ANC 6A Report

ANC in a Pickle over Public Parking

In a charged atmosphere and after much discussion, commissioners voted on several recommendations concerning Reservation 266, the public parking space at Tennessee Avenue and 13th Street NE, which is adjacent to the front yard of Joyce West. West has applied to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for a permit to put a fence on the parcel. Last year the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which has jurisdiction over the park, permitted West to landscape it. Shortly after there were claims of neighbors trampling the plants and shrubs, allegedly in retaliation for the placement of the plantings. Commissioner Omar Mahmud said that this problem could be solved if West would remove part of the hedge to improve access. Former Commissioner David Holmes contended that DDOT should be blamed for approving the landscaping plan, not West. Commissioners agreed that DDOT erred in granting the permits and making the subsequent decision to designate Reservation 266 as “public parking,” a term that applies to most front yards on Capitol Hill. 

In a 4-1 vote commissioners approved a recommendation that the ANC send a letter to DDOT asking them to correct the characterization of Reservation 266 as public parking because: 1) the term properly applies only to city-owned property between the actual street curb and the property lines drawn in the L’Enfant Plan and 2) if the application of this designation is extended to other similar parcels it will greatly diminish the public utility of pocket parks through the District.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a recommendation that the ANC send a letter to Councilmember Mary Cheh recommending that all pocket parks and reservations currently under DDOT jurisdiction be transferred to the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), along with associated funding, as DPR has a better capacity to manage them as publicly available recreational space, and asking that Cheh urge DDOT to reconsider its position with regard to the designation as public parking and issue regulations providing for public notice and comment.

Alice Kelly, head of DDOT’s policy branch, was present at the meeting. She said that the agency is establishing a process to ensure that issues such as this do not happen in the future, and she presented Departmental Order No. 1-2014, “Open Space Preservation and Enhancement Policy.” She contended that DDOT does a better job of maintaining the parks than DPR would. The DDOT order can be viewed at www.anc6a.org/DDOTdepartOrderOpenSpacePolicy(097956).pdf.

In a 4-1 vote commissioners approved a recommendation that the ANC send a letter to the DC City Council requesting legislation stating that pocket parks and federal reservations are public space and may never be considered public parking, and that no changes to the landscaping or handscaping by individuals that would affect public use or access may be approved without public input including consultation with the ANCs. Further, that a board similar to the HPRB should be established to review such cases to ensure a fair and transparent process.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a recommendation that the ANC oppose HPA 14-310 on the grounds that the proposal is inconsistent with Section 2 of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978, first because the fence subdividing the space will further detract from the historic appearance of Reservation 266, originally a single expanse, and second and more importantly because the fence would prevent public access.

West, who was present at the meeting, contended that the land is for highway purposes, since it is under DDOT’s jurisdiction. She said she applied for the fence permit because the space is classified as public parking, not a park. West explained that the fence would prevent future intentional and unintentional damage to her plants and is consistent with yards in the Capitol Hill district. She said that she wants to beautify the space and protect the plants. Everyone present at the meeting agreed that the District needs more beautified public spaces.

Commissioner Holmes Resigns

Former Chair and Commissioner David Holmes announced that he had resigned from his position in mid-May. After serving on the ANC for over seven years Holmes said it was time for “someone else to be elected.” Commissioners thanked him for his extensive service and knowledge. Holmes was also ANC 6A’s treasurer, a position that Chair Nick Alberti will fill during the interim until a new commissioner is elected. 

New COC Member

Two new Community Outreach Committee (COC) members were approved unanimously by commissioners. Veronica “Roni” Hollmon was confirmed after being nominated by Committee Chair Elizabeth Nelson. In addition Shirley Worthy, nominated by Commissioner Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, was also confirmed.

Picnic Tables Permitted for Eliot Hine School

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a recommendation from the COC to allow the ANC to award $300 to the request of the Eliot-Hine Middle School’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) for picnic tables for an outdoor classroom. Part of the school’s “Living Classroom,” the tables will be stored on site and belong to the PTO.

Transportation and Public Space Committee Motions

In a 5-0 vote commissioners approved a recommendation that the ANC send a letter to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) asking that it consider installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Maryland Ave. and 10th Street NE as an independent project. Pedestrians are having a hard time navigating the intersection, which has a crosswalk but no light or stop sign. 

Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to Jim Sebastian, biking infrastructure manager at DDOT, recommending the location of the new promised Capital Bikeshare station, originally slated for 12th and H streets NE, be at 10th Street and Maryland Avenue NE instead. This proposed location is next to the streetcar’s power substation and near a share station already on 10th and H streets NE.

Economic Development and Zoning Committee Motions

In a 5-0 vote commissioners approved a recommendation that the ANC write a letter to HPRB in support of HPA 15-180, which seeks design approval for the conversion of a church and two adjoining row houses at 819 D St. NE into a 30-unit residential development, provided that the developer incorporate HPRB’s pending comments into its design prior to the HPRB hearing.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a recommendation that the ANC write a letter to the Zoning Administrator advising that the building plans provided by the developer for 1511 A St. NE at minimum do not appear to accurately depict the grade and curb level, which will affect the calculation of FAR and building height, and advising of additional issues related to the preparation of the plans. Neighbors of the development present at the meeting thanked the ANC for addressing this issue.

Update on the Anacostia River Tunnel Project

Representatives from DC Water were on hand to give a presentation about the next leg of the Anacostia River Tunnel Project. Project engineer Chris White explained that the massive project aims to repair the city’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) system, which currently handles both storm and sewer water in the same pipes and frequently causes problems. DC Water is boring tunnels throughout the city so there is infrastructure that can better handle the surges.

The next tunnel is not in ANC 6A, but White wanted to keep residents informed of plans. Tunneling starts next March and will begin just south of RFK Stadium, from ANC 6B through Ward 8, ending at Poplar Point. Boring of the tunnel should be finished by 2017. White noted that a staging area south of RFK Stadium began in December and a boring machine should arrive this fall.

There will be future public meetings to give updates and get residents’ feedback. White assured those at the meeting that there will be minimal dust and noise. For more information call Andrea Williams at 202-787-4447 or email Andrea.Williams@DCWater.com.

ANC 6A meets on the second Thursday of every month (except August) at Miner Elementary School. The 6A committees meet at 7:00 p.m. on the following dates:

Alcohol Beverage and Licensing, third Wednesday Tuesday of every month at the Sherwood Recreation Center.

Community Outreach, third Monday of each month, Maury Elementary School.

Economic Development and Zoning, third Wednesday of each month, Sherwood Recreation Center.

Transportation and Public Space, third Monday of every month, Maury Elementary School.