There are 21 Single Member District (SMD) seats up for grabs on the November 6 ballot in three different local ANCs: 2B/Dupont, 2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor. Recently we introduced you to the candidates, including Matt Connolly (see Know the Candidates in Contested ANC Races). Connolly will face Howard Marks on election day.
Now, it’s Question and Answer Time on the issues.
Borderstan: What will be your first priority/new initiative if you are elected to ANC 2F and why?
Connolly: Education. More children are living in Logan Circle than ever before. Our neighborhood schools, including Thomson and Garrison elementary, have only just begun to catch up to the challenges city schools face. The ANC should play an important role advocating for improvement to our local schools.
Borderstan: How will you engage your constituents on issues so that your decisions reflect that of the majority of your Single Member District?
Connolly: As a current commissioner, I regularly attend tenant and condo association meetings throughout the neighborhood and am always available by email (connolly.matthew[AT]gmail.com) and telephone (202-347-3590). I also have a website and a Facebook page to keep constituents up to date on recent ANC activities.
In addition, if I know an issue before the ANC will have a direct impact on a particular constituency, I reach out to that group directly. Residents and businesses have provided valuable feedback on issues that concern them on a daily basis, especially regarding rat and traffic problems.
Borderstan: Becoming “the next Adams Morgan” is a consistent fear expressed in ANC 2F meetings. Would you support a liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U corridor? If so, why? If not, why?
Connolly: I support the ARTS Overlay District, which is designed to encourage pedestrian activity, increase the presence of arts and culture, and recognize the historic character of the 14th Street Corridor. Significantly, the ARTS Overlay district prohibits eating and drinking establishments from occupying more than half of the ground level of a city block. In part due to the ARTS Overlay District, 14th Street has seen the development of diverse businesses, including great restaurants, art studios and coffee shops. As an ANC commissioner, I have worked to balance the rights of current residents while recognizing that new restaurants improve our community. I do not support a liquor license moratorium.
Borderstan: Do you believe the voluntary agreement process for liquor license applicants needs to be changed? If so, how?
Connolly: Yes. With a few notable exceptions, ANC 2F has had a good relationship with Logan Circle businesses and has worked hard to develop voluntary agreements that permit businesses to thrive while respecting residents’ rights to peacefully enjoy the neighborhood.
However, in those rare instances when businesses violate voluntary agreements—such as with Mood Lounge—the agencies charged with enforcing voluntary agreements are ineffective. It simply takes too long for these agencies to enforce the law, resulting in unnecessary and painful living situations for residents near these establishments.
Borderstan: Logan Circle and the 14th and U corridor area is now a destination spot for people throughout the DC Metro area, especially on weekends. Do you believe that the police presence, particularly on the 14th Street corridor, is adequate, especially on weekends?
Connolly: I applaud the efforts of MPD to keep our streets safe, especially Sgt. Terestre and Lt. Carroll, who regularly attend our ANC meetings and have been responsive to resident concerns. However, there is still more we can do to improve public safety across the whole ANC, not just on the 14th Street corridor. In addition to enhanced police presence, we need better lighting (including in Burke Park) and traffic cameras in dangerous intersections, such as 12th and Massachusetts NW.
Borderstan: The pace of development is rapid in the area, especially along 14th Street NW. Do you think more commercial buildings would be good for the area, as opposed to more residential buildings?
Connolly: Part of what I and many residents love about the Logan Circle neighborhood is its mixed residential and commercial nature. I am in favor of continuing to balance both types of development, depending on the proposal. It’s a testament to our neighborhood that so many people want to move to Logan Circle, and I support the local businesses that support us.
Borderstan: Do you support the new restricted Residential Park Permit pilot program implemented through ANC 2F in late summer/early fall 2012? Tell us why or why not.
Connolly: Yes, and I was proud to vote for it as a current commissioner. Many residents are frustrated about finding parking within walking distance of their homes, and the new program has helped address this problem. DC residents directly pay for parking through an annual resident parking fee, and indirectly through property and income taxes that those from Virginia and Maryland do not. It seems only fair that those who pay for the parking should benefit from it.
I understand the concerns raised by local businesses and churches, which is why implementing the program on only one side of each street seems like a reasonable compromise to provide residents, visitors, and business-goers access to parking.
Borderstan: Of the many possibilities being discussed to alleviate parking constraints in ANC 2F is the construction of parking garages along or near the 14th Street corridor. Do you support these efforts?
Connolly: Yes. At our October ANC meeting, a few constituents discussed a proposal to construct public parking at an old school bus parking lot on S Street. I support that proposal as one piece of our efforts to make Logan Circle more accessible. I also support enhanced public transportation, improved bike lanes, and Capital BikeShare as other means for people to come to our neighborhood without having to worry about parking.
Borderstan: Are there types of business in our neighborhood that stand out as something we need more of in the area? If so, can you name three?
Connolly: Personally, I would like to see a bakery. The restaurants in Logan Circle have been so successful that many can take an hour (or more) to be seated. I would like to see a place where neighbors can quickly pick-up lunch or a snack, either to eat at the restaurant or take home.