One on One: The Scoop From Bloomingdale’s Neighborhood Commissioner

by Shilpi Paul

Teri Janine Quinn

In this edition of One on One, UrbanTurf sat down with Teri Janine Quinn, the president of the Bloomingdale Civic Association. Last fall, Quinn was also elected to be a commissioner for ANC 5E, representing a portion of Bloomingdale and Truxton Circle. By day, Quinn works as an attorney.

We talked about life as an ANC commissioner, bridging the gap between old residents and new, and the likelihood of decking North Capitol Street to create walkable green space (it’s more likely than you might think).

How is it going so far?

It’s going well. One of the big challenges was how to manage both responsibilities at the same time. Once I was able to delegate civic association responsibilities, it became more manageable.

As far as the ANC goes, I came to this on the heels of serving on the flooding task force, and had just finished working with the heads of nine DC agencies, the Mayor’s office, and the Councilmembers’ office for several months. As a result, I have a much better understanding of how things work, and who to call when things go wrong. In terms of my law practice, I have a regulatory background, so that’s helpful, because many ANC issues are regulatory.

Many Bloomingdale homes were severely damaged by flooding during the summer storms, and now the city has a plan in place to mitigate the problem by 2016. Are people happy with the way things are going?

There’s a mixture of emotions. The flooding brings up a multi-faceted set of questions and problems. How do I take care of this damage? How do I prevent it, and how did it happen?’ All these questions need to be addressed.

In terms of coming up with a preventative measure, the plan that is now in place was a huge win. The difficult part is that between now and 2016, we are at a very high risk. If you don’t have a back flow preventer [a device that keeps contaminated water from entering a home’s clean water supply during a flood], you are going to be really concerned. I don’t know that people really get that in the message.

So many people are now moving to Bloomingdale. How is the relationship between the older community and the new residents?

At the end of the day, everyone has the same needs. The easiest way to get people to work together is to identify similar interests and focus on those.

However, there are barriers to our path forward. Our preconceived notions of our neighbors can get in the way of progress, and there are a few issues that lead to heated judgements. For example, when a liquor license comes up and someone wants to have a critical discussion about a new business, those who support the business may immediately think “this lady just doesn’t want to have new businesses.” Once they’ve made that judgement, it is so hard to reel that perception back in.

The same goes in the opposite direction. When talking about the issue of churches and parking, parallel assumptions can be made about younger neighbors who have concerns about those issues: that they don’t appreciate the old culture of the neighborhood.

How do you diffuse that? You’re in this unique position, as you’ve said, where both sides feel comfortable talking to you.

I think being able to communicate well with both groups really helps. I can come into a conversation and understand how ideas get twisted, because I’ve seen the other side of it.

People often want you to be on one side or the other, want you to be Team Gentrify or Team Old School, but you don’t really have to pick a team that way. You can be pro-neighborhood and do what I try to do, which is build a bridge between the two.

What are some other issues that need to be resolved?

I think a lot more needs to be done to engage longtime residents.

I’m really concerned about what happens when people aren’t getting the message about stuff going on that affects them. At a recent r.e.e.l. event [discussing gentrification], a woman from Barry Farms stood up and said that residents are being told they they have to leave, and this came out of nowhere. [Barry Farms, a public housing project in Ward 8, is being redeveloped into a mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood. Plans have been in the works for a few years.] I was sitting there thinking “This didn’t come out of nowhere. There were meetings and conversations.” The question becomes, how did you not know about them? If you know, the conversation has a very different tone. It’s still difficult, but you have more time to prepare, and you know more about the process.

What is the most exciting thing/plan on the horizon for Bloomingdale?

The most exciting thing is the small area plan [the city’s tentatively titled Mid City East Small Area Plan, which launched in 2013]. A few neighbors are really excited about the possibility of covering a section of North Capitol Street and turning it into green space. When I heard that, I thought it was out of the box, but when I presented it to one of the community outreach representatives from the Office of Planning, her eyes lit up.

What’s happening with the McMillan redevelopment?

The developers are back to the drawing board. [The flood mitigation plans, which involve digging through McMillan] certainly will cause a significant delay. Not only do they have to come up with a new plan, but a new development timeline. I think they’re doing that now, and we’ll see where it goes. Given everything else going on — the special election, the small area plan, the zoning rules that are changing, and all the stuff going on with schools — it’s going to be a very busy 2013.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Similar Posts:

See other articles related to: teri janine quinn, one on one, bloomingdale, anc

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/one_on_one_the_scoop_from_bloomingdales_neighborhood_commissioner/6664

0 Comments — Be the First!

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.


Katherine Buckley

TTR Sotheby's International Realty



Cleveland Park

AU Park

Friendship Heights


DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We’ve collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾