A bad start for D.C.'s surplus property bill
Last year, the D.C. Council passed the Public Land Surplus Standards Amendment Act. This law was drafted to bring transparency to the process by which the District determines that a publicly owned property is no longer needed and should be
identified as surplus.
Before the law was adopted, the District's process of identifying a property as surplus and actually disposing of the property went hand in hand. The law attempts to separate this process by setting forth specific steps that the office of the deputy mayor of planning
and economic development must take before a property can be identified as surplus. Most important of these steps are the involvement of the public and the necessity of drafting a report stating why the property ought to be considered surplus.
The law came into effect only this spring. However, several significant property dispositions were already in the pipeline, including the West End Library, the Hine School on Capitol Hill, and the Hurt Home in Georgetown.
While negotiations over these projects began before the law took effect, they are nonetheless subject to the law's provisions. Unfortunately, at least in the case of the Hurt Home, it appears that the office of the deputy mayor of planning and economic development is not fulfilling its obligations under the new law.
As described in more detail here, the deputy mayor's office held a meeting last week to satisfy its obligations under the law for a public hearing on the Hurt Home property. The meeting was not well advertised, was held in a location inaccessible for those with disabilities (the basement of the Jelleff gym), and was in substance a meaningless "check the box" hearing.
The intent of the new law is worthy, but it doesn't seem that the District government is starting off on the right foot in terms of complying with the law.
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.
| June 14, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories: D.C., D.C. politics, HotTopic, Local blog network
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