Random Notes from Beat26

From an Email Sent to DC Officials by a Resident of ANC6B on 12/22/20 …

“I am a homeowner who lives in the 1000 block of 13th Street SE. I am writing, as I have several times over the past few years, to plead that you more effectively address the violence that consistently occurs in our immediate neighborhood.

“Two weeks ago, there was a murder in the alley behind our house at 9:30 p.m. on a weekday night. I was sitting in our living room, which faces the alley. My wife was rocking our 3-month-old son to sleep in his bedroom, which also faces the alley. Our dog started barking and, thinking it was fireworks because there were so many shots in such quick succession, and not wanting the baby to wake, I let the dog out and stepped outside. I saw one of the shooters, and he could see me, before he got in a car and sped away down the alley. Shortly thereafter, I looked in the alley and saw a body lying toward the end of it … You don’t have to be a detective to deduce that the shooting behind my home was not happenstance.

“I gave a statement to an officer about what I had heard and seen. My neighbors did the same and provided their video evidence. But if you were to ask me whether I think anything will change after this, the sad answer is that I do not think it will. Inevitably, there will be another fatal shooting outside my home in the coming days or weeks. The cycle will continue.

“From the perspective of the residents of the neighborhood with whom I have spoken in the aftermath of yet another horrible shooting, including residents of Potomac Gardens and the Hopkins Apartments, your approach to addressing the violence in the area has been a failure. For years, there have consistently been shootings and violence in four well-established areas: 1) the 1200 block of L Street SE, outside the entrance to Potomac Gardens; 2) the intersection of 12th and K Streets SE, outside the entrance to the Hopkins Apartments; 3) the intersection of 14th and L Streets SE, outside the entrance to the Hopkins Apartments; and 4) most recently, the intersection of 13th and L Streets SE, outside the entrance to the Hopkins Apartments, around the corner from where the man above was killed and another man was shot multiple times.

“All of the shootings and violence in the neighborhood follow a familiar, unending pattern. The police allow open-air drug markets to operate uninterrupted at a particular location outside the entrance to one of the public housing buildings. Inevitably, there is a shooting at one of these locations. The police increase patrols for a week or two that are limited to that immediate location. At the same time, the drug market shifts a few blocks to one of the other three locations in the neighborhood. That market operates, unmolested, until there is another shooting. And on, and on, and on.

“The operation of the open-air drug markets that are the foundation of the violence is obvious to any resident. Cars with out-of-District plates come and go at all hours solely and frequently at that location. Individuals shift to hanging out at the location, frequently mingling in the stairwells at the entrances to the housing complexes, servicing the drivers and some pedestrians. The hand-to-hands are blatant and often in full view of an idling police car or a collection of officers standing and chatting a little bit further down the block. When I, or the neighbors who witness these exchanges, call the police, they rarely come to investigate unless we can report there was a visible firearm. I have always offered to give a statement when asked by the dispatch officer over the phone. No officer has ever come to my door to take one.

“I do not place sole blame on the MPD for all of the inaction, though the lack of urgency or concern that I and my neighbors see in the day-to-day behavior of the patrol officers is troubling. Politicians have done little, if anything, to address the violence, despite repeated promises to do more.

“Charles, you, in particular, have been a vocal critic of the MPD. You and your colleagues on the City Council have pushed the end of the buy-bust approach to disrupting the drug markets, one of the few effective ways to address them. The violence that occurs between rival dealers and gang members is the inevitable result. As you have correctly noted, Charles, law enforcement cannot be the only solution to the problems that plague the community. Reforms in how policing is conducted are necessary. But when there is clear evidence of criminal activity occurring, police must step in and be part of the solution. A latex-gloved shooter who lived a 20-minute drive away did not turn up in the alley behind my home without having a reason for being there.

“The city’s housing policies and the lack of focus on community safety are also to blame. The Mayor, the City Council, and the ANC’s push to expand public housing in the district is important and laudable. But you cannot ignore the current state of the current stock of public housing that exists in the District and the role that it plays in the violence in our community. The Potomac Gardens and Hopkins buildings have been there for decades and their condition is deplorable. There is zero security presence at the entrances. Many of them do not even have doors. Perhaps, instead of obsessing over bike lanes, the ANC could make community safety a serious, sustained focus. The residents of Potomac Gardens and the Hopkins Apartments deserve better from all of you. They deserve to be able to enter and exit their homes without having to pass by sustained drug activity and to face the serious risk of getting caught in crossfire on a bi-weekly basis.

“As I have said in the past, I welcome a dialogue with you all about these issues. More than anything, I implore you to take concrete action. Ramp up the use of undercovers to perform buy-bust operations to disrupt the open-air drug markets. Enforce parking laws to ensure that out-of-town drug dealers do not sit idle outside the buildings continually serving customers. Seriously consider the redevelopment of Potomac Gardens and the Hopkins Apartments and hold hearings, starting at the ANC level and at the City Council level, on their future. In the interim, install security doors and hire security guards to protect the residents of these locations and ensure that individuals who are there to cause problems have a more difficult time exploiting them.

“I know these issues are not easy, but you must do more, and do better. The community demands it.”

From the December 14, 2020 Beat26 Newsletter:  “VPP.  6B’s Dec.  & Covid of course”

ANC6B DEC MEETING: December 8
This time I contributed to at least an additional 20 minutes of the 3H50M meeting. There was some good time spent thanking two departing Commissioners (Jayaraman & Waud) for their excellent service and hoping they hang around anyway.  The Commission will be greeting 3 new Commissioners in January: Peter Wright (6B08), Edward Ryder (6B07) and Alison Horn (6B09).  Commissioner-elect Horn fills the slot that has been vacant since early this year when Kasie Clark moved westward and the pandemic prevented holding a special election to replace her.

So, what else did we do?  We took a number of votes, of course. The easy ones were for those items on the Consent Agenda.  Included were 3 transportation ones (Pennsylvania & Potomac Avenues SE Intersection Improvement Project, 2020 DDOT I-695 & 11th Street SE Traffic Study, and a speed hump for the 1700 block of Bay Street SE); and 1 zoning case (BZA 20335, 741 12th Street SE).

Then we voted unanimously to approve a new Settlement Agreement and support the retail liquor license renewal for Harris Teeter; and send a letter to the ABC Board requesting a delay in the hearing date for our protest of the Handle-19 new license with gambling endorsement until January 2021.  Later on, the Commission discussed a need to authorize up to $20K to hire a lawyer to represent us at the hearing.  There was some discussion about whom to hire but no decision made as more research was deemed necessary.

Under Planning & Zoning, there ensued a lengthy discussion on a trash room to reduce rodent problems at the Chipotle establishment, 413 8th Street SE.  Chipotle is seeking a ten-year extension of a special exception to allow fast food use at this location.  However, in the end, no action was taken since the BZA hearing has been moved to February 2021.  This issue will re-emerge; most likely on the January agenda.

Another discussion involved a proposed text amendment (Zoning Commission 20-19) on heights and alley setbacks for accessory buildings in residential districts.  Ultimately, the ANC decided not to opine on the case.

Under the Transportation Committee, a 20-minute discussion took place on the aftermath of a November decision to send comments to DDOT on the Kentucky Avenue SE Advisory Bike Lane project.  A clerical error had caused a not yet reviewed draft letter to be transmitted to DDOT; after which I created an addendum incorporating the missing review elements. But I had balked at adding other info I considered to be out of scope with the original motion.  This all got settled amid some confusion and will be revisited at the ANC6B Executive Committee Meeting on 12/17.

Other actions: A letter to DGS and others with critics of the Eastern Market Governance Strategic Plan and the ANC’s 2021 Calendar were approved unanimously.  A resolution urging the DC Council to take action to correct the disfranchisement of voters at the DC Jail was approved by a vote of 8-1-0.

Here’s some information I gathered at the meeting.  Mr. Gerard Brown, manager of the DOH rodent abatement program, told us the program now has 17 pest & code inspectors.  During the pandemic, rodent problems have shifted from restaurant areas to residential trash.  Anyone can request their services via 311.  Mr. Brown said he is not sure their birth control abatement method is working but that carbon monoxide injected into burrows is very effective. ~ The Office of the DC Auditor has released a report “DC Lacked Uniform System to Track, Reduce Settlements & Judgements” ~ The Mayor has assigned new MOCRS to Ward 6: Talib Shakir and Isamar Vaquero.  Moving on to other jobs are Tyler Williams and Mikaela Ferrill. ~ The Boys & Girls Club project will not come back to the ANC until sometime in 2021. ~ Maurice Cook, recent recipient of a Brickie Award and Executive Director of Serve Your City, spoke about the need for the ANC to support affordable housing developments. ~ The artificial Christmas Tree and Menorah installed by CH BID in EMMP (Parcel 1) were blown down (but quickly were resurrected).

… and it all came to an end at 1050 pm.

Thanks for each and every 820 vote on November 3, 2020.
My new 2-year term begins January 2021.

From the October 22 Beat26 Newsletter “Vote now. Halloween. Census. Crime. 6B met.”

NO MORE CRIME (reports)?
After 15 years of tracking crime affecting us on Capitol Hill, I had no idea what occurred in September 2020 as I began to write this newsletter.  As mentioned a while back, MPD is no longer providing the relatively simple database from which I have been extracting monthly data (for ANC6B and PSAs 106, 107, and 108) and has replaced it with Crime Cards.

Not knowing was making me feel a bit vulnerable.  So, I stopped writing and played around a bit and managed to manipulate the Cards to show crime reports for ANC6B for the period September 1 through 30, 2020: They total 91 of which there was 1 assault, 2 robberies, 2 burglaries, 20 thefts from auto, 53 thefts, 13 stolen autos, and 0 arsons.  According to my August 2020 Crime compilation, there were also 91 total crime reports in August but the distribution differs with violent crimes cut in half from 6 then to 3 in September.

Crime Cards does enable one to download the background data but instead of the 8 data points I’ve been used to, I ended up with 29.  TMI, indeed.

The Crime Card I created is here.  It has a map, graphs, a list of the individual reports, and links to the First District roster for officials contact info.  And, more.  Not bad.  But, if you just want to check on crime periodically, go here to the MPD First District Google Group.

From the October 4 Beat26 Newsletter “Voting. 6B’s October. EMMP & More

VOTING. IT STARTS OCT 27. (EARLIER IF YOU USE A BOX)
Councilmember Allen’s Ward 6 Update: How To Vote in the General Election
It’s all here.

UPDATE ON EMMP PHASE TWO CONSTRUCTION
At the 10/1 virtual EMMP community meeting I had difficulties hearing the speakers and reading the slides presented.  What I do know is most of what I wrote in my 8/30 Newsletter is still accurate.  So, I have pasted an edited version of that write up below with any new information I gleaned from the 10/1 meeting.  The 10/1 presentation is here.

The EMMP project consists of 6 Parcels separated by roadways, centered at 8th & Pennsylvania Ave SE.  Construction on Parcel 1 (so-called EMMP Phase One) ended about a month or so ago but there are bits and pieces on a punch list (see below).  Construction on the remaining 5 Parcels (Phase Two) is scheduled to begin in October 2020, once permits are available, and be completed by April 2021.  This work will include various pedestrian safety/traffic improvements at the South Carolina Avenue SE corners of 7th & D SE and 9th & D SE and will cause some temporary traffic diversions.

Here are some details. Fences will surround each Parcel. Most sidewalks around the perimeters of the Parcels will remain open for the duration of the construction but will be temporarily closed toward the end of the work as they are repaired.  An exception is the fence that goes around the Metro plaza (Parcel 4); it will leave the Metro Station entrance and all perimeter sidewalks open except along the east side of 7th Street across from the SE Library.  This side of 7th will be the Phase Two construction staging area and the construction entrance to Parcel 4 will be at the corner of 7th & D SE.  The street itself will be temporarily closed at some point to install the “tabletop walkway” between Parcel 4 and the library.

The slip lanes on Parcels 3 and 6 will be permanently closed.   At Parcel 6, a once planned lay by for dropoff/pickups will not be created on Pennsylvania Avenue or along 8th Street.  Construction vehicles will be parked inside the fences surrounding these Parcels.

All the Phase Two landscaping and presumably installation of an art sculpture (on Parcel 4) will occur in the Spring.

To finish up Parcel 1, handrails will be added to the step midpoint on the 9th Street side, the shade structures for the playground are expected to be installed starting October 5, closing the playground for 3 days, way-finder panels should be installed in October and replacement trees in mid-October.

From the August 30 Beat 26 Newsletter “6B in September & Other Things”

VIRGINIA AVENUE PARK … almost!
In about two weeks, the renovations on the southern part of the Park may be completed.  Meanwhile, here’s a photo of the shade structure (“gazebo”) being installed along the walkway.

Shade structure being installed in Virginia Avenue Park, Aug 2020

From the July 19 Beat26 Newsletter (Heat Emergency. ANC6B on July 14. Miscellany) here’s an excerpt on the July 14 ANC meeting:

ANC6B JULY MEETING SUMMARY
We talked and voted for 3 hours and 15 minutes on July 14.  There were a number of controversial issues: grant applications, school names, heliport, a zoning case we’ve reviewed innumerable times, …

The proposal of a Resolution to support DC Council Bill B23-0234 to establish an Advisory Commission on Monuments, Markers, and Symbols was combined with renaming Tyler and Brent Elementary Schools.  This combination caused problems for some Commissioners including me. On the one hand it asked us to support a process to settle difficult issues we are confronting these days about historical figures in our public spaces. At the same time, though, the Resolution urged, without applying a thorough process, that both school names be changed.

Wisdom prevailed and the Commission separated the two parts of the Resolution.  Ultimately, we voted 8-0-0 to support the Council Bill and then 5-2-1 in support of changing the school names while acknowledging that the school communities rather than the ANC should play a leadership role that process.

The zoning case for Rear 203 3rd Street SE involves adding a second story to an alley garage structure to create a two-level single family dwelling.  We’ve been reviewing the plans often over the year.  As an alley structure, it abuts residential lots that face 3rd Street.  We went several rounds on the preceding historic preservation case and now are doing the same with the zoning case, which introduces issues of privacy and sunlight.  The applicant produced a sun study which shows minor changes from the existing situation.  Complicating the situation is a history of distrust between the alley lot owner and an abutting neighbor.  After a long and sometimes heated debate, the ANC voted 7-1-0 in support of the zoning case.

With no institutional background in grant giving, the ANC plunged into it when the DC Council allowed us to expend our excess funds for humanitarian purposes during the pandemic health emergency.  Commissioners Waud and Sroufe took the lead in setting up an Accelerator Grant Program and soliciting applications with an initial deadline of July 13.

At the July 14 meeting we had two requests to consider.  One— Serve Your City—asked for more funding than the ANC’s maximum per application of $15,000. The request was complicated. Rather than proposing to fund a specific activity, the application included an array of programs.  Since we don’t have a definition of “humanitarian purpose,” each Commissioner had to individually decide whether this array fit. The ANC voted 7-1-0 to fund the request at $15,000.  I voted in opposition because of my uncertainty about the humanitarian nature of some aspects of the application (which had only been available for review ½ hour prior to the meeting). The other applicant— Everyone Home DC—asked for $5,000 to purchase new winter clothes for the children it serves so they don’t have to share with one another this Fall as the pandemic continues.

The next grant round deadline is in September.  Details are on the ANC website here .  With $20K granted in July, the ANC has $25K remaining to offer.

The Heliport Issue has suddenly resurfaced! For months the ANC has been unable to determine the status of any plan to move the current facility from Buzzards Point to the Washington Gas remediation site along the Anacostia River at Water & 12th Streets SE. In late 2019 we, along with others, made a bit of noise (in opposition) about this possibility, which got an Assistant DC Administrator to appear at the November 2019 ANC meeting. Mr. Jay Melder followed that appearance by sending the ANC an email responding to a series of questions, including the following statement:

“Additionally, as you are aware, the disposition of public land involves a public process. If a project were to be officially proposed and considered, all necessary review, studies, public engagement, and legislative processes would be carried out, including engagement of any impacted ANCs and stakeholder groups.”

Early this year, we learned that the private operator of the heliport had made an unsolicited request of the DC Administrator to move his operations to the Washington Gas site.  To date, the DC Administrator’s office and the Office of Planning have evaded any ANC or other inquiries about the request.

So … ANC6B voted unanimously on July 14 to initiate a “map amendment” process to change the zoning category of the lots in question to one in which a heliport would not be an allowable use.  There will be more on this.  Where is that promised public process?  Why aren’t OP and the DC Administrator talking?   What’s going on behind our backs?

Here’s a few of the simpler unanimous actions the ANC took in July.

  • Agreed on 3 points to raise at an upcoming Zoning Commission Roundtable regarding possible text amendments requiring Expanded IZ  to apply to zones currently exempt from Regular IZ.  (IZ or “Inclusionary Zoning” determines how many affordable units are required for developments.)
  • Sent a request to DDOT to change curbside parking along the west side of the 500 block of 8th Street SE to a pedestrian walkway to improve the Covid-19 safety of pedestrians.
  • Supported Historic Preservation applications for residence renovations at 741 12th Street SE and 715 10th Street SE
  • Asked the Zoning Commission to schedule its hearing on the 1333 M Street SE PUD to enable the ANC to take its final vote at our September 8 monthly meeting since the Commission does not meet in August.
  • Supported the ANC’s FY20 3rd Quarter Report which shows interest and allotment income but no expenditures during the period.

From the July 3 Beat 26 Newsletter: “ANC6B in July & Other Miscellany ”
Kirsten Runs Again (sign her petition), Slow Streets across DC, New Bike Racks in Ward 6 and more.  Subscribe via Beat26@aol.com.

NOTE: Since the March 12th issue of my Beat26 Newsletter, almost the entire contents have been on the Coronavirus situation we find ourselves in the midst of.  Below are some key links to DC information on Coronavirus shared in those issues.  All of the official District of Columbia actions, information, and data are on this website:  https://coronavirus.dc.gov/
Key sections are News (for Mayor’s Orders and daily updates on COVID-19 cases), Recovery (for financial assistance for individuals and businesses), Meals (site and times of distribution by Seniors and students), Testing (for information on where tests are conducted in DC and the criteria for eligibility) and Phase One and Phase Two.  Official sites for Maryland and Virginia.

From the January 10 Newsletter: “Changes, Trees, Crime & Verdi”
29 TREES for VIRGINIA AVENUE PARK

A week before Christmas, Casey Trees and a large group of its hardy volunteers spent a rainy morning planting a mixed variety of trees to ultimately provide shade for users of the Park.

Background on the Park:
https://www.kirsten6b.org/renderings-of-virginia-avenue-park/
and the Friends of Virginia Avenue Park
https://www.kirsten6b.org/friends-of-va-park/

From the November 29 Newsletter:

UPDATE ON HELIPORT: As I requested at the November ANC6B meeting, Mr. Jay Melder, Assistant City Administrator, has sent the ANC responses to the list of questions from the Heliport Community Meeting on August 26.  (See ANC6B Letter of September below.) In the 11/27 email Melder says “I feel it is important that I first reiterate that there is no new heliport project currently planned for 11th and Water Street, or any other site.”  For those many questions which would be specific to an actual project/process, Mr. Melder declined to speculate.

Content of Jay Melder Email 11-27 on Heliport

From the November 10 Newsletter:

HELIPORT ANYONE?  The Commission has been informed that the Deputy City Administrator will appear at the Tuesday, November 12 ANC6B Monthly Meeting.  This is an opportunity to ask questions about apparent plans to relocate the existing heliport from Buzzard Point to the Washington Gas site, 12th & Water Streets SE, next to the 11th Street Bridge Park.  (See September 27 notes below)

2020 VISITOR PARKING PASSES
You can register for a 2020 VPP starting on Tuesday November 12.  To qualify, your household address must be on an RPP street; only one pass per household.  The VPP can only be used for parking within your ANC boundary. Go to https://vpp.ddot.dc.gov/vpp to apply.
Go to https://ddot.dc.gov/node/538662 for program details.

LEAF COLLECTIONS BEGAN NOVEMBER 3
Once again this annual program has split Ward 6 into 5 sections.  Sections A & B are in NE areas of the Ward.  Section C covers areas in both NE and SE on the eastern edge of the Ward.  Sections D & E are in SE.

If you live within Section A, leaves should have been raked out by Sunday Nov 3 for the first round pick up the week of Nov 4.  Section B is next with rake out by Nov 10; Section C, Nov 17; Section D, Nov 24; Section E, Dec 1. The second pick up round begins in Section A on Dec 15 and so on.

DPW told me that the 2019 brochure was mailed to all households. But, like last year, I didn’t receive one.  I’m relying on a digital version at https://dpw.dc.gov/service/leaf-and-holiday-tree-collection

From the September 27 Newsletter:

ANC6B Letter to DC Mayor on Heliport
09-2019_ANC 6B_Relocation of the South Capitol Street Heliport

From the August 29 Newsletter:

Photo of Heliport
at 1725 South Capitol SE and potential location in ANC6B

Thanks to the 40+ residents who attended our quickly organized 8/26 Community Meeting on DC’s apparent plans to install a heliport at the Washington Gas site at 12th & Water Street SE next to the Anacostia River.  A key thing I learned is to call the current and proposed facility “heliports” rather than “helipads.” A helipad provides a take-off/landing surface for helicopters like the ones atop hospital buildings.  The heliport has, in addition to 2 pads, a fueling station and other facilities used by various helicopters flying over our heads.   If DC is successful, this is what would we have situated next to the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Most of the meeting was spent generating a long list of questions about the DC proposal for which we still know very little and for which we will now try to get answers.  We did learn from Congressional Aviation, the operator of the current heliport, that its lease expires in 2022 and their sense that the city is quite focused on moving existing operations to the ANC6B site.  Some questions centered on current heliport operations to better understand potential impacts. We also want to know what other sites are being considered, what selection criteria are being used, what impacts are being studied, and the City Administrator’s timeline for making a decision.

The answer to “why close the current heliport” appears to clearly be pressure to develop the land it occupies in Buzzard Point.  See this Urban Turf article, for instance.

Here are links to the dcist story on the 8/26 meeting and to the summary of Congresswoman Norton’s recent meeting on helicopter noise

From the August 17 Newsletter:

Helipad Aug 26 Community Meeting

DO YOU WANT A HELIPAD ON CAPITOL HILL??
The District is exploring the installation of up to TWO active helicopter pads on Capitol Hill and is considering placing these helipads at the old Washington Gas site at 12th & Water Street SE along the banks of the Anacostia River.

A helicopter landing pad will cause noise pollution for nearby residents and for river activity on Boathouse Row and could impede the existing Anacostia River Trail.  In addition, placing a helicopter refueling station on site presents ecological dangers to a restored Anacostia River.

To learn more and/or help develop a strategy, come to a Community Meeting on Monday, August 26 at the SE Library, 403 7th Street SE from 630 pm to 830pm.

This meeting has been organized by ANC 6B Commissioners: Corey Holman 6b06@anc.dc.gov, Kelly Waud 6b07@anc.dc.gov and Kirsten Oldenburg 6b04@anc.dc.gov.

ANC6B Votes 9 Dec 2014

At our last meeting of 2014, three hours of discussion resulted in about 20 votes, most of them 9-0.  While a host of items (Minutes and zoning cases) were voted on in a block under the consent agenda, the rest of the agenda included:

  • 1 Historic Preservation case (1013-1015 E Street SE). Vote was 8-0-1 to support the application.  This case is troubling to nearby neighbors and others as it converts two individual houses into 6 condo units with the addition of a 5-unit carriage house on the alley in the rear.  Most of the objections cannot be dealt with within the context of historic preservation, so they await the zoning case to follow if the HPRB votes in favor of the application.  My motion to support included the assumption that the Board will assure various aspects are designed in keeping with HPO guidelines.  [Update: On 12/18 the Board denied the application which causes the developer to have to rethink the project.]
  • A long debate on the merits of zoning text amendments proposed by the Office of Planning that are designed to curtail the growing number of “pop-ups” (those 3rd story additions on top of row houses).  The major piece of the proposal would limit the “by right” height of houses in R-4 districts (most of Capitol Hill) to 35 feet with zoning relief through a special exception (SE) process to gain the current 40 feet height.  The Commission voted 6-3 on that piece after lengthy debate on the SE provisions and voted 7-1-1 against the change in definition of a mezzanine, 9-0 on the height of a roof structure, and 6-1-2 on the conversion of a residential structure to an apartment house.  The pop-up provisions affect mainly those areas of 6B not already protected by the CH Historic District.
  • Several liquor license matters, one of which is a major annoyance to 6B.  The ABC Board is requiring us to change text language in our Settlement Agreements that the Board has previously approved.
  • 2 letters to DDOT (8-0 and 9-0).  One asks for the replacement of pedestrian crossings along 11th Street SE at K and L Streets SE that were removed to facilitate vehicle movements among the various new on and off ramps for the 11th Street Bridge.  The other one asks that specific one way streets be converted to two way streets now that the on ramp at Virginia Avenue and 9th Street SE no longer exists.  A 3rd letter to DDOT on the Penn-Potomac pedestrian study has been delayed until January.
  • Lots of other letters; among them were to: (1) HPRB to ask that 6B have an opportunity to review the final plans for renovation of the old Remington’s building at 639 PA Ave; (2) Zoning Commission as a followup to its hearing on the PUD for 1333 M Street SE, which 6B has supported; (3) Dept of General Services asking that it move quickly to start the environmental assessment for the Eastern Market plaza redesign project; (4) Marine Barracks Washington with comments on its proposed Section 106 plans under its study to locate a site for a new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters building; (5) DC Council Chair Mendelson asking that he continue to have a Committee on Education rather than fold education into the Committee of the Whole; and a Resolution on the Pepco-Excelon merger (vote 6-0-3); and Position and testimony on the disposition of two parcels at Reservation 13/Hill East.  [Update: The DC Council has voted to support this disposition.]
  • Then, to close out the meeting, were items pertaining to the end of the year and the upcoming new Commission in January: a preliminary schedule for our 2015 meetings and acknowledgements.  Chief among the latter were a resolution thanking CM Wells for his service to Ward 6 and a resolution thanking the 6 departing Commissioners (Campbell, Frishberg, Loveland, Opkins, Pate, and Peisch) and already departed Commissioner Garrison for their service ranging from 2 to 12 years.

After Commissioner Campbell’s final opportunity to recess 6B meetings, at 10pm some of us reconvened (but did not vote on anything) at Beuchert’s for a bit of cheer.

ANC6B’s November Votes

With just a bit of overtime on the evening of November 12th, the ANC managed to get through its normal-these-days 2-page meeting agenda: 8 liquor licenses, 3 historic preservation (HP) cases, 4 zoning cases, 4 reports, and 4 letters. Laid out like that it doesn’t seem like much but 1 HP/zoning case and 1 liquore license case each generated a lot of discussion.  We were fortunate that 2 more HP and one BIG zoning case were put off; the former to December and the latter to a Special Call meeting (Nov 19) when the ANC will vote on conditions for its support of a planned unit development at 1333 M Street SE.

During Speak Out, we learned about the organization Victory Gardens DC that is seeking empty or unused plots of urban land to convert into organic farms. One plot currently exists in 6B at 426 15th Street SE.  Then came the Historic Anacostia Boating Association presentation on preliminary plans to create a recreation area and improve the boating facilities along Boathouse Row.  During my first year as a Commissioner, I served as the 6B representative on a DC advisory group to plan the development of Boathouse Row.  That study landed on a shelf somewhere but I found the HABA plans very much in keeping with its conclusions.  In addition, this plan seems to fit nicely with the results of our Neighborhood Study on the SE Boulevard and a developer’s plans for 1333 M Street SE.

Just about everything on the agenda (see it at www.anc6b.org) got an 8-0 or 7-0 or 7-0-1 vote.  The one exception was the new ABC license for Bayou Bakery to operate out of the Hill Center’s Carriage House. After much discussion between attendees and Commissioners and among Commissioners, the ANC voted 5-3 to support the application based on the conditions of a Settlement Agreement (SA)–which ANC had only received at mid-day from the applicant in response to 6B’s proposed SA based on Committee discussions on 6 Nov.  Leading up to the meeting, the ANC had received about 50 emails from residents near and far concerned about hours of operation, trash handling, odors from frying beignets, and noise from delivery trucks, mechanical equipment and music.

So, what did we get?

  • Instead of closing hours at 2am and 3am, the SA supported by the ANC stipulates closing hours of from 9pm to 11pm, depending on the day of the week.  Noise from equipment must meet DC regulations and music cannot be “audible beyond the boundaries of the Hill Center.”
  • Residents asked for indoor storage of food wastes prior to pick up.  The ANC has been asking this of Barracks Row businesses of late; and we all would prefer this as an operating principle, where it is feasible, to discourage rats.  But David Bell’s architectural firm has not been able to accommodate this option within the “build out” of the Carriage House (constricted as it is by both DC and Federal historic preservation standards) so the Hill Center and Bayou Bakery are going to have to work diligently to prove it is possible for humans to properly manage outdoor trash storage, which the Barracks Row restaurants have largely failed to do.
  • Similar internal space constraints pertain to the community request for PCUs rather than a vent system to control odors from deep fat frying. David Guas adamantly rejected, from a chef’s perspective, the use of a vent-less hood similar to those at his Arlington place.  The agreement allows him to use his preferred vent system for odor control; a system that will require regular filter maintenance to assure maximum performance.

Why not just protest …?  ABRA Settlement Agreements are, as the name implies, a set of compromises between, in this case, an ANC and a liquor license applicant.  An ANC can only vote to support an application or to protest it.  ANC6B votes to protest either because it feels it has a case it can make before the ABC Board to obtain more than the applicant is willing to offer or in order to have more time to negotiate with the applicant. The ABC Board is the only entity that can compel a license holder to take any specific action and the Board tends to dislike any language that doesn’t seem enforceable by its investigators.  Nor, in my view, would the Board ever force an establishment to install equipment that exceeds city codes or any specific technology that meets code. So, we would have had a weak protest case especially over an establishment without any prior history of bad behavior. The Hill Center knows that its reputation will be affected by Bayou Bakery operations and, thus, it will be a major force in assuring those operations don’t negatively impact itself or other neighbors.

Delay the ANC decision?  The ANC had to vote on November 12 on this case. Not voting would have allowed the applicant to obtain the license with conditions in the application. The only way to delay, then, would be to vote to protest. The delay requested by the community was based on the idea that technology would be found that served the applicant’s needs and would fit inside the building. There was no guarantee this could happen and, if not, the ANC would have been in the position of actually protesting the application. And, I repeat, we had a weak case.

Part of my motion to support the SA included language about continuing a dialog among the community, Hill Center, Bayou Bakery, and the ANC.  I haven’t yet figured out how to structure this conversation and am very open to suggestions.  The Hill Center called me the day after our meeting; we discussed SA commitments and ways in which the Center can upgrade its trash handling and storage in anticipation of the future addition of food wastes from Bayou Bakery.  Of note, this trash system is not hidden away in an alley like those on Barracks Row but is literally next to the main entrance of the Center.

[The Bayou Bakery documents from the ANC’s meeting are posted at https://www.kirsten6b.org/?page_id=1015.  Once the ANC has a Board Order approving the license, it will be posted on the ANC website.]