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 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  Once the ANC has a Board Order approving the license, it will be posted on the ANC website.]



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.

Notes from ANC6B Nov 2011 Meeting

The November 2011 meeting brought ANC6B back to the Old Naval Hospital (The Hill Center) after an absence of over a year.  We had presentations by and Q&As with Councilmember-at-Large Michael Brown and Matthew Marcou of DDOT’s Public Space Operations Project and … voted 9-0 (i.e., unanimously) on just about everything.

The Commission supported ABC license renewals for Marvelous Market, Motts, Rolands, Southeast Market, and Harris Tetter; the latter two contingent on a new, signed Voluntary Agreements.  Voted to protest the license renewals of 7th & L Market and Pennsylvania Avenue Market.  And, voted to take no action (i.e., remain silent) on the renewals of Congress Market, P&C Market, and Yes Organic Market.   Voted to support the application of Pound the Hill (621 Pennsylvania Ave SE) for an ABC license so the establishment can serve beer and wine with its new dinner service.   Also approved were the historic preservation applications for 117 C Street SE and 629 Pennsylvania Avenue SE (La Plaza restaurant, which plans to add a 2nd story to its building).

The Commission voted to send letters to (1) MPD requesting the deployment of photo enforcement technology on 17th Street SE, (2) FHWA and DDOT about the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project, and (3) the DC Protective Services Police Department requesting it provide crime report data for the Reservation 13 area of Hill East.

Plus, the Commission voted to revise its October 2011 Resolution on Redistricting because of decisions CM Wells has made to recommend that 6B not lose territory to 6C as was proposed by the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force.  Unfortunately, Councilmember Brown, during the meeting seemed to suggest that the DC Council Subcommittee on Redistricting, which he co-chairs with Councilmember Jack Evans, may decide to adopt the Task Force reports rather than the Ward Councilmembers’ recommendations based on those reports. (Is this just a ploy to leverage bargaining?)  Ultimately and rather quickly this citywide redistricting process has to be concluded with a DC Council vote by the end of December 2011.  CM Brown was unable, however, to provide any hearing schedule information.

Opposed by the Commission was an application for zoning relief (two “use variances”) at 1200 Potomac Avenue SE because the applicant never managed to provide any cogent rationale for the zoning change.  The applicants have proposed to establish a coffee shop on the ground floor and a pet supply store on the 2nd floor.  The zoning relief is required because the building is in a residence zoned area and neither commercial business is allowed “by right.”

The Commission voted 8-0-1 on the slate of Resident Members for its newly formed Subcommittee on the Hine PUD. The confirmed Resident Members and the organizations or groups they represent are: Roger Tauss (EMMCA), Steve Sweeney (Eyes on Hine), Bill Pate (residents in 200 block of 8th St SE), Ken Jarboe (At Large), Monte Edwards (EMCAC), Julia Christian (CHAMPS), and Gary Peterson (CHRS).  In addition, Commissioner Brian Pate was confirmed as vice-chair; joining Commissioner Ivan Frishberg, chair.  All other ANC6B Commissioners can serve on the subcommittee.  [I was the 1 abstaining vote on the slate.  If you want to know why, read “If I Were Chair …” below. And, if you want to know more about PUDs, visit Commissioner Metzger’s blog:]