Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B confronted issues with trash and noise at multiple restaurants when they considered whether to support liquor license renewals at their monthly meeting, held virtually June 14. Commissions often negotiate ways to address such community concerns in Settlement Agreements (SA) that become part of a liquor license.
Appearing were Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02), Brian Ready (6B03), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04) ,Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06), Edward Ryder (6B07), Peter Wright (6B08) and Alison Horn (6B09). Denise Krepp (6B10) was unable to attend.
Commissioners voted to protest the liquor license for Paraiso Mexican Restaurant (1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) in order to make adjustments to the SA between the ANC and management to address concerns with noise and order.
Residents of the Penn 11 condominium, located over the restaurant, appeared at the meeting to complain about noise and the behavior of patrons. At times, the discussion dissolved into heated exchanges between residents and management, with residents saying the noise from the restaurant is disruptive to peace and management saying there is only so much that can be done to control patron behavior.
Residents said they are bothered by the noises of loud, intoxicated patrons on the patio but that conversations can also be heard through floors. On May 5, one resident said, there was a live mariachi band that was so loud she called the police but did not file charges because the band was going to leave within the hour; after police left, she said, the band remained for more than two and a half hours.
Manager Tahmina Ghaffer said he can only fix what is under his control, arguing that laughter and conversation do not qualify. He said that management has met with residents and made some changes, including chaining furniture outside rather than moving it and creating a disturbance. He added that he has hired a sound engineer to provide recommendations for noise mitigation. ABC Resident member Chander Jayaraman asked if noise mitigation was part of the lease, but management could not clarify.
Commissioner Alison Horn (6B09) noted this instance was the first time the ANC had addressed the issue of noise and order with the applicant. She said the applicant should be given time to mitigate problems. The intent, clarified Alcohol Beverage Committee (ABC) Chair Brian Ready (6B03), was to maneuver around the protest to negotiate the concerns. The Settlement Agreement can be modified, added Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), noting that the summer garden was added after the original SA was signed.
New Karaoke Bar to Open on Barracks Row
Commissioners unanimously supported a new class C tavern license application for Ginza BBQ Lounge and Karaoke Spot (526 Eighth St. SE) pending a signed SA prior to the petition deadline.
Owner Risa Hirao appeared to discuss the new concept, which is a Karaoke bar with food service. It’s karaoke Japanese style, she said, with 8 individual karaoke rooms, none of which abut the alley wall, which is near residences. There will be a summer garden on the third floor, with a main deck facing Eighth Street; patrons will not have access to the alley or the rear side, she said.
The summer garden is next to an enclosed indoor area and will play ambient music “for mood and not thumping music,” Hirao said. She said the karaoke rooms have significant insulation to dampen sound. There is an indoor trash room and Ginza has agreed to store trash and recycling to take out on the day of collection.
Care 8 to Expand
The commission supported the renewal of a class CR restaurant license for Café 8 (424 Eighth St. SE) pending a signed SA. They are purchasing the entire building after nearly 15 years leasing the spot, said co-owner Harun Sam. Café 8 plans to eventually expand capacity both in- and outdoors, he added, but for now the restaurant requested approval for another 28 seats outside to expand in front of the store front.
Commissioner Oldenburg noted that Café 8 has voluntarily surrendered the summer garden space they had in the rear of the cafè, near the 800 block of E Street, considered a fair compromise as it addresses resident concerns with noise from that space. Oldenburg said that the café will appear before the commission in the future for additional discussion on interior renovations.
Farewell to Naomi Mitchell
Naomi Mitchell, Community Liaison for Ward 6 COuncilmember Charles Allen (D) appeared to announce that she will be retiring at the end of June. Constituent Services Coordinator Kimberly Kennedy will step in to attend ANC meetings, Mitchell said. However, the ANC could expect to see her now and then as, Mitchell noted, she is a resident of ANC 6B.
Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) expressed her congratulations, but said that the community would feel the loss of Mitchell’s wisdom and equilibrium. “I know I don’t always see eye to eye with Charles on everything, but one thing we agree on is that you are a true gem,” Samolyk told Mitchell, adding, “you are always a voice of reason.”
Mitchell joked that although her term had come to an end, commissioners still faced a decision or themselves. She reminded commissioners they would soon have to decide if they would run for re-election as petitions to get on the ballot are available in July and will be due in August.
Letter on Southeast Boulevard Project
The commission voted unanimously to support a letter to DDOT proposed by Commissioner Edward Ryder (6B07). The letter outlines what the ANC would like to see incorporated into the design process, asking that the project be less focused on cars and more friendly to pedestrians and the neighborhood. The letter requests traffic calming measures, particularly relative to residential streets like L, K, 12th and 14th Streets SE, which could see additional dangerous driving if traffic flow increases and calls for DDOT engagement and dialogue with neighbors “at every step”. Resident (and former 6C06 commissioner) Kelly Waud suggested the letter also ask DDOT to consider the interchange at 11th and I295, to ensure the design improves pedestrian safety and traffic flow between Southeast Boulevard and the interchange, a suggestion that was unanimously welcomed.
Letter Requesting Financing for Programs at Potomac Gardens
Commissioners unanimously supported a letter to the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE), Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and DC Council requesting additional financial support for violence interruption programs at Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments. Noting that there has been a recent uptick in community violence, the letter points to work already being provided by independent organizations such as Brothas Huddle. Those organizations, the ANC argues, have built the relationship but do to have the resources to provide consistency. The letter calls for financial support so that the groups can provide programming for youth throughout the summer.
In Other Business
Commissioners unanimously supported the renewal of the class CR restaurant license for Ambar (523 Eighth St. SE) but pressed management on issues of trash and storage challenges at the rear of the property. “We have high standards,” Owner Ivan Iricanin said at the meeting . “We’ve been here for 11 years and it’s never been brought to my attention that there was ever a problem and we were non-responsive. I just want to make sure that what I think we’re doing, we are doing.”Commissioners said the concerns were a matter of maintenance and that Ambar needs to keep up their high standards, adding that this was the opportunity to discuss concerns. The license renewal was supported unanimously and included a reminder to keep the property and public space clean.
The commission also voted to support a Class CR license renewal for Bullfrog Bagels (317 Seventh St. SE).
The next full meeting of ANC 6B takes place at 7 p.m. July 12 via Webex. Get full meeting details by visiting anc6b.org. Not that most ANCs do not meet in August.