ANC6B Meets and Votes (Oct 14)

Once again, it took 3 hours to plow through the ANC6B monthly agenda.

The most heated, lengthy debate?  Ugly Mug’s (723 8th Street SE) request to almost double its capacity by building an addition to the second floor with retractable roof in the rear.  This one ended up with the ANC voting 6-0 (with 2 abstentions) to protest the “substantial change” in its ABC license.  Major points of contention: hours that the roof can remain open, total number of added capacity, and lousy trashing handling compounded by former promises not kept and general impacts on the community.

Protesting means that the ANC will have to negotiate terms under the auspices of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration and appear before the ABC Board.  This puts a delay in Ugly Mug’s ability to go forward and a lot of work for the ANC.  Hopefully, the nearby neighbors–who sent Commissioners copious emails in opposition–will provide some assistance.  And, still to be settled: whether or not the building addition will be approved since Ugly Mug is located within the Capitol Hill Historic District.

Another case took up some time: 429 12th Street SE Rear.  This one is a historic preservation/zoning review case.  I ultimately voted against one element of the zoning relief requested because I do not think that the applicant offered the appropriate argument (didn’t “meet the test of the variance”) to gain approval for adding 2 dwelling units in an alley.  My view did not prevail, however, as the ANC voted 5-3 in favor of granting the relief.  I did vote in favor of the other zoning relief requested and voted with the majority on supporting the separate historic preservation case.

Other matters.

  • The ANC voted in favor of the renewals of 3 ABC licenses (7th & L Market, Capitol Supreme Market, and Roland’s); the last case (Yes! market) needs a bit more negotiation on the Settlement Agreement so the ANC voted in favor of a protest in order to provide the time needed for that discussion with the applicant.  (ANCs only have three ways to vote on liquor licenses of all kinds.  We can vote in favor of the application, vote to take no position (virtually the same as the former), or vote to protest.)  In Yes! case, our protest vote is a technicality quite unlike the protest vote on Ugly Mug.
  • 8 Historic Preservation cases received ANC support
  • 2 Transportation Committee letters (Red light camera request for 7th & Pennsylvania Ave SE and Comments on the DC Circulator Transit Development Plan) got unanimous votes in favor.  Both draft letters are included in the Oct 8 Committee report.
  • 3 votes taken by the Executive Committee on September 30th were ratified.  Two involved our pending office move from the Hill Center to Eastern Market.  (Note: The ANC like all ANCs gets a stipend from DC but it is not sufficient to pay office rent at the Hill Center or elsewhere any more.  As a government building, rent at Eastern Market is free.  For a while, however, we will have to put up with the fact that the space is only valid as storage.  CM Wells office got us this far and is still working on getting the space approved for human occupation. In good weather, you may find us outside under the shed with our laptops.)

That about covers the major votes.  If you see something on the agenda that you want more information about, let me know.

Note: This article is a slightly edited version of the one I sent out to all subscribers of my Beat26 Newsletter.

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Kirsten Runs Again

STICKER 3inch.indd

I have had a wonderful–OK, sometimes frustrating–but productive time being the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for ANC6B04 since December 2007.  If you live within ANC6B04 (see map above), I hope you will vote for me on November 4th so that I can serve another 2-year term.

Here are some details about how I have served Capitol Hill and hope to do so in the 2015 and 2016:  Re-Elect Kirsten 2014

 

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You Can Order VPPs for 2015 Now

DDOT has opened up its system for ordering 2015 Visitor Parking Passes.  Go here and select “Pre-register for a 2015 VPP” at the bottom of the page, then follow the prompts.  If you have a problem with your address, call DDOT at 202-671-2700 and talk with a staff person.

The addresses in the system were cobbled together from several different DDOT databases and don’t seem to have been “synchronized.”  It is inevitable that some addresses people enter and the form in which they enter them will generate various types of error messages.  When I did my request, I simply entered my address as “# Street name Type SE” and my address popped right up.  Others have been told to enter just the # and Street name without any caps or punctuation.  This is the minimalist method of querying databases.  If you want to fiddle with the system, go right ahead.  But, my suggestion is to simply call the DDOT number and let the staff person figure it out for you.

The website also has a link to complete information on the VPP system.  Eligibility is explained in full there or you can go to my VPPs Change. Somewhat. article and read point #5.

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VPPs Change. Somewhat.

DDOT has proposed rules for the annual Visitor Parking Pass (VPP) system that was first introduced in 2007 in some parts of DC.  Most residents within ANC6B became eligible late last year.  On September 9, ANC6B will be voting on comments on the proposed rulemaking recommended by the 6B Transportation Committee.  See the Committee’s September report for details.

Here’s some important information about current and future VPPs:

  1. The current VPPs show an expiration date of September 30, 2014.  However, DDOT has extended this expiration date to December 31, 2014.  The agency will be mailing a postcard notice of this to all households who received FY2014 passes.
  2. In the future, VPPs will be issued by calendar year.  Thus, the next VPP will be for the year 2015.
  3. DDOT will not automatically mail out any 2015 passes. Everyone who wants one will have to “opt in” by requesting a 2015 pass either by telephone (202) 673-6813 or online.
  4. You cannot apply for this 2015 pass until the proposed rules are finalized … sometime in October.  If you apply too early you will receive an FY2014 pass (if you don’t already have one).  If you still want an FY2014 pass, order it soon.  UPDATE 9/26: DDOT will accept requests for 2015 passes starting on October 1 and plan to mail out 2015 passes in December.
  5. Ward 6 residents who live on a Resident Permit Parking (RPP) block are eligible for a VPP but only one will be issued per “housing unit” defined as “a single family home (attached, semi-detached, or detached), a residential unit in a condominium, a residential cooperative unit, a residential unit in a flat, or a residential apartment in an apartment building.”  (If the website VPP request system rejects your address, call the number above or the one on the home page of the website and a staff person can probably approve it as long as it’s a valid address.)

Other Permits  The proposed rulemaking includes a section on on Temporary Home Heath Care Provider Parking Permits and Temporary Visitor Parking Permits.  Both of these permits exist now and there are no changes in them; DDOT has included them in the proposed rulemaking so that all similar parking pass systems are in one place in Chapter 24 of Title 18 of DCMR.  The Health Care permit is obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  The Temporary Visitor permit is, as most know, obtained from MPD and is valid for up to 15 days.

Enforcement et cetera  At a meeting with DDOT on the VPP proposed rulemaking, I was told that Parking Enforcement officials (Department of Public Works) will soon carry devices enabling them to scan the ID# on a VPP to determine if it is valid.  Currently, DDOT sends information about reported and voided stolen or lost VPPs to DPW but it is not clear that parking enforcement officers use the information in any way.  I was also told that 2015 VPPs will be mailed to the name of the person applying rather than “current resident.”  That person will, then, become responsible for assuring that their VPP is not used fraudulently.

NOTE:  This posting is an edited version of a Beat26 Newsletter I sent out to subscribers on 9/8/2014.  See Contact Me above If you wish to be on that email list

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11th Street Westbound On Ramp Reopens

Late Friday, August 22nd, DDOT reopened the 11th Street SE westbound on ramp to I-695.  This access point was closed about 2 months ago to enable the 11th Street Bridge project to realign the roadway up and over the future exit ramp onto I Street SE at 9th Street.  Vehicles traveling north or south on 11th Street can access the ramp at a signalized intersection.

11th Street Ramp to I-695WB_I-395

View looking west of realigned 11th Street Ramp to Westbound I-695

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Planned Condo Building for 11th & I Streets SE

UPDATE of 10/29/2014: The HPRB requested several changes to the design of this building at its meeting on 9/18.  The changes will now be reviewed by the Board in November.  Accordingly, the ANC will also review the changes at its Planning & Zoning Committee meeting on Wed 5 Nov and will vote on the changes at its monthly meeting on Wed 12 Nov (see meeting details on the Events & Meetings page).

Below is the revised front elevation.  According to the architect, the changes from earlier versions (see further below) include the base material, a simplified front entrance, and removal of the 11th and I Street separate entrances.  All units will now be accessed through the main entrance.

11th Street Facade as of October 2014

11th Street Elevation as of October 2014

UPDATE of 9/26/2014:  Both the ANC and the Historic Preservation Review Board have approved this condo project for 900 11th Street SE.  But, at the Board hearing on 9/18, Members asked for several changes in design from what the ANC and others saw on 9/2.  Below is a view of the 11th Street side of the building with these changes.  They include the elimination of “stoops” for duplexes along 11th and I Streets and a reduction in height of the main entrance feature.  Scroll down to compare with previous designs.

Elevation 1 - scheme  - small7-1

11th Street Facade, as of 9/26

ANC6B’s Planning & Zoning Committee–at its 9/2/2014 meeting–recommended that the ANC support the historical preservation application for a new condo building at 900 11th Street SE.  The ANC will vote on the application at its monthly meeting on 9/9/2014.

Below are some of the designs (a perspective and north and west elevations) presented to the Committee.  ANC6B had reviewed a different design at its Planning & Zoning meeting in July 2014 but final review/vote was delayed until September 2014.  These current plans will be considered by the Historic Preservation Review Board during its September meeting.

The developer is Madison Investments and the architect is Jeff Goins of PGN Architects on Capitol Hill.  Madison plans to include 49 units in the building; five units along 11th Street and one on I Street will be duplexes with street entrances.  There will be parking on site for 30 vehicles (23 spaces underground) and 49 bikes with access to the garage via an existing rear alley.  This will result in the closure of 3 existing curb cuts increasing the availability of on street parking spaces.  Ten percent of the building’s units will be affordable.

11th Street Condo Perspective Sep 2014

Perspective View of West Elevation along 11th Street SE

Condo 11th & I SE 11th St Elevation Sept 2014

11th Street Facade (West Elevation) for Conceptual Review September 2014

Below for comparison is the July 2014 design for the West Elevation.

Condo 11th St July 2014 design

July 2014 Design of West Elevation

Condo 11th & I SE I St Elevation Sep2014

I Street SE Facade (North Elevation) for Conceptual Review September 2014

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A New Vision for the SE Boulevard

Amazing for August, about 50 people packed a room at the Hill Center on Monday August 4th to learn about and provide feedback on new concepts for a SE Boulevard.  These new ideas have emerged from a DC Office of Planning (OP) neighborhood study in which ANC6B and the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) are participating.

The study came about after DDOT presented 4 options for the Boulevard at a meeting in November 2013.  ANC6B pushed back on these options with a 9-page letter to DDOT, asking that a neighborhood study precede decisions on what kind/size of road to build.  With Councilmember Wells help, this request became a reality when OP agreed to conduct a “rapid response” neighborhood study.  The study began in April.

The August 4 presentation:  2014-08-04 ANC mtg OP Presentation

Large versions of 7 concept drawings: 2014-08-04 ANC mtg-Concept Alternatives

The concepts include 2- or 4-lane roads and have varying mixes of new housing/retail and parkland.  All provide ways to connect with the Anacostia waterfront. Although Barney Circle is not an explicit component of the OP study, the concepts link to it.  It is an obvious open space that needs to be designed with safe access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Many of the attendees at the August 4 meeting were residents who live close to the site.  They are understandably concerned about the impact on their existing neighborhood and generally don’t prefer it to change.  But, analysis has to include the needs of the broader Capitol Hill community and consideration of regional traffic flows and how to keep it off residential streets.  Compromise is inevitable.

Subsequent to the meeting, OP will be working with its consultant from SmithGroup to create 3 “finalist” concepts based on the input from all of us.  ANC6B plans to hold a second Community Meeting–most likely led by CM Wells–in September to discuss these options.  ANC6B expects DDOT to restart the NEPA Barney Circle & SE Boulevard Transportation Planning Study –that has been on hiatus during the OP study–in early 2015.

A new wrinkle discussed at the Monday meeting was that DDOT plans to reopen the old lanes of the SE/SW Freeway between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle by the end of this year.  These lanes were closed about 18 months ago to enable the 11th Street Bridge project to use the space for staging and storage as that project built ramps and overpasses on the Capitol Hill side of the bridge.  This reopening has major implications for the DDOT NEPA study.  First, this freeway segment becomes the No Build option in the study.  Second, in my view, it will take the pressure off city officials to get the NEPA study completed in a timely manner, hopefully, incorporating some of the fresh ideas generated by the OP study.

Update:  See also Commissioner Flahaven’s post on the meeting

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ANC6B Nixes $250K Fund

At its Special Call meeting on July 10th, ANC6B voted 6-0 to send a letter to DDOT and FHWA in response to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final EIS.  I was there.  I should have voted in opposition.  In the light of day I regret not doing so.

Most of the letter is fine–continuing the same themes of 4 previous VAT letters–but at this meeting, I had voted in opposition to two amendments: the VAT Mitigation Fund and the Hazardous Materials clause.  For very different reasons.

The haz mat clause was crafted on the fly and sub amended several times.  By the end, I was not sure what the final clause said.  I voted against it.  I also felt that the clause–whatever it said–was sending a message to the entire DC Government and that our FEIS letter was the wrong place for it.  A better place would have been as a follow up to the ANC’s March letter to Mayor Gray.

On the $250K: The FEIS provided this money to ANC6B (and another $250K to ANC6D) to use as mitigation payments to residents and businesses who end up “inconvenienced” during tunnel construction.  Granted this offer is problematic.  First ANCs can’t accept more than $1,000 per year from any one source.  Second, imagine trying to define “inconvenience”.  So, it is clear that the ANC couldn’t be the receptor but that is not to say that ANC6B could not designate that these funds go to a 3rd party.

I tried to soften the strident language of Commissioner Peich’s amendment on the funds.  All I wanted was more time.  The Commission in voting as it did denied me the opportunity to research options and to get feedback on the fund concept from my constituents who live and work near Virginia Avenue Park, right in the heart of the tunnel construction.  I just needed more time.  There was no reason for the ANC to reject these funds at this time.  They wouldn’t have been paid out by CSX until “major construction activity” begins.

Any body want to guess how far away that is?  Given that those who are opposed to this project in any form will probably sue once the Record of Decision is issued, major construction could be a year or more away.  And, when it does happen, my ANC6B04 constituents won’t be able to apply to a migration fund for some relief.  These are the same people, by the way, who have been directly inconvenienced by the building of the 11th Street Bridge in the last five years.

NOTE: Two of my colleagues reject my interpretation of the impact of the fund language in the ANC letter.

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Report: ANC6B July 2014 Meeting

It took 10 Commissioners almost 3 and a half hours on Tuesday night to get through a very extensive agenda.  First we had to sort through all the historic preservation (HP) and zoning cases on the consent agenda.  Many of the HP cases that the Planning & Zoning Committee had plowed through a week earlier it turned out would not be heard by the Historic Preservation Review Board until September.  Since plans we viewed in July could be changed by September, about half the HP cases were deferred to September.  (That included the condo project for 900 11th Street SE.)

All of the HP and zoning cases that remained on the Agenda were approved.  The most hotly debated was the zoning case for &pizza to locate at 405 8th Street SE.  After several motions and lots of discussion, it was approved by a vote of 6-4.  I voted in opposition because–bottom line–I do not think any management scheme attached to a BZA order will change the negative impact of another fast food operation on this block.

Under the Transportation Committee section of the agenda, the Commission voted 10-0 to send letters to DDOT (asking for an extension of the comment period of the moveDC draft and to hurry up with a traffic calming request for the 300 block of 8th Street SE); to DC Water about its plans to replace a water main on 17th Street SE that will further delay implementation of the pedestrian safety changes to that street; to MPD (asking for an update on a suggested Stop Sign camera at the north 8th & D SE intersection); and a Resolution (to WMATA) on Metrobus plans to eliminate some stops along the 30′s bus line.

I also announced during the Transportation portion of the meeting that the ANC will be holding a Community Meeting on the SE Boulevard planning study now underway in conjunction with the Office of Planning and DDOT; the date will most likely be Monday August 4th but an official announcement will be sent out with the details.  Meanwhile, you can check the Transportation Committee’s July Report for details on the study.

Other approvals, all with 10-0 votes: (1) Testimony before the Council’s Committee on Human Services on a Sense of the Council for Closing DC General Shelter Resolution of 2014 (PR20-845); and (2) a letter to DGS requesting a market study in support of Eastern Market’s business planning efforts. And, (3) the ANC’s April-June 2014 Quarterly Financial Activity Report.

The Treasurer also prepared a “burn rate” by Quarter of our financial situation.  Since the renovation of the Hill Center, the ANC has been paying both office rent and for the services of our (excellent) parttime executive director.  In anticipation of this situation, the ANC many years ago conducted a savings campaign.  Since we moved back into the Center, we have had to spend some of that savings to cover our monthly costs.  As part of the negotiations on the Hine project, the developers are obliged to give ANC6B reduced rate office space.  But, given the delay in getting that project even started, that space won’t be available for several years.  Our burn rate suggests that we cannot afford both an office and staff beyond the 3rd Quarter of 2015.  The ANC has to have office space within its borders and CM Wells’ office is checking out all DC government properties within 6B where the Commission would be entitled to free office space.

The Commission heard a presentation by Mr. Marc Battle of Pepco about the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger.  Mr. Battle’s bottom line seemed to be that Pepco customers would not “see” any change as the current Pepco entity would continue to operate as is.  A version of the fact sheet handed out at the meeting is available.

Commissioner Pate, chair of the Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force, announced that at the next TF meeting–Wed 16 July, 7pm, Hill Center–the members will discuss and update the 6B Vacant properties list and discuss a planned Fall Public Safety event.

And, then we all went home.  Or, somewhere else.

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ANC6B Adds Meeting on FEIS

ANC6B has called a special meeting to discuss and vote on comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel (VAT) Reconstruction project.

The meeting is Thursday, July 10th, at 7pm.  The location is the National Community Church, 535 8th Street SE (Barracks Row).  There is a link to the ANC’s letter on the DEIS in the paragraph on this project on my “Tracking ANC6B Issues: 2014″ page.

Personal comment on the July 1 FEIS meeting held by DDOT and FHWA, who are managing the EIS process: Those who are fighting “tooth and nail” to oppose the reconstruction project will use any argument–whether supported by the facts or not–to try to prove their case and, I think, will not at this point believe anything said to refute their claims.  DDOT and FHWA spokespersons at the meeting seemed to have been blindsided and did not prove to be especially articulate in defending the FEIS and its preferred alternative in response to the questions thrown at them.

Where is our political leadership?  Someone needs to step in, lower the “temperature,” and provide some rationality.  Perhaps they (Rep Norton, CM Wells, and CM in waiting Allen) finally spoke but I left the meeting after sitting through an hour of hearing what I have heard many times before during this many years and, alas, still continuing process.

BTW, the comment period on the FEIS has been extended an additional 30 days.  The deadline is now August 12, 2014.  And, DDOT/FHWA have scheduled a second meeting on the FEIS for Thursday, July 31.

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