David Gregory deserved the heat he took for
his recent parking outburst at the DC Design
is a subject that has no doubt been debated at cocktail parties
all over Washington.
Who could resist the dish? He’s a media celebrity, he lives in a
and parking is always a hot topic in DC—so many cars, so few
spaces, and so many eager
parking enforcement agents on the prowl. The ill will between
the community and the
Design House is tense, and not necessarily because of Gregory.
He only kicked over
the hornet’s nest. It’s got enough invective, though, to be
worthy of a segment on
his NBC show,
Meet the Press.
The whole contretemps came back to us this week when a neighbor got in touch to complain
that “there are still no-parking signs up all around his house,” and feared they would
be there for the whole month of May. They could be. The signs went up April 13, after
the Gregory outburst, and are scheduled to come down after 5 PM on May 12, but the
area Advisory Neighborhood Commission expects to ask for an extension. Commissioner
Kent Slowinski, whose region includes the Gregory house and the Design House, says the episode has
caused a lot of unhappiness and places the blame solely on the Design House organizers.
He calls them “unprofessional,” “confrontational,” and, in the case of one individual,
In case you missed the initial gossip, here’s the backstory. On April 10 the
Washington Post broke a story that was none too flattering to Gregory, whose home is around the corner
from 2507 Foxhall Road, the location of this year’s DC Design House, a charitable
endeavor that raises money for Children’s Hospital. According to the
Post, “The broadcaster was distressed that visitors to the show house had parked on a
nearby street, some directly in front of his home.” The story went on to colorfully
describe a “scene” he caused on the front lawn of the show house—“waving his arms
and complaining”—that was witnessed by guests at an opening party for members of the
Gregory said he would take his complaints to his local Advisory Neighborhood Commission,
and he did. A few days later the DC Department of Transportation, (DDOT) posted “emergency
no parking” signs along one side of Dexter Street and some adjacent streets, including
in front of Gregory’s home. The Dexter Streets signs say “No parking this side only.”
At the bottom, Slowinski’s name is listed as the contact. He says the signs were supposed
to have gone up even before Gregory’s public outburst.
“Show house organizers were supposed to provide a parking and management plan, which
they never did,” he said in a phone conversation with us on Wednesday. “Because the
show house didn’t do what they were supposed to do, it fell to ANC.” He says Gregory
was not the catalyst, but “David went and talked to them and they didn’t do anything.
I went and talked to them; they didn’t do anything. David sent me an e-mail, and I’ve
talked with him, and we had the same problem: We couldn’t get down Dexter Street.
It was a public safety issue.”
Relations with the show house went from bad to worse for Slowinski when, he says,
the Design House’s founder,
Skip Singleton, inadvertently included him on a group e-mail to show house organizers. “He made
homophobic remarks about me. Those kinds of remarks are not proper,” Slowinski says.
Is Slowinski actually gay? “No. I’m married,” he says. “I showed the e-mail to my
wife—she’s a psychotherapist—because I didn’t understand what he meant by some of
the stuff. I tried contacting the CEO at Children’s, letting him know that the DC
Design House founder is circulating e-mails like this and that it reflects poorly
on the Children’s National Medical Center. He wouldn’t return my message.” We asked
whether he had also reached out to Singleton. “I asked for an explanation. He sent
back a short e-mail offering his apologies. It was probably written by a lawyer.”
We reached out to Singleton via e-mail and also left phone messages at his office
and on his cell.
When we visited the scene on Tuesday morning, we had a friendly conversation with
Dorothy Woodcock (not the neighbor who initially got in touch with us), who lives between Gregory
and the Design House and near the French ambassador
François Delattre and his wife, who do a fair
amount of entertaining. The Delattres relocated to the
Foxhall rental while the official French residence is under
Woodcock admits that between the arrival of the French and the show house there
has been a lot of action in the neighborhood, but nothing that
can’t be survived.
She feels the French are doing a good job handling the parking
for their events. As
for the Design House—“I don’t want to be negative about any of
this,” she says, but
added there has been “a lot of confusion” about where show
house visitors could park.
She says after the official no parking signs went up, “security
guards at the Design
House told people to ignore the signs, that they could still
park on Dexter Street.”
Those who did got tickets. Woodcock doesn’t feel Gregory should
be blamed for being
upset. She says the heavy amount of parking traffic can get
frustrating for neighbors.
“Kent Slowinski took care of all of it.”
The Design House closes on May 12, which is the current end date for the parking restrictions.
“But with breakdown, when they move all the furniture out, we will have all the same
problems we had before the show house opening,” says Slowinski. “We’re going to be
proposing they restrict all pickup to non-rush hour and that we keep the emergency
no parking signs up until all the show house activities are finished.” He said that
could mean until the end of the month.
Slowinski also says the Design House promised to give the neighbors complimentary
tickets. When he went door to door to hand out a flyer outlining the parking restrictions,
“I asked everyone if they received their complimentary tickets, and no one had. I
did receive two complimentary tickets the day after I went door to door.” Woodcock
noted amiably, but with a shrug, that she’s still waiting for hers.
Update: After posting this story we received this message from Sherry Moeller, the spokesperson for the DC Design House: “Kent and David Gregory, as I’m sure you read, have been the only Foxhall neighbors to my knowledge who have had an issue with the Design House parking on the neighborhood streets—which offer public parking with no restrictions.”