Commission Blasts DDOT on Safety Concerns

ANC 6D Report

396

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met April 12 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.)

The Interim Director of the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) Everett Lott visited to listen to commissioner concerns. Led by Chair Daniels, commissioners questioned him intently.

The session began with Chair Daniels expressing his anger at the destruction of six heritage trees located on Maine Avenue SW next to Arena Stage. The trees’ roots were damaged by a DDOT contract. The fines are likely to total thousands of dollars, Lott stated. Daniels reiterated his extreme disappointment in DDOT’s management of its paving contractor.

Discussion then turned to the subject of protected I Street bike lanes. Commissioners raised concerns about their integration with the pickup/drop-off zones currently in front of Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and also planned for the senior housing under development across the street at Westminster Church. DDOT Bike Specialist Gregg Matlesky promised to balance the needs of bike riders with those of seniors and students. His design team is working to separate the lanes from the pickup/drop-off areas. He promised to return to the commission to brief them once plans were finalized.

Commission Kramer immediately objected. “We need some way of considering alternatives,” she stated, suggesting a sit down with commissioners. She then proceeded to pepper the DDOT staff with questions. How many parking spaces are being lost? How were the numbers of garage spaces generated and how were they factored in? These garages are private, not public, she pointed out. 75 spaces would be eliminated on I Street, Matlesky responded. In Southwest, 20 residential and 30 metered spots would be eliminated.

Chair Daniels turned the discussion to difficulties of getting DDOT to correct small signage and street marking issues. The agency is adding contractors to speed the process, stated Lott. Safety is the first priority and work is often clustered by locality, he added.

“I find it unfortunate that it takes a child being hit at Third Pl and L St SE to get DDOT to issue a Notice of Intent (NOI) to look at the issue. How many plans and surveys are needed before you fix an issue that any lay person could analyze in five seconds,” said Chair Daniels. Move DC incorporates all of this, responded Lott.

Asked about a new parking overlay plan for the stadiums, Lott responded that there was no revision to the existing plan.

Commissioners pressed Lott to commit his agency to creating a comprehensive transportation plan for Capitol Riverfront and Southwest. DDOT does not create to that level of neighborhood planning, Ward 6 DDOT Community Engagement Specialist Andrew DeFrank responded. “There will not be a 6D specific transportation analysis,” he stated.

Capitol Riverfront Update
Capitol Riverfront BID Executive Director Michael Stevens briefed the commission on the work of his organization. Stevens touted a DDOT funded, M Street Mobility Plan being conducted in partnership with Southwest BID and DDOT. This multimodal study looks at the M Street Corridor from 11th Street SE to South Capitol. His BID is also studying plans for the highway underpasses, the completion of affordable housing, creation of additional parks, river accessibility and civic infrastructure such as schools, libraries and firehouses.

Stevens expects the population of the Capitol Riverfront BID to grow to 35,000. The BID is working with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) to increase affordable housing beyond the replacement of the original Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg units. Also, ensuring that DCHA incorporates ground floor retail into its developments.

The Yards Park water features will reopen on Memorial Day. There will be signage for Covid safety and breaks for purification. The BID plans to hire two officers for security in Yards Park. Operations will return to normal in the fall, he stated. Also Pepco will be consolidating the equipment in its substation just north of the Buzzard Point Power Plant into that building’s interior.

45 Q Street SW Community Agreement.
Dennis Lee, the developer of 45 Q Street SW apartment project, complained about their lack of good faith. “You (the commission) want the benefits without giving us the support. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Speaking about the project, Commissioner Hamilton objected to its size, glass façade and public space intrusion. She remained concerned that the construction will lead to the displacement of current residents.

However, the real issue turned out to be a “Good Neighbor Agreement” (GNA) that Lee had negotiated with neighboring residents to which the commission was not a party.  Lee wanted the commission to go on record in favor of his project before agreeing to sign the GNA. He also objected to incorporating a cash request from a neighboring business into its terms.

“We are not accepting a cash contribution in return for our support,” stated Hamilton, noting the GNA had nothing to do with the commission. Commissioners resolved however to support the GNA with two abstentions.

Greenleaf Redevelopment
While DCHA has been meeting monthly with Greenleaf residents, the agency has not met with the larger community, commissioners complained. The180 day negotiate period granted to DCHA director by the agency’s board of governors ends to ink the redevelopment deal ends on May 12.

The agency, commissioners complained, has still not identified units for a “Build First” approach ot Greenleaf’s redevelopment. DCHAs’ Director may attended the commission’s May meeting, Chair Daniels stated. The commission voted unanimously to send letter to the mayor, DC Council and DCHA asking for a greater role in Greenleaf’s redevelopment.

Other Matters
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Lt. George Donigian briefed the commission on public safety. Stolen autos were a growing issue in April mainly in the Capitol Riverfront. They are usually stolen while left running and unattended, Donigian stated. There were three robberies and five assaults involving a weapon. Many involved juveniles. Additional police resources are being used to deal with stadium events.

What was MPD’s policy on policing ATV riders, asked Chair Daniels? Their street antics can really injure bystanders, he added. “It is a loaded question. I wish I had an answer for you. Unfortunately, chasing doesn’t work. Even approaching on foot results in an outrageous confrontation. What we have been doing is capturing them on video and trying to identify them,” Donigian responded. It is a minor violation that only rarely results in jail time, he added. Officers are working on identifying the riders and securing arrest warrants. However, this is difficult because the bikes are not registered, he stated.

The Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement presented an overview of its programs.

Community Services Agency Executive Director Sylvia Casaro Dietert briefed the commission on the Randall School Pre-Apprenticeship program. The initiative will train 10 to 15 ANC 6D residents for construction jobs at the Randall School project. The program starts on April 26. They are recruiting participants now.

The commission voted unanimously to:

  • support The Army Ten Miler on Oct. 10 using the same race course as in 2019;
  • send a letter to District agencies regarding loading dock at Parc Riverside and send Jared Weiss to testify on the matter;
  • support Brookfield Development’s plan for The Urby, a 130 feet tall, Gold LEED building on southeast corner of First and N Street SE that will house 500 apartments and 22,000 square feet of retail;
  • send a letter to DC Dept. of Housing and Community Development (DCHCD) asking for application lottery details for the 30 percent AMI affordable units at 1550 First St. SW.
  • send a letter in support of the DC Preservation League’s landmark nomination for the Pump House which houses Earth Conservation Corp near Diamond Teague Park at First St. SE;
  • support a community agreement and Class C license for Bistro Du Jour – The Wharf at 51 District Square SW;
  • send a letter to DC United asking about how they plan to handle 2021 game day crowds.

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. The next meeting of ANC 6D is for May 10 via WebEx. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit anc6d.org.