ANC 6A Report – October 2017

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ANC 6A Chair Phil Toomajian called the October meeting to order at Miner Elementary School, 601 15th St. NE, with Commissioners Calvin Ward, Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, Marie-Claire Brown, and Mike Soderman in attendance. Patrick Malone and Amber Gove were absent.

The meeting opened with community presentations.

Anacostia Watershed Society’s Storm Drain Murals
Emily Conrad spoke about the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Storm Drain Murals Project. The Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and a private foundation provided a Community Stormwater Solutions grant to the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS). AWS then issued a call for artists to create murals on the slabs covering curbside storm drains at 50 sites, including eight in the area surrounding Eliot-Hine Middle School. Artists will be required to maintain the work for at least a year.

Conrad presented 20 of the finalists, including an image from the Eliot-Hine Junk Art Club and another done by an Eastern High School student. These two have been selected.

This is part of ongoing efforts by AWS and DOEE to reduce pollution in the Anacostia River by increasing awareness of the effect litter has on the environment. More information is available at www.anacostiaws.org (search “Mural”).

Toomajian asked if a “bottle bill” similar to the “bag tax” might be under consideration. Conrad said the AWS would welcome this but that it would be most effective as part of a regionwide effort.

US Attorney for the District
Jesse Liu, newly confirmed as US Attorney for the District of Columbia, spoke about the unique aspects of this federal office, which handles both local as well as national crimes. She is aware that the ANC 6A area has seen a recent uptick in robberies and package theft, and seeks “to make the community a safer and better place.”

Specifically, she is concerned about what some term a “revolving door” for repeat offenders and the enforcement of “stay away” orders. There is now a violent and repeat offender unit dedicated to reducing these problems.

Community Engagement Coordinator of the Attorney for the District of Columbia
Cameron Windham, community engagement coordinator in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, explained his office’s role in protecting the public. Among other things, it provides educational material about avoiding scams and preventing human trafficking. It also educates youth about the potential hazards of social media. A guide to consumer protection, avoiding scams, identity theft, healthcare fraud, and other issues can be downloaded at www.oag.dc.gov/publication/consumer-protection-guide.

MPD Sector Two Captain
John Knutsen of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is the First District’s Sector Two captain. Although robberies were up in the last 60 days, overall crime was significantly reduced and violent crime down 33 percent from the same period last year. Plainclothes officers have been deployed to high-problem areas and bicycle patrols have been particularly effective.

There is an ongoing problem with crime committed by youth, particularly just before and after school hours.

Prostitution is a problem along the K Street NE corridor. As officers have given more attention to the western end of the street, the activity is moving east. The situation is very discomfiting to the families who live nearby and must witness frequent, unsuitable behavior and the noise and used condoms that go with it. Residents have had some success in installing motion activated lighting and security cameras. Additional officers, mobile lights, and lights on public buildings will be deployed. Councilmember David Grosso is introducing legislation to decriminalize prostitution.

Midday robberies at construction sites have been a recent problem. Victims are often reluctant to report the crimes. Police are making a special outreach effort to construction workers to provide advice on how to protect themselves and their property.

A neighbor reported that the homeless campground between 15th and 16th streets at D Street NE is the scene of much criminal activity, including drug sales. Debris, including several couches, is contributing to the problem.

Community Outreach Actions
ANC 6A unanimously approved the Miner Elementary School PTO grant application for $899.47 for the purchase of two universally accessible picnic tables with benches to be installed on the school playground (601 15th St. NE). 

Alcohol Beverage Licensing actions
The commissioners voted unanimously to protest the request for extended sidewalk cafe hours by Nomad Hookah Bar (1200 H St. NE) due to concerns that the proposed enclosure of its sidewalk cafe will be insufficient to contain the noise as agreed to in an April 2017 settlement agreement with the ANC.

When Nomad recently renewed its license, the establishment requested that the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) terminate or amend its settlement agreement to give significantly later hours at its outdoor patio on weeknights and weekends. By the time the issue went to a hearing, the ANC and Nomad had reached an agreement whereby Nomad would be able to keep the sidewalk cafe open until 2 a.m. on weekends, provided that it fully enclosed the space in a manner sufficient to contain the noise.

Nomad has made a formal request to ABRA to extend its hours to match what was in the agreement – but has not enclosed the patio as required. Neighbors complain that noise is already a problem at this establishment and is likely to get worse with extended hours.

There is some skepticism that a structure sufficient to contain the noise is even possible given restrictions on the use of public space, such as the sidewalk where the patio is operating.

The ANC also agreed unanimously to protest the license renewal of Mochi Inc. t/a DC Supermarket (539 Eighth St. NE) if the ANC’s Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee votes to recommend a protest at its Oct. 17 meeting. Due to the timing of the notification to the ANC, the ANC’s meeting schedule, and the window of opportunity to register a protest, this step was deemed necessary to preserve the ANC’s right to protest.

Economic Development and Zoning Actions
ANC 6A voted unanimously to send a letter of support to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for a proposed project at 133 13th St. NE (HPA 17-580). The owners intend to fill in a dogleg at the rear of the property to construct a two-story addition. 

Other actions
Former commissioner David Holmes presented a request to rename Al Arrighi Way “Al and Mary Arrighi Way.” Al Arrighi’s widow passed recently, and neighbors living near the alley (in the block bounded by Massachusetts Avenue, Constitution Avenue, 10th Street, and 11th Street NE) want to include her in the commemoration. 

Reports & Announcements
Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Ave. NE) students and staff will relocate to trailers on the Eliot-Hine Middle School campus over the winter break so that a renovation project can begin. This will be more extensive than many other recent school renovations. The entire east building will be razed and a new, three-story structure will take its place. The historic west building will remain.

Demolition will begin early in 2018. Construction is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. More information is available at www.mauryelementary.com/mod/.

The ANC 6A Community Outreach Committee will not meet at Maury during this time; discussion of an alternate location will be on the committee’s agenda.

Community member Brian Alcorn reported on a recent decision of the BZA to reject an appeal from the developer/owner of 1511 A St. NE, Taiwo Demuren (dba 57th Street Mews Inc.). The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) made a zoning error in initially issuing construction permits for this property. ANC 6A, ANC 6C, neighbors, and community groups appealed DCRA’s initial decision to the BZA and successfully pressed DCRA to rescind the permits.

Demuren appealed the decision to BZA and the appeal was denied. This confirms the proper zoning of 1511 A St. NE as RF-1 (R-4 under the old regulations). Alcorn noted that the fight has been worthwhile, as the proposed structure would have dwarfed the two-story row houses on the rest of the block. However, the fight has been expensive as the neighbors found it necessary to hire a lawyer.

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) has established a legal fund to help pay for this effort. Tax deductible contributions can be made by check to CHRS; write “1511 A St. NE zoning case” in the memo line and mail to P.O. Box 15264, Washington, DC 20003. More details at: www.chrs.org/chrs-accepting-donations-for-1511-a-street-case/. Toomajian thanked Alcorn, Ward, and former ANC Commissioner Nick Alberti for their efforts on this issue.

There was a moment of silence for Jewel Lewis Hall, who was struck by a vehicle and killed at 10th and H streets NE on Oct. 7.

Zimny reported that the traffic problems associated with Chick-Fil-A (between the 1400 blocks of Maryland Avenue and G Street NE) are greatly reduced and that management has agreed to maintain the tree boxes adjacent the property.

 

ANC 6A meets on the second Thursday of every month (except August), usually at Miner Elementary School.

The 6A committees meet at 7 p.m. on the following schedule:

Alcohol Beverage and Licensing, third Tuesday of each month, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th St. NE.

Community Outreach, fourth Monday of each month, Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Ave. NE (enter from 13th Street). Expect a change of venue in 2018.

Economic Development and Zoning, third Wednesday of each month, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th St. NE.

Transportation and Public Space, third Monday of every month, Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G St. NE.

Visit www.anc6a.org for calendar of events, changes of date/venue, agendas, and other information.