ANC 6B Report - September 2014

Zoning Regulations Review Proposal

In July, the Office of Planning released a set of alternative amendments to the DC Zoning Regulations, the latest in a series of negotiations between the Office, the Zoning Commission (which is responsible for approving the final update), and the public that dates back to 2009. At its September general meeting, ANC 6B voted unanimously to send a letter to the Zoning Commission with comments on the new alternative amendments.

ANC 6B urged the Commission to approve the overall zoning update but disagreed with a number of the Office of Planning’s new suggestions. Among them were a requirement that owners of accessory apartments and carriage houses obtain permits to rent them out, which commissioners said was counterproductive for a city facing an affordable housing crisis, and a requirement that 6B’s corner stores that are at the bottom of residential buildings obtain a special exception to sell alcohol, as the existing ABC Board liquor licensing process is sufficient.

The ANC’s letter voiced support for inclusionary zoning practices designed to extend beyond the 30-40 year window after which some units can revert to market rates, as well as the closing of a zoning loophole that currently allows property owners to skirt zoning requirements by allowing them to claim accessory structures as part of a main building.

6B also suggested that the Regulations’ definition of a fast food restaurant be broadened to fit more establishments, making it easier to curb the trash, odors, and loitering that tend to accompany establishments where food is prepared and served quickly.

Marion Park

The National Park Service is considering six sites along South Carolina Avenue for a statue of Revolutionary War general Francis Marion of South Carolina. Marion Park, located at Fourth and E Streets SE, is the only federal site on the list.

Neighbors attended the 6B’s regular meeting to oppose the statue going in at Marion Park, citing frustration over years-long construction projects that are still ongoing at the park and poor maintenance of sections that aren’t being built on (both of which are the National Parks Service’s responsibility), and a lack of communication from the Parks Service regarding both. A statue, they said, would add a new maintenence burden to a park that is already underserved. Aside from issues with the Park Service, residents voiced concern over a statue obstructing either the park’s playground or its open grass area.

Given that the Parks Service already has funding for the statue, ANC 6B acknowledged that an all-out fight was less likely to gain traction than earlier voicing of neighbor concerns. Commissioners voted narrowly (4-3-1) to approve Marion Park as a site for the statue, but with the stipulation that the Parks Service participate in an extensive community involvement process that clarifies how the statue will be cared for after its construction. 

“The District has a lot of Federal land, and they can do what they want with it,” said 6B chair Brian Flahaven. “The best we can do is encourage them to reach out to the community.”

Pocket Parks

The District Department of Transportation has proposed amendments to the city’s regulations on public parking that more clearly establish reservation land transferred to the city from the federal government as public space. Under the clarified rulemaking, private citizens may perform basic maintenance of these spaces, but more extensive private use will require a public right of way permit.

ANC 6B sent a letter applauding these updates as well as offering two recommendations before they are finalized: that the window for ANC comment on applications for private use be extended to 45 days from 30 to accommodate its 30-day meeting cycle, and that the definition of triangle parks include those that fit the criteria when they were initially transferred but no longer do, such as those that have been intersected by new roads. 

Visitor Parking Pass Program

Last year, DDOT made its Visitor Parking Pass program available to nearly all District residents (most of Ward 2 was left out). Under the program, residents can obtain a permanent placard rather than having to get one from the police station every two weeks. Following an update to the program, DDOT will now require residents to use an online system to request a visitor pass, and the agency is considering reinstating a requirement that pass applicants submit proof of DC residency. 

ANC 6B sent a letter supporting the proposed rulemaking but urging DDOT to make passes valid only in the resident’s ANC single member district. Commissioners said the measure will help ensure passes are used only at the residence for which they were requested, which will aid in cracking down on fraudulent pass use. 

Southeast Freeway Re-Opening

DDOT is currently planning to reopen the Southeast Freeway between Barney Circle and 11th Street SE by the end of the year. The stretch of the Southeast Freeway that ran between the I-395 exit at 11th Street and Pennsylvania Ave SE at Barney Circle provided a high-speed connection between I-395 and I-295. It was closed after the opening of the 11th Street Bridge provided a similar connection, the long-term goal being to reopen the stretch as a boulevard that would promote access to the waterfront as well as provide new space for city growth.

Citing political pressure from Ward 7 that stems from congestion on 1-295, DDOT plans to temporarily reopen the freeway by the end of the year. 

6B sent a letter to DDOT stating strong opposition to the reopening. Doing so, commissioners said, would undermine current planning studies whose purpose is to find a new use for the space, worsen traffic on residential streets, and create a constituency for a long-term high-speed connection through DC. Instead of using resources on reopening the freeway, the letter urged DDOTs to put money toward addressing I-295 congestion and supporting the planning studies.

In a recent blog post, Flahaven urged residents to contact Mayor Vincent Gray’s office with requests that he stop the reopening. 

Miscellaneous 

ANC 6B also approved letters to support a special exception for DCanter (545 Eighth Street SE) to serve beer in single bottles, to urge the Department of General Services to renew its $1/year lease with Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, and in support of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer expanding DC WiFi access at the Potomac Gardens Housing Complex. 

ANC 6B’s next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 14th, at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE).


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