ANC 6C Report: Union Station Safety Concerns, Traffic Legislation

ANC 6C Report

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C met Wednesday Sept. 14 via WebEx. Commissioners Christine Healey (6C01), Karen Wirt, Chair (6C02), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Joel Kelty (6C05) and Drew Courtney (6C06) attended the meeting. 

Douglas Carr, Union Station Redevelopment Corporation CEO, was present to address various community concerns at Union Station (50 Massachusetts Ave NE). Commissioner Jay Adelstein (6C03) raised concerns from his constituents about criminal activity around the station and unhoused individuals lingering in the vicinity of Union Station. 

Carr emphasized that the station has many resources at its disposal for addressing the concerns of the community, particularly regarding public safety. 

“We have a fairly robust amount of resources, specifically regarding the homeless, including contract support,” Carr said. 

Commissioner Joel Kelty (6C05) encouraged Carr to focus additional law enforcement support on the front portico of the building. 

“I’ve been through there several times in the past few weeks, and I’ve also received complaints from other neighbors,” Kelty said. “It is not the beautiful pedestrian experience it once was. There’s a tremendous amount of loitering and smoking, and there is food waste all over the sidewalks.”

Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler (6C04) echoed Kelty’s concerns, but said mental health issues should be at the forefront of the safety solution and said “more needs to be done” for these individuals. 

“People, many of them experiencing significant mental health issues, are out there screaming in a very menacing and threatening way [that would otherwise] be impermissible,” Eckenwiler said, “and that obviously creates an unwelcoming atmosphere, both for residents and also people who are visitors to the area.”

Adelstein emphasized the neighborhood’s interest and commitment to making Union Station a better, safer transit hub for all. “This ANC is very interested in the redevelopment efforts and plans, and we have at least two members who are on consulting parties,” Adelstein said. “We wish you all goodwill in your efforts to make it a premier building.”

Carr expressed appreciation for the feedback both from commissioners and community members saying he was excited about the opportunities that the station presents to the local community and the District as a whole. 

The Commission Voted Unanimously to: 

• Adopt the ANC’s Alcohol Beverage Committee (ABC) recommendation to support alcohol renewal applications for Taqueria Rosticeria Fresca (701 H St. NE),  Yotel Washington DC (415 New Jersey Ave. NW), Hilton Garden Inn-DC/US Capitol (1225 First St. NE) and King Street Oyster Bar (22 M St. NE). 

• Adopt the ABC Committee recommendation to protest renewal application of The Boiling Crab (300 H St. NE) regarding changes to its trash disposal area that implicates public space, which will impact the settlement agreement. The proposal is a bay window bump out to accommodate garbage storage and removal that the establishment does not have sufficient space for inside. The Boiling Crab has proposed a two-year trial period with this adjustment. The chair of the Transportation and Public Space (TPS) Committee, Michael Upright, was approved to serve as a representative from the ANC to negotiate with the establishment. 

• Adopt the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development (PZE) committee recommendation to offer written testimony on both a construction management framework bill and a liability insurance bill on Sept. 30. The committee expressed concern about the potential for small projects to incur significant and unnecessary insurance costs, the scope of protections, tailoring and structural issues within the bills, in addition to a technical change that the PZE previously expressed opposition to. 

• Adopt the PZE committee recommendation to provide testimony regarding the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)’s split into two agencies. The testimony will serve to remind the Council that a formal nomination and confirmation by DC Council is required in naming a new administrator for each agency. It will also remind the Council of the ANC’s “deep dissatisfaction with performance over many years of the incumbent zoning administrator” and to urge the council to press the mayor to make the nomination and ensure a confirmed administrator for the new agencies. 

Other Matters

• A representative for a new residential development, located at 1242 Fourth St. NE, provided an introduction to the project. The proposal is for a 90 unit project, all of which will be available at 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) and below. The project is currently going through a planned unit development (PUD) map amendment process and collaborators are looking forward to working with ANC 6C as the process progresses. 

• Declan Falls, a representative from DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s office, spoke about the Chairman’s work in the council and upcoming hearings with specific focus on education. Falls highlighted the Paid Parity Act, passed last fall, which distributes funds to early childhood educators. Educators are now eligible to receive a payment of up to $14,000. Residents can learn more about your own eligibility and submit an application at https://osse.dc.gov/ecepayequity. 

• The commission voted unanimously to send comments opposing additional parking spaces at the Logan Montessori School (215 G St. NE) to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). The school submitted a request for 22 additional parking permits as part of the school parking zone program (SPZ). The SPZ program allows school staff to park in identified Residential Parking Permit (RPP) zones during daytime hours and must be supported by a transportation coordinator and school transportation plan. The measure is intended to replace the widespread neighborhood donation of Visitor Parking Permits (VPP) to school staff, as those can be used at any hour, and are unlimited. Eckenwiler called DDOT’s process for issuing the SPZ passes “preposterous” as it plans to distribute passes to the school and later scale back the number of permits issued over time, by 10 percent in every succeeding year. He also emphasized the school’s proximity to Union Station and other public transit options available in lieu of additional parking spots. The school currently has 24 on site spaces, and Eckenwiler stated that the ANC is “willing to engage with them on potential alternatives.”

• The commission adopted a recommendation from the ANC’s TPS Committee to submit comments in connection with the rulemaking for DDOT’s booting and towing plans. The proposal includes added changes regarding the removal of a vehicle displaying fraudulent or counterfeit tags to also include windshield stickers and decals. Counterfeit tags, Eckenwiler said, have become a “ubiquitous” problem over the years in the District and the ANC also proposes the inclusion of a provision about covered and obscured license plates. 

ANC 6C will meet next on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. via WebEx. You can register to attend the meeting and read more about the commission here.

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.