The December meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B was brief, taking less than two hours and consisting of votes on motions presented, all of which were supported unanimously by the commissioners.
The quorum: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Diane Hoskins (6B02, vice-chair), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Hagedorn (6B05), Nick Burger (6B06, treasurer), Aimee Grace (6B07), James Loots (6B03, parliamentarian), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, chair), Daniel Ridge (6B09, secretary) and Denise Krepp (6B10).
Readings were dispensed with for the following reports: Alcohol and Beverage Control Committee, Transportation Committee, Hill East Task Force and Finances.
The meeting began with a short discussion on the roles of commissioners serving in leadership positions. Commissioners discussed ways to maximize attendance of leadership at executive meetings, including the use of virtual means. Hoskins agreed to research the possibility of live-streaming meetings and of conference calling that could be joined by the public.
Acting in his role as chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee, Burger presented a motion in support of a letter he had written to the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) regarding proposed agency guidelines for “habitable space.” The guidelines would apply to buildings that are arranged in such a way that one portion could be used as a rental unit.
Burger said that the agency had been following these guidelines prior to the closure of a period calling for public comment, and that the guidelines were being used in lieu of the more complicated process required to change the regulations for certificates of occupancy. He said DCRA has been refusing to issue permits for renovations if the building appeared to be designed as a unique rental unit, that is, with a bathroom and kitchen on one floor, but had no separate certificate of occupancy. These guidelines, said Burger, were intended to reduce instances of illegal rental units in homes.
Burger argued that while DCRA has the right to regulate how building space is used, it has no business regulating how it was designed, and that the guidelines as enforced impose an undue burden on homeowners who may have no intention of using their space as illegal rental units.
Ridge said that in the course of his own renovations he had been denied permits under these guidelines. He said the guidelines caused a kitchen that was already in his basement to be deemed illegal, forcing him to remove it from his basement before proceeding with unrelated renovations.
Ridge added that the guidelines as written, especially the section dealing with a bathroom on the same floor as an entrance, could work against the needs of residents wishing to age in place. Krepp noted one more negative consequence, pointing out that some religions required the use of a separate kitchen to prepare certain foods in different seasons.
The letter was unanimously endorsed by the commission.
The ANC also discussed a bill, B22-0272, which would symbolically designate the 200 block of Second Street SE as “Richard Rausch Way.” Rausch was a lobbyist and activist in the local and national Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who lived on the block prior to his death in 2005.
The discussion focused on the responses of neighbors. Samolyk, who lives on that street, noted that there was not a great deal of support among neighbors for the naming. After discussion of the standards by which such a request could be evaluated, the commission voted unanimously to endorse a motion opposing the naming.
Commissioners discussed their position on the closure of Seventh Street SE, management of the Eastern Market advisory area, and representation of the ANC on the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) currently provided by Hoskins. They determined that they wanted to hear further information from the city and from the Department of General Services, which manages the market and adjacent plaza, relating to the recent assessment of rental prices for the South Hall merchants and to the lease on the 300 block of Seventh Street SE, site of the weekend flea markets. This testimony will be requested in January.
The commissioners next discussed their responsibilities with positions on other community committees. They agreed that if the ANC has voted on something, a commissioner should represent that view as far as possible. If there are questions raised that have not previously been voted on by the ANC, trust in the discretion and comportment of each commissioner would be sufficient.
The commissioners voted unanimously to accept the 2018 calendar of meetings. Modifications are possible in January or February, after the election of commissioners to executive positions. The calendar is available at the website, www.ANC6B.org.
The commissioners discussed the fulfillment of the obligations of the developer of the Hine School Project to provide office space to the ANC. The developer had offered a place in the co-working space The Yard, located on the second floor of 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, in lieu of a separate, smaller office space elsewhere in the building. The commissioners decided that further discussion was necessary with the developer and in executive session.
Chair Jayaraman presented Oldenburg with a portion of the ribbon that was cut at the Tuesday, Dec. 12, ceremony for the opening of the Hine development, in recognition of her dedication and work on the project as the former chair of ANC 6B, as Transportation Committee chair, and as commissioner.
Hagedorn, chair of the Hine Community Advisory Committee Report, dispensed with the reading before noting that the meeting concerned was the last of the committee meetings, as the development was now complete. This was greeted with applause from the commissioners.
Finally, Commissioner Grace informed the commissioners that she would be announcing her resignation from the ANC on the following day, Wednesday, Dec. 13. She said she regretted that she would be unable to fulfill her term, but that she would ensure that the triangle park project that she has undertaken together with the community, the District Department of Parks and Recreation and the District Department of Transportation would be on the road to completion before her departure. Grace said a change in her husband’s employment as of March 2018 and a mutual desire to be with their aging parents, who live in Hawaii, had compelled her to make this very difficult decision.
The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m., Jan. 10, at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.