Unhappiness. For me, that’s the word that best describes the 4-hour March 8 ANC6B meeting. Some residents are unhappy about the impact on their lives of Barracks Row restaurants and others, over pending plans to build a mixed use development on the Hine site. And, one resident railed against my recently announced proposal for changes to parking. The 2011 Commission itself still struggles with its divisions. Change is tough.
In the midst of all this, the Commission approved 3 historic preservation and 3 zoning cases and added a new consent calendar to its agenda in the hopes of shortening its meetings. (Once the kinks are worked out with practice, this should indeed save meeting time. It wasn’t clear to me that it had that affect on its first outing, however.) The Commission approved a Voluntary Agreement for one more restaurant for the 500 block of 8th St SE (Pacifico) but did so without my vote because I do not think that the Commission ought to make a difference between the closing hours of sidewalk cafes and summer gardens (rooftop or otherwise). Both generate noise that ends up keeping nearby residents awake at night. [UPDATE: The protesting residents may have forced this equality to occur in their formal negotiations with the restaurant owner under the auspices of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration.]
The Commission’s now disbanded 2010 Retail Mix Task Force brought some recommendations to the Commission but no votes were taken, primarily because Commissioners had not had an opportunity to read the task force final report because some of us had not been informed it was available. Most of these recommendations were referred to relevant committees for discussion before they are brought up for a vote. Even a committee that did not yet exist got a referral.
Speaking of committees, ANC6B added a new one to its existing two and established two new task forces. The new Committee on Transportation will be chaired by Commissioner Oldenburg (that’s me); a Task Force on Capitol Hill East, by Commissioner Flahaven (6B09); and a Task Force on Outreach & Constituent Services, by Commissioner Pate (6B05). All of these new entities have a potential to bring new ideas to the Commission and community but, in my view, they will also generate a lot of work and have the potential to further lengthen the monthly meetings. In any one month, we could have 5 reports to deal with instead of our current two; from the ABC Committee and the Planning & Zoning Committee. And, most challenging perhaps, where to find all the meeting space?
Toward the end of the meeting, there was a update on the Performance Parking Pilot (PPP) Program. Part of that briefing involved the plans proposed for changes in part of 6B04 (see Parking tags). But, the briefing also mentioned ongoing discussions with DDOT that might extend the PPP boundaries even further to areas of 6B03, 6B04, and 6B05 north of Pennsylvania Avenue. And, sandwiched somewhere in the middle of the meeting was some time devoted to the Hine Redevelopment project but no votes … just speeches and announcements of process (see Hine tags). The special meeting, approved by the Commission, to be held on March 15 is THE time for lengthy discussions. I urge you to attend, if only to listen, because any write up on that meeting will be complicated indeed.