Breaking Laws to Spur SW Developments

The January issue of Southwest Voice exposes illegal efforts in Southwest to spur development. Unnamed sources from the Housing Authority raise concern about the fair selection of the final co-developer. The Zoning Commission is ignoring its regulations. Meanwhile, Council will be reviewing the Comprehensive Plan amendments and future land use map changes that portend more Black displacement in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The anticipated racial equity impact assessment is problematic, not the least because only two staff from the newly formed Council Office on Racial Equity are expected to assess a dense 1,500 page document.

Illegal Demolition Alleged at Randall | DCHA Violated Rules | Fair Housing Act Violations | Zoning Not Following Rules | Racial Impact Assessment | COVID Vaccine | Family Communication | Doubling Traffic | A Quiet Place
Illegal Demolition Alleged at Randall – A recent 205-page filing with the Office of Administrative Hearings alleges that the demolition and permit issuance at Randall School violated several DC laws. The demolition of the auditorium stage purportedly opposed orders of the Zoning Commission and the Mayor’s Agent, as well as the permit. Steve Callcott, staff reviewer for this construction project, said of one allegation, “I can’t speak as to whether DCRA conducted an independent evaluation.” Mr. Callcott claimed that, “The one-story eastern-most addition that was connected to the original east wing was always slated for removal.” He does not elaborate on whether this received formal approval. Read More

Exclusive: Source Says Housing Authority Violated Rules in Greenleaf Selection  – An unnamed source associated with the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s senior leadership alleges that the selection of PennroseEYA, and Bozzuto Development as the final co-developer for Greenleaf violated procurement rules. “They were pushing that developer all through the process. One of DCHA’s many procurement violations,” said the source. Multiple sources close to the redevelopment process say that Tyrone Garrett, DCHA Executive Director, (left) openly admits to his long-time relationship with Pennrose, raising many concerns about the fairness of the selection process. The panelists that scored final applications were composed of a majority of DCHA staff – 8 out of 11 – who could have been under pressure to score the Pennrose application highly. Some questions posed to Mr. Garrett included the following. Mr. Garrett did not return a request for comment. Read full list of questions.

  • Pennrose was included as part of the team that secured the final selection. Can Mr. Garrett describe his long-time relationship with Pennrose dating back to his time at the Long Branch Housing Authority in NJ? How did this relationship influence the final selection and the decision-making process?  

DC is Likely Violating the Fair Housing Act – The Southwest Voice Editorial Board recently joined the DC Grassroots Planning Coalition and Empower DC to claim that the District is violating the federal Fair Housing Act. The Housing Act says that housing policy should not create more housing segregation or engage in racial discrimination. Both are happening in the District. Several studies have proved acute Black displacement and a greater concentration of poor Black people East of the River. The District has seen more gentrification than any other US city. Read why the supposed “drop” in DC’s ranking of most gentrified city is misleading.

The District is the main driver of development in Southwest and has applied downward pressure on the Black population through policies such as lowering affordability (Wharf), zoning areas that exclude inclusionary zoning (South Capitol projects), and selling off public land without major affordable housing concessions (4th Street Towncenter). While the White population has grown by more than 2,500 in the SW zip code, the Black population has declined in the last 10 years. As illustrated (above), the racial demographics shifted significantly in the Census tract containing the Wharf and Eliot following their opening. Both residential developments involved public land. In addition to nearly $300 million in public subsidies, Wharf developers had requested that DC Council lower affordability commitments in 2010, which the Council approved without an independent assessment or legal analysis. In doing so, it was likely a violation of the Fair Housing Act since African Americans stood most to benefit.

The US Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the racial disparate impact provisions of the Fair Housing Act in 2015. Specific policies like the lowering of affordability or exclusion of inclusionary zoning on SW’s South Capitol side form the basis of a strong legal argument against the District. Check out the SW Gentrification Dashboard

Learn How DC Violated Housing Act in SW, “The Comp Plan is Racist”

Zoning Commission Ignores Own Regulations – Based on D.C. Municipal Regulations (View here), the DC Zoning Commission regulations could not be clearer regarding the purpose of design review cases. It “allow(s) for special projects to be approved by the Zoning Commission after a public hearing and a finding of no adverse impact“. Multiple projects in SW have received this designation without a public hearing to assess impact, much less a finding of no adverse impact. Given the hardening Black displacement and gentrification in Southwest that the Zoning Commission has acknowledged, it would be impossible to establish a reasonable finding of no adverse impact. Further, the Zoning Commission is currently deliberating whether it can compel more affordable housing at the 7Eleven development – which is excluded from inclusionary zoning – to test its legal authority to mitigate harm to Southwest. Likely, the matters will need to be settled in court. Southwest residents are ready to appeal.

DC Council is expected to take up the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments, including the Future Land Use Map changes, in February or March. Many organizations including DC Grassroots Planning Coalition, Empower DC, and Committee of 100 have opposed passage without major revisions. One objection concerns an increase of 200 million square feet of land/air rights for “matter of right” development – a process known as “UpFluming”. When this occurs, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) and communities are hard pressed to ensure that development is compatible with neighborhood character or provides adequate affordable housing. ANC6D, for example, balked at the dismal affordable housing for the proposed 7-Eleven project at South Capitol and M Street. Due to “UpFluming,” that project was excluded from inclusionary zoning, which would have required 8-13% of residential square footage to be affordable.

Brian McClure, Director of the newly formed Council Office on Racial Equity (CORE), confirmed that the Comp Plan will be go through a racial equity impact assessment. However, several issues are readily apparent, which we raised in a series of questions. Mr. McClure responded to our email, but declined to answer any questions, which concerned methodology, legal analysis, and CORE staffing. We subsequently found out that only two staff members will be primarily involved in analyzing the dense 1,500 page document.

View our questions to Mr. McClure, CORE Director

In response to an impact assessment concerning the proposed future land use map changes, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson responded that, “It’s complicated.” He did not commit to compel the Office of Planning to complete the study. It is unclear whether DC Council will learn from the lessons of unbridled UpFluming for the last 20 years. Are 50,000 displaced residents not enough?

By Jennifer Fei, Associate Editor
We answer pressing questions about the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. The racial digital divide has also impacted vaccine scheduling since residents who are reliant on phone access have noted hours-long wait times. This is an ever-evolving story.

Who can currently get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The DC Department of Health announced that COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be released every Thursday at 9:00am to District residents who live in priority ZIP codes, are 65 years of age and older, and/or are health care workers. For Ward 6’s Southwest residents, the only priority ZIP codes listed for Southwest DC are 20032, 20260, 20373, and 20593. Additional appointments for District residents 65 years and older and healthcare workers in all DC zip codes will be released every Friday at 9:00am. DC is currently in phase 1A and 1B of the vaccination program which prioritizes individuals in nursing homes, health care workers, frontline essential workers, EMS workers, and DC residents 65 years and older.

Beginning January 25, in-person staff, including teachers and support staff, at DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools started getting the vaccine. Members of the Metropolitan Police Department and “Continuity of District Government” personnel will also begin their vaccinations through Kaiser.

How do I sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine? Read More Questions

By P.S. Perkins, Senior Editor and Board Member
The COVID pandemic has drastically changed the lives of individuals, families, communities, the world for many years to come – if not forever. Here are a few pointers to establish a communication climate in your homes that may provide the only silver-lining to this pandemic devastation – finding “US” again!


  1. Start with a simple “good morning”, “good night” or just “Hi!” “Thank you”. They may be shocked, and you embarrassed but do it anyway! Let go of the self-consciousness.
  2. If you feel COVID safe, give a periodic hug or at least a shoulder pat just passing by.
  3. SMILE! One of the only gestures that has no value unless you give it away! Sometimes, that’s all you need to say – I SEE YOU!
  4. Suggest a game of cards, scramble or…ANY game where face-to-face communication is involved. This can include gaming with household partners.

Read More Communication Tips

By Adom Cooper, Associate Editor and Board Member
The project proposed for 100 V St will more than double traffic on 4th St and Delaware. The developer’s Comprehensive Transportation Review states 100 V will result in about 1,100 additional cars down 4th and Delaware in just 2 peak traffic hours each day. That is an additional driver every 7 seconds, folks coming in and out of the neighborhood at the expense to those of us who call SW home. Read More
As a youngin’ on my stomach on the floor when I look back, 
Little Lord Plourde little more than a good laugh/
A little boy was ignored, little push back/
Pro barely noticed on the low some mistook that/ 
Quiet confidence, my accomplices looked at/
My accomplishments, my acknowledgement’s – hood rats/ 
On that come up for a bag, wanted book bags/
Could’ve had a Jag, could’ve bragged on some cooked crack/ 
Armed with hammers not my plan, had a hood pass/
Not for the handles dishing dimes with the look back/ 
Wasn’t able but I could make the hook phat/
Stood up on the tables in the café spit a good rap/ 
6’4 chiseled Jaw, plus I could scratch/
Bought a couple tables now my squad making good tracks/ 
Making good cash, but unsure if it would last/
Now rocked 100 colleges and still getting booked back 

We were looked at, major labels rockin’ at the talent shows/
Newer kids on the block with a battle flow/
Will and Peter, Marcus and my brother Joe/
Now my Wikipedia talks about my other role –too/
Born in Lowell, Massachu- got a honor code/
It’s always home, it don’t matter if we on the road/
Honor roll, put in Homework a late bloomer though/
See me Senior year drippin’ in my suede Pumas though/
In the studio, the rumors was the calculus was crazy hard/
Dad could’ve done it, but he punted for the Navy yard/
Maybe I’m, just an emcee out of place now/
1st generation-first degree—found my way now/
Making the grade now, I’m back for more
Teaching math in my city, summer rapping on tours/
3 degrees in my office, records, plaques and awards/
Plus, a placard on my door that says Dr. Plourde

Lyrical craftsman, author, associate professor (mathematics/faculty development), public speaker. for more. @ProfLyrical IG: @ProfessorLyrical

SUBMISSIONS: Poetry Column and Call for Submissions: Each edition will feature a poet sharing original poetry or prose. ALL POETS ARE WELCOME! Submissions should be no more than 150 words and seek to inspire and enlighten readers. Submissions must be submitted by the 5th of each month. Please include a photo (if desired) and a one to two sentence bio describing your writing passion. Youth submissions are also encouraged! Submit your work to Poetic Voice editor and Editorial Board member, P.S. Perkins at Authors retain rights to printed work and will be notified before publication. Inquires welcome.

A Quiet Place is a new section that is the brainchild of Linda B, a SW Voice Board member. The purpose is to expand our consciousness and forward messages of enlightenment. We encourage residents to find a quiet place to reflect on each month’s quotation. To submit a quotation, please email

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