ANC6C Hears Appeal for More Affordable Housing at High Density Development in NE

ANC6C:  L-R Robb Dooling, Mark Eckenweiler, Vice Chair; KarenWirt, Chair; Christine Healey, Secretary; Joel Kelty, Treasurer; Jay Adelstein.

ANC6C Hears Appeal for More Affordable Housing at High Density Development in NE

By Larry Janezich

The ANC heard a report from Mark Eckenweiler’s Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee on the six proposals to develop 2 Patterson Street, NE, the 42,252 square-foot city-owned parking lot at North Capitol and New York Avenue.  UrbanTurf summarizes the six proposals for high-density mixed-use development here:  https://bit.ly/2soj53r

The committee report, according to Eckenweiler, stopped short of making a recommendation, and instead analyzed the pros and cons of each of the six proposals.  The Deputy Mayor’s Office of Economic Development is expected to select a developer in February.  Eckenweiler outlined the relative differences in the percentage of affordable housing of the proposals and commented on the proposals’ disparity in their approach to providing parking.  City agencies are required to give “great weight” to ANC recommendations and opinions.

About ten members of Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) showed up for the meeting and spoke of the need for affordable housing in the area.  They urged the commission to give consideration to the proposals maximizing the potential for affordable housing.  WIN is a “broad-based, multiracial, multi-faith, nonpartisan, districtwide citizens power organization, rooted in local congregations and associations” –  its website says it is committed to training and developing neighborhood leaders to address community issues, and to hold elected and corporate officials accountable in Washington DC.

In other business, of its first 2019 meeting, ANC6C elected officers, as follows:  Karen Wirt, Chair; Mark Eckenweiler, Vice Chair; Christine Healey, Secretary; and Joel Kelty, Treasurer.

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Capitol Hill Corner – The Week Ahead…

The 200 block of 7th Street, SE, looking south at circa 4:00pm today.

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, January 14

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

POSTPONED UNTIL TBA.  Among items on the draft agenda:

Introduction of DC Nightlife Mayor Shawn Townsend

Public Safety Report- First District MPD (PSA 103, PSA 105 & PSA 106) Capt. Mongal, Capt. Dorrough, Lt. Lavenhouse

Presentations:

Amidon Field Environmental Restoration Project – Cecelia Lane, DOEE

 FreshFarm Markets Letter of Support – Carrie Hildebrandt

Walters (address not listed by ANC) –  new Tavern liquor license w/Entertainment endorsement plus Sidewalk Cafe & Summer Garden

Waterfront Station/1000 4th Street SW PUD –  Zoning Commission Application

555 E Street project update

950 South Capitol Street Public Space Construction Permit Application

DDOT Notice of Intent re “No Turn On Red” signs

Letter to DDOT and WMATA RE Public Comment Period Regarding Parking Space Removal for Buses

Election of 2019 Commission Officers

CANCELLED.  RFK Redevelopment – Community meeting with Events DC – today – RFK Stadium – 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

Southeast Library Coffee & Conversation, 2:00pm, 403 7th Street, SE.

Starting on January 14, we will be hosting the bimonthly program Coffee & Conversation. Come to the library’s meeting room at 2 :00pm for a cup of coffee and conversation with your peers and neighbors. This program will take place on the second and fourth Monday of every month. To learn more about Southeast Neighborhood Library events, please visit: https://bit.ly/2RIwxOa

Tuesday, January 15

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

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentations:

Commander Morgan Kane, First District MPD

Phil Mendelson, DC Council Chairman

Danny Boy LLC., d/b/a Little Pearl; 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE; Request to amend Settlement Agreement to change Sunday Hours of Operation, Sales, Service and Consumption within the interior of the Premises and Summer Garden to 7:00am. to 11:30pm. Current hours are 7:00am to 9:00 pm.

156 Duddington Place, SE; Special exception to construct a one-story rear addition to an existing, attached principal dwelling unit.

Review of DDOT Notice of Intent on Establishment of “No Turn on Red” Restrictions at Selected Signalized Intersections.

628 A Street, SE; Historic Preservation application re concept/two-story rear and side, one-story rooftop addition.

302 South Carolina Ave. SE; Historic Preservation application re concept/rear addition.

121 7th Street, SE; Historic Preservation application re concept/three-story rear addition, one-story rooftop addition, alter front façade.

121 7th Street, SE; Special exceptions to construct a third story and rear addition to the existing, two-story, attached principal dwelling unit.

Election of Officers and appointment of committee chairs.

ANC 6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Discussion of request for a change in hours for Dynamix Lounge at 1220 H Street, NE,  (Retailer Class C Tavern license).

Wednesday, January 16

ANC6A Economic Development and Zoning Committee is scheduled to meet at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda: 

1511 – 1515 A Street NE – Zoning Adjustment application to subdivide existing lot and construct three new attached flats.

913 7th Street NE – Zoning Adjustment application to construct a two-story rear addition to an existing, attached principal dwelling unit.

Thursday, January 17

Sector 2 (PSAs 104, 107, 108) Community Meeting, 7:00pm.  Location TBA. 

Special Event:

Happy Hour fundraiser for Coast Guard Mutual Assistance to help member of the US Coast Guard who are not receiving pay during the current government shutdown. 

Kenneth H. Nash Post #8 on Capitol Hill will be conducting a special happy hour fundraiser at its post at 224 D ST SE Washington DC 20003, from 5:30PM to 8PM on 17 January 2019. The fundraiser will be headlined by Nashville recording Artists ‘Wil Gravatt’ band (https://www.wilgravatt.com/). The cost of the event is $10. In addition, The Post will be conducting a 50/50 drawing and a silent auction. The Post has started a Go Fund Me Page for those who wish to separately donate (https://goo.gl/N4Unca). All proceeds from the event go to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

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Toney Wine Bar “The Eastern” Slated for Hine Project

It looks like the new  7th Street wine bar will be occupying a couple of thousand square feet on the right end of the papered over windows – marked by orange liquor license placards.  The Hine Project loading dock is on the right.  

Toney Wine Bar “The Eastern” Slated for Hine Project

by Larry Janezich

There are few details about plans for a new upscale wine bar on 7th Street, SE, in the Hine Project’s prime retail space.  What we do know is that the owners – reputed to be the group behind Barrel (the rustic whiskey lounge at 613 Pennsylvania Avenue) – have applied for a Class C Tavern license, and could open next summer.

The license application says the tavern will operate as a wine bar serving a limited food menu. Total occupancy will be 75, with seating for 55, and a sidewalk café with 30 seats.  Hours of operation and alcohol beverage sales, service and consumption inside premises and for sidewalk Café will be Sunday through Thursday 9:00am to 2:00am Friday and Friday and Saturday 9:00am to 3:00am, though times are often scaled back by the ANC via a settlement agreement.

Any entertainment endorsement – permitting live bands or DJs – must be applied for separately, but the current application does not anticipate that.

More information should be forthcoming when the application comes before ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee, likely February 7.  The protest petition deadline and requests to appear before the ABC board must be filed by the petition deadline, February 25.

The owners have engaged Andrew Kline’s Veritas Law firm which specializes in representing hospitality clients in matters before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.  In the past, applicants have engaged the firm when they anticipate push back from nearby neighbors.

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Neighbors Protest New Bikeshare Rack at 11th and C Streets, SE

DDOT installed this 19 bike Bikeshare station last week at 11th and C Streets, SE.

Another view.

Neighbors Protest New Bikeshare Rack at 11th and C Streets, SE

by Larry Janezich

Residents near the intersection of 11th and C SE say that despite 160 signatures (many from customers of the adjacent dry cleaner) opposing the installation pictured above, DDOT brushed aside their concerns and installed the Bikeshare rack anyway.

The issue came before the ANC6B Transportation Committee in November where several neighbors and the owner of the dry cleaning establishment protested the proposed installation, citing the loss of parking, the impact on the dry cleaner who has been using the non-designated space in front of his business as a loading zone, and the aesthetics of having a station in front of a residence.  After hearing the concerns, the committee bucked the issue up to the full ANC6B meeting a few days later which heard protests from other neighbors who added objections based on safety and lack of notification.  In addition, concern about the loss of property value seemed to have figured into the opposition.  The Commission subsequently voted 7 -3 to support the bike station.

DDOT and two ANC commissioners from the affected single member districts had surveyed eight potential sites for a new Bikeshare rack to fill a gap in stations centered near 11th and C Streets.  DDOT determined that this location was the best alternative based on safety, proximity to bike infrastructure, distance from other stations, and “its minor impact on resident parking.”

On December 13, one resident, saying she was writing on behalf of some 30 concerned neighbors, wrote to Jeff Marootian, Director of DDOT, formally contesting the effort to place the Bikeshare based on lack of due process and safety.  DDOT, replied that an appropriate response would be forthcoming to “everyone who has inquired or raised concerns about this bike share station installation.”

ANC6B Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk, whose single member district is near the Capitol Building, weighed in, emailing DDOT that neither she nor the neighbors had been given adequate notice and said “it is very disheartening that DDOT is rushing to get this bike share installed without adequate debate.  Honestly – I was shocked at the ANC meeting by the presentation by DDOT.  It was almost like if you don’t say “yes” right now- we will put the bike share in another ANC.  It was a take it or leave it ultimatum.”  Commissioner Denise Krepp from Hill East wrote Marootian chastising DDOT for a dismissive attitude about residents’ concerns.

The Bike Share rack was installed on January 10.

Newly elected ANC6B Corey Holman, who often opines on transportation and parking issues, posted a couple of tweets supporting the installation, one showing a graphic which he said demonstrated the need for the Bikeshare rack.  One of his Holman’s Twitter followers asked:

“Did the owner that owns the cleaners have a problem with it?”

Holman replied, “Yes, the dry cleaner and the property owner both had issues, because parking of course. This took away two non-legal parking spaces that were being used for both loading and all-day parking. 19 bikes or 1 car was an easy choice for me in committee and full ANC supported 7-3.”

To which the Twitter follower replied, “Interesting.”

Holman told CHC, “Filling in the gaps in the bike share network is a huge win for residents and visitors of 6B and I hope DDOT continues to find appropriate sites to continue expanding the network.”

The issue is the latest of the transportation and parking issues which promise to dominate the public space discussion in coming months.  Last Wednesday night, ANC6B’s Transportation Committee approved a plan to solicit recommendations from 6B’s commissioners locating dockless bike racks in their SMDs to accommodate city requirements that dockless bikes must be locked between trips.

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The Week Ahead….The ANCs Get Down (To Business)

Caught in Mid-Flight. Eastern Market Arts and Craft Vendor. Sunday, January 6, circa 9:10am.

After being sworn in last week, commissioners of Capitol Hill’s four ANCs get down to business in January, with the swearing in of new officers and appointment of committee chairs: ANC6A (Thursday, January 10), ANC6B (Tuesday, January 15), ANC6C (Wednesday, January 9), ANC6D (Monday, January 14).  ANC6A and ANC6C meet this week.

The Week Ahead…

by Larry Janezich

Monday, January 7

ANC6C Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Kaiser Permanente Health Center, 700 2nd Street, NE. 

Among items on the draft agenda:

DC Live, LLC d/b/a Elevate, at 15 K Street, is requesting a substantial change in Class C Alcohol Beverage Tavern license, proposing to add a 52 seat sidewalk café.

Tuesday, January 8

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

Among items on the draft agenda:

628 A Street, SE  –  Historic Preservation application – concept/two-story rear and side, one-story rooftop addition.

302 South Carolina Avenue, SE – Historic Preservation application – concept/rear addition.

121 7th Street, SE – Historic Preservation application – concept /three-story rear addition, one-story rooftop addition, alter front façade.

121 7th Street, SE; BZA application – to permit a third story and rear addition to the existing, two-story, attached principal dwelling unit.

156 Duddington Place, SE – BZA application – to permit one-story rear addition to an existing, attached principal dwelling unit.

1322 D Street, SE; [POSTPONED AT REQUEST OF APPLICANT AND ARCHITECT]  BZA application to permit a two-story, rear addition to an existing, attached principal dwelling unit.

Wednesday, January 9

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

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Shawn Townsend, New D.C. Director of Nightlife and Culture

Election of Officers and Committee Chairs; Confirmation of Committee Members

Consent Calendar (approval en bloc without further discussion)

913 7th Street, NE, Zoning Adjustment application—Special exception to construct a two-story addition.

434 4th Street, NE, Zoning Adjustment application – Special exceptions to construct a penthouse stair enclosure.

224 C Street NE, Historic Preservation application –Concept approval for a second-story garage addition.

Additional items: 

DC Live, LLC d/b/a Elevate, 15 K Street NE, Liquor license amendment to permit a new sidewalk café.

Union Station expansion, update.

M Street and Delaware Avenue NE, update.

Fancy Radish, 600 H Street NE, Public Space application for a sidewalk café.

West Virginia Avenue NE Triangle Park, update.

No Turn on Red installations, Notice of intent.

634 Lexington Place, NE, Historic Preservation application—Concept approval to alter roofline to create a third floor and create a basement entrance.

2 Patterson Street NE—Six respondents to DMPED’s RFP for development at this site

NoMa Parks update

Sixth Street water main—D.C. Water

ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 7:00pm, in the Conference Room, Ground Floor, The Yards, in the Hine Project, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Among items on the draft agenda: 

Compilation of ANC6B List of Bike Rack Needs.

Review of D Street Turnaround for Circulator Bus.

Review of DDOT Establishment of “No Turn on Red” Restrictions at Selected Signalized Intersections.

Thursday, January 10

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

Among items on the draft agenda: 

Election of officers and members and leaders of the permanent committees for 2019.

Dynamix Lounge (1220 H Street NE) – Alcohol Beverage Licensing application – request to extend its hours of operation, sale of alcohol, and live entertainment (Friday – changing from 2:00 am to 3:00 am closing time and opening at 11:00 am Sunday instead of 12:00 pm.)

Duffy’s Irish Pub (1016 H St. NE) – Public Space application for a sidewalk café under certain conditions.

Letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, and all At-large Councilmembers joining Councilmember Allen in opposition to a new NFL stadium on the RFK campus site.

1210 Maryland Avenue, BZA Application for zoning adjustments to permit addition a rear deck addition to an existing attached principal dwelling unit in the RF-1 Zone.

 Letter to DDOT conveying a petition requesting resident-only parking signs for the 1000 block of F Street, NE, and the 800 block of 8th Street, NE.

ANC6B Alcohol Beverage Committee which normally meets at 7:00pm on this day has not scheduled a meeting in January. 

Saturday, January 12

Friends of Southeast Library Book Sale, 10:00am – 3:00pm – Southeast Library.  Community Volunteers welcome to help set up at 1:00pm on Friday, January 11. 

The Corner Store hosts an Art Reception 4:00 – 6:00pm.  NEW Beginnings All Women Artists Group Art Show featuring small and affordable artwork under 12 inches, by Ann Pickett, Linda Button, Robin Brown, Karen Cohen, Heike Gramckow, Kate McConnell, Karen Zens, Nan Raphael, LIsa Allen, Maremi Andreozzi, and Anna Katalkina.  The Corner Store, 900 South Carolina Avenue, SE. 

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Radically Anti-Car Because of Parking: Outgoing ANC6B Chair Dan Ridge

Dan Ridge, Outgoing Chair of ANC6B

Radically Anti-Car Because of Parking: Outgoing ANC6B Chair Dan Ridge

by Larry Janezich

CHC talked to Dan Ridge, outgoing ANC6B Chair, about his decision not to run for ANC6B again and his service on the Commission.  An edited version of that conversation follows.

Ridge cited two reasons for not seeking re-election: “I’m so anti-car I’m far beyond the mandate my constituents gave me – I don’t think I can go back and get a mandate in line with my views.” Ridge also says he is recovering from some medical issues which make it difficult to do the detailed work involved.

So, why anti-car?  Ridge, a former 20 year owner of a 1977 Fiat X1/9, said, “I was raised a car guy.  I love cars – I have always loved cars.  I once worked for Formula One at the Grand Prix in Italy doing computer work in their broadcast center.  I collected every Road & Track magazine from the late 60s until a few years ago.  One of the things that interrupted that was ANC service.  I have become radicalized anti-car in a way I never expected – not on climate or environmental or petroleum – but on parking.”

“Essentially every contentious issue taken on by the ANC where the contention came from constituents – you could find parking at its root.  And it made me come to think we are addicted to cars.  I really re-evaluated.  Often, taking a position against cars was the only way to settle some of these issues.  There was a case where people on same side of one square had radically different ideas whether a street should be one way or the other way and that came down to cars and traffic.  And in trying to be a good listener and servant the way to reconcile views is to burn it all down.  That’s where I find myself now.”

Ridge has a self-parking electric car (parked off-street) which saves on average 2 feet of parking space because it parks in smaller spaces.  Ridge says that doesn’t solve the problem – “people expect to store a 4000 pound piece of machinery [in public space] for ten cents a day.”

Asked what drew him to run for the ANC, Ridge said, “It’s a cliché to say my heart is in service, but it is.”  In 2016 while shoveling snow in his alley during Snowmageddon, a neighbor told him there was a rumor that he was going to run for the unexpired term of Commissioner Brian Flahaven who had relocated that winter.  Ridge says, “I had heard no such rumor,” but decided to use the tactic on other neighbors who he thought would do a great job.  He found no takers.  So, Ridge said, “When nobody will do a thing, I do that thing – following G.K. Chesterton, ‘When a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly’.  The bar was low.  All I knew was somebody had to do it.”

“But there was another thing,” he said, “another reason I was primed to do this.”  He had a job interview with a hedge fund technology company where some of his former NASA co-workers had ended up.  Ridge says of the interview, “It was terrible. Terrible.  I think I sabotaged the interview when I realized 30 seconds into it I could not do this work.  It was extractive – like timber mining but the environmental costs are higher.  Basically, I can only do public benefit work.”

Looking back on his experience as a commissioner and Chair of ANC6B, Ridge said the ANC is highly effective if representing community interests on zoning, historic preservation, alcohol licensing, transportation and public space, but the case volume takes up so much time and energy, it is less effective on other things.   He cited ANC4C’s vote to request an investigation into whether CM Brandon Todd misused constituent’s email addresses to aid Rhonda Henderson’s campaign for the Board of Education.  Ridge said, “It’s hard to see 6B taking something like that on after bike share and zoning commission issues.  There’s not a lack of appetite … it’s just we have a higher case load than other ANCs.”

Asked what role he sees for himself post-ANC, Ridge says, “Well, I don’t need to look far to imagine a role because everywhere I look, there [former commissioner] Francis Campbell is.  I don’t mean to be flip.  I spend a lot of time thinking about homelessness and mental illness, particularly about how to preserve dignity for people who choose to stay on the street.  That’s a much harder problem than finding the will to build more beds or do more rapid re-housing.  One thing I’d like to do post-ANC – having done homeless sleep out events – is to figure out how to cut and fold left over Coroplast [corrugated plastic] protest and yard signs into a better sleep surface against concrete than soggy cardboard.”

On the related topic of affordable housing, Ridge says, “That’s one reason I’m interested in alley renaming – alley lots are one of the few reservoirs for affordable housing space on Capitol Hill.”  DC regulations require an address for a building permit, and alley lots in unnamed alleys, have no address.

The logical approach to affordable housing is increased density, and citing a recent DC Housing Authority (DCHA) presentation to ANC6B seeking support to extend the use of a city-owned square as a parking lot for 5 years – again delaying proposed construction of mixed income affordable housing – Ridge’s takeaway was that DCHA prefers not to re-house displaced residents in condos because of condo fees – and would rather use row houses.  Ridge called it “heartbreaking” to see a city agency gravitating to low density housing for people who could benefit from higher density.

That’s why Ridge is “super-excited” about the new development of micro units going up on Frager’s former garden site on Pennsylvania Avenue.  He says what developers are doing is establishing a market for units of a few hundred square feet, which is dignity-preserving for those needing affordable housing.  He says, this “creates a template for co- housing – the kind that Capitol Hill Village is involved in with the former Boys and Girls Club – assisted living run more efficiently.”

Another of Ridge’s interests is his desire to see is a “makerspace” in Ward 6 which would benefit both children and the community.  A makerspace goes beyond the craftsy workshop that comes to mind.  (See here: https://bit.ly/2Rmt5bz)  Ridge says a revolution in the kinds of tools has produced laser cutters and 3D printers which are safe and much more approachable by children who can use them independently.  He says constructing physical objects gives kids a better relationship with the world.  Historic preservationists would find a maker space beneficial since all the machines you need to reproduce otherwise unreproducible fixtures would be available to them.

Ridge says he has a couple of interests in solar power.  “I’m intrigued that city regulations allow an owner with solar panels installed to block increase in height on a neighbor’s house.  I think that’s terrible public policy and the way to make plain it’s terrible policy is to encourage it.”

“One thing I tell neighbors is if they want to insulate themselves against pop ups, put a solar panel on the roof of every other house and you’ve blocked increase in height much more effectively than screwing around with a bunch of zoning cases.”

I think solar is great, and a capital investment with a useful life of decades … there is a window of several years where low-rise minded individuals can weaponize current policy to their benefit and that they should.  In the longer term the only way to block popups is through easements.  The city should make it much cheaper to record light easements … thousands of households would benefit from selling a light easement to neighbors and thousands of households would benefit from exchanging mutual light easements for solar installations.”

Circling back to parking to wind up the interview, Ridge added, “One car thing I wish to pursue post-ANC is to establish a city program to buy and retire unwanted cars.  It would accomplish what I want while seeming to be about ‘creating’ new parking by getting underused cars off the street.  I would estimate that there are at least dozens of cars in my SMD that are held by car hoarders. Many others sit on the street with flat tires and dead batteries for months. I would fund the program with a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) surcharge.”

Ridge moved to Potomac Avenue in 2003 when his wife was finishing graduate school in Berkeley, California, and ready to move back to the area.  They have a 10 year old daughter and an 8 year old son.  Ridge works as a computer scientist for a non-profit research institute

ANC6B will elect its new Chair and other officers at it first meeting in 2019 on January 15th at Hill Center.

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The Week Ahead…Mayor, Council Members, AG & ANC Commissioners Sworn In Wednesday

7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, circa 8:45am, Saturday December 29.

The Week Ahead…Mayor, Council Members, AG & ANC Commissioners Sworn In Wednesday

By Larry Janezich

Monday, December 31

Eastern Market is open today, 8:00am until 5:00pm.

Eastern Market Metro Plaza – the Department of General Services begins geotechnical borings for the Eastern Market Metro Park Project on the site. 

Tuesday, January 1

New Year’s Day.  DC Government is closed.

Wednesday, January 2

Swearing in of Mayor Bowser, Council Members, Attorney General, 9:30am – 12:00noon, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest, 3rd Floor Ballroom A & B.

Swearing in of ANC Commissioners at 3:30, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest, 3rd Floor Ballroom A & B.

Thursday, January 3

Friends of Southeast Library (FOSEL) meet at 5:30pm, Southeast Library, lower level. 

Saturday, January 5

9:00 am – Community Clean Up – Volunteer bag and glove pick-up locations include Fulcrum Properties – 1328 G St. SE; Trusty’s – 1420 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 7-11 – 1501 Independence Ave. SE; Atlas Vet – 1326 H St. NE; and Chik-fil-A – 1401 Maryland Ave. SE (offering free breakfast sandwich to volunteers).  Volunteers return filled bags to any of these sponsors.  At 10:00 am, Fulcrum Properties offers mimosas, coffee and donuts to volunteers.  Info on rain cancellation will be available by emailing here:  CleanCapHill@gmail.com

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The Week Ahead…

Capitol Hill’s Holiday Tree on Parcel 1 of the soon-to-be redesigned Eastern Market Metro Plaza

The Week Ahead…

By Larry Janezich

Monday, December 17

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

Agenda not available at press time.

Tuesday, December 18.

ANC6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meets at Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.

Agenda not available at press time.

CHRS Board of Directors meets at 6:30pm, Townhomes, 750 6th Street SE, 2nd Floor.

Agenda not available at press time.

Wednesday, December 19

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

Agenda not available at press time.

Thursday, December 20

ANC6B Executive Committee meets at Hill Center to set the agenda for the January meeting of the ANC.

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A Chastened DGS Hosts 1st Community Meeting on Eastern Market Metro Park Redesign

CM Charles Allen at the 1st community meeting on the redesign of Eastern Market Metro Park: “It can be a model for how we structure all public space around the city.”

Tommy Jones, Chief of External Affairs, DGS (far right), hosted the meeting on behalf of DGS and fielded questions.

Project manager Cassidy Mullen outlined the timeline for the project; “Our purpose is to get a full set of drawings for federal and city approval.

A Chastened DGS Hosts 1st Community Meeting on Eastern Market Metro Park Redesign

by Larry Janezich

The Department of General Services (DGS) hosted the first community meeting on the redesign of Eastern Market Metro Park Thursday night.  They came with what appeared to be a new willingness to acknowledge the work done on the ‘master plan” for the redesign, i.e., the 2015 Weinstein/Oehme van Sweeden (OvS) plan which was the product of extensive community involvement over a 2 year period.  In addition, the agency admitted that their outreach had “not been the best,” particularly with respect to their communications with residents and ANC6B – as well nodding to a new appreciation of the role that the Commission plays in providing input on public projects.

The tone was decidedly conciliatory, in contrast to that taken with the Eastern Market Metro Park Advisory Team in the meeting last Monday.  (See here: https://bit.ly/2BbQiDd)  In a dramatic moment when ANC6B Commissioner-elect Steve Holtzman (whose single member district abuts the Metro Park on the north) raised a challenge to DGS regarding denial of public access to that meeting Council Member Charles Allen intervened, pushing DGS to open the meetings of the Advisory Team which here-to-for have been closed.

Allen said, “I can’t think of a single reason why the meetings can’t be open.  I encourage DGS to look at public meetings.  Let’s do that.”  An off-balance DGS promised to respond to Allen.

At the beginning of the meeting, Allen said the project was an incredible opportunity for the community to rethink the specifics of a legacy type project, taking it from a walk-thru to a walk-to destination as opposed to a “sad little space.”  Allen endorsed the Weinstein/OvS plan as a starting point, citing it as a “strong foundation” with wide community agreement.  He urged DGS to move quickly through the tweaking process, adding, “Let’s get started.”

When DGS took the stage, Project Manager Cassidy Mullen said that the winter would see back and forth on tweaking the master plan.  By summer, the process would produce schematics and changes to the master plan based on feasibility.  Construction will start in August or September of 2019.  To some in the room, the phrase “based on feasibility” introduced an element of uncertainty, perhaps referring to one of the critical elements of the Weinstein/OvS plan benefiting Barracks Row, i.e., moving the bus stop in front of Starbucks to the eastern edge of the part of the plaza with the Metro entrance.  The business community sees moving the bus stop as critical to opening up access to the restaurants and retail beyond the intersection of 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue.  CVS and the design team see problems involving the expense of moving utilities and infrastructure.

For its part, the Moys Design team, charged with creating the final re-design plan, said its goal was to make the park “a third space in your life” after home and work place, and pledged to come back multiple times to tweak and refine the plan.

One of the first community decisions regarding implementation of the plan will be to decide the strategy for development.  DGS will offer the community two options:  1) start on simultaneous development of the playground, the triangle adjacent to Community Connections/Dunkin Donuts, and the triangle adjacent to the day care center in the Hine project, or, 2) develop the playground and an (unspecified) section of the Metro entrance portion of the park.  Details and an online survey will be provided on the DGS website at a future date. (see link below)

Questions from the audience expressed concerns regarding playground safety issues, the bus stop move, the proposed reversal of traffic direction on D Street on the north side of the playground, ADA access, rats, parking of construction worker vehicles, table and chair amenities, public restrooms, process transparency, the wisdom of installing high maintenance lawn areas, bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, and how better to use the project to connect the business corridors.

Following the meeting, attendees were invited to engage agency officials and design team representatives in adjacent rooms to discuss concerns and specific portions or the plans.

Attendees seemed optimistic about the process moving forward.  Whether the era of good feelings continues depends in part on the participation of residents and business owners in the process, but much depends on how the community perceives whether its voice is being heard and the degree to which residents and business owners are made to feel a part of the process.

Here’s the link to the project website:     https://dgs.dc.gov/page/eastern-market-metro-park-project

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Hill East Task Force Calls Out Deputy Mayor’s Office on RFK

DMPED rep Ketan Gada, (left) with Hill East Task Force Chair Denise Krepp and ANC6B Chair Dan Ridge at Hill East Task Force Meeting on Monday night.

Hill East Task Force Calls Out Deputy Mayor’s Office on RFK

By Larry Janezich

Monday night, Hill East Task Force held the latest in a series of meetings, summoning city agency officials to explain the city’s plans for the future of RFK and Reservation 13 and the Mayor’s lack of transparency thereon.

Coincidentally, the meeting fell three days after the Washington Post published an article stating that the Mayor was working behind the scenes with Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Congressional officials, and the Trump Administration to insert language in a must-pass Congressional spending bill that would, clear the way for a new stadium for the football team.  That idea is strongly opposed by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen as well as many residents in Hill East.  (See text of proposed language below.)

It fell to DMPED representative Ketan Gada to appear before the Task Force to answer questions about the Post article, which appeared to describe the latest in a series of undisclosed plans for development of the valuable river front land, including bids for the Olympics and for Amazon’s HQ2.

When Gada took the microphone, ANC6B Commissioner and Hill East Task Force Chair Denise Krepp’s first question was, “What’s the Mayor doing on RFK?”

Gada replied, “The Mayor is not doing anything.  Since DC United moved to its new stadium RFK has had very little use…it has become revenue obsolete…underutilized.  The options we have are to extend the lease or to acquire the land from the National Park Service.”  He envisioned a future commercial use for the site involving housing and retail as well as recreational uses.

Asked by Krepp if the Washington Post is correct and that the city wants to open up the lease for a new stadium. Gada replied that it was a question for the Washington Post, adding, “If the Redskins want to come they could have come yesterday.”

Referring to a March, 29, 2017 letter from the Mayor to the President asking the administration to consider a lease extension for the RFK site or a land transfer so the land can be put to a more productive use, Gada said “we prefer to acquire the land, but there is no ongoing negotiation or dialogue happening.”

Gada pleaded ignorance on other questions, including whether the mayor is meeting with anybody on RFK (I’m not aware of any contact – I’m not privy to that information) and whether Events DC (the city agency holding the lease on RFK) employs any outside lobbyists to further the Mayor’s agenda,

Unsatisfied with the response, Krepp stated she intended to send an email to the Washington Post asking for clarification on their story regarding the Mayor’s engagement and outreach on RFK, adding, “We’ve not received facts from the Mayor – we’ll move forward, and keep going.”

Krepp subsequently sent the email, copying multiple city officials and news agencies.  The message read in part: “…a DMPED representative told Hilleast residents tonight that Mayor Bowser is not working with Dan Snyder and House Republicans to include language in the appropriations bill.

This information was shared at the Hilleast Taskforce meeting and the DMPED representative was Ketan Gada, the Director for Hill East District Redevelopment.

Residents repeatedly questioned Mr. Gada about the Mayor’s involvement.  These questions were based on the recent Washington Post story written by Mike DeBonis and Liz Clarke.  The story states that Mayor Bowser is working with Dan Snyder and House Republicans to extend DC’s lease of the RFK property and to possibly expand the use of the property to non-sports related activities.

Each time he was questioned, Mr. Gada claimed lack of knowledge and denied that Mayor Bowser was speaking with Congressional representatives.

Given the repeated denials, I’m emailing tonight to seek your assistance.  Please help us understand who Mayor Bowser is talking with in Congress and what help she is requesting.  I’m making this request because Hilleast residents don’t believe the story that was spun by DMPED tonight.”

Afterward, CHC asked ANC6B Chair and Hill East Task Force member Dan Ridge for his reaction to Monday night’s meeting.  Ridge said, he thought that Gada had “used his time to mount a defense of DMPED.  Secrecy is part of the trade craft of the Bowser administration.  When you start with secrecy – everything ends up being secret by default.”  He said he feared that opening up the site to retail would mean theme park retail, allowing Dan Snyder to co-opt revenue, adding, “I don’t think they’re serious about housing.”

On Tuesday night, Krepp reported on the previous evening’s Task Force meeting to the full ANC6B, again questioning the veracity of Mayor Bowser on RFK and on plans for Reservation 13.  “I’m frustrated,” she said, “the nicest thing I can say about the Mayor is ‘liar, liar, pants on fire.  The Mayor has wasted our time and lost our trust.  I’d like to know what she’s going to do to regain it.”

ANC6B Chair Dan Ridge noted that the language proposed to be added to the Congressional spending bill had been made public that day by Martin Austermuhle, WAMU reporter (see below).  Ridge said the language almost looks reasonable, but that its far from clear that Events DC is the best manager to carry out the listed potential uses of the site – Events DC doesn’t do housing – what they do is events and retail supporting events.

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