Notice to Cure Issued to District Soul Food

ANC 6B Report - April 2019

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Representatives of District Soul Food (500 Eighth St. SE), including David Roundtree (center) and Craig Parkinson (right), at the April meeting of ANC 6B. Noting they had spent upwards of $25,000 on air purification equipment for the cigar lounge at the restaurant, they agreed to work to resolve the issue of smoke seepage into the neighboring Trattoria Alberto.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B held the monthly meeting of the full commission at the Hill Center on Tuesday, April 12. On the dais: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02, secretary), Brian Ready (6B03, parliamentarian), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06, treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, chair), Kasie Clark (6B09, vice chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10).

Three of the four owners of District Soul Food (500 Eighth St. SE) appeared before the full commission in regard to an application for renewal of their restaurant’s alcohol license. Having heard complaints at the previous week’s meeting of the ANC 6B Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee (ABC) from neighbors about trash and noise when patrons exit the restaurant, the owners assured commissioners that they had switched garbage collection companies and would post signs asking patrons to keep noise to a minimum.

At the April 12 meeting, commissioners focused on two additional issues. First, Oldenburg asked if the restaurant had received an exemption from the DC Department of Health (DOH) permitting indoor smoking in the cigar lounge at the establishment. Partner Craig Parkinson produced a certificate signed by Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) agent Jeffrey Reiss, but the purpose of the document was not clear. Oldenburg asked the partners to produce the exemption document.

Second, the owners of Trattoria Alberto (508 Eighth St. SE), which shares a party wall with District Soul Food, appeared to say that customers had complained about the smell of cigar smoke while dining, and asked that these concerns be addressed before the commission approved the license renewal for District Soul Food.

Parkinson said that the partners had spent $25,000 in improvements to ventilation and air purification equipment in an effort to address the matter, as well as filling in cracks in mortar in the wall between the businesses. The owners of Trattoria Alberto urged their neighbor to address the situation until it was resolved. After the meeting, Parkinson said that he was confident the issue could be addressed in a timely and mutually agreeable fashion.

Commissioner Ready proposed that District Soul Food engage a third party to certify that the air-purifying equipment was working correctly. In regard to smoke, Oldenburg said the ANC required a verbal commitment to solve the issue of smoke seeping through the wall, as well as proof that DOH had issued an exemption to permit smoking on the premises. The commission issued a notice and opportunity to cure these three issues within 30 days, and asked that District Soul Food agree to defer the deadline to protest the liquor license. The motion passed 7-0, with three abstaining.

Councilmember Allen Presentation
Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) made his customary appearance to update commissioners on happenings with the DC Council. He discussed several bills he is working on, including one that would provide more autonomy to school leadership in the distribution of at-risk funding and another in regard to Vision Zero. In regard to the latter, Allen said he didn’t believe that the city was doing enough toward the goal of zero traffic-related deaths, although he noted that there was some good investment in the latest budget.

Allen, who is the chair of the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, discussed the handcuffing of a 10-year-old boy in April after a robbery near Fifth and H streets NE, calling the visuals of the incident “a punch in the gut.” He said that the attorney general issued a statement noting the boy was innocent after photos and videos of the boy in handcuffs were broadcast on social medial. Allen wants to refine the way a 10-year-old would be detained if it was necessary. In the matter of a similar incident on Dec. 26 of last year, Allen said that it was time to review policies in regard to body cameras with respect to the public’s expectations and the accountability of officers.

Holtzman noted that the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Park (EMMP) Project was currently only partially funded, and asked the councilmember how certain he was that the rest of the money could be found. Allen said that the Department of General Services (DGS) team is designing the optimal version of the project under the assumption that additional funding will become available, and will then tell him how much is needed. Allen was clear in his determination to have EMMP completed. “I will find the money for the project,” he said, “whether it is in this year’s budget, next year’s, I will find the money for this project.”

Allen was less enthusiastic about the prospect of a pop-up police station on the 400 block of Eighth Street SE, as proposed in a petition put forward by Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS). He said that the First District substation (500 E St. SE) is only two blocks away and there is a large police presence on the block, but officers have told him that that presence doesn’t help underlying issues of mental health and substance abuse, nor would arrest help the individuals concerned. He proposed a joint meeting between the Department of Behavioral Health, Metropolitan Police Department, BRMS and the ANC to work on a concrete, holistic strategy. 

Additions to C Street Blacksmith Shop Supported
The commission heard revisions to a historic preservation application (HPA) for 620 C St. SE, first heard in March, for concept design for a one-story rooftop and two-story rear addition. The applicant proposed an apartment on each of the second and third floors above a proposed main-floor office space. In March, the commission voted to oppose a proposed third-floor addition to the former blacksmith shop while taking no position on the second-floor changes. Neighbors objected to the addition and window treatment as not in character with the street and expressed concern about the visibility of the addition from the street.

In his April presentation, the applicant reduced the height and depth of the addition to align with neighboring rowhouses, reduced the number of windows on the rear and, finally, set back the third story and replaced the roof design as recommended by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The commissioners voted unanimously to support the first- and second-floor additions. They also supported the third-floor addition, 4-2-3, noting there was precedent for such additions for commercial buildings in the neighborhood. 

Other Matters
The commissioners voted unanimously to support a letter from Krepp to DC Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt, requesting that he start tracking the DC tax dollars financing sexual harassment and assault settlements, judgments and other such arrangements and make the information publicly available.

The commissioners voted to protest the alcohol licenses for Montmartre/7th Hill (327 Seventh St. SE) and Lavagna (539 Eighth St. SE), as the applicants failed to appear at either the April meetings of the ABC Committee or the full 6B commission.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the license renewals for Bullfeathers (410 First St. SE) and for Atish on the Hill (609 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), after ascertaining that a brief break in alcohol sales at Atish occurred because the proprietor had been ill, and although his son continued to run the food business, the son was not of age to serve alcohol.

The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit www.anc6b.org for more info, email 6b@anc.dc.gov or find @ANC6B on Twitter.