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Wow, the historic-preservation issue (“Battle of the Vinyl Windows,” 8/5) got personal really quickly. I’m not happy that the Historic Preservation Office’s David Maloney was booed at the Slowe Elementary School meeting, because he was one of the most honest people that we heard from during this whole discussion. We really were blindsided by this idea. And pro-preservation people are making historic preservation sound like the salvation for all neighborhoods in D.C. Maloney made it pretty clear that zoning, not preservation, is often the major factor in development and that historic designation has only limited control.
I love Brookland, too, and I know it will change due to economic and social factors. I was one of the few white folks who moved in 23 years ago, because the people were great and the houses were affordable. Our house was an estate sale: The older parent died, the heirs wanted to sell, and we bought. That is still going on. Gas is getting expensive, commuting isn’t all that economical now, and this is a nice, integrated neighborhood. I want to remain after retirement and won’t have the cash to keep up with pricey renovations and restrictive historic rules. My house won’t be run-down, but I don’t want to live with the threat of losing it if I don’t ask for approval for every repair and paint job. Talk about a way to let developers get hold of people’s homes. What happens to properties that are seized from noncompliant homeowners? Auctions? And there is no money to subsidize those who can’t afford pricey Historic Preservation Office–approved contractors.
I was under the impression that the historic-district designation was for the entire neighborhood, not just a few blocks. Making 12th Street historic would, I believe, make some (federal) tax incentives available to businesses, and that might not be a bad thing. Such proposals and ideas need to be presented to the community openly and discussed calmly, with accurate information, not discussed behind closed doors. And some buildings will be torn down and some newer ones will be built. And advisory neighborhood commissions need to stay on top of development and zoning regulations.
Brookland obviously developed somewhat randomly over the past century or so (that’s part of its charm) and will continue to do so. That development needs to include all stakeholders.