Editorial:  Bowser on DGS Firing Scandal:  Move Along Folks, Nothing to See Here

Editorial:  Bowser on DGS Firing Scandal:  Move Along Folks, Nothing to See Here

by Larry Janezich

In September of 2016, after DGS Director Chris Weaver refused, City Administrator Rasheed Young abruptly and in violation of protocol fired two employees of the agency’s contract and procurement division.  The employees, Yinka Alao and Carlos Sandoval, alleged the firings occurred because they did not award a major Bowser contributor, Fort Myer Construction, contracts for work at the Buzzard Point Soccer Stadium and St. Elizabeth redevelopment sites.

Councilmember Mary Cheh’s Transportation and Environment Committee held hearings to determine if anything improper had occurred.  The staff subsequently wrote a report on the Committee’s preliminary findings, the main points of which are as follows:

  1. The inquiry did not reveal any direct evidence of political influence.
  2. The evidence disclosed that Fort Myer Construction does appear to be a favored District contractor.
  3. Senior Executive Officials took action in relation to the two contracts intending to benefit Fort Myer Construction.
  4. The Officials’ actions seem to contradict the assertion that preventing delay was their sole purpose in intending to benefit Fort Myer Construction.
  5. The firing of the two employees was not illegal, but seemed an unnecessarily harsh penalty based on offered explanations, and were procedurally irregular.
  6. There was evidence that an unknown District employee likely leaked information about a competitor’s bid on the Saint Elizabeth’s contract to Fort Myer, allowing Fort Myer to submit a more competitive offer. “This is a breach of law and ethics, and the Office of the Inspector General should investigate it.”

Seeking support to issue the report from her fellow committee members, Cheh found it only from Councilmember Charles Allen.  Three committee members – Evans, McDuffie, and Todd – indicated they would not vote to endorse the report.  Cheh then decided to issue the report over her own signature.

As the Washington Post reported on June 15, http://wapo.st/2u8CXYF the Mayor called the information about the alleged leak a “wild accusation” and that she would not pursue an investigation.

This smacks of a cover up.  If it were just a matter of one more shady deal, it would be one thing.  But the callousness and indifference in disrupting three lives and the apparent breaching of ethics with impunity reveals a sense of entitlement and contempt for justice that lies at the heart of corrupt government.

The Washington Post reported on December 8, 2016 http://wapo.st/2uROJtp that Alao had filed a $10 million suit against the DC government.  Sandoval has filed for redress with the DC Office of Employee Appeals.  These proceedings tend to be expensive, take forever, and the odds of success are stacked against the complainant.  Whistleblower protections are that in name only, and there are numerous examples of lives and careers ruined by conscientious employees who believed that the law would protect them.

According to the June 15 Washington Post piece, “Deputy Inspector General for Business Management Jaime Yarussi said the office was reviewing Cheh’s report.” That’s not enough.

Once in a while, government officials have to stand for something and show that they are not in it just for themselves, but have some sense of the common good.  A good place for Bowser to start would be to let Rasheed Young go and send a message contrary to the one he sent when he fired Alao and Sandoval.  As they say, “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.”

Earlier this month, CM Allen, Chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee held hearings on campaign finance reform.  DC business organizations turned out in force to assure the Committee that the legislation wasn’t necessary.

A copy of Councilmember’s Cheh’s report may be found here: http://bit.ly/2gTiCn8

And the full hearing record (which is cited in the report) may be found here: http://bit.ly/2tzHKFi

For a previous editorial on this subject from August 27, 2015, see here:  http://bit.ly/2bqvKsi

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DCRA Officials Address ANC6B Resident Concerns on Construction/Home Business Violations, Etc.

Top brass: DCRA Director Melinda Bolling, second from left; DCRA Zoning Administrator Matt Le Grant, second from right; Timothy Handy, DCRA Event Houses Regulatory Section, far right; Jason Washington, Assistant to the Director, far left.

Capitol Hill residents with HPRB concerns.  

DCRA Officials Address ANC6B Resident Concerns on Construction/Home Business Violations, etc.

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, night, ANC6B’s Constituent Services Task Force, co-chaired by Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk and Diane Hoskins, sponsored a community meeting to hear the top brass from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCRA) address resident concerns on a number of issues under their jurisdiction.

DCRA issues building permits, certificates of occupancy and home occupation, basic business licenses, and inspects for illegal construction.  The meeting had been scheduled before CM Charles Allen’s pointed comments on the need for improvement in the agency last week (see below).

Included in the issues raised by residents were difficulty reporting construction work before or after permissible hours (7:00am – 7:00pm, Monday through Saturday) because the violation has stopped by the time an inspector can be summoned; DCRA inspectors not responding to complaints; and work being done beyond what the permit allows.

The DCRA officials did not offer a remedy to address concerns regarding before and after hours construction work other than to say there is supposed to be follow-up from inspectors when no one is in the office since inspectors are “pinged” (not clear what that means) when a call comes in.  Director Melinda Bolling said she should be notified personally if inspectors do not show up in response to a complaint.  With respect to work being done outside the permit, Bolling said that as of six weeks ago, additional details on the scope of the permit have been provided – that prior to that time, a portion of what the permit covers was regarded as sufficient information for posting.

Another issue common to several residents was the failure of the city to notify residents of construction in our neighborhoods.  Matt Le Grange, DCRA Zoning Administrator, said that most of the 4,000 building permit applications DCRA receives annually are for work being done as a matter of right and there is no requirement for notification.  The Construction Code provides residents must be notified if construction affects their property’s underpinning or party wall but if there is none, the law does not require notification.

In the Historic District, until recently (see below) the Historic Preservation Review Board is not required to notify neighbors, but that responsibility still falls mainly to the individual resident who must follow the HPRB agenda or the ANC Planning and Zoning Committee agenda as posted organization websites.

According to ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee chair Nick Burger who was present, the advance notification by Bureau of Zoning Administration of neighbors within 200 feet of an application for a zoning change works well, and that as of this month, the HPRB notifies adjacent neighbors of Historic Preservation Applications.

On another matter, one resident explained at length a hazardous post-raze issue on a property adjacent to his home and presented a strong case for the need for a post-raze inspection by DCRA.  Bolling said she would take the recommendation to the Construction Code Coordination Board.

Several residents of New Jersey Avenue, SE, raised the issue of businesses operating illegally out of residences.  Le Grant said that residents are allowed to use a portion of their home for businesses purposes after obtaining a Home Occupation Permit (HOP) and a business license.  He said the HOP application is very detailed and if an individual resident meets the standards, they are allowed to operate a business out of their residence.  (Residents say that there are cases where DCRA inspectors give a building owner the benefit of the doubt over the evidence to the contrary offered by neighbors that a townhome is being used as a residence).

Regarding instances where lobbyists and nonprofit organizations are using residences as office space, a complaint will result in an investigation to determine that the owner has a HOP and is in compliance.  Timothy Handy of DCRA’s Event Houses Regulatory Section says that DCRA can revoke a HPO.  Once a complaint is filed the investigation could take 60 to 90 days but many factors could extend that.

Bolling said in response to neighbors’ complaints about townhouses on New Jersey Avenue being used as event venues, that it is a challenge to discern between residences where fundraising occasionally occurs and residential buildings which are used primarily for fundraising events.  She said that the most important evidence that can be offered in support of a complaint which results in a hearing before an administrative law judge is personal testimony of nearby neighbors – “That’s what wins cases, the willingness to participate in a hearing.”

Regarding concerns about Air B&B operations, Bolling said that the current “non-policy policy while we’re working on a policy” means that residents can “get away with” using a part of their homes for a short term rental as long as the tenants don’t cause problems –  in the latter case, DCRA treats it as an impermissible rental. A prohibition on short term rentals for apartment buildings is easier to enforce.

The willingness of the agency’s top brass to turn out to listen to residents’ reflects an apparent concern which is somewhat at odds with actual DCRA operations which resident’s deal with on a day to day basis.  The latter point was driven home by Councilmember Charles Allen, who told a Capitol Hill community meeting last week that DCRA is the “one agency which has caused us the biggest problems and has the most improvements to make” and “that the agency needs a top to bottom shakeup.”  Allen said that too often DCRA thinks that their customer is the permit applicant, and he has to remind them that it’s the Department of Consumer Affairs.

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The Week Ahead….DCRA Officials Appear before ANC6B Outreach Task Force Tuesday

Southeast Safeway, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, circa 9:00am.

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, July 17

  1. ANC6A Transportation & Public Space Committee Meets at 7:00pm, Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Presentation by DDOT officials of 30% plans for Florida Avenue NE redesign project.

Tuesday, July 18

  1. ANC6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Agenda: Presentation and Discussion with DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“DCRA”)

Speakers:

Melinda Bolling- Director DCRA

Matt LeGrant- Zoning Administrator, DCRA

Timothy R. Handy- Chief of Compliance/ Program Manager Regulatory Investigations Section & The Office of Consumer Protection Business & Professional Licensing Administration, DCRA

  1. ANC6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meeting, scheduled for 7:00pm at Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE, has been CANCELLED. The next scheduled ABL meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm at the Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Sts. NE.

Wednesday, July 19

  1. ANC6A Economic Development & Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

1362 East Capitol Street, NE, zoning adjustment – special exception from the rear yard requirements of to construct a two-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone.

1203 D Street, NE, zoning adjustment – special exception from the lot occupancy requirements of to construct a two-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone.

237 Warren Street, NE, zoning adjustment – special exception from the rear yard requirements of and from the upper floor addition requirements to construct a rear and third-story addition to an existing two-story one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone.

225 Tennessee Avenue, NE, zoning adjustment from the rear yard requirements to construct a three-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone.

226 12th Place, NE, – applicant seeks support for HPO approval of plan to convert an existing two-story, two-unit row house to a single-family residence and do a 10-foot extension at the rear of the house.

Thursday, July 20

  1. Police Service Area (PSA) 108 meets at 7:00pm, Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE

Saturday, July 22, 2017

  1. Ward 6 Democrats will hold their Biennial Membership Meeting to elect officers and conduct other business on Saturday, July 22, from 10am to 2pm at the NE Library, 330 7th Street, NE. Nominations for officers will be accepted up to the election time. Contact Chuck Burger @ chuckburgr3@msn.com or (202) 258-5316.

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CM Charles Allen Meets Community on Eastern Market Metro Plaza/Southeast Library Redesign

Councilmember Allen briefed Capitol Hill residents on plans for Eastern Market Plaza and Southeast Library. At right is Jerry Sroufe, who along with Marci Hilt and Carl Reeverts, are co-chair the meeting’s sponsor, Eastern Market Metro Community Association.

Some of the residents and stakeholders who turned out for last night’s meeting in Southeast Library.

CM Charles Allen Meets Community on Eastern Market Metro Plaza/Southeast Library Redesign

by Larry Janezich

Charles Allen met with Capitol Hill residents last night to brief them on the status of the redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza and the related renovation/expansion of Southeast Library.  The meeting in Southeast Library was sponsored by Eastern Market Metro Community Association.

The redesign of the Plaza is a priority for Allen, which has resulted in a budget allocation for the project of $1 million in FY 18, $1 million in FY 19, and $2.5 million in FY 20. He said that $4.5 million will not do everything, but it will fund improvements, engage the city, and provide momentum.  Allen said, “There is a lot of consensus that Plaza can be so much more – a place where the community can gather…a community hub.”

The first $1 million for the Plaza will become available October 1, 2017, and one of the first projects is likely to be a playground replacing the “guerilla playground” on 9th Street, SE, between D Street and PA Ave.  That spontaneous community-sponsored playground of plastic toys was dismantled and carted off by the Department of General Services last year because of liability issues.  Allen said that $1 million gets you “a pretty phenomenal playground” and noted that the $125,000 community amenity required from the Hine developers as compensation to the community for the project’s impact is already in escrow, waiting to be used for the playground along with city funding.  (Attendees were quick to point out that the city allowed the developer to deduct the $125,000 from the cost of the site, meaning that it actually comes out of taxpayer’s pockets.)

Allen said that the future FY funding will take the rest of the redesign concept to the planning level, likely following the guidelines of a plan formulated by architect Amy Weinstein, though realizing that plan will require additional money.  The 2014 Weinstein plan, which was funded by a Congressional earmark to Barracks Row Mainstreet, placed a price tag on the overall project of $45,213,645 million – $13,517,595 for the parks and plaza, $22,765,637 for the library, $8,930,413 for DC Agency management fees plus reorganization of traffic, and a $1.54 million maintenance endowment to provide the estimated $75,000 annual maintenance costs.  See here CHC report: http://bit.ly/2mOFrHG.

The Weinstein plan includes a redesign of the Southeast Library with a major expansion under 7th Street and a new entrance on the Plaza, but Allen cautioned that there is no current plan for redesign of the Library, and noted that DC Library officials believe that the Weinstein plan will cost more than the $22.7 million price tag she placed on the project.  The officials also raised concerns regarding multiple entries to the library which will require twice the current staff.

Renovation and expansion of Southeast Library – one of the city’s smallest and busiest – has been budgeted to the tune of $10.9 million in FY 19, and $12.5 million in FY 20.  None of those funds can be used for the Plaza, but timing is such that they will be available for use at the same time the Plaza plans will unfold.  Allen said that he views the Plaza as an extension of the library, and the challenge will be how to incorporate use in the Library renovation.

DC Library is anticipating a “soup to nuts” modernization, gutting the current historic structure, and rebuilding it in a way more in accordance with the way libraries currently function.  Allen said that a year from now, he expects the community engagement to begin, in advance of the first round of funding becoming available in October of 2018.

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ANC6C Votes Unanimous Support for MGM Lobby Shop Concept Design

Here’s the original concept design that MGM brought before ANC6C last month.

And here’s what ANC6B voted to support Wednesday night.

ANC6C Votes Unanimous Support for MGM Lobby Shop Concept Design

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, ANC6C – which had twice forced MGM back to the drawing board on its historic preservation design plan for its Stanton Park lobby shop – finally voted to support a last minute plan meant to address concerns of both the ANC and nearby neighbors.

There were two major concerns.  The 1600 square foot party deck and the exterior elevator tower and accompanying bridge which MGM had initially proposed for the south side of the building.

MGM had previously eliminated the party deck.  Late yesterday, they floated a proposal to address the objectionable external elevator.

The problem, according to MGM architects, is that DC regulations require two separate exits for the building.  Currently those requirements are satisfied by two separate interior staircases, separated by an appropriate distance.  MGM had proposed to meet ADA and company requirements with an exterior elevator.  ANC6C’s vehement opposition brought forth the new proposal.  In order to move the elevator inside the building, MGM said they had to put it in the place of an existing staircase.  The requirement for an additional exit, they say, requires a 9 X 19 foot (glass-enclosed) exterior staircase, which they propose adding to the rear of the building.  Putting the additional staircase inside, they said, would eliminate three offices on the first to third floors.

There was grumbling among the ANc commissioners.  Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Mark Eckenwiler noted that some of his Planning and Zoning Committee members were opposed to the new design.  But, he said, the new concept was an improvement and he was willing to support it after MGM agreed to eliminate some incongruous windows aligned with the exterior staircase.

Commissioner Scott Price, in whose single member district the project lies, said that the current design was far more tasteful than the original proposal.  He said that getting rid of the party deck and parking issue had been “great” changes, and though he didn’t like the exterior staircase, the DC government had done the same thing on the Northeast Library.

Scott subsequently issued the following statement explaining his reasons for supporting the new design:  “Tonight ANC6C voted unanimously to support the new design that I shared with you yesterday.  Important in my vote was the similarity between the new design and the external staircase in the NE Library.  The ANC voted to support the library’s external staircase in order to become compliant with ADA and other regulations, and I believe it is important for the ANC to be consistent in this and any future cases.  For people with remaining concerns, the HPRB hearing is on July 27.”

MGM put on its best public face, committing to continuing to engage the community and stressing they did not want to start the relationship with the neighborhood “the wrong way.”  Still, as Scott Price replied to MGM’s assertion that the process had worked – “From your viewpoint, that’s true, but it has been exhausting…and we’ve been asked to pass on this with one day’s notice.  I hope relations with MGM get better.”

Despite the uneasy era of good will, it seemed to some ears that a stake has not been driven through the heart of the party deck issue.

Capitol Hill Corner’s take is that the neighborhood will have to be particularly vigilant regarding requests to incrementally increase the use of the roof top which is begging to be used as entertainment space.  As they say, “Give a mouse a cookie, and he wants a glass of milk.”

For previous post, see here:  http://bit.ly/2swJcX6

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The Week Ahead….Lower Barracks Row Retail-Condo Construction Starts/Eastern Market Metro Plaza Update/MGM Lobby Redux/CM Allen Holds Pay for Play Remedy Hearing

Construction has started on the 20 condo unit and ground floor retail space across from “The Brig”

Here’s the architect’s rendering of the finished project. The 20 residential condo units will consist of a mix of 1 bedroom, 1 bedroom and den, and two bedroom units. The top floor penthouse will feature studio spaces, each with a private roof terrace. Ten parking spaces will be provided.  The 5,000 square foot first floor of the building will feature two retail spaces. The building is across the street from the popular beer garden, The Brig.

The Week Ahead….Lower Barracks Row Retail-Condo Construction Starts/MGM Lobby Redux/CM Allen Holds Pay for Play Remedy Hearing

By Larry Janezich

Monday, July 10

  1. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D meets at 7:00pm, 1100 4th Street, 2nd

 

Among items on the draft agenda:

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

Report on Activities of Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council

Presentation:  DC Office of the Attorney General – John Green

Presentation:  DC United Construction Update – Victor Melara

Presentation:  Office of Unified Communication – Director Karima Holmes

Hank’s, 701 Wharf Street, SW: new alcohol beverage restaurant license.

Shake Shack, 975 Wharf Street, SW: new alcohol beverage restaurant license.

InterContinental Hotel, 801 Wharf Street, SW: new alcohol beverage restaurant license.

Kaliwa, 751 Water Street, SW: new alcohol beverage restaurant license.

Anthem, 901 Wharf Street, SW: new alcohol beverage restaurant license.

Cantina Bambina, 960 Wharf Street, SW: new alcohol beverage tavern license.

Brighton, 949 Wharf Street, SW: new alcohol beverage tavern license.

Capital Yacht Club, 800 Wharf Street, SW: [changed location} new alcohol beverage multipurpose facility license.

La Vie, 88 District Square, SW: new restaurant alcohol beverage license.

Marinai, 20 and 40 Pearl Street, SW: new restaurant alcohol beverage license.

Protests: “Presidential” LLC, t/a TBD: 1237 1st Street, SE & Potomac Distilling Co.

Amplified Sound at Greenleaf Community Center – July 15.

Presentation on Randall School Development – Brant Snyder.

Eye Street Reconstruction – South Capitol – New Jersey Avenue.

Forest City Zoning Text Amendment for The Yards West.

  1. ANC6C Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, Kaiser, 700 2nd Street, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Ethiopic Corp d/b/a Ethiopic Restaurant 401 H Street, NE, substantial change application for Retailer’s alcohol beverage restaurant license.

  1. Police Service Area (PSA) 104 meets at 8:00pm, at Sherwood Recreation Center, corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.

 

  1. Councilmember Allen, chair of the DC City Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, will hold public a hearing on four bills proposing to reform the city’s pay to play political culture. The hearing will begin at 9:30am, Room 500, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.  The four bills are as follows:

“Campaign Finance Transparency and Accountability Amendment Act of 2017”

“Clean Elections Amendment Act of 2017”

“Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2017”

“Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2017”

Tuesday, July 11

  1. ANC 6B meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Consent Agenda

ONXO, 525 8th Street, SE (Phase 1 Building), Substantial Change for Hours (open at 10 am) of a Class “C” Tavern License with a Cover Charge Dancing Entertainment Endorsement. Stipulated License Request.

Chi-Ko, 423 8th Street, SE, New Class “C” Restaurant License. Stipulated License Request.

818 Potomac Ave., SE; Historic Preservation Application – concept/construct new four-story building.

418-420 7th St., SE; Historic Preservation Application – proposed condo conversion.

716 16th St. SE; zoning adjustment to expand an existing accessory structure for residential use in the RF-1.

Regular business agenda:

226 Kentucky Ave., SE; Historic Preservation Application – 3rd Story addition to existing flat.

1349 South Carolina Ave. S.E., zoning adjustment Construct a three-story rear addition; Application for a special exception from the rear yard requirements to construct a three-story rear addition in the RF-1 Zone at premises 1349 S. Carolina Ave. S.E.

418 New Jersey Ave., SE; Historic Preservation Application – concept new building.

400 D St., SE; Historic Preservation Application – concept/construct 5 new townhouses.

  1. Police Service Area (PSA) 104 public meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.

 

  1. Southwest Library Community Meeting at 7:00pm, in the Southwest Library, 900 Wesley Place, SW.

Presentation by Perkins+Will and Turner Construction on the new Southwest Library to introduce the design team for the new Southwest Library, discuss the project schedule and solicit ideas from the public.

The Library will seek community engagement throughout the design process including meetings, surveys, focus groups and online feedback. If you are interested in participating in a focus group, please contact Martha Saccocio at martha.saccocio@dc.gov.

Visit https://www.dclibrary.org/newsouthwestlibrary for more info.

Wednesday, July 12

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

Among items on the draft agenda:

Ethiopic Restaurant, 401 H Street, NE, occupancy increase, 47 to 71 patrons.

New Zipcar spaces—Zipcar seeks four street parking spaces in ANC6C.

45 L Street NE—Public Space application for new mixed-use building: paving, landscape, fixtures.

150 M Street NE—Proposed traffic control plan for a new mixed-use development, closure of westbound lane of M Street after Delaware Street, NE.

New York Avenue Streetscape Project.

2 Patterson Street, NE (nonvoting item)—information on forthcoming RFP.

714 Fourth Street, NE, Special exception to zoning regulations to convert an accessory building into

additional living space for a single-family dwelling.

501 C Street, NE, MGM Lobby Shop’s revised Historic Preservation application for concept approval, rear addition and façade alteration.

418-420 Seventh Street, NE, Historic Preservation application, concept approval to combine two houses, construct rear and rooftop additions, and construct a building at the rear of the property.

Proposed changes to zoning regulations, ZC 14-11D and 14-11E—Zoning relief for “pop- backs” extending more than 10 feet past an adjacent dwelling.

Thursday, July 13

  1. ANC6C (Please note that for July only) ANC6A will meet at 7:00 pm at Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street, NE. (Photo ID required).

Among items on the agenda:

Recommendation: ANC6A send a letter of support to HPRB for approval of the creation of a small two story addition at the rear court and the demolition of the existing garage at 210 Tenth Street, NE, pending best efforts to receive letters of support from neighbors.

Recommendation: ANC6A send a letter of support to BZA for the application by 1330 Maryland Avenue, NE for a special exception under zoning regulations from the rear yard requirements, and from the lot occupancy requirements, and the nonconforming structure requirements to construct a two-story rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone on the condition that best efforts are made to obtain letters of support from neighbors.

   2.  Eastern Market Metro Plaza Redesign Update.  Eastern Market Metro Community Association is sponsoring a community meeting at 6:30pm, at Southeast Library.  Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen will brief the community on the status of the Plaza redesign and other community issues. 

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45 New Residential Units to Overlook Virginia Avenue Community Garden

818 Potomac Avenue, designed by PGN Architects. The main entrance will face Southeast.  The building to the left is 816 Potomac Avenue, which will provide an additional 30 residential units. 

The schematic shows the project’s relationship to the Virginai Avenue Community Gardens and the proposed Virginia Avenue Park which will be restored after completion of the CSX Tunnel Project.

The arrow points to the 818 Potomac Avenue site south of the freeway, a short walk to Barracks Row.

45 New Residential Units to Overlook Virginia Avenue Community Garden

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously endorsed Murillo/Malnati Development Group’s Historic Preservation Application for a proposed four story 45 unit apartment building at 818 Potomac Avenue, Southeast. The project, designed by Capitol Hill based PGN Architects, will overlook the Virginia Avenue Community Garden across the street to the east.

The project anticipates some 25 two bedroom units.   30 to 40% of the balance will be made up of one bedroom units and the rest studio apartments.  The project follows the recent trend away from condos and toward rental units.  The project will utilize a mechanical lift to provide 49 parking spaces – against the trend of providing fewer rather than more parking spaces in a project this size.  The project will deliver an additional 30 or so units when the renovation of an adjoining building at 816 Potomac Avenue, SE, is complete.

The Application will come before the full ANC6B at its meeting next Tuesday, where it is expected to receive the Commission’s enthusiastic endorsement.  The developer will be back before the ANC later this year seeking relief from zoning regulations since the project otherwise would come under the Eighth Street Economic Overlay which requires 50% of the ground floor to be retail.

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Capitol Hill Environmental Affairs Writer Co-authors Dire Warning on Climate Issues

Capitol Hill Environmental Affairs Writer Co-authors Dire Warning on Climate Issues

Long time Capitol Hill author and active community member John R. Wennersten has co-authored book warning of the coming humanitarian disaster owing to the failure to address global warming.  One of the foremost issues is the relationship between the displacement of non-conflict climate refugees and the conflict-driven refugees.  (The issue is reaching critical mass at a time when the United States is deporting record numbers of undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants are approaching record numbers.)

Capitol Hill resident John R. Wennersten is an environmental affairs writer and author of Global Thirst: Water and Society in the 21st Century. Co-author Denise Robbins is a writer and communications expert on climate change issues in Washington, DC. She regularly publishes articles dealing with all aspects of global and national environmental change, with a focus on regional politics.

From the Indiana University Press website:

Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the Twenty-First Century

John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins

Global climate change is undeniable. Over the next few decades, as sea levels rise, storms intensify, and drought and desertification run rampant, hundreds of millions of civilians will abandon their homes, cities, and even entire countries. What will happen to these massive numbers of environmental refugees? Where will they go, what rights will they have, and who will take care of them?

Over 200 million people in Asian countries live on land that will be affected by rising seas. Picture Pakistan, India, and China—all nuclear powers—skirmishing at their borders over access to shared rivers and farmable land with former coastal areas now submerged. Imagine tens of thousands of Pacific and Indian Ocean islanders cast adrift by waves that have drowned their nations, and more than 100,000 Caribbean islanders forced to leave submerged towns. Consider the complete abandonment of Miami Beach and other coastal communities up and down the Americas. At the same time, hundreds of millions will be desperate for water and a secure life in drought-ravaged Africa and the Middle East.

Rising Tides sounds an urgent wakeup call to the growing crisis of climate refugees, and offers an essential, continent-by-continent look at these dangers. The crisis is everywhere and it is imminent. Detailing a number of solutions, John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins argue that no nation can tackle this universal problem alone. The crisis of climate refugees requires global, concerted solutions beyond the strategic, fiscal, and legal capability of a single country or agency.

For more information:  http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=808356

Capitol Hill Corner occasionally features works of literature and art by Capitol Hill residents.  Email ljjanezich@hotmail.com.

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Barracks Row Restaurant Update:  ANXO Opens Thursday, Chi-Ko on Friday – plus Proposed Hill Center Coffee Shop/Wine Bar

Barracks Row Restaurant Update:  ANXO Opens Thursday, Chi-Ko on Friday – plus Proposed Hill Center Coffee Shop/Wine Bar

by Larry Janezich

Long shot and close up of ANXO at 525 8th Street, SE  A “Porron” is a vessel for serving drinks and cocktails.  Click to enlarge.

ANXO:  The Barracks Row Cidery & Pintxos Bar will open at 7:00pm on Thursday in the old Phase 1 Bar location.  The venue will operate as a pop up for a six month trial period: owner Sam Fitz says “we are currently exploring how long we want to stay at this location.”  Fitz has has reached an agreement for a three year lease with the building’s owner which will allow him to continue if the concept is successful.

The restaurant has teamed with local artists to create an art installation that will serve food and drink, with emphasis on a menu of Northern Spain (San Sebastian) dishes designed to cater to an evening dinner crowd.  Pintxos (pincho = “spike”) is a small snack featured in bars in Northern Spain.  They differ from tapas in being served on a toothpick, usually with bread.

ANXO’s application for a change in operation hours (to open at 10:00am instead of 7:00pm as provided in the current license) comes up before ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee on Thursday.

ANXO has locations in Truxton Circle and Brightwood Park.  More information about ANXO including their craft ciders and the Spanish-themed menu is here:  http://www.anxodc.com/

Chi – Ko at 423 8th Street, SE

Chi-Ko:  As reported by Eater DC https://dc.eater.com/ The new Chinese/Korean 40 seat restaurant Chi-Ko will have a soft opening on Friday, July 7, when it will begin serving dinner at 5:00pm.   The Barracks Row restaurant will replace the gourmet hot dog outlet DC-3 which the Matchbox group closed last summer. The restaurant’s application for a liquor license is also up before ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Committee on Thursday, meaning the soft opening will not be featuring alcohol.

For more, see here:  Chi-Ko https://twitter.com/ChikoFRC

The building formerly home to Bayou Bakery at Hill Center will become a new coffee shop and wine bar.

New coffee shop/wine bar at Hill Center:  After Bayou Bakery closed its restaurant at Hill Center last year, the lease was taken over by Aaron Silverman (Rose’s Luxury/Pineapple and Pearls).  Silverman told Capitol Hill Corner that he will move the coffee shop from the Pineapple & Pearls location on Barracks Row to the Hill Center space formerly home to Bayou Bakery.  His plan is to expand the coffee shop offerings by day, and in the evening transition to a wine bar with an appropriate menu.

Asked what his timeline was, Silverman said he had filed an application for a remodeling permit with the DC Department of Consumer Affairs, and was uncertain when it would be approved – “it could by 2017 or 2018.”

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July 4th Parade, 2017, Barracks Row – Photo Essay

The Marine Band lead the parade.

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen waves to the crowd.

Councilmember at Large Elissa Silverman engages the crowd.

The Capitol Hill Garden Club – the oldest Capitol Hill community civic organization.

Part of the Hopkins and Potomac Gardents Spirit Community Drum Corps – appearing for the first time in the parade.

Mayor Bowser …

Capitol Hill owes more than they realize to the Capitol Hill BID

And the elaborately costumed…..

Bolivians!

 

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