Petworth News

Here’s my long but eloquent notes from the ANC 4C meeting held on Tuesday, March 11. As always, if I missed anything or misquote, that’s my fault. If you disagree with the ANC, that’s their fault. TL;DR:

Tonight was a longer meeting for ANC 4C. Prolly should have called it a Zoning meeting, as most of the items on the agenda were requests for support of zoning exceptions or requests for support to appeal zoning permits. Historic Landmark status for Grant Circle was proposed. Visiting ANC 1C Commissioner Gambrell got all uppity and disrespectful and two new Upshur St restaurants had their settlement agreements approved. And tonight was Commissioner Jeff Standish’s last ANC meeting. Good luck, Jeff!

The really longer view of the meeting (get comfy with your favorite snack and read on, there was a lot discussed):

It was a long meeting of mainly zoning issues. But up first was treasury issues. ANC 4C has $11,622.58 in checking and $16,732.70 in savings. (Anyone need a grant?) Due to timing issues (start of the meeting zipped right along), they moved to Community Comments.

Local Grant Circle resident John Barber, Sr got up to speak against the Historic District / Landmark designation for Grant Circle. He felt it would be bad for his property value, as his house is his investment. “Every block has houses from 1919, are you going to make every street ‘historic’?”

I spoke about the website. You’ve visited, right? You should, the site is amazing.

Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah talked about the upcoming bridge work at Military Road and 16th Street. He said while DDOT thinks traffic will reroute to Georgia Avenue, he cautioned residents to watch out for 13th and 14th streets to become gnarled in traffic.

Commissioner Joe Maloney gave everyone a head’s up about an upcoming DC Humane Society Walk for Animals. It’s a 1 mile walk through 16th Street Heights and “the beautiful SMD of 4C02.” The Adopt-a-Pet mobile van will be there (“Adopt Force One”). Thing is, it’s September 26, 2015. So consider yourself forewarned.

Tonight was Commissioner Jeff Standish’s last ANC meeting, as he’s resigning effective tomorrow (3/12/15). He and his family are moving to sunny Minnesota. He advises residents to contact Commission Chair Vann-Di Galloway with any issues, or any other ANC 4C commissioner.

Commissioner Timothy Jones is having an SMD meeting on Monday, March 16th at 801 Shepherd St to talk about the redevelopment of the funeral home at 3831 Georgia Avenue. (Is this his first SMD meeting??)

Khalil Thompson, the Ward 4 liaison for Mayor Bowser, came by to ask people to volunteer to shovel snow for seniors and elderly (next season, it’s like spring now, right?). You can get more info and sign up with the DC Citizen Snow Team at

The Mayor is doing a neighborhood walk through in 6 areas to look for graffiti and blight soon. And they’re organizing neighborhood cleanups, starting March 21st in Shepherd Park and Petworth (look for an email on the listservs soon). Khalil is also starting office hours, and he’ll announce them officially, but should be Fridays 1-3pm and a time on Saturdays (this guy seriously has no down time).

Commissioner Joe Martin asked Khalil if the city had any plans to survey and fix the “axle-breaking potholes” in the area. Khalil said the Mayor’s office is “very well aware of the problems and looking into it.”

Commissioner Maloney said that he and the Mayor “deserved real credit for trash pickup during the recent snow.” Granted there had been a lot of complaints, but Maloney felt the city stepped up and tried to clean up the trash. (Now, a longer term solution would be nice…)

Commissioner Martin mentioned the upcoming book reading by George Pelecanos at the Petworth Library on March 30th.

Wendy Shenk-Evans, the School Director from the Christian Family Montessori School, located on the grounds of the bucolic Rock Creek Cemetery requested a letter of support for a renewal of their zoning exception (mainly due to traffic and cars). There was a lot of talk about whether or not to write a letter of support now, as the school hasn’t submitted their renewal request yet, and many of the commissioners felt the letter was premature. They decided to hold off until the exception extension is submitted.

Inspector Vendette Parker came by to represent MPD, introduce herself and talk a bit about the new marijuana rules. Inspector Parker has 22 years on the force and is originally from Ward 4, and is happy to be back. She said she’s the assistant 4D Commander. While I’ve covered the rules surrounding pot usage before, I’ll bullet the points here:

- 21 or older to smoke or possess (2 ounces or less) - can have up to max 12 plants growing at home (6 per adult) - no smoking in public or front yard (yet according to Parker and a bunch of young guys I saw today, front steps seems ok) - Renters have to have the landlord’s permission. If landlord says no, then you can’t smoke in your rental. - Same with condos, if condo association says no, then you can’t toke up in your expensive new condo. - You can’t sell it, but you can give or receive it as a gift (my birthday is in two months, FYI). - You can possess more than 2 ounces at home if you can prove you grew all of it.

Commissioner Zach Deutsch asked Inspector Parker about pedestrian safety issues at 14th & Randolph. Parker had no info but said that she could have the enforcement teams look into it.

Then Commissioner John-Paul has the Neighborhood Development Company present their request for 2 parking variances for their upcoming condo building at 4326 Georgia Ave. They don’t have room for the required 5 spots, and so want to do 4 smaller “compact car” size spots. Building should be completed by winter 2016. ANC voted to support their request.

Ok, zoning fun.

A lot of time was taken up discussing 1521 Varnum St NW. Local resident (and Department of Parks and Recreation Chief of Staff) John Stokes was asking for the ANC’s support in appealing the permits granted to the developers of a very large condo unit going up at 1521 Varnum. Long story short, if the ANC joins the appeal, then Stokes doesn’t have to pay the $1,040 fee to submit his appeal. (Wha? Yeah, a thousand bucks to appeal a $100 permit. But if you think about it, it kinda makes sense. The fee is so high that it prevents nuisance appeals, and if the ANC gets involved it shows real community concern and wipes out the fee. Still. Ouch for the little guy fighting the well-funded developers.) Lots of discussion and commissioner questions, but in the end the ANC voted to approve his request to join in the appeal, and voted to designate Mr. Stokes the ANC’s representative. Lots of clapping from the crowd. After that, a fellow jumped up in the back and asked if the ANC wanted to hear from the owner. Some confusion then occurred and Commissioner Maloney and Chair Galloway told him he can come back in April’s meeting to talk. Lots of grumbling from the fellow.

Then since he was up there, Mr. Stokes spoke as a representative of DPR about the Upshur Pool. Commissioner Teutsch wanted to know why the pools open so late, why the kiddie pools are often closed and why people have to get out of the pool for 15 minutes every hour. Basically, the answer is lack of budget. Mr Stokes did say that DPR was looking to hire lifeguards, so if you’re interested, check out Commissioner Standish said “isn’t there a budget surplus?” to which Mr. Stokes replied “uh, no. In fact, there’s a deficit and the Mayor has asked all agencies to make cuts to their budgets.”

Back to zoning issues. Ms Abrams got up to speak about the condo development happening at 1117 Allison Street NW and it’s negative impact on her and neighbors. In interest of time (yours and mine), suffice it to say the ANC voted to support her appeal to the zoning board.

Then that fellow got up again and wanted to speak about 1117 Allison St NW. More confusion ensued as he claimed to now represent both owners (1521 Varnum and 1117 Allison). Turns out, shocker, he’s the attorney.

Then, whoowhee, as they were figuring out whether or not to allow this guy to, a different man sitting in the first row got rather loud that “this ANC meeting is poorly run, it’s a public meeting” and then “I don’t appreciate how this meeting is run.” (Lots of loud clapping in agreement to this comment from former ANC 4C commissioner Zach Hartman, who was sitting next to me.) Then the man identified himself as a commissioner from ANC 1C. Hmm. (I looked him up, it was Alan Gambrell, Commissioner for SMD 1C05 in Adams Morgan).

Now, whether you agree with Chair Galloway that the ANC 4C meeting is pretty much a spectator sport for residents, or with ANC 4D which makes their meetings a fully participatory experience with lots of resident questions and chatter, it was really rude and inappropriate for another Commissioner to so loudly shout out during another Commission’s meeting. If Commissioner Gambrell had concerns, he could have raised them after the meeting. Commissioners Maloney and Chair Galloway asked to be invited to *his* next ANC meeting. (heh)

Anyway, Chair Galloway let the developer’s attorney speak for a few minutes. Basically, he said he agreed with some of Ms Abrams issues that she should have been notified about the work before permits were issues but “this is a really common issue with developers not sending out notices.” To be honest, I’m not sure why he spoke. He would have been better off coming to the ANC prepared to speak. In any case, he left right after that.

Then Commissioner Hayworth introduced Paul Ruppert and requested the ANC approve a settlement agreement with Slim’s Diner, coming to 4201 Georgia Avenue (in the red Murrell building at the corner of Georgia and Upshur St NW). The ANC approved.

Slim’s Diner will open in July and have about 40 seats inside and 40 seats outside on a patio on Upshur and 9th Streets. Hours will be 7am - midnight 7 days a week. A diner. In Petworth. Please be awesome please be awesome please be awesome.

Commissioner Hayworth also introduced Jamie Leeds and requested the ANC support the settlement agreement with the Twisted Horn cocktail bar / lounge, opening at 819 Upshur St NW. The ANC approved. There will be 34 seats inside and 40 seats outside on a back patio. Ms Leeds lives in Petworth and owns three locations of Hank’s Oyster Bar.

Odd moment — before the vote for the settlement agreement, Commissioner Timothy Jones started to ask Ms Leeds if they would contribute money to Upshur Park, to which Commissioner Hayworth interrupted to say that the ANC can’t ask for a quid-pro-quo contribution when they’re about to vote on a settlement agreement. Ah politics!

Oy, I told you this was a long meeting.

Then in the last half hour, a group of Petworth residents got up to talk about their push to have Grant Circle designated as a Historic Landmark. Long story short here… there are a couple of developers looking to tear down some homes on Grant Circle and build larger condos. The residents around the circle and really unhappy and were told that their only real hope to stop this process for permits get issues is to get the area designated as Historic. Resident Oscar Beisert discussed how Petworth was the first outside area to be developed following the L’Enfant plan (hence the big circle and grid streets). Residents Paul Logan and Steve Wright also spoke about their desire to have the Circle designated as a Historic Landmark, and the crowd did a lot of clapping in agreement.

Commissioner Maloney ended the conversation by saying, with some passion, that at first he “didn’t want to support the effort for Historic Landmark consideration,” but that after listening to the problems that John Stokes and Ms Abrams were experiencing with developers, and the lack of power citizens had against bigger, more well-funded companies, and how ANCs were so easily brushed aside, he wants ANC 4C to stand up and be a voice for residents. (Booyah Joe, well said.)

The ANC voted to support the application for Historic Landmark status. Only Taalib-Din Uqdah opposed the vote.

Then the librarians came down and kicked us out for over-staying our welcome.

If you made it down to the bottom, let me know and I’ll buy you a beer sometime.

Cheers. from Petworth News

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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