Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C kicked off the first meeting of the year and its new term with the newly elected and returning commissioners on January 11th. New officers were elected, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd attended, zoning issues were discussed, Slim’s Diner asked for permission for outside seating and more.
There are four new commissioners on the ANC, as commissioners Taalib-Din Uqdah, John-Paul Hayworth and Vann-Di Galloway did not run for reelection, and there was one empty seat. The new commissioners are Charlotte Nugent (4C01), Ulysses Campbell (4C03) and Karen Cooper (4C07).
Single Member District 4C06, Vann-Di Galloway’s prior seat, remains unfilled. Tom Burnett, who won the election in November, had to unexpectedly move out of DC for job reasons and had to give up the seat. (So 4C06 is open and residents of that single member district can pick up nominating papers. Commissioner Joe Martin sent the following in an email to the local listservs:
To qualify, prospective candidates need to have lived in the single-member district for at least 60 days, be a registered voter in that SMD and obtain signatures of at least 25 voters registered to vote in that SMD. If only one person steps forward and collects the needed valid signatures, that person in time will be declared the winner and be eligible to be sworn in as the new commissioner. If more than one person qualifies, an election is held during an ANC meeting with the votes tabulated toward the end of the meeting and the winner declared (and sometimes sworn in on the spot if a member of the city council is present to perform the honor). Gottlieb Simon of the Office of ANCs oversees the election process. In a contested special election, the candidates will need to get their supporters to come to the meeting to cast ballots. The last time ANC 4C had a contested special election, about 28 people voted for the winner. The person who lost got about 9 votes. (Am relying on my memory for those numbers but they're in the ballpark). In other words, not too many people participate.
ANC elections are non-partisan. Federal and city employees are eligible to run; the Hatch Act prohibits federal and city employees from running in partisan races -- not non-partisan.
Moving right along…
After the basics of opening the meeting, the ANC held elections for officers (they’re required to do this). It was a pretty easy affair (I understand they agreed to the positions prior to the meeting). The newly elected ANC officers are:
- Zach Teutsch for Chair
- Joe Martin for Vice Chair
- Jonah Goodman for Secretary
- Ulysses Campbell for Treasurer
- Jonah Goodman also voted as Parliamentarian
Next up, Commissioner Michael Halpern gave the Treasurer's Report (likely his last since Campbell will be taking the role over). The ANC has $5,624.30 in checking and $16,745.22 in savings.
MPD Lieutenant Frank Martello and Captain Juanita Mitchell introduced themselves to the ANC and residents. Lt. Martello is the new manager of police service area (PSA) 404, taking over for Lt. Figueras who went to the Crime Suppression Team. Martello was recently promoted to Lieutenant, having previously served in the First District.
Captain Mitchell spoke about the new MPD “Sector” patrol structure and how it will impact our area. (Related: “MPD announces new patrol "sectors" in each of their seven districts” January 03, 2017).
Captain Mitchell leads Sector 2, which includes PSA 404 (PSA 407 is in Sector 3 under Captain Derek Larsen and Lt. Anthony Washington). Basically, sectors are a patrol designation and are intended to enable MPD to respond quicker to calls, and for PSA and Sector leadership to get to know their areas better.
Lt Martello is responsible for the night shift in Sector 2, while Lt. Ashley Rosenthal (PSA. 405) is responsible for afternoons, and Lt. Shane Lamond (PSA 403) is responsible for midnight shift.
At the start of the Community Comment period, Commission Halpern clarified that people can speak about whatever they want, but there will be an opportunity for community comment during other agenda items. This is great news, and incredibly important for ANC 4C, since public questions and comments were actively shutdown by then Chair Galloway during the prior session. Kudos to the ANC for this shift in policy.
First up to speak during Community Comment was Caroline, a Petworth resident who is looking for a location to start a local mediation effort (where neighbors can take informal complaints for mediation). “It’s either MPD or court and it escalates from there,” she said. She explained that there is a free mediation center in Maryland, with volunteers from the community trained for mediation.
“Mediation works because when people develop their own solutions, the solutions tend to be longer-lasting.” She said she’s looking to bring together residents for a community forum on March 25th, and is looking for referrals for people experienced in mediation, volunteers, and so on. You can email her if you want to get more involved.
Iesha, a resident from 7th & Taylor St, had a question about the poor condition of her alley, looking for it to be fixed. She said she and her neighbors are concerned about accidents on the street, side-swiping of parked cards and are looking for solutions. Chair Zach Teutsch suggested she speak with Josh Fleitman, CM Brandon Todd’s representative who was at the meeting, about the alley. Zach also said that he had worked with DDOT to install speed bumps and tables on the 1300 block of Taylor Street which lowered speed and reduced car strikes.
Steve, a Varnum St., resident, wants neighbors to take care of the trees in tree boxes by filling the green bags with water. He said DDOT plants them but doesn't necessarily take care of them. He’s asking for people to email him to volunteer. Commissioner Jonah Goodman suggested Steve consider applying for a grant to help pay for signs and other needs.
Juliana wanted to know about Metro issues / repatriations for the shaking from the trains. She said she wants to know what Metro has looked at, concerns about structural issues and the disruptions. She said she’s also concerned about traffic-calming measures for Grant Circle, especially north of the circle. The commissioners suggested she speak to Josh Fleitman from Todd’s office.
Commissioner Joe Martin mentioned that the 4C06 seat is open and that they are looking for a person to run for the seat.
Commissioner Teutsch announced that 14th St NW will be included in Great Street program. “Should help reduce vacancies and increase retail.” He said he will have more info at the next ANC meeting.
Commissioner Halpern said he wanted to share the good news that Mezcalero opened at 3700 14th NW by Alfredo & Jessica Solaz, who operated Del Sol. (Related: "A preview evening with Mezcalero Cocina Mexicana" - January 13, 2017.)
Councilmember Brandon Todd attended the meeting. He said he is chairing the committee on government operations (oversight of CTO, Public/Private Partnerships office, City Administrator, office of the Mayor & 35 other entities.) Met with CTO and P3 office, will meet with other leaders to prepare for oversight season and budget season. Also sits on Transportation and Environment, and Human Services, and Council Committee on Health.
Spoke to Department of Small Business for Main Street feasibility for Kennedy Street from New Hampshire to 14th Street, down to Spring Road. Meeting with CAUFS to discuss recommendations and will work to find $250-$300,000 funding for the Main Street. “Critically important for 14th and Kennedy Streets.”
He added that he joined MPD Chief Newsham and the Mayor in Petworth for a walk-through, said Ward 4 saw the sharpest decrease in overall crime — 18% down. Feels advocacy from residents help, and fantastic 4D Commander and officers in the district. Said he will work hand-in-hand with Chief and Commander to make sure we have the resources we need and has empaneled an advisory committee on public safety issues. “I realize there are a number of issues to watch, and will continue to do so.”
Todd said that at the Council’s first legislative meeting, he introduced five pieces of legislation, and will work with DoH and HRA to craft comprehensive legislation for cold/hot weather and housing for animals. “Friends who can't speak for themselves have the right resources.” (Related: "A frozen heart: A dog left outside in freezing temperatures, frustrated neighbors and a city agency that can’t seem to help" - January 09, 2017.)
He also said that he’s working on a task force to look at setting up free wifi across the city to make sure that seniors and students have internet access, trying to remove the barriers. Met with P3, on top of their priorities is a street light replacement program, with wifi put in the new street lights.
Commissioner Martin asked Todd about rusted out streetlights, and that old poles have lead paint. Martin said he wants help nudging DDOT to move forward with replacing those lights. Todd said he's talked to the DDOT director about painting the street lights since he came into office. “We are going to get the streetlights repainted, and with P3 plan, 71,000 streetlights will be replaced in 2 years.”
Commissioner Halpern asked about the 14th St express bus, saying Councilmember Brianne Nadeau has committed support for $1.4 million for the service. “People are taking 16th Street express instead. Todd said he does support it, and has it in the budget, having spoken to CM Nadeau about the funds. He said it takes 7 votes! Will ask the mayor to keep it in her budget. If mayor doesn’t, he said he will push the Council to put it in.
Commissioner Karen Cooper said she's concerned about people renting out houses in the area, who own 4-5 cars, making parking very difficult. She told Todd that she wants him to address it from a legislative perspective. Todd said Legislative director is meeting to discuss with DDOT, among other topics, to see what is practical.
Commissioner Timothy Jones thanked Todd for attending meeting last month on metro issues. He said there are many questions about a timeline for a resolution. CM Todd said he went to a community meeting and sent a letter to Metro’s general manager. Metro did a preliminary check, and then brought in a third party who is currently conducting a study. “We are waiting on the results of the analysis, then will have a timeline.” He committed to staying on top of it, “I have spoken to the general manager directly.”
(Related: "Neighbors report shaking houses, rumbling noises along Metro's Green line" - December 13, 2016, and "WMATA says it continues to research reports of shaking homes in Petworth" - December 31, 2016.)
After that, the ANC voted to spend $25 for a bond for ANC funds. (Standard vote required by law.) Approved.
Chair Teutsch spoke about development at 1250 Taylor Street NW. “Had a disappointing conversation with the developer,” Teutsch said. The property is “zoned industrial, so they've chosen to do a by-right development that doesn’t require a variance. They will build a three-story self-storage facility. It’s a lost opportunity for housing or office space in our neighborhood,” he said.
Paul Ruppert, owner of Slim's Diner (4201 Georgia Ave NW) requested permission to provide sidewalk table service on the Upshur Street & 9th Street sidewalks.
Commissioner Ulysses Campbell said he appreciates Slim's Diner, but that after looking at DC municipal regulations, since the seating area has two street corners, he believes 10 feet of clearance is needed between public space and corner. “Is there enough space?”
Ruppert said he doesn't have that info, but can get the measurement from the architect. Commissioner Campbell said he supports Slim's but just wants to make sure they take a look at it. Ruppert said they'll definitely look at and will make accommodations if required.
Commissioner Cooper said she supports this request as 9th is “dead space, Slim’s brings some life to the area.”
Ruppert said ultimately they want to have 57 seats available (18 tables, 9 umbrellas). He said they won't have 57 seats to start, but will start with 25-30 and grow from there. Might use a wrought iron fence to separate out the dining area from the sidewalk.
Commissioner Campbell asked about the hours, and Ruppert said they will be the same as current: 10pm weekly, 1am weekends. Commissioner Halpern asked about heat lamps during cold months, and Ruppert said they have no plans yet, but it's a possibility. Thinks people wouldn't be interested in eating outdoors in cold weather, so outdoor seating is probably seasonal.
Commissioner Cooper moved to approve request for outside tables. Approved unanimously.
Commissioner Jonah Goodman said they appreciate Ruppert’s investment in the community. He said that the ANC is looking for committee members to help to bring more family-friendly and local business to community, and would like Ruppert’s perspective. Commissioner Cooper said there is a Petworth Business Association that already exists, and is trying to get the group active.
For Zoning issues, the ANC looked at 930-960 Randolph Street NW. Developer Pam Askew and resident Juanita McKenzie came up to talk about the renovation of the Petworth Place apartments. The original owner is selling the properties, and after the tenants exercised their TOPA rights (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act) they selected developer WC Smith to partner with them to maintain affordable housing while modernizing the building.
They came before the ANC to get approval for existing basement units that weren't original to the development. They also want to add five more accessible units to the ground floor (empty space now) for a total of 88 affordable units. They currently have 65 units, but they have lead and asbestos issues, meaning residents will need to be moved while they remediate (WC Smith will pay to move them there and back). Rent will not increase.
Ms. McKenzie, who heads the tenants association, said that “Exercising their TOPA was one of the best ways to preserve our tenant rights." The hearing in front of the zoning board is February 22nd, where they’ll be looking for permission to add 13 units (of which 3 were already there). They are looking for parking relief since they would need to add 7 parking spaces to an existing property that doesn’t have any parking spots now, and the building goes right up to property line. There’s no place to put parking. Ms. Askew said they will add indoor bike storage, and that the building sits on a street that has free parking and is half a block from metro.
Commissioner Campbell asked about the size of the units, and Ms. Askew said the property has a few studios and 2 bedrooms. They said they plan on converting some existing studios to junior one bedrooms. New ground floor bedrooms will be 660-750 sq foot. The property will remain affordable housing for 40 years.
Relief approved. Got clapping at the end.
Joel Edwards presented a request for a variance and three special exceptions to build a three unit apartment in a single family home at 1412 Shepherd St NW.
Simone, a neighbor who lives at 1414 Shepherd, was against the requests, saying the city doesn't understand the dynamics of reshaping established neighborhoods. “Tearing apart neighborhoods.” She said she has talked in depth with the owner and architect (Mr. Edwards), appreciates that the architect is willing to work with the neighbors. She said many houses on the street have been converted already and isn't pleased (4-5 homes so far). "I'm a native Washingtonian. When my husband and I bought our home, I did not want or plan for 3-unit condos surrounding me. We're an active community."
Mr. Edwards said that the owner does plan on living in the top condo unit.
Commissioner Halpern recused himself from voting or advocating for or against the request because he lives three doors down. He said owner has made agreements with other residents.
Simone said that while she’s against the development, she’s not blocking this one because of conversations with the developer and owner. That seemed to placate the ANC, and the request was approved.
The presentation on Understanding the Comprehensive Plan (SMD 4C10 - Jonah Goodman) was tabled until February.
Lastly, ANC 4D Commissioner David Sheon got up to present a new non-profit he launched called Community Carrot. He said the idea for the non-profit started with crime at 8th & Jefferson Street (drugs, prostitution). The local community went to the ANC to address the issue, and Sheon then went to MPD to organize crime meetings. What they learned from those meetings, he said, is that while policing is important, it's not totally the answer. (Related: "Brightwood/Petworth residents meet with city leadership to talk about crime" - April 08, 2016, and related guest post: "Reimagining public safety on Jefferson Street" - April 15, 2016).
“It's addressing the needs of the young men and women through programs for young adults,” like resume writing, conviction expungement for juveniles. One resident at the 4D crime meeting said that kids are frustrated entrepreneurs, and that impacted Sheon. So he created Community Carrot along with Pastor Gerald Elston to offer entrepreneurship training to twenty 18-24 year olds who are unemployed.
He said they have a competitive application process and that the program begins in the third week in February. He said that after nine months, all graduates will have a business license. Community Carrot will be located at 508 Kennedy Street NW. (Article on Community Carrot to come.)
Jasmin Benab from Mayor's office arrived late and gave a few updates:
She spoke briefly on Mayor Bowser and Interim Chief Newshum having a press conference introducing the new sector program and speaking on the structure of the program. She touched on multi-agency collaborative walks and the $500,000 immigration grant, saying the Mayor's office has been coordinating nightly business walks on Friday nights on the 14th St business corridors. The purpose of those walks is to ensure business owners have all appropriate licenses as well as DOH and environmental issues with follow-ups from each agency. Next coordinated efforts will be on the the Georgia Ave business corridor.
Jasmin also mentioned that the Mayor has provided $500,000 in grants to be awarded to non-profit organizations to provide immigrants legal services across the district.
Sorry these notes were so tardy!