by Kishan Putta September 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1 Comment

Kishan Putta is a former ANC Commissioner and current Vice President of Friends of Stead Park. He can be reached at [email protected] and @kishanputta on Twitter.

This past March, after years of public outcry about slow and off-schedule buses, the District’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) started a lengthy study and community outreach process.

The second-to-last public meeting will take place at The Chastleton (1701 16th Street NW) this Wednesday 6:30-8:00p.m. DDOT will also hold pop-up feedback sessions along 16th Street NW over the next few weeks and will host another feedback meeting before the end of the year followed by a presentation of the preferred alternative in January.

If you ever use the 16th Street buses, drive 16th or just care about improving this vital corridor of the city, please join us on Wednesday.

My wife and I live in the Chastleton, which overlooks 16th Street, and can see the problems daily. When I was an ANC 2B Commissioner, I helped get us more and longer buses, as well as a new rush-hour route. As a member of DDOT’s Citizens Advisory Group, I’ve participated in three public meetings this year and have heard from scores of riders and drivers.

Morning rush hour tends to be the biggest concern for riders I’ve talked to. Riders feel that rush hour has gotten longer and longer. Though it used to end shortly after 9 a.m., they tell me, rush how now extends till 10 a.m. and beyond. They feel that buses, which carry over 50 people each, should be able to travel quicker during rush hour than they currently do and spend less time stopping.

DDOT has spent the spring and summer collecting data and are seeking input into what their final contending alternatives should be. Each alternative will be a combination of infrastructure, traffic, and bus route changes.

Other cities in the U.S. and abroad have implemented time-saving ideas like ride prepayment and backdoor boarding to reduce stoppage times, as well as bus-sensitive traffic lights that stay green longer if they sense a bus approaching. They also have bus-only lanes, an idea that many riders would like to see tried on 16th Street, if only just a pilot test.

From our apartment overlooking 16th Street, I’ve taken hundreds of photos and videos of the traffic problems. I’m no expert and I haven’t collected official data. But these photos and videos, taken recently, show a few things.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  1. Rush hour doesn’t end at 9:30am, which is when the parking restrictions end and drivers can park in the same right lane that buses use most often for pickups and for motion.

  2. Many cars drive in that right lane even though they know they may have to stop for buses.

16th Street is 50 feet wide. Sometimes, that 50 feet gets divided into four or five lanes. Many have suggested that we should have more five-lane sections (especially south of W Street) so cars would have more options, and so buses could be left to have the right lane. Perhaps we could solve the problem by way of an official dedicated bus lane with enforcement done via cameras mounted on the backs of buses. This would ideally allow buses full of passengers to get downtown faster and then be reused.

There are many more proposals DDOT is considering, such as moving or removing certain bus stops, and changing some routes. Please let us know if you have other ideas, and please send questions and comments to [email protected] or tweet @kishanputta, @DDOTDC and use the hashtag #16thStreetBus.

We have talked and advocated for years about improving this corridor. We finally have the opportunity to do so and we appreciate DDOT’s outreach and thoughtful efforts.

We hope you will give us your input and will attend the meeting Wednesday.

by Kishan Putta September 4, 2015 at 3:45 pm 0

Stead Park

Kishan Putta is a former ANC Commissioner and current Vice President of Friends of Stead Park. He can be reached at [email protected] and @kishanputta on Twitter.

If you haven’t been to Stead Park yet, this fall will be great time to visit.

Until last fall, Stead was mostly known for its nice, but crowded playground at 1625 P Street NW. But the playing field was little-known and little-used by the local community; partly because it was hidden by buildings on P Street, 17th Street and 16th Street NW; the tall, prison-like fence and gate that was not reliably unlocked by citywide park rangers; and partly because the field itself was noteworthy only for its bumpy, patchy and barren condition.

All that changed last year when Friends of Stead Park (FOSP) and residents successfully advocated for a field revitalization that includes a jogging track, a spray park, a performance stage, soft turf with water-retention, trees and flowers and entrances from 17th street and 16th Street for the first time ever.

But many still walk by without having ventured in to see this new community treasure. FOSP hopes that will change this fall with a great lineup of events for all ages.

Their first fall event is a musical movie night on Saturday Sept. 19 at 7:00pm.

“Grease” will be screened and will feature singalongs and prizes for the best 1950s outfits.

A second, likely animated film is planned for Saturday, Oct. 3.

World’s Cutest Parade

On Oct. 24, FOSP is cosponsoring the world’s cutest parade: – The 5th Annual Little Goblins Parade along P Street NW, an annual pre-Halloween tradition.

For the first time, FOSP will be hosting the parade’s after party at Stead Park on the new playing field with a concert, dance performance, games, and of course sweetstuff!

The fun will start at Logan Circle. Cheering on the long parade of cute costumes is popular with all ages. Many businesses and restaurants along P street get into it, so, even if you don’t have children, you can get a spot or a restaurant seat early and cheer the kids on as they strut by. It’s also fun to volunteer for a bit. It’s a blast for everyone.

According to the parade organizers, Joelle Myers and Evelyn Boyd Simmons, the parade has evolved with the neighborhood and entertainment will be fun for all, but targets kids up to 12 years old.

Following the parade, the last event before the cold sets in will be a fall festival on November 14.

Revitalizing the Small/Old Recreation Center

Once it’s cold outside, Friends of Stead Park will be partnering with businesses and organizations such as Whole Foods on P Street and the Foundry United Methodist Church to hold events for children at their venues rather than at Stead’s old brick recreation center building. Currently, the park cannot meet the demand for FOSPs popular indoor programs, but a recreation center is actually one of FOSP’s top priorities for the future of the park.

Last year, we asked the city to open a cooperative daycare program at Stead. But they determined that the rec center was not safe enough for toddlers to use for this purpose.

Clearly the recreation center needs to be modernized. But, with so many families moving to the area — and staying here — this is a good opportunity to expand the public indoor space available to the community. If you would like to help us work toward this goal, please contact us.

Learn more about Friends of Stead Park and follow us on our website, our Facebook page and at @SteadParkDC.

To volunteer for the Little Goblins Parade, please email [email protected]

Photo via Friends of Stead Park

by Borderstan.com May 3, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

"Stead"

Stead Park Field on the 1600 block of P Street NW. (Borderstan)

Support is growing for the city to start upgrading Stead Park’s field in fiscal year 2014 instead of 2015, as now proposed.

In the past week, area residents submitted more than six pages of comments to the  DC Council Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs, which met Monday. Many expressed urgency for the $1.6 million project — especially for area children. One neighborhood dad wrote:

“The Stead playground has been getting increasingly crowded over the last year. So much so that many toddlers spend their time as wall flowers, afraid to be trampled by parents or bigger kids… My 1.5 year old already does his best to escape from me and play in traffic. Please accelerate the timeline by a year so we can give him a green and safe place to play, before we (and our tax payments) have to move out to the suburbs in search of green space.”

He and other residents say that a safer and more multipurpose field is necessary as soon as possible so that children can safely use the field and relieve the congestion at the popular playground, which was last renovated in 2007.

At a DC Council hearing Monday, a neighborhood mom Kari Cunningham testified, “As a daily user of the crowded playground with my daughter, I have met many families from Columbia Heights, U Street, Mount Pleasant, and Adams Morgan — in addition to Logan Circle and Shaw — who all travel to use Stead Park’s wonderful playground,” but wish the large field was more community-friendly so older kids could have the option of playing and running there, especially when the playground is too full.

Stead’s one-acre field “is a rare expanse of green space in our developed, built-up part of the city… the whole community would love to have usable options in the field that they do not have today,” Cunningham told Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), chair of the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs.

Martin Espinoza, founder of Stonewall Kickball, also testified and said that, “With renovations we could envision so many more groups playing within the space. Especially more youth sports, since the space is not safe or inviting for these groups to use during or after school.”

ANC 2B-04 Commissioner Kishan Putta, who organized the testimonies for Friends of Stead Park, said that after their testimony, Barry then said, “I am supportive, I just have to find a way to move the money from 2015 to 2014.”

The Friends of Stead Park are advocating that the funding be split over two years while the project moves in phases, with the goal of not interfering with regular warm weather sports uses.

The project is time-sensitive, other residents said in written comments, because there has been a “baby boom” in the area and many young families will soon be forced to consider moving away if there is not enough space for their children to play.

“We are not asking for a suburb-style square mile of fields and facilities,” one mother wrote, “but all little kids deserve to have some good neighborhood options for them. And if the only nearby option is always packed and the only acre of green space is not community-friendly, then, for our children’s sake, we may have to consider (gulp) leaving the neighborhood we love so dearly.”

The field is full of holes and has no seating or shade and doesn’t drain rain well, she wrote, but the new plans “would address the needs of the community and make productive a space that has been decidedly unproductive for too long.”

Putta said that more written comments are coming in daily. He said that the multipurpose field proposal is very popular because it would include a jogging/walking track around the perimeter, “for those who hate dodging traffic and lights on their jogs,” shade-giving trees and benches, puddle-proof turf (meaning fewer game cancellations), a splash park and a stage/pavilion for films and concerts.

“These plans are not overly costly,” he said, “however they will provide incalculable benefits to the growing community. Families are growing frustrated with the lack of space and options for them. They came to our public meetings, they have submitted comments for your consideration, and they are paying attention. Beginning the project this year will give them confidence that their children will have adequate space and opportunities within the next year or two and faith that the city wants to support their families and keep them here.”

The renovation of the park continues gathering support as Putta received an email from Councilmenber Jim Graham saying, “I will do what I can.” Jesus Aguirre, the director of Dept of Parks and Recreation said on the Kojo Nnamdi Show after a caller asked about Stead Park: “We’re looking at creative ways to try to accelerate that implementation,” and “we are working with a very active Friends group and community.”

The budget gets finalized later this month and supporters are asking the community to email their requests to their Councilmembers — and/or to [email protected] to be forwarded on (please include your approximate address and why you feel the field upgrades should begin this year).

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by Borderstan.com April 25, 2013 at 11:00 am 1 Comment

"Stead"

Rendering of the proposed Stead Park redesign. (Courtesy of Friends of Stead Park)

This Monday, April 29, supporters of the Stead Park upgrade will testify before the DC Council Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs in support of an advanced timeframe for park improvements.

As things stand with the current proposal, funding for these upgrades will not come until fiscal year 2015 and the earliest that any construction will begin is fall 2014.

As a member of Friends of Stead Park (FOSP) and a commissioner of ANC 2B, Kishan Putta is organizing the testimony following the securement of $1.6 million in funding for the project from the Council and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DCDPR).

This action from FOSP comes on the heels of their having spoken with Mayor Vincent Gray at the public Ward 2 Budget Town Hall. It was at this Town Hall that the mayor expressed an interest in speeding up the timeframe of the upgrades to the park after hearing of both the community’s excitement for the upgrades and the community funding that will go with city funding.

FOSP was bolstered by the mayor’s reaction and, according to Putta,”The April 29 meeting will be an opportunity for members of the community to speak before the committee about why the timeframe for the Stead Park upgrades should be advanced.

Upgrade Plans

The upgrade plans for Stead Park include shade trees and benches along the perimeter of the playing field, a jogging/walking track, a performance stage, a miniature water park for children, and maintenance of the playing field that will continue to accommodate two simultaneous games.

Members of the community agreed upon these plans after two years of discussion and consensus building, which included a series of community meetings with the FOSP Board of Directors. The new plans are designed to make the park more usable and better suited for the changing community.

Involvement

Anyone interested in supporting an advanced timeframe for park improvements may send short letters of support kishan.putta[AT]dupontcircleanc.net before this Sunday, April 28. Community members are also invited to join the hearing at 10 am on Monday, April 29, before the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs at the Wilson Building, Room 412.

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by Borderstan.com March 25, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

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

"Metro"

Running for the bus at 16th and Corcoran Streets NW. (Kishan Putta)

Metro announced last week that it will add nine new southbound “short trips” during morning rush hour in attempt to reduce overcrowding on the S-line buses. The crowded buses have caused problems for residents who board along 16th Street NW.

According to Metro, the additional buses will start service on 16th Street NW at Harvard Street NW, making all S2 stops on 16th Street to H Street NW. At H Street, the buses will turn left and go west to 14th Street NW.

The change came after ANC 2B-04 Commissioner Kishan Putta organized a series of meetings with residents, commuters and Metro employees and planners.

“My biggest issue is that I can stand waiting for the bus for 30 minutes during rush hour and 10 buses — I have counted, not an exaggeration — come by and do not stop. Even if the bus isn’t full because the bus drivers do not make people move towards the back of the bus,” one local resident told Putta.

Another resident experienced frustration after several buses passed and she waited in the cold with her infant.

“The most frustrating is that by the time the bus reaches K Street NW, it is almost empty,” the resident said, explaining the overcrowded situation during rush hour commutes.

At the last meeting, Metro proposed three possible plans to attendees, who voted on their preferred plan. More residents and commuters were in favor of increasing the frequency of buses over increasing the area covered.

Because the buses will start service at Harvard Street NW, passengers at bus stops south of Mount Pleasant should find it easier to find room to board, Metro says.

In December, Metro extended the hours of MetroExtra service on 16th Street to provide additional capacity during the late-evening hours, between 7 and 9:30 pm.

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by Borderstan.com February 14, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

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

"Metro"

Metro will propose possible solutions to the public. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Metro might just offer a solution to the bus problem many residents are experiencing for the S2 and S4 buses on 16th Street NW.

Following up on complaints and a community meeting organized by ANC 2B04 Commissioner Kishan Putta, Metro will hold a meeting for the community next Wednesday, February 20 at The Chastleton Ballroom (1701 16th Street NW).

The purpose of the meeting will be for Metro to present its proposed solutions to the bus back-up to the public.

The routes on the 16th Street bus line have the highest ridership in DC, and many commuters are seeing buses pass by them due to overcrowding.

One possibility Metro previously discussed is a rush hour route that focuses on the morning problem strip: Columbia Road to downtown DC. But one obstacle is layover space — a bus route requires a location for the bus drivers to park, pause, and get ready for an on-time departure.

Wednesday’s meeting will begin at 7 pm and is open to the public.

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by Borderstan.com February 7, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

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

"Bus"

Buses in need of parking. (Luis Gomez Photos)

In response to residents’ complaints regarding waiting sustained amounts of time for an S2 or S4 bus on 16th Street NW, ANC 2B04 Commissioner Kishan Putta organized a neighborhood meeting for January 28 at the DC Jewish Community Center.

The routes on the 16th Street bus line have the highest ridership in DC, and many commuters are seeing buses pass, due to overcrowding.

Joining Putta at the meeting was Director of Bus Planning for WMATA Jim Hamre, ANC 2B09 Commissioner Noah Smith and about 30 residents. David Erion and Ann Chisholm of WMATA and Steve Strauss of DDOT were also in attendance.

Following the meeting, Putta authored an article in Greater Greater Washington, detailing the discussion’s results.

In the article, Putta writes:

One possibility discussed with Hamre during the meeting is a rush hour route focused on the morning problem strip: Columbia Road to downtown DC. But one obstacle is layover space–a bus route requires a location for the bus drivers to park, pause, and get ready for an on-time departure. My ANC colleague Noah Smith proposed inquiring about space in nearby neighborhoods.

Putta told Borderstan that Hamre will present some of WMATA’s proposed options to remedy the situation to the public by the week of February 22.

“We deeply appreciate how much Metro and DDOT care about helping our community,” Putta said to Borderstan. “They have been receptive and willing to discuss short-term solutions – and proposed another public meeting soon to present their options. As soon as we get the details for that meeting, we will announce them widely so that we get as much community input as possible. And Metro welcomed that opportunity — we really appreciate that.”

Putta, who is also a resident on 16th Street, will reach out to residents as soon as the next meeting is confirmed.

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by Borderstan.com January 28, 2013 at 8:30 am 0

"Bus"

How long are you waiting for the bus? (Luis Gomez Photos)

How long is your wait for the S2 or S4 on 16th Street NW? Residents in the area have been sharing their concerns about the long waits and how full the Metrobuses are (or are not) as they bypass bus stops during their morning commutes.

The routes on the 16th Street bus line have the highest ridership in the DC.

Kishan Putta, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for District 2B04, has invited residents of the area to a meeting with  Jim Hamre, director of Bus Planning for Metro today, January 28, at 7:30 pm at the DC Jewish Community Center (16th & Q Streets NW) to discuss this problem and any other transit issues residents may have (14th Street buses, too).

These are excerpts from emails sent by residents to Putta, whose district includes a swath of 16th Street NW:

“Just this week (Tues, Wed, and today, Thurs), it has taken me 45-50 minutes to get from 16th & V to 14th & I, and anywhere from 4 to 6 buses have passed the stop each morning because they are too crowded to accept any more passengers.  (Also, on Tuesday morning, 2 buses that had hardly anyone standing passed us by in the cold).  There are usually 15-20 people waiting at V St in the mornings.  Thanks again for the chance to provide input to Metro.”

 “The bus issue is particularly aggravating for me.  The bus stops immediately outside my building and drops me off a block from my office, but it’s completely unusable.  S2/S4 buses are often full and do not stop, but a second issue is that during morning rush hour, it seems like the majority of the buses go to McPherson Square, not Federal Triangle, which does me (and I’d suspect many other commuters) little to no good at all.”

 “It’s not fair that people who happen to live farther north are able to catch any bus that arrives, while we get passed by bus after bus – some days my commute is 15 minutes, sometime it’s 40 minutes.”

 “Apps like NextBus are useless because even if I track buses and time my walk to catch them, they are usually full and won’t stop.  I often get frustrated by all the buses that refuse to stop that I will just give up and take a cab.”

 “Sometimes the buses are so full that they drop people off, but STILL refuse to take new passengers – it’s a really depressing/frustrating/stressful start to my day.”

“I would note that a big part of the problem is that many buses do, in fact, have room but the drivers do not ask people to move back so it looks like they’re full from up front (nothing is more frustrating than watching a half-empty bus speed by or refuse to open its doors).”

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by Borderstan.com November 2, 2012 at 11:00 am 1,279 0

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

"ANC"

Kishan Putta is running for the ANC 2B-04 seat. (Courtesy Kishan Putta)

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 Kishan Putta (see Know the Candidates in Contested ANC Races). Putta will face Martin Espinoza and Stephanie Sheridan on election day.

Now, it’s Question and Answer Time on the issues.

Bordestan: What will be your first priority/new initiative if you are elected to ANC 2B and why?

Putta: Priorities: I have been working as your public safety liaison through the ANC and the experience has reminded me of the importance of soliciting community input and being accessible. If elected, I will immediately work to meet again with neighborhood representatives and leaders – ideally together with residents in a casual setting (i.e. I’d like to host a post-holidays neighborhood potluck luncheon to be followed by a discussion of neighborhood issues, concerns, and ideas).

This introduction and relationship would be fostered further by monthly meetings and online discussions (please see Question #2 below for more on this). You can always contact me anytime about neighborhood issues by phone or by email and I will respond within 24 hours. Last, but not least, I can often be found walking the neighborhood and at community events and am always happy to stop to talk, and will follow-up with you.

Initiatives:

  • Crime:  As your safety liaison, I already have established good relationships with police leaders and will work with them and with you to keep you aware of incidents/issues, to prevent crimes, and to be your advocate to get your concerns addressed by the police and the District.
  • Road Safety:  I will continue my current work to make our streets and sidewalks safer for walkers, drivers, and bikers. Recently, I was honored to co-host a successful Dupont-Logan public meeting on bicycle safety issues where we heard from many residents about how valuable the 15th Street protected bike lane has become to bike-commuters who previously were wary about biking to work. I am already working with my colleague Noah Smith to get the District to repave and smoothen this important transportation artery running through our neighborhood. It’s good that more people are biking, but they need to know and follow the rules and therefore, I will work toward more/improved signage and education as well.
  • Rat Abatement:  Dense urban neighboods like ours often have issues with rats and some of our alleys are particularly problematic for many of our neighbors’ homes and sometimes for pedestrians as well.  Other neighborhoods have addressed this issue and I want to learn what they did and see what can be done to address this here.

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

Putta: I have asked this question of the residents whose doors I have knocked on and whom I’ve met around the neighborhood. They all say they would want to make sure there is more community input in decision-making and that the decision-making processes be as transparent as possible, and a combination of in-person meetings and email/web updates/discussions.

If elected, I would like to host an informal monthly potluck/pizza discussions so that residents know they can come and be heard without waiting through a formal meeting agenda. I promise to be responsive to emails and phone calls about any neighborhood issue within 24 hours and will work to get you connected to the right officials/resources and to get you answers and work for solutions. I will post salient information/updates on my website and also work to establish a yahoo-groups style bulletin board for our immediate neighborhood. I will be accessible and, as I mentioned above, can often be found walking the neighborhood and am always happy to stop and talk.

Lastly, I will propose that ANC meetings and jargon be made a little more understandable to the public. After a year of attending ANC meetings, I have come to the conclusion that they would be a lot more helpful for public observers if there was a glossary available at each meeting – and if commissioners were a little more conscientious about laymen attendees who would get a lot more out of the meetings with some simple accommodations (even, just short 30 second pauses to explain something quickly and promise to follow-up later if needed). I am a former community journalist and am very conscious about making complex issues understandable to a lay constituency.

Bordestan: How will you work to help bring process and transparency to decisions that impact the DuPont neighborhood, such as the renovations for Stead Park, so that the diversity of the community as a whole is reflected?

Putta: I’m glad you referenced the diversity of the community. The best communities work to ensure all residents can enjoy its resources.  Community leaders have the responsibility to reach out to all sides and stakeholders and to work together as much as possible. I am a former community journalist with years of experience covering community issues, soliciting input from all sides, and treating all stakeholders fairly in my coverage (if I did not, I would hear it from the stakeholders, the readers, and my very strict editors!). If elected, I would draw on that experience and make sure to reach out to all sides on each important issue and listen and work together with them to find solutions.

In the case of Stead Park, the board of the park has worked hard for many months to try to make the park more useful and enjoyable to more members of our community (athletes, parents, children, and seniors) and recently held a public meeting with more meetings to come.  But some in our community formed opinions without all the facts. This caused unnecessary tension and confusion that could have been avoided by better outreach and communication by all sides.

I have spoken to the Friends of Stead Park board and they admit that they could have been more transparent and are trying to improve in that regard. They are happy to work with all sides to ensure everyone has the correct and full information and to reach mutually acceptable solutions. I hope that, going forward, this is the approach we adopt on all similar issues.  That is how I plan to serve you if you grant me the honor of representing you.

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

Putta: Neighborhood associations have a long history of positive impact on our city. Often, they have deep institutional knowledge of neighborhoods that is very valuable. As your public safety liaison through the ANC, I’ve already been working with both the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and the Urban Neighborhood Alliance. I have very good working relationships with both groups because I have attended many of their meetings – and, not least, because leaders of both organizations just happen to live in my building. If elected, I fully intend to maintain those strong relationships as we work together on community issues.

Bordestan: The East Dupont Liquor License Moratorium, which affects 17th Street NW, comes up for renewal in 2013, and ANC 2B will have an opportunity to weigh in by offering an advisory opinion to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on its renewal. Do you support renewing the moratorium? If so, why? If not, why?

Putta: This is a very important issue. I have consulted many residents and stakeholders about this and I have read the 2009 report and recommendations from the Ad Hoc ANC Committee on the liquor moratorium, ably chaired by Jack Jacobson – the current commissioner who is retiring from the seat I am running for. If elected, I will bring to this issue the same level of thoughtfulness that Jacobson and his colleagues applied in 2009.

I will request to chair or co-chair a committee to study what has changed since 2009 and come up with new recommendations – with extensive input from residents, associations, and stakeholders. I know this will take possibly hundreds of hours of work, but I am committed to doing this right. My approach would be: a) actively solicit as much input from the community as possible; b) operate in a transparent manner and be accessible to residents; c) strike a balance that allows flexibility.

I am a pretty social person who likes a drink with my meal and enjoys the occasional happy hour or bar-night with friends, and I am very sensitive to how difficult it can be to maintain a business in this difficult economy. But I also enjoy the generally moderate noise level and safety on 17th Street, such that strolling with my wife even on a weekend evening is generally peaceful and pleasant. Until an extensive updated study is conducted (which I will ask to spearhead), I cannot say for sure how I will vote. The current moratorium wisely has some flexibility built into it. Whatever solution is proposed should have flexibility as well, and I promise to solicit your input and to listen well and to work hard to represent you well.

"ANC"

Click for a larger map of ANC 2B for the 2012 elections. (DC Board of Elections)

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

Putta: I have read up on the history of this process and have consulted with several residents and stakeholders. Yes, I believe the voluntary agreement (VA) process should be revisited and revised. A business that respects our community is one that will not allow for excessive noise and will work with the community to address significant issues. If a business operates respectfully and responsibly, the VA process should not cause long, costly delays, as it unfortunately did for Hank’s Oyster Bar recently. Currently, VAs can be proposed by the ANC, a group of five-plus residents (only three-plus residents in moratorium zones like 17th Street!), or a recognized neighborhood association.

I, and most residents I spoke with, believe that we democratically elect ANC commissioners to represent our community. Therefore, of the available alternatives, our neighbors’ voices are most likely to be represented accurately by the ANC commissioners if they operate transparently and with ample opportunities for community input. If ANC commissioners do not represent residents appropriately, residents have the power to replace them.

Therefore, I believe that, if an ANC decides to propose its own VA, it should be deemed to have more weight than VAs proposed by other groups that are not democratically elected. That said, if I am elected, I will never forget that I work for you and on your behalf. I promise to seek your input and be accessible and responsive.  I would be honored if you would entrust me with this responsibility.

Bordestan: Do you believe that the police presence, particularly on the 17th Street, 18th Street and Connecticut Avenue corridors, is adequate, especially on weekends?

Putta: As your public safety liaison through the ANC, I have already have good working relationships with the police department including the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit and the organization Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV-DC). I know who to call about different safety issues in different parts of the community. I believe that the side streets and alleyways off of these corridors need more patrolling (by car, bike, or foot), but I also believe that the police force usually serves us well within the limits of their budget. I and my colleague Noah Smith have been working to get more community input on sentencing for those convicted of harming our residents, but I am mindful that we have a wonderful and welcoming community and we want it to stay welcoming to all who agree to respect each other and the law.

Bordestan: 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?

Putta: We have it pretty good, but I do have some wish-list items, and I’ve heard many from other residents as well!  I think 17th Street could use a place to pick up quick but healthy bites and meals for under $10 on your way home from work or while walking your dog, etc. (I’m a huge fan of both Julia’s baked empanadas, for example); we could also use a salad place, I think. A great example of a community-oriented business is Redwood Realty. They have opened their walls to local artists and opened their doors to the community to come enjoy the local artists’ works. I also want to take my hat off to the Dupont Circle Business Incubator at 17th  and R.  It is a wonderful community resource of thoughtful, conscientious entrepreneurs seeking sustainable business ideas to benefit the city and the world – kudos.

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by Borderstan.com July 17, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,491 0

"ANC 2B Dupont"

ANC 2B encompasses the Dupont Circle neighborhood. District 04 is in the northeast side of the ANC. (ANC 2B website, boundaries that are in effect for 2012 election)

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

Dupont resident Kishan Putta has announced his candidacy for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) in the District 04 seat in ANC 2B/Dupont. Elections for ANC positions are on the November 6 ballot and are non-partisan; 300 seats throughout the city are up for reelection this year.

Putta’s campaign, however, does not come without competition. Last month Martin Espinoza officially announced his candidacy for the same seat. Jack Jacobson, the ANC 2B-04 incumbent, is running for DC School Board in Ward 2 instead of seeking another term.

Putta and volunteers were spotted in the district last weekend gathering petitions to get on the ballot — with a handout card, flyer and even a cookie with Putta’s name on it. This seems to be shaping up as a spirited race between Putta and Espinoza.

"Kishan Putta"

Kishan Putta is running for the ANC 2B-04 seat. (Courtesy Kishan Putta)

Similar to Espinoza, Putta’s efforts as a commissioner would be grounded in neighborhood safety. Putta is a currently a Public Safety Liaison for ANC 2B, and a former crime and government reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Providence Journal.

“My public safety journalism experience helps me to appreciate and work well with the diversity of residents, advocates and officials in our community to make the neighborhood safer, but also to keep it welcoming,” Putta told Borderstan.

In addition to crime and general neighborhood safety, Putta is also campaigning on safer streets and sidewalks and local economic development.

District 04 is the most densely populated, and smallest in geographic area, of ANC 2B’s nine districts. By law, each ANC district is to have approximately 2,000 residents. The southern boundary is Q Street, running north to S Street NW, and from 15th Street to 17th Street NW.

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