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A Relentless D.C. Zoning Activist

Chris Otten says change doesn't come from "being nice to decision makers," so he's comfortable being confrontational with developers and City Council members he sees as taking advantage of the poor.
May 30, 2017, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Andrei Medvedev

Chris Otten calls himself a "civic agent," Washington, D.C. developers have called him an extortionist. If he's an extortionist, he's not a rich one: "A law school dropout who subsists on food stamps and an $800 monthly stipend from Ralph Nader, Otten, 42, touts himself as a "citizen agent" who uses his knowledge of the municipal code to oppose development projects; one builder agreed to pay $2 million to halt his resistance," Paul Schwartzman writes for The Washington Post.

That $2 million didn't go right into Otten's pocket but rather to a non-profit neighborhood organization dedicated to affordable housing and small businesses. But developers complain that Otten's consistent zoning complaints keep market rate and affordable housing from being built.

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Published on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 in The Washington Post
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