure the project is managed and completed in a timely, efficient, and professional manner.

Clark Ray (Democratic Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): Yes, if feasible and desired by the citizens. I would also work with the Ward 5 Councilmember and the City Arborist to explore the feasibility of planting new trees to provide cover, but do not grow as tall as the current trees. The most important thing to do is to look at development and get consensus on a plan and to know the alternatives.

Kenyan McDuffie (Democratic Candidate for Ward 5 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia): As Councilmember, I will certainly work with Brooklanders to implement cost-effective ways of undergrounding the 12th Street utility lines. In addition to securing funding for undergrounding, I will ensure that companies responsible for pruning near utility lines routinely service the Brookland area, adhering to generally accepted best practices instead of performing inferior work in an effort to cut costs. I will also ensure that the Urban Forestry Administration works responsibly with private contractors and residents to discuss tree removal and pruning plans prior to commencing work. Additionally, I will work with residents to find creative ways to add to the 12th Street canopy in an effort to support the goal of increasing the citywide tree canopy to 40