Eastern Market Agrees on Protection of First Amendment Rights

Eastern Market, Friday Afternoon, October 24, 2014

Eastern Market, Friday Afternoon, October 24, 2014

Eastern Market Agrees on Protection of First Amendment Rights

Weekend Vendors Wanted Tighter Restrictions on Political Activities

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) amended a draft version of written regulations aimed at governing the activities of “different users of the market space” when farmers, arts and crafts vendors, non-profit groups, buskers, political petitioners, and artists all vie for operating space in the areas which by statute and Mayoral Order fall under the jurisdiction of Eastern Market on weekends.

The spaces involved include the Eastern Market sidewalks and North Plaza, the space in front of the Capitol Hill Natatorium, and 7th Street (including sidewalks on both sides of the street) between North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenues.

The most contentious section of the regulations is the part regarding political petitioners.  Vendors complain that political petitioners can be too aggressive, interfering with shoppers while they are shopping or impeding access to spaces rented by vendors to market their products.  Several vendors, including outdoor vendor representative Erika Rubel, spoke in favor of tougher language restricting the activities of petitioners deemed to be impeding business or the flow of pedestrian traffic.

In contrast, some community members, including ANC representative Ivan Frishberg – who on Wednesday was sitting in for ANC6B’s  EMCAC representative, Brian Pate – remain leery about infringing on the First Amendment rights of citizens and non-profit organizations operating on public space.  A controversial early draft was sent back to the drawing board last month before being brought back to the Committee at Wednesday night’s meeting.

The language, as amended by EMCAC, now reads that individuals petitioning for candidates or governmental reform may conduct petitioning activities anywhere outside Eastern market.  Petitioners are requested to not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk, not to leave leaflets or flyers unattended, not cause the accumulation of trash, and not impede the transaction of business by the farmers or vendors.

The proposed regulations also state that a petitioner who wants to set up a table or tent may rent ($35) one of the five spaces reserved for community groups on a first come, first served basis.

Outdoor vendor Anita Jefferson pushed to tweak the language regarding interfering with the flow of pedestrian traffic on 7th Street, but ANC Commissioner Frishberg was staunchly opposed, deeming these suggestions an attempt to regulate a problem which barely exists and would entail establishing procedures for enforcement.

In the end, the Committee agreed to forward to ANC6B for consideration the broader language upon which there was a consensus.  EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder asserted that the policy could be amended if problems arise.

A final section of the new policy prohibits for-profit solicitors from operating on public space controlled by Eastern Market.  This will not affect the activities of the not-for-profit Street Sense vendors who will be allowed to continue to sell their papers to support the homeless.

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H Street Alley Issues: ANC Committee Seeks Collaborative Solution

More than 2 dozen Atlas District residents turned out for ANC6A's Transportation Committee Hearing on alley conditions

More than 2 dozen Atlas District residents turned out for ANC6A’s Transportation Committee Hearing on alley conditions

ANC6A Transportation Committee Members listen to neighbor's concerns about rats, trash, parking, standing water and parking

ANC6A Transportation Committee Members listen to neighbor’s concerns about rats, trash, parking, standing water and parking.

Resident Commissioner Todd Sloves showed the audience this picture of Linden Place alley to show the alley's condition.  ANC6A will make DDOT's list of alley re-development projects available to residents.  Photo:  Todd Sloves

Resident Commissioner Todd Sloves showed the audience this picture of Linden Place alley to show the alley’s condition. ANC6A will make DDOT’s list of alley re-development projects available to residents. Photo: Todd Slovesd

Gil Davidson, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Gil Davidson, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Jeff Baxter, DC Department of Transportation

Jeff Baxter, DC Department of Transportation

Conditions in an H Street alley last summer.  The fence has been removed but trucks displaced by street cars must use the alley for deliveries to H Street restaurants.

Conditions in an H Street alley last summer. The fence has been removed but trucks displaced by street cars must use the alley for deliveries to H Street restaurants.

H Street Alley Issues:  ANC Committee Seeks Collaborative Solution

Lax Enforcement, Street Cars Compound Problems

by Larry Janezich

ANC6A’s Transportation Committee convened its monthly meeting last night to draw together residents, businesses and city agencies in a collaborative effort to address the numerous problems besetting H Street and associated with rapid development Atlas District.  Last night’s focus was on cleanliness, surface maintenance, rats, garbage, trash, safety and parking.

City officials present included Gil Davidson from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and Jeff Baxter of DC Department of Transportation (DDOT).  A third agency whose participation is critical to addressing the host of problems – Department of Public Works– was a no-show.  Another key organization with a vested interest in problem solving who failed to show was H Street Mainstreet.

Committee Chair Omar Mahmud said that the crux of the problem was the lack of inter agency communication to coordinate a multi-pronged approach to addressing the multiplicity of problems.

A potentially valuable suggestion was offered by Gil Davidson, Housing Inspections Program Manager for DCRA.  He referenced the “Core Group” concept employed under the Fenty administration – a group comprised of representatives of city agencies and community stakeholders meeting regularly to address community issues.  Davidson said, “It was very successful – but it fell off under Mayor Gray.”  He said one “Core Group” is still active in the First MPD District in Southwest.

H Street is struggling to transition from residential/retail to residential/entertainment (food has become entertainment) and new multi-unit residential development.  According to a NYT article on DC restaurants moving into residential neighborhoods (http://nyti.ms/1zijqUO), the number of DC restaurants has doubled over the past ten years and by September of this year, there had been a ten percent increase over the total number of alcohol beverage licenses issued in all of 2013.

The problems resulting from more restaurants have been compounded by the construction of a streetcar line on H Street.  In addition to making driving down H Street much more problematic and elimination of parking on H, the streetcar has displaced delivery trucks to narrow, poorly maintained alleys running parallel to H Street (and behind residents’ homes) which were already choked by dumpsters, trash cans, construction.

More than two dozen residents from a broad area of the Atlas District attended the meeting to cite issues that are affecting their quality of life – many directly related to the increased density brought to the neighborhood by the promotion of H Street as a destination, and by the attendant burgeoning construction of new residential units.  Hundreds of new condos and apartments have already been built, and more than 1,000 new units are planned or under construction.  One resident said, “We don’t know what to do next when what is supposed to happen doesn’t happen.”  Overflowing dumpsters, rat infestation, rotting food, “horrific stench,” sludge, and stagnant pools of greasy water beset neighbors.  They cite lax enforcement of city regulations, and say that fines, when they are levied, do not serve as effective deterrents.   

The consensus of both commissioners and residents was that the city needs to be proactive rather than reactive.  As one resident put it, the transition of H Street came very quickly, leaving the city with no idea how to handle the emerging issues.  The answer, she said, was not to be reactive – it involves much more than trying to “fix all these problems separately.” CM Tommy Wells’ office was not represented at the meeting, though it is clear that the participation of his office will be necessary.

City officials who were present agreed that a piecemeal approach does not work, with one telling the group that “People in other agencies push projects and we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with this kind of development.  There is no way to have this much development without having a way to get people in and out.” 

Mahmud said the Committee would continue consideration of how to improve H Street alley conditions at the next meeting in November and that he will push to get the Department of Public Works to that meeting.  Malmud said his take-away from tonight’s meeting was the need to follow up on DCRA’s suggestion regarding the development of a Core Group approach, to make the DDOT’s list of alley re-development projects available to residents, to urge city agency officials to reach out to colleagues in other departments to bring them into the effort, and to encourage greater participation by business owners. 

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The Week Ahead…..

The fog crept into town last Monday night.

The fog crept into town last Monday night.

The Week Ahead…..

by Larry Janezich

Monday, October 20

EARLY VOTING begins today at One Judiciary Square (441 4th St, NW)

October 20 – November 1, 8:30am to 7pm, (Closed on Sunday)

EARLY VOTING at the nine early voting centers begins Saturday, October 25, including Sherwood Recreation Center (See Saturday, below)

For locations of the nine early voting centers opening on Saturday, contests on the ballot and more information, go here:  http://www.dcboee.org

Monday, October 20

ANC6D meets for its regular monthly meeting at 7:00pm, 200 I Street, SE.

Agenda not available at press time.

Monday, October 20

ANC6A Transportation and Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Avenue, NE).

Among items on the agenda:

Consideration of traffic calming petition for the 800 block of 7th Street, NE

Discussion with officials from District Department of Transportation, Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs and Department of Public Works concerning collaborative partnership with residents, businesses and ANC 6A to address sanitation, traffic and safety concerns in alleys

Monday, October 20

ANC6A Constituent Outreach Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Avenue, NE)

On the agenda:

Review of grant guidelines.

Tuesday, October 21

ANC6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00 at Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE

Among items on the agenda:

Update on status of Settlement Agreement termination requests by Rock n’ Roll Hotel, and Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar.

Discussion of request for change in entertainment hours and addition of Sunday hours by RedRocks at 1348 H Street, NE

Discussion of Class D Restaurant License application for Pizza Parts and Service at 1320 H Street NE

Wednesday, October 22

ANC6B’s Outreach & Constituent Services (O&CS) Task Force meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center.

On the agenda:

Discussion of vacant and blighted properties. 

Wednesday, October 22

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm, North Hall, Eastern Market.

On the agenda:

Discussion of the draft Vending and solicitation policy.  Comments and discussion will proceed section by section.  See draft policy in “Library” at top of home page.

Thursday, October 23

PSA 108 meets at 7:00pm, Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE.

Saturday, October 25

Early Voting begins at Sherwood Recreation Center Gymnasium

640 10th St, NE Ward 6

Hours: 8:30am – 7:00pm Daily – Open Oct 25 – Nov 01 (closed Sunday)

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Interim DC Fire Chief Jones Provides Curious​ Presentation to ANC6B

Interim Fire Chief Jones Provides Curious​ Presentation to ANC6B

Advised Firefighters Keep Criticism Inside the Department

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B had few questions for DC Fire and EMS Interim Chief Eugene Jones after his good will tour presentation last Tuesday, when he told commissioners that he would “move the department forward” during his tenure as Interim Chief after the retirement under fire of Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe on July 2.

In response to a question from Commissioner Brian Pate  – regarding Jones’ plan for moving forward in the face of ​much “negative press,​”​ Jones gave a rambling answer which failed to touch on any of the major incidents which have recently received widespread critical press coverag​e.

He did say, however, that he had visited all of the stations and asked that firefighters who perceive a problem with a colleague to  ​keep their interventions internal and the department would work with the Union to resolve them.  ​His response​ sounded like Jones had advised firefighters not to talk to the media.  In recent months, news coverage has focused on numerous issues regarding the serviceability of the ambulance fleet, personnel lapses, and most notably, the death from a heart attack in January of Medric “Cecil” Mills on the sidewalk across the street from a fire station in NE Washington. ​ When Commissioner Ivan Frishberg prompted him in a follow-up question to distinguish his station visits from an effort to silence whistleblowers, Jones quickly agreed.  ​

Residents attending the meeting had some additional questions for Jones.  Jones responded to a question whether the department was considering re-thinking its role as a first responder, by saying that 80% of the calls to the Fire Department are for emergency medical response, and fire trucks are taken out 70% of the time in response to those calls.  He said firefighters are trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and “to remove them would have a huge impact on the city.”  Another resident said “it offends me when a hook and ladder truck responds to a drunk [person in need of assistance] – why not use smaller vehicles?”

Jones agreed there was a need to employ more of the smaller units, saying that the District’s 30 fire stations would need 30 ambulances.  He said that the department had recently acquired five ambulances but it was not clear what connection this had to former Chief Ellerbe’s claim that one of his accomplishments was obtaining 30 new ambulances.  (See here:  http://wapo.st/1xevSla)

Further, in failing to reference Firefighter Union and lawmaker opposition to Ellerbe’s plan to implement what has become standard procedure in many departments of cross training firefighters as paramedics and paramedics as firefighters, Jones left the impression that the department is giving no consideration to re-thinking its role as first responder and will keep sending out fire trucks for medical cases, many of which are non-emergencies.  (For more, see this column by Petula Dvorak in the Post: http://wapo.st/1vEHMFV )

Another question posed by a resident was what steps the department was taking to recruit DC residents.  Jones responded that the way the system is set up, the only opportunity to recruit DC residents is at the lowest level – Emergency Medical Technicians.  He said that there are one million paid firefighters in the country and four million volunteer firefighters, each of whom is more qualified than an untrained DC resident when a position opens up – and “when positions open up, people from all over apply.” He did not mention the Cadet program – reinstituted by Ellerbe in 2011 after a troubled history – that has received so much scrutiny in the wake of services denied to a Medric “Cecil” Mills, nor did he convey a sense that recruiting more DC residents would be on his agenda as he serves as chief for the next few months.

The City Council is expected to name a new DCFD Chief next year.

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Frager’s Owner and Roadside Development Tell ANC Plan to Redevelop Frager’s

Lionel Lynch and Rich Lake from Roadside Development, join Frager's Owner John Weintraub (far right) at Presentation on Frager's Redevelopment Plan.  Photo:   Kathleen Frydl

Lionel Lynch and Rich Lake from Roadside Development, join Frager’s Owner John Weintraub (far right) at Presentation on Frager’s Redevelopment Plan. Photo: Kathleen Frydl

Frager’s Owner and Roadside Development Tell ANC Plan to Redevelop Frager’s

by Larry Janezich

Frager’s owner John Weintraub told ANC6B last Tuesday night that redeveloping Frager’s was “out of his comfort zone” and he had entered into partnership with Roadside Development to rebuild the site.  Weintraub had reported earlier, that the fire damaged the site so severely that, “even with insurance proceeds, we could not afford to rebuild the site alone.”

Roadside Development’s team of Rich Lake, Lionel Lynch, and Bryan Corcoran were on hand to tell the ANC that they were continuing the investigations on preserving the façade of the building.  Roadside has not yet purchased the property at 1101-1117 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, but does have the property under contract.  Lake has said that construction could start as soon as next spring.  Weintraub will return its hardware, paint, garden center, and equipment rental operations to the site under a long term lease.

The new building will provide additional office, retail and/or residential space, but will be built as a matter of right (with a 50 foot height limit).  It will not be a mixed use building subject to the public unit development (PUD) process wherein public amenities are exchanged for increased height and/or density.  The new structure will need HPRB approval, which will bring it before ANC6B.

Lake said that Roadside hopes to schedule public meetings soon with the community to solicit feedback.   In the meantime, Roadside is accepting public comments through a voice mailbox at (202) 375-7942, and at fragers@roadsidellc.com.

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Mehari Sequar Takes H Street Condo Project before ANC6A Zoning Committee

"Flatiron" Condo Project Proposed for Intersection of H Street, Florida Avenue, and 14th Street NE

Preliminary Renderings of “Flatiron” Condo Project Proposed for Intersection of H Street, Florida Avenue, and 14th Street NE

"Flatiron" Project Footprint (in blue)

“Flatiron” Project Footprint (in blue)

ANC6A Planning and Zoning Committee

ANC6A Economic Development and Zoning Committee

Mehari Sequar Takes H Street Condo Project before ANC6A Zoning Committee

Committee Raises Concerns about Requested Variances

by Larry Janezich

Mehari Sequar, representing Dulwich, LLC, and Jeff L. Goins of PGN Architects, came before ANC6A’s Economic Development and Zoning Committee Wednesday night, to present initial plans for a 34 condo unit “flatiron” building on the triangular site at the intersections of H Street, Florida Avenue, and 14th Streets, NE – 1401 Florida Avenue, NE.  Goins stressed that the plans were preliminary and subject to change.  He told the Committee that although the site was challenging, it presented a unique opportunity for a gateway project for H Street, NE.

The developer and the architect appeared before the Committee to seek its support for numerous zoning variances, including exemption from the requirement to provide 20 parking spaces, an exemption from the floor area ratio, an exemption from the height limitation, as well as relief from the roof setback and H Street Overlay requirements.

The Committee, although enthusiastic about the prospect of developing the site, had serious concerns regarding the increased density and the potential parking problems the project could bring to the neighborhood.  Chair Dan Golden termed the project “ambitious “and told Sequar that Sequar’s assertion that increased height and floor area ratio were necessary to make the project economically viable were “not the kind of thing that variances were designed to address.”  He urged Sequar and Goins to consider reducing the density and to think creatively about ameliorating the needs of condo purchasers who might well not be eligible for resident parking permits, and might therefore, be totally dependent on transportation other than autos.

Commissioners also urged design changes to make the structure conform more closely to design principles related to better definition of top, middle, and bottom.  Commissioners subsequently expressed concern about deliveries and trash pickup.

Sequar – whose brother, Habta, developer of a similar project at 12th and Florida Avenue (see CHC report here: http://bit.ly/1jEyZcf) – told the Committee that the plan anticipates 15 two bedroom and 19 one bedroom condos.  The plan entails a first floor, the use of which is uncertain, although Sequar held out the possibility of retail.  Given the difficulties of attracting and supporting retail in Capitol Hill commercial corridors the use of the space for retail would seem problematic.

The project will come before the Board of Zoning Adjustment in January, and could come up before the full ANC6A at its next meeting, November 13.

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ANC Votes No on Barracks Row Ugly Mug Expansion

ANC6B Commissioners Campbell, Pate, Frishberg, Flahave, and Loveland before the Vote on the Ugly Mug.  Photo: Kathleen Frydl

ANC6B Commissioners Campbell, Pate, Frishberg, Flahave, and Loveland before the Vote on the Ugly Mug. Photo: Kathleen Frydl

Gaynor Jablonski, Owner of the Ugly Mug, Listens to Opponents of His Plan to Double the Ugly Mug's Seating Capacity.  Photo: Kathleen Frydl

Gaynor Jablonski, Owner of the Ugly Mug, Listens to Opponents of His Plan to Double the Ugly Mug’s Seating Capacity.  Photo: Kathleen Frydl

ANC Votes No on Ugly Mug Expansion

Residents, Landlords, and Business Owner Oppose Ugly Mug Plans

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, at its October meeting, ANC6B voted 6 – 0 – 2 to oppose Gaynor Jablonski’s plans to double the Ugly Mug’s seating capacity to nearly 200, expand the operation to the second floor, and add a 16X30 room with a retractable glass roof.  Nearby residents, landlords, and business owners rose to cite the Ugly Mug’s failure to live up to its Operating Agreement on trash, as well as its inability to mitigate the impact of rodents, noise, and odors with its current seating capacity of 89.

Commissioners said they had been bombarded with emails opposing the expansion, accompanied by graphic photos taken this week of rat feces, trash strewn in the rear of the restaurant, and open and overflowing dumpsters belonging to the Ugly Mug – this in the face of concerns on these very issues raised at last week’s ANC Planning and Zoning Committee.

One resident in an apartment directly across from the back of the Ugly Mug said from the first week she moved in in August she noticed that” in the evenings my apartment vibrates, the walls shake, and there is an intense low humming.…My apartment shakes so much and there is such a loud noise some evenings that it sounds like an airplane….on weekend evenings at around 1-2 a.m., I am sometimes awakened by overwhelming odors of … food.”

Diane Hoskins, representing neighbors north of Pennsylvania who support best operating practices for food and drink establishments on 7th Street near Eastern Market, urged the ANC to take a harder line with the Ugly Mug in an effort to impose best practices as standard operating procedures for both 7th Street and Barracks Row.

Jablonski had made few concessions since opposition arose at last week’s Planning and Zoning meeting.  He had agreed to close the retractable roof at 10:30pm Sunday through Thursday, at midnight on Friday and Saturday, and to cut back the occupancy slightly on the second floor.  But he’d made no progress to move in the direction of best practices on trash, noise, or odors, claiming that the cost was prohibitive.

Despite the concerns expressed by other commissioners, Commissioner Phil Peisch, in whose single member district the Ugly Mug resides, said that he could support the expansion if the owner agreed to close the retractable roof at 10:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and at 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday.  He was alone in articulating that support.

ABC Committee Chair Sara Loveland said Jablonski’s practices in managing the Ugly Mug “say you don’t care about the neighbors at all.”  She asked if he would consider expanding without the retractable roof.  Jablonski said no, that the roof was an attractive feature essential to the expansion.

Commissioner Pate cited his difficulty with the proximity of the sometimes open patio to neighbors, the lack of odor mitigation, and the graphic pictures of alley conditions behind the Ugly Mug.

Commissioner Frishberg told Jablonski that he had reached new heights of opposition – and that “doesn’t happen much.”

ANC Chair Brian Flahaven, who is normally pro-development and who said he was “inclined to try to work things out” to encourage businesses, told Jablonski he hadn’t made the case for expansion and moved to protest the application before the Alcohol Beverage Control Board on the basis of peace, order, and quiet.  The motion passed 6 – 0 – 2, with Commissioners Flahaven, Campbell, Opkins, Pate, Frishberg, and Oldenburg voting for the motion.  Commissioners Peisch and Loveland abstained.

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The Week Ahead…And, Shotgun House Lives On

The Shotgun House at 1229 E Street, SE

The Shotgun House at 1229 E Street, SE

The Week Ahead…And, The Shotgun House Lives On

by Larry Janezich

Shotgun House

On September 18, the Historic Preservation Review Board reaffirmed the “shotgun house” at 1229 E Street, SE, is a contributing structure to the Capitol Hill Historic District and found the demolition of the property to be inconsistent with the purposes of the preservation act. The Board recommended denial of the permit to raze the building and urged staff to coordinate resolution of the longstanding issues at the property with other District agencies. (See CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/1qAicMC)

The Week Ahead….

Tuesday, October 14

ANC6B meets at 7:00pm for its regular monthly meeting, in Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Update from Fire and EMS Department: Eugene A. Jones, Interim DC Fire Chief

Substantial change to Ugly Mug’s alcohol beverage license, 723 8th Street, SE, expansion of second floor & addition of 144 seats (100), changing total capacity to 242 (189).  (See CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/1vRfDce)

Red light camera request for Pennsylvania Avenue & 7th Street, SE.

2014 DC Circulator Transit Development Plan Update (See CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/1sjkLHj)

Tuesday, October 14

MPD Chief of Police Cathy Lanier is featured on “All Politics is Local,” with Tom Sherwood & Mark Segraves, from 7:00pm – 9:00pm at Hill Center.  This event is free.

Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Call here to register: 202-549-4172

Tuesday, October 14

At-Large DC Council candidates take questions from organizations and community leaders from around the city at 7:00pm, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D Street NW (Green Line – Gallery Place or Archives).  Free and Open to the Public

Tuesday, October 14

Ward 6 State Board of Education Candidates Forum, 6:30pm – 8:00pm, Eastern High School, 1700 E Capitol Street, SE.  Candidates: Mark Naydan & Joe Weedon.  More information here: http://chpspo.org/2014/09/25/ward-6-state-board-of-education-candidates-forum/

Wednesday, October 15

ANC6A Economic Development Committee meets at 7:00pm in the Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Gallaudet University – informational presentation regarding Gallaudet University’s application for further processing related to the construction of a new replacement dormitory for the Model Secondary School for the Deaf at the north end of the campus.

Request for a zoning variance for 1802 D Street, NE, to allow a child development center.

Request for a zoning variance for 1401 Florida Avenue, from height, parking, roof setback and HS Overlay requirements to allow construction of a multifamily residential building with ground floor retail.

Saturday, October 18

Second Ward 6 Fall Safety Festival, 11am to 4pm, Folger Park (3rd & D Streets SE).  The event is sponsored by Celebrate Capitol Hill and ANC6B in conjunction with the Annual Brent School Fall Festival.  Safety demonstrations, health screenings, light music, fire trucks and fun activities. More info: cburger@cbmove.com

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Eastern High Football – Eastern Defeats Roosevelt – Photo Essay

Eastern High Football – Eastern Defeats Roosevelt – Photo Essay

by Larry Janezich

Saturday afternoon, Eastern High Ramblers defeated the Roosevelt Raiders, 32 – 0.  Eastern’s remaining home games are:

October 24th, 7:00 p.m., against Cardozo;

November 7th, 7:00 p.m., against Phelps;

Admission tickets cost $5.

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Ugly Mug Seeks to Double Seating & Add Retractable Roof – Photos

Rendering of the Glass Roof in Closed Position

Rendering of the Glass Roof in Closed Position

...And Open.  The Panels Slide to the Sides and Stack on Top of the First Row of Panels

…And Open. The Panels Slide to the Sides and Stack on Top of the First Two Rows of Panels, Leaving a Ten Foot Opening

Jablonski Makes His Case to the ANC6B's ABC Committee

Jablonski Makes His Case to the ANC6B’s ABC Committee

Ugly Mug Seeks to Double Seating & Add Retractable Roof – Photos

Owner Claims His Hands Are Tied on Rodent/Trash Issues

by Larry Janezich

Last night Gaynor Jablonski, owner of the Ugly Mug on 8th Street and District Two Bar & Grill and Jake’s American Grill in NW, presented his request for a proposed second floor expansion of the Ugly Mug to ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Committee.  Any substantial change in a liquor license (increased seating) requires approval of the Alcohol Beverage Review Board (ABRA), and the ANC’s weigh in on the question.  The committee makes a recommendation to the full ANC, which meets next week.

Jablonski’s plan entails gutting the two current second floor apartments above the “Mug” and adding a new 16 x 30 foot room behind them, providing room for an additional 100 seats to his restaurant and raising the capacity from the current 89 to a total of 189.  The new 16 x 30 room would have a retractable glass roof which would open when the weather allowed for it.

Considerable resistance has developed among nearby residents, not only from those in close proximity, but from those who are trying to impose standard best operating practices regarding noise, odor, trash disposal and rodent control for all of the food establishments on Barracks Row.  Recently, neighbors have organized successfully to bring best operating practices as a condition of &Pizza’s approval for an outlet on Barracks Row.  Commissioner Ivan Frishberg has stated that he hoped that would become a model for the rest of the food businesses on the street.

Jablonski spent considerable time explaining why his hands were tied by structural and economic limitations regarding his ability to address trash and rodent concerns.  “Why should I be penalized for having come here 8 years ago?” he asked the Committee.

Clearly, nearby neighbors who were in attendance felt that the answer to that question is that Jablonski is asking to more than double the size of his operation, while not taking robust measures to mitigate the effects of this expansion on the neighborhood.

Seven of those nearby neighbors who attended the meeting in the cramped Frager’s Conference Room on the third floor of the Hill Center rose to express their concerns, which focused especially on trash and noise (Jablonski intends to move his DJ from the first to the second floor) but included parking as well.

Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg alluded to a large volume of emails commissioners had received expressing concerns about the expansion.

One resident of the block spoke in favor of the expansion, saying she encouraged development and thought that additional foot traffic would benefit Barracks Row.  She said the Ugly Mug had been a responsible neighbor, and that she had moved to her apartment on the block expecting to live with the noise generated by a commercial strip.

The greatest concerns of committee members seemed to be trash, rodents, and limiting the time when the glass roof would be opened.  Jablonski is hoping the committee will approve the same closing time for the glass roof as for his outdoor patio, 11:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday.  He said that providing inside trash storage would be prohibitively expensive.  Regarding odors, he said he thought controls were unnecessary,
“the odor coming out is good – its food.”  He said he was willing to “look into it” but “it would be very expensive.”

Commissioner Brian Pate told Jablonski that he was asking the committee to create “additional externalities which are problems for the neighbors…I’d like to think there’s a better way of dealing with trash than when you moved in to the space” in 2008, and Pate urged Jablonski to find a way to address the trash and rodent issues, saying he can’t support the request for expansion unless Jablonski comes up with best practices.  Jablonski said “It will be very expensive, but I have no problem with giving it a shot.”

Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg said that for her there were two issues – trash, which in her opinion a voluntary agreement cannot control because management schemes fail, and hours for having the glass roof open, which can be controlled.

Committee Chair Sara Loveland said she was inclined to support the expansion if hours for the open roof could be finalized and the trash issue could be addressed.

The committee subsequently voted 5 – 0 to take no position regarding a recommendation to the full committee which will take up the issue at its meeting next Tuesday at Hill Center, when it will hear again from Jablonski.

ABRA is scheduled to hear the request on November 10.

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