Retirements, zoning and emails… notes from ANC 4C’s December meeting

Outgoing commissioner Timothy Jones, who served on ANC 4C for 22 years.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C held its last meeting of the year on Wednesday, December 12th. A fair number of current commissioners will be leaving the ANC, as the new term starts in January, including long-term 4C08 Commissioner Timothy Jones, who served for 22 years. And yes, there was some drama at the meeting. It is 4C, afterall.

Commissioner Jones spoke for a few minutes, saying, “I wanted to serve the public, it was a pleasure serving and working with you folks.” He received some words of thanks and recognition from the other commissioners.

Commissioner Joe Martin, who’s leaving the ANC after this meeting, said he’s leaving feeling positive. “I wanted to make a difference, and feel I did.”

Zach Teutsch, who served as chair of 4C in the past and is now leaving, said he originally ran for election because, “I wanted to do more for transit and zoning matters for affordable housing. I feel good that four years later we’ve been able to see tremendous progress. I thank everyone who worked with me on the express bus campaign, which we won, and other programs.”

Commissioners Michael Halpern and Timothy Jones

Finally, Michael Halpern said of his time on the ANC, that he “learned how many dedicated DC officials there are, rank and file employees, who work in DC government and are in a life of public service. They put in more than a work week of hours to make our lives better. It’s been a privilege to be a part of that.” He also gave a nod to Timothy Jones, thanking him for more than 20 years of service, and “spending countless hours in the community going door to door, and providing me with help on how to be an effective commissioner.”

Moving on, Treasurer Ulysses Campbell said they ended the month with $16,848.68 in checking.

KeShawn Harris

KeShawn Harris from the Mayor’s office spoke, saying that Mayor Bowser participated in the 20th annual senior holiday celebration, and that there’s an upcoming DHS holiday party and toy drive at 5th and Kennedy on Saturday. They need khaki uniform shorts and pants for 3T and up. He also said that Mayor Bowser will be participating in the Fresh Start 5K along the capital riverfront, and invited residents to join.

He said there are now 700K residents in DC. He also gave out certificates of appreciation to commissioners.

Josh Fleitman from CM Todd’s office.

Josh Fleitman from CM Todd’s office said that Tuesday, December 18th is final Council meeting of the month.  He gave an overview of a series of legislation that Todd help get passed in the Council, including the Protecting Immigrants from Extortion Amendment Act. He said that the Council has passed legislation to place DC Water under the Office of People’s Council (this is great news) via the DC Water Consumer Protection Amendment Act. He mention that the Council decriminalized fare evasion, and established a voucher program to replace lead service lines (funding coming next year).

A resident asked Fleitman about the Internet Sales Amendment Act with tax revenue generated from online sales going to tax relief for commercial buildings. Josh said the Council voted the way it did to keep a promise from a few years ago. He said Metro was funded separately and $257 million has been set aside in the DC budget for homelessness.

Stephen Marencic from the Office of the People’s Council spoke about third-party power providers and potential scams. He said that his office is waiting for funding to fulfill their oversight of DC Water and fight to help consumers from exorbitant / high water bills. (Again, this is such a great win for DC residents, as DC Water has been without real oversight for too long, leaving residents with grievances without much recourse and at the mercy of angry PR staff.)

Julian Hipkins speaking at the meeting.

Julian Hipkins from Roosevelt HS mentioned the school is performing Romeo and Juliet at the school’s auditorium (tickets are $5). Wednesday 12/19 is PTSA evening with the principle. Ms. Rodriguez, the school’s Chemistry teacher, is a finalist for Teacher of the Year. Students got to meet Michelle Obama.

Rachel Maisler

Rachel Maisler, Ward 4 Bicycle Rep (and a Petworth News editor) spoke in support of the proposed bike lane from Upshur to Harewood on Rock Creek Church Road. Said she also supports the bikeshare station near Illinois Ave.

Leonardo Dorcett

Leonardo Dorcett thanked the commission (and Petworth News) for their work in the community. Said there’s a pedestrian safety issue at Upshur, Kansas and Georgia, saying it’s unsafe for pedestrians (students) trying to cross. Wants flashing lights. (See a great little video about Mr. Dorcett and his contributions to Petworth.)

Keith Jones spoke about the rebuilt Barnard School, saying it’s now a major traffic issue. Residents have requested a DDOT traffic study, wants ANC support to push the study along. He said that from 7:45-9:30 in the morning, and 4:30-6pm in the evening, it’s a nightmare. Cars sideswiped, mirrors knocked off.

Justin Ralston, the interim principal at Roosevelt HS.

Justin Ralston, the interim principal from Roosevelt High School, got up to introduce himself. He said he has a “dream job in the most unfortunate of circumstances.” Ralston was a Ward 4 principal for a local middle school, and is honored to be at Roosevelt. He said he wants to hear from the community about their needs in conjunction with the school. Ralston is from Indiana originally, received his Masters from Howard University, worked in Uganda refugee camps. Passionate about social work and social needs, developing English and Math core competencies at the school

Roosevelt student Imani Mills spoke about JROTC, saying it’s where she learned conflict avoidance, confidence and other traits (isn’t going to the Army, will go to college).

Imani Mills

Commissioner Nugent asked for his top priority, and Ralston said it’s understanding the complexities in the community and make the best-informed decisions as possible by talking with students and parents. He said attendance is a continual challenge as well as proficiency (SAT and Parc scores). School has no band, has the instruments but not the band.

Teutsch welcomed the principal on behalf of the community.

Jones said Roosevelt used to have economics on the curriculum, will it come back? Ralston said it’s a good question, curriculum is up to DCPS, and they have partnerships with Howard University to get college credit for students, as well as Georgetown University for global studies.

Campbell asked about the problem of dogs being walked on the softball field. Julian Hipkins answered to say the issue has not been fixed. Student claimed to have stepped in poo recently on the field.

Resident asked what JROTC and non-football and basketball sport groups need? JROTC is throwing a military ball and could use some help.

Next up, zoning issues.

There’s a 5-unit condo building coming to 5835 Colorado Ave NW, offering two 1-bedroom units, two 2-bedroom units and one 3-bedroom unit. The developer is requesting numerous variances and exceptions due to the odd lot size,

Bruno the developer, Nathan, architect, Katarina Ferrara architect, speaking.

They are asking for relief from:

  1. Lot occupancy variance

  2. Non-conforming side yard next to existing house

  3. Side yard requirement on alley side (if required with side lots on both sides, would have a 9’ building)

  4. Floor area ratio because of the small size.

  5. Relief from penthouse setback requirements (regulation says a penthouse unit has to be set back equal to its height... they’re asking for a 4 foot setback instead of 6 foot).

Lot is occupied by a rowhouse that was damaged by fire, adjacent to alley and larger condo building. Neighbors are happy to have the house renovated. while the adjacent neighbors expressed concern about the construction process.

Commissioner Nugent said the lot will have 2 parking spaces. Said architect and developer have been easy to work with, have held community meetings. Burned out building is ugly and causes a lot of problems. She said she doesn’t know if BZA will approve 5 variance requests, but the ANC is willing to support the project if one unit is reserved for affordable housing (80% or less of area income).

Resolution to support, depending upon affordable unit. Approved, Jones abstained.

The next matter was a resolution to approve a request by the developer of 4414 9th Street NW for relief for a non-conforming structure (says that the building is already a non-conforming structure right now before they are doing any work). ANC approved.

The ANC then voted to officially ask that DDOT add the intersection of Madison St NW and Georgia Ave to Kennedy Street Phase II Project (DDOT requested this vote). Approved.

The ANC then voted to reimburse Commissioner Joe Martin for a microphone replacement. They also approved to purchase new name blocks and business cards for incoming ANC 4C commissioners. Also approved the purchase of an office laptop not to exceed $500.

The ANC then approved sending a letter to DDOT to support bike lane completion on Rock Creek Church Road. The request is to expand the existing bike lane from Upshur all the way up to Harewood along Rock Creek Church Road. DDOT wants to do this. They may also add a protected portion at the bends of the road.

The ANC then approved sending a letter to DDOT to support a neighborhood petition for a traffic study at 5th and Quincy Streets. Commissioner Jonah Goodman said there are no signs saying east-west traffic has stop sign and 5th doesn’t. Lots of sideswipes. They want it to become a three-way stop.

Next up was the proposal for installing a Capital Bikeshare station on the 4200 block of Illinois Ave NW. Commissioner Martin asked to table the discussion, Campbell seconded. That failed. They approved 10 minutes of discussion, as time was exceedingly tight. This is a controversial installation, as the residents of that block of Illinois Avenue don’t want the bike station on their block, as parking is already very difficult. There’s plenty of back history about the project. Suffice it to say that residents want to discuss options more. You can read details in this article.

Chair Bennett Hilley says she’s heard from some residents, a lot of the concerns are people don’t want the infrastructure so close. “We do live in a city, we have to share infrastructure,” she said. Commissioner Martin wants to see the bus stop for #60 bus to be open for parking on the weekends (since the bus doesn’t run). Commissioner Nugent said that more transportation options mean people will use them instead of driving. Commissioner Jones asked if any research has been done between owning a bike and rideshare.

Diane Jones speaking about the bikeshare station.

Community discussion: Lots of people want to speak. ANC authorized 1 minute per resident speaking. Diane Jones lives on Illinois Ave all her life, said she comes home now at 7pm and can’t find parking, can’t park in the alley. James Harlow said that riding bikes more isn’t going to happen as they work outside of the city. Parking is a problem, density is increasing, which is a good thing, but Grant Circle is a highway for Maryland drivers. He wants the station a block away from the Circle.

Commissioner Campbell wants more discussion by residents and more time. Moves to table. Fails.

Resident said every resident of the 4200 block is opposed to the installation.

Goodman made a motion to table to January. Passes.

Commissioner Zach Teutsch speaking as Councilmember Brandon Todd listens.

The rest of the meeting was discussion about the ANC’s proposed letters calling for an investigation of Councilmember Brandon Todd for potential misuse of public resources. Petworth News has covered this in some detail, so get the background in this article. Todd came to the meeting and asked to speak on the issue. You can read what happened on this topic in this article. The ANC voted to send the letters to the Office of Campaign Finance and the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability requesting an investigation.

The remaining items I filmed instead of taking notes, as time was tight before the library was to close, and the back and forth discussion / arguments were too fast to type up accurately.

So in the video below you’ll see the remaining discussions for the request for investigations of CM Todd, his comments, as well as a resolution to support upgrades to Kansas Avenue/Spring Road/13th Street upgrades (Hilley), a letter to Councilmember Brandon Todd Regarding Campaign Finance Reform (Halpern) and a letter to Councilmember Brandon Todd Regarding Short-Term Rental (Halpern).