At the June 10 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C, the commission voted unanimously to send a letter making recommendations for the Nov. 3 General Election to Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.
The letter was moved by Commissioner Drew Courtney (6C06) who pointed to long waits at election centers on June 2, the night of the primary election, some lasting past midnight. The situation was further aggravated by social distancing requirements both in line and in voting centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) also ordered a 7 p.m. curfew that night, one hour before the polls closed.
Courtney pointed to the likelihood of continued concern about COVID-19 transmission, and said the primary election was a ‘warning sign’ pointing to the potential for problems during voting in the November election. The letter recommends that resources devoted to processing mail-in ballot requests, including improved tracking of ballot status, be expanded. It also suggests that the DC Board of Elections (DCBOE) open all polls on Nov. 3 for Election Day, as opposed to the 20 voting centers open on June 2. The letter also recommends increased messaging to people urging them to vote early at the locations that exist.
Letter on MPD Performance During Protests
Pointing to the protests that took place throughout the District in the last week of May and first week of June, in particular to an incident on Swann Street NW on June 1st wherein protesters sheltered in residential homes to avoid arrest, Courtney proposed a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and DC Council.
The letter puts on record the support of ANC 6C, as Courtney put it, “for the simple fact that” black lives matter. It also affirms support in principal for legislation to reform the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) that was passed by DC Council June 9, calling the legislation an important step towards transparency, accountability and oversight.
The commission noted a comment from the gallery encouraging commissioners to consider the budgetary aspects of the matter but did not move to include it in the letter under consideration. An $18.5 million increase is planned for MPD in the 2020-21 budget, said resident Pranav Nanda, while other programs such as the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants are seeing declines in funding.
Deadlock on Orleans Place Deck
Commissioners could not come to an agreement on a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) application for special exception to lot occupancy and rear yard requirements to build a rear deck at 627 Orleans Pl. NE. The deck would be 15 feet wide and 8 feet 8 inches high. Because the front of the home is built into an embankment, the rear deck would be level with the rear exit at the first floor of the house.
Although a large number of neighbors voiced their support for the project, the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee voted to oppose the application at their June 3 meeting, saying the deck would impact the privacy as well as air and light of neighboring properties while also citing deficiencies in the application.
At the meeting, some commissioners said that since a majority of neighbors had indicated their support, those sentiments should not be ‘substituted’ by the opinions of commissioners. Others said that approval would set a precedent that might have to be adhered to in future. After a vote on the motion to oppose the application tied 3-3, the commission decided to forward a letter written by Courtney detailing the conflicting positions of commissioners to BZA, leaving the case without a final vote.
Letter Regarding Union Station
The commission voted to send a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requesting a 60-day extension to review the 4,200-page draft Environmental Impact Assessment for the Union Station project. The deadline for comments is currently July 27. Commissioner Christine Healey (6C01) said the commission needed time to digest the document and consider it in committee, especially as it appeared planners were not taking into consideration input previously given by the commission. The letter requesting the extension will reiterate the commission’s concerns with the 1600-car parking garage currently in the plans, to which the commission, among others, has voiced opposition citing a need to prioritize other forms of transportation and saying that such a parking garage would sacrifice the opportunity to develop vibrant public spaces.
Commissioner Courtney summarized the NoMA Parks Foundation presentation to the Environment, Parks and Events Committee at the June 3rd meeting. The foundation presented two concepts for the space formerly known as Dave Thomas Circle, at the intersection of New York and Florida Avenue NE. Courtney said the challenge with the location is to find ways that it serves not only as a place to walk through and perhaps sit, but also as a place for recreation that might include such amenities as a bocce court. Courtney said schematic designs for the space will come before the ANC in the future for additional discussion.
While a formal survey conducted by the NoMA Parks Foundation survey is now closed, those with opinions can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Commissioner Courtney at 6C06@anc.dc.gov. Learn more at www.nomaparks.org/fl-ny-intersection.
All members of ANC 6C were present at the June 10th meeting: Christine Healey (Secretary, 6C01), Karen Wirt (Chair, 6C02), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (Vice-Chair, 6C04), Joel Kelty (6C05), Treasurer) and Drew Courtney (6C06).
ANC 6C usually meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month (except August) in the ground floor conference room at the Heritage Foundation (214 Massachusetts Ave. NE).
The next meeting of ANC 6C is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 8. In the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, DC Council passed emergency legislation March 17 making it possible for ANCs to meet virtually or not at all during a public health emergency. ANC 6C is meeting via Webex. For the most up-to-date information and links to join meetings of the ANC and its committees, visit anc6c.org.