At the July 9th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B, Commissioner Steve Holtzman (6B05) announced that the Department of General Services (DGS) submitted a Public Space Permit Application to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) on July 5 in preparation for construction on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza (EMMP) project.
According to the permit, construction on the plaza project could begin in the first week of December. The permit will be heard by the DDOT Public Space Committee at their meeting August 22.
Commissioners expressed disappointment that the hearing had been scheduled for August, when many constituents and commissioners would be out of town and unable to comment. ANCs do not meet during the month of August.
Holtzman said that the Public Space hearing was the one opportunity for Commissioners and members of the public to comment on EMMP as part of formal procedure. He noted that the results of a DDOT traffic study on the area had also not yet been released, meaning all information was not yet available.
This is the second Public Space Permit application from DGS this summer. Holtzman said that another public space permit for the installation of a temporary playground on Parcel 1 of the project had been granted on June 14, although the ANC had not been informed.
Following an administrative process precluded public comment on the plans, although Holtzman and Chair Chander Jayaraman (6B08) said they had received many substantive comments and concerns since the permit details had been released. “We have been advised by the Public Space Committee that anything we send about this now will basically go into the ether,” said Holtzman.
“The chair of the Public Space Committee (PSC) has the regulatory authority to authorize a permit administratively, if the proposed work is for the temporary use of public space,” said a representative of DDOT when asked to comment.
“The PSC’s review, with public comment, is required only for permanent changes in the public space, and when the proposed uses are outside of the scope of District regulations,” she said. “This temporary use of public space is no different than the regular occupancy permits that businesses and residents can apply for through the Transportation Online Permitting System.”
Commissioners voted to send a letter to DDOT Director Jeff Marootian and DDOT Associate Director for the Public Space Regulations Division (PSRD) Matthew Marcou, asking DDOT to defer the hearing on the EMMP Public Space Permit until September in order to facilitate public comment. The letter will also express discontent with the process, asking for an explanation for why the ANC had been excluded from commenting on a formal process.
The agenda for the August 22 meeting of the DDOT Public Space Committee is not yet available. Learn more about the committee and its meetings at https://ddot.dc.gov/page/public-space-committee-meetings
This story has been updated to include comments from DDOT on the administrative process.