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Let me set the scene: We here at Washington City Paper are at a staff meeting or gathering of some sort. Up comes the topic of Cada Vez, a somewhat controversial U Street spot that appears in our coverage from time to time. Someone mentions that Cada Vez has been under attack from neighbors over the years for the usual litany of NIMBY complaints. Noise, trash, and so on.
Then someone on staff who will remain anonymous but who is listed as art director on our masthead snarks out. Come on, he inveighs. Those people move to U Street and yet they expect to have some kind of pastoral existence. Those weren’t his exact words, but they capture his sentiment.
They also capture a sentiment expressed by every anti-NIMBY at every ANC meeting since Home Rule. Anyone who’s been remotely involved in civic affairs knows how the scene. Citizens come and ask their elected reps to take some action against a liquor establishment or some other alleged nuisance, and then comes the blowback. Hey, what’d you expect, Mister, when you moved in here!
That argument alone accounts for a good chunk of the population loss that afflicted the District for decades. You get taxed to death, you get shitty public services, your car falls apart because of the potholes. That much you can handle. But then you complain that you can’t get to sleep before 3 a.m. because of the noise, and everyone screams that you should go to the ‘burbs.
Too many good people over the years have done exactly that—-and we can’t even rival El Paso or Charlotte on population figures.