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Plaintiff: Richard Stone Rothblum
Defendants: Mayor Adrian Fenty, Department of Transportation Director Emeka Moneme, Public Space Manager Denise L. Wiktor, Colin Clark
Damages Sought: Temporary restraining order
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Complaint: Cathedral Heights resident Theresa P. Jones wants to put a driveway in front of her home on the 3800 block of Woodley Road NW. After Clark, an expediter employed by Jones’ architect, applied for a permit to do so in January 2006, the matter went to the local advisory neighborhood commission, of which Rothblum is a member. Neither Jones nor Clark showed up for the meeting where the matter was discussed, but several neighbors spoke against the proposal, citing, among other examples, a pair of curb cuts for the semicircular drive that would take away parking spaces in an already parked-up area. The ANC voted unanimously against the application and sent a letter detailing its objections to Moneme; Wiktor then assured ANC Chair Nancy MacWood that the permit would not be granted. But the permit got approved because, the commission later found out, it had been claimed—after the matter went to the ANC—that the driveway was for a “handicap hardship,” i.e., to allow easier access for a disabled resident. Rothblum alleges DDOT never responded in writing to the ANC’s original ruling, as required under District law, and never provided the commission with the complete case file on which it based its decision. He wants DDOT to send the matter back to the ANC.
Quality of Representation: Pretty damn good for an amateur. Rothblum’s three-page complaint is neatly typed, well-organized, and tightly argued. But Rothblum never quite explains why it’s his name on the lawsuit rather than the ANC’s or its chair’s. (A map check reveals that Jones’ house is in Rothblum’s district.)
Summary Judgment: Ye gods, ANC ignored! One of the longer-standing jokes in District policymaking has been the idea that ANC decisions “shall be given great weight” by city officials. But Rothblum is right: The ANC statute demands that DDOT write a letter back to the commission explaining exactly why the agency isn’t giving them the time of day. But once it does that, DDOT’s pretty much free to do whatever it wants. So get out some pen and paper, Emeka, and make this thing go away.