Escalators, pipelines & sense of the ANC: Notes from February ANC 4C meeting

A few interesting things at this 4C Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting, including finding out about the 45-week closing of the East side of the Georgia Ave metro station, the upcoming development at 3701 14th Street, a resolution to honor certain DC residents and upcoming DC Water pipeline work in the area.

A couple of commissioners were late to the meeting, and the ANC made some minor changes to the agenda. Commissioner Halpern said he wasn’t able to provide a Treasurer’s report, as he hasn’t received the passwords to bank accounts and doesn’t have access. However, he said there were no expenditures made since last month.

A representative from Councilmember Vincent Orange’s office, Stacey Lincoln (special assistant to CM Orange) said he was the Ward 4 liaison since last year, and apologized for not coming previously. He then proceeded to give a list of all the legislation that Orange has spearheaded this year. (I haven't seen Mr. Lincoln at a single ANC 4C or 4D meeting in more than 2 years, so this visit felt more like a campaign stop for the up-for-election at-large council seat that Orange holds.)

Stacey Lincoln (special assistant to CM Orange).

A Ward 8 resident in attendance asked about DC’s commitment to utilizing small businesses (Orange was involved in a press conference back in November on this topic.) The CBE initiative requires that 35% of DGS budget goes to small businesses / contractors. More info can be found on the CBE Connect website.

Dolly Turner from Councilmember Todd’s office spoke about some recent legislation Todd introduced, including legislation to provide free licenses to veterans, and bill to address vacant properties. 

Neither EMS or MPD sent representatives to the meeting.

During the Community Comment period, Tom Burnett, Quincy St resident, spoke about his concerns regarding 3701 14th St. “There are wider issues about development in the neighborhood.” He said new development often provokes two gripes from residents: the need for useful retail and parking. Mr. Burnett said that parking is a hot topic in the neighborhood, and that he’s spent time observing parking as he lives near the metro and the Swift apartments (above Safeway, on Georgia Avenue).

Resident Tom Burnett

“At any given moment there are 75-100 empty spaces at apartment buildings in our area. Yet long-time residents don't have spots and struggle to find parking.” He suggested that unused spots at apartments be offered to residents who need them. 

Juan Miranda, the Site Director at Mary's Center, said that the services organization is growing, opening a new location in Ward 5, offering dental, pediatric, mental health and other services. 

Alexis Goggans

Alexis Goggans introduced herself as the new Ward 4 planner from the DC Office of Planning. She said she worked on Ward 7 & 8  sustainability issues, and now is focused on Ward 4. Ms. Goggans is planning on coming back to the ANC meeting to discuss 14th street initiatives. 

Commission John-Paul Hayworth discussed the BZA special exception hearing on 615 Upshur St (developer looking to convert a single-family rowhouse into a 3-unit condo). He said the hearing was postponed to March 15th to give residents and the developer a change to resolve issues. 

Hayworth also mentioned that a new condo building is being developed at 4424 Georgia Avenue, and there will be a community meeting to discuss ideas around retail for the condo building on February 25th at 6:30pm at the site.

Chair Galloway mentioned that the Fahrenheit apartments ( 3930 Georgia Ave NW) are now leasing, and the first floor remains vacant. Since it’s a “high-end” apartment building, they’re looking for a high-end retail or restaurant to occupy the first floor “It’s $422 a square foot,” Galloway said with a chuckle, “So if you know anyone with cash to burn, contact the Fahrenheit.”

Commissioner Zach Teutsch said he was pleased that a representative from Mary’s Center visited the meeting. He said that at Mary’s Center one insured person allows for two non-insured people to get seen. His daughter goes there. “It’s a great model,” he said.

Commissioner Michael Halpern said that 3700 14th Street NW (used to be the Carolina restaurant) is going to be redeveloped and will be asking for a parking variance. It will be a four-story residential building with first floor retail. He said it’s on the April docket for DCRA and he will get more info for the community.

Halpern added that DDOT will be kicking off a “livability study in March, Ted Van Houten from DDOT will be coming to our March meeting so the community can weigh in on planning process.” The study will be looking at traffic patterns, etc, in the neighborhood.

Commissioners Barry, Uqdah (speaking), ANC admin Nia Turner and Chair Galloway

Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah said he wanted to inform the community of something he's read that is affecting restaurants we've been looking forward to opening. He said the owner of Swampdoodle (5501 14th St NW) has been trying for 2 years to open the restaurant, but is having problems. While Uqdah is unsure where the blame lies, he thinks the owner is at the end of his rope, using language in public that accurately describes how he felt, “He's in a pickle,” said Uqdah. Apparently Swampdoodle is having issues with water and gas service into the building, and the city is making it difficult to correct. More info is available on Swampdoodle’s Facebook page.

Commissioner Teutsch then introduced three people representing ERB Properties, who are redeveloping 3701 14th Street NW (14th and Spring Road). 

The representatives said that 3701 14th is zoned as C2A (commercial), is 3,200 sq feet but has no alley access (this is why they’re asking for a parking special exception). It will be a 4-story building, retail on the first floor that will max out the footprint on the ground floor, 6 units in the three floors above. They plan to include a trash room since there is no space outdoors for trash collection. The building will have a roof deck and green roof areas.

Matt and Charles from ERB Properties

They said they’re seeking parking relief as there's no location available for cars on the lot, and no alley access. They are also seeking relief for setback since the building runs along Spring Rd and can't have windows. Plus, due to the odd triangular layout of the lot, they’re asking for lot occupancy relief, as the current plans call for 62% utilization, 2% over the allowable by-right amount of 60% of the lot. 

They will have to close Spring Road and the sidewalk at certain times due to the construction — again due to the location and oddly shaped lot. Commissioner Hayworth asked about Residential Parking Permits for residents, and the developers said they plan to ask for no permits. Construction will take 9-10 months.

Commissioner Halpern said he likes the green roof and permeable pavers. He said he had concerns about delivery and trash trucks parked at the building blocking the bike lane along 14th Street, and wanted the developers to be aware. 

Commissioner Michael Halpern

Commissioner Uqdah mentioned that of all the businesses on that block (3700 block of 14th Street) 7 out of 10 of commercial properties have an alcohol license. He said he’d like to see the first floor retail be a non-alcohol business. As for parking, there is an area on both sides of Spring (14th and back to the alley) with metered parking, while east of the alley is zone 4 residential alley (he added that parking will affect ANCs 1A and 4C). Uqdah said that this area of 14th Street has good density, but this building is the only one without parking (3517,3519, 3619 and 3707 14th St all have parking, according to Uqdah). “This and 3700 would be the only ones on that span that does not have parking.”

Commissioner Teutsch said that there was great interest in retail from the last community meeting held about the building. The developer said that the space for the retail is small (1,474 sq ft), perhaps adequate for a coffee shop or deli, as there is the option for outdoor seating and there is a cellar for storage.

The ANC then took a vote on the special exceptions requested by the developer of 3701 14 Street and with the addition of a clause disallowing RPP for the building residents, and approved the request for special exceptions. (Uqdah voted against, Galloway abstained.)

Commissioners Hayworth, Barry and Uqdah

The next topic on the agenda was a proposed resolution by Commissioner Uqdah, listed on the agenda as “Acknowledging and Honoring (Ward 4’s) Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.” 

The resolution is titled “Sense of the ANC Supporting a “DC First” Model of Recognition of Its Citizens Resolution of 2016" (pdf link). The goal of the resolution is to urge the Mayor and DC Council to “prioritize, recognize and develop a comprehensive strategy of highlighting the extraordinary accomplishments of inspirational citizens.” 

Commissioner Uqdah then listed some actors and musicians, as well as two astronauts, who he found during his research called DC their home. He said he wants the Mayor and Council to promote DC residents and their accomplishments (“Maybe some of you sitting in this audience right now…”). Then Uqdah moved to approve the resolution. Commissioner Hayworth seconded, and it was approved unanimously. 

Ann Chisolm and Cedric Watson from WMATA

Next up with a discussion by WMATA/Metro representatives, Ann Chisolm and Cedric Watson on the 45-week closing of the East entrance to the Georgia Avenue / Petworth station due to an upcoming escalator replacement. Full details of the closure are available in a separate Petworth News article, “Metro to close GA Ave escalators for 45 weeks.” 

Michael Aniton, the Assistant Attorney General of the Neighborhood Victim Services Section, was invited to attend the ANC meeting to discuss businesses allegedly selling synthetic marijuana, but was unable to attend the meeting. (I spoke to Mr. Aniton the next day, and he said he was looking forward to attending the ANC in the future.)

4cfeb16-24.JPG

DC Water presented about the small pipe replacements affecting Rock Creek Church Road, 5th, 4th, and Quincy St NW. DC Water plans to replace 80-100 feet each day. They said they will work around the perimeter three times to lay the pipe, test, chlorinate then connect the water services. More info can be found on this PDF.

Commissioner Galloway asked  what timeframe to give notice to residents about losing parking. The representative said one week notice is given via flyers, then 72 hours for no parking signs. 

Work is supposed to start this week (weather permitting).

Commissioner Uqdah made a motion to authorize himself to represent ANC 4C’s interests for "DC First" resolution. Seconded by Commissioner Hayworth, approved unanimously. 

Commissioner Uqdah then made a motion to approve a letter of opposition for a special exception for BZA application “19189,” which is a redevelopment of 5523 13th Street NW. The case is supposed to be dropped, but since it is still on the agenda with BZA, Uqdah wants to ensure the letter of opposition is completed. The ANC approved. 

Commissioner Galloway said that a “town hall” on ABRA alcohol license renewals was still in the works. Details to come.

Chair Galloway, Vice-Chair Teutsch and Treasurer Halpern

Commissioner Teutsch gave a quick update on the Powell Elementary traffic safety update. He said there was disorder on the DGS construction team, as an old public space proposal that used permeable paving and trees was tossed out for a worse plan. After parent and resident opposition to the changes, DGS has admitted to the mistake and is working on an extension. Teutsch moved to oppose the plan because the hearing is coming up and the plan still uses the older plan, as well as authorizing him to represent the ANC. After some discussion of procedural issues (the ANC wants to oppose the current plan but approve once the plan is updated). Approved.

Secretary Joe Martin, Commissioner Timothy Jones

The ANC then approved paying for the membership renewal for Commissioner Timothy Jones for an Urban Land Institute membership (due to his involvement with the Friends of the Soldier Home, he’s the only one with this membership).

Then Commissioner Teutsch presented a resolution to support changing DC’s Inclusionary Zoning standards to include more affordable units at 60% area median income or below affordability (as opposed to 80% of AMI). There was some confusion as to the version of the resolution (the final version included comments by Commissioner Uqdah). Commissioner Hayworth made some friendly amendments to add “majority of 60% AMI or below” to encourage developers to offer units at prices below 60% of AMI. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Joe Vaughan, former ANC commissioner

Commissioner Hayworth then said he was seeking input from residents with suggestions for improvements to the way the District government prepares for and handles snow removal. 

He mentioned that Commissioner Mary Cheh, who chairs the Transportation and Environment Committee, is holding a hearing to discuss city response to “Snowzilla.” It covers issues like trash pickup and alley cleaning of snow, along with better communications about trash pickup. Parking is also an issue, (saving a spot isn't legal). Hayworth asked for residents to send suggestions that he can forward on to CM Cheh. Former ANC 4C commissioner Joe Vaughan, got up to say that as a long-time resident, he thought this was the most efficient response by DC he's ever seen. “DC did a great job.”

Khalil Thompson

Khalil Thompson from the Mayor’s office arrived at the end of the meeting and spoke briefly about snow issues. He said that he is leaving the Mayor’s office and taking a new position with DDOT. (He’s been an awesome liaison and will be missed in his role.)

Meeting adjourned. Thanks for reading!