ANC 6A Report - January 2016

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A Chair Phil Toomajian called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. with Commissioners Matt Levy, Omar Mahmud, Patrick Malone, Calvin Ward, Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, and Stephanie Zimny in attendance. Commissioner Chris Ward has resigned. Mike Soderman has submitted a petition to run for the vacant seat, 6A03.

Election of Officers and Selection of Committee Chairs and Members

As this was the first meeting of the year, it opened with the election of officers followed by nomination and approval of committee members and chairs. The officers are: chair, Phil Toomajian; vice-chair, Omar Mahmud; secretary, Calvin Ward; treasurer, Stephanie Zimny. The committees and their members are: Economic Development and Zoning, Brad Greenfield (chair), Dan Golden, Andrew Hysell, Laura Gentile, Missy Boyette, Brian Carlson, Justin Thornton, Michael Hoenig, Matt Turkstra; Alcohol Beverage Licensing, Jay Williams, Christopher Seagle (co-chairs), David Oberting, Michael Herman, Roger Caruth, Justin Rzepka, Mark Samburg, Stephanie Zimny; Transportation and Public Safety, Todd Sloves, Omar Mahmud (co-chairs), Jeff Fletcher, Andrea Adleman, Lara Levison, Hassan Christian, Elizabeth Nelson; Community Outreach, Dana Wyckoff (chair), Raphael Marshall, Roni Hollmon, Gladys Mack, Joyce West.

Report from Executive Office of the Mayor

Seth Shapiro, the Ward 6 liaison, reported that Jan. 23 is the last day for tree pickup and that trees should be placed where trash is collected rather than in the tree boxes. Regulations banning the use of Styrofoam containers went into effect on Jan. 1. Infractions can be reported to the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) by calling 311.

Shapiro announced that the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of Planning (OP) will host “Preserving and Planning for Progress” from 5 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square, 801 K St. NW. The topic will be how the District can accommodate 800,000 residents while preserving its history.

Report from the Department of Human Services

Jay Melder, representing the Department of Human Services (DHS), addressed two topics: the mayor’s plan to end homelessness, and objections from neighbors regarding the use of the Sherwood Recreation Center as a homeless shelter. Residents living in close proximity complained of disruptions this season, even though the center was open only one night and had only six occupants – a fraction of what is expected as winter wears on. According to Melder, “homelessness is solvable and has been successfully addressed elsewhere” and Mayor Bowser’s plan is “evidence-based and cost-effective.” He outlined the plan in considerable detail, all of which has been reported elsewhere. He then addressed neighborhood concerns specific to Sherwood. Neighbors reminded him of Bowser’s commitment last winter not to use Sherwood as a homeless shelter this winter. Melder countered that the space was needed due to a ballooning population in winter and that proximity to Union Station made it convenient. In an effort to reduce community impact, Sherwood is housing only women this year and is not a primary shelter but for hypothermia nights only.  He gave assurances that the site would be well managed and that “If Sherwood becomes an issue, we’re gonna deal with it.”

The commissioners voted 5-0-2 (Levy and Phillips-Gilbert abstaining) to send a letter to Mayor Bowser objecting to the use of Sherwood as housing and reminding her of last year’s commitment that she would not use Sherwood, or any other recreation center, as a homeless shelter in the future.

Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee Actions

Per the vote taken at the November 2015 ANC meeting, the ANC's protest of Ocopa's (1324 H St. NE) entertainment endorsement request has been withdrawn, subsequent to receipt of Ocopa’s plan for its entertainment endorsement, which includes a commitment not to have music that can be heard inside neighboring houses.

The commissioners voted unanimously to accept a settlement agreement (SA) with, and support a stipulated license for, Sally’s Middle Name (1320 H St. NE), which is seeking a substantial change to a CR (restaurant) license. The SA includes language related to noise mitigation on the establishment’s outdoor space.

The commissioners also gave unanimous support for a stipulated license and SA for Sospeso, which will serve Mediterranean food at 1344 H St. NE when it opens later this year. The vote was preceded by an inquiry from Vice-Chair Mahmud regarding the establishment’s plans for trash storage. The applicant, Michael Rosato, replied that he planned to put the trash in bins on public space in the alley at the rear of the premises. When advised that he was unlikely to receive approval to store trash in public space, he said he would investigate interior storage or renting space nearby.

Transportation and Public Space Committee Actions

The ANC voted unanimously to send a letter to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) requesting that the streetcar’s hours include Sunday service, providing passenger service seven days per week. DDOT is currently projecting that the system will become operational sometime in February. Mahmud said that he would like to see the line extended, but that would require structural changes to the Hopscotch Bridge and other improvements.

Economic Development and Zoning Actions

The commissioners voted unanimously to write a letter to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) in support of the application for variances from off-street parking, parking aisle width, and loading-berth requirements plus a special exception from the H Street Overlay requirements, to convert a vacant church at 1301 H St. NE into a new four-story, mixed-use commercial and residential building with the following conditions: residential parking permit (RPP) restrictions will be in place; the building will use the H Street address; and the developers will use consistent design on the side of the 13th Street side of the building, which faces rowhouses. The project will include nine, three-bedroom residential units.

The commissioners then considered a request for support from ANC 6C, represented at the meeting by Mark Eckenwiler, regarding two zoning issues. To summarize:

  • ANC 6C has proposed an amendment to the H Street Zoning Overlay that would make explicit the requirements regarding façade preservation. Eckenwiler noted that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has been unwilling or unable to enforce a reasonable interpretation of existing regulations. He cited the example of Ben’s Chili Bowl, which was granted a zoning bonus (allowed to build a larger structure) in exchange for a commitment to preserve the façade of the existing building. However, with the exception of one interior wall, the entire building was demolished without objection from DCRA, Director Matt LeGrant’s decision being “inconsistent with the spirit of the H Street Overlay.” In brief, the proposed amendment would require retention of a minimum of 90 percent of the façade area; retention of all character-defining features; in situ retention of the façade and not demolition followed by reconstruction; and preservation of all elevations both fronting on H Street and any side street.
  • ANC 6A voted unanimously to write a letter to ANC 6C expressing support, in principle, for changes to the H Street Overlay that clarify preservation requirements and remove other ambiguities.
  • ANC 6C has also proposed a change to the definition of a building area in the District’s zoning regulations, to exclude unenclosed covered porches in the calculation of “building area.” As Eckenwiler explained, the current definition has the effect of encouraging the removal of covered porches so that larger additions can be built. This is particularly troublesome in his neighborhood of historic homes where porches are often torn off.

By a 6-1 vote, ANC 6A decided to write a letter to ANC 6C that supports, in principle, the change to remove unenclosed covered porches from the definition of building area. Malone did not give a reason for dissenting.

Announcements

Commissioner Zimny reported that the results of the community survey initiated by the Miner Elementary School PTO have not identified a winning concept for what kind of school the community wants (international baccalaureate, language immersion, etc.). Also, DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson will be asked to attend a community meeting to address concerns regarding the management of the school.

Commissioner Ward expressed concern about speeding on 19thstreet, which recently resulted in a car crashing into his front yard. The ANC has already requested attention to this problem. Ward noted that, if speed bumps are not installed, he would be in favor of traffic cameras, which he generally opposes but which he feels may be necessary at this location.

Commissioner Malone wants Maury Elementary School to present its building expansion plans at a future ANC meeting.

Neighborhood Watch training will be offered at Maury Elementary School from 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8.

Naomi Mitchell of Councilmember Charles Allen’s office and Commissioner Toomajian announced that legislation introduced by Allen provides for rebates to residents, businesses, churches, and nonprofits who install surveillance cameras on their properties. There is a limited budget for these rebates so it will be advantageous to apply as soon as the program is implemented.

Kaboom will build a playground on the 2000 block of C Street NE. Per Kaboom’s established practices, there will be community input to the design and also the actual construction. Some facilities for adults will be included.

 

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

Alcohol Beverage and Licensing, third Tuesday of each month, Sherwood Recreation Center.

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

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

Transportation and Public Space, usually third Monday of every month, Capitol Hill Towers.

Visit www.anc6a.org for calendar of events, agendas and other information.