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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 05/ 4/2010

Government: The more local, the more relevant

By Topher Mathews

It's quite likely that no city's residents are more attuned to national politics than the denizens of Washington. This will come as no surprise, since a large number of the area's residents get their paychecks directly or indirectly from the federal government.

But in focusing so much on national politics and governance, Washingtonians often ignore the role that local governments play in their day-to-day lives. And in the District, government doesn't get any more local than the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

These boards of elected (but not paid) commissioners meet monthly to review zoning applications and alcohol permits, among many other issues. For instance, last night the Georgetown ANC met and discussed:

  • Whether a French crepe restaurant should be able to stay open 24 hours.
  • Whether to add two, seven or no new liquor licenses to the Georgetown moratorium zone.
  • Whether it's acceptable to shut down the Key Bridge to automobile traffic on a Sunday morning to allow BikeDC to hold a group ride.
  • Whether a streetcar on K Street should use an overhead wire and whether it should go up Wisconsin Avenue.
  • Whether a popular nightclub should be able to double its occupancy limits.

These issues are obviously not of national importance, but how they (and others just like them) are sorted out can end up affecting you on a daily basis.

While not everyone has the time to sit through an endless community meeting every month, I encourage you to at least become familiar with your ANC representative and review the monthly agenda. The best part of local government is that it doesn't take much to have an impact, and the first step is just paying attention.

Topher Mathews blogs at The Georgetown Metropolitan. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Topher Mathews  | May 4, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network  
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