ANC 6C Report - March 2017

A hot topic and point of contention reared its head again during Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C’s March meeting. Parking permits and residential allowances continue to plague an already congested and growing neighborhood in and around Capitol Hill and the H Street NE corridor. Commissioners argued the latest potential blow to the situation, an act proposed in the DC Council that would allow small businesses to issue residential parking permits (RPP) to employees.

The quorum: Karen Wirt (6C02, chair), Heather Edelman (6C06), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Christine Healey (6C01, secretary), Scott Price (6C03, vice chair), and Christopher Miller (6C05, treasurer).

ANC Strongly Opposes Parking Act

The Small Business Parking Permit Act of 2017 proposes giving businesses with 10 or fewer employees the chance to apply to the Department of Transportation (DDOT) for RPP permits to park near the business on residential streets. It was introduced by DC Councilmembers Robert White Jr. (At Large), Brianne K. Nadeau (Ward 1), and Brandon T. Todd (Ward 4). Commissioner Eckenwiler said that the legislation would throw a wrench into an already difficult parking permit system that went through significant overhauls just two years ago. “It’s a curious and profoundly ill-conceived proposal,” he said.

He added that if the DC Council approves the act it would open up several opportunities for abuse, such as by counting employees that telework or creating multiple LLCs to get more permits. It also would encourage driving and put an unnecessary burden on neighbors, he said. Commissioner Miller questioned its value to his constituents, neighbors living around the H Street NE corridor. “Are we sure it isn’t titled the H Street Residents Drop Dead bill?” he said.

The ANC voted unanimously to support a letter of opposition to the sponsors and the chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, Mary Cheh (Ward 3).

Maryland Avenue Project Update

DDOT’s project to redesign Maryland Avenue NE moved to the 65-percent stage in March. All of the materials are available for the public’s review. Price said that most of the comments ANC 6C had for the 30-percent review were addressed in the 65-percent design. This is the last opportunity for the community to request major hardscape changes.

Cycle Tracks on Florida Avenue

The ANC voted to support DDOT’s overall design plan for a proposed two-way cycle track running from Third Street to Ninth Street along Florida Avenue NE. This would reduce lanes to two in each direction (it’s currently three) and put in left-turn lanes. It also includes a two-stage bike box for cyclists to safely make left turns, bus stop islands for pedestrian safety, and regulations on rush-hour parking.

Commissioners agreed to include in the support letter a few concerns about the design. Price requested that any lighting along the route face downward so as not to disturb residential households. Commissioners also want DDOT to review the safety measures for the area at West Virginia Avenue NE.

Third-Story Addition on Orleans Place NE

A family living at 638 Orleans Place NE requested the ANC’s support for zoning relief for a third-story addition. The lot is at 73-percent occupancy, but since it does not fall in the historic district it doesn’t require as stringent a test. The designer incorporated a few historic-design requests made by the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development (PZE) Committee, and the ANC agreed to support the project unanimously.

Wants Union Station Project Impact Area Expanded

Commissioners voted to send a letter to the Federal Railway Administration requesting it expand the impact analysis region for the proposed Union Station expansion project. The area of impact stops at Third Street NE, but the ANC said the traffic from the garage and other Union Station congestion goes beyond the Third Street cutoff. They requested the project coordinators expand the analysis area to the east.

Montessori Parents Continue Modernization Fight

Representative parents from Capitol Hill Montessori @Logan (215 G St. NE) called on community members and commissioners to support their appeal to the District to advance the school’s modernization, currently set for 2022. The parents have argued that the District inaccurately assessed the building when determining the modernization schedule, and believe that the school needs an overhaul before 2022. This includes new air vents, fixing plumbing leaks, flooding, and water fountains that have fallen off their wall mounts. Commissioners unanimously supported the parents’ letter to District leaders.

Eckenwiler to Testify

Commissioner Eckenwiler requested the ANC’s support to testify at the March 16 Department of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs (DCRA) and April 10 Office of Planning (OP) oversight hearings at the DC Council. Eckenwiler said that while DCRA showed some improvement over the last year, the ANC would like more transparency and responsiveness when it comes to reports of permit violations. At the OP budget meeting he plans to request that the office consider adding staff to the often overwhelmed historic preservation inspection team. Right now, Capitol Hill only has two.

Other Actions

The ANC acknowledged that DCRA admitted it issued the wrong permit for a project at 1511 A St. NE, which would have brought large development to a residentially zoned area. The next hearing on the case is April 5.

The ANC unanimously supported a third-story rear addition at 316 G St. NE. Commissioners also supported a separate historic preservation application (HPA) on the same site for a rooftop addition and a new basement entrance that doesn’t encroach on the sidewalk.

Commissioners supported a letter calling for better traffic-flow assessments and pedestrian safety measures in and around the highly congested Union Station area.

 

ANC 6C regularly meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The next meeting is on April 12 at 7 p.m.