Monthly Archives: July 2021

Mayor Bowser Reimposes Indoor Mask Mandate Starting Saturday

Mayor Bowser Reimposes Indoor Mask Mandate Starting Saturday

by Larry Janezich

Posted July 29, 2021

Today, Mayor Bowser announced that starting Saturday, July 31 at 5:00am, she would order mandatory wearing of masks indoors for everyone over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status.  The public emergency remains in place.  As of now, only the masking requirement changes, with no change in the social distancing requirement.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, head of DC Health Department, said that since the beginning of July, there had been a fivefold increase in the city’s daily case rate and the increase was attributable to those in two age groups – 5 to 14 and 20 to 34.  The activities linked to the increase in those groups include travel, international travel, dining out, and social activities with group size and attendance skewing toward larger groups.  Only a handful of new cases came from the over-65 age group.

Asked about enforcement, Bowser said that DC residents had “been supportive throughout this and have been willing to follow DC guidance.  This is not a big lift for a lot of folks”. 

The first day of school will be August 30.  Masks will be required for all indoors, and social distancing will be maintained to the extent possible.  The city is launching a large financial incentive program to get students vaccinated, including the giveaway of $51 gift cards, air pods, iPads, and college scholarships. 

Currently Covid vaccination is strongly encouraged for all students 12 and older, but is not required.  Starting Monday, August 2, students and families will be able to schedule appointments for shots through https://coronavirus.dc.gov/page/get-vaccinated .  Appointments will be at participating DC Public Schools and public charter schools and can be made regardless of the student’s school of enrollment. 

Regarding city workers, the District has started working with labor partners to create a vaccination requirement for DC Government employees. 

Asked how far back the city might go with respect to re-imposing additional restrictions, the Mayor said that the hope was that by acting now, “we can stop this before it goes too far.”  Asked how long the masking requirement would last, she said, “I don’t know.”

The city still offers free Covid testing daily at select fire stations, recreation centers, and other sites.  For more info, go here:  https://coronavirus.dc.gov/testing

For the Power Point presentation of the Mayor’s Situational Briefing today, go here: https://bit.ly/375r89X .

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Editorial:  Bowser Yanks $1.4 Million Out of Budget for Canal and Yards Parks

Editorial:  Bowser Yanks $1.4 Million Out of Budget for Canal and Yards Parks

by Larry Janezich

Mayor Bowser cut $1.4 million in funds for the Capitol Riverfront BID’s maintenance and programming for the two parks near the National’s stadium from the FY22 Budget.  That means that the Department of Recreation will have to pick up the ball starting October 1.  The money supported a contract with the BID which has overseen the maintenance, operations, programming, and activation of the parks for the past ten years. 

To date, neither the Business and Economic Development Committee nor the Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs – which have oversight of the parks – has moved to restore the funds and if that doesn’t happen by August 3, it’s not going to happen at all. 

This would leave the BID little choice but to surrender the parks to the city agency since funding the work without city help will force staff cuts or increasing the assessments from businesses which benefit from the BID.  Even that solution would leave some sort of legal contractual agreement to be negotiated. 

CHC asked ANC6D Chair Edward Daniels to react to the cuts:  “I was surprised to hear of these cuts to our local parks and will do all that I can to support our BID in securing funding to continue the wonderful job that their team performs to make our green spaces some of the best that you will find in the District. Our parks are staples in our community, not only for locals, but as a destination for residents and tourists alike. At this time, we need a collective voice from our residents to let DC Council know just how important their budget funding is. Based on my interactions with DPR, there is no way that their agency can come close to maintaining and programming our parks the way that the Capitol Riverfront BID has, for years.”

This is the second year in a row that Bowser has squeezed the BID – last year, she eliminated one-year contracts over $1 million which included the BID’s park maintenance contract.  Funding was later restored, but cut from $1.85 million to $1.2 million because of the pandemic. 

The BID’s position is that both of these parks are important assets to the neighborhood, ensuring access to green space, the water, and community-building programming.  The need for high-quality maintenance and operations will only increase as the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood continues to grow.  DPR simply can’t provide what is needed. 

The DC Council will hold the final votes on this $17.5 billion budget on August 3 and August 10.  Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen supports restoration of the funding but that’s not going to be enough.  What is needed is community outreach to other Chair Phil Mendelsohn and other DC Councilmembers urging them to include $1.4 million in funding for Yards Park and Canal Park in the overall budget.  They should do this for the good of the community. 

The community can help by contacting Mendelson and all other DC Councilmembers to ask for their support in restoring the funds. 

pmendelson@dccouncil.us  (Chair, DC City Council)

kmcduffie@dccouncil.us  (Chair, Business and Economic Development Committee)

twhite@dccouncil.us   (Chair, Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs)

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The Week Ahead…and Some Photos from the Past Week

On July 23, J. Thomas Manger was sworn in as Chief of US Capitol Police.  Manger is a 42 year veteran of law enforcement and former Chief of Police for both Montgomery County in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia.  The regional experience will allow him to strengthen partnerships with these law enforcement partners.  Steven Sund, former Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, resigned under pressure a day after the Capitol Building was stormed by insurrectionists.  Chad Thomas, number two in the department, was pressured to resign on June 7 from his position as Assistant Chief of Police for Uniformed Operations, which included the Civil Disturbance Unit which turned out to be unprepared for the insurrection on January 6. 

The Week Ahead…and Some Photos from the Past Week

by Larry Janezich

Posted on July 25, 2021

Tuesday, July 27

ANC6A Alcohol Beverage Control Committee.  CANCELLED. 

Wednesday, July 28

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee holds a virtual meeting at 7:00pm. 

Information on how to join the meeting.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85183156550?pwd=V09rUmgweXIxYVVSSzNqWDJIaE1qUT09  

  • Meeting ID: 851 8315 6550
  • Passcode: 710088
  • One tap mobile
  • +13126266799,,85183156550#,,,,*710088# US (Chicago)
  • +19292056099,,85183156550#,,,,*710088# US (New York)
  • Dial by your location
  • +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

Among items on the agenda:

  • Report on the Budget legislation.
  • Report of the Market Manager
    • Status of Fresh Tuesdays
    • Budget and Spending Report
    • North Hall use
    • Rule enforcement
  • Tenant’s Council Report
  • Capital Improvements Report: Monte Edwards
  • Noise task force: Chuck Burger.
  • Eastern Market Main Street Mural project update: Charles McCaffrey

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SE Library Team Denies FOSEL More Space for Book Sales – Tweaks Design

SE Library Team Denies FOSEL More Space for Book Sales – Tweaks Design

by Larry Janezich

Posted July 24, 2021

Last Wednesday night, the design team for the renovation of Southeast Library told the Friends of Southeast Library that they weren’t getting any more space to store donated books for their monthly book sales which benefit the Library.  The Friends currently have 125 square feet of space to store the several thousand donated books which end up in the sales, but would have half that after the renovation.  The Friends say it isn’t nearly enough.  Designers said that they are trying to maximize public use – that prioritizing others is the best use of space they have. 

Capitol Hill Corner reached out to several members of FOSEL for reaction to the refusal to provide more space for the Friends. 

Long time FOSEL member Bob Gellman said, “The library provides the Friends with a room to store books for the book sale. It’s about 125 square feet, and we use all of it, with books often piled as high as possible. If we don’t have the same space in the new library, we won’t be able to run monthly book sales.

The new library will have twice the space of the current library, but it appears that library management is set on stopping the book sale by giving the Friends about half the space we have now. One theory is that library management doesn’t like it that the Friends can raise and spend money on the SE branch without management control. The SE branch librarians and patrons have always welcomed the support, however.

The reasons that management give for reducing the space for the sale don’t make much sense. In the course of a year, somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people participate in the sales as buyers, donors, or workers. The book sale is a major community activity that the library should welcome and support. Everybody likes a book sale, especially when most books are a dollar each. The Friends are not asking for more space. Other branch libraries have bigger Friends rooms, and some don’t use their space at all.”

The meeting started with some 25 attendees and an indeterminate number later joined the virtual meeting to hear the design team give an update on changes made based on community input from previous meetings. 

For the most part, the tweaks the team made were minor. 

  • Adjusted site design to simulate original design, minimizing interruption of the earth berm
  • Updated the new South Carolina Avenue public entry to improve visibility and safety and discourage afterhours use
  • Relocated the Book drop from D Street side to the new Sorth Carolina Avenue public entrance
  • Established procedures to study “light trespass” as design progresses
  • Addressed noise concerns regarding mechanicals in the service court behind the library

Here’s what will happen next:

  • Prepare formal submissions to DC Office of Planning, DDOT, State Historic Preservation Office, Commission on Fine Arts, and the National Capital Planning Commission
  • Presentations to the Historic Preservation Review Board and ANC6B
  • Application to the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment seeking Lot coverage variance.

Several of those venues provide opportunities for the Friends to appeal for more space, but would risk alienating administrators of DC Library. 

The current library is closing at the end of 2022 when the renovation will begin.  The renovated library will reopen in the spring of 2024.

(Full disclosure:  The editor of Capitol Hill Corner is a member of FOSEL.)

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DDOT Plan for North Carolina Avenue NE Bike Lanes Draws Resident Opposition

DDOT Plans for North Carolina Avenue NE Bike Lanes Draw Resident Opposition

by Larry Janezich

Posted July 22, 2021

Last Monday, ANC6A’s Transportation Committee, chaired by resident member Maura Dundon, hosted a meeting with DDOT, joined by more than 100 residents.  The event was billed as a listening session to hear community concerns regarding DDOT’s plans for installing bike lanes on the 1300 block of North Carolina Avenue, NE, connecting Lincoln Park and the RFK Fields/Anacostia River Trail.   

DDOT says the goal of the planned installation of some 10 miles of protected bike lanes on DC Streets is part of a larger project to make DC carbon neutral by 2050.  That will entail making 75% of all trips in the city by walking, biking, or by transit; currently DC is at about 50%.  

An official DDOT Notice of Intent for the North Carolina Avenue project will be issued in the fall, triggering a 30 day response period, during which time ANC6A is expected to officially weigh in with a recommendation.  Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2022.  

DDOT has three proposals for redesigning the street, but out of deference to resident demands to preserve as much parking as possible, the focus appears to be on two:  Alternative B and C (above) – both providing one way west-bound car lanes and two-way protected bike lanes.  Both versions preserve parking on both sides of the street, but change the car traffic from two-way to one-way. 

Nearby residents have put forth their own proposal, which was presented by resident Delancey Gustin, who cited support from 220 residents.  She called it a data-driven compromise featuring two-way car lanes, road humps to slow westbound traffic, a dedicated bike lane in the westbound direction, and a sharrows (a shared vehicle/bike lane) in the eastbound direction.  The residents want to add their plan to the alternatives being considered by the city.   

DDOT’s response to the proposal was curt – with representative Will Handsfield saying that they were  not going to expand the current trial of sharrows throughout the city.  DDOT has reviewed the proposal and will not consider the plan, having found it does not provide an adequate level of protection for bikers on the corridor.  

Commissioner Amber Gove, Chair of the ANC, said she believes we can get to a design that preserves parking.  She said pedestrian safety is a priority and DDOT is giving us an opportunity to do that: “Let’s fight for a design that’s beautiful and turn it into a neighborhood street.  Let’s ask for what we want.  Slower speeds.  But also fewer people in cars.”  Slowing westbound morning traffic, much of it from day-commuters, was a prominent concern mentioned by the residents as not adequately addressed by any versions put forward by DDOT.

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Future of Used Book Sales at Southeast Library in Jeopardy

Future of Used Book Sales at Southeast Library in Jeopardy

By Larry Janezich

Posted July 20, 2021

Unless more storage space for donated books is provided by the team designing the $23 million renovation of the Southeast Library, the Library’s popular monthly used book sales may have to end, according to the Friends of Southeast Library (FOSEL).  The group organizes the sales and says that current plans provide only 125 square feet for storage – some 75% less than space provided for Friends’ organizations in other libraries. 

In an email to regular book sale patrons FOSEL appealed to members of the community to join DC Library’s virtual community meeting on the Library renovation at 6:30pm on Wednesday, July 21, to express support for more space for FOSEL.

The purpose of the community meeting is to show the latest designs to the community, hear updates on project schedule and regulatory review, and provide an opportunity for feedback.

To join the meeting, go here: 

https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/onstage/g.php?MTID=eb785d47d8c8ee5eab11ebbeb2f78f329 – If prompted, type the password “dclibrary”.

According to FOSEL President Neal Gregory, “The monthly sale of used books is the most popular event at Southeast Library, drawing hundreds of residents on the second Saturday of each month.  Most of the books are priced at a dollar, with proceeds going to promote reading and to support children’s library programs.

Sales were suspended during the pandemic.  Since the monthly sales began a decade ago, thousands of books have been donated and sold, raising almost a quarter million dollars.” 

The current library is closing at the end of 2022 when the renovation will begin.  The renovated library will reopen in the spring of 2024. 

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Update on the 6th Street Underpass Mural Restoration Project

Update on the 6th Street Underpass Mural Restoration Project

by Larry Janezich

Posted July 19, 2021

Volunteers continue the work of the restoration of Byron Peck’s Piet Mondrian style murals on the walls of the 6th Street, SE, underpass which began in mid-June.  The effort was initiated and is being led by ANC6B Chair Brian Ready who says he expects work will be complete by the end of August.

Ready is looking for volunteers (no experience necessary) to help; work sessions on are on Saturday mornings from 9:00am until 11:00am.  Those interested in participating in the project can email Ready at www.anc6b.org

Support from Jim Guckert and Guerilla Gardeners https://bit.ly/3xcJ51P brought volunteers and funding from the Awesome Foundation.

The riskier preparation work being undertaken by Joseph Kondrot.

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The Week Ahead…ANC Highlights…Some Photos from the Past Week

The Week Ahead…ANC Highlights…Some Photos from the Past Week

by Larry Janezich

Highlights:

  • Monday: ANC6A Transportation Committee hearing on bike lane installation for North Carolina Avenue, SE.
  • Wednesday: DC Public Library hosts community meeting on renovation of Southeast Library.

The Week Ahead…

Monday, July 19

ANC6A Transportation and Public Space Committee holds a virtual meeting at 7:00pm.

For information on joining the meeting go here:  https://anc6a.org/community-calendar/

Among items on the draft agenda:

  • Discussion of 1300 block of North Carolina Avenue, NE, bike lane installation options by Will Handsfield, DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist. DDOT is currently considering what type of bicycle facility to add to the 1300 block of North Carolina Avenue as part of its high priority bicycle network, and to ensure continuity between the C Street project (under construction) and the rest of the city’s bicycle network. This includes consideration of different options for directions of placement of car traffic and bicycle traffic lanes, including conversion to one-way vehicle traffic, as well as consideration of car parking.
  • For more on DDOT’s North Carolina bike lane installation options, go here: https://anc6a.org/wp-content/uploads/TPSA0721.pdf
  • Installation of raised crosswalk at northernmost crossing of 15th Street, NE. and Tennessee Avenue, NE. (adjacent to Miner Elementary).
  • Discussion of adding a standing TPS agenda item to review pending Traffic Safety Assessments and past-due 311 sidewalk requests on a regular cycle.

Wednesday, July 21

ANC6A Economic Development & Zoning Committee will hold a virtual meeting at 7:00pm.

For information on joining the meeting go here:  https://anc6a.org/community-calendar/

Among items on the draft agenda:

  • 1300 I Street, NE. Zoning Adjustment Application re Modification of Consequence to previously approved plans to add a penthouse enclosure, including a staircase, and roof deck.
  • 810 C Street, NE. Historic Preservation Application – review of a project for the renovation and a 10 foot addition, add third story to two-story building, and reconfigure façade’s windows and door openings to an existing two-unit row house with conversion to a single family row house in the Historic District.

DC Public Library will host a virtual community meeting on the Southeast Library Modernization Project at 6:30pm. 

This will be a virtual meeting via WebEx. Please use the link below at the time of the meeting to join:  https://dcnet.webex.com/dcnet/onstage/g.php?MTID=eb785d47d8c8ee5eab11ebbeb2f78f329  

If prompted, please use the password “dclibrary”.

Among items on the agenda:

  • Latest design.
  • Update on project schedule and regulatory review.
  • Public feedback.

Learn more about this project at https://www.dclibrary.org/southeastlibraryrenovation

Saturday, July 24

Free Walking Tour, Mary McLeod Bethune Statue on Saturday, July 24.

  • The Ward 6 Democrats are sponsoring a free one-hour tour of the Mary McLeod Bethune Statue in Lincoln Park. Capitol Hill Professional Tour Guide and Author Robert Pohl will lead the tour, weather permitting.   Meet at the Bethune Statue at 9:45am.  Several of Bethune’s descendants plan to join the tour. Sign up here:  https://bit.ly/3Au8ki3

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Two New Barracks Row Restaurants Now Open: Bodegon and Crazy Aunt Helen’s

Hamza – your host at Bodegon. Over his shoulder, “suits of light” worn by matadors add to the atmosphere.

Two New Barracks Row Restaurants Now Open: Bodegon and Crazy Aunt Helen’s

by Larry Janezich

Posted July 16, 2021

Bodegon Tapas – brought to Barracks Row by brothers Joe and Moe Idrissi who own of Bodegas in Georgetown – is in the middle of a weeks-long soft opening.  Your host, Hamza, says a grand opening is still a ways off on a date TBA.  The restaurant is at 515 8th Street on Barracks Row in the space formerly occupied by Medium Rare. 

The owners, in partnership with Ben Kirane, are long-time restaurateurs behind a number of Georgetown outlets, including Rialto, Maxime, and Thunder Burger and Bar.  

Here’s a link to their website and the food and drink menus:  http://bodegondc.com/

Crazy Aunt Helen’s – in what was formerly Finn McCool’s at 713 8th Street, SE – opened last  Wednesday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a menu focusing on American comfort food.  Chef Mykie Moll – of the now closed Pom Pom – will rule the kitchen

Crazy Aunt Helen’s is the vision of owner Shane Mayson – a veteran of 30 years in the hospitality business – who started his career as an 18 year old waiter in Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill. 

Crazy Aunt Helen’s will operate initially from Wednesday to Monday, serving breakfast 7am – 11am, lunch 11am -4pm, and dinner 5pm to 9pm. 

You can check out the menu here:  https://www.crazyaunthelens.com/

 

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ANCs 6D & 6B Push Back on Plan for SW Residential Project with No Affordable Housing

Here’s a view looking north on South Capitol Street.

ANCs 6D & 6B Push Back on Plan for SW Residential Project with No Affordable Housing

By Larry Janezich

Posted July 15, 2021

Monday night, ANC6D pushed back hard on a proposal for a 13 story 130 foot apartment complex at the intersection of South Capitol Street and I-695 that would provide no affordable housing units. 

Matthew Tsao of DC based developer W.C. Smith revealed the company’s plans for a development at 850 South Capitol Street, just south of the freeway.  The presentation was informational but was required before the company files a Zoning Application for design review.  The Zoning Commission has regulations for projects on the major arteries leading to the Capitol Building.  The company will seek support for the project from ANC6D and ANC6B in September and a Zoning Commission hearing in the fall. 

The unusual configuration of the parcels upon which the project will sit extends under the freeway and overlaps the boundary of ANC6B, making them an affected ANC and giving them a voice in the Zoning Commission process. 

Under the regulations for development of parcels designated D-5 high density zoning, affordable housing Inclusionary Zoning requirements do not apply.  Otherwise, 10% of the project’s floor space would have to be reserved for affordable units.  That there will be no affordable housing in the project is an issue for the ANCs.    

The developer  plans to coordinate construction with the planned rebuilding of South Capitol’s 695 on ramp which fronts the length of the proposed building’s west façade.  But that project is 4 to 6 years away.  The developer explains the long lead time for getting the project authorized and permitted in terms of the lengthy Zoning Commission’s process.  But another factor might be a pending proposal to apply Inclusionary Zoning regulations to developments on high density D-5 parcels.  It is unclear if or when that proposed regulation might become law.     

ANC6D Chair Edward Daniels told the developer that “affordable housing is a huge issue for us”.  He cited other concerns, including the challenge of construction on an unusual site, limited pedestrian access into the site, lack of retail in the project and the focus on rentals when the community needs fabric-building home ownership.  Commissioners Weiss, Bossi, Collins, Kramer, and Hamilton all indicated or explicitly said they could not support a project with no affordable housing.

ANC6B heard the developer’s presentation on the project on Tuesday night.  Commissioner Denise Krepp castigated the developer for not including affordable housing; ANC6B Chair Brian Ready urged them to look into affordable housing even if it’s not required.  Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Corey Holman said that he expects ANC6B to follow the lead of ANC6D and support their push for affordable housing,  noting that 6D has done a good job insuring affordable housing in projects where no affordable housing is required.  He added, “In general we support as much affordable housing as we can get.”

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