Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) spoke at the April 14th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B. He discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the District, warning attendees at the meeting that a situation similar to what we are currently experiencing was likely to be the new normal for a long time. Allen said that there is no scenario in which ‘a switch is flipped’ and things go back to the way they were before COVID-19 appeared in the District. He said that recovery, even to the point the District was at in the first week of March, was likely to take years.
The Councilmember summarized the focus of the two pieces of legislation passed during the Public Health Emergency. He said the legislation focuses on how to help neighbors who have lost jobs or wages, noting that 56,000 people had applied for Unemployment Insurance in the preceding month. Allen said that constituents have been reporting that they were on hold with the Department of Employment Services (DOES) for long periods, but said that as of Friday, April 20, 51 additional operators had been hired. He added that DC Council wants to extend Unemployment Insurance eligibility to undocumented immigrants, but first needs to determine a source those funds.
Allen said that 6,000 businesses had applied for grants available through the $25 million DC Small Business Microgrant program. Results are expected to be announced at the end of April. Allen said that it was important to help keep the heartbeat of the economy alive to make sure businesses can survive in some fashion. Describing the Coronavirus as ‘a wrecking ball’ through the economy, Allen said the District was nowhere near the apex of infection and cautioned that it was possible that many well-loved small businesses might not make it through the crisis.
In terms of upcoming elections, Allen said that the DC Board of Elections (DCBOE) was focused on the June 2 primary. The District is using the ability of voters to request absentee ballots as a vote by mail option, as DC does not have the ability to simply mail a ballot to every voter in 60 days without potential errors. The push to vote by mail appears to be successful so far, he added, as 14,000 requests for ballots had come to DCBOE in the 10 days preceding the meeting.
Allen said that the November General Directions might look similar to the primary elections, with a big push get people to vote by mail and only 20 polls out of the usual 144 open. Allen said DCBOE was working on issues related to elections and human interaction, including how to collect signatures on petitions necessary for candidates to be placed on the ballot. Allen said he was working with DCBOE to find mechanisms for the virtual collection of signatures.
Allen was originally on the agenda to discuss the District’s budget. The first piece of COVID-19 Emergency Legislation deferred the date the Mayor is required to submit the budget to May 6. Allen said that Council was still determining how to hold budget hearings, do oversight and get public feedback.
Support for PUD 1333 M Street SE
ANC6B voted 6-0-2 to support a consolidated Planned Unit Development (PUD) and a Zoning Map Amendment for a project at 1333 M St. SE, on the triangle between M and Water Streets with the Virginia Avenue SE right-of-way. Developers Felice Development Group (FDG) seek a Zoning Map amendment from PDR-4, or high-density commercial, to a mixed use commercial and residential MU-9 zone.
The applicant needs the approvals to develop the project into a 791,063 square foot mixed-use project, containing 900 residential units and 45,419 square feet retail. The project is made up of three buildings, two connected by a bridge at the second level and is planned in three phases of construction.
Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Corey Holman said that the ANC would appoint a working group to follow and discuss the project as it moves forward. While the commission voted in support of the application, Holman raised concerns with landscaping along a proposed recreational trail to the north of the site, as well as with the effect of the structure on views from Anacostia Park. Holman asked for additional renderings of the view from L Street, on the river and from Anacostia Park, including a shadow study.
The commission voted to support:
- A request for substantial changes to the liquor licenses from three establishments, including Finn McCools (713 Eighth St. SE), Lola’s (711 Eighth St. SE) and The Brig (1007 Eighth St. SE), to allow installation of up to three ‘Dragon’s Ascent’ games at each. The motion was supported by a vote of 5-0-3. A similar application from Trusty’s Bar (1420 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) was supported at the March meeting.
- Two temporary Restaurant Pick Up Drop-Off (PUDO) Zones at 501 Eighth St. SE and 655 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The zones are designed to allow residents and commercial drivers easy access to restaurants and eateries that are still offering delivery or carry-out service and will be in effect through the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- A District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Notice of Intent to install advisory bike lanes on E Street SE between 12th and 17th Street SE. Advisory lanes are an alternative to road-markings such as sharrows, because they indicate how roads should be shared with cyclists, creating visual lanes for bicycles on either side of the street between traffic and parking lanes.
- A Traffic Services Administration (TSA) Request to install a speed hump on 600 block of D St SE.
- A letter to DDOT requesting traffic calming measures at 11th Street SE at the junction with I-395. Pedestrian traffic has increased as people access the new Virginia Park and the adjacent trails.
Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, ANC 6B held the April meeting of the full commission on Tuesday, April 14th via Webex with a quorum of eight commissioners. Appearing were Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02, Secretary), Brian Ready (6B03, Chair), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06, Treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07, Parliamentarian), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, Vice-Chair). Denise Krepp (6B10) was absent due to illness. ANC 6B09 is currently vacant.
The next meeting of ANC 6B is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 12. In the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, DC Council passed emergency legislation March 17 making it possible for ANCs to meet virtually. For the most up-to-date information on meetings and how to join a virtual meeting, visit anc6b.org.
ANC 6B has been working to update its website. You can visit the new site, learn about Commissioners and committees, and subscribe to the newsletter by visiting anc6b.org or connect with the commission via email at [email protected] or find @ANC6B on Twitter.