The May 8 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B was unusually structured, with more time dedicated to non-voting, informational items than to decision-making, and the most contentious voting item being resolved with more commissioners abstaining than voting.
The quorum: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Jerry Sroufe (6B02), Nick Burger (6B06, treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, vice chair), Daniel Ridge (6B09, chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10).
Jamaal Jordan and Chris Taylor of Pepco provided an update on major work being conducted in parts of ANC 6B and responded to queries and complaints. The project will increase feeder capacity from four to 13 kilovolts and is scheduled for completion by the end of July. Brief power outages will occur as part of the process.
Several commissioners reported that “No parking” signs related to this project have been posted without proper notice, sometimes resulting in neighbors parking as usual one night and awakening to find their cars in “No parking” areas the next morning. Samolyk reported that Pepco is posting “No parking” signs with expired dates. Berger asked if Pepco could verify, before beginning work, that its contractors had honored the 72-hour-notice regulation and postpone work if notice was not according to regulation. Taylor promised to “have a conversation” about this.
Krepp asked what Pepco was doing to coordinate with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and DC Water on projects occurring simultaneously, noting that construction has already removed lanes on many streets in her single member district. Jordan said he would arrange a walkthrough to examine current construction and proposed impact of Pepco’s work.
A community member who runs an internet business asked about getting information when outages affect her customers, but Taylor said there were security concerns with sharing such data.
Tipped Workers’ Ballot Initiative
Ballot Initiative 77 would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to match that of non-tipped workers by 2026. Due to legal delays, the initiative was drafted before DC’s minimum wage for non-tipped and tipped workers was raised, with gradual increases so that the non-tipped minimum reaches $15 by 2020 and the base wage for tipped workers moves from $2.77 to $5.00/hour by 2020. Restaurant Opportunities Centers-DC (ROC-DC), which launched the ballot initiative, and Save Our Tips, which opposes the initiative, were allowed 10 minutes each to present their positions. A question and answer period followed. At the close of the meeting, several commissioners presented their own views.
Representatives from ROC-DC called the initiative a gender and racial justice issue, highlighting how a tip-based system leaves employees subject to whim and harassment. They added that parents, often single mothers, must pay extra for daycare in order to work prime shifts with higher tips. They described how current law requires owners to make up any shortfall, if tips and wages do not equal the legal minimum, but how difficult this process can be in reality. Finally, they asked why the public is expected to make up part of restaurant employees’ pay.
Representatives from Save Our tips stressed that much has changed since the initiative was drafted, making the language confusing for voters. Save Our Tips represents tipped workers who favor a system allowing higher total pay for better service. The representatives argued that the initiative would hurt restaurant businesses in DC, possibly forcing owners to add extra charges to make up for higher wages. Finally, they pointed out that the ROC organization began in New York, and they claimed local workers do not support the initiative.
During the question and answer period, ROC-DC representatives, both women, objected when Save Our Tips representatives, all men, talked over them; they said the exchange illustrated the lack of gender equity in the industry.
The chair reminded community members that Initiative 77 will appear on the Democratic primary ballot, on June 19, but that citizens registered in other parties or as independents can also vote on this matter.
Alcohol, Yachts, Curb Cut
There was no Alcohol Beverage Control report, just an announcement that the committee was in full agreement on all six matters on the consent agenda.
Planning and Zoning Committee matters included a report from Robert “Tony” Ford of Seafarers Yacht Club, 1950 M St. SE. Ford reported that the club, the oldest African-American yacht club in the nation, is experiencing siltation problems. The situation leads to soot in engines and other dangers and is considered an emergency. Dredging would cost $20 million, which the club cannot afford. Current plans, therefore, are to move Seafarers to a spot between the Washington Yacht Club, 1500 M St., and the District Yacht Club, 1409 Water St. SE. Ford encouraged community members to learn about the club through its activities, including fish fries, while the club works with the city on a feasibility study for the proposed move.
Because the P&Z Committee was not scheduled to meet before a revised application was considered at the end of May, the full commission viewed the latest proposal for a curb cut and parking lot redesign at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 400 D St. SE. Revisions included stormwater management and maintenance of green space as well as driveway radius. The applicant reported that the reconfigured plan complies with DDOT regulations and allows for greater visibility, while commissioners argued that the long driveway would allow cars to travel at excessive speed. The commissioners voted, with three in favor and four abstentions, to reaffirm their opposition to the curb cut.
Jack Geisser was approved as resident member of the Transportation Committee by a vote of 6-0-0 (Samolyk out of the room). In addition, the commission took two 7-0-0 votes approving letters on citywide issues: follow-up to US Attorney Jessie K. Liu, inquiring about data regarding sexual assault on college campuses, and a request that the DC Schools chancellor send a representative to address fraud and the school lottery.
The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit www.anc6b.org for more information.