Livability Study, Congress, grants and more at the October ANC 4C meeting

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C met on Thursday, October 13th to discuss DDOT’s Livability Study, welcome Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and agree to disagree, but nicely from now on.

ANC 4C has had its share of turmoil over the years, with this present commission being one of the most turbulent mainly due to bad behavior and a lack of respect for each other and for residents. Planned for the night’s agenda was a censure of a commissioner — that censure was forestalled by a compromise brokered prior to the meeting where commissioners agreed to not curse at each other and be respectful at all times, and to focus on the “work at-hand.” (Great to hear some of the commissioners are finally agreeing to basic manners that my 5 year old has already learned. Moving on…)

 ANC 4C has $8,714.23 in checking and $16,745.22 in savings. Don’t expect to see this spent much this year. After a couple of grants for Halloween block parties, I haven’t heard of any other financial efforts being done on behalf of the neighborhood. According to one commissioner, they aren’t getting grant requests from residents or organizations… so if you have a program, non-profit or amazing idea, go talk to your ANC 4C commissioner. That money is there to be spent on behalf of the community afterall. 

The ANC approved a continuing budget resolution for the 2017 budget, allowing the next commission (slated to start in January) to create a budget for the upcoming year. 

Commissioner and Vice Chair Zach Teutsch spoke about the Standard of Ethics and Behavior agenda item, saying they worked out a compromise to refrain from negative remarks about other commissioners. 

New bylaw change for greater transparency
Then Commissioner Michael Halpern brought up an interesting item. The ANC wants to update the by-laws to comply with the “open meetings provision” of DC’s Home Rule Charter, for their executive meetings. The upcoming Omnibus ANC Amendment Act would make all quorum gatherings of ANC commissioners a “public meeting,” and would require these meetings to be recorded and accessible by the public to attend (and the recordings must be made public within 7 days — 3 days if it’s written minutes only). 

Commissioner Michael Halpern

This is interesting for several reasons, the least of which is it is at these executive meetings (held generally a week prior to the public ANC meeting) that most of the arguments and insults are made between commissioners. Now these meetings can be attended by the public, and a recording made. That should go a long way in calming things down for ANC 4C. 

Then the ANC postponed approving the September meeting minutes because they couldn't figure out / remember how they voted regarding Ten Tigers Parlour (the “old” Chez Billy restaurant).

During the Community Comment section, Patricia Hampton from AKA Sorority (4400 block of 14th Street NW) spoke about their ongoing programs, work with Powell ES, fun run and work with seniors.

Kevin Tien, chef and co-owner at Himitsu

Kevin Tien, co-owner and chef at Himitsu spoke about requesting support from the ANC for an ABRA license for the restaurant. (Lot of interest for this new restaurant.)

Then several residents got up to give comments on the DDOT Livability Study. Frieda Banks from Shepherd St wants more community input on the study and impact on the neighborhood. Alvin Elliot, from the 1400 b/o Shepherd, said that the Study impacts his home, as the bike path would be in front of his house. 

Basically, those who spoke felt that they haven’t had sufficient input to address the Study, and want the ANC to table their Livability Study resolution (which mainly asks DDOT to get more resident input, meaning this request isn’t in resident best interest). 

Commissioner Timothy Jones, whose SMD covers New Hampshire Avenue where a bicycle boulevard is recommended, said that DDOT reps will be at the First Baptist Church (712 Randolph Street) on Friday, October 21st at 6:30pm to discuss the study. (Foxworth & Van Houton from DDOT will be there).

Commissioner Timothy Jones

Then the ANC welcomed Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who said she loves the Petworth Library. She spoke at length on several topics, too much info to share here. In short, she discussed new federal funds for biking and walking in DC, a 25% increase for Metro and a 10% increase for roads. Ms. Norton also spoke about the underfunding of the National Park Service (who manages most of the green space in DC, including Sherman and Grant Circles). 

DC Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton

Ms. Norton said there's a new portal that people can go to on Nov 1st to learn more about DC statehood, and asked people to "vote for statehood and for me" to push Congress to understand why we should be the 51st state. She said that “people are the number one reason to be a state. Seven states have the same residents as DC, while Wyoming and Vermont have less residents than DC, and they have two senators!”  

She said she is looking for a co-sponsor of the DC Statehood bill. She also mentioned that while the DC GOP supports budget autonomy for the city, they also support statehood. She then thanked DC voters for supporting autonomy. 

Commissioner Hayworth asked how DC residents can be more involved in education issues and making schools better? Ms. Norton said it's federal funds, and it's important. She said that DC is the only place that Congress mandates private school vouchers. She also mentioned the new DC TAG (tuition access grants) program available for DC residents. Since we don’t have a state university, unlike MD and VA, any DC student can go to any public university in the US for in-state tuition, with the federal government making up the rest of the cost. 

Commissioner Halpern asked about about the frequent Metro shutdowns and Safe Track. Ms. Norton said she doesn't like what the Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld has done, though acknowledges that he has a hard job. She said the situation with Metro needs more hearings. She said that the closure of late hours is a way of saying “If you work late, we don't care about you." It's a top priority to me, she said. 

Eleanor Holmes Norton speaking at the ANC meeting

Commissioner Joe Martin asked for her help in getting benches in Sherman Circle (since it's a NPS park). She was very interested in this, and said she will help. (One of her aides approached Commissioner Martin and got his contact info to follow up, so hopefully benches might appear in this now well-used park.)

Another resident asked about the DC Paid Family Leave bill. Ms. Norton said she applauds the District for their progressive risk taking, and said it's terrible to not have the option to take care of a newborn or adopted child. 

The ANC then moved on to presentations, starting with the development of 5100 Georgia Avenue NW, introduce by Commissioner Maria Barry.

Jacob Dukes, one of the Developers, said the new building will offer market-rate assisted living at 5100 Georgia Avenue. He said no letter of support being asked (it’s a “matter of right” construction) but wanted to inform the community.

The brick building building will offer four levels of assisted living, with 100% full service. The existing curb cuts on Gallatin and Georgia Avenue will be closed, and no rooftop access is planned. The building will offer one-bedroom and studio apartments at $4,000 - $6,000 a month with 24-hour care. They said they plan to add street trees on Gallatin St for a more “residential feel,” along with tree box improvements, brick pavers for walkway, etc. "Beautify the streetscape,” is how they put it.

Proposed rendering of the Assisted Living building at 5100 Georgia Avenue NW

Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah asked if this is the vacant property at Gallatin and Georgia, and said that he’s familiar with the area. If there’s going to be an assisted facility, with 24-hour van service, buses, ambulances, therapy folk, etc… “If you take away the curb cuts, where are those vehicles going to be off the street? They'll be parked on the street, 50-feet from Arkansas.” The developer said the design calls for everything to be off the main roads, with traffic such as vans and ambulances to will flow into the alley and not to stop on Georgia Avenue.

Commissioners Maria Barry, John-Paul Hayworth and Taalib-Din Uqdah

Commissioner John-Paul Hayworth then presented his resolution pertaining to DDOT’s Rock Creek East Livability II Study Final Recommendations. Commissioner Hayworth said he wanted to clarify the resolution, as it does not support the Study recommendations, instead the resolution asks for more community input before any recommendations are made concrete. He said “we absolutely want to have more community input before any recommendations are implemented,” and that the study is a start not a finish. He added that none of the recommendations are currently funded or going to happen unless the community is involved and the Council funds them. He said the resolution is meant to spur further discussion by the community and commissioners on what "final" means in the final draft recommendations. 

Hayworth moved to adopt the resolution, Halpern asked to table to 2017. Felt process wasn't transparent. Then Hayworth modified to table it to November. Approved to move it later.

Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah

Commissioner Uqdah then spoke briefly on the process for amendments to the Office of Planning's Comprehensive Plan. He said that our area has been identified as “Rock Creek East 2” because there already is a Rock Creek East plan for Wards 3 and 4.  There is a meeting to discuss changes to DC’s Comprehensive plan on October 24th from 6-8:30pm at Wilson High School. He said this is the public’s opportunity to weigh in on city's comprehensive plan for land use. You can visit Plan.dc.gov to register. 

There were several ABRA (alcohol) licenses up for approval by the ANC, though none required much discussion: 

Commissioner Uqdah brought up Turntable Restaurant, 5802 Georgia Avenue NW. ABRA-025778 and said he supports the Turntable ABRA renewal, as it contains no changes and no constituent concerns have been raised raised. No action required.

Commissioner Halpern brought up Sabor Latino Bar and Grill, 3910 14th Street NW. ABRA-84113  and said also, no complaints from neighbors. No action needed.

Commissioner Uqdah discussed La Libertad Restaurant 4622 14th Street, and said no complaints. 

Commissioner Halpern discussed Red Derby and offering a letter of support for ABRA and the Derby’s sidewalk cafe and summer garden (rooftop) licenses. The ANC also wants DC agencies to look at the Derby’s rooftop deck to ensure smoking up there doesn't negatively impact customers and employees. Letter approved by the ANC. 

Johanna's Restaurant, 4728 14th Street also up for renewal. No complaints on file, so no objection to ABRA renewal. Approved. 

Commissioner Hayworth proposed a letter of support for Himitsu (828 Upshur St NW), to allow alcohol sales during license transfer so employees get living wage. Chef Tien said that all employees will have the same salary, and will share in tips garnered from sales, offering everyone the potential for higher wages. The letter of support was approved.

Two grants were up for consideration. The first was a grant for the 1400 block of Shepherd Street NW Halloween Block Party.

It was described as “the premier Halloween party in Ward 4.” Last year $6 surplus was returned to ANC, and 350 children attended the block party last year. (Side note, counting kids at a block party has to be incredibly hard.) 

Chair Vann-Di Galloway said the ANC has approved very few block parties, but this one has been approved last year because so many people come to the party. 100% of the homeowners in the area are involved. The grant application was passed.

Theresa Green and Commissioner Jonah Goodman

Commissioner Jonah Goodman then proposed a grant for a block party on the 100 block of Varnum Street NW. The organizer, Theresa Green (who said she was nervous but did a great job speaking to the commission), said “Our block is seeing a lot change, including a new 6-unit building." To build a better sense of community, she said a block party will “bring all of our neighbors together to know each other.” She said they want teenagers to help plan, and that MPD and elected officials are invited. They’ve asked the ANC to provide a grant to cover cost of large tent. Some questions regarding budget. $1,000 to cover tent, table and chairs for the party on Oct 29th.

Commissioner Teutsch asked if they have an outreach plan to reach residents, as “the ANC gives money for parties that have a regional impact.” Ms Green said they said they expect 300 people from the nearby streets. Commissioner Uqdah said he supports them because they're asking for 33% from the ANC, and the rest of the money is coming from the residents.

Vice Chair Zach Teutsch

Commissioner Teutsch proposed only $250 to cover a tent. There was no second and the motion died. (I get that they want grant money to go for proper things… but a block party is pretty good so I wasn’t sure why there was so much discussion and requests for a lower amount.) 

Commissioner Uqdah moved to approve the grant for $950, it was seconded by Commissioner Hayworth and passed with 4 abstentions (Goodman, Galloway, Teutsch and Halpern).

Jasmin Benab from Mayor's office did come to the meeting, but had to leave, so no update from the Mayor’s office. 

Jackson Carnes from CM Todd's office

Jackson Carnes from CM Todd's office

Jackson Carnes from Councilmember Todd's office spoke, and said that CM Todd is now chair of the Rules and Commissions committee. He added that Todd is having a bike ride with WABA Nov 6 at 2pm. 

Then the ANC moved to amend their bylaws to clarify that all executive meetings are public meetings, and are open to the public and should be recorded. (They passed a motion to suspend rule 9.01 which requires 30-day community notification for the change for purposes of this resolution.)

Commissioner Halpern said the addition to the bylaws adds a new paragraph 3 to 5.05 Executive Working Sections, in accordance with the open meetings act, with recordings kept. The community can attend but not participate in the ANC’s executive meetings. Commissioner Jones voted against the bylaw change because some information should not be public; however, Commissioner Hayworth says Robert's Rules allow for that. Commissioner Uqdah said that this idea came up previously to allow residents to feel more involved and have opportunity to see how the ANC conducts their business. He thinks it's a good idea. Unanimously passed.

Chair Galloway said they want a generic resolution to author a letter in support of Metro keeping late night hours. Commissioner Hayworth moved to author the letter. Approved. 

That’s it!

Commissioner Hayworth laughing with Commissioner Uqdah