Mind the Gap: the 14th Street Zoning Dilemma

So I guess this is an unconventional day for my little blog. First, a non-local news post and now a somewhat serious post (gasp!) about neighborhood politics. I know, but bear with me. This is a neighborhood blog after all.

So my U Street area, known in zoning speak as the Uptown Arts Overlay District, has gotten it’s fair share of press in recent years. The New York Times wrote about it last month. Restaurants like Marvin, Masa 14, and Birch & Barley have received strong reviews across the board, rents have skyrocketed. But I feel with all the hype, people forget one thing: that it’s not quite “there” yet. So yes, 14th street has  a great deal of this:

Churchkey (photo from New York Times)

But it also has great swaths of this:

14th Street (Ohad photography)

In effect, gaps. Sure the vacant storefronts are charming in their own way (we know  they give hipsters a sense of place) but they also reflect the area’s transitioning nature.

It’s these gaps that make the recent Zoning Commission decision so puzzling. Namely, on April 5th, the Commission ruled that the amount of linear storefront space devoted to bars and restaurants within the Uptown Arts Overlay District cannot exceed 25%.  Given that the area is at 24.88% right now, the ruling basically prohibits new bars and restaurants (save those currently pending). Ridiculous? Perhaps. But it becomes even more bizarre once you see what the Uptown Arts Overlay District encompasses:

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Good morning from WASA! NW residents told to not drink tap water until further notice

Man. Such a crappy news morning for the District. The DC voting rights bill is basically dead in the water over gun rights, it’s 4/20 so all these stupid stoner jokes are floating around, AND now apparently DC water isn’t safe to drink because of chlorine levels. This is the quarantined NW area:

View Chlorine Spike 4/20/10 in a larger map

So, it does not include my region of U Street/North Dupont. However, I DID comment to IronCitySpy a couple days ago that my apartment tap water tasted like a swimming pool, which basically means I discovered this problem and that I should become a scientist. Oh, and for those in the blast zone, just remember, at least you’re not in Cleveland. Their river caught on fire….TWICE. (Warning: the Cleveland link is a video)

Travel Channel’s Food Wars battled DC jumbo slice places and… wait, what?

Could they have possibly made pizza look LESS appetizing?


 OK. So travel channel has this show Food Wars where the host goes to different cities to settle local rivalries about famous food items. Basically, two establishments battle one another over a food, locals are interviewed, and the winner is decided by a panel of judges. The food is as you would expect in places, cheesesteaks in philly, hot wings in Buffalo, BBQ in Texas, and… jumbo slice in DC? Wait, what? 


We got effing JUMBO SLICE??? Jesus. Of course DC’s mark on the U.S. culinary landscape would be wasted-face pizza. Although the judges DID have to eat it sober, which is more than I would ever do.  

Anyways, the battle was between Pizza Mart and Jumbo Slice Pizza. Don’t worry, I had no idea which ones those were either. I mean, reading comprehension and jumbo slice don’t really go together. So, I actually researched it and discovered I had eaten at both probably a million times. Their signs look like this…  

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Underground dentist operation busted in Falls Church. Hope Obamacare has dental…

“Need a root canal? Don’t have insurance? One option for Northern Virginians was allegedly a woman’s basement office hidden behind a refrigerator…”

Could be the one of the best leads EVER. Basically, a Falls Church woman opened up a dentist office in the basement behind her fridge and gave someone a root canal. Then the patient, after developing an infection, realized something was up and went to the police who busted the operation.

Hmmmmm, if only there were some hints prior to the infection that Dr. Fridge might not be legit. The amoxycillin next to the chex mix perhaps? Or maybe the basement office HIDDEN BEHIND A REFRIGERATOR? Just throwing it out there.

You can read the rest of the article from the washington post here. Remember to floss!

Thanks to Matt for the tip!

Peepdate by popular demand and other district news

Morning reader(s). So I have gotten some requests to see my peep-crazed friend’s entries from the peep show. I mentioned them in Tuesday’s post. Remember? She lost and was hardened and bitter and swore she would never compete but then did again and then lost but is now at peace with the  powers that be. Well, here are her entries, Peep Bloom 2009 & Snowpeepcalypse 2010:

Quite impressive no? She urges you all to click on the images (especially Peep Bloom) to see the detail and agree that she was robbed. So maybe she is not completely at peace.  I mean, many hours were lost. Anyways, for those not busy designing their own peep entries in their heads (the peeplic option, Peep-partiers, Hot Peep Time Machine), here is the weekly roundup:

Sign of the Whale in Dupont may be offering topless Thursdays. Way to class up the neighborhood (PoP)

Metro sent out a 14 car train (yes, that’s two trains fused together) and declares safety a priority. Yikes (DCist)

Metro may also cut all green line service on weekends, because apparently punishing poor people is the solution (14th&U)

Fenty misses deadly SE shootings because he was in Jamaica and didn’t tell anybody. I guess people don’t like mayors doing that (Washington Post)

DC ranked 2nd in the nation in energy efficient buildings! Take THAT San Francisco (The Examiner)

Paddles the Beaver and Other District News

Paddles the Cherry Blossom Mascot

You didn’t know the cherry blossom festival had a mascot? Yeah, neither did I. Not to mention beavers have absolutely nothing to do with cherry blossoms.  Or Japanese culture. I mean, Paddles might chop down cherry trees to add more branches to his (her? gender-neutral?) dam, but a cherry tree maiming mascot doesn’t seem appropriate. That being said, children will like Paddles, and they will like stuffed animal Paddles sold at marked-up prices at the National Mall even more. Can’t say the same for ‘branchy’ the stuffed cherry blossom branch. You can hang out with Paddles at the festival tomorrow. Details here.

In other news, Syracuse lost, adding another Big East abomination to the tournament, the caps choked, and I’m starting to see some green on the trees. Here is the weekly news roundup:

Politico Poll finds tea partiers to be Republican, white and dissatisfied with America. Yeah. Not sure that was worth the effort (Politico)

Does a pro athelete bringing 4 guns into the Verizon Center locker room warrant jail time? We’ll find out  today (WTOP)

Legislation to legalize medical marijuana will be introduced next week. Stoners  won’t notice (DCist)

Please, be nice in the comments section. Sensitive 14th St. wine bar owner threatens to sue U Street Girl for blog comments

New Eisenhower memorial design is Gehry interesting indeed. Oh yes, I did go there (Washington Post)

My idiot brother comes to town and health care passes

Idiot Brother and his Profession

So my idiot brother is staying with me for 10 days, which means posts may not be timely as usual. Just a heads up, dear reader. Only reader (thanks mom).

In other news, big weekend in the District. Health care passed last night. Dems are elated. Republicans are threatening to move places. I mean, I guess they are. Though I don’t know where they would move. Europe and Canada are basically axed. ANYWAYS, many Americans on both sides reacted strongly, despite not knowing what the bill actually contains. This is not a political blog, so I will not discuss the issue, but check any media outlet in any location at any time EVER and I’m sure you’ll find a forum.  

In other less important, but more blogworthy news: my BRACKETS. My brackets are, as a dear friend put it, Terri Schiavo’ed. Not technically dead, but I’m just about ready to pull the plug. Kansas choked, Nova choked, the Hoyas choked. WVU is my last lifeline. My last, terrible Big East dependent lifeline. Jesus.

Will post again today. In the meantime, read about the health care bill if you haven’t already. It does affect you and I know you have time if you are reading this.

The White House Honors the Irish and Other District News

Green(ish) St. Patty's Day Fountain

In my mind, the biggest news was the Hoyas choking like none other last night, thereby ruining my March madness experience in a day. But in case you are interested in other things, here you go:

The Post reports that metro escalator outages are a problem, metro users say yeah, we know (Washington Post)

Top Chef is coming to DC. Time to start stalking the DC Hilton for snacks! (DCist)

German-American museum opens, gives 1/8 of Americans a sense of ethnic heritage (Penn Quarter Living)

I would actually go to church (well, maybe) if our services were like this (PoP)

Hamburgers may come to 14th St., as long as they’re not too noisy (14th&You)

Reporting Fail

So last week, for god knows what reason, I decided that I wanted to be a reporter. I had convinced myself that the local news is what people want and it was up to me to get all those random interesting facts about the neighborhood that the 13 other local blogs who existed 5 years prior to me had not gotten. Basically, I imagined myself like this:


Yes, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so what? She was a journalist. Anyways. So I went into a boutique, asked the boutique owner (name will not be revealed) “oh this is an interesting new store, how long have you been open” as if I hadn’t been there a million times. She recognized me in 0.5 seconds and said happily, “oh you’ve come in here a lot, and, like I told you last time, we’ve been open 7 years.” (pause) “Why are you asking again?”


I just looked at her blankly. Like a deer. A deer with an owl notepad, a canon elph and a strategically picked-out outfit that I thought bloggers wore. I garbled that I had a blog, she asked what it was called, I said, “I don’t know yet” (lie) and she just smiled. The kind of smile Forrest Gump got after talking about ping-pong. Wanting to evacuate as quickly as possible, I asked to take a photo, quickly snapped this awesome merch shot, and then fled the scene.


It’s a bird necklace. Or sort of. Maybe the “aura of a bird necklace” or “bird necklace ascending to heaven.”  Definitely not bird-necklace-I-need-to-purchase. So readers, there you go.  My investigative journalism got you a blurry bird photo and no information. News 1, DCspy 0.