ANC 6D Talks Air Quality at Buzzard Point

ANC 6D Report

216

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met March 8 over WebEx. Commissioners Andrew Bossi (6D01), Jared Weiss (6D02, Secretary), Ronald Collins (6D03, Treasurer), Andy Litsky (6D04), Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D05, Vice Chair), Rhonda Hamilton (6D06) and Edward Daniels (6D07, Chair) were in attendance.

DC Dept. of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) Deputy Director of Monitoring & Assessment Kelly Crawford briefed the commission on the renewal of the Vulcan Concrete Plant license on Buzzard Point. The process, she stated, will take months. In response to questioning by Commissioner Hamilton about the frequency of agency inspection of the plant, Crawford declined to comment on matters of ongoing enforcement as a matter of agency policy, although she did state that the agency had open actions on Buzzard Point.

Denying the renewal of Vulcan’s license would not survive a court challenge, Crawford stated. DOEE therefore is working to negotiate voluntary measures with the company that can be incorporated into the future permit. She did not enumerate what the conditions were. The best way for residents to report concerns is either to email [email protected] or call the agency at 202-535-2600 and leave a message.

Hamilton displayed a photo of a dust cloud at the Vulcan Plant. “We are breathing this every single day. How are you going to save our lives?” she asked. DOEE is not able to do “hyperlocal monitoring,” Crawford stated. The agency uses local health information to proxy air quality.

Hamilton and other commissioners expressed their fear that Vulcan’s operations would impact the newly opened, nearby branch of Eagle Public Charter School located at 1900 Half St. SW. DOEE has reached out to the school, stated Crawford.

Commission voted unanimously to send letter to the mayor and DOEE expressing their concerns over air quality at Buzzard Point in general and their opposition to the renewal of the Vulcan contract.

The Cotton Annex
Drew Turner, a representative of Douglas Development, requested commission support for a special zoning exemption for their Cotton Annex project at 300 12th St. SW. The 610-unit development includes 50 units of affordable housing. The developer was open to adding an additional affordable unit, joining the Southwest Business Improvement District, making a $100,000 to a local community organization to secure commission support, he stated. However, Douglas was prepared to move forward without commission approval if necessary, Turner stated.

“The problem isn’t with you, it is with the system,” stated Commissioner Weiss, acknowledging the developer had negotiated in good faith. The commission agreeing to a project that only includes the minimum affordable housing required under Inclusionary Zoning (IZ), sets bad precedent, he stated.

Commissioner Litsky suggested authoring a letter offering support for the project contingent on the developer providing a letter spelling out its promises. In particular, he wanted fifty percent of the community contribution made at the time of the zoning order and the remainder tendered when the projected is awarded a certificate of occupancy. Lastly, Litsky asked for a guarantee that the affordable units would have finishes and fixtures identical to those in the market rate apartments.

“IZ requirements are a starting point and not an ending. We have come a long way in the last several weeks and I appreciate the applicant’s efforts,” said Commissioner Bossi.

Vice Chair Kramer asked whether three bedroom units could be included in the project’s IZ. Turner refused to entertain any changes, refusing to commit to specific unit mix. Commissioner Hamilton echoed Kramer’s concerns.

Commissioner Litsky objected to Kramer’s and Hamilton’s attempt to conduct last minute negotiations from the dais. “You never have an open negotiation at an ANC meeting! It is just not done,” he stated.

Litsky proposed a motion of support contingent on a letter from the developer outlining their commitments to the commission. It passed with one abstention and one vote against. The commission unanimously authorized Chair Daniels to testify at the Zoning Commission’s hearing on the project.

The Last Portals Parcel
Jessica Bloomfield and George Dove of Republic Properties requested commission support for the final parcel of the company’s Portal Development. They are building the 15-story residential development at 1331 Maryland Ave. SW as a “matter of right.” However, Republic requires a special exception from the Board of Zoning Adjustment in order to incorporate a 2,500 sq. ft., rooftop restaurant and bar.

Republic, Commissioner Bossi pointed out, still owed $1 million for a community benefit agreement from the first Portals section. Moreover, he pointed out, the project contains no affordable housing. He stated his complete opposition. Secretary Weiss and Treasurer Collins joined him in his condemnation of Republic.

The commission voted unanimously to oppose the project.

“No” to 45 Q Street SW
Representatives of D.B. Development requested the commission’s support for their 4,000 sq. ft. development at 45 Q St. SW. The project combines 60 residential units on four floors above a 190-key hotel. 19 percent of the residential units will be affordable, including many larger units with dens. Half of the units are two bedrooms. 63 parking spaces will be provided, all valet parking, unbundled from both the hotel rentals and residential leasing. A rooftop dog run is envisaged. A ground floor retail food market is planned incorporating fresh food vendors.

The developer acceded to a community agreement pledging low-key signage, neighborhood project updates, preconstruction property surveys, environmental remediation and monitoring, rat control, site cleanliness, local school support, repair of the sidewalk in front of the neighboring U Haul, additional public art installations, support for affordable food programs and community meeting space.

Commission Bossi opposed the project saying it incorporated too much parking. Commissioner Hamilton joined him stating the community agreement needed more work. The commission voted with two abstentions to oppose the development and authorized Hamilton to testify at the Zoning Commission hearing.

I Street Bike Lanes
DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) Community Engagement Specialist Andrew DeFrank spent a half an hour outlining DDOT’s 2020 achievements, explaining DDOT services, and detailing DDOT response to COVID. Then he briefed the commission on plans for the I Street Bike Lane. His agency has changed its thinking about the project.

After re-measuring the street, DDOT engineers discovered there was sufficient roadway to situate protected bike lanes between the curb and parked cars. So, the bike lanes are now planned for both sides of the street. Parking will be preserved from Third Street west to Seventh Street SW on both sides of the street. 48 spaces will be removed between South Capitol and Third Street SW. 20 of these are residential spaces and another 28 are currently metered parking.

The bike lane will run through the pickup/drop-off zone for Amidon School. Commissioners were concerned about the safety impact on students. Bumps, signage and marking will be used to make the bike lane safe, stated DeFrank.

Commissions Litsky and Kramer also pointed out that there were four major developments beginning construction fronting I Street SW in the next year. The construction traffic could potentially damage the bike infrastructure just as it has on the Southeast side of I St. DeFrank promised to return with more detailed plans.

Commissioners voted unanimously to send DDOT a letter expressing their concerns.

Charles Allen
“The Hunger Games are over!” stated “Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), describing the city’s new COVID-19 preregistration website. Allen touted the new system as a better way “to reach vulnerable communities.” The city will be employing a combination of phone calls, texts and emails to inform registrants that their turn for vaccination has come.

“There is an implicit bias when some folks can have four devices open while others have to go to work,” Allen said. He argued the city’s use of zip code targeting was too broad. He believes the registration system can be further targeted. Allen used the example of the 20003 zip code; one section of which has four times of vaccinated residents as the other. Senior population is in 20024 was particularly lagging, he stated.

Southwest Library is about to reopen. The new library has been one of his major priorities since assuming office, he stated. He commended the President of Friends of the Southwest Library Georgine Wallace (https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Southwest-Library-133460770058384) and Commissioner Collins for their contributions to the library’s renovation.

Allen described the security fencing around the Capitol as “ludicrous.” “It impacts everyone in Ward 6,” he added, due to road closures and the severe loss of access to public space. Allen has been working with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) to pressure Congressional leaders to remove the barrier.

Allen promised a follow up on to the recent February SW Safety Meeting.

Amidon-Bowen is likely to take a budget cut, Allen informed the commission. “This is the absolute last time anyone should be thinking about cutting the schools,” he added. Allen promised to push back against the reduction.

The Mayor’s Budget has been delayed until April 22 to give the administration time to incorporate coming federal relief, Allen said. He estimated the federal funds would total $2.2 billion. Allen bemoaned last year’s $500 million surplus. That money should have gone to families and small businesses, he stated. Observing that the pandemic had hit city residents unequally, Allen will push to raise taxes on upper wage earners.

Commissioned Litsky complained to Allen about DC Housing Authority Director Tyrone Garrett’s lack of engagement with the commission in relation to the redevelopment of the Greenleaf Gardens public housing complex. He described director’s meetings as “Balkanized.”

In a similar vein, Litsky advised Allen to solicit commissioners’ advice on redistricting. The redistricting timeline has undergone dramatic changes, responded Allen. Census data will not be available before the end of September. At that time, a DC Council committee chaired by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I) will have 90 days to redraw the ward boundaries. The ANC/SMD boundaries will be redrawn by a committee appointed by Allen between the first of the year and March 1.

In response to commissioner concerns over the impact of dedicated, protected bike lanes on the Amidon Bowen pickup/drop-off zone on the northbound side of the 400 block of I Street SW, Allen assured commissioners that there would be better communication in future between the Amidon Bowen PTA and DDOT.

Other Matters
MPD Captains Jonathan Dorrough and Michael Pulliam briefed the commission on public safety. Stolen autos have driven the crime rate recently, they stated. Most have involved either delivery drivers or residents picking up takeout. The police had also close a series of cases this past month, Dorrough stated.

DOEE Energy Program Specialist Jennifer Johnston gave a presentation on energy assistance programs.

Elizabeth Godesky, vice president of Lowe Enterprises, the developer of the Randall School, gave a briefing on the firm’s Museum Place Pre-Apprenticeship program. A major element of the community agreement with the developer, this program provides trade apprenticeships to Southwest residents. Litsky commended Lowe for honoring the agreement originally done under chairmanship of the late Ron McBee. Other commissioners applauded the program.

The ANC unanimously voted to:

  • support a Class A liquor license and community agreement (CA) with tasting endorsement for retailer Vitas Vinos, 1100 2nd Place SE, Retailer Class A license;
  • support stipulated and permanent Tavern liquor licenses for Basebowl, 1201 Half Street SE, a noodle house with 74 inside and 30 patio seats with an entertainment endorsement limited to recorded music;
  • appoint Michael Keen the 6D05 representative to the commissioner’s ABC committee;
  • send a letter objecting to the potential budget cuts at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School;
  • send a letter to DC Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) requesting the agency inspect Greenleaf Gardens Public Housing complex for health and safety violations;
  • agree to a future meeting on development at Westminster Church and Greenleaf Gardens;
  • appoint commissioners Bossi, Kramer and Litsky to a negotiate with Westminster Church;
  • send a letter to Buzzard Point property owners asking them to support the retention of WMATA’s 74 bus route.

There were no reports from the Treasurer’s or Chair.

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. The next meeting of ANC 6D is for April 12 via WebEx. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit anc6d.org.