Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D (ANC 6D) met on April 11 over Zoom. Commissioners Dr. Marjorie Lightman (6D01), Ronald Collins (6D03, treasurer) Andy Litsky (6D04), Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D05, vice chair), Rhonda Hamilton (6D06), Edward Daniels (6D07, chair) were in attendance. Jared Weiss (6D02, secretary) was absent.
Rick Markus Architects presented their plan to replace the liquor store, row houses and parking lot on the corner of South Capitol and N Street SW with a 10-story condominium incorporating 3,500 sq. ft. of ground floor retail and 4,560 sq. ft. of second floor office space. 49 residential units are contemplated. The building will be LEED Sliver.
The building, the site of which is owned by the proprietors of the existing liquor store, is being developed as a ‘matter of right.’ However, it falls within the South Capitol Gateway Special Purpose Zone. So, the project is subject to design review by the DC Zoning Commission.
The project will not incorporate any parking. Nor will it have a loading dock. Instead, a curbside loading zone is envisioned along M Street SE. There will be parking for 24 bikes in the basement.
The retail component involves two separate spaces. On the South Capitol side, a coffee shop or small café is contemplated. The M Street side will house the existing liquor store.
Of the 49 residential units, five will be affordable: three two-bedroom and two one-bedrooms.
Commission Lightman led off the commission’s questions. She objected to its use of public space for the café. She called the plans for curbside pickup and delivery “inadequate.” Commissioner Collins and Litsky concurred. The latter termed the amount of street-side hardscape excessive. Commissioner Kramer suggested the design needs to be better integrated with the neighboring properties, which effectively wrap it.
“We have no way of keeping these loading zones clear.” “I wish we had parking spaces to keep those cars off the streets and under the buildings,” stated Chair Daniels.
The commissioner collectively objected to the absence of any parking. Hamilton pointed out the existing curbside scarcity, which has been exacerbated by the neighboring stadium.
The project’s architects pushed back against commissioners’ criticisms. Neighbors do not want back lot loading, they stated. The DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) supports allocating zero onsite space for loading and parking, they added.
The commission voted unanimously to oppose the project’s design and authorized Commissioners Kramer or Hamilton to appear before the Zoning Commission.
Chair Daniels, Commissioners Lightman and Kramer had an “excellent meeting” with DDOT Deputy Director Sharon Kershbaum. Commissioners brought her their concerns about the I Street Bike Lane, M Street SE-SW Transportation Study, The Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP), and The South Capitol Corridor Project.
The commissioners informed DDOT of their general support for protected bike lanes. However, they asked the agency to take a more nuanced approach on I Street SW that takes incorporates local conditions into the design, Daniels reported.
Regarding The M Street SE-SW Transportation Study, commissions expressed their concern that the study does not incorporate stadium traffic. They asked to provide detailed comments on the design of the proposed community survey. A different sampling strategy is needed, they argued. They raised similar concerns about the South Capitol Corridor Project. They also objected to DDOT’s plan to move the intersection of South Capitol and M Street to grade, fearing a deleterious impact on Old Southwest.
DDOT has not updated its Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP), which governs stadium events, since 2017, commissioners pointed out. There has been no community participation in the development of the new TOPP, they complained.
Aside from concerns over specific projects, commissioners expressed their displeasure with DDOT’s continued removal of residential street parking. As importantly, the fines for parking infractions are often lower than paying to garage a car off street, they pointed out. The low penalty and general lack of enforcement has made parking particularly difficult for residents adjacent to the stadiums and The Wharf.
Lastly, led by Chair Daniels, commissioners criticized the ‘road diet’ on First Street SE that where the installation of bike lanes resulted in the removal of two traffic lanes.
The commission voted unanimously to send a follow up letter reiterating their specific concerns.
A Visit from the Deputy Mayor
Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) John Falccichio briefed the commission on DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s $19.5 billion, 2022 budget. Municipal revenue is recovering strongly from the pandemic, Falccichio stated.
The mayor has budgeted hiring more police officers. She is targeting a 4,000-person force, Falccichio stated. While 347 will be hired next year, attrition will reduce their impact, he cautioned. The added staffing is designed to improve response times, increase police presence, help close cases and better prepare for national events. Aside from increasing police staffing, the mayor plans to hire 23 Life Coaches to help those who are prone to violence avoid it.
The mayor plans a large investment in public education. Her budget contains increased funds for her “Recreation for All Initiative” and DC Parks and Recreation (DPR) summer camps. It will restore Sunday hours at city pools.
The mayor is investing $36 million for 10 miles of new protected bike lanes per year, $9 million is budgeted for new crossing guards. Another $15 million is slated to expand Capitol Bikeshare so that every resident will live within a quarter mile of a bikeshare station. Lastly, the mayor is funding a Black Home Ownership Strike Force to the tune of $10 million.
The mayor’s budget can be found at https://mayor.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/mayormb/page_content/attachments/FY23-Budget-Presentation-to-Council.pdf
Commission Lightman objected to lack of local input on installation of protected bike lane planning. How was the District planning to incorporate trikes and electric bikes, she asked? Bikeshare, she said, is not appropriate for seniors.
Police officers need to get out of their cars and onto bikes in neighborhoods, commented Commissioner Collins. The mayor’s goal, Falccichio stated, was to hire more District-based officers. Commissioner Kramer expressed her concern about adequate funding for affordable housing. Chair Daniels asked for increased funds for parking enforcement.
MPD First District Lieutenant George Donigian briefed the commission on public safety. Overall, crime is stable, he said. However, stolen autos hop ins and property crime are on the increase. Last month saw four car jackings and two armed assaults. The shooting that injured four on P Street SW has been closed with an arrest, he reported. In that particular case, the father of the shooter saw the news coverage and turned his son in.
The commission took no action on the renewal of the Mandarin Oriental’s liquor license.
The commission unanimously to:
- support March of Dimes Walk on May 7 and the Special Love 5K on Oct 29.
- support the Public Space application for Royal Sands, 26 N St. SE, for an eight-table patio;
- protest the application for a Class C License for Easy Company, 98 Blair Alley, and authorize Commissioner Litsky to testify on its behalf;
- support a license for the Providence, a tall ship docking at the Wharf’s Market Dock.
ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. The next meeting is May 9, 2022 via Zoom. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit www.anc6d.org.