Monthly Archives: February 2018

Here’s the Final Design Concepts for Potomac Avenue Triangle Parks Recommended by ANC6B 

The city will move this spring to implement a redesign of these two triangle parks on Potomac Avenue, SE, between 12th and 13th Streets.

 

Here’s the final design for one – click to enlarge.

 

And here’s the other.

Here’s the Final Design Concept for Potomac Avenue Triangle Parks Recommended by ANC6B

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, ANC6B voted unanimously to support the design concept for two triangle parks on Potomac Avenue SE, between 12th and 13th Streets.  Following through on work started by her ANC predecessor (Daniel Chao), Aimee Grace organized a group of stakeholders who were successful in persuading CM Charles Allen to find $500,000 in the current FY Budget to upgrade the parks.

This spring/summer, the Department of General Services will hire a design-build company to produce construction drawings, obtain permits, and get regulatory approvals.

Actual construction is expected to start in the fall of 2018.

For a previous post on this project, go here:  http://bit.ly/2DMVUEQ

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City Ready to Move on Phase 1 of Eastern Market Metro Plaza Redesign – Playground and Gathering Space

Preliminary schematic for the re-design of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza.  Parcel 1 will be the first part of the plan to see reality.  

Preliminary sketch of how the playground and gathering place in Parcel 1 might look.

City Ready to Move on Phase 1 of Eastern Market Metro Plaza Redesign – Playground and Gathering Space

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, the Department of General Services announced that the city is ready to move on Phase 1 of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Redesign.  Phase 1 will be the children’s playground and community gathering space in the park which constitutes the NE portion of the Plaza – designated “1” in the photo above.  The news came from Anthony DeLorenzo, Urban Planning Project Manager for the Department of General Services, at the ANC6B monthly meeting in Hill Center.

DeLorenzo said that DGS would issue a request for proposals to re-do the park in March, make a selection in April, and have a community kick-off in May.

The project has been a priority of CM Charles Allen, who was successful in getting a budget allocation of $1 million in FY 18, $1 million in FY 19, and $2.5 million in FY 20 for the plan.  At the time, Allen said that $4.5 million will not do everything, but it will fund improvements, engage the city, and provide momentum.  See Allen’s report to the community here:  http://bit.ly/2sYIdwB

DeLorenzo said that the first year will be for design and planning and the second year for construction.  DGS expects the project to be completed in 2020.  The Department of Parks and Recreation is working with Barracks Row Main Street to install playground equipment in the park over the summer from a community benefit from the Hine project, part of community compensation for the increase in mass and density required for the project.  That equipment will be incorporated into the redesign as it progresses.

For more on the development of the project and additional illustrations, see CHC post here: http://bit.ly/2n0M1g4

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What’s Really Happening with Director Hughes and the DC Office of Open Government?

Tameka Carroll, Director of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability

Traci Hughes, Director of the Office of Open Government

What’s Really Happening with Director Hughes and the Office of Open Government?

by Larry Janezich

The Board of Ethic’s intention to take over the independent Office of Open Government (OGG) became clear when​, during a DC City Council oversight hearing last Thursday,​ Board Director Tameka Collier said:  “The main issue for the board is we don’t have the authority to tell Director Hughes (Director of the Office of Open Government) “maybe you shouldn’t pursue this.”  This​ bottom line answer came in response to a question asked by CM Silverman: “Can you tell us why Traci Hughes was not reappointed to another term as the head of OGG?”

Councilmember Charles Allen, chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, convened the government oversight hearing; more than two hours were spent​ discussing the decision of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) to not reappoint Traci Hughes as Director of the Office of Open Government. ​  Citing a refusal to discuss ongoing personnel matters in public, Board Director Collier declined to provide any reasons for the move that related to Traci Hughes’ job performance. ​

​Instead, what became clear over the course of the hearing is that the Board of Ethics wants control of the Office of Open Government, which is in the organizational tree below the Ethics Board, but independent of it.  ​No information was produced that suggested Hughes abused this independence.  Instead,​ ​Hughes testified that lacking specific guidance from BEGA she carried out her function under the authority delegated to her by law.  In keeping with her mandate, Hughes informed BEGA regarding the ongoing operations of her office ​on a monthly basis.  Collier said that it is difficult to advocate for or oversee the Open Government Office when the statute is interpreted as limiting the information to which the Board of Ethics is entitled to” general and courtesy updates from the Director.”

​While no failure of performance was alleged, ​ Hughes has recently ​ ruffled the ​ feathers ​ of powerful interests​.  She challenged the meetings of the United Medical Center Board and the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs, finding both fell short of  regulations​ .  Then last October, the open government office found extensive violations of the Open Meetings Law by the DC Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges.

The latter interaction sparked a letter of complaint against Hughes from the Chief Administrative Judge addressed to Collier.  According to Collier,​ the letter “questioned a number of things from her legal analysis to her overall handling of the case or failure to disclose information – perhaps having an ulterior motive for expanding the investigation.” ​ Elsewhere in the testimony, Collier spoke of the frustration she felt for having to take ownership of regulations and procedures her board had not sign​ed off on, noting that advisory opinions of the Office of Open Government are issued under the Ethics Board letterhead.

In November, Collier initiated a phone conversation with the Mayor’s legal counsel to discuss the “structural problem” regarding the relationship between the Board of Ethics and the Office of Open Government.  Carroll said she called the structural problem “untenable.”

The fix that emerged after the conversation was a decision not renew Hughes’ contract and to re-write the job description for the top job at the Office of Open Government to make clear that the Ethics Board – according to Collier – “expects to approve regulations ahead of time, the board expects to know what’s going on in agency operations, and expects there to be collaboration with Office of Open Government and sharing of resources for efficiencies.”

Another option would be to seek a “legislative fix,” by finding a way to bolster the independence of the Office of Open Government – Hughes had suggested such a fix, urging that OGG be placed under a new oversight board.  But an “executive fix” – the personnel change approach – would keep the open government office under the Ethics Board.  And clarifying the new director’s job description to spell out  exactly what the Board expects, will effectively put the Open Government Agency under the Ethics Board’s control.   ​It would cease to be an independent watchdog.​

Councilmember Allen told Collier he would be happy to look for a way to provide a legislative solution for the structural problem and he said he didn’t see how replacing personnel was the appropriate approach, if indeed there is a structural problem.  Collier’s response could ​be  interpreted as “thanks, but no thanks ​”: ​ Collier told Allen she was “happy to hear you’ll help with the legislative fix, but part of problem is Hughes – her interpretation of the statute makes us completely hands off.”  In the end, Allen appeared to sign off on the  Ethics Board’s proposed “executive fix approach”​; ​ there was no further discussion of a legislative fix to give the board more independence​, nor was any discussion of what it would mean to have the appearance of an independent watchdog without the operational reality of one – namely, a political office dedicated to preserving open meetings provided it did not upset any powerful interests.  ​

Acknowledging earlier testimony supporting Hughes’ work and leadership, notably from two Ward 6 ANC Commissioners – Denise Krepp and Mark Eckenwiler (neither one of whom appeared as representatives of their ANC Boards)​ – and representatives from both DC Watch and the Legal Committee, DC Open Government, Allen ​concluded​:

“I can’t help but feel that I heard from people who feel trust in city government and that that trust has been frayed and in some cases that trust has been broken.  And so I think we will all have work to do to make sure that the public has trust because it is too important not to.  And I think there’s clear work ahead of us because my ears were open today and so I certainly heard a lot of residents and neighbors who care deeply about their city and integrity of their government express frustration and concern about that very integrity and a lot of people who work hard in building and maintaining that integrity.  So I think we’ll all take that conversation today and map out a path forward.”

 

 

 

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The Week Ahead…. CM Allen before ANC6D – Council Chair Mendelson before ANC6B

City Council Chair Phil Mendelson appears before ANC6B this week.

The Week Ahead…. CM Allen before ANC6D – Council Chair Mendelson before ANC6B

by Larry Janezich

Monday February 12

ANC6D  meets at 7:00pm at 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor

Among items on the draft agenda:

Public Safety Report – First District MPD (PSA 105 & PSA 106) Lt. Queen, Lt. Robinson

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Races/Runs/Events:  Marine Corps Marathon (10/28), Purple Stride (6/9), Race4Respect (6/2).

Due South, 301 Water Street, SE – Request for amendment to restaurant liquor license for additional summer garden seats.

Navy Yard Wine Merchant, 1105 New Jersey Avenue, SE – new Class B (food market) application and new liquor license.

Randall School – 65 Eye Street, SW – Zoning Application for modification of significance.

Randall School – 65 Eye Street, SW – Public Space Concept Design.

FRESHFARM Capitol  Riverfront  Farmers Market.

Ward 6 Family Shelter

Greenleaf Redevelopment Request for Proposals – comments.

Dacha Beer Garden, 79 Potomac Avenue, SE.  Public space application for sidewalk café.  –

Chloe, 1331 4th Street, SE – Public Space application for sidewalk café

Tuesday, February 13

ANC6B meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentations – Chairman Mendelson to speak on the proposed ceremonial naming of the 200 block of 2nd Street, SE, “Richard Rausch Way”.  Rausch, a longtime DC home rule and Democratic activist who died in 2007, resided on the street.  [Questions to be submitted from Commissioners prior to full ANC 6B meeting.]

ABC Committee – topical reporting by committee chair.

Presentation/letter consideration Re: Renovation of Potomac Avenue Parks.

1511 C Street, SE – Zoning Adjustment application for special exception to construct a two-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

656 Independence Ave SE – Zoning Adjustment application for special exception to construct a two-story, rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

Discussion on the DDOT decision for 8th and A Streets, SE.

Discussion on traffic problems at Brent and Tyler Elementary schools.

Proposed letter on Park Drive.

Hill East Traffic Study Letter.

Thursday, February 15,

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

Among items on the draft agenda:

2018 Rock’n’Roll Marathon—MPD request to restrict parking along the route.

2018 Capitol Hill Classic—May 20, 2018 event.

NoMa Parks update.

Peet’s Coffee, 1275 First Street NE—Application for an unenclosed sidewalk café.

Cava Grill, 523 H Street NE—Application for an unenclosed sidewalk café.

Indigo, 243 K Street NE—Conversion from unenclosed to enclosed sidewalk café

214 A Street NE, Historic Preservation application for concept approval, side and rear additions and garage.

311 F Street NE, Historic Preservation application for approval, full-height rear addition

C Street NE Rehabilitation Project Public Meeting, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Rosedale Community Center, 1701 Gales Street NE6:00 to 8:00pm.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites you to a public meeting to provide the community and stakeholders an update on the preliminary engineering of a rehabilitation project along C Street, NE.  The project will improve safety and connectivity for all users on C Street, NE from 14th Street to 22nd Street, NE; and North Carolina Avenue, NE from 14th Street, NE to 16th Street, NE. At this meeting, the 65% design plans will be shared to further refine the recommendations provided during the final design phase.

Sector 2 (PSAs 104, 107, 108) Community Meeting at 7:00pm, Location TBD, but probably at  at JO Wilson school, 660 K Street NE.

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Those Red, Green, Orange and Yellow Bikes – Update on DC Dockless Bike Share Pilot Program

ANC6C Transportation Committee. Members, left-right – Heather Edelman, Kate Kemmerer, Mark Eckenwiler, Josh Linden (co-chair), Emily Diamon-Falk, Mark Kazmierczak (co-chair). Standing, Jonathan M. Robers, DDOT Policy Analyst

Those Red, Green, Orange and Yellow Bikes – Update on DC Dockless Bike Share Pilot Program

by Larry Janezich

ANC6C’s Transportation Committee, chaired by Mark Kazmierczak, asked DDOT for an update on the District’s dockless bike share pilot program.   DDOT Policy Analyst Jonathan M. Rogers was happy to oblige at the Committee’s meeting last Thursday.

The District is open to proposals which allow more people to bike, and DDOT sees a potential for as many as 20,000 dockless bikes on city streets.  They would supplement – not replace – the currently sanctioned Capital Bikeshare’s 4162 bikes at 440 stations in operation.

There are five companies participating in the pilot program authorized through April 2018 – Jump (red/electric), Mobike (orange & silver), Ofo (yellow), Lime Bike (Lime), and Spin (orange), with – according to Rogers – more companies waiting in line.  In addition, “Bird,” a Santa Monica based dockless electric scooter company has expressed interest in providing service in DC.

Users of the dockless bikes find a bicycle using a smart phone app, create an account and payment method with the appropriate company, rent a bicycle at an hourly rate ($1/30 minutes except Jump with is $2/30minutes), and end their trip anywhere they can legally park a bicycle (leaving pedestrian space of at least 5 feet, not blocking entrances or driveways, not blocking Capital Bikeshare stations, not blocking bicycle motor vehicle traffic, and not in a tree box planting area).  In addition, federal lands like the mall, the White House, the US Capitol Grounds, and numerous triangle parks are no parking zones.

During the pilot program, DDOT will be looking at how to manage a dockless bike program, how many vendors should there be and how to decide which vendors to license, how to enforce the program, bicycle design requirements, costs of operations, and penalties for bad operations.  In addition, DDOT will assess how dockless bike share interacts with Capital Bikeshare.

Rogers pointed to vandalism, theft, and impediment parking as some of the early indicators of challenges the program faces.

At the end April, DDOT’s policy and legislative affairs division will make a recommendation on the future of the program to the DDOT Director and other city officials.  The choices will be to extend the pilot which will require additional rulemaking and enforcement, or decide that the pilot program wasn’t worth it and should be terminated.  In any event, Rogers said, residents should not expect a final decision after this preliminary assessment.

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Editorial:  Why I’m Not Voting for Bowser Again

Editorial:  Why I’m Not Voting for Bowser Again

by Larry Janezich

I’ve supported Mayor Bowser and given credit where it’s due.  But the recent decision of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability – all mayoral appointees – to not renew the contract of Director of the Office of Open Government Traci L. Hughes, speaks of an indifference to residents who care about accountability and shows the arrogance of an executive sure of coasting to re-election.

Hughes ran afoul of the executive branch by enforcing DC’s transparency laws, notably against the board of the United Medical Center and the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for holding secret meetings.  Both boards are controlled by appointees of Mayor Bowser.

Closer to home, in 2014 and 2015, Hughes responded to complaints by Eastern Market vendor Joe Snyder about lack of transparency regarding the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC), with the result in a change of EMCAC procedures.  Changes such as these benefit the entire community.

Then came yesterday, when the City Council unanimously approved a bill to authorize publicly financed campaigns.  Bowser says she will not budget funding for it.  As has been widely reported, Bowser already suffers from a public perception that she is too close to campaign contributors.  In a case that had indirect consequences for Eastern Market, former Department of General Services chief Chris Weaver (DGS owns and runs Eastern Market) resigned after two of his staffers were fired when they failed to award lucrative contracts on the DC United soccer stadium and the Washington Wizards practice facility at St. Elizabeth’s to Ft. Myer Construction – a significant donor to local politicians.  When Councilmember Mary Cheh presented Bowser with evidence of corruption in the contracting process, Bowser chose to ignore it.

In 2015, the Mayor’s allies were forced to shut down Bowser’s controversial political action committee FreshPAC, funded in large part by developers like Hine Project partner Buwa Binitie, after public and media reaction turned it into a liability.

And in March of 2016, the Washington Post reported that most of the sites selected for relocating the homeless from DC General were “…owned or at least partly controlled by major donors to the mayor.  And experts have calculated that the city leases would increase the assessed value of those properties by as much as 10 times for that small group of landowners and developers.”

Most of these controversies are now so much water under the bridge – but the cumulative effect of the drip, drip, dripping speaks to a continuation of a venal and moribund city government.

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 8, Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, will hold an oversight hearing where he says he will seek answers on the failure to renew Hughes’ contract from the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.  It’s ironic that the Board finds itself in a forum where it is being held accountable.  Let’s hope our trust in accountability is not misplaced.

The hearing is at 9:30am in Room 500 of the Wilson Building.  The hearing can also be watched live by clicking on the “Watch Hearings Live” link on this webpage:  http://bit.ly/2E5eIP1

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Update:  The Week Ahead…. – ANC6C Committee Meetings – Dockless Bikes and Sidewalk Cafés

Update:  The Week Ahead…. – ANC6C Committee Meetings – Dockless Bikes and Sidewalk Cafés

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday, February 7

ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee meets at 6:30pm in Nortgheast Library, 7th and D Streets, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

214 A Street, NE – Historic Preservation Application of Jonathan D. Schmidt for concept approval for side and rear additions, to raze garages, and to construct new garage.

311 F Street, NE – Historic Preservation Application of C&S Development LLC for concept approval to construct a full-height rear addition.

1139 6th Street, NE – Zoning adjustment Application for a special exception to construct a rear and third-story addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

Discussion of B22-669 – Department of Buildings Establishment Act of 2018

Discussion of upcoming DCRA oversight hearing (March 8)

Thursday, February 8

ANC6C Transportation and Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm, Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center, 700 2nd Street, NE, Room G3-G4. 

Among items on the draft agenda:

Dockless Bikeshare Presentation:  The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will provide an overview and update ofthe dockless bikeshare pilot program.

Peet’s Coffee, 1275 1st Street, NE – Application for an unenclosed sidewalk café.

CAVA Grill, 523 H Street, NE – Application for unenclosed sidewalk café

Indigo, 243 K Street, NE – Application to convert current unenclosed sidewalk café to an enclosed sidewalk café

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Southeast Safeway Announces March 10 Closing with 30% Off 

Southeast Safeway at 14th and D Streets, SE

Restrictions and exceptions apply to the 30% off sale (see below)

Southeast Safeway Announces March 10 Closing with 30% Off

by Larry Janezich

The Southeast Safeway will close for two years on Saturday, March 10.  When it reopens, it will be 10,000 square feet larger and part of a large mixed use 329 unit residential/retail project, “Beckert’s Park” – named for the Beckert’s Brewery that once occupied the site.  Capitol Hill Corner first reported the planned  development in March, 2016.  Details of the project were subsequently posted on CHC here:  http://bit.ly/2qjZpii

The 30% off does not apply to meats, dairy, baked goods or produce.  It does apply to wine and dry/canned goods.  Current employees will be offered transfers to their choice of three other stores during the two year period.

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The Week Ahead….

Part of the pleasure of visiting Capitol Hill Books at 657 C Street across from Eastern Market is experiencing the acerbic wit behind the admonitory notices reminding customers to return books where they came from, to wit, the above.

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, February 5

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

Tuesday, February 6

ANC6B Planning & Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue, SE. 

Among items on the agenda:

Presentation/consideration of a letter regarding renovation of Potomac Avenue Parks

1511 C Street SE; Zoning adjustment – Special Exception to construct a two-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

656 Independence Ave SE; Zoning adjustment – Special Exception to construct a two-story, rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling,

Letter to DC Water, DCRA regarding night work within 500 feet of residences.

Wednesday, February 7

ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Among items on the agenda:

Discussion on the DDOT decision for 8th and A Streets parking issue, SE.

Discussion on traffic problems at Brent and Tyler Elementary schools.

Proposed letter on Park Drive.

Public usage of Lot 843 in Square 1046 (tentative).

Thursday, February 8

The ANC6B ABC Committee which usually meets this day has not scheduled a meeting. 

ANC6A meets at 7:00pm at Miner Elementary School, 601 15th Street, NE. 

Among items on the draft agenda:

Community Presentation:  District Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian.

Motion that the ANC approve the submitted Settlement Agreement with Truth Hookah/Cigar at 1220 H Street, NE, and not protest its request for a restaurant liquor license.

Recommendation that ANC 6A provide a letter of conditional support for the 2018 Rock and Roll Marathon on the condition that the organizers commit to meeting with the ANC prior to their meetings with DDOT and HSEMA in order to discuss the possibility of alternate routes that do not repeatedly impact ANC 6A and the streetcar for the 2019 race, and that ANC 6A oppose the “Clean Route” requirement that no cars be permitted to park along the route far in advance of the race.

Recommendation that ANC 6A send a letter of support to the Mayor’s Task Force on Special Events for the 2018 Capitol Hill Classic race and oppose the “Clean Route” requirement that no cars be permitted to park along the route far in advance of the race.

Recommendation that ANC6A send a letter to DCPS and DGS encouraging them to request a variance and seek other ways of increasing playspace at Maury Elementary School.

Recommendation that ANC6A send a letter to DDOT requesting they engage with DCPS to come up with a solution to the challenges regarding parking and space restrictions at Maury Elementary School.

Recommendation that ANC6A send a letter to BZA asking for flexibility in the interpretation of parking requirements at Maury Elementary School.

Saturday, February 10

The Friends of Southeast Library will hold a book sale from 10:00am until 3:00pm at Southeast Library, lower level. 

Maury Elementary School will hold a book sale in the Eliot Hine multi-purpose at 18th and C Streets, NE, from 10am until 2:00pm.  Hundreds of books to choose from for both children and adults – $1 for paperbacks and children’s books and $2 for hardcovers.  Also for sale:  valentine treats, popcorn and hot chocolate, & valentine pencil-grams.  There will also be a make your own bookmark craft station.  All proceeds will go to sending Maury 5th Graders to space camp in 2018.

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ANC6B02 Commissioner Diane Hoskins Resigns – Represented Eastern Market, Hine Project & EM Metro Plaza

Diane Hoskins, ANC6B02 Commissioner, resigned today

ANC6B02 Commissioner Diane Hoskins Resigns

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B02 Commissioner Diane Hoskins announced her resignation today, effective immediately, saying the demands of a new job were incompatible with serving the neighborhood.  The announcement came in the form of a letter to Director of the DC Board of Elections, Alice Miller, and is as follows:

Hoskins was elected in 2014 to succeed retiring commissioner Ivan Frischberg.  She recently stepped down as ANC6B Treasurer.  Hoskins and has been an active supporter of efforts to manage the impact on the neighborhood of Hine Project and has been the ANC’s representative on the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee.  Her single member district includes Eastern Market, the Hine Project, and Eastern Market Metro Plaza.

The usual procedure for filling the seat once ANC6B declares it vacant is by special election at a time and place determined by the ANC.  Capitol Hill Corner will post the details as they become available.  A map of ANC6B is below showing the boundaries of Single Member District 6B02.  If only one candidate emerges, the usual procedure is for the ANC to declare that candidate the new commissioner.

Map of ANC6B.  ANC6B02 contains within its boundaries Eastern Market, the Hine Project, and Eastern Market Metro Plaza

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