Tuesday, July 25, 2006

HSMS: No Support For Bid Expansion

H Street Main Street gave a thumbs down to the idea of expanding the Capitol Hill BID (Business Improvement District) to include H Street. Recently, local ANC Commissioners has been talking hopefully with the BID about the possible expansion. The supporters' hope was that working with a pre-existing organization would help keep costs down & allow things to run smoothly. There was previously a proposal for an H Street specific quasi-BID program, but it fizzled somewhat due to funding and other issues.


Anonymous said...

What is wrong with the Main Street here on H Street? They should be embracing the opprotunity to expand on the BID and to promote this area as part of Cap. Hill - which it is in fact. It is unfortunate to hear news like this.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree--how in the world can H Street Main Street NOT support expansion of the Capitol Hill BID to include the H Street Corridor? I am very interested in
hearing the reasoning behind this decision--something more thorough and reasoned than "we can't support at this time."

Frankly, the condition of H Street remains an embarrassment, and we will never attract additional people to shop on H Street at the rate of progress. Let me be clear--I am talking about cleanliness, not quality, character or style of shops, bars and restaurants. An eclectic mix could be a major selling point for getting people to come to H Street--but not in the current condition.

I am more than willing to work with H Street Main Street, and have volunteered for the cleanups (which have now ceased) in the past. But, I think everyone in the area deserves to know why more progress has not been produced after several years under the Main Street program.



Anonymous said...

You are right Alan. Here are some interesting questions: Why has the board of H Street Main Street failed for years to do anything? Why have so many people resigned over the years while others have stayed and continue to stall any progress? Did the board ever vote on the BID proposal? Is so, it would be in the minutes. Can we read the minutes? Is the vote in even in there?

Anonymous said...

I tell you why they don't support it. They don't get to control it and rob the hell out of the program. These people are damn criminals.

Anonymous said...

I think this decision is a major blow to H Street Redevelopment, particularly considering the flattening of the real estate market. The expansion of the BID would have been the appropriate catalyst for continuing business/retail development along the corridor -- the stated purpose of H Street Main Street. I hope that Anwar Saleem and Shalonda Hunter provide more in the way of details and possibly a copy of the Board's minutes. What rational is there behind this decision? And, is there an alternative? Creating a whole new organization from the ground up? Is this the "go it alone" approach?

Anonymous said...

why does the h street main street program have anything to say over this? they can stick their thumb down up their butt for all i care. is there any way around them?

Anonymous said...

Why did HSMS turn down the Capitol Hill BID? That’s easy. If HSMS approved the Capitol Hill BID then they’d lose money, prestige, and power.

* Money: HSMS is nearly broke. The funds from a BID would stabilize the organization's long term financing. Think about it – it’s the only way they could ever survive. The money from the city won’t come forever and that’s their only real source of funds.

* Ego and Power: HSMS is the powerbase for Anwar Saleem, his friends and allies. Creating another effective organization on H Street would undermine this. Anwar’s a nice guy, but that’s the fact of the matter.

But there’s plenty of blame to go around. Don’t forget that the city has had a big role in this organization – and reSTORE DC is massively incompetent. Their training and support of this and other Main Streets is weak. Their word can’t be trusted. And the Main Street concept is deeply, deeply flawed.

So I ask you, Where the hell was the city when the board made this decision?

(Contrary to the comment above, I don’t think there are crooks on the board. There’s no money to steal.)

Anonymous said...

uh.Why isn't the city cleaning the street? It is a basic service that a city provides.

Anonymous said...

In June several members of H street Main Street Board tried to oust Anwar Saleem as chairman. When it failed they all resigned. How can a board that no longer represents the people of H street decide what is best? Board members are not elected representatives of the people, they appointed themselves.

Someone on this blog already pointed out that they didn't even really vote on the BID. If you did, show us the minutes from the meeting.

Why are they the decision makers when it comes to H Street? Is it because the commerical community is behind them? No, the commerical community is not behind them, in fact they deeply distrust them due to years of ineppititude.

If Fengler backed off the BID proposal because he thought it wouldn't get support from
H street just because the Mainstreet group said "no", he should think again.

This is a story that the Voice of the Hill and the Hill Rag should be covering. We all should be holding Anwar Saleem and Shalonda Hunter and the rest of the board accountable.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know who's still on the board?

Here's an old list of board members:
Ahamad Ansari,
Annie Donovan,
Delores Montgomery,
Derek Dyson,
Fuyard Tate,
Keith Sellars (rep from DC Marketing Center),
Mike Grainger (rep from Louis Dreyfus),
Orlando Brooks,
Sandy Bellamy,
Sheila White,
Suzanna Pieslak.

Some of these people are hard working and really care about the community. So, without getting into any kind of personal attacks about the people on this list, does anybody know who's still on the board and who quit?

inked said...

I do think it's important to be careful with the HSMS issue because though the organization is far from perfect, it has never suffered from the corruption that has tainted the H Street CDC. As previously stated, there are a lot of good people who work with HSMS & care very much about the community. Let's remember that things fell apart a bit not too long ago & HSMS has been trying to rebuild (while dealing with the fact that available funding is already track -based on the program, I believe- to decrease each year). I don't know why HSMS is objecting to the BID expansion, but I would guess that it probably results from a shortage of funds. Just a guess.

Anonymous said...

Why do we even have these organizations. Why can't have the market determine bussiness development. And the city can take care of the services.

Anonymous said...

There are nice people on the board but the board lacks leadership and true vision for the neighborhood. Their failing to vote on the BID shows that they are out of touch with the people of H St. Either disolve H Street Main Street or we need a "no confidence" vote from the residence sent to Main Street head quarters.

Anonymous said...

I have two questions:

1) What is HSMS's purpose? That is, what are they supposed to be doing? Lend money? Organize volunteers? Public relations? All of the above?

2) Where does their funding come from? Developers? The District? Foundation grants?

Anonymous said...

The BIDs in other parts of the city seem to have improved the cleanliness and safety of the areas they serve. Barracks Row is night and day from what it used to be.

The real issue is probably all the work required to sign up property owners. Regardless of whether the Capitol Hill BID is expanded or H Street gets its own BID, property owners have to sign up for extra taxation for extra services. Getting the required numbers to sign on the dotted line is no small task.

You might think that organizations like H Street Main Street or the H Street CDC would be logical candidates to take this on. They have paid staff, grant money from the city, ties to H Street merchants and property owners, and mission statements that at least pay lip service to improving the corridor.

H Street merchants and property owners would be right to be skeptical of handling over a steady stream of income without knowing what the quality of the BID organization would be.

inked said...

See the most recent post for info relating to the comment at 9:44am.

Anonymous said...

The law authorizing BID formation does not allow the taxation of residential property on a commercial corridor. However, I think one BID has an exception that allows taxation of large condo and apartment projects.

A lot of the new assessed value coming on H Street is residential: Abdo, Stuert, Dreyfus. Unless these developers can be convinced to support a legislative change, it may be a while before reasonable tax rates on assessed value would generate enough funds to pay for additional services along the corridor.

Again, the issue of whether BID assessments would be managed responsibly comes into play.

Anonymous said...

Here's a more current list of board members:
Anwar Salem (chairmen since org. began),
Ahmehd Ansari,
Derek Dyson,
Fuyard Tate (left 2006)
Keith Sellars (resigned June 2006)
Mike Grainger (resigned June 2006),
Orlando Brooks,
Sandy Bellamy (rejoined June 2006),
Suzanna Pieslak (resigned June 2006)
Adele Robey (resigned June 2006)
Cliff Humphries (Martini Lounge)
Bernard Gibson (Cluck-U-Chicken)
Angela Evans (State Farm)
**I believe that there may be newly voted in board members since June 2006 also but am not sure their names.

I'm not sure of the details of the vote on this BID Expansion, it wasn't discussed during the 5-6 monthes that I was on the Board. My guess is that there are many fundamental issues the organization is trying to work on right not that they could not add one more project/program to their agenda.

FYI- Board meetings are not closed meetings. They meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month (but you might want to check during the summer monthes).

The previous poster was correct that one reason that (4) board members resigned in June was due to HSMS By Law concerns, including having a Chairperson in office for 3 years when the By Law's state that the elected office is to be held for a period of 1 year. On a personal note, it took some time to realize that I no longer wanted to volunteer with this organization. I do not feel anyone previously or currently on the board is corrupt. I do feel that strong leadership, organization, communication, and overall transparency is needed if this organization is going to turn itself around. Strong leadership requires supporting volunteers and leading by example. You all know the old saying "Actions speak louder than words"…I think HSMS would have to make that their mantra to regain community support.

Suzanna Pieslak

Anonymous said...

where do these meetings take place on the 2nd tuesday? what time?

is there an email listserv for h street main street?

Anonymous said...

How can they get away with failing to adhere to their own By Laws?

Who can we complain to about this?

Do the remaining board members even regularly attend their own board meetings? Can we get an attendace sheet for the meetings? It should be in the meeting minutes. If they don't follow their own by laws I doubt they even keep minutes.

Can anyone from the present board comment?

Anonymous said...

The meetings take place 7-8pm

Anonymous said...

In light of the fact that no one here can find any minutes from a meeting, do we even know if the Capitol Hill BID has ever submitted a proposal to HSMS or the merchants on H Street regarding an expansion of the Capitol Hill BID? All of our ranting might be premature...Can someone from the Capitol Hill BID chime in?

Richard Layman said...

Did you not read Joe Fengler's email, and the chain of emails he included as an attachment?

Anonymous said...


Some people who are readers of this blog may not be on the yahoo list serves that had Fenglers email.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous at 12:51pm,

Didn't you read the request to avoid libeling people? Even worse, your assertion is false.

It's hard for people to donate their time to work in the neighborhood. Let's at least have the decency to avoid personal attacks against people. That doesn't mean we can't discuss and disagree about this, or any other, issue.

Comments like yours damage the debate and make it more difficult for anyone to work to improve our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

truth is a defense to libel.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say "truth is a defense" to "allegations" of libel. Oops.

Richard Layman said...

With all due respect to bloggers like Elise or me, I would hope that all concerned residents would subscribe to and participate in neighborhood e-lists for their respective ANC--either anc-6a@yahoogroups or anc6c@yahoogroups, or hstreetdc, which is supposed to encompass the entire neighborhood.

Because ANC6A is the more active ANC in the area, its listserv postings tend to be "more interesting" in my opinion.

When the original anc6a list was destroyed, I then created northside_dc@yahoogroups also, but I never really promoted it, and then Marc Borbely created the new anc-6a (with the hyphen) list so it wasn't really needed.

The idea behind northside is to consider issues in the greater NE area that includes H Street, but goes beyond it, such as north of Florida Avenue and even south of Rhode Island Avenue issues.

There isn't much discussion on northside though.

Anonymous said...


What might we have found had we read Joe Fengler's email, and the chain of emails he included as an attachment?


Richard Layman said...

The initial emails discussing the entreaties from the Capitol Hill BID, apparently Ken Jarboe of ANC6B was involved, as well as an email response from Shalonda Hunter indicating no interest. Even I just skimmed the emails, there were a bunch. Stuff I wrote also reflected conversations I've had with others not necessarily directly a part of the thread.

I don't know if you can look at emails in anc-6a without being a member.

Anonymous said...

I think it is IMPERITIVE that we get a response from Sholonda and HSMS immediately. If you did not read the letter she sent Fengler, it was a total blowoff, along the lines of "We want H Street to be safe and clean but we cannot support the BIT." Full Stop.

Joseph - we are standing by - tell us what the residents need to do to convice you that we want this BIT extension.

Anonymous said...

I meant BID, not BIT. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

One of the perceptions that needed to be overcome was the belief that a BID on H Street would be financially unsustainable.

So, the goal Cody and I had of putting together a plan was twofold. First, demonstrate that Capitol Hill BID expansion to H Street was economically viable. Second, determine if there was interest in working together from both H Street Main Street and Capitol Hill BID. (Note: I should have that plan posted on our website by this evening - -I will post the direct link when it is up).

On March 10, Mr. Didden from Capitol Hill BID replied that there was interest and asked Ken Jarboe (who was instrumental in creating the Capitol Hill BID) to review the proposal. That review led to a meeting between Ken, Anwar, Sholanda, Cody and myself on April 1. At that meeting, we reviewed the 2006 tax assessments, discussed where the boundaries would be generally and initial timelines for business meetings. One of the key open pieces was for Anwar to specifically outline where the BID expansion would take place. Notably, on H Street around 2nd, 3rd and 4th Streets – does the BID go up to Florida Avenue in that area or to K Street?

That meeting was very encouraging because Ken stated it was his belief that it is not a matter “if” the Capitol Hill BID would be expanded, it is a matter of “when” – to that extent Ken was willing to host a meeting with all the key commercial interests to start gaining support in both the existing and proposed Capitol Hill BID.

Then months went by with no action. Ken sent a note to Cody and myself stating he was ready to have the meeting. I circled back with H Street Main Street and was told they are not able to support a BID expansion.

As you might guess, this was extremely disappointing. A BID is essential to H Street. When our ANC asked MPD for a comprehensive policing plan for H Street (http://www.anc6a.org/HstCompPlanMPDC.pdf), MPD offered to sit down with ANC 6A, ANC 6C, PSA 102, H Street Main Street and Deputy Chief of Police Jordan. At that meeting this past May, Chief Jordan invited Mount Vernon BID and Golden Triangle BID representatives. His point was that a BID is an essential component of any comprehensive plan. Why? MDP will actually train the BID street workers on how to “notice” illegal activity and they are empowered to immediately call in MPD directly. In addition, the continued presence of very viable “blue” BID employees deters crime in and of itself.

I must confess, I am confounded by H Street Main Street’s response. If the idea is that H Street Main Street will start a separate BID, I can’t see how that makes any sense. Any work to start a BID will only take more time than expanding an existing BID. It was my honest assessment that it would take at least 18 months to expand the current BID. Why so long? Between getting the signatures and support, changes to include large-scale residential properties (in the Mount Vernon BID they asses any property with more than ten units), and final Council approval – it would take time.

As a final note, the plan proposed a phased in collection (assessment) before BID services were provided was not ultimately deemed workable by H Street Main Street. (Note: this approach would have allowed a cash corpus to be generated to cover the losses in the first few years of the BID). The valid point from H Street Main Street is that it will be tough to collect money without providing a service for six months. However, the data and analysis in the plan did demonstrate that a BID is viable. Also, the analysis did not use the 2007 tax assessment – which raised the tax base on average of 20% from 2006.

E-mail exchange:

From: Joseph Fengler
To: "George A Didden,
Sent: Monday, July 24, 2006 7:10:57 PM
Subject: Re: Proposal: Capital Hill BID expansion to H Street, NE

I wanted to formally get back to you. Thank you for sending Ken Jarboe our way. He was very helpful. As much as it pains me to admit, I can no longer participate in the current efforts to expand the Capitol Hill BID to H Street, NE. I realize that I initiated this discussion and I want to thank your for your indulgence on this matter. It is my view that by working with an existing organization, that has proven to be the best in the city, will provide an almost immediate improvement to H Street . The money saved in overhead costs, let alone the opportunity to use your excellent staff and existing contracts, as well as the synergy provided by expansion, seem to be worth the effort for H Street .

My goal was to have the expansion completed on the very day the city conducted the ribbon cutting for the new H Street. It appears my enthusiasm is not shared by all parties. Unfortunately, I recently received the below e-mail from H Street Main Street I am afraid without their involvement; I will not be able to in good faith ask my fellow Commissioners to support an expansion of the Capitol BID to H Street.

Thanks again for your time and help.

Best Regards, Joseph Fengler

From: Shalonda Hunter
To: Joseph Fengler
Cc: anwar, o.brooks@verizon.net
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:04:49 PM
Subject: H Street Main Street Space and BID Information
Hello Joe:

I am sorry to be getting back to you so late but I needed to wait till after our July board meeting.

We look forward to a safe, clean, and economically prosperous community but will not be able to extend planning efforts with for the Capitol Hill BID extension on to H Street NE at this time. Thanks a lot for following up with the organization.

Shalonda Hunter

From: "George A Didden, III
To: Joseph Fengler
Cc: "Patty Brosmer
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 12:04:34 PM
Subject: RE: Capitol Hill BID Expansion to H Stet, NE

Hi Joe, I have asked Ken Jarboe to take a look at your numbers over the weekend. I suggest that a few of us have lunch to discuss and I have asked Patty Brosmer to get in touch with you next week. Sure you can share with the others.

From: Joseph Fengler
To: "George A Didden, III"
Sent: Thursday, March 9, 2006 9:18:49 AM
Subject: Proposal: Capital Hill BID expansion to H Street, NE

George, Cody Rice and I exchanged e-mails in September of last year with you and Patty regarding extending the Capitol Hill BID to H Street. You initial reaction, which was justified, was -- "Look up the assessments as of today and get the costs from CHBID. There is no use meeting unless your analysis shows that the BID taxes will at least cover costs." Taking your direction to heart, please accept the initial proposal for consideration.

I look forward to working with you all.

Thanks in advance.


Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks for the posting, Joe now I understand. We're all mad because we want the BID to expand to cover H Street (I do too) and we're ticked off at the H Street Main Street people for not helping this come to pass (which they're not). However, our anger is misdirected. If you follow the lovely links on BIDS that Ms. Elise posted for us yesterday, you'll learn that H Street Main Street CANNOT simply vote to expand the Capitol Hill BID to H Street. Such a vote would be MEANINGLESS. In order for the BID to cover new territory, or for a new BID to be formed, the business owners in the proposed BID area must take a vote. Not H Street Main Street. Why don't we simply ignore H Street Main Street and focus our energy on where it belongs?

Anonymous said...

It seems like there is an issue of accountability and tranparency.

Where are the agendas and minutes of HSMS? Where are the bylaws that explain how board members and officers are selected? Where are the budgets and spending reports? How are public meetings publicized?

If HSMS is funded by taxes, then residents who pay taxes should have some control over priorities.

Anonymous said...

Maybe at some point in the near future there will be some business leaders on H Street who understand that a cleaner and safer H Street would be good for business.

My impression is that there are a lot of people who avoid H Street because of these issues, not that there is much open along the length of the corridor after dark. (The area down by the Atlas is an exception.)

Ultimately, it's businesses and property owners who have to foot the bill and take on the responsibilities of organizing a BID.

An expansion of an existing, functioning BID seems like a good way to accomplish this, but it needs to be lead by businesses or organizations that purport to have business constituencies.

Anonymous said...

hi everybody.

can we discuss possible solutions? what can we do at this point to help expand the capitol hill bid? could a few of us volunteer to personally implore business owners, block by block?

i would be willing to do a block or two on a late saturday afternoon. is anyone else game? could someone help me create a persuasive pitch to the business owners?

and is if the business owners are convinced to hop on board, is that basically all we need?

alan p.

Anonymous said...

the last sentence should read "if the business owners are on board". forgive the typo.


Anonymous said...

can't we sue HSMS? they're doing more harm than they're doing good....

maybe some of us "investigative" types could start looking into HSMS for some dirt on what seem to be a very, very sorry lot.

that's my proposed solution. :o)

Anonymous said...


Take a look. It's pretty indicative of some of the 'efforts' to bring h street back to life.

Anonymous said...

You're kidding - that's HSMS website?! It should really be taken down if it can't be maintained.

inked said...

That is not the HSMS website. That is an old website. The guy who set it up used to be with HSMS & because of some hard feelings about the past, he does not want to give over control of the website. As a result, HSMS is currently setting up a new website at a different address.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that HSMS cannot approve expansion of the BID--a majority of the business / property owners have to vote in favor of the BID.

That said, I think the frustration and anger being directed at HSMS is valid. HSMS's purpose is to improve the corridor, and coordinating an effort to install/expand a BID falls squarely within that purpose, and instead HSMS said "no".

While technically HSMS voting for expansion of the BID would not have any authority, it would have shown leadership on the issue and could have helped in getting the required number of businesses to support the BID. However, voting to NOT SUPPORT the BID was hardly meaningless--it throws a roadblock to building the required level of support.

I am definitely interested in helping with an effort to reach out to the businesses directly.



Anonymous said...

Reading through this comment page you can find information on at least three former board members who are upset with HSMS.

Our neighborhood is littered with former HSMS board members with hard feelings about the organization. Sadly, many are quite talented.

It could be a great organization. But the problems won't be fixed until the chairman of the board and his allies on the board resign.

Anonymous said...

To follow up as promised above. Here is the link for the proposal Cody and I submitted to the Capitol Hill BID and H Street Main Street - http://www.anc6a.org/SMD02/CHbidExpanHStProp.pdf.

A few responses to the above comments:

1. HSMS role. While it is true HSMS approval is not technically required to expand the Capitol Hill BID, I think without it any attempt to expand the BID would difficult. To be honest, I would clearly understand Capitol Hill BID reluctance to spend the time, energy and resources if the key organization designed to promote development was not 100% behind the effort.

2. What can we do? Many folks here state they are eager to step into the breech and lead the charge for the BID expansion. I will only say that this effort is a HUGE undertaking. After you read the proposal, it will be clear that this effort will take a year to complete. It is really a campaign to get both large and small businesses to agree. Large business for the dollars and small business for the required buy-in from the tax base.

3. The goal for me was to put both organizations in a room, make the case, and get them to accept the challenge of the task at hand. Sometimes the best thing ANCs can do is be cheerleaders and offer support. In this case, I don’t think either ANC 6A or 6C could successfully spearhead a BID initiative – not because we don’t have the talent or dedication – it is the time.

All is not lost; a BID is still an option. But truth be told, a successful BID requires support from business leaders, political leaders and residents. From what I can tell, two of the three groups are ready. Someone or some folks from the business community on H Street must take up the charge and lend a hand for this to work. If not HSMS or H Street CDC maybe some of the new business leaders. I know I am ready to support the effort.

Anonymous said...

ANC 6A has managed to piss off just about every business on H street and then they want HSMS to front for them?
Where is ANC 6C in this anyway???

Anonymous said...

Regarding the last anonymous post: A perfect example of why H Street can't perform like other Main Street programs (e.g. Barracks Row). Too many people living around, opening businesses and serving on boards in the H Street area just don't get it no matter how many listserves they subscribe to or how many blogs they read! Still, so many people fail to realize that ANC 6a efforts that seem to be against individual business owners is in fact a campaign to demand that the DCRA do the job they are obligated to do per legislation.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a couple of ANC commissioners were trying to do a backroom deal that fell flat to me.

Anonymous said...

Great--more anonymous character assassination. Definitely helps the dialogue. Thanks!

With the number of people involved, and the stated goal of facilitating meetings between Capitol Hill BID and HSMS (both of which hold public meetings), it certainly doesn't sound like a backroom deal to me. And now it has been posted on the ANC 6a website, and discussed at length here...


Alan Kimber

Anonymous said...

There are no minutes of any ANC meeting that asks them to approach the Capitol Hill BID people. What are you talking about?
Joe & Cody had already been in touch with the Capitol Hill bid before taking their plans to HSMS and going public with their failure. It's this sort of behind the scene scheming that the past ANC 6A engaged in. Different players, but same game

Anonymous said...


I was referring to the fact that the proposal is now posted on the ANC website. I confess I didn't know whether the ANC had approved the proposal, but figured (perhaps erroneously) that this meant there was some endorsement or knowledge on the part of the ANC. Also, it seemed that there were alot of people who were sent the various emails concerning the topic, so it didn't seem very backroom to me.

My main objection was the character assassination posted by someone who kept anonymous. I'm not saying that there is inherently wrong with posting anonymously, it just strikes me as kind of unfair/wrong to attack someone personally or impugn their character without posting one's name and at least standing behind the statements.