Sunday, May 29, 2005

Joe Citizen was I (part 2)

When last we were wired and blogging, I had recounted my 2nd grade production of the fable "The Obstacle in Our Path." I was berating myself for not having learned that lesson, but hadn't shared those details.

At an intersection near where I live, the gutters are chocking with refuse, which is also scattered along the sidewalks and in a half-used parking lot. There is heavy pedestrian traffic, and its along a commercial corridor. What has irked me is that no one takes responsibility for tending to the area. The District does not do street sweeping on the south side of my block for no clear reason. The sidewalk is along a massive Verizon "tech hotel" that appears to be a telecommunications hub (we're talking a 5 story building) with no human presence. The parking lot appeared to be owned and used by Verizon as well. The resultant trash-filed "dead zone" pissed me off, and when combined with a sudden lack of work to do, I started making noise. You might recall this was the same day I started blogging. Don't leave me alone with an internet connection.

I posted a concern to I was responding to another poster, who had similar success by working with a Councilmember's office. It had become clear to me that I had three parties to lobby: Verizon who owns the "tech hotel," Robertson Development who is a local condo builder that plans to put in a luxury building but is waiting for a year or more to break ground, and the City Department of Public Works who will entertain petitions to add residential street cleaning. [Side note: I can appreciate bureaucracy and entertain the petition idea, but it requires 60% of the residents on that block to sign. This makes sense in Friendship Heights where that means 20 people who would have to move their cars. There are 500 people who live on my BLOCK. I don't even know how to start that process. Besides, its not their cars on the street. So again I'm appealing to higher reason here. It also gets a long way when I point out that its the only block without street cleaning at this time, and the south side is the only block in the neighborhood with 200+ subsidized housing units.]

The fun part, is that my original post has elicited the following contacts:
--NBC4 for a segment on "Bad Neighbors," although I was hoping for Verizon's response before I draw any conclusions about whether Verizon is a "good" or "bad" neighbor. They aren't getting back to me very quickly, so I just might have to be "disgruntled area man" on the evening news.
--14th & U Main Street Alliance, which has similar concerns with the "dead zone" that the building creates, and their desire to work with Verizon to use the windows for visual displays, etc.
--The Mayor's Office of Community Affairs, who do their best to jump at any citizen concern.

I'd like to thank Jennifer for her comment post, in which she more adeptly identified the moral as: Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition. I have now decided the entire retelling of the story was irrelevant. Except I got to point out what a pain in the a** I can be.

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