Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C voted 5-1 to draft a letter to the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) recommending portable toilets and hand washing stations be provided for people experiencing homelessness who live in encampments North of Massachusetts Avenue.
Commissioner Drew Courtney (6C06) moved the letter, explaining that representatives from the NoMA/H Street Civic Association sent a letter to DHS urging the placement around NoMA encampments of sanitation stations that are routinely cleaned. Courtney said representatives from Ward 6 Mutual Aid have also expressed support.
Because people experiencing homelessness are particularly at-risk of COVID-19 exposure, Courtney said supporting the placement of stations is a “no brainer.” Treasurer Joel Kelty (6C05) abstained, saying that he felt people who live in houses and apartments near the NoMA encampments had not had an adequate opportunity to weigh in on the sanitation stations.
Kelty said supporting infrastructure improvements may “encourage the permanence of these encampments without a longer term, bigger picture plan.” He proposed using the ANC’s grant funding to outsource oversight of the toilets and handwashing stations to a local non-profit, but ultimately abstained from the vote on the letter, the recommendations of which he said he believes are “not a fully developed idea.”
Courtney said he supports adding to the letter a friendly amendment specifying the sanitation stations are not meant to replace long-term solutions to reducing homelessness. He rejected Kelty’s proposal that the letter limit the placement of the sanitation stations to the pandemic’s duration.
“If the pandemic went away tomorrow, having toilet facilities and having clean hands would still seem to me to be prudent,” Courtney said.
Resumption of Residential Permit Parking Enforcement
ANC 6C voted unanimously to send a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and DC Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Christopher Geldart expressing the commission’s “emphatic support” that DPW resumes enforcement of Residential Permit Parking (RPP).
Vice-Chair Mark Eckenwiler (6C04) moved the letter, citing concerns that DPW is not enforcing RPP violations during the pandemic even as the District has moved to Phase 2. With daytime commuters and workers returning to the District and parking in RPP spaces, Eckenwiler said the lack of enforcement makes it difficult for residents to find parking.
The RPP program limits on-street parking to participating residents living on designated blocks. Parking is limited to two hours during the hours of operation for those vehicles without the appropriate zone RPP sticker. RPP is a jointly administered program that includes the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT), DPW and the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
After circulating a draft, Eckenwiler said the commission plans in the letter to identify several “hotspots” where they believe RPP is not enforced.
“This is something that protects residents,” Eckenwiler said. “It’s entirely consonant with public health interests in the present pandemic for DPW to do the enforcement under the existing rules.”
The ANC voted to approve the items on consent:
- Oppose a permit approval for a two-story rear addition at 312 Third Street NE, a historic preservation site, citing errors and omissions in the application. Eckenwiler proposed withholding a letter to allow the applicant to present a revised application.
- Support the concept approval of a two-story rear addition at 120 Fourth Street NE, another historic preservation site.
- Support proposed changes to zoning regulations for alley lots, which deal with regulations including minimum setbacks from alley center lines and conversion of tax lots to record lots.
- Send a letter to DDOT and the Florida Ave NE Intersection Project recommending the design protects people traveling by foot or bike by including concrete curbs, wider sidewalks beneath the rail bridge and improved street lighting.
- Send a letter to DDOT supporting the implementation of slow streets on G Street and Third Street NE, with an additional recommendation to place a barrier at Third and I Street to curb truck traffic and maximize pedestrian safety near Giant supermarket. The letter also recommends DDOT implement additional slow streets, which allow people traveling by foot or bike to social distance, on Fifth Street and Seventh Street.
- Recommend a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) appeal of a certificate of occupancy at 409 H Street NE that was issued an error for a floor area ratio (FAR) in excess of the by-right residential maximum of that zone.
- Send a letter to the ZC and Office of Planning (OP) supporting the text of amendments to rulemaking, roof top and upper floor elements.
Testimony on Union Station Expansion Project
Courtney volunteered to present testimony at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Tuesday, July 14 telephonic hearing regarding the Union Station Expansion Project.
Following commissioners’ vote in the June ANC 6C meeting, the FRA granted the commission a 60-day extension to review the 4,700-page draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Union Station expansion, Transportation and Public Space (TPS) Committee Chair Christy Kwan said.
Kwan noted that Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sent a letter to the FRA expressing her concerns about the expansion’s proposed 1,600-car parking garage, which ANC 6C noted in a letter approved at the June meeting potentially disrupts the development of public space and other transportation forms. Kwan said she recommends commissioners now examine the expansion’s impact on traffic flows, intercity buses, and pick-up and drop-off at Union Station that could create a “snarl” of traffic in the neighborhood.
Ahead of the submission of comments from Kwan and others regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment for ANC 6C’s September meeting, Courtney will present testimony at the upcoming FRA hearing. The hearing gives people the opportunity to provide oral comments on the draft EIS and Draft 4(f) evaluation.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Attendees can call in using the toll-free number 866-478-3399.
All members of ANC 6C were present at the July 8 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, September 9. In the wake of the COVID-19 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.
Eva Herscowitz is a journalism student at Northwestern University currently interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org