ANC 6C Report - January 2016

Like a Samuel Beckett play – a story that never ends – the streetcar for H Street reappeared on the agenda for Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C. Among a smaller agenda of items at the first meeting of 2016, the commissioners again fought against more restrictions on use of the streetcar that the city keeps promising will run for the public soon. Commissioners also announced their new and continuing officers and committee chairs for all ANC divisions. 

The quorum: Karen Wirt (6C02, chair), Tony Goodman (6C06), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Christopher Miller (6C05), and Scott Price (6C03). Daniel Schiffman (6C01) was absent.

Streetcar on H Street

The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) recently said the H Street streetcar might not run on Sundays to allow for weekly maintenance. But the ANC agreed that the amount of money, time, and patience invested in this project should result in a car that runs seven days a week, especially to bolster weekend economic opportunities. The commissioners voted unanimously to support a joint letter, with ANCs 6A, 5D, and 7D, to the mayor’s office, DDOT, and the councilmembers, requesting the cars operate seven days a week.

DDOT Vision Zero Plan

Commissioner Eckenwiler sat in on the Transportation and Public Space (TPS) Committee meeting this month and recommended slight changes to the DDOT’s 2016 Vision Zero Plan to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by 2024. Some members of TPS felt the $1,000 fine for speeding more than 25 miles per hour over the limit was too high for the low-income drivers in the city. But Eckenwiler argued for the fine.

A community member at the ANC 6C meeting said the issue with driving too fast stems from speeds set too low. Commissioner Goodman explained that the city originally was not built to support so much car traffic. Community members also argued that the Vision Zero plan didn’t include initiatives to stop all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and motorbikes from ripping around the main and side streets on Capitol Hill. One member said he witnessed police patrolling the H Street corridor ignore a group of ATVs and motorbikes tear up the street. Eckenwiler explained that police have a policy not to pursue because there’s more risk in a chase than relying on tips from community members to find the offenders and revoke their vehicle license.

The ANC voted unanimously to support the increase in speeding fines, add language to make running a red light with a pedestrian in the crosswalk a criminal offense, and send a letter to the mayor’s office requesting more action on curbing ATV and motorbike violations.

Curb Cuts on K Street NE

A renovated three-unit condominium building on the 300 block of K Street NE requested rights to put in a curb cut along the street into the entrance of the building’s driveway. However, the community and members of the commission agreed that the curb cut would unfairly take away a street parking spot available for parking permit holders in that region. The developer erroneously told the new owner that the lot included the permits for the curb. Despite historical evidence showing the curb cut existed in the early 1900s for access to a carriage shed, the committee concluded that the owner’s argument lay with the developer, not the neighborhood.

The ANC voted 3-2 against the owner’s application. Price and Goodman supported the permit.

Rear Additions on C Street NE Rowhouses

New concept plans to add rear additions, a penthouse, and roof decks on several units along the 400 block of C Street NE caused several community concerns at the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee (PZE) meeting. Commissioners expressed concern for the changing of historic facades and vestibules that may block sunlight and make the height of the new additions visible from Stanton Park. Neighbors directly surrounding the lot spoke about light studies showing an adverse impact on their own home’s sun exposure; how the construction caused flooding in basements next door; and how a proposed overhang would block an entire window. But one neighbor expressed support for the project and for the filling of the alley space behind the house to deter the homeless from loitering and potentially endangering young families in the area.

The ANC voted unanimously to adopt the recommendation to support the project, with the request that the developers work to resolve the concerns over visibility from Stanton Park and concerns from neighbors.

Basement Addition on Lexington Place NE

A resident on the 600 block of Lexington Avenue NE requested approval to expand their attic and build a front entrance to their basement. The committee members objected that a front basement entrance could potentially require paving of public property and would make the door visible from the front. They unanimously voted to support the request, with the exception that the plans change to move the basement entrance to the side or back. Also, the property owner needed to replace iron supports on the front porch for support and update building plans with the correct dimensions.

Triangular Lot on Florida Avenue NE

In an effort to allot more space for community plazas, Goodman urged support of the PZE’s recommendation to close N Street NE from Third Street to Florida Avenue. He said vehicles did not necessarily need to use that small road space and it would work better as a community space. The developer of the multifamily unit lot on the corner supports the closure but will have a hearing on Feb. 22 to negotiate with DDOT. Goodman proposed more rideshare and bicycle installments along the street to alleviate needs for resident parking.

The ANC voted unanimously to send a letter to Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, DDOT, and the DC Office of Planning supporting the road closure, and elected Goodman as a delegate.

Reservation 84

DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) as well as Community Engagement moved forward on acceptance of Reservation 84 – a plan to create a triangle park at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Constitution Avenue, and Seventh Street NE. Earlier in 2015 the commissioners did not know which DC department controlled the land and discovered it was unassigned. DPR took control and will start to improve the land for community activities like yoga classes and art classes.

Stuart-Hobson Dumpsters

Commissioner Eckenwiler shared his concern for the dumpsters outside Stuart-Hobson Middle School. Despite agreements that the school could place the dumpsters on public space along Fifth St. NE if the gates remained closed, Eckenwiler said he often sees the gates wide open and trash visible. The ANC voted unanimously to send a letter to the school’s chancellor to improve the management of the dumpsters. 

Alibi Liquor License Settlement

The ANC came to a settlement agreement for Alibi restaurant’s liquor license and entertainment endorsement requests for the location on the 200 block of Second St. NW. An illegal structure on the lot was demolished during negotiations and there is little residential property surrounding Alibi. However, a property owner behind the site will continue his protest of the application on Jan. 29. The Alcoholic Beverage Committee (ABC) may throw out the license request, but if not the commissioners inserted language in the settlement specifying what can and cannot be done on the lot that the former structure stood on.

Other Actions

Commissioner Eckenwiler presented concerns at the December meeting over the policy enforcement practices of the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) regarding permit and zoning requests. Eckenwiler felt the department is not enforcing city and community regulations as written. The commissioners voted unanimously to support a hearing to address the concerns outside of the normal oversight hearings. 

Po Boy Jim’s on the 700 block of H Street NE and the ABC negotiated limitations on hours and when doors actually close for the restaurant. The commissioners agreed the resolution did not include all desired points, but thought they would be manageable in the future.

The NoMa Parks Foundation closed a $14 million deal with Pepco to buy two acres of land bordering the Metropolitan Branch Trail, New York Avenue, and Harry Thomas Way NE. Depending on community discussions and plans laid out during the next year, the area will serve as an open park for informal recreation. Foundation leaders hope to start developing in 2017.

Neighbors of Stuart-Hobson Middle School want to work with the school to gain use of the newly renovated field. The commissioners started to work with the school’s Parent Teacher Association to determine when the school programs use the fields.

 

ANC 6C regularly meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The next meeting is on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.