Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, October 1

CHRS Historic Preservation Committee meets at 6:30pm, Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE

Tuesday, October 2

ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee meets 7pm – 9pm, St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue SE

Agenda includes:

Historic Preservation application for new condos at 1211 G Street, SE

Closure of 300 block of 7th Street, SE, during construction of the Hine School

Consideration of Stanton-Eastbanc, LLC’s October 1st Procedural Order Proffer

Wednesday, October 3

ANC 6B Transportation Committee Meets 6:30pm – 8:00pm, Hill Center

Agenda includes:

Traffic Study Request to District Department of Transportation (4th & 5th Streets between East Capitol Street & Pennsylvania Avenue SE)

Discussion of 8th Street SE Pedestrian Crossing Signals at E and G Streets SE

Discussion of 8th Street SE Pedestrian Crossing at D Street SE

Proposal to use Performance Parking Community Funds for the park at 8th Street and Independence and North Carolina Avenues SE

Thursday, October 4

ANC6B ABC Committee meets at 7pm, Hill Center

Agenda includes:

Increase occupancy and operating hours for La Plaza, 629 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

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ANC6B Task Force Takes on Vacant Properties

Vacant House at 735 12th Street, SE Has Troubled Neighbors for Years

ANC6B Task Force Takes on Vacant Properties

by Larry Janezich

Thursday night, Commissioner Brian Pate’s Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force met in order to continue exploring ways to deal with the ongoing problem of vacant and blighted properties.

On hand were several residents living in close proximity the property pictured above at 735 12th Street, SE; Kim Graziani of the Center for Community Progress; and Reuben Pemberton, program manager, Vacant Building Enforcement, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Residences within 500 feet of a vacant house lose between 2 and 10 percent in value depending on existing conditions, according to Kim Graziani.  By that measure, with up to 2700 vacant or blighted properties in DC, a significant number of DC residents are affected.

Residents often don’t realize that the city does not automatically monitor and deal with vacant buildings.  Regardless of how long a property has been vacant, it doesn’t start being a vacant property until it comes to the city’s attention in the form or a complaint. 

Once a property is identified, Pemberton can impose a tax on it to motivate the owner to fix or sell the property.  The tax is $5 per $100 of the assessed value for vacant houses and $10 per $100 of the assessed value for blighted houses – an annual tax of $20,000 on a $200,000 property in the latter case.

Enforcement can be a problem, according to Pemberton.  Owners can apply for an exemption from the higher tax for a variety of reasons, including economic hardship and good faith efforts to sell or renovate the property.  However, there is a limit on the exemption:  three years for a single owner and five years for a property.  After that, the city could move to condemn and demolish the property, but that is a long process and expensive for the taxpayer.  Pemberton says the purpose of his office is to get that property functional and to turn abandoned properties into assets.  “It’s not our business to tear down properties, we want to save them,” he said.  But making vacant and blighted properties viable depends on many factors: locating the owner, economic realities (location of the property), and availability of a purchaser.

Pemberton stresses that the Mayor is aware of the problem and wants to do something and   Pemberton has taken the initiative, cobbling together a loose task force involving his office along with representatives of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, the Office of Tax and Revenue, and the Department of Housing and Community Development to deal with the worst vacant or blighted houses.

Graziani’s organization – the Center for Community Progress – is a national organization that addresses the issue of vacant properties.  The organization provides advocacy, technical assistance and organizational development services to governments and activists to help implement strategies to prevent and reuse vacant properties.  Graziani lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and offered to continue the dialogue both with the ANC Task Force and Pemberton.  For more information:  At the level of city council, Pemberton cited Councilmember Jack Evans and Muriel bowser as being particularly active on the issue of vacant properties.

To report a vacant or blighted building, email, or call 202 442 4332.

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Marvelous Market Evolves Into The Silver Spork

Marvelous Market Evolves Into The Silver Spork

by Larry Janezich

Seth Shapiro – Managing Partner of “Just Around the Corner LLC” – announced on Monday that after six years as a Marvelous Market, the retail food venue across from Eastern Market would relinquish its association with the Marvelous Market chain and become “the local independent shop we have strived to be all this time.”

Shapiro says, “We have chosen the name ‘The Silver Spork’ and that is a big change, but really not too much will.  We will continue to search for quality products that can be offered in our quick serve environment.”

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DC General Counsel Nails Coffin on Changes to Hine Development

DC General Counsel Nails Coffin on Changes to Hine Development

by Larry Janezich

The DC General Counsel has found that there is no reason at present to go back to the drawing board on the Hine project.

At a contentious community meeting last May 23, Councilmember Tommy Wells, under pressure from the community,  pledged to ask the DC General Counsel for a legal opinion on whether Stanton-Eastbanc’s expansion of the Hine project beyond what the city initially approved constitutes a violation of the contract with the city which would trigger a rebid of the contract.   The councilmember agreed to do so and to post the opinion on his website.

ANC6B candidate Jerry Sroufe, who is running against current Commissioner Ivan Frishberg for the ANC6B02 seat which includes the Hine project, obtained a copy of the General Counsel’s 14 page opinion and shared it with Capitol Hill Corner.  Sroufe testified before the Zoning Commission against greater height and density for the project.

The “Short Answer” provided by the General Counsel states:  “Neither statutory law, the land disposition and development agreement, nor the zoning regulations provide for a rebid due to changes in design or construction.  Rather the District’s legal framework for land development anticipates changes and provides procedures for changes to be approved or disapproved throughout the development process.

Firstly, the Mayor is required to transmit to the Council for approval any substantive change made in a term sheet after the Council’s initial approval of a development.  To date, no substantive change has been transmitted and, based on available documents, no change has been made to the term sheet.

Secondly, under the agreement between the District and the developer for the Hine site, material changes require approval of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Planning and Development, the Mayor’s delegate; non-material changes do not require approval.

Thirdly, pursuant to its statutory powers, the Zoning Commission, which must approve a planned unit development, has the authority to grant or deny requests for relief from the requirements of its zoning regulations.

Termination of the agreement, by either party, would end the current developer’s development of the project.  Only then might a rebid be necessary.”

City agencies, including the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development, the Office of Planning, the Historic Preservation Review Board, and the Zoning Commission have all lined up in support of the project which is the largest commercial development ever undertaken in the Capitol Hill Historic District.  The proposed development generated considerable opposition from nearby neighbors and others who were concerned about the impact of the project on the quality of life in the neighborhood.  It is also fair to say that much of the neighborhood would have preferred a rival bid for the Hine development, one that was smaller, more attractive in the eyes of many, and better-funded.  Since the term sheet has been signed, Stanton/Eastbanc has compiled a laundry list of disappointments for the community:  lost tenants and amenities, including a neighborhood hotel; lost space for the weekend flea market; and greater height and density in the overall project.

The text of the full document, which constitutes a comprehensive review and discussion of the legal steps in the commercial development of city property, can be found in a separate page under the “Pages” directory on the lower right of the CHC homepage, or by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Correction:  The document also appears on Councilmember Wells’ website here:

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The Week Ahead…..

The Week Ahead…..

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, September 25

ANC 6B Executive Committee Meeting, 7pm-8pm, Hill Center

Tuesday, September 25

Capitol Hill Restoration Society hears Jennifer Steingasser, Deputy Director of Development Review and Historic Preservation, DC Office of Planning, speaks to CHRS members and the community on what the proposed rewrite of the DC Zoning regulations and what it could mean for Capitol Hill.  7pm-9pm at Hill Center.   During the Zoning Commission on the Hine Project, the Office of Planning was fully supportive of increased height and density for the Hine Project.

Wednesday, September 26

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) will meet at 7pm in Eastern Market’s North Hall.  Among items on the agenda is discussion of the closing of the 300 block of 7th Street for the flea markets.

Thursday, September 27

ANC 6B Outreach and Constituent Services Taskforce meets 7pm to 9pm at Hill.  The taskforce will continue to review its research regarding vacant and blighted housing policy.  In addition, Kim Graziani, Vice President of Community Building for the Center for Community Progress, will speak on the topic.

Sunday, September 29

Hill Center Open House from 10:30am until 2:00pm, featuring commemoration of Civil War era anchor at 10:30am.

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Protestors Outnumber Nazis Thirty to One – Photos of the Counter Demonstration

Protestors block East Capitol at 9th Street, halting Nazis march to the Capitol

Some demonstrators attempt to turn the protest into a sit down demonstration at 8th and East Capitol

Dedicated protesters appear to invite arrest but later were persuaded to move aside

Metropolitan Police Stand Ready to Clear the Streets

Demonstrators give way to mounted police

Demonstrators show strength of numbers in front of Folger Library

US Capitol Police in riot gear joined Metropolitan Police at 2nd an East Capitol where the march turned south to Pennsylvania Avenue before continuing around the Capitol

Protestors Outnumber Nazis Thirty to One – Photos of the Counter Demonstration

by Larry Janezich

A small group of 12 Neo-Nazis who had secured a demonstration and marching permit elicited a protest of several hundred strong and a large Metropolitan, U.S. Park and U.S. Capitol Police presence of well more than a hundred officers and dozens of squad cars.  Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander was on hand to oversee police operations.

The Nazis arrived by bus at Lincoln Park just past noon and were greeted by jeers, taunts and chants from protesters gathered on the corners of 11th and East Capitol Streets.  The Nazis started out for the Capitol about 12:20pm, with six mounted police clearing their path forward, their flanks lined by Metropolitan Police on bicycles and motorcycles who warned march protestors to stay on the sidewalks.  Protesters halted the march three times on East Capitol, at 9th, 8th, and 7th Streets each time dispersing after hearing a warning that they were in violation and subject to arrest.  Police were ready with paddy wagons and plastic handcuffs but rather than arresting protestors on the final attempt to halt the march, disbursed them with mounted police.

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Eastbanc’s Hine Negotiator Named CEO of Georgetown BID

Eastbanc’s Hine Negotiator Named CEO of Georgetown BID

by Larry Janezich

Thursday, the Georgetown BID announced Joe Sternlieb will be its new CEO.  Sternlieb is familiar to those following the Hine development as the public face of Eastbanc in the Stanton Eastbanc partnership that won the bid from the city to develop the Hine project, and the chief negotiator with the ANC6B representatives on the memorandum of agreement outlining community benefits and amenities.  Since Sternlieb joined Eastbanc as vice president of acquisitions, Eastbanc has been awarded two plum city projects – the West End Library and the Hine development.  Both have aroused considerable controversy within their respective neighborhoods, although Eastbanc made far greater concessions to the community on the West End project once it became clear that Councilmember Jack Evans would not vote for the Land Disposition Agreement unless the developer did so.

In his new position, Sternlieb will be responsible for promoting Georgetown as a retail and entertainment destination as well as its potential as a location for new office buildings.  He will also oversee the BID’s administrative, financial and daily operations.

Sternlieb has a long record of service as a political activist, fundraiser and local government official.  He raised funds for Mayor Fenty and for Councilmember Mary Cheh.  His wife, Linda Singer, was appointed DC Attorney General by Fenty, and served a year before resigning, reportedly because Fenty relied more on the Office of DC General Council for legal advice.

In the early 1990’s he was an elected member of ANC 2C.  Between 1993 and 1996 he was the Staff Director of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Economic Development where he managed legislative work related to the creation of the Washington Convention Center Authority, the MCI Center, Industrial Revenue Bond Forward Commitments, and Business Improvement Districts.

While working for Eastbanc, Sternlieb was a reliable presence at DC Council hearings and ANC 6B meetings concerning the Hine Development.  His close ties to city government as well his own expertise made him a formidable force throughout the Hine Development project.  It is unclear whether Eastbanc will assign a new face to the Hine project, or whether local developers at Stanton will now take the lead in future discussions.

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CHRS Considers Weighing In On City Closure of 7th Street For Flea Market

CHRS Considers Weighing In On City Closure of 7th Street For Flea Market

by Larry Janezich

Last night the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) Board of Directors heard a request from Barbara Eck, the Board’s representative to EMCAC, that the Board write a letter to the city in support of EMCAC’s position that the city close the 300 block of 7th Street to accommodate the flea market during the construction period for the Hine project.  The request was supported by Board Member Chuck Burger, who sits on EMCAC in his capacity as a representative of CHAMPS, and Board Member Monte Edwards, who sits on EMCAC in his capacity as a representative of the Stanton Park Association.

In support of the request, Burger said, “We have to take care of the vendors.  The question comes up who should be responsible for the vendors?”  Board Member Gary Petersen said, “Who should control the vendors is a separate issue we shouldn’t have to get involved in.  The flea market is clearly a part of the culture of Eastern Market and we should support it.”

Board Member Elizabeth Nelson said she wasn’t sure the CHRS should take sides without assessing the impact on the “brick and mortar” businesses on the block.  Her concerns were shared by Board Member Shauna Holmes.

For the first time in the public debate, the issue of compensation for the “brick and mortar” merchants was raised.  Burger noted, “We need more ammo to get compensation for the brick and mortar merchants.”  It was unclear what he was referring to, but it is known that the brick and mortar merchants are formulating a position on the street closure at the request of ANC6B.  As a representative of CHAMPS, Burger is a likely participant or coordinator of that effort.  It is also noteworthy that one of the Hine developers, Stanton Development, owns several of the buildings housing the “brick and mortar” merchants on the block.

At the September meeting of the ANC, Commissioner Brian Pate announced he would postpone until October his resolution requesting closure of the street during the Hine construction period, in order to give the merchants on 7th Street an opportunity to have input on the proposed street closure.  ANC6B has been at odds with EMCAC over the closure, with the ANC trying to provide some protection for the current flea market managers, and EMCAC trying to put the flea market under the control of the Eastern Market manager.

Although the CHRS Board evidently desires to stay out of the question of who controls the vendors, in effect, if the city closes the street by Mayoral order, the Department of General Services – and thus, the Eastern Market manager – will control the vending on the closed street, which is the position EMCAC has been advocating.

The consensus of the Board was that no vote was necessary to proceed, and the further consensus was that a letter would be drafted and circulated for consideration by email after the meeting.

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ANC6B Backs Away From Reforming Its By-Laws

Parliamentarian Brian Flahaven (standing at left) is forced to remove resident member voting provision in order to save ANC By-Laws Revision. Standing at right is Commissioner Garrison, with Commissioner Oldenburg between them. Commissioner Metzger is seated.

ANC6B Backs Away From Reforming Its By-Laws: Commissioners Retain Power – Community Representatives Still Limited – Revised

by Larry Janezich

Monday night, ANC6B’s efforts at By-Law Reform stalled when the Commission failed to adopt a key provision.

The proposal would have more actively engaged the community by giving all resident members of committees a vote on questions coming before the committee.  Currently, the resident members may vote only if the commissioner from their single member district is not present, or when the question concerns a matter in their single member district.  Resident commissioners have only recently been installed in ANC6B, part of the initial round of reforms and compliance with By-Law requirements adopted by the ANC in 2011 when a number of reform candidates were elected.  A motion to strike the provision by Commissioner Garrison failed on a 4-4 vote, with Commissioners Garrison, Oldenburg, Metzger, and Green voting to strike it.  Voting in support of extending the right to vote were Chair Critchfield, Parliamentarian Flahaven, and Commissioners Pate and Campbell.  Commissioners Glick and Frishberg were absent.

Revision of the By-Laws requires approval of seven commissioners, although proposed amendments only require a majority of those present and voting.  At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Garrison had warned that “for me and others, there are a couple of provisions that are deal breakers.”  He went on to say that although there was much in the proposed streamlining of the By-Laws he approved of, he would vote against the entire package at the end if the provisions he objected to remained.  Even if both absent Commissioners had been present and had voted for the resident member’s voting provision, there would not have been enough votes for final passage if the 4-4 vote indicated the final strength of the provision’s opponents.

Faced with losing months of work on the consolidation and streamlining of the By-Laws, Flahaven called for a recess prior to the vote on final passage.  When the Commission reconvened, Flahaven moved to strike the language providing a committee vote for resident members.  That motion was agreed to, 6-2, with Parliamentarian Flahaven and Commissioners Campbell, Green, Metzger, Oldenburg, and Garrison voting aye.  Chair Critchfield and Commissioner Pate opposed.

Prior to the vote, Commissioner Pate said of the opponents of resident member voting that it was “poor form to oppose the whole set of By-Law reforms in order to muscle this amendment on resident voting through.”  He called the opposition to the amendment giving them a vote in committee “shortsighted, myopic, and a position that cuts against the grain of progress.”

Stripped of the provisions, the By-Laws were adopted by a vote of 7-0, with Commissioner Green voting in the negative.  During the meeting, she had pressed for stronger and more specific language regarding compliance with the regulations of DC Code.  Three of the commissioners voting against reform last night have previously been found in violation of the By-Laws by this ANC: Commissioners Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenberg.


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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, September 17

ANC 6B Bylaws Special Call Meeting, 7pm – 9pm, Brent Elementary School, 301 North Carolina Avenue, SE, to consider revised bylaws and proposed standing rules.

Why should you care?  Brian Flahaven, ANC6B Parliamentarian, is trying to make it easier for young professional with families to serve on the ANC, in addition to revising the confusing and contradictory ANC6B bylaws.  He will likely meet resistance from Commissioners Garrison and Oldenburg.  This would seem to be an important meeting for all serious ANCB candidates to attend.  So far this month, Randy Steer, candidate for retiring Commissioner Norm Metzger’s seat, has attended the September ANC meeting, Steve Holtzman, challenging Commissioner Brian Pate, has attended the ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, and Philip Peisch, also a candidate for Metzger’s seat, attended the ABC meeting (he’s a resident member of the committee) as well as the September ANC6B meeting.   

Tuesday, September 18

CHRS Board of Directors meets at 6:30 pm, Capitol Hill Townhomes.  The meeting is open to CHRS members – and possibly, members of the press. 

Why should you care?  I’ve been attending theses meetings for more than ten years, and members of the Society never attend.  Maybe they should.  CHRS totally went in the tank on the Hine Development and cited their representation of the thousand-members of the Capitol Hill community to endorse Stanton-Eastbanc’s controversial concept design for the Hine project.

Saturday, September 22

Barracks Row Fall Festival, 11am – 5pm, 500 – 700 block of 8th Street, SE.

Why should you care?  Beats me.  If you go, pay attention to the signs advertising the sponsors of the event.  Last year, CSX – who is about to wreak havoc on the quality of life on lower 8th Street and the south side of the freeway on Capitol Hill – was a major sponsor.  Bet they will be this year too.


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