Notes from the April meeting of ANC 4D

(Ed note: Following the axiom that it's better late than never, here are the notes from the April meeting of ANC 4D.)

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4D met on April 19th and covered topics such as website issues, Jefferson Street Community meeting, DC SCORES, and DC Water.

After the usual beginning items, the Commission reviewed the Treasurer’s Monthly Report from Commissioner / Treasurer Krystal Branton. As of March 31st, the ANC had $13,798.08. They approved the quarterly report.

A resident asked why the ANC’s minutes or agendas weren't on the ANC 4D website. Secretary Nancy Roth explained that "we have a website problem but have been able to put up 2015 agendas and minutes this week." She said the ANC is looking for someone to help them to setup a website (they have funds available). 

Chair Lisa Colbert made a motion to request $1,150 for the Petworth community health/wellness expo to cover permits, show mobile, etc. Approved.

ANC 4D is partnering with ANC 4B for the wellness expo. Looking to invite the Mayor, CM Todd, CM Bonds, Dir Health Nesbit, MPD, DCFD, WHUR, Mary's Center and others in attendance. Emory Rec center May 21st, 10:30 - 3:30pm. Dance, DJ, healthy cooking examples, group exercise, games for kids, etc. 

Chair Colbert said that at the next meeting, DCBOEE will be on hand to show the new voting equipment and process.

Commissioner David Sheon gave an overview of the April 5th “Jefferson Street Community Empowerment and Safety Meeting” at Brightwood Park United Methodist Church. "An earnest discussion about what is driving the crime on Kennedy Street. We can do better as a community to understand what are driving people to crime. Lack of opportunity is something that was identified." Discussed the Nicole Porter article and her creative ideas to engage young people. See the related article "Brightwood/Petworth residents meet with city leadership to talk about crime" (April 8, 2016).

Commissioner Sheon said the next meeting is scheduled for May 31st 6:30pm. Hoping to create an expungement seminar to offer lawyers and advisors to help young people who have minor convictions (offenses) to clear their records. The goal is to build trust and communicate with young people that we care about them.

He gave an example of a shooting at Jefferson and Illinois that day, where a young man was struck. “Need to work with MPD, but need to find a way to help those committing the crimes find alternatives.” He added that they are looking for mentors to work with juveniles. 

Commissioner / Secretary Nancy Roth

Commissioner Nancy Roth gave an update on affordable senior housing at 608 Kennedy St (formerly Horton Funeral Parlor). They are working with Manna, Inc, who submitted an RFP with the city. They didn’t get awarded by the city, but were asked to come back with a new proposal. City said they didn't have the "strength of funding" the city was looking for, so they've teamed with another developer on the project.

Commissioner Roth also gave an update on the vacant lots at 809-813 Kennedy Street. The property has been purchased by the city, slated to go out in May for RFPs to develop affordable housing (50% below market rate). 

Regarding the blighted townhouses at 829-831 Kennedy Street, Commissioner Roth mentioned that Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd said they city was going to buy them, but the city did not. Purchased by another buyer, and now listed for 3x the original offering price, and are now under contract.

Commissioner Bill Quirk introduced a letter of support for Children's National Health System, which provides nurses to 21 schools in Ward 4 (14 public, 7 charter). Approved. 

Commissioner David Sheon with Jose Diaz and his son.

Commissioner Sheon discussed the alcohol license renewal for El Camino Real, and presented owners Jose and Elsa Diaz. The restaurant is located at 5217 Georgia Avenue NW. (Ingraham and Hamilton). Sheon said he was originally concerned about the criminal activity near the establishment, but turns out that it's shoplifting at CVS (people being arrested down the street from CVS in front of El Camino Real). He said they’ve had minor issues only. Diaz is very interested in community support and hearing feedback.

Commissioner Sheon also presented on DCRA’s discontinued online access to permitting information. Sheon made a motion to send a letter to DCRA and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange about the discontinued building permit online database. “It was extraordinarily helpful to ANC commissioners and neighbors, and helpful to journalists,” he said. The system was taken down a couple of months ago, because DCRA said they felt the information wasn't accurate enough. 

“We are protesting in the strongest terms,” Sheon said, “This breaks DC code and is not transparent with our community. DCRA is the most problematic DC agency.” Sheon is asking the ANC to send a letter to protest the removal of the permit application tracking database and ask for its restoration as quickly as possible. 

Stacey Lincoln from CM Vincent Orange's office

Stacey Lincoln, a representative from CM Orange’s office, came up to ask, "Since it's been removed, have you tried alternative methods to find information?" 

“Yes,” said Sheon, “I’ve tried and been told 3-5 weeks to get a response. This is woefully out of compliance with the law.” 

ANC voted to approve the letter to DCRA unanimously.

Jasmin Benab

Jasmin Benab from the Mayor’s office spoke about “Potholepalooza,” DC’s program to fix potholes in 48 hours. Ms. Benab said that DDOT has received 700 requests and filled 5,000 potholes to date.  

Stacey Lincoln from CM Orange's office spoke about a vacant and blighted property bill on Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and Orange's committee. Lincoln spoke about Federal placement of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, and the issues that raises with DC’s new loosening of marijuana rules. He added that he ”will follow up on online permitting process and see what the deal is with that."

Jordan Bailey and Connor Weber from Councilmember Todd's office

Jordan Bailey and Connor Weber from Councilmember Todd's office spoke briefly. They asked for residents to contact them if they need anything from the CM. They said Todd hosted a RFP workshop for the Hebrew Home Center, with feedback to go into the RFP. He said Todd wants senior housing or town homes, no high rise. 

Charles Robinson and Katrina Owens from DC SCORES were introduced by Commissioner Sheon. “DC Scores plays an important role in the community,” Sheon said (Sheon is on the board as a volunteer). Katrina Owens, the chief of staff of DC SCORES, said the organization works to created "impact-building teams for kids with an after-school program that serves 2,000 young people, in every Ward except 3.” She said the group follows a “whole child approach" to teaching soccer, poetry and service learning. 

Katrina Owens, from DC SCORES

DC SCORES has been partnering with Truesdell EC since 2000. Currently have 120 K-8 kids at Truesdell in the program, with a grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for morning activities. They recently added 1st and 2nd graders to the program at Truesdell, and hired a full time staffer, Will Sutton. They will be doing a summer camp for 50 students, as well as a jamboree on June 4th at Anacostia Park. They’re also looking for referees on Thursday home games, and summer camp volunteers. 

Coach Robinson

Coach Charles Robinson spoke about the program. He said that DC Scores meets every day at Truesdell, with the students in class twice a week, twice in practicing, with Thursdays as game day. The Middle School team travels, and also meets every day. They provide two writing coaches for the students, along with two soccer coaches and other volunteers. Robinson said, “We have 120 students enrolled in DC Scores, kids who rally around DC SCORES. We're able to hold onto 50 students all year long -- these students shine in the classroom. It's worth the time." He mentioned that Truesdell needs volunteers and help restoring the field. He also mentioned that the “Poetry Slam,” their annual poetry contest between the schools, is in December, and that Truesdell has won the last two years. 

Basav Sen

Then Basav Sen got up to talk about the Citizens Fair Election Act of 2015. Sen works with the Green Neighbors group, which supports the Act because polluters have more money than environmentally conscientious businesses. The goal of the Act is to offer matching public funds for candidates for public office. "One small big step to get around the problem of massive amounts of money in our political system, that we have from the local level up to the federal level,” Sen said. He said that contributions are capped at aggregate of $100 from any one entity or person. 

Commissioner Bill Quirk asked about campaign finance laws, “Is this not covered already?” Sen said that the rules in the proposed Act follow a voluntary pledge by candidates to avoid donations and instead get matching funds. Will not cost more than $5 million (0.6% of DC's discretionary budget), he said. Candidates have to hit a total amount of minimum funding and donations of $100 or less to be eligible. There is a cap on total amount of funding available. 

Commissioner Bill Quirk

“By making the funding available, we make the candidates who pledge be more viable, with more resources to run an effective campaign against candidates who do not agree to the limits,” Sen explained.

Commissioner Nancy Roth proposed a letter of support for the Act. Approved.

Lilia Ledezma from DC Water was introduced by Commissioner Lisa Colbert. Ms. Ledezma gave an overview of the DC Clean Rivers project to deal with storm water and sewer water. Basically, new pipe system for sewer and water runoff (it’s been discussed several times at previous meetings). She said that the Rock Creek has the largest number of overflows from storm and sewer runoff, but the least amount of water going into the system. 

Roger Green

Resident Roger Green got up to speak about the issue of lead in DC’s water supply. Mr. Green said that it’s critical to know if our water is safe to drink, and important for residents to find out if they have lead water service lines feeding from main lines by testing their water. He said he had his lead levels tested years ago, and discovered that he had 20 times the maximum acceptable level for lead. “There is no acceptable level, and lead in water is dangerous for children and pregnant women,” he said. He replaced his services lines and lead level went down to below EPA levels.

Mr. Green said that DC Water is not proactively informing people, and that they know where the lead service lines are. He said that DC Water has been replacing pipes but service lines under residents are the responsibility of homeowners. He said the city needs a solution to help lower income residents who cannot afford to replace their service lines themselves.

Next meeting is May 17th!