Noting the apparent rise in crime and an increase in community concern, Commissioner David Sobelsohn (6B03) moved the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B establish a standing Public Safety Committee, such as he said it had in the 1980s. Sobelsohn said this reflects people’s actual concerns and would address issue without a predetermined approach. He said the problem is urgent, residents are concerned; should be institutional attention paid to the issue. Therefore, Sobelsohn said it should be a standing committee, because no end to criminal behavior in sight.
The ANC had a long discussion about if this committee should exist, if it should be a task force or a committee. They voiced concerns about how it would be directed and what it would focus on. Residents appeared to say it is needed to come up with solutions and channel resident concerns; another said they want to be sure it is focused and not “crime porn”.
Commissioner Vince Mareino (6B07) expressed support for this entity as a task force, which is annually renewed and not a standing committee. He said he is worried a standing committee could make it appear the ANC is going to do something about crime but said they can’t do much more than “convincing” DC agencies.
The ANC compromised and voted unanimously to amend the motion for establishment of a special committee on public safety, with members to be established in February. The motion passed unanimously.
Southeast Library Task Force Established
The commission noted unanimously to support a motion from Commissioner Sobelsohn to establish a Southeast Library Task Force. The Southeast Library will be closed for renovation as early as June 2023. The task force will deal with three issues: provision for interim services during the 2 years the library is closed; the impact of construction on neighbors; and, to the extent possible, design of library.
Entertainment at Harvest Tide
The Commission unanimously supported an entertainment endorsement for the liquor license held by Harvest Tide Capitol Hill (212 Seventh St. SE). According to the representative, this will consist of acoustic entertainment such as a guitarist going table-to-table inside. The endorsement is until 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and until 11 p.m Friday and Saturday. The commission specified that the music must not be electronically amplified and that support was pending a revised and signed Settlement Agreement (SA).
Zoning Amendment on A Street SE
After extensive discussion, the ANC voted to support a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) Application (BZA) for a special exception to convert a garage into a detached two-story carriage house with upstairs dwelling unit and two-car garage at 637 A St. SE. Architect Jennifer Fowler presented for the applicant. An accompanying Historic Preservation Application (HPA) has already been supported by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) and ANC 6B.
Applicant requires a lot occupancy exception for a garage large than 450 square feet; they intend to build 648 square feet. They also need an exception to convert structure into rental sooner than five years required to wait by the zoning code.
Fowler said the apartment above was designed to be more functional than a studio, with actual bedroom and living room space. There is a two-story carriage house next door that is similar in massing and appearance.
An abutting neighbor appeared to oppose the project size, saying it will create 20 foot high, ten foot long wall in her yard, citing concerns about air, shadows, light and especially privacy because now a renter can look into her property. Encourages commissioners to come to her yard. Commissioner for the area Jerry Sroufe (6B02) said he regretted that he did not put the case to the entire commission immediately after the ANC heard the case in committee and encourage neighbor conversation in the interim.
Commissioner Mareino also asked about existing by-laws authorizing ANC 6B to make grants. Returning Commissioner Chander Jayaraman (6B06) explained that the ANC only made grants during the pandemic to assist in emergencies, both due to the legislative limits on this and due to the onerous process and paperwork. Both Mareino and Sobelsohn proposed a discussion about whether ANC 6B will make grants in future for the Jan. 20 meeting of the ANC 6B executive.
The ANC voted to:
- Support a motion from commissioner Sobelsohn to switch to a web-based meeting platform other than WebEx. Sobelsohn originally moved that the ANC authorize up to $250 annually for a subscription to Zoom or another platform. Commissioner LaFortune moved to amend the motion to remove a specified amount and instead use funds budgeted for communications for such a subscription. Both the amendment and subsequent motion passed unanimously.
- Support a motion authorizing the ANC treasurer to get a debit card for the ANC bank account to facilitate online purchases. If treasurer is for some reason unable to do this, the ANC will pursue it further at a latter date.
- Support a proposal from Sobelsohn to reestablish phone number by telephone or whatever webs service the ANC Executive Direct chooses and post the number on the website under “contact us” as well as to change the commission address to reflect the location of the ANC office at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Commissioners had discussion about who will answer cals and if they should get a special phone for it and if it should be secretary responsibility and if residents should just contact their Commissioner. It was decided that the secretary will answer the phone. The number will exist for a year and be revisited next budget.
- Support another Sobelsohn proposal to research the redesign of the ANC website. The ANC Executive Director will research for it and then present at Feb. 15 meeting regarding possibilities and the financial requirement linked to redesign.
- Place meeting notices on ANC 6B website in order to comply with fourth method for public notice as required by DC Statute.
- Amend the 2023 meeting calendar.
- Make a $50 payment to the ANC Security fund, which protects commissioners from misuse of ANC funds.
The ANC Supported the Consent Agenda, including;
- Approval of the December 2022 minutes for the meeting of the full ANC 6B
- Support for Liquor Licenses for online sales at Rose’s at Home (721 Eighth St. SE); renewal of license for Ginza BBQ Lounge (526 Eighth St. SE); a new license for Paccis trattoria (106 13th St. SE);
- Support for a Historic Preservation Application (HPA) to convert a garage into a two story carriage house (also subject of the above BZA application).
No OANC Letter on Hybrid Meetings
A Sobelsohn motion to send a letter to Director of Office of Neighborhood Commissions (OANC) Director Kent Boese asking him for help to facilitate hybrid meetings by February meeting dates failed for want of a second. Sobelsohn acknowledged the timeline would be difficult, but said he wanted to impress the urgency upon Boese —a District-wide issue, he said, not for only ANC 6B.
Commissioners said they were uncomfortable with tone of the letter noting Boese was only appointed in November 2022 and needs time to work. Commissioner Chander Jayaraman (6B06) said the issue merited a phone call rather than a letter. Sobelsohn offered to change deadline or tone of letter, but said he wanted the ANC to go on record.
Appearing at the meeting were the following (with newly-elected officers noted): Frank Avery (6B01), Treasurer; Jerry Sroufe (6B02), David Sobelsohn (6B03), Secretary; Frank D’Andrea (6B04); Kasie Durkit (6B05), Parliamentarian; Chander Jayaraman (6B06), Vice Chair; Vince Mareino (6B07); Edward Ryder (6B08), Chair; Matt LaFortune (6B09).
The next meeting of ANC 6B is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15. Get details on committee meetings and how to join online at anc6b.org.