Housing Complex

Committee of 100: “We Also Like to Have Fun”

In response to a post about zoning subcommittee chair Alma Gates' disdain for Greater Greater Washington's redistricting game, Committee of 100 chairman George Clark sent over this statement:

Since when can't someone write a comment without it being attributed to an organization that isn't even mentioned? And why so many attacks on the obvious–does someone really think redistricting won't be a contentious process? Redistricting is hardscrabble politics akin to mud wrestling.

But right now we're talking about mud-slinging. Lydia DePillis' blog post, "The Committee of 100's PR Problem" slammed the Committee of 100 unfairly for something we didn't even say. Civic engagement is a hallmark of the organization. We embrace discussion and encourage public participation in the important issues affecting the City. These include things like organizing the city-wide coalition to defeat billboards last year and issuing the definitive report on streetcars this year.

And for the record, we also like to have fun.

Clark provided no examples of said fun, but he has promised to take Housing Complex on a walking tour of Forest Hills, so we'll let him go this time.

  • Thanks!

    The Committee of 100 didn't say something incredibly stupid about zoning.

    It's just that the person who happens to be the zoning subcommittee chair for the Committee of 100 said something incredibly stupid about zoning.

    Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Clark!

  • http://www.ajfroggie.com Froggie

    Mr. Clark,

    You have a point, in that Ms. Gates didn't directly attribute her comments to the Committee of 100. But if you don't want things the Committee-of-100 sub-chairs are saying attributed to the organization, I suggest you rein in your committee chairmen.


  • Thanks!

    Froggie, what, you want Mr. Clark to reign in a citizen in simply putting her views out there for the wider citizenry? Mr. Clark like any good member of the leadership of the Committee of 100 supports the right of Alma Gates to say what she pleases as an individual citizen!

    They just don't love it so much when David Alpert does it.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.
  • Bob See
  • JM

    Honestly, given the absurd tone of GGW, I'm happy that the adults at C100 are still actively involved in city planning issues. The GGW commenters seem to think that cities are primarily lifestyle choices, rather than economic centers that require efficient transport options (including cars and trucks). The knee-jerk anti-car rhetoric at that site is pretty disheartening.

  • Down with C100

    Dear Sir,

    Glad to hear you like to have fun. Might I suggest you perform an impossible act upon yourself?

    Have fun!

  • DC Guy


    Yes, I guess the hipsters who have invested their time and hard earned money into improving what were once run down neighborhoods (see Saturday's Washington Post article about Mayor Barry's old haunts) do not understand that cities are economic centers that require a balance of transportation options (that include improved mass transit, bikes and pedestrian facilities).

    There is a reason why the city declined from the 1950's to the 2000's. The Committee of 100 has and continues to fail to adapt to changing times. If you think GGW contributors have less of a stake in the affairs of the District then you are continuing the fallacy that the Committee of self-selected 100 has a greater stake.

    We are all city residents who all want improvements in our built environment, our economic drivers and our transportation options. The difference is the transparency of discourse and lack of patronizing "top down" management and advocacy.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.


    You do realize that the car is the least efficient mode of urban transportation, right?

    It's the least energy-efficient. It's by far the least spatially-efficient. It's causes far more congestion and has no mechanism to deal with said congestion.

  • Tim

    Did the Committee of 100 really organize a campaign to eliminate all billboards in the city? And is Clark really citing this as an example of the group embracing discussion and public participation?

  • DC Resident

    This constant sniping against the older smart growth people (including the C100) by the younger self-proclaimed "smart growth" crowd is counter-productive and distasteful to most of us.

    The C100 stopped U Street, Dupont Circle and much of West End from being leveled for freeways. They were vilified as anti-progress then by the then-current "smart" crowd. Now the newcomer self-proclaimed "smart" crowd snipes at them for not accepting ill-conceived projects without study or discussion. If the C100 had been listened to we would have a far-better stadium/arena/convention center than the financial sink holes we got. If the 1000's of hours expert studies the C100 did of streetcars had been considered we wouldn't be headed into the H Street Streetcar fiasco we are.

    This is the first allegation of C100 attacking other "smart" urban planning groups. The attacks on the C100 are daily and smell of childish jealousy.

    At any rate these attacks on urban planners are exactly what suits the developers who want carte blanche and groups like AAA. The suspicion is that the newcomer self-proclaimed "smart" crowd is nothing but shills for developers and in fact many are employed by them. Certainly their attacks on urban planners do the developers great service.

    As for the author's article that cities like Washington (and Paris etc) would be so much nicer if we destroyed the green human-scale center and replaced it with whatever concrete cubes developers would like, that was pathetic. I'll take a human-friendly city anytime over another Crystal City, Bethesda, K Street or Cleveland.

    There was a reason DC residents sounded voted out this newcomer "smart" crowd in November. They're not smart, they're destructive, and they're arrogant to the point of childishness.

  • MJ

    When you are chair of a committee on zoning, and you choose to speak publicly on zoning, you are in fact speaking on behalf of the organization. Or were all these people sleeping during the "effective civic leadership" course?

  • Bob See

    @DC Resident, so, the C100 fought against reckless, insensitive razing for freeways (so prevalent in other cities back in the day) to preserve the attractive, historic city fabric that the hipsters moving here find appealing.

    I can see that.

  • Kenyon Street

    As long as the C100 continues to block desperately needed increases in the city's affordable housing stock by insisting on the maintenance of archaic height restrictions, no one who cares about the quality of life for the urban poor should take them seriously. No matter how much fun they have.

  • DC Resident

    @ Kenyon Street-

    High rises are for the rich.

    They're extremely expensive to build and take often two years to build. Europe and most progressive places in the US depend on 5 story stick-built or block-built housing to quickly build housing that is also affordable.

    And the rich don't usually pay income taxes either in DC. They keep legal residency in Delaware or other no-income tax states. They often get out of property taxes through putting property in tax-exempt trusts too.

    It takes a little more thought than simple-as-pie solutions.

  • Kenyon Street

    @DC Resident

    Regulations that require a certain portion of new apartment buildings be set aside at Section 8 affordable housing guarantee that the affordable housing stock would increase along with increases in market rate housing.

    Perhaps if you knew anything about HUD regulations or affordable housing programs, you would be familiar with this basic concept. However, your ignorance of urban development policy DOES make you well-qualified for the C100.

  • Smoke_Jaguar4

    @DC Resident:
    While "high rises are for the rich", they also increase the available supply of housing in the DC. Height restrictions create an artificial scarcity in housing, creating pressure to gentrify the remaining affordable housing in the city.
    The "rich" will live wherever they want to live. The real issue is how much of the remaining space is left for middle class and affordable housing. Increasing available housing in DC will bring back a viable middle class, something the city sorely needs.

  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    ...and it's the city's old guard who's largely preventing "5 story stick-built or block-built housing," particularly if it's built without much parking (which is a huge factor in making housing expensive to build and to live in), from infiltrating their precious 2/3-story or single-family neighborhoods.

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