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Is it cool to be an independent?

Considering the implications of party labels in mayor’s race

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Independent voter, elections, primary, candidates, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade
Independent voter, elections, primary, candidates, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘I’ label on the ballot means the person doesn’t identify with a particular party and voters don’t necessarily have an indication what they believe. What set of political principles do they espouse?

Some voters believe that registering as an “independent” is a cutting-edge, even cool thing to do. That made me think about party labels, what they mean, and about those who reject party labels yet may want to vote in the primary of a party they made a conscious decision not to join.

I grew up in New York City and like D.C. most voters were Democrats. Many had experiences with discrimination and the Democratic Party was a comfortable political home. New York was a melting pot and home to many minority groups. There were Jews who escaped the Holocaust; Irish Americans whose ancestors escaped the famine; and Cubans who fled Castro. My parents weren’t political but mom was an activist fighting for everything from planting more trees, integrating schools and stopping Columbia University from taking over more of the Morningside Heights neighborhood.

At 12, I joined a local Democratic club. Being a Democrat meant joining the party of JFK, Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy. I was proud to be a member of the party that supported civil rights, women’s rights and, as I got older and came out, the party whose platform evolved to support the rights of the LGBT community.

Disliking a candidate of my party didn’t lead me to become a Republican or an independent but rather inspired me to join with others in the party to push for change. We fought to elect progressive Bill Ryan (D-N.Y.) to Congress. We supported Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. Though we lost the presidency, we continued to fight for the principles we believed in within the party. We had an intra-party fight that resulted in Bella S. Abzug (D-N.Y.) being the Democratic candidate for Congress after Bill Ryan died. Through the years, the party I choose has been more in tune with my beliefs than any other.

So it’s perplexing that mayoral candidate David Catania, who is smart and an independent, found that the Republican Party matched his principles for all the years it did. He moved to D.C. in 1986 for college and for the next 16 years until 2002, when he was already an elected official, proudly called himself a Republican even supporting and contributing to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. He left his party and registered as an ‘independent’ only when it became clear the GOP didn’t support gay rights and actually worked to make things worse for the LGBT community. I figured that was for personal expediency to keep his seat on the Council not realizing until recently that it was more than that when he was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “The Republican Party that I grew up with disappeared a long time ago. As far as being an Independent, it’s a suit that really fits. I joke that I’ve been in one bad marriage and I’m not about to jump into another.” He needs to explain what principles the Democratic Party stands for that were so abhorrent to him as to consider it would be a bad marriage.

The ‘I’ label on the ballot means the person doesn’t identify with a particular party and voters don’t necessarily have an indication what they believe. What set of political principles do they espouse? What is it about my Democratic Party they find objectionable? Is it support for unions? LGBT civil and human rights? Public education, women’s rights, choice, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, removing impediments to voting or working to deal with climate change? If they agree with all those positions are they simply afraid to run in a primary or are they ‘independent’ simply for political expediency?

Recently it’s been suggested that D.C. voters may be coerced or bullied into voting Democratic. That is absurd and offensive. People vote for candidates whose positions they like and who they feel comfortable with. When they do consider party in their decision, it’s often because it gives them a window into the candidates’ beliefs on issues that may not be part of the discussion in a particular election but are still very important to them.

Some ascribe the ethics problems in D.C. to a particular party. But ethics problems relate to individual candidates. Some might consider that George W. Bush being elected in 2000 caused more harm to District residents, especially those with family members in the military or National Guard, than lying on a mortgage application for which one D.C. Council member was appropriately indicted and convicted.

Positions, history and vision are important when considering who to vote for but don’t be coerced or bullied into not considering party affiliation when voting. It is one factor of so many in choosing a candidate. We have a Democratic president and likely will still have a Democratic Senate in 2015.

During the term of the next mayor we will very possibly elect the first woman president, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. So one additional factor voters might want to consider in choosing a mayor is who will have more access to power to benefit the people of the District. Would it be a former Republican who walked away from his party to become an independent, or a woman who is a proud fifth generation, D.C. Democrat? Just more food for thought.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. I'm Just Sayin'

    May 28, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I have no worries that David Catania, who will share the world spotlight as the first gay mayor of our nation’s capital with the first woman to be President of the United States, will have no problem getting an audience or having the ear of Hillary. Are you really suggesting that Hillary is so petty or childish that she would ostracize an elected leader over past political decisions that he has repudiated? If so, Bill must still be in the doghouse for signing DOMA and DADT. Come on Peter admit that even you, the good little gay Democrat, didn’t feel like the “D” stood for dupe when Democrats joined Republicans in overwhelming numbers to put those bills on the President’s desk. Do you remember the bone that Clinton threw out to LGBT voters after he relegated us to second class citizen status? He urged the next Congress to expeditiously pass ENDA. If anything you are a patient and forgiving man Peter Rosenstein. I on the other hand am not. I wonder which one of us is more responsible for the shift in the Democratic Party’s support for gay rights? The vote they can always count on no matter what they do, or the one they need to earn to win?

  2. DC Native

    May 29, 2014 at 12:53 am

    And he only walked away because of Gay Marriage He’s now a Republican in the closet! otherwise known as an Independent

  3. Peter Rosenstein

    May 29, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I’m Just Sayin’ – maybe it’s time you came ‘out’ of the closet-if you want to have an intelligent discussion on the issues.

  4. I'm Just Sayin'

    May 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    When the Blade offers me a paid column same as you Peter, I’ll be happy to self-identify. Until then I am content to poke holes in a simplistic, one dimensional rationale for how we should choose the next Mayor. As for that intelligent discussion you offer, a mind has to be open to be changed and yours is clearly set on voting party. I actually understand why you cling to that little nugget considering it was you who offered this damning condemnation of Vincent Gray’s democratic primary opponents: “None of the mayor’s challengers has the administrative background to indicate they could administer the city government. At most they have run small office staffs and in one case run a small chain of restaurants, which is very different from administering a city with a budget of more than $10 billion.”

  5. G. Lee Aikin

    May 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Dear Mr. Rosenstein: I note with interest that while you suggest that Independent is not an indication of meaningful positions, you fail to list two DC parties that do have meaningful positions–The DC Statehood Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Ten years ago I discovered that my DC taxes were then more than my Federal taxes when in earlier years they were only about half. Exploration of earlier tax returns revealed that in 1973-4 when we got Home Rule, our Deductions and Exemptions were parallel to the federal rates. I saw that while the federal rates went up according to inflation in DC they went up according to the whim and decisions of our almost all Democrat Council and Mayor. By 1991 the D&Es were only half of the federal D&E rates. Then no increases up to November 2004. Since Democrats had totally ignored this fact, and since I knew David Catania I phoned him and had a lengthy discussion about this issue. He agreed it was unfair and introduced legislation to “couple” our D&Es with the federal rates. The spring of 2005 I was caring for my late husband in his final death spiral from Alzheimers, so was not able to follow this issue closely. I am told the measure did not make it out of committee then, but in 2006 and in 2008 there were small increases, but NONE since.

    Even with these increases, a couple under 65 on 2013 taxes could only deduct $7,450 in D&Es, whereas on the IRS 1040 they could deduct $20,000. With so many in the LGBT community contemplating and getting married, think about that the next time you vote. As for those with children or contemplating raising them, consider this. In DC a couple with 2 children can only deduct $10,800, whereas on the 1040 they could deduct $27,800. And all this thanks to years of Democrat rule on the Council. Now the Tax Revision Commission has recommended that the DC Deductions and Exemptions should be the same as the federal D&Es. However, the Council and Mayor still must approve and vote for this. If approved, next year and each year thereafter, we would all retain a total of $85 million of our tax money. Thanks to 40 years of Democrat neglect we have all lost over $1 billion of our tax money.

    Thus after recovering from the loss of my husband, and feeling I had the will and energy to reengage in politics, I chose to become an activist member of the DC Statehood Green Party. I had also been bringing up the D&E issue every time I testified on anything remotely related to taxes and budgets, plus twice before the Tax Revision Commission. For more information on this issue as well as other issues especially supported by our Party see my blog: http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/

  6. Lane Hudson

    May 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Peter, Catania’s quote about having been in one bad marriage and not about to jump into another is a joke about the Republican Party having been a bad marriage for him. As you well know, the seat he holds on the Council cannot be held by a Democrat, so any question of why he is still an independent is easily answered.

    As for the principles he stands for, people like you who have supported him in the past know very well what his principles are. He has a long record and those not familiar with it can see it here: http://www.davidcatania.com/record . That record and the issues he addresses contain nearly 16,000 words. Anyone who is doesn’t know what his principles are isn’t looking very hard.

    As a comparison, Muriel’s webpages on both her record and her issues, including three “position papers” total just over 3,200 words. I find this to be an interesting comparison because it plays into a larger narrative that Muriel is light on the issues and doesn’t have much depth.

    Also, as for the insinuation that, because David doesn’t have a “D” by his name, he may not share Democratic principles. I challenge you to find one single piece of legislation that he has introduced that Muriel hasn’t voted for. Just one.

    This race should be, and is increasingly becoming, about who is the most qualified candidate to lead the city. When that is the criteria, the answer is very easy.

    • Peter D. Rosenstein

      June 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Lane- I agree that this race is about who is most qualified to lead the City. We just happen to disagree on who that is.

  7. Brians Ions

    May 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    I’m Just Sayin’ – maybe it’s time you came ‘out’ of the closet-if you want to have an intelligent discussion on the issues. – Peter
    ————————————————-

    Peter, a personal, ad hominem attack against a Blade reader and regular, civil commentator here is wholly unwarranted.
     
    I’m wondering… is this the kind of political contempt and arrogance we can expect from a Bowser Administration? That’s a lot like the dismissive, personal contempt for critics Bowser’s mentor, Adrian Fenty, exhibited as mayor. In some measure, that’s likely why Democrats stayed home in droves for the primary.
     
    Like Fenty, like Bowser? Probably. Why on earth should good Democrats vote for such arrogance again?

  8. DC Native

    May 29, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Peter, You’re seriously wasting your time. LET THEM VOTE FOR CATANIA it’s their right to do so. They know they’re already excluded from delegate action in 2016 so let them vote for whom they choose. If David wins he wins. I hope not. But then don’t go smiling at Muriel talking about she ran a good campaign and then all of us Democrats will love one another again! That’s not going to work.

    Gays like Catania for the issues that concerns them and Bowser supporters likewise. Again as I always say watch the exit polls after the election. I’m still undecided, And Democrats stayed home because of the stunt pulled by Machem on Gray in which THERE IS NO INDICTMENT YET! We’re still waiting on bended knee for him to be arrested which we all know HE WON’T BE. It was a good stunt to give Catania the boost he needed to run.

    Again watch the exit polls!

  9. Bruce P. Majors

    May 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Whether it's cool or not, it's certainly the case that nationwide the Democrats and Republicans are losing voters to independents and other parties. I don't believe most Democrats even understand what various independents want. They simply make extremely uninformed and unimaginative comments about how anybody not following them in their support of Reid, Rangel, Grayson, Schumer, Pelosi, Obama and other such worthies must be Republicans. It's funny that they've dropped that and are now touting Clinton. Wasn't she the front runner at this point in the last election cycle, just before she claimed she had bravely walked through Bosnian sniper fire? Democrats are basically dependent on 40% of the voters not voting – the number who didn't vote last time, bored or opposed to the two choices allowed on the ballots and in the media, greater than the 30% who voted for Obama or the 29% who voted for Romney.

  10. Cara Lea Shockley

    May 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I have always been an independent and never registered with either party because I find both of them to make assumptions about my background, my beliefs, and my social goals. I review every candidate thoroughly and I make my choice based on my goals and the office for which the candidate is running which led one year in Massachusetts to voting Republican for Governor, Green for a local position, and Libertarian for State Treasurer.

  11. Kyle Jones-Northam

    May 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I'm a Democrat, and have consistently voted Democrat, but Bowser has not impressed me as a qualified candidate. Despite his Republican past, I'm seriously considering voting for Catania. I don't think the Democratic establishment in DC should consider the LGBT vote a freebie.

  12. Adrian Salsgiver

    May 31, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Why would anybody consider Hillary? She is a wicked witch with blood on her hands. She is a warmongering fascist even worse than John McCain or Lindsey Graham. In the good old days gay people were into Gay Liberation, the Liberation of Humanity, and peace and prosperity for all. Not the warmongering fascism we have today in the Democrat Fascist Warmongering Party, not to mention the Republican Fascist Warmongering Party. But I guess somebody has to guard the opium poppies and brutally murder innocent children around the world in the name of protecting our freedom. But don't blame me, I voted for Peace and Prosperity instead of War and Poverty. I voted for Ron Paul.

  13. Surely U Jest

    June 5, 2014 at 7:51 am

    After reading about the courageous act of Wilson High’s principal coming out in front of the entire student body during their Pride celebration, I think the very least that DC’s LGBT voters can do is open their own minds, set party affiliation aside and OBJECTIVELY consider the candidacy of David Catania. If you find him so lacking that the city would be doomed if he were elected mayor, or you have lived a life of perfect choices that you can’t accept a person who has made some questionable ones in their past, then so be it. However, to suggest that we have come so far in terms of equality that it no longer matters that we put a gay man in the highest office of city government in our nation’s capital is utter nonsense. Or as they say at Wilson High….bogus.

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Opinions

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal serves as a guide for enacting equality legislation

Equality Act supporters should take cues from Senate moderates

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Equality legislation is close to passing in Congress, but close isn’t good enough. “Close” won’t change anything for the LGBTQ Americans who face discrimination every day. Senate Democrats and Republicans must make a push to negotiate. With a reach on both sides to find common ground, we can move equality legislation from “close” to “done deal.”

Some Democrats are waiting for the filibuster to end—despite clear evidence that they lack the votes to end it. Some Republicans are practicing a tried-and-true brand of obstructionism. To break this deadlock, we should look to the successful, bipartisan repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) as a guide.

The DADT repeal is the single reference point for LGBTQ advocates for overcoming the Senate filibuster. Other victories have been in the courts; notably, the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision that made gay marriage legal nationwide.

Before Obergefell, advocates had success in the state legislatures. I worked on campaigns for the freedom to marry in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and elsewhere, finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans who thought it was impossible to negotiate on marriage. Eventually, enough people from both parties came together to pass marriage laws in a majority of states.

Working together at the state level is one thing. Congress is another.

Despite Democrats’ control of the White House, Senate and House, negotiations are failing at the federal level. So, we lets look to ancient history—the 2010 repeal of DADT—for guidance on reaching 60 votes in the Senate.

The most important lesson from the DADT repeal is that Senate moderates must champion the cause and lead negotiations. The more partisan figures on both sides need to step back. Overcoming the filibuster is a job for moderates, not ideologues.

As it happens, the hero of the DADT repeal is still a senator and can help. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine led the negotiations on DADT repeal.

Senator Collins supports the Equality Act in principle and even sponsored a version of the bill in past. However, the current version is too extreme for Sen. Collins, as a result, she has withdrawn as a co-sponsor. The current bill has also foundered with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another important figure in the repeal of DADT.

The fact that moderate, pro-LGBTQ senators are unable to back the current version of the Equality Act should send a clear message to Democrats that we need to make reasonable changes to the bill. So far, the message is being ignored.

On the Democratic side, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman was essential to the repeal of DADT. There certainly were passionate, liberal Democrats who could have asserted themselves during the debate. But then, the bill would have taken longer to pass, or even might have failed.

The lesson is clear. Listen to the moderates. Let them lead this charge.

Another important lesson from the repeal of DADT is to be flexible in the legislative strategy. DADT repeal was originally an amendment to a large defense authorization bill. Rather than give up, Collins and Lieberman fought and saved DADT repeal from defeat by pulling out key provisions they knew could pass on their own and making them a standalone measure. Repeal passed with bipartisan support.

The current version of the Equality Act tries to do too much. That’s why it can’t win support from moderate Republicans who have legitimate concerns the bill might suppress free speech or shut down religious charities.  

Over 60 senators can agree on the basic premise of the Equality Act. They would gladly vote to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, and public accommodations, so long as the law didn’t intrude on the First Amendment.

If the far left believes that our country has too much religious liberty, they can deal with that in future legislation. But so long as we have a filibuster—and, there’s no indication it will end any time soon—the Equality Act needs to reflect our society’s current views on religious liberty.  

The DADT repeal passed with 65 votes in the Senate, overcoming the filibuster. Let’s replicate that victory by using the same playbook. Moderates: Take the lead.

Tyler Deaton is the senior advisor to the American Unity Fund, a conservative nonprofit organization working to advance LGBTQ freedom and religious freedom

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Commentary

LGBTQ people are being hunted down in Afghanistan

Homosexuality punishable by death under Taliban Sharia law interpretation

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

Kabul was known as one of the few “liberal” cities in Afghanistan. The word liberal is in quotation marks, and inflected, because it is liberal compared to the rest of the country. Now that the Taliban has taken over, most people who expressed themselves differently and openly are forced to adhere to Sharia law, completely change their ways, hide their identity, or be killed.

The U.S. State Department reported in 2020 that even before the Taliban took power in August, LGBTQ people in Afghanistan faced “discrimination, assault and rape” and “homosexuality was widely seen as taboo and indecent.” Laws against lesbian, gay and transgender people made their existence illegal and punishable by up to two years in jail. Those laws were not always enforced, but they did leave LGBTQ people at risk of extortion and abuse by authorities, as reported by the U.K. government.

Even with the discrimination and abuse, LGBTQ people still had a sliver of space in society. Nemat Sadat, an LGBTQ Afghan author living in the United States said that gay, lesbian and transgender people helped the country’s cultural life develop since the Taliban’s last rule 20 years ago. But, most of these people built their lives quietly.

Now with the Taliban regime, their sliver of space in society is gone, there is no room to live quietly as an openly LGBTQ person. Under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, homosexuality is punished by death.

In an interview with Reuters, Waheedullah Hashimi, a top decision maker for the Taliban said, “there will be no democratic system at all because it does not have a base in our country,” and continued to say, “what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”

One source spoke to a 20-year-old university student who is lesbian in Afghanistan. Her family accepted her as a lesbian, but now the new Taliban leadership has put the lives of all of her family at risk. There is a new surge of violence against any lesbian, gay and transgender people. This includes anyone speculated of being lesbian, gay, or trans, and those who support them.

This young lesbian woman has gone into hiding. She is part of hundreds of LGBTQ people in Afghanistan who are pleading with advocates and organizations outside Afghanistan for help to escape the Taliban tyranny.

Nemat Sadat shares stories of lesbian, gay and trans people in hiding. He shared a story of a gay man who watched from his hiding place in the ceiling as Taliban fighters beat the friend who refused to disclose his location.  

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan fear the risk of being arrested, beaten and killed. The Taliban made it clear that it is enforcing its strict religious laws against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ citizens. In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, one Taliban judge said there were only two punishments for homosexuality: “stoning or being crushed under a wall.”

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan are reporting that their friends, partners and members of their community are being attacked and raped. They also stated that Islamic fundamentalists and riotous groups are encouraged by the new tyranny and are on the hunt for LGBTQ people.

Another source shared that a gay man was targeted for his sexuality and then raped by his male attackers. That is a terrible paradox. He was raped by his male attackers, who criminalizing him for having same sex relations.

LGBTQ people are in hiding, desperately trying to get out of the country, and trying to erase any proof of their queer identity.

They feel abandoned by the international LGBTQ community. The Taliban is proving that the Western nations have normalized relations to their government. The Taliban and their supporters see this a proof of their victory. This leaves LGBTQ people defeated and fearing torture and death.

The U.S. government and other Western countries evacuated many people out of Afghanistan, including journalists, women’s rights activists and those who worked with foreigners. But, LGBTQ activists said that nothing has been done for them. A source says about her situation, “we will definitely be killed. We are asking to be evacuated immediately from Afghanistan.” To date, no safe route has been found.

Even underground measures to help LGBTQ people are challenging and near impossible. The Rainbow Railroad is a non-governmental organization helping LGBTQ people around the world escape persecution. Executive Director Kimahli Powell said evacuating LGBTQ people from Afghanistan is especially hard as they are often alone, in hiding, and unable to contact each other. If routes to get them out is nearly impossible, that still means those routes are somewhat possible. As difficult as it may be, we must find pathways to save these people and get them out.

The Taliban regime has established itself, knowing with certainty that the world will stand aside, albeit condemning and protesting, but not intervening. This is empowering jihadists across the world, especially in the Middle East. The Taliban has many allies and admirers, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. 

The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, travelled from Palestinian territories to meet with Taliban leaders in Qatar. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a history of ties to the Taliban, even with radicals joining each other’s organizations. Very public statements of congratulations were made between leaders of the Taliban, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and all with full Iranian support.

The increase in brazen forcefulness of these groups reaches beyond Afghanistan, and spreads to the lands dominated by other similar groups. This causes an escalation of the threats to anyone who opposes Sharia law or who lives differently than what Sharia law allows. LGBTQ people in these lands are in peril. 

If we do not help LGBTQ people in Afghanistan, the lives of LGBTQ people under other similar tyrannies face increased uncertainty and danger.

Since posting this video, I have been receiving direct messages from LGBTQ people in hiding in Afghanistan, and those who are seeking to be evacuated. They all share harrowing experiences of being attacked, raped, and threatened by Taliban, Islamic State and bullying groups.

Yuval David is an innovative actor, host and filmmaker with a creative mantra to entertain, uplift and inspire. He is a captivating performer and compelling storyteller who uses his platform for sharing narratives that affect social change, specifically on behalf of highly respected U.S. and international organizations that raise awareness for the marginalized and under-represented, inspired by his LGBTQ+ and Jewish identity, and his Israeli-American roots.

He can be reached through social media

YouTube.com/YuvalDavid

Instagram.com/Yuval_David_

Facebook.com/YuvalDavid

Twitter.com/YuvalDavid

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Proposed zoning code changes will harm Rehoboth

Public hearing to take place on Oct. 15

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Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

As a former city commissioner for nine of the past 15 years, I have seen a lot of changes in the laws and decisions governing the city of Rehoboth Beach. Like most things in life, some have been good and some have been not so good. The ones that have been good for the city plan for the future. The ones that have been bad for the city try to hold on to the past. The city of Rehoboth Beach has been a magnet for tourists for a long time and that has not changed, nor can it be changed. Trying to stifle our business community will not decrease the numbers that come to our city but will only frustrate our residents and visitors by putting into place ordinances that will promote the construction of buildings that lack functional architectural creativity. Worse, discouraging business innovation will drive businesses to Route 1, resulting in vacant storefronts along our commercial streets that will ultimately increase costs to residents in terms of higher taxes, provision of basic services, and increased utility fees. 

On Oct. 15, a public hearing will be held regarding patchwork changes to the zoning code. The proposed changes have been put forth as “clarifications”. They are NOT clarifications but changes that will change the downtown commercial districts for generations to come. And not in a good way. 

This may seem like an over-reaction but truly it is not. Not to over-simplify, but the basic zoning code that applies to commercial buildings allows for construction of a building from lot line to lot line with a maximum height of 42 feet. The proposed changes/clarifications would count interior courtyards and elevator shafts. These changes do not change the bulk of a building but could very well disincentivize desired architectural enhancements, such as balconies and courtyards. In this day and age of COVID, open space should be promoted not penalized. Why would we stifle architects with ideas for buildings that embrace creative use of a parcel of land? The effect of the proposed changes on the new hotel projects that are currently being designed warrants involvement by everyone who wants to make sure that Rehoboth Avenue does not end up showcasing buildings with zero architectural interest. 

It is important to remember that the one square mile of the city of Rehoboth Beach is not a suburban community, nor is it a retirement community. It is a city that hosts tens of thousands of visitors eight to nine months a year with a vibrant restaurant scene, beach and boardwalk, farmers market, recreational dock, and hopefully one day a performing arts center. What can you do? Send an email by Oct. 15 to [email protected], asking the mayor and city commissioners to pause making these patchwork changes to the city code, changes that will have negative unintended consequences for years to come. Ask them to do what was programmed in the budget over a year ago—to hire a zoning expert to look holistically at the city ordinances and make practical, coordinated changes that incentivize development that sustains the aesthetics and prosperity of our town. 

Pat Coluzzi is a former city commissioner for the city of Rehoboth Beach.

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