Monthly Archives: November 2011

Councilmember Wells’ Changes to Ward Six Redistricting Plan Get Solid Backing From Ward’s ANC Commissioners and Fengler

Councilmember Wells’ Changes to Ward Six Redistricting Plan Get Solid Backing From Ward’s ANC Commissioners and Fengler

by Larry Janezich

The City Council heard on Tuesday, November 29, from all Ward Six ANC Commissioners and Ward Six Redistricting Task Force Chair Joe Fengler (the latter by proxy) that the commissioners and Fengler had lined up solidly behind Councilmember Wells’ amendments to the Ward Six Task Force Redistricting plan. 

For ANC6B, this means united support from all quarters for the plan which would leave East Capitol Street as the northern boundary of ANC6B, eliminating the threat that ANC6C’s southern boundary would be extended to Independence Avenue between 7th Street and the Capitol Building.  Last fall, residents in the affected area had mounted an intense campaign to stay within ANC6B. 

The united front increases the likelihood that the Redistricting Subcommittee – comprised of Chair Michael Brown, Councilmember Jack Evans, and Councilmember Phil Mendelsohn – will back Wells’ plan. 

The City Council left the official record open until December 9th, after which the door will close on public comment.  The three members of the Subcommittee will then “take stock” and hold a public “mark-up” session during the week of December 12.  At that meeting, the Subcommittee will introduce and consider their recommendations for the Ward and ANC single member district boundary changes. 

The first reading of the bills to set the new boundaries before the City Council will occur on December 20.  Under DC law, the second reading and final passage of the bill to set the Ward boundaries must occur before the end of December.  The law requires boundaries of single member districts to be set by the end of January, so second reading and final passage of that bill will occur after the New Year.

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Deputy Mayor’s Office Cited Misleading Data Justifying Award to Hine Developer – FOIA Permits Closer Look at Manufactured Consensus for Stanton’s Hine Development

Site of Proposed Development

Deputy Mayor’s Office Cited Misleading Data Justifying Award to Hine Developer – FOIA Permits Closer Look at Manufactured Consensus for Stanton’s Hine Development

by Larry Janezich

In a June 2010 email, Corey Lee, Deputy Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (DMPED) Project Manager for the Hine Jr. High development, listed community support as one of the five reasons the contract was awarded to Stanton-Eastbanc, i.e., “(v) the large amount of community support (none of the ten (10) teams documented more community support for its project than S-E).”

A Freedom of Information Act request reveals that, indeed, the Stanton/Eastbanc team garnered 119 emails of support during the public comment period, which ran from June through August of 2009, while its closest competitor, the Menkiti/Streetsense/DSF team, had only 34.

Yet a closer look at those emails supporting Stanton shows some startling results.  Of the 119 letters, 74 were form letters.  More troubling, research demonstrates that most emails, whether form letters or not, were written by someone who had a conflict of interest – realtors who work alongside one of the principals of Stanton Development, business associates, tenants, family members, or friends of the family.  But the Deputy Mayor’s Office solicitation of public comments required no disclosure of such conflicts, and in all cases but five no disclosure was given.  Nor was a supporter required to give an address; several letters supporting Stanton were written from outside Capitol Hill, or even outside the District of Columbia.  While the Deputy Mayor’s Office cited “documented” community support as one of the reasons it selected Stanton/Eastbanc, the office had no resident or conflict of interest screening mechanism by which to judge the letters of support that it received. 

If the pool of emails – both form letters and original letters – in support of Stanton is narrowed to those without a known business or personal connection to the developer and to those sent by Capitol Hill residents, then the support for Stanton is reduced to 28 letters, compared to 34 for Streetsense, all of which came from Capitol Hill residents, and none with obvious conflicts of interest.  To tally these results, each person whose name appeared on a letter in support of a developer was counted as one vote, regardless of the number of emails sent. 

As many readers will remember, the process of selecting a developer for the Hine project became controversial on June 17, 2010, with the endorsement of Stanton-Eastbanc by the CHRS on a perfunctory and nearly unanimous voice vote (there was one abstention) of the CHRS Board, without questions or debate, and based on the recommendation ad hoc committee comprised of a few board members.  (Then-Councilmember Kwame Brown subsequently said publicly that it was the CHRS decision which was the deciding factor in his vote for awarding the contract to Stanton.)  The first form letter supporting Stanton was sent to the Deputy Mayor’s office earlier that same day, originating with a Stanton business neighbor.  This first wave of support for Stanton was seemingly aimed at influencing the upcoming June 30 ANC6B vote on recommending a developer, since the letters in this first wave – both form letters and unique letters of support – copied ANC6B Commissioner Mary Wright (in whose Single Member District the project lies), and ANC6B Chair Dave Garrison. 

When the ANC met on June 30 in a small, overcrowded room in the Old Naval Hospital, it heard from the community members.  By the end of the meeting, it was clear that a strong majority of those present favored the StreetSense proposal.  The Commission avoided making a recommendation, and instead voted for a series of criteria which should be met by whichever developer was awarded the project.    

Following this public show of support in favor of Streetsense, between July 4 and July 10, a blizzard of form letters in support of Stanton arrived at the Deputy Mayor’s office inbox, no longer copied to ANC Commissioners.  The first of this second wave of form letters starts on July 4, from family friends of the developer.  Another set of form letters begins on July 6 from a realtor associated with the one of the principals of Stanton Development; this set is copied to the entire city council. 

Developers often have ties and relations to certain commercial or community interests, and it may well be that enumerating these connections provides a useful indicator or measure of something.  Whatever that something is, it is not community support.  Community members unfettered by conflict of interest issues have a role in naming their preferences among the finalists, whether as individuals or local groups.  This role extends to noting components of a design that spell trouble, and asking for benefits in return for the negatives the project brings to the community, including more crowded neighborhoods and streets.  

Almost a year ago, Capitol Hill resident Kathleen Frydl requested a meeting with the Deputy Mayor’s Office to discuss how it assesses community support since the selection of Stanton, but to date, the Office has not scheduled the meeting.

“I think a distinction needs to be drawn between documenting community connections,” Frydl says, “versus documenting community support.”  The former might be impressive, she notes, but compromised by sufficient conflict of interest questions so as to reduce the value of the input given.  “While it may be insightful and it may be heartfelt, input from people with a financial or personal relationship to the developer is just not the same as input spontaneously given by a neighbor who reviews the plans,” she said.  Frydl also believes that an open-ended and unscreened process might be the District’s preference, but, if so, she thinks that the Deputy Mayor’s Office should not rely upon it as a mechanism to help select a winning bid. 

On November 23, Stanton-Eastbanc filed an application for a Hine Planned Unit Development with the city’s Office of Planning.  That initiates a process under which a final design for the development will be agreed upon and amenities granted to the community to compensate it for the increased density the project will bring to the community.  The Office of Planning is organized under and reports to the DMPED, but as a practical matter it operates as a separate agency. 

DMPED tracks the project for the Mayor and, as the facilitator for the original Land Disposition and Development Agreement (LDDA), interprets the terms of the agreement on behalf of the Mayor.  In this sense, DMPED will likely continue to be a key stakeholder in the process, especially regarding definition of terms.

In this PUD process, the community will be represented to the Office of Planning and the Zoning Commission by a Subcommittee of ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee.  The Subcommittee includes resident members representing CHRS, EMCAC, CHAMPS, EMMCA, Eyes on Hine, and the Eastern Market North Neighbors Association.  CHRS is participating with the understanding it will seek separate party status in the final hearing before the Zoning Commission, which will give it special status, time for a lengthier presentation, and the ability to call expert witnesses in support of its position.  In the last PUD process CHRS participated in, the group negotiated an $83,000 mitigation for the demolition of twelve historic buildings in the way of the new Dreyfuss development on H Street, NE.  CHRS then used those funds to conduct a survey for its “Beyond the Boundaries Project,” for the purpose of facilitating the expansion of the Historic District. 

Subcommittee Chairman Ivan Frishberg has stated that it is not the Subcommittee’s intent to preclude any organization from seeking party status, but rather to strengthen the ANC position in negotiations with Stanton-Eastbanc and the Office of Planning. 

CHRS will host a meeting for Stanton-Eastbanc to present its latest plans to the public on December 12.  The next meeting of the Subcommittee will be on December 14.


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Stanton-Eastbanc Files Application For Planned Unit Development on Hine Project – Latest Drawings For Hine Development Released

View of North Building from C Street, Looking North

View from 8th Street, Looking West

View from 8th Street, Looking West

View from 7th Street, Looking East

View from Pennsylvania Avenue, Looking North, Showing Height in Relation to Adjacent Buildings

View from Pennsylvania Avenue, Looking North

Stanton-Eastbanc Files Application For Public Unit Development on Hine Project – Latest Drawings For Hine Development Released

By Larry Janezich

Stanton Eastbanc filed an application for a Public Unit Development on the Hine Development on Wednesday, November 23.  Included in the document are the latest architectural renderings for the project.  To download an electronic copy, please click on the following or copy it to your browser address line.

Since it is a large file it may take several minutes to download.

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Thanksgiving Day Morning, 2011

Eastern Market, 8:25am, Thanksgiving Day

Eastern Market Metro, 8:30am, Thanksgiving Day

Pennsylvania Avenue, 8:30am, Thanksgiving Day

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Stanton-Eastbanc Files Latest Hine Plans and Zoning Change Request Today – Community Group Organizes on Hine Re-Zoning Process

ANC6B Subcommittee on Hine Re-Zoning Meets at The Hill Center 

Stanton-Eastbanc Files Latest Hine Plans and Zoning Change Request Today – Community Group Organizes on Hine Re-Zoning Process

by Larry Janezich

On Monday night, ANC 6B hosted the first meeting of its special Subcommittee to deal with the Hine Redevelopment re-zoning request – part of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process.  The PUD process is designed to overcome existing zoning requirements, giving the community an opportunity to make changes in the development in exchange for those variances.  The Subcommittee is chaired by ANC6B Commissioner Ivan Frishberg, with Commissioner Brian Pate serving as Vice Chair.   

The Committee brings together ANC 6B Commissioners with representatives of CHRS, EMCAC, CHAMPS, Eyes on Hine, Hine School North Neighbors, and EMMCA.  Former ANC 6B Commissioner Ken Jarboe is also part of the group.

Stanton Eastbanc is expected to file their request for the zoning change with the Office of Planning today.  This will be a massive document containing the latest project drawings and specifications.  Hard copies of the document will be limited, though the Subcommittee will insist that the developers provide a copy for Southeast Library, and it will be available on line, with links from the ANC website. 

The process will culminate in negotiations involving concession (changes in design), amenities (gifts to the public), and mitigation (palliative measures).  The entire negotiation is designed to compensate the community for the impact of the increased density which the $300 million project will bring to the Eastern Market neighborhood.  The PUD process will necessitate months of meetings involving the developer, the community, and the Office of Planning; these will culminate in a final hearing next spring where the Zoning Commission will hear from the public.

The Subcommittee is working on the assumption that the final Zoning commission hearing will be next May.

Vice Chair Pate outlined suggested operational procedures for the Subcommittee involving an initial organizational phase, an outreach phase including an ANC Special Call meeting, negotiation with the developer regarding mitigation and amenities beginning in January, and the formulation of a final position to take to the Zoning Commission.

At the meeting, several working groups were appointed.  One will be a technical working group to dissect the PUD filing; another will be an outreach group to engage the community; another group will address specific aspects such as transportation, construction management and maintenance of the flea market; and a final group for financial analysis. 

In a separate action, CHRS will hold a public meeting on December 12 for Stanton Eastbanc to make a presentation to the community on the PUD filing.  The next meeting of the ANC 6B Subcommittee will be on December 14.

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Ward Six Representatives Attack Process of Enactment of DC Internet Gambling Law – DC Lottery Seeks Community Support in Ward Six Meeting

DC Lottery Hosts Public Meeting on Internet Gambling in North Hall on Monday Night

Ward Six Representatives Attack Process of Enactment of DC Internet Gambling Law

DC Lottery Seeks Community Support in Ward Six Meeting

by Larry Janezich

More than 60 people turned out Monday night for DC Lottery’s last in a series of public meetings to assess public support for legalized internet gambling (iGaming) in DC.  The meeting held in Eastern Market’s North Hall was hosted by DC Lottery, the sponsor of iGaming, and was attended by Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Michael Brown.

iGaming typically refers to websites where players wager money on games of skill or chance such as Blackjack, Bingo, and Poker.  Last December, the DC Council adopted language as part of the Budget Act that authorizes the DC Lottery to offer iGaming via the internet within the District.  Councilmember Michael Brown sponsored the iGaming initiative; Councilmembers Wells and Mendelson have introduced legislation to repeal the measure.

In opening remarks, Wells made clear that iGaming is gambling and said it would not result in many new jobs for the District.  Stating that the Monday night meeting was not part of the Council’s process and not a substitute for a hearing, he noted that proper process was not followed by the Council in approval of the law.  Wells asked for a show of hands, which revealed that Ward Six residents were a minority of those present.  One Ward Six resident who attended the meeting said that all of the non-Ward Six attendees who spoke were in favor of iGaming. 

Councilmember Michael Brown put forward the legislation as an amendment to the Budget legislation last December, circumventing the public hearings typically required for such legislation.  ANC6B Chair Neil Glick, a strong critic of the process by which the measure became law, believes, that this maneuver was “not democracy,” adding that the “last time I checked we live in a democratic society.”  Glick said he would introduce a resolution opposing iGaming in DC for a vote at ANC6B’s December meeting. 

Though Councilmember Michael Brown has justified his support of iGaming as a means of raising badly needed revenue, critics say that Brown’s anticipated annual revenue of up to $6 million from iGaming is inflated.  DC Lottery says iGaming will be available only within DC boundaries in businesses such as bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels, but not in public buildings like schools, libraries, or federal buildings.

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This Week ……..

This Week ……..

Monday, November 21

DC Lottery Board Ward 6 iGaming Meeting.  6:30pm – 8:30pm.  Eastern Market North Hall. 

Monday, November 21

ANC6B’s Sub-Committee on the Hine Redevelopment Project will hold an organizational meeting to discuss the Subcommittee’s approach the Planned Unit Development process for the Hine Project. 7:00pm. 3d floor conference room of The Hill Center. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ANC6B Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force meeting. 7:00pm. 3rd floor conference room of The Hill Center.

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Info Hub and EM Metro Plaza Plans Continue to Evolve – Bike Storage Upgrade Is Likely

Possible New Location of Info Hub Is in Red. Bike Racks, Orange. The Metro Is Marked in Blue.

Info Hub and EM Metro Plaza Plans Continue to Evolve

Bike Storage Upgrade Is Likely

by Larry Janezich

Chuck Burger, CHRS Board member, told the Restoration Society Board Tuesday night that major developments on the Info Hub proposed for Eastern Market Metro Plaza had taken place in the last 30 days.  A final design and final drawings are expected shortly – it is likely the structure will shrink by ten feet to provide a better fit into a new location and to bring it into scale with its surroundings. 

CELEBRATE the nonprofit foundation created by members of CHAMPS to promote commercial development on the Hill, has commitments for $50,000 in contributions to cover three years of operating costs for the Hub.  DOT required CELEBRATE to raise the funds before DOT will move ahead with the project.  Fund raising by CELEBRATE will be an ongoing process, since the estimated annual operating costs for the Hub have increased from $16,000 to $20 – $22,000.  Once a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is reached with the community regarding the operation of the Info Hub, DOT can issue a request for proposals (RFP) which will initiate the contracting process.   CELEBRATE anticipates that this will be the first of several projects to promote the Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row commercial corridor. 

Burger described ideas in play for the plaza to make it more useable for the community – emphasizing that nothing is set in stone.  Major changes for bike storage look likely.  According to Burger, the so-called “bike coffins” at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street are unsightly and underused.  One proposal would relocate the secure bike parking from that corner to the triangle between Dunkin’ Donuts and Pennsylvania Avenue.  WAMATA insists on secure storage for 15 – 20 percent of the bike parking.  One suggestion to address this requirement involves a cage facility accessed by a time card that would permit short term 48 hours storage.  Bikes racks for additional parking may be placed across from the Library and surrounded with greenery.  Additional bike racks might roughly parallel the Bikeshare rack on Pennsylvania Avenue, but lie closer to the Info Hub. 

CELEBRATE fully supports ANC6B’s request to redo the landscape.  ANC6B expects that a formal request to DOT for Performance Parking Funds for this purpose will be forthcoming.  Some of the details being discussed for the landscaping plan involve raising the planting areas and surrounding them with low walls 12 to 30 inches high, some of which could provide seating for plaza users.  An underground irrigation system is being discussed to water the new landscaping, as is incorporating a rain garden into the design. 

DOT has agreed to fund the $180,000 Info Hub from Performance Parking Funds designated to be returned to the community for non-automotive transportation projects.   Burger said that an advisory board – comprised of representatives of Capitol Hill BID, the CHRS and other stakeholders, will oversee the operation of the Info Hub.

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Councilmember Michael Brown Pays ANC 6B A Visit

Councilmember Michael Brown: "I Saved Ward Six."

Councilmember Michael Brown Pays ANC 6B A Visit

by Larry Janezich

The highlight of last Tuesday night’s ANC 6B meeting was the appearance of At-Large DC Councilmember Michael Brown, who wasted little time in claiming credit for keeping Hill East within Ward 6 in the recent redistricting battle.  “I saved Ward 6,” Brown stated flatly, an assertion that seemed to rankle ANC Commissioner Campbell, who challenged Brown by expressing his concern about losing Reservation 13 to Ward 7.  Brown responded by saying that he “didn’t do anything that the Councilmember [for the relevant ward] didn’t want done,” implying that Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells approved, if only tacitly, of the transfer. 

Asked what his vision was for Reservation 13, Brown downplayed reports of a Redskins training camp for the site saying he favored multi-use or mixed-use projects, including shopping, retail, and green space – ways in which the community will benefit and the District will get tax revenues.  He noted that the area constituted the largest undeveloped plot of land in the District of Columbia.

Regarding the contentious proposal to extend the boundary of ANC6C to Independence Avenue at the expense of ANC6B, Brown said the City Council will hold hearings and have to decide whether to take the recommendations of the Ward Six Redistricting Task Force.  Wells – against the Task Force recommendation – supports an East Capitol boundary for ANC6C. 

In other business, repentant Department of Transportation Public Space manager Matthew Marcou appeared before ANC 6B to acknowledge that the process for licensing use of public space permits was being revised to provide “better coordination, apparently an acknowledgment that the recent licensing of the 18th Amendment sidewalk café without ANC 6B input suffered from a lapse in just such a process.  Public Space Inspections Chief Elliott Edwards said complaints about public space use are inspected by his office within 72 hours.  ANC Commissioners did not seem prepared to take the initiative in reporting what appear to be violations of public space use by sidewalk cafes on Pennsylvania Avenue and 8th Street, SE.  Concerned citizens should call 311 to report violations.  

The Commission also took the following actions: 

Supported the new beer and wine license request for Pound;

Approved the creation of a Subcommittee on the Hine Redevelopment Project;

Agreed to send a request to Protective Services Police Department requesting regular reports on crime statistics for incidents taking place on Reservation 13, noting that the lack of data obscures the true picture of crime trends in the neighborhood and makes it easier for DC government to continue to increase social services provided at Reservation 13.

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ANC6B Calls Out DOT Officials For Usurping ANC’s Authority – Chair Neil Glick Requests Officials Appear Tuesday To Explain Preempting ANC

DOT Preemptive Approval of 18th Amendment's Sidewalk Cafe Ruffles ANC Feathers - Lax Enforcement of Regulations Also an Issue

ANC6B Calls Out DOT Officials For Usurping ANC’s Authority – Chair Neil Glick Requests Officials Appear Tuesday To Explain Preempting ANC

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, Matthew Marcou, Deputy Project Manager, DC Department of Transportation, and others will appear before ANC6B responding to a request from Chair Neil Glick.  At issue is the ANC’s authority over the administration of public space, which ultimately comes under the DC Department of Transportation, but only after review and recommendation by the appropriate ANC..  Glick’s request came because at ANC6B’s October meeting ANC6B found that the DOT Public Space Committee had approved a public space permit for a sidewalk café for the 18th Amendment – the bar/restaurant at 613 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE – before the permit request had come before the ANC.  ANC6B is taking umbrage at this preemption of its authority, hence Marcou’s appearance to explain how it happened.  Glick said at the October meeting, “I don’t believe they know how bad the process is.” 

Marcou may also get some tough questions concerning another matter raised by a resident attending the October meeting, on the lax enforcement of public space regulations which require six feet between a sidewalk café and a tree box.  A walk down Pennsylvania Avenue at lunch time shows infringements on public space at several establishments. 

ANC6B will meet on Tuesday at 7:00pm at the Hill Center.


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