Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met on Nov. 13. Commissioners Gail Fast (6D01), Andy Litsky (6D04, chair), Roger Moffatt (6D05), Ronald Collins (6D03), Rhonda N. Hamilton (6D06), and Meredith Fascett (6D07) were on the dais. Commissioner Cara Shockley (6D02) was absent.
The Mayor Brings Good News
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) briefed the commission on her administrative achievements. She was joined by the directors of the DC Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Energy & Environment, Department of General Services, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and Department of Public Works, as well as the chief of staff for the Department of Health and the executive director of the DC Housing Authority (DHA).
The mayor began by pointing out that she has steered the city to three balanced budgets and three “safe summers.” Her budget priorities, she stated, include affordable housing, education, public safety and defending the city against the depredations of the Republican Congress and Trump administration.
The mayor claimed credit for the doubling of the Housing Production Trust Fund to $100 million, with 8,000 housing units in the pipeline and another 10,000 to be produced in the next four years.
“Steady progress is being made in our schools,” the mayor said. “Every population of children is improving.” The city’s 10-year effort to reform DC Public Schools (DCPS) has resulted in a 75-percent high school graduation rate in 2017. DCPS enrollment is outpacing that of public charters, she said.
The mayor touted her appointment of Peter Newsham as chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Her tenure has seen a significant reduction in violent crime and her administration is committed to balance robust enforcement with providing opportunities to dissuade people from criminality.
The mayor concluded with remarks on the challenges presented by the Republican Congress and Trump administration. “Acting strategically, our position is to make sure that we preserve what we believe in,” she stated.
The mayor took questions from the commissioners and members of the audience. Asked by Commissioner Fascett about the timing of the appointment of a full-time director to the Capper Recreation Center, the mayor promised to consider a private-public partnership. Fascett also noted the wait list for pre-K at Van Ness Elementary and asked about DCPC’s plans to cope with the explosive growth of the neighborhoods below I-695. The new Comprehensive Plan, the mayor replied, would help better predict where additional seats will be needed.
A member of the audience asked about DCPS’s plan for addressing the achievement gap. The gap tracks income disparities, the mayor pointed out. The place to start, she argued, is with family income. A combination of an increased minimum wage with wraparound supports is the best strategy, she stated. Her administration is also committed to equalizing opportunities in DCPS schools across the District, the so-called Alice Deal for Everyone. All middle schools should offer the same programs and afterschool activities.
Commissioner Hamilton asked about the city’s plans for the Greenleaf Gardens public housing complex, which is a DHA property. The “build first approach,” supported by the commission and neighborhood, requires the identification of an initial build site. The mayor cited the challenge of moving public facilities, such as the Motor Vehicle Inspection Station, owing to public opposition about establishing such facilities in other neighborhoods.
Greenleaf residents are concerned, Commissioner Collins explained, about a secret DHA plan for the complex’s redevelopment that would displace them. The DHA director stated that he had initiated a 90-day review of all the agency’s projects. Once the study is concluded, he stated, development will proceed along the lines of the existing plan. He pledged to reconvene the neighborhood advisory committee for the project.
Collins also raised concerns about the food trucks on E Street SW near the NASA building, based on complaints from neighboring brick-and-mortar businesses. The director of DCRA stated that her agency is framing new regulations for food trucks that will address such concerns.
Hamilton complained about the impact of the constant dust created by construction of the soccer stadium and asked for the appointment of a community health advocate to monitor the situation. “We will hold contractors to the rules concerning construction dust,” the mayor replied, pointing out that the stadium is scheduled to open in spring 2018.
Fascett asked what the city planned to do about the impact of vibrations generated by CSX rail traffic on the townhouses in Capitol Quarter. The city is setting up a new regulatory body for rail safety, the mayor stated.
The developers of the Bullpen, 25 M St. SE, presented modified plans for digital signage. While eliminating one blade sign, the proposal calls for two displays on Half Street and the corner of Half and Via streets SE. Praising the building as very interesting, Fascett critiqued the sign placement. “There are ways to make digital signs not horrendous,” Fascett observed. She thought the two signs are poorly integrated into the structure’s design, detracting from its impact, as well as being too bright. Furthermore, she stated, the signs serve no compelling public benefit.
Commissioner Fast chided the developer for making no effort to work things out with the ANC as directed by the Zoning Commission. The developer stated that they had reached out to Commissioner Shockley but had received no response. The commission voted unanimously to oppose the digital signs.
MPD First Division Commander Morgan Kane briefed the commission. “We are doing amazingly well,” she stated, pointing out that crime was down 30 percent across the board. The only exception, she said, is theft from automobiles.
Representatives of DC Water briefed the commission on the planned rehabilitation of the 42-inch brick-concrete sewer that runs down New Jersey Avenue and Second Street to Tingey Street SW. The two-year project, beginning in summer 2018, will repair 72,000 feet of pipe, without the need to excavate any street.
The commission considered the renewal of the Class B liquor license of the Southwest Safeway at 1100 Fourth St. SW, as well as an amended voluntary agreement that tightens the rules on liquor tastings. Chair Litsky raised the issue of the store’s continual violations of the existing agreement that requires the segregation of wine and beer in certain locations within the establishment. Fast pointed out that competitor Harris Teeter conducts itself similarly and that punishing Safeway would be unfair in her opinion. The commission’s ABC Subcommittee had supported the renewal, with Chair Coralee Farlee abstaining, as is her standard practice. The commission voted unanimously to support the renewal and voluntary agreement along with a written request that the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration inspect the store to ensure adherence to the terms of the agreement.
The commission voted to support the renewal of the Class B liquor license for the 7-Eleven at 1101 South Capitol St., with Fast abstaining. No accompanying voluntary agreement was offered for approval due to the property’s imminent redevelopment.
The commission took no action on a Class B license for Officina, 1120 Maine Ave. SW, owing to concerns about the impact of the establishment’s summer gardens on pedestrian circulation.
On the ABC Subcommittee’s recommendation, the commission took no action on the renewal of Class B licenses for Simply Smiles (333 E St. SW), Harris Teeter (401 M St. SE) or Cornercopia (1000 Third St. SE).
The commission chose to table the submission of comments on the design of the new Southwest Public Library scheduled to open in fall 2020.
Citing an 8,000-square-foot reduction in retail space, the commission unanimously opposed the modification of consequence at 1900 Half St. SW, an apartment building on Buzzard Point. The commission authorized Commissioner Moffatt to testify on its behalf at the Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing on the matter.
The commission voted unanimously to:
Write expressing its concerns about reforms for the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability proposing a comprehensive ethics code that defines commissioners as government employees.
Oppose the extension of the ban of lobbying and conflict of interest rules to advisory neighborhood commissioners.
Support Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen’s legislation banning buses at the new Waterfront Park.
Support the 2018 Rock’n’Roll Marathon on March 10, 2018.
Support the Police Week 5k race.
Support a renewal of the Class B license of Friendly Food Market, 1399 Half St. SW and a modification to its current voluntary agreement.
Support an amendment to the voluntary agreement with Requin, 100 District Square, increasing the total number of seats in its summer garden from 40 to 100.
Support a stipulated liquor agreement for the Capital Yacht Club, 800 Wharf St. SW.
Oppose the renewal of Verizon’s contract allowing the placement of a temporary cellular tower in the Randall ballfields.
Support plans for the activation of the Randall School site in advance of construction.
Support a slight change to the signage at Riverfront Phase II.
Oppose the development at 100 K St. SE and authorize Commissioner Fascett to testify on the commission’s behalf and write any additional comments on the project.
The next ANC 6D meeting will be held on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at 1100 Fourth St. SW. Visit www.anc6d.org/ for more information.