ANC 6C Report

600 Massachusetts Avenue

Roberta Lovatelli, who owns the property located at 600 Massachusetts Ave., petitioned the commission to support her historic preservation application for the brick patio she built in 2013. However, the patio is located in her front yard, which is considered to be public space. “No, I did not know I required a permit to re-landscape my front yard,” Lovatelli said. “Had I known it, I wouldn't have done it this way.” She justified her work, saying the grass couldn't grow in her yard and that the patio ensured public safety after a crashing vehicle damaged her property. Lovatelli brought Craig D'oge, a fellow Capitol Hill resident, to represent her. They argued that the neighborhood has no problem with the patio and hope to work with city government to find a solution.

However, the commission noted issues with Lovatelli and D'oge’s application and presentation. For instance, Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler (6C 04) said that some of their support letters come from people living outside of the area, and showed two pictures of the same property in which grass grew. While Lovatelli and D'oge insisted that they had not heard complaints about the patio outside of the Planning, Zoning, and Environment Committee, some residents stated their opposition to the application. “Every property owner has a duty, I believe, to know what they're buying, to know the extent of their estate, and follow the law” said one neighbor.

Commissioner Danielle Schiffman (6C 01) agreed, saying that Lovatelli should have known that living in an historic district means it is necessary to seek approval for any and all changes to her property. Commissioner Schiffman, along with Commissioner Eckenwiler, also called out both the applicant and her representative for their rude behavior and attitude; both kept interrupting the commissioners, made snide comments, and were argumentative throughout the discussion. The commission voted 5-0, with one abstention, to oppose the application.

H Street Truck Loading Zones

In December the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) relocated all 10 truck loading zones on H Street to make way for the upcoming streetcars. With approximately 21 loading zones now located along the surrounding numbered streets, DDOT representative Eulois Cleckley gave updates on their impact. He reported that trucks were still double-parking on H, as the streetcars were not yet running. The new loading zones can accommodate daily demands despite being smaller in size. However, DDOT made a commitment to dedicate the intersection of 5th and H streets to resident parking-pass (RPP) holders, and as a result might have to move the loading zone on 6th Street.

Commissioner Eckenwiler said there are too many loading zones at the intersection of 4th and H streets. While three of the four corners are designated as loading zones, only one is more heavily used. Commissioner Eckenwiler stated that if the highest utilization rate is 39 percent (which includes the double-parking situation on H), there are too many loading zones. Commissioner Scott Price (6C 03) suggested looking at community impact, as the report primarily looks at how commerce is affected.

Performance Parking Zone Community Benefits

Joe McCann, chair of the Transportation and Public Space Committee, said that DDOT chose the H Street Corridor as a performance parking zone (PPZ). As a result DDOT adjusted meter rates after observing usage and parking times and ensuring that 10 to 15 percent of parking spaces were open for visitors. With the extra money raised from metered parking DDOT created a fund to help pay for improvements for each PPZ. McCann reported that $560,000 in benefits was allocated for the H Street Corridor and that the commission could submit an application proposing improvements. Commissioner Tony Goodman (6C 06) presented a list of 17 proposed projects, which included curb extensions, bike lane striping, and landscaping improvements. The commission unanimously voted to send the application and to authorize Commissioner Goodman or McCann as the main contact person.

331 H Street

Commissioner Eckenwiler stated that he received a letter from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) about the Great Streets Grant Initiative Program. The Alexandria-based Oliver Opticians submitted an application to bring a location to 331 H St. However, the site could be the future home to Island Dyes Head Shop, known for selling glass water pipes.

While it is impossible for two businesses to occupy the same space, Commissioner Eckenwiler noted that one condition of the grant states that the applicant must have site control of the property. This means that the applicant does not have to own the property but must have at least a two-year lease. However, when Commissioner Eckenwiler spoke to Oliver Opticians, they were unclear about the state of the lease. The commission voted unanimously to send a letter to DMPED offering support for the application but expressing doubt on its validity under grant conditions.

Other News

The commission unanimously voted Lauren McHale as an at-large member for the Planning, Zoning and Environment Committee and Meti Zegeye and Gerald (Jerry) Wall as at-large members for the Transportation and Public Space Committee.

Alex Ripps was appointed as the 6C 06 representative for the Alcoholic Beverage Committee.

The commission unanimously approved a $2,736.32 grant for the Peabody School's garden. The money will go toward restoring parts affected by recent construction, garden structure maintenance, supporting their FoodPrints program, and annual maintenance for the food and habitat gardens.

The commission voted unanimously to send a letter honoring Shauna Holmes, chair of the Historic Preservation Committee, who is retiring.