City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said yesterday that the D.C. government has launched an effort to significantly redevelop major thoroughfares as a way to jump-start neglected areas.
The comprehensive plans, which are still being developed, include improving streetlights, landscaping and retail development for such major corridors as Georgia Avenue, H Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, Bobb said.
"You go on Georgia Avenue and it's embarrassing because you try to go to the police precinct and you can't find it because it's so dark," Bobb told a panel of D.C. Council members at a hearing to review his first year in office. "It's the same with Pennsylvania Avenue. If it is a premier avenue in this [Northwest] part of town, why is it not when you cross the Sousa Bridge" to the east?
Council members applauded the idea of more comprehensive redevelopment on major roads in some of the city's struggling neighborhoods.
"It is good that the mayor and Robert Bobb are showing their overall vision," council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) said.
This was one of several major initiatives Bobb said he was focusing on as he moves into his second year in office. He held a similar post in Oakland, Calif., before taking the District job.
Council members gave him high marks for his work thus far.
"If we had more people putting forth your resolve and focus, we'd solve some of these problems we have," Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) told Bobb.
Bobb acknowledged that he has only begun the arduous task of reviewing a number of major agencies, including the Department of Health, which has a new director, and the Office of Contracting and Procurement, whose top official recently resigned in the wake of several high-profile problems.
But Bobb said that in his review, he has found "many talented and dedicated people who are trapped" in jobs that do not tap their abilities. That's why, Bobb added, he set up an office called the Center for Innovation and Reform, which is charged with rethinking the way the city does business.
Bobb said he will soon send Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) a plan to reorganize the top layers of management, including the deputy mayors.
He also said he was pleased that the city's police department has a full complement of 3,800 officers on staff, which has not always been the case, and he is working with Chief Charles H. Ramsey and others on ways to improve neighborhood patrols.
"I think there is good leadership at the top and the command level," Bobb said of that department. "But we need to broaden the entire concept of community policing. . . . Maybe we need to do a refresh with the entire department to discuss how we do business."
"We clearly want to see more foot and bike patrols," Orange told Bobb.
As for the redevelopment of the major corridors, Bobb said that the city has long had separate and uncoordinated plans for some of the roads but that he is dedicated to creating a comprehensive effort for each thoroughfare. More money is in the budget for the redevelopment effort, Bobb said, and the city will be meeting with community leaders, planners and businesses to follow through on the plans.