Phil Toomajian, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A, called the meeting to order at Miner Elementary School, 601 15th St. NE, with Commissioners Marie Claire Brown, Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, Patrick Malone, Mike Soderman, Amber Gove, Stephanie Zimny and Calvin Ward in attendance.
The meeting opened with community presentations.
Traffic and Safety
Derek Voight of the Traffic Operations and Safety Division of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented results of an investigation of the intersection at Eighth and D streets NE, in response to community concerns and the ANC’s support of an all-way stop. Key points from the report:
- Between January 2015 and March 2018, there were 10 police-reported crashes at the intersection. The data reflects a downward trend with five out of the 10 crashes occurring in 2016, two crashes within the last 12 months and no crashes to date in 2018.
- Two types of failure to yield were noted – failure of motorists on D Street to yield to vehicles on Eighth Street who have the right-of-way, and failure of motorists to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- Sight lines were evaluated and found to be adequate, with the exception of a large bush on the northeast corner and illegally parked vehicles in bus stops and restricted parking zones.
- DDOT will conduct a “step out” survey to determine the percentage of motorists that yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks on Eighth Street and record motorist yield behavior. The data will be used to determine the effectiveness of engineering interventions.
- An all-way stop investigation was performed according to standard engineering procedures. It was determined that an all-way stop is not warranted because the intersection failed to meet two required criteria. First, the intersection does not meet the side-street volume threshold for combined pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles, and second, crashes at the intersection do not form a pattern susceptible to correction by all-way stop control.
- It was determined that an all-way stop has the potential to negatively impact traffic patterns, notably a potential increase in southbound traffic queues on Eighth Street that would spill into the intersection of Maryland Avenue and Eighth Street NE.
- A number of near- and mid-term engineering countermeasures could serve as calming measures other than an all-way stop.
- Voight answered extensive questions from the commissioners and the community. When asked how and when the volume study was completed, he replied that the study consisted of six hours of observation in July 2017. Many questioned the logic of performing the study during the summer, when nearby schools are not in session.
Commissioner Soderman requested that DDOT reconsider the use of an all-way stop and said that a one-day investigation is insufficient to get accurate data. Many commissioners echoed his sentiment.
Lindy Campbell, owner of Music on the Hill, a music school that is located at the intersection, reiterated how dangerous the intersection currently is and asked that a study be done not only when school is in session but on the weekend as well. She pointed out that crash data do not capture crashes and vehicular incidents not reported to the police, or near misses.
Chair Toomajian asked Voight if an additional study could be arranged and to revisit the issue after it has been completed, a request that Voight was amenable to.
Voight moved on to address 10th Street NE. He reported that DDOT had recently received data from the 400 and 500 blocks and must complete an analysis before making a recommendation. DDOT is considering raised crosswalks and speed humps for the 600 block and will have full recommendations before June.
Pre-Arrest Diversion Program
Anthony Hall, director of the newly created Pre-Arrest Diversion Program in the Department of Behavioral Health, provided details on his office’s activities.
- It is a collaboration between the Department of Behavioral Health, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Department of Human Services.
- The program helps people experiencing mental health or substance abuse challenges by offering assistance and connection to city services in lieu of arrest for low-level crimes, thus attempting to break the cycle of arrest, release and re-arrest.
- Trained MPD officers, dubbed crisis intervention officers, can respond to psychiatric crises and assist in connecting individuals experiencing a psychiatric event with behavioral health providers. The officers are the access point to the program.
- The program is being piloted in the Starburst Plaza area. The remainder of the fiscal year will be spent refining the processes, in the hope of expanding to the entire city.
Economic Development and Zoning Actions
ANC 6A voted unanimously to send a letter of support to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for a special exception to operate an animal boarding use in an existing building at 1371-1375 H St. NE (BZA #19746). The owners were present at the meeting and agreed to the condition that the waste of animals housed on the premises will be disposed of properly and not in public trash cans.
Following vigorous discussion, ANC 6A voted, 4-1, with three commissioners abstaining, to send a letter of support to the BZA for special exceptions from nonconforming structure requirements, rear yard requirements, and lot occupancy requirements, to construct a two-story addition to an existing one-story rear addition to an attached principal dwelling unit at 121 Tennessee Ave. NE. The Economic Development and Zoning (ED&Z) Committee made that recommendation with the condition that the applicant (Patrick McGeehan) make best efforts to secure signed letters of support from neighbors of the property.
The architect for the project, Missy Boyet, was in attendance and provided photos and diagrams of a light study of the potential shadow impact of the proposed addition on neighboring properties. The data reflected minimal impact, although there does exist an increase in shadows by a few feet during the late afternoons in the summer months.
Many neighbors offered their opposition to the addition, citing aesthetic impacts on a historic neighborhood and the disruption that carting construction materials down a narrow alley would have on neighbors for an extended period of time. McGeehan offered to be flexible on building materials and stated he was sympathetic to the challenges of construction activities in a small space. McGeehan tried to get letters of support from his neighbors, but ultimately found that their position was unmovable.
ANC 6A voted unanimously to send a letter of support to the Zoning Commission for Gallaudet University’s request to amend its 2012 Campus Plan to remove the Ballard North dormitory so that it can be demolished.
ANC 6A accepted the resignation of Michael Hoenig from the ED&Z Committee and accepted the appointment of Laura Gentile as a new member of the committee.
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 the month, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th St. NE.
Community Outreach, fourth Monday of the month, Eastern Senior High School, 1700 East Capitol St. NE.
Economic Development and Zoning, third Wednesday of the month, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th St. NE.
Transportation and Public Space, third Monday of the month, Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G St. NE.
Visit www.anc6a.org for calendar of events, changes of date/venue, agendas and other information.