In-Person Meetings Open Budget Debate at ANC 6B

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B met via Zoom on Oct. 12. Frank Avery (6B01, treasurer); Jerry Sroufe (6B02); David Sobelsohn (6B03, secretary); Frank D’Andrea (6B04); Chander Jayaraman (6B06, vice chair); Vince Mareino (6B07); Edward Ryder (6B08, Chair); and Matt LaFortune (6B09) were present. Kasie Durkit (6B05, parliamentarian) did not attend.

The commission agreed to re-examine allocations in the commission’s annual budget and spending procedure at a future meeting of the executive. The discussion was sparked by ANC 6B Alcohol Beverage Committee (ABC) Chair Jayaraman, who objected “strenuously” to the language in the financial report that suggested Jayaraman initially declined to provide justification for rental fees for event space at The Yards at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

The ANC has a monthly space allotment at the site; use over those assigned hours incurs a fee.

The disagreement stems from procedure in ANC 6B bylaws which dictates that commissioners should first look for no cost options. If none exists, commissioners should seek three different quotes and justify any costs. This is to ensure the ANC is on the same page about need and costs and to flag large expenditures that could require a vote of the whole commission, Treasurer Avery said. The ANC 6B budget allocated $1,000 towards meeting space for the year. Justification for space rental must be provided, he said, because it can be cited in budget allocation of taxpayer dollars.

It was a window into how ANCs must negotiate changes after three years of virtual meetings due to the pandemic. DC Code permits commissions to meet virtually until Jan. 9, 2024.

LaFortune and Sobelsohn also pointed out that the ANC will soon need to allocate funds for in-person meetings of the full commission as well as the committees. Avery notes that at this point, the ANC is $800 over budget for that line item.

Commissioner LaFortune noted that moving forward the ANC may have to look for alternate space that is suited to the audio-visual needs of a hybrid meeting. Both the ANC Public Safety and Alcohol Beverage Committees meet in a hybrid format.

Those needs are only likely to increase. Currently, committees can meet for free at the Southeast Library. But it is expected to close for renovation in early 2024, increasing the need for alternate space.

Avery agreed to amend the lines in the financial report referencing the lack of justification for event space spending. He noted that the bylaws could be changed, but said the process is designed to share resources equally among the commissions.

LaFortune suggested that he and Commissioners Ryder and Avery look for good alternative meeting space options. If more meetings go hybrid, the ANC needs to find somewhere relatively inexpensive that could work for everyone, he said.

No vote was taken; the ANC will discuss potential process and bylaw revision at a future meeting of the executive.

Support for Safe Passages
The commission voted unanimously to support a letter requesting immediate funding for inclusion of Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Potomac Avenue Station as safe passage areas. The Safe Passages program places trusted adults along specific routes to and from school to ensure students safety. The ANC letter quotes previous missives sent by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) and State Board of Education (SBOE) Representative Brandon Best, both of which pointed to the stations as school transportation hubs. The commission letter also notes that including the two stations in the program is a way to support school communities as they deal with effects of gun violence on families. The letter will be sent to the Deputy Mayor for Education and the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety.

Other Matters
The commission resolved to write the DC Council Committee on Libraries and DC Public Libraries (DCPL) to request an explanation of when and how notice will be provided of: the date of actual closure of the Southeast Library. They also asked for a promised meeting prior to that closure and that services to community to be provided at Arthur Capper Community Center, 1000 Fifth St. SE. Additionally, they encouraged DCPL to take up the offer of a neighbor at 648 South Carolina Ave. SE to use his home as the construction headquarters.

The ANC voted to:

  • support a Historic Preservation Application (HPA) for the repair and replacement of crumbling concrete front entrance stairs and railings in kind to go down into two basement apartments at 390-311 Fourth St. SE. The project addresses safety issues and makes modifications to bring the entry in line with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  • A letter to DC Council and DC Public Schools (DCPS) supporting the renaming of Tyler Elementary School (1001 G St. SE) as Shirley Chisholm Elementary School. The PTA conducted a survey and vote over the summer. Councilmember Allen introduced legislation to initiate the name change in law. If the bill passes, the change would go in effect for the 2023-24 school year.
  • A reappointment of 6B03 resident members to the ANC Public Safety Committee. Formerly full resident member for 6B03, Chuck Burger will be the alternative and Chuck Schmoyer the resident member.
  • A letter to ABCA requesting an extension of the petition deadline for Dos Toros Taqueria (215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), planned for the former site of Firehook Bakery, pending pursuit of a settlement agreement (SA).
  • A letter to ABCA requesting a delay of the protest hearing for Okamase, a sushi restaurant planned for the second floor of Extreme Pizza (522 Eighth St. SE), pending a SA. The delay was supported by the applicant, who was present at the Oct. 12 meeting.

ANC 6B next meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14. See the agenda and information on how to join at anc6b.org