We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Gyms typically aren’t known for much more than taking your money while you keep putting off going in to work out. But no longer! At least in Chinatown. The VIDA Fitness located at 7th and F streets NW is getting politically active on behalf of its members. Presumably, those members aren’t going to be big fans of the proposed nine digital displays that, owner David von Storch wrote in a letter to the membership, will “literally cover the vast majority of VIDA’s leased space.”

Last year, when the fight over the digital displays picked up steam, Lydia DePillis examined the kinds of people who make up Chinatown’s residents: Wealthy, childless, and not likely—-up until now—-to get involved in local politics. Looks like at least one local business is joining the fray.

Full letter after the jump.

Dear VIDA Members,

DC City Council will soon consider Bill 19-0517, which would allow enormous full-motion Jumbotron billboards to be placed anywhere on the exterior of the Verizon Center.  The bill will exempt these billboards from most of the regulations that apply to all other billboards in the city.

As a VIDA Member, you need to be aware that one of Verizon Center’s plannedJumbotrons would literally cover the vast majority of VIDA’s leased space.  One of the important amenities that we offer is floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the natural light is very much a part of what makes VIDA so enjoyable.  Many of you value the scenic views of downtown DC you enjoy while utilizing our cardio equipment or simply walking the 3rdFloor during your weight lifting routine. This visual reinforces that this is truly a neighborhood where people work, live and work out. The proposed bill allows for LED billboards of unlimited size, including signs that could wrap around the Verizon Center and cast light 7 or 8 blocks down G Street, meaning they would be visible from the Treasury Building, which sits right next to the White House. The authorizing legislation allows up to 9 Jumbotrons of any size in any location. The Verizon Center plan does not respect the local community of residences, offices, businesses, museums, theatres, and restaurants.

The billboards may hamper the residential development that the city is actively trying to encourage in the area.  A recent study showed that billboards negatively impact the value of neighboring residences and drive down property values.  This, combined with a decline in tenants interested in having their bedrooms bathed in glowing LED lights, would ultimately discourage residential development and result in a loss of property taxes collected by the city.

The legislation will be heard before the City Council on Jan. 23 at 2:00 PM. Your input is very important.  Please join us by filling out the petition form at www.scenic.org/verizon. You may also call or email the DC City Council directly.

If you want to speak at the hearing, you must sign up before Friday, January 20th.

Contact Melanie Williamson at (202) 741-2112 or email her at mwilliamson@dccouncil.us.

The hearing is Monday, January 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM.

Room 123, John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20004

David von Storch

President & Founder

VIDA Fitness

Photo by ColumbusCameraOp via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License