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ANC 1B-12 Candidate Dan Wittels on the Issues Facing U Street

by Borderstan.com November 3, 2012 at 10:30 am 1,452 11 Comments

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

There are 21 Single Member District (SMD) seats up for grabs on the November 6 ballot in three different local ANCs: 2B/Dupont2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor. Recently we introduced you to the candidates, including Dan Wittels (see Know the Candidates in Contested ANC Races). He faces John Carlos GreenZahra Jilani and Erling Bailey for the 1B-12 seat.


Dan Wittels. (Courtesy of Wittels)

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 1B12 and why?

Wittels: The first thing I’ll do is reach out to my constituents and see what their concerns are and move those to the top of the ANC agenda. After 15 years living on these streets, I’m fairly confident I know what the pressing matters are that face our neighborhood. But I want to continue the conversation I’ve had with residents and families during the ANC campaign. Issues and priorities have evolved, but concerns about crime, traffic, parking, and quality of life are constants.

Borderstan: How will you engage your constituents on issues so that your decisions reflect that of the majority of your Single Member District?

Wittels: On the street, at meetings and via e-mail. But all the websites, listservs and social media in the world will never replace face-to-face time with residents. Technology can only get us so far and access to it isn’t universal in a neighborhood as diverse as ours. We have many senior citizens on my block and those surrounding it. To ask them to follow community developments on Facebook or a listserv isn’t workable. It’s time we got back to good old fashioned one-on-one communication. The backyard fence or doorstep is still an effective way to communicate with people, especially about the issues we all have to deal with.

"ANC 1B"

Click for a larger map: ANC 1B includes most of the U Street corridor. (ANC 1B website, with boundaries in effect for the 2012 election.)

Borderstan: What value do you think neighborhood associations provide, and how do you plan to interact with them?

Wittels: I think they make valuable contributions to the communities they serve and their voices should be heard at the ANC. But we can’t lose sight of the needs and views of individual residents and families that aren’t able to invest time or resources to be active in those organizations.

Borderstan: Becoming “the next Adams Morgan” is a consistent fear expressed in in the neighborhood. Would you support a liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U corridor? If so, why? If not, why?

Wittels: This is an issue on which I’ll take cues from the larger community. Many have said it will help improve the quality of life to the 14th and U Streets corridor, and could restore some sort of commercial and retail balance. We need a thorough and thoughtful conversation on this – one that hears the views of everyone, not just business interests or activists, but one that is comprehensive and reflects the wider community.

Borderstan: Do you believe the voluntary agreement process for liquor license applicants needs to be changed? If so, how?

Wittels: No, it isn’t prefect but it seems work in some instances. There are a host of loop holes in the VA’s and what’s often lost during the negotiations are the voices of the residents and families. Usually the loudest voices in these discussions are neighborhood associations (who are often mired in their own bureaucracy), and business interests (who can afford the attorneys who know how to work the system). The ANC needs to carefully weigh all the voices.

Borderstan: Logan Circle and the 14th and U corridor area are now destination spots for people throughout the DC Metro area, especially on weekends. Do you believe that the police presence, particularly on the 14th, U Street and 9th Street corridors, is adequate, especially on weekends?

Wittels: I’ll press for more of a police presence where the crimes seem to be concentrated. I’m in favor of establishing a BID that can help get more off-duty law enforcement on the streets and sidewalks, without additional cost to the taxpayers.

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?

Wittels: Yes we need more of a balance in this area, and I think we’ve lost it in recent years. This would help day time businesses be more viable. We live in the city’s best neighborhood, so let’s keep it that way by not losing sight of what made it great – families who invested their money and lives here. I welcome the development be it residential or business — I just hope we don’t take short sighted steps to damage the long term viability and sustainability we have.

Borderstan: Are there types of business in the neighborhood that stand out as something we need more of in the area? If so, can you name three?

Wittels: We need more retail of almost every kind. Unfortunately, small retailers are being forced out of the corridors by skyrocketing rents. An electronics store would be great to have, a pet store, a clothing retailer, maybe a bakery. Ideally, we want a neighborhood that’s as vibrant during the day as during the evening hours.

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  • T Street

    Mr Wittels is not being forthright with the voters about his view on a liquor license moratorium. He is a board member of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance, which was formed by him and his neighbors on Wallach Place with the singular purpose of imposing a moratorium on the entire U Street Corridor – even in areas where residents are ineligible to join his association. Google the association and see for yourself. If he can’t be candid with the voters about this, why should we trust him on this or anything else?

  • Logan Circlite

    Incredulous. Talk about a WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING – This candidate is not being truthful about his real agenda.

    He was one of the handful who founded that tiny group called the Dupont-Shaw Citizens Alliance, which primarily exists to push a liquor license moratorium and battle the new restaurants and bars coming to the area. Yet he pretends he has an open mind on it all. Wowsa.

    These planned community businesses that Mr. Wittels has been and will be fighting are needed to meet the needs of the thousands of new residents who have recently arrived and are coming soon to the new developments under construction. They are broadly supported by the vast majority of residents. But not this guy.

    Distrust the untruthful. Certainly don’t give him your vote.

  • ANC 1B-12 voter

    I had been waiting to see Wittel’s responses to these Q&As to see how honest he would be and – wow. Not a bit. Tell us your REAL, agenda, Wittels, so voters know what they’re getting and can make an informed choice.

    I voted this morning – AGAINST this man. It’s 2012 in ANC 1B-12, not 1995. Wittels, get out of the way!

  • T Street

    It’s also telling that he says nothing either on his website or his promotional literature about his affiliation with the SDCA. Why wouldn’t he highlight his involvement in setting up a new neighborhood association as an asset? Because he knows that the association is negatively viewed throughout the district as reactionary and out of touch with the majority of neighborhood residents.

    Voters, beware: a vote for Wittels is a vote for SDCA, a vote for a liquor license moratorium extending as far north as Belmont and as far east as 8th street, a vote to oppose every new development that doesn’t suit his antiquated whim, and a vote that a handful of long time residents on Wallach Place has the right to dictate to everyone else in the U Street Corridor what’s good for us.

    • Mike P

      T Street, I’ve looked at the SDCA’s website and you are right. Dan Wittels is on record as seconding a motion by the association to support a moratorium. He is not telling the truth to the voters about his position. Even though I favor a moratorium, I am voting against him. We have enough dishonest office holders in this city.

  • Resident

    Wow, every one – and by that I mean the four of you on the jihad against SDCA – just un-clench. I haven’t heard anyone discuss policy, just character assassination by way of some neighborhood group.
    Really, you four, get another hobby.

    • T Street


      Dan Wittels is a candidate for public office. It is entirely appropriate, and hardly “character assassination,” to call out a candidate for not being candid with voters about his position on a major issue.

      In response to these Q&As, Wittels promises to “take cues from the larger community” on a liquor license moratorium. What he leaves out is the following entry to the August 16, 2012 minutes of the SDCA:

      “Motion made . . . to ‘Endorse the Moratorium and submit subject to final Review.’ Second by Dan Wittles. Unanimous vote in favor.”

      So which is it? Will he be “taking cues from the larger community” on the issue if elected, or is his mind already made up? Why is there no mention of his SDCA vote on this issue on his website, on these Q&As, or in any of the literature that his campaign has bombarded my mailbox with four times already?

      I’m against the proposed moratorium as a matter of “policy,” and beyond that I’m generally opposed as a matter of “policy” to candidates who are not candid with voters. Is that enough “policy” for you?

      • Difficult to argue with the logic of “T Street.” Why isn’t Wittels saying “I have voted in favor of the moratorium as a board member of the SDCA, and if elected I will do everything I can to get the moratorium enacted.” Because THAT, undeniably, is his position! Could it be that he knows that the position is unpopular with his neighbors so he is hiding from it?

    • 14thStreeter

      “I haven’t heard anyone discuss policy”

      What a distortion. Having read through the comments, I see repeated mention of the moratorium.

      I see it in response to the candidate’s response to a question in the very article, to Borderstan’s question specific to the moratorium.

      I see via the links that the candidate has acted in favor of the policy–the moratorium–while posturing in his response as though he were somehow neutral and awaiting further input.

      If anyone hasn’t seen a discussion of policy, I.e. the moratorium, they either haven’t read the article AND the thread, or they are being egregiously disingenuous.

      • ANC B1-12 voter

        Exactly. Dan Wittels is a founding member of the SDCA. The organization was formed BECAUSE its members want a liquor license moratorium. He’s on the organization’s website as voting in FAVOR of the moratorium along with EVERYONE else in the association. Then he comes on borderstan and acts as if he’s open minded??? And we’re insulted (probably by another SDCA/Wallach member) and told to “get another hobby” when we ask questions???

        Wittels, i’m sure you’re reading this — respond to these messages and be straight with us. Why are you telling voters that you’re undecided on an issue that you’ve already votred in favor of???

  • T Street

    Now that the results are in, it’s clear that Mr Wittels – and his fringe organization, the SDCA – didn’t fool anyone. Now, please, stop standing in the way of progress in our neighborhood. Thank you.


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