ANC 6C Report – September 2017

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C rescheduled its Sept. 13 meeting to Sept. 19 in order to achieve a quorum. The quorum: Christine Healey (6C01), Karen Wirt (6C02, chair), Chris Miller (6C05), Heather Edelman (6C06).

DFS Presentation
Dr. Jenifer Smith appeared in the context of National Forensic Science Week, which took place Sept. 17-23. She announced outreach events at the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) at 401 E St. SW.

Smith described the DFS as having three major departments: Crime Scene Science, which collects evidence and describes crime scenes; the forensic science laboratory, which houses fingerprint and DNA analysis as well as a new digital analysis unit; and the Public Health Lab, which recently became part of DFS and tests for diseases such as rabies and Zika. She related that DFS has no backlog in DNA testing, and the District is one of very few major metropolitan areas that can say that it has no backlog in processing sexual assault kits.

Smith said that DFS is an independent agency, and that although many employees are still members of the police department, the agency is in the process of “civilianizing.” She added that a Scientific Advisory Board works with DFS and is seeking five research scientists and four forensic scientists as advisory members. Those interested should contact DFS by telephone at 202-727-8267 or by email at contactDFS@dc.gov.

Parks and Events Committee
The Parks and Events Committee chair reported that the homeless encampments under the overpass where Second Street intersects with K, L, and M streets NE need further attention, and that the committee had reached out to Naomi Mitchell, community liaison in the office of Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) to ask him to raise the issue with the office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (DMHHS). Commissioner Edelman earlier noted that after the District conducted a cleaning of the area, the encampments increased. She had also reached out to DMHHS.

K Street NE Traffic Study
The Transportation and Public Space Committee reported on a K Street NE traffic study underway by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Initiated by ANC 6C, the study looks at ways to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The corridor between Second Street near the tracks to about where K Street and Florida Avenue NE intersect is the site of aggressive driving and speeding, the committee said.

The study is ongoing, but at a recent meeting DDOT presented four traffic-calming measures. All four would remove rush-hour parking restrictions, making parking 24/7 for residents. The measures include:

  1. Eastbound left-turn lanes at Fourth and Sixth streets NE, which would retain 171 parking spaces with a loss of 45.
  2. Eastbound and westbound left-turn lanes at Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and 10th streets NE, which would retain 155 parking spaces with a loss of 66.
  3. All characteristics of option two, but introducing mid-block transition points which reposition the lane midway through the block without varying direction, thought to be a safer option. This option would retain 144 parking spaces with a loss of 72.
  4. A focus on bike lanes on both the north and south sides of K Street NE for the whole corridor, necessitating the removal of all parking on the south side of K Street, a loss of 106 parking spots.

The committee noted it had received considerable feedback, particularly from residents of K Street and especially in regard to the parking aspects of proposals. The committee’s representative said they were sensitive to parking concerns but, as the overall purpose of the study was to enhance safety, felt bike lanes were the most important addition to K Street, the only corridor proceeding both east and west for that distance. Cyclists will continue to use it regardless, it was thought. The representative emphasized that this was only a preliminary study and would also affect ANC 6A.

Community members voiced opposition to the four proposed plans, especially option four. Concerns about the elimination of parking safety and the necessity for bike lanes were expressed, especially by residents of the 600 block of K Street NE.

Daytime School Parking Zone Amendment Act
The Transportation and Public Safety Committee presented a motion supporting the Daytime School Parking Zone Amendment Act. The act would establish designated, limited-hour parking areas near public schools for employees with DDOT permits.

Both community members and commissioners had reservations about this. One resident cited what he saw as abuse of restricted parking areas near Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School (659 G St. SE). A resident of 600 K St. NE pointed out the proximity of J.O. Wilson Elementary to her residence, and objected to further reduction in parking availability.

Commissioner Healey said that she had questions about which spaces would be distributed and when, and if the spaces were otherwise unavailable to residents. Miller made a motion to oppose such legislation if it would remove parking from residents. The motion carried, 2-1, with one abstention.

Zoning and Economic Development
A Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) application for 10 Third St. NE was heard. The existing rowhouse, built prior to 1958 and under continuous ownership for the past 80 years, has always been used as a rental unit. The owner wishes to codify that use for both the rowhouse and a carriage house on the lot. The latter needs renovations to be brought up to code. A rooftop terrace had been removed from plans due to neighbor objections.

Other neighbors objected to the possibility of short-term (i.e., Airbnb) rentals. A representative for the owner said they would be happy to agree to a restriction on the deed preventing short-term rentals, if the occupancy certificate would be awarded.

Commissioner Healey proposed delaying a vote until the October meeting of ANC 6C, to provide more time to review the issue before the Oct. 18 BZA hearing.

A BZA application for 104 Eighth St. NE requested a special exemption to allow a third-floor addition to the residence. Although the total height of the proposed structure had been dropped to a by-right permitted height of 35 feet, the exemption was still necessary because the basement was six feet, nine inches above grade – two feet, nine inches above permitted height. That visibility means the addition counts as a fourth floor.

Noting that sightline studies demonstrated the addition would not be visible from the street, and after some discussion about setting a precedent, the commissioners unanimously passed a motion of support.

A motion to support a public space application was heard in regard to the closure of the public alley north of M Street between Third and Fourth streets NE for development of the Press House at the Union District site. Commissioner Edelman said the request was only for the alley in the 722 block and did not affect access to any other property. The motion was supported, 4-0.

Issuance of After-Hours Permits by DCRA
Commissioner Miller presented a motion in support of a letter drafted by Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), who was not present. Addressed to the District Council in regard to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the letter requests that the Council issue legislation narrowing and clarifying the terms under which after-hours permits may be issued. Miller said that the law states that permits allowing work after hours should only be issued if not doing it would be a danger to health and safety. He said that DCRA had been in the habit of calling the commissioners to judge opposition to issuance and, finding none, simply doing so. The motion carried unanimously.

The next meeting of ANC 6C is scheduled for Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at The Heritage Foundation Building, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE.

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Correction:

An earlier version of this report under the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development section says that Commissioner Edelman proposed delaying a vote until the October meeting.  That motion was made by Commissioner Healey.

An earlier version of this article also discusses a BZA application for 204 8th Street NE. The application was for 104 8th Street NE.

The Hill Rag apologizes for the error.