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WEDNESDAY JANUARY 10, 2012 THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE VERONICA O. DAVIS ROUNDTABLE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN WARD 7

My name is Veronica O. Davis. I am the President of the Fairfax Village IV Condominium Association (Fairfax Village IV), member of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association Board, and a proud blogger in Ward 7. I am submitting testimony as a public witness. Economic development, more so than any other issue, ensues passion among all residents in Ward 7. While I appreciate this frank discussion, I want to express on record that I’m extremely disappointed in the lack of sufficient notice to residents about this hearing. I support moving forward with the Skyland Development Project and Revitalization of the Pennsylvania Ave SE Corridor (including Penn Branch Shopping Center). My only message is “get it done yesterday”. So much more can be said about economic development, however, my testimony this evening will focus on three short-term, long-hanging projects/programs that will stabilize our communities and immediately improve our quality of life. 1. Focused effort to stabilize the condominium communities in Ward 7 – The housing market collapse has had a profound impact on communities around the nation. The condo market has additional layers of complication due to the nature of the interdependence of owners. Communities such as Fairfax Village in Hillcrest and Eastern Plaza in Deanwood are at risk of destabilization. In a nutshell, the high foreclosures are undercutting the market and investors are purchasing those units. The investors then rent the units, which creates an imbalance of renter to owner-occupied units. Due to the high renter-occupied units, many condo associations are losing their FHA certified status. When affordable units come on sale, the people who want to purchase and live in those units are unable to since the associations aren’t FHA certified. The people who can afford to purchase with traditional loans are investors and the cycle continues. In the short-term, I would like to see the leadership of this city place a focused effort to encourage residents who qualify for the Home Purchase Assistance Program and the Employee Purchase Assistance Program to move into these communities. In addition, develop incentives to convert long-time renters into homeowners. A healthy condo community is mostly owner-occupied. 2. Clean-up Ward 7 Initiative – Many of the shopping centers in the ward are so littered and unkempt, that residents don’t want to patronize them. For example, for over two years the community battled with the property managers at the Fairfax Village Shopping Center to clean up the litter. Since the property manager hired a local resident this past summer, the shopping center has remained clean and the garbage cans are emptied regularly. A job was created and residents now have a clean shopping center. This model needs to be applied in other shopping centers around the ward. Even in “tough economic times”, there is no excuse for our ward to be trashed.

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3. Transportation plan to link development – Many of the roads in Ward 7 are near or at capacity during the morning and evening rush. As new developments come online, this problem will be exacerbated. Each individual development is required to submit a transportation management plan, however, with all the new development in the pipeline there needs to be a ward-wide plan. NOW is the time to create a transportation plan to move residents between the developments safely and efficiently using alternative modes of transportation. This plan should also include a vision that each resident of Ward 7 has affordable transportation options and have the ability to access other neighborhoods within the ward and other parts of the city. A failure to plan will result in a failed transportation system, which will have a negative impact on the quality of our lives.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony for inclusion in the public record. Attached to my written testimony is a set of economic development principles developed by a diverse group of residents from around the ward. I’m available for any clarification and discussions.

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GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN WARD 7

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN WARD 7

 
Economic Development should be SELF-SUSTAINING • Create new jobs for Ward 7 residents • Revitalize industrial areas to expand to new and innovative industries that provide jobs for skilled workers • Meet the needs of all residents • Allow for a healthy mix of neighborhood businesses owned by Ward 7 residents and large national chains Economic Development should be FAMILY-FRIENDLY • Create family-friendly environments while allowing for spaces for adult without children to gather • Foster opportunities for families and communities to interact Economic Development should have BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT • Bridge the relationship with the Korean Business Association and other existing business associations • Engage with the community through activities such as: o Hiring local residents o Mentoring/Adopting local schools o Sponsoring sports leagues for youth o Sponsoring local events • Create Business Improvement Districts (BID), Main Streets or comparable model to assist with promoting an area, keeping the streets clean, and building relationships with the community Economic Development should PROMOTE HEALTHY COMMUNITIES • Encourage healthy food retail options • Create safe places for physical activity • Provide safe and affordable transportation options • Promote public art to create visual ambiance

 

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