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 Howard Marks (see Know the Candidates in Contested ANC Races). He will face Matt Connolly for the 2F-08 seat 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?
Marks: Aggressive rodent control will be my first priority once elected. A coach house in the back of an abandoned residence has become a rodent breeding grounds. The property needs to be condemned so immediate remediation efforts can be started by the city. Working with Councilman Jack Evans, we successfully controlled the Franklin School rodent problem by closing down the temporary shelter and moving the homeless men to permanent housing.
Borderstan: How will you engage your constituents on issues so that your decisions reflect that of the majority of your Single Member District?
Marks: As a communications professional, there is nothing to substitute for face-to-face meetings. I would meet with neighborhood residents on a regular basis to solicit their views. Attending condo board and apartment resident association meetings would be a top priority. I would encourage my constituents to comment on neighborhood issues on my Facebook page and use email to stay in touch with me.
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?
Marks: I would take a balanced approach before voting in favor of recommending a license. I would need to know how if the liquor license applicant will go the extra mile to respect the residential nature of the neighborhood. For example, are they going to be a full service restaurant or just serve alcohol, maintain reasonable operating hours and control noise. The 50 percent zoning restriction for the amount of building frontage for bars and restaurants Uptown Arts Overlay District should be maintained.
Borderstan: Do you believe the voluntary agreement process for liquor license applicants needs to be changed? If so, how?
Marks: The voluntary agreement process is good but need some tweaking. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission should assert its authority as the only locally elected body in the voluntary agreement process. It needs to exert leadership and stand behind the 400 foot radius that is part of the ABC reform bill now before the Council. We have to balance the legitimate concerns of those most immediately impacted by sleep-disturbing noise issues, for example, and the rights of citizens to establish small businesses that create jobs in the Logan Circle area.
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?
Marks: I am great fan of Chief Cathy Lanier and the job done by the entire Metropolitan Police. However, even one assault is one crime too many. I am strong proponent of community policing. We need more police on the sidewalks where the serious crime takes place. I would allocate more foot patrols and police on bicycles and Segways, especially on weekends, to the Logan Circle area and adjacent busy corridors. We also need better lighting so criminals cannot hide in the shadows.
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?
Marks: I still believe in the late Jane Jacobs who wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” was possibly the most influential American book on urban planning and cities. Jacobs was a strong proponent of mixed-use urban development. Namely, combining residential, retail and offices in one building. We see a lot of mixed-use development in Europe, Toronto and now here in DC. City Vista, with apartments, condos, restaurants, retail and a major food store, is another good example of what I would like to see along 14th Street corridor.
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.
Marks: I definitely support the Residential Parking Permit pilot program. Residents who pay substantial property taxes deserve the right to park reasonably close to their residences if returning home late on a Friday or Saturday evening.
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?
Marks: I support the construction of commercial garages. First, the garage would free up parking spaces on side streets for neighborhood residents. Secondly, it would ease parking worries for those coming from the suburbs to enjoy a play at the Studio Theater, shop or dine in our neighborhood.
Borderstan: Are there types of business in our neighborhood that stands out as something we need more of in the area? If so, can you name three?
Marks: (1) Contemporary furniture stores such as Urban Essentials where we bought a handcrafted couch made in Los Angeles–and we love it. (2) Clothing and outdoor recreational stores. We have the demographics to support stores like Jos. A. Bank, the Gap, and REI. (3) Graphics and social media design firms such as LookThink.com which just opened and 13th and M Streets. Information Technology companies which must operate around-the-clock can locate here without worrying about power outages because our electrical lines are buried underground.
In the Borderstan area, 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.
So now it is time to meet your candidates. Here at Borderstan.com, we will introduce you to your neighbors, campaigning to represent you on the local ANCs. Closer to the election, we will provide follow-up interviews with the candidates on specific issues related to their areas.
Howard Marks is running for ANC 2F-08, a new district on the ANC 2F map. District 2F-08 runs along M Street, between 13th Street and 11th Street, down 11th Street until I Street NW, and then north on 14th Street, east on L Street and then north on 13th Street. This fall, Marks will face Matt Connolly for the 2F-08 seat on election day. (Connolly was appointed as an ANC 2F-05 commissioner, but the new district lines qualify him for the 08 district and he is running for a full term.)
Borderstan: Why did you decide to run in your neighborhood’s ANC race this year? Also, have you run before and/or been an ANC commissioner before?
Marks: I enjoy living in downtown DC and I want to solve the problems of pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, cell phone theft and prostitution. ANC Commissioner Rachelle Nigro encouraged me to run. The explosive growth in the area needs to be carefully managed. One of the 24 most dangerous intersections in the city is at 12th and Massachusetts, plus 13th and Massachusetts Avenue NW, and at 12th and L Streets NW. I saw a young woman get hit by a motorist at 12th and Massachusetts Avenue NW and called an ambulance. I walk to work everyday and know first-hand the dangers faced by pedestrians.
Borderstan: How many years have you lived in your [ANC] neighborhood? How long have you been in DC?
Marks: I’ve lived in the Franklin Square area for seven years, and I’ve worked downtown and on Capitol Hill for almost 37 years. I am proud to live in the Federal City.
Borderstan: How are you currently involved in your community?
Marks: I serve on the Residential Advisory Committee to the CenterCityDC project. The $950 million project will improve the quality of life to neighborhood residents by offering first-class affordable shopping, great restaurants and a new community park. I am active in the Downtown Neighborhood Association and the Convention Center Advisory Committee. I worked with Councilman Evans to close the Franklin Shelter and move homeless men to smaller-sized residential housing.
Borderstan: If elected to the ANC, what will be your main areas of focus/concern – and why?
Marks: My main areas of focus/concern will be pedestrian safety, strengthening ties to the downtown BID, playgrounds and amenities, crime, bike lanes and community.
- Pedestrian safety: The District is second only to Boston in having the largest share of commuters who walk to work (12 percent). In 2010, more than half of people who died in DC traffic accidents were pedestrians. In 2011, 942 pedestrians were struck by vehicles, up from 753 the previous year. I pledge to work with the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council to include Massachusetts Avenue from 9th to 13th Streets NW in the Pedestrian Master Plan. We need to restore pavement markings — on crosswalks and stop lines for vehicles — which are faded across the neighborhood.
- Strengthen ties to Downtown Business Improvement District (BID): The BID’s territory extends to Massachusetts Avenue and can be of great help as partners in addressing homelessness, rodents, prostitution, congestion, public safety and other problems as well as improving amenities for our ANC’s residents and visitors. We can also enlist the K Street hotels, trade associations and small businesses.
- Playgrounds and other amenities to improve the quality of life for downtown DC families: Neighborhood youngsters have no nearby place to play. I would join forces with other groups, like downtowndckids.org, to bring playgrounds and other quality-of-life enhancements to our neighborhood in places like Burke Park and Franklin Square.
- Crime: Encourage more Metropolitan Police bike patrols in our neighborhood to deter the theft of smart phones. Commissioner Lanier has taken the first step by urging manufacturers to provide the technology to shut down stolen phones. Use of surveillance cameras like those used to enforce traffic laws, as well as better lighting, could help enforce laws on prostitution around 12th and M Streets NW.
- More bike lanes: We need dedicated lanes from our neighborhood to Dupont Circle.
- Creating a sense of community: Organize volunteer opportunities, such as mentors to help the K-5 students at the Thomson Elementary School at 12th and L Street NW.
Borderstan: What do you hope to contribute to your community while on the ANC?
Marks: Each day, I see scores of homeless men and women on the street. I hope to work with established organizations like DC Central Kitchen and the downtown Business Improvement District to resolve this problem. I am working with the leadership of the City Center Residential Advisory Committee to get more District residents hired at local construction projects and hired at the retail businesses once the construction is completed.
Borderstan: What do you think gives you an edge over other candidate(s) running in your district?
Marks: Promoting public safety has been a priority. I worked with former First District Police Commander David Kamperin to stop prostitution across the street from our building on K Street. I served as Safety Committee Chairman for the Friends of the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Railroad Park. Working with Fairfax County we successfully protected bicyclists and joggers from speeding drivers.
Borderstan: What is your day job and is there a connection to how your day job would assist you in being a commissioner?
Marks: I work at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the US Department of Energy. In our own building, we avoided a condo fee increase by installing a new energy management system. I want a greener and more energy efficient neighborhood.