Monthly Archives: July 2013

ANC6A Weighs In To Support Miner Principal Fired Last Month

ANC6A Weighs In To Support Miner Principal Fired Last Month

by Larry Janezich

ANC6A has joined the more than 325 people who signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of former Miner Principal Taliaferro–Bunch who was let go on June 28, 2013.  More than 500 have written letters in support of the principal which have been submitted to the city government.

School officials do not comment on personnel matters, but some residents suspect the firing came about after Taliaferro-Bunch strongly resisted the entry of school officials who were attempting to remove the school “zoo” – a collection of small animals kept at the school. 

School officials were reported to have said at the time that the zoo was against school policy. 

Miner Elementary is at 601 15th Street, NE.  The school and the former principal both have wide support in the community and among the parents of students.  Taliaferro-Bunch has been praised for her ability to include the community in the education efforts at the school and for emphasizing the arts in the education program. 

ANC6A sent DC Schools Chancellor Henderson a letter requesting reinstatement of Taliaferro-Bunch as Principal of Miner Elementary School.  In an accompanying note which stated the commission’s vigorous support of the principal, ANC6A Chair Holmes added a personal note.  “I have observed her since 2007, as Vice Chair, Commissioner, and Chair of ANC 6A. I’ve watched her interact with her students, staff, and teachers.  She is very effective, a strong leader. She originated the Men of Miner to bring strong male role models to her students.  Though it’s been a matter of contention with DCPS, I can only praise her attempt to provide learning about, and familiarity with, her small ‘zoo’.  The kids love it.”

The text of the letter from the commission follows:

Dear Chancellor Henderson,

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A has found Principal Lavonne Taliaferro-Bunch to be extremely competent, a source of strength for our community, able to bring about increasing neighborhood involvement, a woman who adds depth to her students’ educational experience, a supporter of the ANC, a firm disciplinarian of her students, and in command of her staff.  She has encouraged the growth of the PTO, helped create positive experiences for her students with the police, and has been fiercely protective of the children in her charge as they go to and from the school. 

The School has been improving with better PTO participation and better test numbers despite the problem/opportunity of so many school lunch children and so many challenged and homeless students because of the proximity of the homeless shelter.

Her departure will be a major loss to the community and to this ANC.  You should not let her go.

The letter was authorized to be sent to you by a vote of the Commission taken last night at its regular publicly[1] announced monthly meeting.  The vote was 7-0, Commissioner Mahmud neither present for this matter nor voting.

For the Commission,

David Holmes

Chair

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Yes! Organic Eyes Historic H Street Playhouse

The Former H Street Playhouse at 1365 H Street, NE

The Former H Street Playhouse at 1365 H Street, NE

Yes! Organic Eyes Historic H Street Playhouse

by Larry Janezich

On Thursday night, ANC6A voted unanimously to support a proposal by Yes! Organic to open a mid-sized grocery store at in the former H Street Playhouse at 1365 H Street, NE.  The company is proposing to build a second level atop the existing structure, and the ANC’s support is conditional on that additional level not being visible from across H Street.  The letter to the Historic Preservation Review Board also specifies minimal modification of the façade, minimal signage, and agreement not to serve food or drink on what might be a roof deck.

1365 H Street dates back to 1925 and was the site of one of the country’s first car dealerships – Motts Motors.  In 1935, the building was remodeled and became the Plymouth Theater, serving African American audiences.  It subsequently became one of the first integrated theaters on H Street, prior to the opening of the Atlas, which then became the primary theatrical venue on the street and putting the Plymouth out of business.

The location here of Yes! is not a certainty – the company has not yet brokered a deal on the property, waiting to see if the city will allow the changes which they deem necessary in order to operate a store in the building.

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Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine? A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine?  A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

by Larry Janezich

Following is a summary of the main points in the appeal of the Zoning Commission order on the Hine Development.  To see the full text of the brief, please open the “Library” page at the top of this home page, and click on the link to open up the pdf.

A group of nearby neighbors of the development petitioned for the appeal and were joined by a neighborhood organization – Eastern Market Metro Community Organization – as an intervener in the case.  They are being represented by attorney Oliver Hall, who filed a similar appeal regarding the West End Library Development on behalf of the D.C. Library Renaissance Project (DCLRP), a library advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader.  As it happens, Stanton partner Eastbanc is the developer of that project.

The DC Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing on the Hine appeal for mid-September but it could be several months before it hands down an order.  The deadline for transferring the land to Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB) – originally July 13th – was extended for six months by the City Council on Tuesday, July 10, to allow time for the litigation to be resolved and to permit resolution of a technical issue involving discrepancies in the surveys which were used to determine the Hine site property lines.

Summary of main points from the brief:

The Zoning Commission ignored the “obvious” incompatibility of the 94.5 foot seven story building in the community surrounding the project and sanctioned heights and densities double that of surrounding properties.

The Zoning Commission rejected the Comprehensive Plan directive that public property should be retained under public control based on “false assertion that the privatization of a public street does not implicate any of the standards for granting a PUD.’”

Multiple objections to the “affordable housing” provisions, including:

  • SEB’s proposal to segregate the vast majority of affordable housing units in the North building which is designed with considerable fewer amenities than for those in the South Building.
  • Expiration of the segregated affordable housing units in 40 years when they become market rate, resulting in the displacement of occupants and contravening the general policies of the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Regulations.
  • Negligible public benefits and amenities
  • Failure of SEB to disclose to the Zoning Commission that District taxpayers are subsidizing public benefits and amenities including 46 units of affordable housing and the reopening (and privatization) of C Street.  “Based on information provided by DMPED:  deductions will be taken out of all Developer payments to the District for the property based on the Developer’s cost of providing District-mandated affordable housing, demolition of existing structures, environment remediation, construction of the 700 block of C Street, S.E., and any other related public improvements as required by the PUD.  In other words, under the LDDA, District taxpayers – and not Stanton-EastBanc – are to pay for the affordable housing units and the construction of C Street (both of which Stanton-EastBanc will own), as well as any other related public improvements…required by the PUD.   To the best of Petitioners’ knowledge, none of these facts were disclosed during the Commission proceedings.”
  • Lack of justification for transfer of the North Parcel to the developers at far below the market value.
  • Procedural errors involving making a decision based on an incomplete record owing to SEB’s failure to submit both the LDDA and the Covenant SEB is required to execute pursuant to the LDDA to the Zoning Commission.
  • Procedural errors involving SEB’s failure to disclose the value of the development incentives granted to it through the LDDA thus making the Zoning Commission unable to reconcile the relative value of the amenities and benefits vs. the development incentives and any adverse effects.
  • Failure of the Zoning Commission to make any finding of fact to support the change in zoning from R-4 to C-2-B.
  • The Zoning Commission ignored Inclusionary Zoning requirement regarding comparable amenities between market rate units and most of the affordable units
  • The Zoning Commission ignored the need for sufficient justification for the financial reasoning for segregating affordable units, relying only on two informal emails from the Applicant’s banking partners to rule out creating a truly inclusive mixed-income PUD project with permanent affordability as expected by Inclusionary Zoning Regulations.
  • The Zoning Commission’s conclusion about the “29%” of the proffered affordable units being in excess of what is required does not take into account the disappearing affordability for the vast majority of the to-be-constructed affordable units. And because this disappearing affordability largely affects the lower income residents and seniors, this proffered benefit is greatly diminished.

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City Council Grants Stanton/Eastbanc Six Month Extension of Hine Closing Date

City Council Grants Stanton/Eastbanc Six Month Extension of Hine Closing Date

by Larry Janezich

The City Council passed emergency on Wednesday night granting Stanton/Eastbanc six additional months to close on the Hine project.   The developer was facing a July 13 closing date deadline but owing to at least two major issues, had been unable to fulfill the requirements imposed by the city prior to closing.  Although approvals of the HPRB and the Zoning Commission have been achieved, the developer has not been able to obtain demolition, sheeting and shelving permits and in addition has not been able to secure financing for all development and contractual obligations. 

Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, managed the legislation, and said there had been many delays on the project, citing specifically, litigation filed by neighbors before the DC District Court of Appeals appealing the Zoning Commission’s approval of the PUD.

Although the Mayor had requested a one year extension and that request had been endorsed by ANC6B, Bowser offered an amendment to provide a six month extension.  Bowser said that the building on the Hine site was becoming a blight on the neighborhood and implied that the shorter time limit was aimed at encouraging all parties to come to an agreement. 

The Bowser amendment was accepted and the bill providing the extension passed unanimously on a voice vote, with Councilmember Barry recusing himself citing a standard excuse, that he may or may not know principals involved in the project.

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Sona Creamery and Wine Bar To Open at 7th and PA Avenue, SE This Fall

Future Site of Sona Creamery and Wine Bar

Future Site of Sona Creamery and Wine Bar

Sona Creamery and Wine Bar To Open at 7th and PA Avenue, SE This Fall

Will Displace Sprint/Moto Photo at 660 PA Avenue, SE

by Larry Janezich

Owners Conan and Genevieve O’Sullivan have leased space at 660 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, currently occupied by Sprint and Moto Photo and hope to open their new creamery and wine bar concept there by November. 

The outlet, inspired by similar Seattle operations, will be the District’s only onsite creamery and will feature the production and aging of a variety of cheeses as well as a boutique selection of Pacific Northwest Wines. 

In addition to a café, the venue will have an education component offering opportunities to learn about cheese and wine in the café, at classes, and exclusive tasting events.  The plan anticipates a glass front on the onsite cheese lab and aging rooms where patrons will be able to observe the production process.  The owners expect that Sona will ship cheese nationwide.

Their website, still under construction, can be found at http://sonacreamery.com/

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ANC6B Supports One Year Extension For Transfer Of Hine Site to Stanton/Eastbanc

Oliver Hall, attorney representing neighbors in the appeal of the Zoning Commission ruling on the Hine Development

Oliver Hall, attorney representing neighbors in the appeal of the Zoning Commission ruling on the Hine Development

Commissioners Garrison and Oldenburg scoffed at Hall's assertions

Attorney Anthony Lanier represents Stanton/ Eastbanc

               Anthony Lanier represented Stanton/
Eastbanc

ANC6B Supports One Year Extension For Transfer Of Hine Site to Stanton/Eastbanc

City Council Will Likely Follow Suit Today

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B voted to support emergency legislation to provide a one year extension for transfer of the Hine site to Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB).  The current deadline for the transfer is Saturday, July 13, 2013.

ANC 6B’s letter to Councilmembers states that two issues make this delay necessary:  first, a discrepancy between the plat used for the development plans and the plat held by the Surveyor for the District which results in one foot of the main building’s south façade encroaching on public space; second, an appeal to the DC Court of Appeals of the Zoning Commission ruling filed by neighbors, which the developer and the ANC contend has delayed financing for the project.

The letter states that while the city and developers are pursuing alternate route to the settlement that will allow the development process to continue, the project cannot fully move forward until the court appeal is resolved.  The court has set a hearing for mid-September, but it could be several months after that before it issues a ruling.

The Commission voted 8 – 0 for the letter of support.  The City Council will meet in legislative session today to consider a long series of bills, and the Hine legislation to provide the extension is on the agenda.

Prior to taking action, the ANC invited the parties in the issue of the appeal – the attorney for the neighbors, the attorney for Stanton/Eastbanc, and the Deputy Mayor’s project manager for the development to outline the issues from their perspectives.

Attorney Oliver Hall, representing 13 petitioners as litigants and the neighborhood organization EMMCA as an “intervener,” began by stating that the petitioners do not oppose the redevelopment of the Hine site but support a development compatible with the scale and character of the existing neighborhood.  He made a case that the Zoning Commission had failed to perform oversight, specifically failing to consider whether the benefits and amenities credited to the developer – including affordable housing and reopening of C Street – should be recast since much of the funding will come from taxpayers;  failing to consider whether these above public amenities offset the impact of the development on the neighborhood; failing to make any finding of fact justifying the change in zoning; and failing to comply with the spirit and intent of inclusionary zoning regulations regarding the affordable housing component.

Some commissioners treated Hall dismissively, a fact not lost on one of the litigants who later raised the issue when the Chair asked for comment from the community. That neighbor castigated Acting Chair Ivan Frishberg for reacting with mock incredulity to one of Hall’s assertions regarding the cost to taxpayers of reopening and privatizing C Street.  Frishberg had followed that demonstration with an apology.  Less contrite, however, were Commissioners Oldenburg and Garrison who openly scoffed at Hall’s presentation.  Oldenburg challenged Hall, noting the commission has been reviewing this for the past five years and “that all these issues have been brought up and discussed.”  “Who are you?” she demanded of Hall.

Anthony Lanier, head of Eastbanc followed Hall, supporting the extension because of the plat issue and the litigation. Asked about the financial impact of the delay, he cited the potential increased cost of funds and opportunity costs on investments so far, the concern that lenders can change their opinion of a project when there is uncertainty about the time frame of the project, and the loss of jobs and tax revenue that ensue from any delay.  He professed confidence that the plat issue could be resolved in 3 – 4 months and a new settlement procedure could be reached in no more than 30 days.

Cory Lee, the Deputy Mayor’s project manager for Hine, said that a one year extension was necessary to protect both the developer and the city, assuring the ANC that protections built into the contract provide for reversion of the site to DMPED in case of failure of the developer to meet contractual obligations.

Questioned by Commissioner Garrison as to whether DMPED was pressing hard enough to push the project, Lee replied that circumstances were much different now and that earlier there was a “lot of benefit to transfer the land to the developer.”  He noted that things outside the developer’s control have slowed project and said that “given the circumstances the last thing Mayor wants to have happen to be in the position of explaining why the administration transferred an asset.” While somewhat opaque, Lee seemed to be suggesting that DMPED would only transfer Hine once the office attained greater peace of mind regarding the future viability of the project.

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The Week Ahead….Redesign of Metro Plaza; Hine Delay; Frager’s Owner To Update ANC

The Week Ahead ….Public Meetings on Redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza – Also Possible Delay of Closing on Hine Development and Frager’s Update

by Larry Janezich

Monday, July 8

Public meeting to solicit input for redesign of Eastern Market Metro Park and Plaza, hosted by Councilmember Tommy Wells, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, at Hill Center.  There will be a repeat of the meeting on Saturday, July 13, 10:00am – 12:00pm, at Hill Center.   For those unable to attend either meeting a public display and suggestion drop box will be posted in the North Hall of Eastern Market.  Capitol Hill Corner was first to report that the new effort was underway.  https://capitolhillcorner.org/2013/04/24/barracks-row-group-resurrects-plan-for-redesign-of-eastern-market-metro-plaza-and-park/

Tuesday, July 9

ANC 6B meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.  Although not on the agenda – yet – it’s possible that ANC6B will be weighing in on a request from DMPED to seek a one year extension from the City Council for transferring the Hine property to Stanton/Eastbanc developers.  According to a tweet from Commissioner Brian Pate on July 4: “DMPED likely to seek 1-year extension from Council for Hine closing-skittish about law suit. Nader lawyer Oliver Hall now involved”  Pate refers to an appeal of the Zoning Commission ruling on the Hine project filed with the US Court of Appeals by some of the Hine neighbors.  The court has set a hearing date on the appeal for mid-September.  Last week, Ken Golding of Stanton Development, told the ANC’s Planning and Zoning Committee that the completion date for the Hine project could be as late as the end of 2016.

On the agenda:

Stanton/Eastbanc presentation on the retail plan for the Hine development

John Weintraub, owner of Frager’s, updates the community on plans

Liquor license renewals for Sonoma, La Lomita, Ninnella, Bullfeathers, Capitol Hill Club, Hunan Dynasty, American Legion, La Lomita Dos, Young Chow Restrauant, Banana Café, II Capo Di Capitol Hill, Nooshi, Pacifico, Senart’s, Tash, Trattoria Alberto, Capitol Hill Tandoor and Grill, Chesapeake Room, Las Placitas, Lavagna, Fusion Grill, Ted’s Bulletin, the Ugly Mug, zest, Aatish, Acqua al 2/Suna Black Bar, Beuchert’s, Boxcar, La Plaza, Mr. Henry’s, Montmartre, Pound the Hill, Sanphan, The Silver Spork, Sizzling Express, and Tunnicliffs.

Planning and Zoning requests:

Approval of a new façade for Banana Café

A request to add hot sandwiches to the cold deli line currently being served at 1500 Independence Avenue (Southeast Market)

Rear additions at 535 6th Street, SE, and 1016 7th Street, SE

A third floor addition at 328 16th Street, SE

Saturday, July 13

Public meeting to solicit input for redesign of Eastern Market Metro Park and Plaza (see Monday, above)

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Barrack’s Row July 4th Parade – Images

The Marine Commandant's Own Drum and Bugle Corps

The Marine Commandant’s Own Drum and Bugle Corps

Parade Watchers

Parade Watchers

Grand Marshal Tommy and Barbara Wells

Grand Marshal Tommy and Barbara Wells

Contingent of Junior Misses America

Contingent of Junior Misses America

Contingent of Miss Teen Americas - Miss DC Right Front

Contingent of Miss Teen Americas – Miss DC Right Front

Eastern High School Band Majorettes

Eastern High School Band

Part of the Latin Dancing Contingent - Sambos

Part of the Latin Dancing Contingent – Sambos

Moe Latin Dancers

More Latin Dancers

Sangre Boliviana

Sangre Boliviana

Semper Fi

The Marine Barracks

Barracks Row Fire Fighters and Friends

Barracks Row Fire Fighters and Friends

Street Scene on Barracks Row, July 4, 2013, 10:40 am

Street Scene on Barracks Row, July 4, 2013, 10:40 am

Barrack Row July 4th Parade, 2013

Barrack Row July 4th Parade, 2013

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DPW Objection Delays Expansion of Performance Parking Plan on Capitol Hill

DDOT's Damon Harvey Listens As ANC6B Commissioners Express Concerns About the Stalled Performance Parking Plan

DDOT’s Damon Harvey (left) Listens As ANC6B Commissioners Express Concerns About the Stalled Performance Parking Plan

 

DPW Objection Delays Expansion of Performance Parking Plan on Capitol Hill

by Larry Janezich

Damon Harvey, DDOT’s Parking Performance Based Parking czar, told ANC6B’s Transportation Committee last night that expansion of the Performance Parking Program north of Pennsylvania Avenue to East Capitol Street has encountered opposition from the Department of Public Works.  The reason, he explained, was ANC6B’s request for special parking restrictions around Eastern Market designed to protect residents on one hand and accommodate Eastern Market vendors on the other. 

Harvey explained that DPW had declined to sign off on the request for restrictions on Sunday parking and on different parking restriction times for different sides of the same blocks around Eastern Market.  Harvey did not have the objections of DPW in writing, saying only that DPW had asked for “more specificity” and that DPW was “not comfortable with the concept.”

Commissioners faulted Harvey for not bringing DPW’s reservations to the ANC’s  attention in April when he learned of them and was only now bringing the issue back to the ANC. 

The Performance Based Parking Plan, which Harvey described as “dynamic pricing on curbside parking” started in 2008, and will begin to go city wide in every major traffic corridor later this year, with a series of public meetings scheduled to start in September.  The first expansion will be in the downtown’s Golden Triangle, followed by Penn Quarter/Chinatown, and McPherson Square.  Parking in these areas will increase per elapsed time, just as metered parking does around Nationals Stadium on game days. 

Harvey also mentioned new rules for sharing Performance Based Parking funds with the community, saying that the Mayor had “changed the configuration of how the funds would be shared,” taking into account the new zones which will be participating in the program. Details will be forthcoming.  Commissioners expressed disappointment that ANC6B’s request for $50,000 from the Performance Parking Fund for landscaping improvements at Eastern Market Metro Plaza was not in the pipeline as ANC6B had believed. 

Also forthcoming, will be details on the new visitor pass system for residents and businesses located in Performance Based Parking Zones.  Harvey was not at liberty to share everything he knew regarding this new system but said more information will be released in the next few months.  It seems certain, however, that costs for all aspects of resident and temporary visitor parking will increase – perhaps substantially.

The Transportation Committee subsequently agreed to set up a meeting with DPW to see what their specific objections to ANC6B’s expansion request are.  If no way forward is apparent after this meeting, the four commissioners whose single member districts are directly affected:  Pate, Frishberg, Garrison, and Oldenberg, will attempt to formulate a fallback position that will result is something less than a full loaf in order to accommodate moving ahead with the Performing Parking Plan north of Pennsylvania Avenue so as not to fall behind the other zones where the plan will be implemented this fall.  The consensus was also to reach out to Councilmember Grasso, who serves on the Council’s Transportation Committee.  Finally, Committee voted 7 – 0 to recommend that ANC6B formally request inclusion in the new system for administering visitor’s passes which will be announced in the coming months.  Commissioner Frishberg also urged colleagues to push for inclusion of the $50,000 in landscaping funds for Eastern Market Metro Plaza, to be used in conjunction with the forthcoming redesign of the Metro Plaza being proposed by a group of Barrack Row stakeholders.  Councilmember Wells will host two public meetings on the redesign, one on Monday, July 8 and a second on Saturday, July 13, details TBA.

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DDOT’s Performance Based Parking Czar Jumps to Related Private Sector

DDOT’s Performance Based Parking Czar Jumps to Related Private Sector

Damon Harvey to Join Major Parking Company

by Larry Janezich

Last night at a briefing for ANC6B’s Transportation Committee, Damon Harvey, manager of DDOT’s Performance Based Parking Program, announced his departure from DDOT at the end of the month.  

He has accepted a position as Vice President with “a major parking company working here in DC” and will be dealing with national “public sector solutions” to parking issues.  He will relocate to Atlanta for the new job and has purchased a home there. 

Following his departure, day to day decisions regarding the Performance Parking Based Plan will be made by Angelo Rao, DDOT’s Citywide Program Support Manager, until a permanent replacement is appointed. 

The Performance Based Parking Program is part of the city’s efforts to regulate parking more effectively, encourage alternate modes of transportation and to increase revenue while doing that. 

In March 2008, Harvey began implementation of the Performance Based Parking Pilot Zone Act of 2008 in two DC neighborhoods – Columbia Heights in Ward 1 and Capitol Hill/Ballpark Distract in Ward 6.  In March 2012, the program was expanded to H Street, NE.  DDOT’s stated goals for the program are to protect resident parking by providing higher curbside parking meter rates and more stringent parking restrictions in residential neighborhood, help businesses by imposing meter rates and time limits in certain areas to encourage brief curbside parking with a high turnover rate, and to encourage walking, biking and transit use in lieu of auto travel.    DDOT is currently laying the ground work to take the program citywide starting later this year in the Golden Triangle District downtown. 

Rao, appointed in April of 2012, is responsible for managing DDOT’s parking and streetlight programs.  In 2012, Rao held a series of “Parking Think Tanks” in many city neighborhoods to allow residents to provide public input on parking issues.  The meetings culminated in a “Parking Summit” last December where resident’s voiced their frustration with parking problems and issues. 

DDOT is in the midst of overhauling its parking polices, with major changes to be announced on residential permit parking, visitor parking passes, and short term parking permits.  The bottom line is likely to be that the price of parking in DC for nearly everyone will increase – in many cases substantially.

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