Monthly Archives: September 2012

ANC Votes To Expand Performance Parking – And To Protest Ambar Liquor License

ANC Votes To Expand Performance Parking – And To Protest Ambar Liquor License

by Larry Janezich

On Tuesday night, ANC6B voted 10 – 0 to ask DDOT to expand the Performance Parking Program north of Pennsylvania Avenue.  The area encompassed is South Capitol to 11th Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue up to but not including East Capitol.

The ANC requested that one side of each block retain the existing Residential Permit Parking allowing two hour parking for non-residents of Ward 6.  The other side of the block would be designated Resident Parking Only, Monday through Saturday, from 7:00am until 8:30pm.  A special zone around Eastern Market bounded roughly by 5th Street, 8th Street (both sides), East Capitol, and Pennsylvania Avenue would extend the Resident Only restrictions to 7:00am – 8:30pm seven days a week

Randy Steer, candidate to succeed retiring commissioner Norm Metzger, asked if the seven day a week restriction could be extended to 7th and 9th Streets on either side of Barracks Row.  He noted the difficulty residents on those streets have finding parking on weekends.

Commissioners said that there was some urgency to press forward with the resolution immediately and assured that it provided latitude to seek those additional restrictions in the future.

In other ANC action, the commission voted to protest the liquor and entertainment license requested by Ambar, the new Balkan cuisine restaurant coming to Barracks Row.  Despite assurances from the owner that he would endeavor to complete a voluntary agreement regarding restaurant operations with the ANC prior to Tuesday night’s meeting, no discussions had occurred.  Attorney Andrew Klein, representing Ambar’s owner reiterated that he hoped a voluntary agreement could be signed in the near future, but implied that Ambar would pursue the license before the ABC whether there was a voluntary agreement or not.  The DC Alcohol Beverage Review Board will have the last word on the license, though it is charged with giving “great weight” to the recommendation of the ANCs in issuing liquor licenses.

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EMCAC and ANC6B Cross Swords Over Control of Flea Markets – Former Councilmember Sharon Ambrose Backs EMCAC

EMCAC and ANC6B Cross Swords Over Control of Flea Markets – Former Councilmember Sharon Ambrose Backs EMCAC

by Larry Janezich

Last night at the September ANC6B meeting, the lines were drawn in a dispute between Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) and ANC6B over control of vending on the 300 block of 7th Street.

The ongoing issue of adequate space to maintain the size of the flea market, as well as the control over that space, poses issues of real consequence.  Tens of thousands of dollars in annual vendor fees collected by the current market managers who enjoy cut-rate access to public space to host the weekend markets are on the line.  The weekend market managers have considerable community support from those who do not want to see the markets diminished and those who question the city taking over what has heretofore been a private enterprise.  Many of these supporters of the current weekend flea market are constituents of the two ANC6B Commissioners – Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate – who have taken the lead in negotiating the community benefits and amenities package with the developer of the Hine project.  Perhaps also at play is a desire to assert the authority of ANC6B in a vacuum left by the lack of city leadership.

Last week, the ANC P&Z Committee defeated a resolution sponsored by Pate that would have requested that the 300 block of 7th be closed on weekends by mayoral order during the construction of the Hine project to accommodate the weekend markets which would be under the control of the two current market managers, with revenues accruing from the resulting contract going to Eastern Market.  Though this had the support of the market managers, the resolution was defeated on 3-5 vote.

Subsequently, EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder wrote to Deputy Mayor Hoskin’s office, DPMED, citing DC law and asserting EMCAC control over vending on the block, saying the law makes clear that retailing on any public space associated with Eastern Market – including 7th Street – “should not be permitted without written consent of the Department of General Services (DGS) and the review of EMCAC.”  The letter went on to state, “While I am sure that ANC6B will want to weigh in, according to the DC Code they are not the primary advisory body for this issue.”  And, “As you may be aware, EMCAC supports vending on this block of 7th street on the condition that it be under the jurisdiction of DGS management and the Eastern Market manager. We do not approve of allowing 2 private management companies to control the space, especially during the construction on the Hine site.”

Councilmember Tommy Wells has also gone on record that vending on 7th Street should be under the control of DGS.

At last night’s ANC meeting Pate introduced a new resolution staying neutral on who would manage the weekend market.  He said he would postpone consideration until the October ANC6B meeting to allow time for the “brick and mortar” merchants on the 300 block of 7th Street to formulate a collective position.

Former Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose rose from the audience to say that the ANC did not have a role in closing of the street.  “There is no request for a street closure – no zoning issues – there is simply nothing here on which you have a role to play.”  Donna Scheeder agreed, saying there is a process in DC code for considering closure of the 300 block and the process should be followed.  She noted that the reason ANC has a seat on EMCAC (occupied by Pate) is to help determine how taxpayer assets can best be managed to preserve Eastern Market, implying that Pate’s first duty was to Eastern Market.  She stated, “I would be remiss in my responsibilities as Chair if I say anything other than the DC Code sets out that EMCAC has primary jurisdiction over retail on the 300 block of 7th Street.”

Commissioners Frishberg, Pate and Garrison disagreed that the ANC has no role.  Frishberg cited the lack of city leadership saying, “If we wait, something will happen and it will be beyond us.  We could have just restated our position on closing the block.  That would have left questions on table.  Where the money goes.  How construction would be coordinated.  We were proactive and chose to get out ahead.  The risk of not doing something is that something will happen some night – the Mayor’s pen….”  Pate added that, “As long as I’m involved, we will have a role in the closure of 7th Street.”  Garrison sharply disagreed with Ambrose, saying, “We’re on solid ground to take action if we choose to do so.”

The decision to postpone any ANC6B action until the October meeting comes at a time when EMCAC is scheduled to meet on September 26th at 7:00 p.m. in the North Hall; EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder suggested Tuesday night that it is likely EMCAC will take up this issue when it convenes.


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Zoning Commission Gives Preliminary Approval to Hine Project – Final Action Scheduled for October 15

Zoning Commission Gives Preliminary Approval to Hine Project – Final Action Scheduled for October 15

by Larry Janezich

Last night the Zoning Commission brushed aside community concerns about the height, density, and available flea market space of the proposed Hine development and voted 4 – 0 to move the project forward.  The Commission will take it up again on October 15 and issue its final order.

The Commission had only minor reservations about the project.  The future of the weekend flea market was not among them.  The commission was satisfied that the developer had made a reasonable accommodation for a flea market on C Streets and believes that the use of 7th Street for expanding that accommodation is not within their purview.

Commissioners were also not troubled by the proposed private ownership of C Street, which was characterized as a benefit to the community in the long run.  The issue of whether the zoning of the site should be reduced to C2-A was dismissed with the assurances that the greater density would also be beneficial to the city in the long run.  The commission felt the height had been dealt with sufficiently by the reductions on 7th Street and on Pennsylvania Avenue negotiated by ANC6B.  Regarding the complaint of some in the community that the public benefits and amenities were not comparable to those realized by the community in other projects, Chair Hood stated that the Commission needed to determine if an appropriate balance had been achieved, and speaking for himself, he said “I’m fine with it.”

Commissioner Turnbull summed up the opinion of several of the Commissioners, saying, “In the long run, the pluses outweigh the negatives.”

The minor issues which will require further attention of the developer and/or the Commission include:

  • Accommodation for 55 foot trucks in the loading dock of the South Building;
  • Re-examination of the parking and traffic impact after the building is 50% occupied to make sure that accommodations are sufficient;
  • Expanding the mitigation fund to include all houses in the 200 block of 8th Street;
  • Completion of construction employment agreements;
  • Moving North Building trash pickup to the 7th Street end of the east-west alley;
  • Revised calculation of floor area ratio;
  • Identification of items from the memorandum of agreement negotiated by ANC6B with the developer which will be included in the final Zoning Commission order.


Despite the considerable resources various neighborhood groups invested in the Zoning Commission process, no significant gains for the community came as a result.

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The Week Ahead……

The Week Ahead……

by Larry Janezich

Monday, September 10

Planning and Zoning Commission meets and is expected to announce what changes – if any – it will require developers to make to the Hine project in order to re-zone the site for greater mass and density.  6:30pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW.  There are nine cases on the agenda and it is unclear where the Hine case will fall.  The meeting will be available by live webcast.  Access by clicking the appropriate link located near the end of the list on the right side of the page found at:

Tuesday, September 11

ANC 6B September Meeting at 7:00pm, Hill Center.

Issues to watch:

Liquor and entertainment license for Ambar (Balkan Concepts, LLC), 523 8th Street SE;

Letter to Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development regarding the closure of the 300 block of 7th Street, SE, during construction of the Hine development;

Consideration of a resolution on extension of the Performance Based Parking north of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thursday, September 13

CHRS Zoning Committee meets at 7:30pm at Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

Saturday, September 15

H Street Festival, 11:00am – 5:00pm, 800-1300 blocks of H Street, NE

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Balkan Cuisine Coming to Barracks Row – Jordan’s 8 To Become Ambar


Architect’s Rendering of Ambar’s First Floor

Balkan Cuisine Coming to Barracks Row – Jordan’s 8 To Become Ambar

by Larry Janezich

Ivan Iricanin, one of acclaimed chef and international restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s partners in two 14th Street restaurants – El Centro and Masa 14 – expects to open Ambar on Barracks Row this fall – perhaps by November.  The restaurant will serve Balkan cuisine, focusing on dishes from the owner’s native Serbia.  The name “Ambar” refers to the bin where corn is stored after harvest in Serbia, and according to Iricanin, is part of every Serbian household.   Iricanin has leased the 3,000 foot space at 523 8th Street, formerly occupied by Jordan’s 8.  The restaurant will initially serve dinner and brunch, but eventually the owner hopes to serve all three meals.

Iricanin appeared before ANC6B Commissioner Carol Green’s ABC Committee last Thursday to seek the Committee’s endorsement for a liquor and entertainment license for the new restaurant.   It was the latter that caused the most concern among commissioners and nearby residents.  The applicant offered assurances that the entertainment would be limited to creating a “vibe” to enhance the dining experience and not for dancing.  He envisions strolling musicians and occasionally, a DJ.

The ANC voted 8-0 to take no position in referring the matter to the full ANC6B meeting for consideration on Tuesday, September 11.  Iricanin agreed to work with ABC Committee Chair Green on a voluntary agreement limiting potential problems foreseen by commissioners and nearby neighbors before the Tuesday meeting.  Although the DC Alcohol Beverage Review Board will have the last word, it is charged with giving “great weight” to the recommendation of the ANCs in issuing liquor licenses.


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New Parking Restrictions Near Eastern Market On The Way

New Weekend Parking Restrictions Near Eastern Market On the Way – ANC6B Set to Expand Performance Parking Program North of Pennsylvania Avenue –

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, ANC6B’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the full ANC6B that the Commission request that the Department of Transportation expand the Performance Parking Program north of Pennsylvania Avenue, up to but not including East Capitol Street.  The affected area would extend to South Capitol on the west and to 11th Street on the east.

The purpose of the program is to protect parking for residents who find it increasingly difficult to park near their homes as more traffic is drawn to areas around the Capitol Building and Eastern Market.

The Transportation Committee recommended that the full ANC request that one side of each block retain the existing Residential Permit Parking allowing two hour parking for non-residents of Ward 6.  The other side of the block would be designated Resident Parking Only, Monday through Saturday, from 7:00am until 8:30pm.  At the request of Commissioner Ivan Frishberg, a special zone around Eastern Market bounded roughly by 5th Street, 8th Street (both sides), East Capitol, and Pennsylvania Avenue would extend the Resident Only restrictions to 7:00am – 8:30pm seven days a week.

Each household would receive an annual reusable hard copy parking permit to accommodate non-resident parkers.  The ensuing so-called “dinner party problem” for households expecting more than one non-Zone 6 car would be addressed by the householder making a trip to the MPD Substation at 500 E Street, SE, and picking up as many one day passes as needed.  It would not be necessary to provide tag numbers for each vehicle.

According to DDOT, once the request is formally submitted by ANC6B, it could take as little as three months to implement.  Experience south of Pennsylvania Avenue has taught that it could take longer.

One community benefit which will result from extension of the program is access to around $1 million in parking revenues which the city makes available to Performance Parking areas for non-automotive transportation projects.  Some examples include bike racks, trash compacters, landscaping and the proposed Metro Plaza Info Hub.  Proposals for funding can go to DOT through an ANC Commissioner or directly to the Department of Transportation.

ANC6B will take up the Transportation Committee recommendation at its September 11th meeting next Tuesday at 7:00pm at Hill Center.


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ANC 6B Set to Consider Eastern Flea Market Next Tuesday – Planning and Zoning Committee Rejects Compromise Language

ANC 6B Set to Consider Eastern Flea Market Next Tuesday – Planning and Zoning Committee Rejects Compromise Language

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee rejected a compromise resolution supporting the weekend closure of the 300 block of 7th Street explicitly for the current flea market operators (Michael Berman and Carole Wright) during the construction of the Hine project.  The resolution made relocation of the markets to 7th Street contingent on a contract with the Department of General Services (DGS) and provided that revenue accruing to the city from the contract will go to support Eastern Market.  The vote was 3 to 5, with Commissioners Pate, Frishberg, and Flahaven voting aye.  Commissioners Oldenburg, Garrison, Metzger, Green, and Critchfield voted nay.

The language was an attempt to resolve the struggle over control of the weekend flea markets.  EMCAC, the oversight board for Eastern Market, has long eyed the tens of thousands of dollars vendors pay flea market operators as a source of operating funds for the perpetually cash-strapped Eastern Market.  On the other hand, the current flea market operators do not want to lose control of their lucrative source of income from their businesses by being forced to play a subsidiary role in the management of the flea markets.  EMCAC has supported closing the street for the weekend flea markets by mayoral order which would put the vendors under DGS and the Eastern Market manager; the flea market managers have requested that the street be closed via a special event permit, placing the flea markets under their control.

Commissioner Brian Pate crafted the compromise language on Monday and unveiled it at Tuesday night’s meeting.  It differed substantially from proposed language circulated by Commissioner Frishberg on Sunday.  That earlier language recommended the closure of the block by mayoral order during the construction phase of the Hine project – and possibly afterward – as a market place for vending.  The Frishberg draft resolution stated, “Such market activities should be coordinated with the management of Eastern Market and should contribute to the financial security of the market.”  It also requested closure of the street until the mayor’s order is amended or ended, thus providing for closure to continue after construction is complete.  It would have put the block and the market operations under the Department of General Services (DGS) and its manager for the Eastern Market, but did not specifically refer to a role for the current flea market operators.  The difference between the two resolutions seemed primarily one of defining a role for the current flea market operators, Berman and Wright and laying out some of the contractual conditions.

Judging from comments of the commissioners who attended the Planning and Zoning meeting, the Frishberg language might have passed.  Since Sunday, however, it appears that Pate, cognizant both of the grassroots support for the flea market operators and of EMCAC’s appeal to guarantee the long-term sustainability of Eastern Market, drafted the new language in an attempt to protect the two market managers while ensuring that Eastern Market benefits from the relocated operation.  At Tuesday night’s meeting, the new language received the tacit endorsement of flea market operator Michael Berman.  EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder stated that the Eastern Market manager and DGS are prepared to extend their responsibility to the 300 block of 7th Street.  The several commissioners opposed were not so ready to jump aboard the train, and cited their unhappiness with specifying the two flea market operators and the inclusion of language detailing the nature of the potential contract with DGS as reasons for their opposition.  Critchfield cited technical rather than substantive reasons for his opposition.  The position of absent ANC commissioners Campbell and Glick on the language is not known.

Frishberg supported the new language saying that “the city has exhibited no leadership on this” and noted “there hasn’t been anything out of the Wilson Building.  I don’t see any leadership on Eastern Market at all – I see the opposite.”

Councilmember Wells’ legislation to provide a new Eastern Market managing structure and to consolidate the weekend flea markets under control of Eastern Market remains in limbo.  Last night, Pate said it was his opinion that the bill was “stagnated, if not dead and politicized as part of the future mayoral race.  In my opinion, the there’s not a chance of an ice cube in Hades” the bill will become law.

Asked subsequently to assess the prospects for the legislation, Wells said on August 27, “The Gray administration has not stated an intention to end managing the market.  Most agree that DGS (Department of General Services) through Barry Margeson is doing a good job.  I am setting up a meeting with the Mayor and DGS to determine if the city wishes to continue to manage the market for the foreseeable future.  This will determine the need and timing of the legislation, which I believe is the best solution in the long run for preserving Eastern Market.”

Asked whether he had stated support for either of the two competing options, Wells replied, “I could support either petitioning the Mayor to close lower 7th or applying for a special permit.  Both have pluses and minuses.”  He added, “I believe DGS should be responsible for the flea markets operating on 7th since it is an ongoing activity and DGS has experience in property management.”

Steve Holtzman, Pate’s ANC 6B opponent in the fall election and community representative on the Hine Subcommittee Open Space Task Force said, “The closure of the 300 block of 7th Street seems the only viable option to permit the flea markets to survive during the construction period on Hine, so I’m supportive of the objective of the proposed ANC resolution. That being said, some of the language needs more clarification, for example, on the manner in which the flea markets are anticipated to provide revenue to Eastern Market.”

The defeated resolution will now go to the full ANC as part of the committee report.  It will be taken up at ANC 6B’s September meeting and undergo the regular amendment process in hopes a new compromise can be reached.  The meeting will be held 7:00pm on Tuesday, September 11, at Hill Center.


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