Viewpoint: No more than 40 percent lot occupancy for Sunrise

(rendering courtesy of Sunrise Senior Living)

In the Feb. 7 issue of The Current, Phil Kroskin, the Sunrise vice president, said he is working to get the 100-plus resident project “below 60 percent” lot occupancy.

He has the wrong goal.

The Sunrise/Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church (WABC) development can occupy only 40 percent of the lot to comply with zoning in a residential neighborhood. WABC is not on any avenue. When Kroskin says he is trying to get his current 63 percent to 60 percent lot occupancy, he is pretending Sunrise, an international corporation, is a local Baptist church. The building would be 87 percent inhabited by Sunrise. Zoning that applies to Sunrise, a commercial enterprise, is maximum 40 percent lot occupancy, not 60 percent. 

It does not change the zoning just because he started at 69 percent lot occupancy (29 percent over) and is now at 63 percent. He wants points if he exceeds lot occupancy by 20 percent of the lot. The rule remains 40 percent lot occupancy for businesses. No points are given until he complies. Period.

WABC pastor Lynn Bergfalk is not supporting societal goals alone. Neighbors have worked as school teachers, a U.S. ambassador to an African country, and for human rights organizations, charities, cities, the United Nations and progressive members of Congress.

The Current article featured City Gate, a Bergfalk affiliate, using 3920 Alton Place as a mail drop. We know little of City Gate. It is located elsewhere. Public records show City Gate had to repay D.C. $76,000 for non-performance (Youth Engaged for Success, Inc. and City Gate Inc. v. D.C. Office of State Superintendent of Education, Case No. 2011- OSSE-00003, Office of Administrative Hearings, March 6, 2012). The church manager was convicted of stealing over $150,000 from the church (US Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice Statement, July 14, 2016). Unfortunate incidents, but neighbors cannot be asked to make up for Bergfalk’s management failures.

If Bergfalk wants to raise funds for City Gate, why not sell the property? This is more in keeping with his portrayal of himself as pursuing social good than spending money building a 250-seat church for his 30-member congregation.

Sunrise says they are creating a “home” – where they evict you if you run out of money, actually need health care or display “behavioral problems.”  Kroskin says our neighborhood is “a desert of assisted living.” Wrong. We have Lisner, Friendship Terrace, Ingleside, Forest Hills Home and others. Unlike Sunrise, several have programs to help people in need. And they are surrounded by green space buffering nearby homes because they left large portions of their lots unoccupied. 

Check out for more.

Tom McDonald, Genet Haile, Juliet Six, Patrice Allen-Gifford, Jeanine Hull, Jose Miguel Vivanco, Lisa Bhansali, Dan Wilson, Hugh Morris, Tania Lee and  Mary Alice Levine.