To fence or not to fence

by Sonny Bunch on May 5, 2012

That is the question, it seems.

City Paper’s Lydia DePillis takes issue with my latest column for Doublethink, in which I suggest that smalltime DC bureaucrats are a.) keeping jobs from coming to the neighborhood, b.) reducing the tax haul for the city, and c.) keeping an awesome storefront empty with their bullheaded intransigence on the issue as to whether or not the restaurant should be allowed to fence off a proposed patio area.

“That’s bullshit,” DePillis “argues,” adding that “The Columbia Heights plaza is an absolute gem of a public space, and alterations should be taken very seriously.” Oh, and she calls me an “outside commentator” for good measure to show that I Must Be New Here.™ (For the record, I live literally one block away and have since before the beginning of the fight over the Z Burger space, which I’ve been following quite closely since I firmly believe that if there’s anything DC needs, it’s one more burger joint. Plus, their onion rings are boss.)

Anyway, DePillis is perhaps overstating the precious quality of that little open area; it’s nice, kinda, except for all the loitering drunks and rambling sundry assholes who congregate outside of the Giant, to which the Z Burger is (essentially) attached. Oh, and let’s not forget about the murder committed by one of those sundry assholes that occurred literally in the exact spot where Z Burger wants to place its outdoor seating area. No biggie.*

She also ignores in both her post and the cute little slideshow that accompanies it the fact that, you know, there’s already a fenced-off area at another restaurant (The Heights) directly across the plaza. I mean, it’s essentially in the exact same spot, just on the other side of the plaza. In the comments she says its different because The Heights has servers and whatnot, but I fail to see how that makes a difference. Why isn’t The Heights providing seating for all the indigents that Z Burger apparently should be required to provide seating for? How dare they close off that space to the neighborhood!

But hey, why fret about hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue and dozens of jobs when a meany-pants restaurant owner refuses to consent to providing panhandlers seating from which to hassle his customers and pass out at his tables? Priorities!

*It’s funny, in the comments of her post she says that pointing out this vicious murder—in which a dude selling junk out of his van bludgeoned to death a passerby with a steel pole, knocking him down and “continued beating Mr. Paredes in the head as he lay unconscious on the ground”—as “just a scare tactic.” Um, it’s not a scare tactic to point out that a brutal slaying happened just months ago on the spot where Z Burger wants to place its fence to protect its customers. It’s what we like to call “a fact” or “evidence” or “justification.” Sorry if it’s inconvenient, hoss.

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