Meet Matthew

Matthew is a long-term resident who brings experience working internationally across diverse cultures to find solutions to complex issues. Matthew is fluent in French and Spanish, and will work directly with his constituents of all backgrounds. Matthew brings an appreciation for hard work and a passion for using leadership as an opportunity to elevate the voices of others. Matthew hopes that together, as a community, we can continue to nurture and grow the “village in the city” that is our district of Mount Pleasant, DC.

Policy Positions

The following responses are excerpted from Matthew's participation in Greater Greater Washington's Survey of the 2020 ANC Candidates, where Matthew received a "star" by the Greater Greater Washington Elections Committee. (Though Greater Greater Washington would not endorse candidates in uncontested races, Matthew was elgible for a "star" were his responses to be to the satisfaction of the Elections Committee.)

If there were a way to improve bus service or safety for people walking or bicycling in your neighborhood, but it required removing some on-street parking, how would you approach the situation? Give a specific example if possible.

Safety is a paramount concern for my neighborhood. From improving access to Rock Creek Park to facilitating improved pedestrian traffic along the business corridor of Mount Pleasant Street, there are areas of great public interest for renewed safety efforts. The goal of any action should be to increase the democratic utility of our spaces -- to improve access to public spaces for all peoples. Improving both bus services and bicycle safety is tied to this goal, and recognizing that these improvements will likely come at the expense of private parking is in line with efforts already begun by Commissioners Stewart and Allinger in ANC 1D. I do not aim to reinvent the wheel, and, by recognizing my fellow Commissioners’ knowledge of the situation and the time costs already spent working with DDOT in the last year, I intend to work with my fellow Commissioners to help continue the efforts they have already begun on this topic.

To give concrete examples, I support the approach that has been undertaken to date, which has involved a robust neighborhood consultation initiative, followed by the distillation of these responses and the subsequent passing of resolutions based on these outcomes. Citizen engagement not only consisted of scheduled ANC meetings, but included solicitation of feedback over newer communication platforms, such as the application Nextdoor. Work with DDOT has included direct engagement with DDOT teams and personnel. Most notably, the neighborhood consultations have resulted in a request for DDOT’s support in developing feasibility and design studies for improving traffic safety. This is exemplified in a resolution unanimously passed on May 21, 2019, which requested that, per the resolution’s title, “[... ] DDOT [...] refine and implement tactical improvements in Mount Pleasant related to Vision Zero.” This resolution included protections to cut-down on illegal parking, but also opened the possibility for limiting existing on-street parking in an effort to expand cycling space, including bicycle parking as well as lane improvements. Currently, the feasibility and design study process begun with DDOT is my preferred option for approaching the situation.

During the pandemic, ANC meetings have moved online. Do you think that has been a plus or minus for inclusion, accessibility, and transparency? What would you like to see ANCs do moving forward?

As with many efforts undergone in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, ANC 1D meetings have gone virtual and are hosted via Zoom rather than in-person at the Mount Pleasant Library. On a c​onceptual​ level, having the ability to attend our meetings online improves access for some constituents due to the diminished transportation burden and the flexibility that dialing in over an internet connection allows. In practice, these virtual meetings have been conducted reasonably smoothly and have continued to enable community participation. That said, for my SMD in particular, many of my constituents lack access to the proper devices -- let alone adequate internet connections -- to facilitate their participation. When the pandemic emergency lifts, I would like our official meetings to return to Mount Pleasant Library, while also finding a way to continue to incorporate remote access. It should be achievable, even within the confines of traditional Rules of Order, to conduct a meeting that mixes virtual and physical participation; however, I will insist on maintaining an in-person component to allow for those digitally disadvantaged to retain their voice and right to participatory democracy.

To meet the District's housing needs, Mayor Bowser has proposed building 36,000 additional housing units in the District by 2025, 12,000 of which would be affordable to people making 60% or less of the Area Median Income. Do you support this initiative, and if so, what role do you think your ANC could play in addressing housing affordability challenges? How and where can your neighborhood contribute its fair share of the housing our growing city needs?

As a DC resident, it is important to see the city continue to be a city for all and not some. It is becoming increasingly clear that the affordable housing supply has not kept pace with the city’s demand, and the COVID-19 pandemic will likely only add to the current system’s strain as pandemic control measures have the unintended consequence of impeding full employment. In supporting this mission of expanding affordable housing access, our ANC has made efforts to ensure near-term development projects allocate housing units to low-income families. Our ANC has also supported mixed-use development along its main thoroughfare, supporting elements of the proposed DC Comprehensive Plan Update, such as building housing close to public transit, restoring underused properties, and protecting existing housing stock. Our ANC will continue to work with developers to ensure any future growth recognizes the goals proposed by the Comprehensive Plan Housing Element.

During the pandemic, many restaurants added sidewalk cafes, curbside table service, or “streateries.” A side effect is that many streetscapes have more space for people walking and for pick-up/drop-off but less space for driving. Do you think these new ways of using our public space should continue after the emergency ends?

As Commissioner for SMD 1D04, I represent many of the businesses of Mount Pleasant Street. The adjustments that have been made by establishments along our main street have been essential to these businesses' survival through this emergency period. The ability for establishments to expand dining options to portions of the street has allowed for some businesses to rehire many of their pre-pandemic staff.

I think many of these adjustments should find a way to be made permanent in a post-pandemic DC. The pandemic offers a chance to re-imagine our public spaces, our transportation networks, and how we promote inter-neighborhood ​interactions.​ Safety considerations must be taken into account, and this will limit the extent to how much of the streatery culture can remain. For example, prior to the emergency, efforts to expand cycling lanes and improve pedestrian safety opened a conversation about reconfiguring private parking. As spaces currently reserved for private parking were among those incorporated into the streateries, the transportation safety designs would now have to take any remaining streateries into account. Additionally, a positive collaboration between a local non-profit and WMATA resulted in a streatery encroaching on space reserved for bus access. It is likely not feasible to continue that configuration indefinitely into the future and will require consultations with the parties involved to find an optimum, long-term solution. In short, the final outcome for our public spaces will require working with local residents, businesses, and government agencies such as DDOT and WMATA; however, I believe that a compromise is achievable in the post-pandemic future, and the result of which would be an even more vibrant, accessible, safe, and friendly Mount Pleasant Street.

What is your vision for the Mt. Pleasant Street corridor? How would you like to support Mt. Pleasant's small businesses?

Mount Pleasant Street is home to a diverse array of small, locally and minority owned businesses. My vision for the corridor is to ensure the character of my district remains one of unique mom-and-pop businesses, augmented by improved accessibility and outdoor dining amenities. Any efforts in achieving that vision should ensure that people are incentivized to spend time in the community, rather than just moving from point A to point B. In terms of improved accessibility, I support the enhancement of bus access, pedestrian safety, and cycling infrastructure as detailed in my previous responses. In terms of improved outdoor dining amenities, also detailed in previous responses, I see a valuable role for maintaining elements of the streatery culture that the city’s pandemic measures have produced. Mount Pleasant Street already maintains active small business organizations, and I see my role in the ANC as one to help facilitate and expand the actions already underway by these organizations. By working together, I believe my district will survive the pandemic with its unique, small business community intact, and not find itself replaced by chain retail and restaurants.

Do you support the addition of bus lanes to 16th Street NW?

While not in my district, addressing the traffic situation on 16th Street NW is important to me and many of my constituents. Prior to the pandemic, I used to commute from Mount Pleasant to Ashburn, Virginia for my work. I took public transit, which meant making a series of bus to metro trains to bus connections that, in the best of timing, meant at least two hours commuting each way. I have therefore experienced the congestion of 16th Street NW during rush hour first hand, and I have felt the consequences that any delays can have as they ripple across timing the infrequent schedules I had to corral for my commute. In November 2013, this website reported that more than 50% of rush-hour travelers along 16th Street NW commuted via buses, which only accounted for 3% of all vehicles on 16th Street NW in that time period. I have reason to believe that this situation has only been exacerbated in the last seven years. This gets to the heart of the issue -- how do we most effectively transport our citizens so that we can improve safety, employment, and inclusive growth. I support the proposed design by DDOT to institute a variety of changes to bus services along this critical artery, including a dedicated bus lane on 16th Street NW during peak travel periods. Additional changes proposed by DDOT, such as bus queue jumps and transit signal priority adjustments, have my support and are important to the realization of a safer, more reliable, and more accessible DC.

What is the biggest issue in your neighborhood not already included in this questionnaire, and what is your position on it?

The pandemic has laid bare the disparities between the city’s capacity to provide mental health services, and the demand for those services by some of its citizens. My district has seen an uptick in people who have been displaced by the city’s emergency measures and that are in need of additional help. I support recent efforts by my fellow Commissioners to work with DC’s mental health resources, such as aiding walkthroughs by agencies tasked with improving the district’s health and homeless services. There is much more that can be done, but it will only be achievable by marshalling the attention, resources, and commitment of the greater DC Government. I support redoubling the ANC’s efforts to expand the processes for addressing these needs that have already begun.

Other Resources

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