Pepco, grants and more: notes from ANC 4C July meeting

A quicker than usual Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting, ANC 4C ran through the agenda in an hour and a half, discussing Pepco issues, ANC Omnibus Act of 2016, CitiOpen tournament, the Office of the People’s Council, Slash Run, and a few grants.

(Ed note: My thanks to Sean Wieland for writing the below notes and taking photos at the meeting. Sean previously helped out at the ANC meeting by taking their official minutes during the very long April 2016 meeting.)

The ANC 4C July 13th meeting was short and to the point. Commissioner Van-Di Galloway called the meeting to order at 6:33pm. Commissioners Taalib-Din Uqdah, Michael Halpern, Zach Teutsch, Vann-Di Galloway, Timothy Jones, Joseph Martin and Jonah Goodman were present; Commissioner Maria Barry arrived after 7. The agenda was approved with a few modifications. Commissioners Zach Teutsch and Michael Halpern added ANC/FOIA Transparency to New Business. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah removed the letter of support for Speed Humps in the 1200 Jefferson Street and replaced it with a letter of support for Restricted Parking in the 1300 block of Jefferson Street NW during the CitiOpen. The June minutes were approved and the meeting moved onto community comments.

Chris Jones

Chris Jones spoke of a developer’s plans to renovate and convert the adjoining home to condos. Chris and the other adjoining neighbor and he met with the developer of 322 Webster Street NW, and they approved the three-unit exception but not the height.

Michelle Cleveland, events manager for Washington Area Bike Association, spoke of a grant from DC in which a community bike event will be hosted sometime this fall in Petworth. The event is in the planning stages and she has met with both Tom Pipkin and Rob Mandle to begin brainstorming. If you would like more information please email them. (Look for a future Petworth News article on the event.)

Leonardo Dorcett

Leonardo Dorcett, a longtime, extremely active resident, spoke about a recent community walk with Councilmember Todd and how more trashcans are needed around the park at Taylor/Upshur. He also requested a bike rack and additional bench be installed on 9th Street near Slim’s Diner.

After community comments the commissioners then made various announcements.

Commissioner Vann-Di Galloway encouraged anyone interested in running for ANC should contact the DC Board of Elections and Ethics.

Commissioner Zach Teutsch spoke of continued challenges with a business in his SMD and that he has ongoing contact with MPD, ABRA, Councilmember Todd and the Mayor to ensure safety.

Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah spoke of the new zoning regulation ZR-16 which will take effect on September 6, 2016. He said BZA is accepting comments until August 8, 2016 on vesting guidance and developers can submit plans before September 6th to see if they are in compliance.

Commissioner Michael Halpern shared that a pedestrian crosswalk traffic calming light will be installed at 14th and Randolph soon. He also shared that a letter will be circulated on the list serves regarding recent violence and what MPD and Metro can do better.

Commissioner Halpern then read the Treasurer’s report – the balance in the checking account is $11,689.99 and the savings is $16,745.22. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah then asked if the commission stopped paying the phone bill. Commissioner Vann-Di Galloway responded that there was an issue with service the ANC was paying for but not receiving. Commissioner Michael Halpern said will look into the phone bill and follow up next meeting.

Marc Battle, Pepco VP

The commission next moved onto presentations. First up was PEPCO Regional Vice President, Marc Battle, who presented PEPCO’s proposed rate increase. He said if the DC Public Service Commission approves the rate increase it will have an impact of $4.36 per month. Mr. Battle went on to explain how PEPCO spends money on infrastructure improvements and then asks for reimbursement. The current 2016 rates are based on 2012 improvements and the proposed 2017 rates will cover 2015. None of the expenses are connected to the Exelon merger; the merger pushed the rate increase out two years while PEPCO worked on the merger.

From the merger, $25.6 million was set aside to offset a rate increase. This was originally intended for residential customers; however some residential buildings (apartments/condos) are considered commercial accounts. Currently this discrepancy is being reviewed to determine how they can benefit from the $25.6 million. And the question also asked is should all commercial accounts benefit too? If the rate increase is approved residential customers will not see an impact until 2019 due to the offset. Mr. Battle also noted the RAD (Residential Aide) program has been adjusted; participants no longer pay distribution charges.

Arick Sears from the Office of the People’s Council (OPC) spoke next. He stated the proposed increase of $85 million is the largest ever, but pointed out the main driver is all the infrastructure improvements that have been made. He said the job of OPC is to make sure the increase is just the cost of doing business.

Commissioner Vann-Di Galloway asked if this was not a merger but an acquisition. Mr. Battle (PEPCO) replied yes. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah asked about spending and how PEPCO doesn’t produce or manufacture power, they are the middle man. Mr. Battle stated that PEPCO owns all infrastructure (sub stations, lines) and the growth in the city adds to the cost. The Southwest Water Front infrastructure, for example, was no longer adequate to support the development in the area.

Arick Sears speaking to the ANC audience

Another commissioner asked OPC if the offset money is on hold. Mr. Sears replied that the agreement was negotiated and they are holding the money until the next rate case to determine if it should all go to residential or some to commercial. Commissioner Timothy Jones then asked what types of enhancements have been made for the customers. Mr. Battle replied that many substation improvements have taken place and are ongoing, that today’s rates cover expenses form 2012. Commissioner Jonah Goodman asked how the ANC can participate in the OPC process. Mr. Sears replied that the ANC can attend the OPC hearing, the commission can hold community hearings and they can write a letter to the OPC.

Audience member Jean Lea Akin, DC At-Large Candidate, mentioned that she attended Councilmember Orange’s hearing and that a billion dollars has been allocated for the undergrounding of wires. She then asked PEPCO how much money they need to underground. Mr. Battle replied that a plan was devised by the Public Service Commission, PEPCO and residents. It was determined that it was not best to put everything underground. They haven’t stopped trimming trees, but if a tree comes down there’s not much that can be done to prevent an outage. Mr. Battle also stated that $1 billion has been budgeted for undergrounding.

Next under ABRA (Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration) items Commissioner Jonah Goodman stated that Slash Run (201 Upshur St NW) is planning on having outdoor tables and will be at the August 10th ANC meeting. If anyone in the 4C10 area has feedback they should contact him.

The commission then moved onto DDOT items and Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah spoke of the CitiOpen Tennis Tournament and restricted parking. He stated that his block (1300 block of Jefferson Street NW) was part of the restricted parking last year and his neighbors wanted this again. The commission voted unanimously for a letter of support for restricted parking in the 1300 block of Jefferson Street NW during the CitiOpen.

Commissioner Maria Barry shared that a DDOT petition for speed humps in the 1200 – 1500 blocks of Emerson is circulating.

Commissioner Timothy Jones asked for support of the public space application #179308 (3701 New Hampshire Ave NW), the letter of support was approved unanimously. (Ed note: This is the old Sweet Mango location that will be a new 21-unit apartment building.)

The first topic under Board of Zoning Adjustment matters was the update on 320 Webster Street NW. Commissioner Jonah Goodman stated that last month the ANC passed a resolution in opposition to the three unit penthouse. As we heard from Chris Jones, he and his neighbor have been working with developer. Commissioner Goodman asked the commission if they wanted to change our position. He then stated that he wasn’t putting forth a change because of the issues others on that block have. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah stated that any developer who claims building as a matter of right to 80 feet back, will they be able to recover the cost? If not the development isn’t going to happen. Commissioner Zach Teutsch said the opposition was to create a more favorable environment for neighbors. He told Commissioner Jonah Goodman that he would support the neighbors’ compromise. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah suggested speaking with former Commissioner Crowley about the deal she worked at in the 300 block of Taylor Street NW.

Steve Dryden

Under new business Commissioner Michael Halpern introduced Steve Dryden, Director of Tree Planting with Rock Creek Songbirds. Mr. Dryden spoke of the area where Quincy Street NW dead ends at Rock Creek Park and how the area has been ignored by DC and National Park Services. His group is working on a grant application to cleanup and improve the area known as the Quincy Playground. He asked the commission to support holding DC and the National Park Service accountable for maintaining this area.

Commissioner Michael Halpern then presented a resolution regarding the ANC Omnibus Act of 2016. The resolution had specific recommendations: the open records law applies to ANC records, the communications division of the ANC will handle FOIA requests, requests/searching should use the current DC government portal and the Chief FOIA officer will publish ANC minutes and documents in one central repository. Commissioner Zach Teutsch proposed an amendment to remove handwritten notes from the resolution. The resolution was approved.

Al-Malik Farrakhan

The last item of the night was a grant application and letter for support Cease Fire, Don't Smoke the Brothers and the Sisters' annual boxing event. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah introduced Al-Malik Farrakhan who runs the Cease Fire program. Farrakhan spoke of the community work Cease Fire does, including helping stop violence, neighborhood cleanups, providing food for the homeless and working with CSOSA. Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah motioned to approve the letter of support and grant application for the Cease Fire Annual Boxing Event. All commissioners approved this motion and the meeting was adjourned at 8 PM.

Thanks again to Sean Wieland for taking the notes!