ANC Explores Possibility of COVID Grant-Making

May Report: ANC 6B

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Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG) Principal and Founder Michael Babin speaks at the May 12 th meeting of ANC 6B, held via Webex. Screenshot

At their May 12th meeting, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B voted to explore the legality of creating a one-time grant from its resources to support helping organizations in the community. In two subsequent motions, commissioners voted to convene an ad-hoc group to ensure that it is legal for them to make grants, and then to come up with a granting process.  The District Office of ANCs (OANC) sent a memo to commissioners saying that many restrictions to grant-making are temporarily lifted due to the COVID emergency to encourage ANCs to help citizens through the emergency.

While some ANCs have grants committees, ANC 6B by-laws and rules currently prohibit the organization from grant-making. Commissioners Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04) and Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) noted that ANC 6B had historically steered clear of providing grants because of problems with process faced by other ANCs, as well as to avoid any perception of conflict-of-interest because of the close ties between the commission and community organizations.

However, ANC by-laws and standing rules can be changed with 14 days’ notice from any commissioner, Treasurer Corey Holman (6B06) said. The ANC will hold a meeting by May 22 to assess what changes to regulations would be necessary in order to ensure that grant-making is legally done by the ANC and propose changes to make that possible. If grants are deemed possible, the meeting will also begin work on a process to make grants. The full commission could vote on rule changes and a granting process at their June 9th meeting.

Sidewalk Extensions
Commissioners voted to submit a letter of support to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for sidewalk extensions near neighborhood businesses and service providers where socially-distanced line-ups have made it difficult for passing pedestrians to also remain distanced from the line. Discussed sites included Ginkgo Gardens, Frager’s Hardware, the UPS Store and the west side of the 300 block of Seventh Street SE (where Bullfrog Bagels and Radici are located).

Commissioners also asked Department of General Services (DGS) Interim Associate Director John Stokes to consider closing Seventh Street SE on weekends. Currently, DGS sometimes allows streets to remain open during inclement weather, when there are few vendors on the street, rather than closing them for weekend flea markets. Stokes said this was a discussion DGS could have with the DDOT, which issued the permit for the flea market street closures to DGS.

6B09 Without Representation Until 2021
Gottleib Simon of the Office of the ANC (OANC) told commissioners that a person representing SMD 6B09 cannot be selected until the November elections. Constituents of 6B09 have been without representation since Kasie Clark announced she was stepping down as of March 10th. It was expected her seat would be filled in the interim by a candidate elected by residents of Clark’s Single Member District (SMD) at a later meeting.

Simon said that there were two reasons why the seat cannot now be filled prior to November. First, legislation governing ANCs specifically prohibits a virtual vote, and large meetings are illegal during the public health emergency.  A Mayor’s Order prohibiting gatherings of ten or more people went into effect March 25. Second, legislation states that a vacancy cannot be filled within the six-month period before a general election, or after April 8.

Commissioners said they would work together to represent residents of 6B09 until November and encouraged those with questions or concerns to contact any ANC 6B commissioner or the ANC generally via email at 6b@anc.dc.gov.

Letter to Support Use of Grant Funds for COVID Relief
The ANC supported a letter to District granting organizations and agencies. Chair Brian Ready (6B03) said that groups like Barracks Row Main Streets (BRMS) told him they were unable to use money received as part of a $500,000 façade grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for COVID-19 business relief because grant rules do not allow for flexibility in the use of the funds. The letter asks District agencies to grant flexibility to main streets and BIDs to allow funds to be used for COVID-19 relief during the public health emergency.

Proposal for Micromobility Corrals
The ANC supported a motion by Commissioner Holman asking DDOT to consider two micromobility corrals near two large construction projects in his SMD, the Foulger-Pratt Safeway development (415 14th St. SE) and The Roost (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE).

Micromobility corrals are spaces in parking lanes designated for ride-share bicycles and scooters. Both are proposed for street areas currently marked “no parking anytime.” One is proposed for either side of 14th Street SE at the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue SE, near the Roost. The other is proposed for the south side of D Street near 14th Street SE, near to the entrance of the Safeway store.

Holman said removing the possibility of illegal parking in the space would increase visibility at the intersections as well as provide alternative parking to the sidewalk for ride-share scooters and bicycles. 100 such sites have been funded and installed in DC. While next year’s budget is sure to be contested, Holman said his request is in part to place these sites at the top of the to-do list.

The ANC voted to support:

  • The liquor license for “Culinary Clubhouse” The Roost (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE in the Blackbird), with the understanding that a signed Settlement Agreement (SA) is imminent. Assurances were provided at the meeting by Michael Babin, Principal and Founder of Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG), the group behind the Roost. The venue includes eight food service counters, two bars and a full-service restaurant venue with a capacity of 480 and a sidewalk café for up to 118. The license includes an interior live entertainment endorsement. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The SA will clarify provisions of the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that accompanied the project proposal, including delivery times and locations, as well as hours for interior and exterior sales.
  • A stipulated license for The Roost, allowing the business the option of opening during the 45-day public notice period before receiving their liquor license.
  • A stipulated license for Trusty’s, allowing for the restaurant to install and operate the Dragon’s Ascent games of chance. Amendments to the restaurant liquor license were approved at the April meeting of ANC 6B. The change would allow Trusty’s to install and, after restrictions are lifted, operate the tables before the amended license is received.
  • A resolution to DC Council and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) supporting the allocation of District funds for improvements to Garfield Park, specifically for the replacement of the park sprinkler system, at an estimated cost of $60,000.

Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, ANC 6B held the May meeting of the full commission on Tuesday, May 12th virtually 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, June 9. 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 6b@anc.dc.gov or find @ANC6B on Twitter.