Commissioners Alex Padro (Chair, 6E01), Anthony Brown (Secretary, 6E02), Frank Wiggins (Vice Chair, 6E03), David Jaffe (6E04), and Alex Marriott (Treasurer, 6E05) made up the quorum to conduct official business at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E November meeting.
Mayor Bowser Pays the ANC 6E Meeting a Visit
Mayor Muriel Bowser was on hand at the meeting to take questions from the commission and the audience and address several topics that affect the District.
MPD: Many of the men and women in blue that serve the District joined MPD in the 1990’s and are now eligible to retire which could potentially leave a gap in the workforce. Mayor Bowser said that MPD is up 84 officers from last year and the upswing is the product of recruiting officers and offering new incentives.
Education: Probably the biggest investment from the city has been made to the public school system according to Mayor Bowser. Through legislation and a three year budget process, teachers are getting a raise and new schools are expected to be constructed.
Rodent Control: With the last few winters being on the mild side, district residents have seen a growth in the rat population due to the lack of harsh weather. This has made it easy for them to survive and increase into a large and alarming number. It has also been suggested that restaurant growth has encouraged the rat population to increase as well. District officials are identifying best practices from other cities and are employing techniques to get the number under control. There are several pilot programs underway that are introducing new trash compactors to businesses that will hide the smell of food and thus not attract rats.
Trash and Recycling Pick Up: Due to an ever-growing population, trash crews are having to work much harder and longer to take care of what District residents discard and recycle. Routes are running longer and crews are working up to 9 p.m. to remove waste. Mayor Bowser noted that she is aware of the complaints that have been lodged into the 311 call center from residents who have said that their trash is not being picked up. Some of the calls have taken place before the time frame that the trash service needs to get to them but for those who are really missing their trash service, the corrective and necessary actions are being taken to ensure that this doesn’t become a pattern.
Affordable Childcare: Mayor Bowser said that regulations related to childcare have made it hard for for-profit businesses to run them, which has created a shortage of spaces. On Oct. 31, a pilot program was initiated to help solve the program. Three public locations were identified to add space for affordable childcare. The locations include the Department of Human Resources, Francis Stevens School, and the University of the District of Columbia. The new spaces should be up and running next year and it is expected that 1,100 news spots should be made available over the next five years.
Statehood: One member from audience proposed that rather than DC try to become its own state, it should undergo the process of retrocession and merge with Maryland. Mayor Bowser responded and said that the District shouldn’t have a different set of circumstances as other states and we should pursue statehood. She also noted that if we became part of Maryland, their politics would dominate and that would not be a good thing for the District. She also believes that momentum on this issue has picked up and we are getting closer to making statehood a reality.
Sanctuary City Status: Another audience member asked Mayor Bowser where things stand in regards to the District being a sanctuary city. She assured the commission and the audience that the District is indeed a sanctuary city and MPD officials and hospitals do not ask immigrants for their status. “We want them to live here comfortably and have encouraged them to sign up for healthcare,” said Mayor Bowser. She also noted that the District is in a good spot with the federal system.
BZA Support Request
A member of Douglas Development spoke to the commission and requested support for a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) special exception to operate a bar in the penthouse portion of a 235 key hotel to be located at 601 K St. NW once constructed. The operate to midnight Monday through Thursday and to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Douglas Development representative said that construction should start in the later part of next year and approximately 18 months is expected to complete it. The commission voted support the request contingent upon the hours of operation not expanding past the times that are currently set in place. The commission also supported a separate request for a curb cut and will communicate it to the District Department of Transportation.
Third Floor Addition
The owner of a two-story row home located at 915 French St. NW asked for support before submitting a request to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to add an additional floor to their home. The applicant said that the addition will be 350 square-feet and it will not be visible from anywhere on French Street. The room will also have access to a rooftop deck. The commission voted to support the request and will communicate it to HPRB.
The commission voted in favor of the following establishments to receive a Class B renewal before they go before the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
Giant Foods located at 1400 Seventh St. NW.
Wal-Mart located at 99 H St. NW.
Andy’s Carryout located at 209 New York Ave. NW.
Safeway located at 490 L St. NW.
Commissioner Marriott asked the Safeway representative to look at ways to alleviate the long lines and check-out times as well as keeping the loading docks clean. He also said that he would like to facilitate a meeting between Safeway, MPD, and the Department of Health to help with people who are homeless and have mental disorders that loiter around the store.
ANC 6E will meet again at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Shaw/Watha T. Daniel Library located at 1630 Seventh St. NW.
Steve Holton can be contacted at [email protected]