Carolyn Steptoe speaks on issues affecting Ward 5 and the city at large.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Correlation Between 'Historic' Designation and Urban Development


Ward 5 Resident Asks Question to City Council Candidate
Carolyn Steptoe

(Email rec' 7/16/06; Response sent 7/17/06)

"Hello Ms. Steptoe,

I have read your statement on development in Ward 5, copied here below. What relationship does your vociferous opposition to making Brookland a historic district have to this current statement? What methods would you
use to implement your aims stated below?

Thank you, "

Hello Ms. ___________:
Thank you for your email. I am pleased to respond to your question.
My continued opposition to historic designation as the primary strategy used for urban revitalization is based on the displacement of residents and disparate city services that routinely occurs. Historically, and with rare exception, studies have shown that cities using historic designation as a key strategy for urban revitalization experience wide-ranging negatives.
In order to abate the potential negative byproduct, I believe it is imperative we have full community involvement and participation. Community participation must occur prior to initiating efforts at neighborhood designation or large-scale revitalization. Currently, very limited and restricted Ward 5 community involvement exists regarding Ward 5 development legislation, initiatives, policy and direction. The "May 2006 Working Draft of the DC Comprehensive Plan" for example, outlines in detail the planned development and direction of our city. As you know, the Comprehensive Plan is outlined neighborhood by neighborhood, ward by ward. It is due to be finalized before the City Council in November.
However, most residents of Ward 5 are unaware of what has been proposed for our neighborhoods. We are unaware what our Ward 5 representatives have slated for our elderly, our schools, and our overall quality of life. Community participation is imperative when rampant development is occurring. My goal then is to ensure, to the best of my ability, full community knowledge and participation of residents as this revitalization occurs. Fair and balanced
services are key to full community participation.
I ask you to please refer to Campaign Release #1 (below). It provides additional perspective on this very important issue.
Thank you again for your question. I look forward to your support.
Kind regards,
Carolyn C. Steptoe
Ward 5 City Council Candidate - DC Statehood/Green Party
* * *

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"What separates you from the other candidates? What will be your major focus to improve Ward 5?"

Campaign Release #4



“I live in Ward 5 and would like to know what separates you from the other
candidates? What will be your major focus to improve Ward 5?”

Thank you for your email question. I am happy to answer it. Without having the opportunity to study their platforms, I would be rather presumptuous to attempt at this time to state what separates me from the other sixteen candidates for the Ward 5 council seat. I feel much more comfortable stating that for which I stand. I believe that there are critical needs of Ward 5 and the city at large that have for far too long gone unmet. Run-away development, the deplorable conditions of our public schools, the current aids epidemic striking 1 in 20 of our residents, homelessness, crime, unemployment and underemployment are but a few of the critical issues that the current crop of politicians seems unable or unwilling to address in any meaningful way. Let me just address the development issue briefly because it has profound ripple effects that impact some of the other issues I have enumerated.

I believe that urban development or revitalization must be undertaken in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the residents of Ward 5 and indeed the city as a whole. If elected, I shall work to ensure that the benefits of development touted by politicians, developers and other vested interests translate into a better quality of life for all Ward 5 residents and not just a privileged few. I am especially committed to ensuring that historically underserved communities and residents share equitably in our city's prosperity. Having reviewed numerous think tank and policy studies, I have an appreciation of the negative byproducts of unfettered development. I believe that it is not only possible, but a moral imperative, to foster responsible development that will increase the tax, improve the quality of life in our community, and bring sorely needed jobs without displacing or marginalizing any residents or subjecting them to disparate city services.

Kind regards,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Campaign Release #3




(For candidates seeking nomination in the September 12, 2006 Primary Election
The Board of Elections and Ethics will be publishing the D.C. Voter Guide.
Statements should not exceed 100 words)

The government has a role in ensuring that all District residents have full and equal access to all of the benefits and services of our city.

We are experiencing unprecedented urban development and consequently must proceed carefully. The continued and growing inequities in city services, particularly historically underserved residents, are obvious byproducts of the current development onslaught. We must be attuned to the long-standing (and previously neglected) needs of our city's residents while simultaneously attempting to revitalize our city. Our goal must be to create fair and balanced strategies for Ward 5 and the city.

Paid for by “Elect Steptoe 2006,” Carolyn C. Steptoe, Treasurer
We are pleased to receive your support. To volunteer, please call (202) 210-4141 or email
Financial contributions should be made payable and mailed to: Elect Steptoe 2006, PO Box 29308, Washington, DC 20017
Visit us at:

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Campaign Release #2

* * *

“The McMillan site is part of a consolation package from D.C. that included $25 million in cash and $24.5 million in assorted city-owned properties around Georgia Avenue, Mount Vernon Triangle and other areas. NCRC had a Nov. 15 deadline to choose among several sites, including the St. Elizabeth's Hospital campus in Southeast, in exchange for NCRC’s prized holdings along the Washington Channel in Southwest. NCRC sent a letter to the mayor stating its selection, and at a Ward 5 meeting Nov. 13, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Eric Price publicly gave the deal a thumbs up. NCRC had been leaning toward McMillan from the beginning because the site held the greatest potential for redevelopment. Private developers share the agency’s assessment.”

- Washington Business Journal, November 19, 2004

“The city agreed in 2004 to swap the McMillan site along with $25 million in cash and $24.5 million in other scattered properties for the NCRC-controlled Southwest waterfront, which it plans to then turn over to the newly created Anacostia Waterfront Corp. Williams and his aides say the nearly 50 acres along the Washington Channel would be best redeveloped by AWC because the organization was established to revitalize the city’s waterfront. But a handful of legal issues has hamstrung the controversial transaction for at least 15 months. Transferring the McMillan site separately will allow NCRC to start work on a massive, mixed-used redevelopment now and not waste more time while the city, NCRC and AWC work to resolve legal problems on the waterfront. NCRC CEO Tony Freeman is expected to provide a general redevelopment framework for the site and provide a timeline for the project to the public March 29. The McMillan site borders Howard University on the east and North Capitol Street on the west. The site has been under the city’s control since the 1980s, but real estate experts and planner say it carries significant historic preservation challenges that will complicate redevelopment.”

- Washington Business Journal, March 27, 2006

* * *
I attended the community meeting held by National Capital Revitalization Corporation (“NCRC”) on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at The Catholic University of America (CUA). The purpose of the meeting was to outline NCRC’s plan for mixed-up redevelopment of the McMillan Filtration site. The McMillan site is bordered by neighborhoods such as Petworth, LeDroit Park, Bloomingdale and Brookland, hospitals (Children’s Hospital, Howard University Hospital, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington Hospital Center), churches, universities and the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
Based on statements by NCRC at the June 28 meeting and my own research, I do not support NCRC’s plan for mixed-use development of the McMillan site. My position is as follows:
What and Why Mixed-Use? Mixed-use development is a popular urban development concept. It focuses on creating “neighborhoods that combine compatible residential, commercial and recreational uses where residents and visitors mingle in a lively 24/7 environment, walking from offices to restaurants to shops.” Mixed-use development is usually however, associated with downtown or commercially zoned areas. The McMillan site is bordered by residential neighborhoods. The challenges then of mixed-use development of the McMillan site to Ward 5 (both pre-and post-development) run the gamut.
Foremost among these challenges is the environmental status of the McMillan site. Inasmuch as the site was used as a filtration facility for water purification, we should be certain that it does not contain any environmental contaminants. Is the soil on the McMillan site free of potentially harmful contaminants? Are there underground, corroded pipes on the site? Are there large concentrations of lead in soil? If unearthed, will toxic contaminants in the soil become potentially harmful pollutants? The community needs environmental assessments of the site prior to any development.
Additional challenges to Ward 5 associated with mixed-use development of the McMillan site include: (a) increased vehicular traffic along Michigan Avenue, North Capital and intersecting cross streets(and parking demands); (b) increased noise and air pollution; (c) increased population density and its adverse effect on the quality of life; and (d) increased demands on the city’s water and sewer services. The increased traffic, noise and pollution are of particular concern given the proximity of several major hospitals to the McMillan site.
Candidate Steptoe’s Recommendation: I recommend that NCRC redevelop the McMillan site in a manner that sensitively addresses the needs of Ward 5 residents.
Foremost among the needs of Ward 5 and, in particular, the area surrounding the McMillan site is a safe, open green space accessible to all residents. A tranquil green, open environment enhances the quality of life as well as overall physical and mental health. Currently, in Ward 5 specifically, there is limited and restricted availability to open spaces. Most Ward 5 recreation facilities are neither spacious, green nor relaxing. Therefore, I recommend that a substantial portion of the McMillan site, it not all of it, be maintained as a park, with bike and walking paths. Any development should be limited to low-density, low-to-moderate income housing.
* * *
Paid for by “Elect Steptoe 2006,” Carolyn C. Steptoe, Treasurer. We are pleased to receive your support. To volunteer, please call (202) 210-4141 or email Financial contributions should be made payable and mailed to: "Elect Steptoe 2006," PO Box 29308, Washington, DC 20017. Visit us at: