City Administrator Obfuscates on Heliport Relocation

ANC 6B Report

313

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B discussed the controversial relocation of the South Capitol Street heliport.

The commission unanimously endorsed a letter put forward by Commissioner Kelly Waud (6B07) addressed to the DC Office of the City Administrator (OCA) containing a series of questions about the pending relocation of the South Capitol Street heliport, currently located at 1724 South Capitol Street SE.

In August, the commission learned that the city was considering the former site of the Washington Gas East Station Facility for the heliport, located at the intersection of 12th and Water Streets SE and right next to the future 11th Street Bridge Park Project. ANC 6B held a meeting August 26 to compile community concerns.

Chair Chander Jayaraman (6B08) asked Ward 6 Liaison from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services Tyler Williams about the response of OCA to an ANC request to attend the meeting to respond to questions about the heliport.

“They agreed to have conversations about sending a representative to the ANC to address any questions and concerns,” said Williams. “However, what has been relayed to me is that the Congressional Aviation heliport is largely a private endeavor, and that the city is a stakeholder in that endeavor because MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] uses some of their services for their operations. “

“So, the city has taken the stance [that they are] merely a stakeholder, and they have taken on –here I’m talking about the City Administrator – have taken on the role of ensuring that, during the long procurement process of securing a site, that they will have thorough vetting and will engage the community, and that engagement is supposed to happen before that site is selected. It is supposed to happen with a pool of sites.”

Corey Holman (6C06), Commissioner for the area in which the site is located, pointed out that at the August meeting, the representative of Congressional Aviation stated that the Water Street site was “functionally the site the company was moving towards.”

“The District cannot claim they are a stakeholder when it is District land on which they want to build the heliport,” said Holman. “That’s a landlord, that’s a developer, and that’s a manager.”

“To sit there and say they’re not involved in that is just… defenseless.”

Williams said the city took a position as stakeholder because the Water Street location had not been chosen as the heliport site, as a number of other options were still under consideration. Commissioners argued that this language was an attempt to circumvent the public engagement process.

Additional Parking Enforcement for RFK Events
Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Chris Geldart told ANC 6B that they would engage a separate crew of three to four parking enforcement officers in Hill East. The team will patrol cars during entertainment and sporting events in the area of RFK Stadium and Stadium Armory under the auspices of Events DC from September to December.

Geldart said these additional officers would be engaged on top of the regular beat, adding two shifts when required for events expected to draw large numbers of guests, such as Oct. 10th and 11th Army Ten Miler, a race expected to draw as many as 25,000 guests. The teams will also have access to tow trucks, Geldart said.

The DPW Director said that when the agency obtains funds from their new budget as of October 1, they will hire and train 34 new parking enforcement officers and 20 additional tow truck crews to enforce rush-hour parking and add to existing District-wide beats.

Both Geldart and ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) encouraged neighbors to call 311 to report parking violations so that the data could be reported and used as a benchmark to understand future needs.

Support for Shared Bike and Scooter Parking Corral
The commission voted to support a Notice of Intent (NOI) issued by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to install a curbside bike and scooter parking corral, but with exceptions. DDOT wants to designate a 20’ by 8’ space at the corner of D street and Eighth Streets SE as a spot to park bike and scooter share vehicles. The space is currently marked as no-parking and was selected by DDOT based on data showing where shared vehicles are currently abandoned, said Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04).

Commissioners discussed the merit of surrendering parking spots and whether users would actually utilize the spaces. Commissioner Oldenburg noted that DDOT had issued an NOI to reverse traffic on that block in addition to installing a loading zone at the same spot as the proposed corral.

The motion to support passed 8-1, with a note asking DDOT to resolve the conflicting NOI prior to moving forward.

Other Business
The commission voted to protest a substantial change to the liquor license held by Ambar (523 Eighth St. SE). The applicant seeks an increase in total occupancy, from 140 to 196. They also want to expand operations to the third floor, which has an open roof, and to seek an entertainment endorsement. Citing unresolved concerns with noise, the commission will protest the application to allow additional time to finalize the SA, and will withdraw the protest if a SA is achieved before the protest deadline two or three months in the future.

The commission voted to support:

  • A Settlement Agreement (SA) according to the terms negotiated between Hollis Silverman, the applicant for a 400-seat restaurant with 150-capacity patio at 320 Seventh St. SE (the C Street Plaza).
  • A resolution and NOI to file a Zoning Application for a map amendment to the zoning map, affecting 14.4 acres generally bounded by M, 12th and Water Streets SE. The properties are currently zoned PDR-4 or high-density commercial, and the ANC wants them rezoned MU-11, designated for waterfront open space and marine development. Holman said it was a statement about the direction the ANC wants development to go in the area.
  • A letter to Mayor Bowser requesting the Deputy Mayor for Education share data on sexual abuse, assault and harassment occurring in private and charter schools, a reiteration of the letter sent by 58 ANC commissioners and State Board of Education (SBOE) representatives on June 24
  • A resolution in regard to the deadly fire at 708 Kennedy St. NW asking the District to investigate and reform safety standards, split DCRA into two agencies, and provide support for residents living in dangerous homes to have safe and healthy accommodation.
  • A special call meeting to consider comments on the DGS application for a Public Space permit to begin construction on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza (EMMP) Project. Holtzman said that there were concerns as a DDOT transportation study conducted in March had not yet been released.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B held the July meeting of the full commission at the Hill Center Tuesday, Sept 10th. 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) and Denise Krepp (6B10). Kasie Clark (6B09, Vice Chair) was absent.

The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 8 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit anc6b.org for more info, email 6b@anc.dc.gov or find @ANC6B on Twitter.