At the March 10 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (6C), DC Councilmember Charles Allen discussed DCPS and the eventual return to in-person learning for students, staff and teachers. He stated that outdoor learning, especially in the presence of many parks around the District, should be considered.
With social distancing requirements, Allen said classroom capacity is being cut nearly in half and he believes that outdoor learning has a role in the reopening of the schools.
Note: In late March, DCPS announced changes to in-person learning restrictions, including a reduction in social distancing requirements from 6 to 3 feet. Class sizes will now be limited only by room square footage.
Allen also emphasized that there will not likely be a pediatric vaccine readily available by the end of the summer and that some families may wish to continue remote learning next school year.
He discussed the importance of creating opportunities for both in-person and remote learning and equity for all in the upcoming school year.
Capitol Fence Safety Concerns
Allen spoke to meeting attendees about the ongoing Capitol fencing situation, education developments for the DC Public Schools (DCPS) and provided updates on the Union Station development project.
Allen called the fence “absolutely ridiculous, ludicrous and unnecessary” and an inappropriate response to the Capitol insurrection.
“The solution that they have thrown up is not the right one,” Allen said. “I was deeply disappointed that the Department of Defense has now extended the National Guard [for] two more months. It’s just the wrong path, absolutely the wrong answer to what went wrong.”
Additionally, Transportation and Public Space Committee (TPS) chair Christy Kwan spoke about the committee’s proposed action on the Capitol fence.
“While we cannot ask that the fence to be simply taken down, we recommend that the ANC send a letter to the interim director at DDOT,” Kwan said. “The fences have disrupted commuting patterns in our neighborhood and they should consider some temporary projects to recreate some of those [traffic] routes.”
Kwan emphasized specific safety-oriented issues such as pedestrians needing to walk on the street as fencing takes up sidewalk space.
The ANC unanimously approved the committee proposal to send a letter to District Department of Transportation (DDOT) expressing opposition to the fence and to suggest a modification to prevent sidewalk closures.
New NE Sidewalk Cafe
Transportation and Public Space Committee Chair Christy Kwan spoke about the proposed development of a new sidewalk cafe for the restaurant Som Tam (111 K St. NE) which hopes to open in May. The Thai street food establishment has submitted an unenclosed sidewalk cafe application for outdoor tables to operate between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The TPS Committee made the recommendation that the ANC support this application if the restaurant updated and submitted pertinent information including their proposed hours of operation and the layout of their outdoor seating in the Transportation Online Permitting System (TOPS). The Committee also pressed the restaurant on their plan for individuals experiencing homelessness around the area of their proposed seating area. The restaurant owners responded and said they would work with the building owners on this issue. The ANC voted unanimously to support this application.
- A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) representative spoke about the recent spike in carjackings and stolen vehicles in the District and encouraged residents to not leave cars unattended while running or unlocked at any time.
- Allen and Commissioner Kelty spoke about creating a “compassionate” solution to homeless encampments around the District. Allen emphasized the effectiveness of a permanent supportive housing approach that that tries to treat the whole person rather than a single issue as a potential solution to this ongoing situation.
- Retro Wines (22 M St. NE) is applying for a liquor license and ABL committee voted to protest on all three grounds in pursuit of a Settlement Agreement (SA).
- Councilmember Allen recognized and thanked those involved with changing the conversation around development projects at Union Station. Commissioner Drew Courtney (6C06) acknowledged the work of DC Council that has gone into reframing the conversation about the structural changes to Union Station and thanked Allen and council for their work and leadership on the issue.
- The ANC unanimously supported a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) application for a special exemption to add a one-story rear addition at 307 A Street NE. The initial plan for a two-story addition was modified with unanimous support from all adjacent neighbors.
- After a joint meeting with ANC 6A earlier in the month regarding safety on H Street NE, the commissions established a subcommittee with three members from ANC 6A and ANC 6C to draft a letter to public officials including the Office of the Mayor, DDOT and the Office of Planning to express concerns around traffic safety and fatalities on the street.
- Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) removed access to public database Civic Insight which allowed public access to construction permits. The Planning, Zoning and Development committee send a letter to DCRA stating “strong criticism” of the decision to remove this platform. The motion to send this letter to DCRA was approved unanimously through the commission.
All six ANC commissioners: Christine Healey (6C01), Karen Wirt (6C02), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Joel Kelty (6C05) and Drew Courtney (6C06) were in attendance.
The next meeting of ANC 6C is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 14 via Webex. Visit anc6c.org for details on how to join.
Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected].