Monthly Archives: February 2015

City Pushes 100% Affordable Housing Proposal for Boys and Girls Club in Hill East

City Pushes 100% Affordable Housing Proposal for Boys and Girls Club in Hill East

Only the Dantes/Menkiti Proposal Meets the Narrow Requirements of DGS

by Larry Janezich

Yesterday, the Department of General Services (DGS) released the developers Best and Final Offers (BAFOs) for the former Hill East Boys and Girls Club at 261 17th Street, SE.  Only two proposals were submitted for developing the city-owned building:  Dantes/Menkiti’s would be 100 percent affordable housing financed by the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); Century Associates’ would be 100 percent market rate units financed conventionally with no government subsidy.  DGS asked the developers for their BAFO in response to concerns raised by residents during community meetings to consider the proposals.  See here:

One of those concerns was that DGS had stacked the deck in favor of Dantes/Menkiti by limiting the lease to 25 years – effectively limiting financing to public funds, since private equity needs for a major overhaul would be impossible on such a short-term lease.  In addition, DGS ruled that developers must comply with a new District law requiring 30% affordable units in projects on property surplused by the city, a law that passed after the initial request for bids to redevelop the Boys and Girls Club was issued.

ANC Commissioner and Hill East Task Force Chair Brian Flahaven reacted to the BAFOs as follows:  “Based on the BAFO response summary, it is pretty clear that DGS is down to one proposal for the site – Dantes/Menkiti. Instead of providing additional flexibility in the BAFO, DGS essentially doubled-down on their original RFP terms, including the ridiculously short lease requirement. I’m extremely frustrated that this process has led to a choice of one.”  For Flahaven’s full statement on the BAFOs, see here:

ANC6B10 Commissioner Denise Krepp pulled few punches in her reaction, sent to DGS today, and copied to Councilmember Allen’s office, among others.  Krepp said, “This document does not provide the specific information Commissioner Flahaven and I requested.  In the meeting earlier this month, we told you that we needed more financial data and you promised to provide it.  DGS failed to live up to this promise.

This document is full of generic information that makes me doubt DGS’ commitment to sound financial planning.  We still don’t know how the applicants plan on financing construction.  Similarly, we don’t have any information on the applicant’s past performance on DC projects.

Absent more specific information from DGS, I will recommend that the ANC send a letter to the Mayor expressing outrage over the way in which DGS operates.  As a taxpayer, I expect more from DGS.  As an ANC Commissioner, I intend to make sure your office provides the ANC with quality data.  The document you sent yesterday doesn’t meet this definition.”

Separately, two neighbors of the Boys and Girls Club, Hill East residents Denise and Greg Daniel, distributed a survey that they formulated to 286 neighbors within 1 to 2 blocks of the Boys and Girls Club site.  Of the 81 households that responded, 51% preferred the Century Associates proposal, 32 % preferred neither, and 17% preferred Dantes/Menkiti.  The Daniels have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with DGS to require disclosure of “any and all emails” between DGS and the developers as well as any and all emails related to limiting the lease to 25 years, community preference for the property, low income set aside requirements for the property, exceptions to the minimum square footage for the units, and those related to zoning variance requirements.

ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee will meet Tuesday, March 3 to craft a response to the BAFOs. Flahaven told other commissioners at Tuesday night’s ANC 6B’s Executive Committee meeting that he expects that the Planning and Zoning committee will not recommend a developer, but will comment on the RFP process and state what the committee likes and doesn’t like about the two proposals.


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The Week Ahead….

Snow Art in Lincoln Park

Snow Art in Lincoln Park

Art Critics

Art Critics

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, February 23

ANC 6A Community Outreach Committee meets at 7:00pm in Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Avenue, NE

Items on the agenda include revisions in the grant application and website maintenance issues.

Tuesday, February 24

ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center, to set the agenda for the next full ANC6B meeting on March 10.

Wednesday, February 25

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

Wednesday, February 25

DC Sun sponsors a Ward 6 Solar Celebration at 7:00pm at Trusty’s Bar, 1420 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE (near Potomac metro stop)

RSVP here.

Saturday, February 28

PSA 106 meets at 10:00am at Capper Senior Apartments, 5th Street and Virginia Avenue, SE

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PSA 108 Report – Drug Market at DC General & Phone/Package Thefts

PSA 108 Report – Drug Market at DC General & Phone/Package Thefts

by Larry Janezich

A handful of residents turned out in sub-freezing temperatures last night to attend a PSA 108 meeting at Liberty Baptist Church, featuring MPD’s Lt. James Dykes.

Asked about the recent FOX 5 News report on the open air drug market at DC General’s Homeless Shelter (See here: – Dykes said the First District had increased patrols and is paying extra attention to the area near the bus stop in front of DC General, where jurisdiction is shared among MPD, the Department of General Services Protective Services, and DC Transit Police.  Several arrests related to drugs have been made on the DC General campus recently.

The main portion of the meeting was devoted to the statistics compiled on a monthly basis by District 1’s crime analyst, which Dykes said help focus law enforcement.

The crime statistics for the last month show a pattern of street robberies around Potomac Avenue Metro and Dykes said most of the robberies are cell phones and that young people are frequently the victims.  He said that people going about their business with earphones on and not thinking they are going to have their phone snatched create “a target rich environment.”  MPD is employing “directed patrols and stops” to address the problem.

Dykes also said that package thefts continue to be a difficult problem in PSA 108.  Residents can help police by giving instructions to the seller to have packages delivered at a time the purchaser is home and by having packages delivered to a neighbor or nearby business or even delivered to the First District Substation.  Sometimes, Dykes said, suspects are apprehended with stolen packages, but if there is no complainant, police can recover the package but cannot make an arrest.

Regarding enforcement of the new law legalizing marijuana in the District, Dykes said that no new guidelines have been issued to officers as of yet.  The new law is scheduled to become effective February 28 – though the Washington Post hedges its bet by saying “may become effective.”  See here:

On another problematic issue, US Attorney Doug Klein, who attended the meeting, cautioned, “If you have a bike, put it in your house, otherwise it will be stolen.”  Dykes discussed in vague terms, a police program which he called a “package” that uses bikes as bait under circumstances that allow police to “apprehend suspects in a safe manner.”  He said this is a tool that can be assigned to First District and one that is used here.

Bikes should be registered with the national registry to aid police recovering stolen bikes.  See here:

Also attending last night’s meeting was ANC6A Commissioner Matt Levy, who emphasized the importance of strengthening the relationship between First District officials and the ANCs and urged residents to attend PSA meetings.  ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven – who was not present last night – had made similar points at last month’s meeting.

It seems clear that the community would benefit from greater interaction between MPD and the ANCs and from greater participation in PSA meetings by residents.  Not only can residents provide information to police to help them target problems in their neighborhood, but the police have some sense of accountability to the community.

A useful website that is underpublicized at both the PSA 108 and PSA 107 meetings is the DC Police Crime Mapping website:

For example, in a few key strokes you can find details on the type and location of each of the crimes reported within 1000 feet of Potomac Avenue Metro (or any other address) in the last 30 days.  Go here:


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The Week Ahead…and ANC6B Withdraws Support for Swamp Fox Memorial – For Now

Cold?  The orchids are blooming at the Botanical Garden

Cold? The orchids are blooming at the Botanical Garden

The Week Ahead….and ANC6B Withdraws Support for Swamp Fox Memorial – For Now

by Larry Janezich

Swamp Fox Memorial

Last Tuesday night, ANC6B voted to withdraw its conditional support for siting the proposed Swamp Fox Memorial in Marion Park.  Its letter to the National Park Service (NPS) said that the ANC did not feel that the NPS or the memorial’s sponsor had honored the prerequisites upon which the ANC’s support was conditioned, and that the ANC’s conditional support had been misconstrued or misrepresented as unconditional support from the Commission.

The process under which finalizing and siting the memorial has halted, owning to the imminent expiration of Congressional authority for the project and will not continue until an extension of the authorization is signed into law.

The letter states, “Should the (authorizing) legislation pass…ANC6B must be actively involved at each stage,”  and, “if (the concerns of neighbors) are not seriously addressed within the planning process, we will actively oppose this project moving forward at Marion Park or any other site in or adjacent to ANC6B.”

Some neighbors wanted even tougher language reflecting their opposition to any memorial in the park, but the ANC wasn’t willing to go that far.  At least two commissioners, Hoskins and Krepp seemed sympathetic to that point of view.  The letter was agreed to on a 6 – 3 – 1 vote, with Commissioners Oldenburg, Flahaven, Jayaraman, Burger, Hagedorn and Loots voting in favor, Commissioners Hoskins, Krepp and Chao voting against, and Commissioner Samolyk abstaining.

The Week Ahead…

Monday, February 16

Presidents Day

Trash and recycling collections and parking enforcement will be suspended. All services will resume Tuesday, February 17.

Trash/recycling collections:  Trash and recycling collections in once-a-week collection neighborhoods will “slide” to the next day for the remainder of the week.  In neighborhoods with twice-weekly trash collections, Monday and Thursday collections will be made Tuesday and Friday, and Tuesday and Friday collections will be made Wednesday and Saturday.

Tuesday, February 17

CANCELLED ANC6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meeting.

Tuesday, February 17

CHRS Board of Directors meets at 6:30m, Capitol Hill Townhomes, 750 6th Street, SE

Wednesday, February 18

ANC6A Economic Development & Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th Street, NE

Among items on the agenda:

1102 Park Street, NE (HPRB): Applicant seeks HPRB approval for a rear addition to their home and for the proposed renovation of their garage.

Thursday, February 19

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

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Residents Raise Concerns Over​ Politically-Connected Developer​ for​ Boys and Girls Club

Boys and Girls Club, Eastern Branch Building, 261 17th Street, SE

Boys and Girls Club, Eastern Branch Building, 261 17th Street, SE

Residents Raise Concerns Over​ Politically-Connected Developer​ for​ Boys and Girls Club

Fear City Has Stacked Deck in Favor of Hine Partner ​

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B’s Hill East Task Force and nearby residents of the Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club Building met Thursday night to hear answers to questions raised at ​the January 20 Department of General Services (DGS) meeting where two competing developers presented their proposals for the building​ to the community​.  See here:

The first proposal, put forward by Dantes Partners – a partner of Stanton EastBanc in the Hine development ​– depends on federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for funding​.

The second proposal, from Century Associates, does not on its face qualify for consideration by DGS, given that its market value units fail to meet the new requirement that at least 30 percent of new residential projects be affordable housing.  Whether this new law would apply to  the DGS’ Request for Proposals (RFP) that predated the law’s enactment was the subject of much of the confusion at the January 20 meeting.

Also among the​ questions raised at that meeting​ is why the DGS wrote the RFP ​with a 25 year limitation on the lease for the site​, dramatically undercutting the possibility for a market-based development and therefore heavily tilting the process in favor of public funds – namely, the bid put forward by Dantes Partners, who specialize in federal low income housing tax credit developments.

Hill East Task Force Chair Brian Flahaven said he was skeptical of DGS’ claim that a 25 year lease is their “standard lease line” and is executed with​ the expectation that if developers desire a longer lease, they will ask for one.  Flahaven said he thought that was “ridiculous.”  “Why not propose,” he said, “a 50 or 100 year lease and provide the opportunity for somebody to say we can make it work in 25?  It doesn’t make sense to me.” Flahaven said that in addition to the 25 year lease, the other constraint imposed by the RFP was that 30% of the units in the development must be affordable housing​, a requirement that most in the community welcome, but one that is difficult, if not impossible, to execute on a market-based 25 year lease.​

The 20 some residents who turned out for Thursday night’s​ meeting​ ​were overwhelmingly critical of both the process by which the city had engaged the neighborhood on proposals for the development, and the Dantes Partners proposal​.​

According to Flahaven and ANC6B Commissioner Denise Krepp, who met with DGS prior to Thursday night’s meeting, DGS subsequently asked the two developers for their Best and Final Offer (BAFO).  Krepp told those attending the meeting that those BAFOs had been received by DGS on Wednesday, but would not be made public until next Tuesday.

Flahaven said, “It’s my view that we are not at a place where we could recommend either proposal” and that it was his sense that the community preferred the Century Associates proposal over that of Dantes Partners.  He said that the Task Force would have to see the developer’s responses to BAFO and the DGS response to additional questions raised by the community on Thursday night.  “DGS doesn’t want to answer a lot of questions,” he said, “they want to decide on the info they have now and work out the details later.”

Flahaven said that the terms of the RFP allowed some in the community to infer that the RFP was written that way to narrow the possible proposals.  The fact that there was so little interest in the developing community to submit proposals – contrary to a previous the statement of DGS’ Michelle Chin – adds credence to this claim.  When a member of the audience noted that there are some smart people at DGS who knew what the implications of the 25 year lease in the RFP were, Flahaven said,”No comment.”

​​Dantes Partners ​has recently come under greater scrutiny for its ​role in the Hine project​.  Dantes shepherded the ​LIHTC ​component of the Hine development through the DC H​ousing Financing Agency.  That transaction’s propriety has recently come under question (See here: Dantes Partne​s’​ princip​al Buwa Binite​ ​is a former board member of the ​board of the DC HFA, which approves 4% LIHTC credits; he is a donor to the Muriel Bowser campaign; and he is also a former employee of the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development.  ​

​Commissioner ​Krepp said that she would work to inform the community regarding the BAFO’s when they are released next Tuesday.  She asked those neighbors interested in the project to analyze the BAFOs and provide feedback for additional questions to the city.

Flahaven said another community meeting prior to March 3 when the BAFO’s come up before ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee was unlikely because of lack of time.

Next:  BAFOs, FOIA, and Next Steps

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Mayor Bowser On Hine, DC General, and Potomac Gardens

Mayor Bowser pays courtesy call to ANC6B. Tuesday night.  ANC6B  Commissioners, (L-R) Nick Burger, Chander Jayaraman, Denise Krepp, and Diane Hoskins.

Mayor Bowser pays courtesy call to ANC6B. Tuesday night. ANC6B Commissioners, (L-R) Nick Burger, Chander Jayaraman, Denise Krepp, and Diane Hoskins.

Mayor Bowser On Hine, DC General, and Potomac Gardens

by Larry Janezich

Mayor Bowser made a courtesy call on ACN6B Tuesday night to comment on her appointments and priorities.

When the Q&A began, the first question came from Marci Hilt, representing those Capitol Hill residents who have consistently shown the greatest concern regarding the Hine project.

Hilt referred to a previous public statement by Bowser during an Economic Development Committee hearing when Bowser said that Hine “should not have happened the way it did.”  Hilt said that “We now have proof” that EastBanc does not qualify for LIHTC funding for the affordable housing included in the Hine project.  She told Bowser, “You have stopped the Franklin School (another EastBanc project). “The Hine development stinks,” she said, “and you still have the power to stop it.”

Bowser said that she was concerned about how to better integrate the affordable housing into the project, but noted that she had also said, “This project is so far along it’s difficult to restart it.  It’s been through the PUD process and [the] courts,” adding, “My view is to move ahead.”

Bowser also responded to questions from ANC6B Commissioners.

On Commissioner Brian Flahaven’s question on how she planned to address the issue of the homeless shelter at DC General, she said it was her view that it should be closed, that “It is too big to be used as an emergency shelter.” She said she has tasked the new head of Department of Human Services Laura Green Zeilinger with closing DC General and dealing with long term issues leading to homelessness.

On Commissioner Daniel Chao’s question about the quality of life issues at Potomac Gardens, Bowser said that the DC Housing Authority has done a walk-through, and though Potomac Gardens ”is not scheduled for a vast make over” she acknowledged that her administration needs to insure regular renovation.

The Mayor also said that the success of the initial Donatelli-Blue Skye mixed use project on Reservation 13 will determine the future of the Reservation.  She said she would look to Councilmember Allen for recommendations on providing support for middle schools, stated that it is important to get the street project car project done well and had ordered a review of the street car project – and that the cars would not begin running until after the system’s safety is assured.  Bowser also accepted Commissioner Denise Krepp’s invitation to attend the opening of the new CAG building on 15th street “when the building is completed at the end of this year.”


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ANC6B Grants Neighbors’ Request for Continuance on Ugly Mug Expansion

The Ugly Mug

The Ugly Mug

ANC6B Grants Neighbors’ Request for Continuance on Ugly Mug Expansion

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B gave neighbors concerned about proposed expansion of the Ugly Mug another month to resolve their differences with the owner.

During debate, Commissioner Jim Loots, who had crafted an earlier version of a Settlement Agreement to address issues raised by unhappy neighbors, said that additional concessions made by the Ugly Mug’s owner since last Thursday had produced a revised Settlement Agreement.  Loots said he was convinced the new agreement was as good as it can get, and if the Settlement Agreement was not acted on Tuesday night, “economic concessions” made by the owner “may not be on the table a month from now.”  (See previous CHC posting here:

In response, Linda Elliott, speaking for the group of neighbors who are concerned about the expansion and party to a protest against it filed with the Alcohol Beverage Regulatory Agency (ABRA), told the ANC that “the process has broken down” and implored the ANC to vote for a continuance.  Elliott said that none of the issues most important to the neighbors had been addressed in the revised Settlement Agreement.

Those issues are:

  1. The precedent that approving a retractable roof and year round open air venue will set for all the other commercial corridors in ANC6B.
  2. Lack of information necessary to assess the impact of the proposed atrium on the neighborhood.
  3. Unexplored life safety issues, including lack of proof of the Ugly Mug’s required twice yearly cleaning of the vent exhaust fax (which was apparently the cause of a fire in the Ugly Mug’s sister restaurant on H Street, District 2 Bar and Grill), and whether the Ugly Mug has followed a pattern and practice of failing to comply with the DC health code. To that end, the protestants cited 56 violations by the restaurant between 2010 and 2014 that earned the Ugly Mug a D rating from the private “DC Restaurant Inspections” site in 2014.  Neighbor’s objections to the trash and rodent issues are a separate issue now before the DC Department of Transportation’s Public Space Committee.

Elliott said that regarding the precedent-setting nature of the decision, “What the ANC does tonight on the Settlement Agreement is a game changer in ANC6B.”  She said the nearby residents had diligently pursued these issues since early January and it “isn’t something we’re jumping on at the last minute. “

Commissioner Brian Flahaven said although he thought the Settlement Agreement was good, it  was a big step the ANC was about to take, and cited the potential damage to the ANC to use the newly enacted city law to nullify resident’s protests.  The new law provides that neighbor’s protests pending before ABRA – except those of adjacent neighbors – dissolve if the ANC withdraws its own protest or votes in favor of a Settlement Agreement. He said, “It is in our best interests to vote for a continuance.”

Commissioner Diane Hoskins moved that the ANC agree to a continuance, noting that a number of her constituents living near restaurants on 8th Street in the adjoining single member district are concerned about the outcome of this issue.  (Last year, the previous ANC6B made substantial progress toward establishing a new rigorous operating standard for food and beverage venues on 7th and 8th Street, SE.)

Commissioner Daniel Chao said he had just the opposite situation – “My constituents are cut from a different cloth.  They want to go to the Ugly Mug and stay until 4:00am.”  Chao represents 6B07, the adjacent single member district east of 11th Street, SE.

When the vote came, the Commission voted to grant the continuance, 7 – 0 – 3.  Those in favor: Hoskins, Oldenburg, Hagedorn, Burger, Jayaraman, Flahaven, and Krepp.  Those abstaining: Loots, Chao, and Samolyk.


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Hine Construction Schedule – Eastern Market Frager’s Out On March 22

0 November 24 2011 002

Hine Construction Schedule – Eastern Market Frager’s Out On March 22

Flea Markets Relocating to 7th Street in April

by Larry Janezich

EastBanc’s Hine Project Manager, Matt Harris, told ANC6B Tuesday night that the target dates for construction of the Hine Project are as follows:

Hazardous material removal:  Start March 2015 – Finish April 2015

Demolition:  Start April 2015 – Finish May 2015

Excavation:  Start June 2015 – Finish October 2015

Vertical construction:  Start November 2015 – Finish June 2016

Façade/Interior construction:  Start June 2016 – Finish June 2017

First Units/Stores Open:  June 2017

Harris told the ANC that Frager’s had been given notice to vacate the pad across from Eastern Market on March 22.  The weekend flea market operators, Mike Berman and Carol Wright, will soon be given 60 days’ notice to vacate the Hine playground, timed to coincide with the end of the hazardous material removal – sometime in April.  Thereafter, they will transition to a much reduced weekend flea market space on 7th Street, between Pennsylvania Avenue and C Streets, SE.


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The Week Ahead….ANC6B Gets Update from Hine Developer at Tuesday Meeting

This very cool infinitely variable marble run is available in a kit by O-BA-Maze at Labyrinth, 645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

This very cool infinitely variable marble run is available in a kit by O-BA-Maze at Labyrinth, 645 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Souk Spices & Pastries Opens Tuesday, February 10, in the space at 705 8th Street, SE, where Hello Cupcake once dwelt

Souk Spices & Pastries Opens Tuesday, February 10, in the space at 705 8th Street, SE, where Hello Cupcake once dwelt

And...Progress on The Brig - a mostly open air beer garden coming to 8th and L Streets, SE, probably this summer

And…Progress on The Brig – a mostly open air beer garden coming to 8th and L Streets, SE, probably this summer

The Week Ahead….ANC6B Gets Update from Hine Developer at Tuesday Meeting

Monday, February 9

ANC 6A Transportation & Public Space Committee Meets at 7:00pm in Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Request from residents for conversion of current 2-way stop to a 4-way stop at intersection of D and 8th Streets, NE

Tuesday, February 10

ANC6B meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center

Among items on the agenda:

Presentation by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Update by Project Manager Matt Harris on Stanton-Eastbanc Hine School Redevelopment

Election of Committee Chairs

Appointment/Renewal of Committee Resident Members, as follows:

ABC Committee:  Clare Palace, (Oldenburg 6B04); Vincent Iannacchione, 822 C Street SE (Hagedorn 6B05); Laura O’Neill Kaumo, (Chao 6B07)

Planning & Zoning Committee:  Ivan Frishberg, (Hoskins 6B02); Kenan Jarboe, (Hagedorn 6B05); Ryan Danks, (Burger 6B06); Laura O’Neill Kaumo, (Chao 6B07); Brynn Barnett, (Krepp 6B10)

Transportation Committee: Jerry Sroufe, (Hoskins 6B02), John Manley, (Oldenburg 6B04); Neil King, (Hagedorn 6B05); Laura O’Neill Kaumo, (Chao 6B07); Keith Smith, (Flahaven 6B09)

Establishment/Renewal of Hill East Task Force and Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force

Proposed Amendments to Bylaws & Standing Rules to Permit Resident Members to Serve as Chairs of Task Forces

The Ugly Mug Dining Saloon, 723 8th Street SE, substantial change request for expansion of second floor & addition of 144 seats, changing total capacity to 242, ABC Board protest hearing – Wednesday, February 25, 2015 (See the preceding CHC post on this case)

639 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, (the former Remington’s) storefront alterations

1401 South Carolina Avenue SE, variance from lot occupancy requirements to allow conversion of church into flat, BZA hearing – March 3, 2015

National Park Service Francis Marion Memorial Project National Environmental Policy Act Environmental Assessment: Glenn DeMarr

Rose’s Luxury, 717 8th Street SE, informational presentation regarding proposed retractable roof for existing roof patio: Aaron Silverman

Wednesday, February 11

ANC6C meets at 7:00pm at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE

Among items on the agenda:

Committee nominations

710 A Street NE, second story rear addition

640 Lexington Pl. NE, third-story addition

Status of University of Georgia DC campus

New alcohol beverage licenses for:

Sticky Fingers Bakery Bistro, 406 H Street NE

Addis, 707 H Street NE

Beer Garden, 150 M Street NE

Thursday, Februay 12

ANC6AAdvisory Neighborhood Commission 6A meets at 7:00pm at Miner Elementary, 601 15th Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Presentation by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Zoning relief for 1371 to 1375 H Street NE, request for a variance from the off-street parking requirements to construct a six-story multi-family residential building with ground floor Retail

Proposals to develop part of Kramer Street NE.

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Residents Feel Left Out of Negotiations on Ugly Mug Settlement Agreement

The Ugly Mug on Saturday Afternoon

The Ugly Mug on Saturday Afternoon

Residents Feel Left Out of Negotiations on Ugly Mug Settlement Agreement

ANC6B​ Poised to Approve the Mugs’ Proposed Expansion

by Larry Janezich

Thursday night, ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee brushed aside neighbors’ request for a month’s continuance based on complaints that they’d had no part in negotiations on a Settlement Agreement between ANC6B and the Ugly Mug, voting instead to forward the agreement to the full ANC next week where it is likely to be approved.

As previously reported (, last year the ANC voted against the planned expansion and the sliding glass roof over an “atrium” based on overwhelming neighborhood opposition, bolstered by photographs demonstrating the Ugly Mug’s failure as a good neighbor.  That opposition resulted in ABRA scheduling a protest hearing for February 25 to hear complaints of three parties of protesters:  ANC6B, a group of 16 residential neighbors, and businesses adjoining the Ugly Mug.

Approval of a Settlement Agreement at ANC 6B’s upcoming Tuesday night meeting​ would remove the ANC protest and the protest of the nearby neighbors would automatically fall with it, but the protest of the adjoining businesses would remain.

The circumstances that brought about the change in the ANC’s position involve a Settlement Agreement negotiated with the Ugly Mug negotiated on behalf of ANC6B by Commissioner James Loots, in whose single member district the Ugly Mug resides.  At Thursday night’s meeting, ANC Commissioners hailed the agreement as much improved and worthy of support.

Loots is an attorney whose clients have included restaurants on Barracks Row.  He has also been counsel in a case in which he represented a group including The Ugly Mug in an unrelated legal matter.  This fact lead Commissioner Diane Hoskins to raise the issue of a possible conflict of interest, though she did not use the term.  She referred to a “special relationship” that Loots had with the Ugly Mug’s owner, which, she said raised concerns.

​Loots attempted to assuage those concerns by emphasizing his limited contact with the Ugly Mug’s owner.  But later in the meeting, Loots’ asserted that an email he had received earlier in the afternoon from one of the adjoining business owners stated that if the ANC approved the Settlement Agreement, the adjoining owner would withdraw his protest which allowed those present to infer that the owner was satisfied with the agreement.  That interpretation was challenged by one of the nearby residents, who, reading the email, noted that the caveat was that the nearby owner felt that pursuing the protest without the support of the ANC would be pointless.​  ​

Among the new concessions that Ugly Mug’s owner has agreed to in the current Settlement Agreement was limit​ing new seats to​ 95, extend​ing​ noise and privacy protection to nearby residents even though he is not required to do so, and clos​ing​ the atrium at 10:30pm Sunday through Thursday and at midnight Friday and Saturday.  The owner also agreed to make extra efforts on trash, sanitation, and rodent control.

Commissioner Chander Jayaraman moved to strengthen the agreement in three respects:​ extending the definition of entertainment to include karaoke, requiring more frequent trash pickups, and requiring the atrium to be closed at 11:30pm on Friday and Saturday.

When ​Jayaraman rais​ed​ this last point​, several commissioners were seen to shake their heads in disapproval, seeming to indicating that the request was unreasonable.  ​After a long pause, Jawblonski said, “Why not?  Let’s just get this over with” and the weekend time limit was incorporated into the agreement.​  This exchange would seem to indicate that one of the keys to winning concessions for the neighborhood was locating commissioners willing to negotiate them.​

In the end, the Committee voted 8-0-1 (Loots abstaining) to forward the Settlement Agreement to the full ANC without recommendation, and urged residents and the Ugly Mug owner to attempt to resolve any remaining differences at before next Tuesday.

​It is worth noting that this is an ANC with seven new commissioners.  It usually takes at least a term before a commissioner starts feeling that sense of entitlement that leads him or her ​to think that he or she knows what’s best for the community and feels free to represent constituents without consulting them or asking for their participation in the process.  ​


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