Committee of 100 wants Klein, Tregoning ousted
The Committee of 100 on the Federal City, which advocates for historical preservation and conservative land-use policies, is urging Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (D) to replace key members of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration who have oversight over District streets and neighborhood development.
In a letter sent to Gray this week, the chairman of the committee requested that he remove Gabe Klein, the transportation director, and Harriet Tregoning, the director of the Office of Planning.
The committee's stance puts it at odds with many in the city's new urbanist community, who are lobbying Gray to retain Klein and Tregoning. They argue that Klein and Tregoning have helped to enliven the city and push through projects such as bicycle lanes and the proposed streetcar line on H Street Northeast.
But George R. Clark, chairman of the Committee of 100, accused the pair of being too closely aligned with Fenty's "get it done" style of government, which he said has shut residents and advocates out of major decisions.
"We think the results demonstrate that Ms. Tregoning has a skewed view of smart urban growth and a top-down approach to the future of our city," Clark wrote.
Specifically, Clark said Tregoning has "disregarded" the city's comprehensive master plan, "demonstrated questionable judgment" in overseeing historical preservation cases, and "downplayed or ignored comments at public hearings and displayed little or no empathy for the affect of her complicated zoning changes on residents, individual neighborhoods or the pattern of living in the District." Clark also raised concerns about Tregoning's support for allowing some taller buildings near Union Station.
"There may be some residents who applaud the 'I-know-best' approach exemplified by Harriett Tregoning, but we think that her style conveys the message that the public is not welcome to intrude on the advancement of an agenda," Clark wrote. "We are hopeful that as a mayor you will find the absolutist approach incompatible with brining the city together."
Klein, Clark said, has been too aggressive in pushing the street car project without regard to "thorough financial and governance planning' and "environmental and historical preservation review." In recent months, Klein and the committee have clashed over whether the use of aerial wires for streetcars would violate 1889 federal law banning such wires in parts of the city.
The committee also took aim at Klein's push to build more bicycle lanes, saying they have "resulted in confusion for all roadway users."
"At the same time that Mr. Klein was focused on bikes and streetcars, daily transportation needs went unaddressed," Clark wrote.
After The Washington Post quoted Dave Alpert, founder of the Greater Greater Washington blog, two weeks ago saying the growing new urbanist community wanted Gray to retain Tregoning and Klein, their critics have been organizing to try to block their reappointments.
Last week, the Ward 3 Democratic Committee's executive board sent Gray a letter that also asked him to fire Klein and Tregoning, citing many of the same reasons outlined by Clark.
In an interview this morning, Klein said it's common for some interest groups to get upset over reforms.
"Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and I think anytime you push the envelope and try to align the various goals of the administration as we are, I think there is always going to be somebody that is less than happy," Klein said. "Change is sometimes hard and we understand that and we sympathize and we value the input."
This post has been updated since it was first published.
| November 18, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
Categories: 2010 District Election, Mayor Fenty, Tim Craig, Vincent C. Gray
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