The January meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C was Wednesday, January 13th. The evening was the last night for Commissioner Kathleen Crowley, who resigned her seat on the commission. The ANC voted on new officers, talked about Cornrows & Co, reviewed an upcoming alcohol licensing meeting, talked about upcoming traffic changes at Powell, an agreement for Ruta del Vino and a special exception vote for a developer.
Commissioner Crowley provided an updated report on ANC 4C’s funds ($33,675.88 on hand, $17,477.45 in checking, $16,198.43 savings). The ANC is still not doing much with the publics funds I see. This is the last ANC meeting for Kathleen Crowley as a Commissioner. Her single member district of 4C10 will need a new person to step up and run.
Deputy Fire Chief John Donnelly, Sr (special operations) spoke at the meeting. He said the fire department / EMS was working closely with the mayor and council to improve EMS services, including privatization of ambulance services (bringing in additional third-party resources to meet call volume). Chief Donnelly said that EMS will still respond to 911 calls, but they will have new options for non-life threatening issues. They are in the vendor bidding process now, and will use temporary contractors for the in-between period. He made a point of mentioning that with the changes, residents will not be billed by the vendor. Insurance receives a bill, just like now with city EMS.
Commissioner Maria Barry thanked the Chief for the department’s efforts at the 2 alarm house fire on Delafield the other week (especially in light of a firefighter who was injured).
Khalil Thompson, Ward 4 Liaison from Mayor Bowser's office spoke briefly of the new legislation that offers up to a $500 grant / reimbursement for residents who purchase security cameras and make the video available to MPD. More details to come. He also mentioned that serve.dc.gov was still looking for volunteers who would help shovel the sidewalks / steps of those who are unable to do so themselves (only 2 hour commitment, near your home).
Commissioner Taalib-Din Uqdah asked Mr. Thompson about commercial trucks on 13th Street (5500 13th St NW between Kennedy & Madison), that has "pleasure tags" on them, not commercial license plates. The commissioner said that residents weren’t happy about the situation. Mr. Thompson said he would look into it.
During the Community Comment period, Patricia Hampton from AKA got up to speak about the sorority, and said that a community awareness project on heart health was coming up, and would be providing information on the listservs.
Commissioner Vann-Di Galloway mentioned that the Fahrenheit apartments (3930 Georgia Avenue NW) is looking to meet with their leasing agent to bring in a family-style restaurant, not a bar, into the first-floor retail space. They are encouraging residents to come to the meeting to share their opinion on what to do with that space on Wednesday, January 20th at 6:30pm at the corner of Shepherd & Georgia Ave.
Commissioner Uqdah mentioned that there was now a ban on foam containers in DC. More on the Department of Energy and Environment’s website.
Uqdah also mentioned that DCRA has started an amnesty program (until February 29th) for businesses operating without a license. So if you have a business in DC but don’t have a license, now’s a good time to get that fixed. (Here’s a PDF flyer on the program.)
From the DCRA website: “We understand that, sometimes, not being current with licensing requirements has more to do with economic hardship than indifference to the law. This Amnesty Program offers businesses who may have suffered a financial setback a fresh start for the new year to do business in the District,” said DCRA Director Melinda Bolling.
Next up was ANC Officer elections and other required votes for the start of the new year.
- No one stepped up to run for Chair, so Commissioner Joe Martin nominated Vann-Di Galloway for re-election to Chair. Approved unanimously.
- For Vice Chair, Commissioner Galloway nominated current Vice Chair Zach Teutsch (approved unanimously).
- Commissioner Michael Halpern was nominated by Commissioner Elisa Irwin for Treasurer (approved unanimously).
- Commissioner Martin then nominated himself for Secretary, and Commissioner Irwin nominated Commissioner Uqdah. Commissioner Martin was elected ANC Secretary with an 8-2 vote.
- Commissioner Teutsch then nominated Commissioner John-Paul Hayworth for re-election as Parliamentarian (approved unanimously).
No fireworks for the voting, but I got the impression that the nominations for Chair and for Secretary wasn’t a foregone conclusion until they happened at the meeting.
The ANC then voted to approve participation in DC’s collective bonding program for ANCs called a “Security Fund.” It’s required by the DC municipal regulations (DCMR).
The ANC then approved the 2016 meeting dates (also required to do by DCMR).
They approved a contract extension for Nia Turner, who manages the ANC’s meeting minutes and other administrative efforts unit the next meeting. And they once again designated an office at 801 Shepherd St NW, suite 231, as the ANC office ( “A small closet,” is how Chair Galloway described it. It’s mainly a place to store files.)
And once again, they designated Industrial Bank as the banking institution. (Has been forever.)
Then Commissioner Uqdah got up to present about his family’s business, Cornrows & Company and the American Hairbraiders & Natural Haircare Association (AHNHA). Uqdah’s family has run this business for 36-years in Ward 4, and they’ve been instrumental in fighting for the rights of hairbraiders against the cosmetology association.
Commissioner Uqdah said that his company’s work has been accepted into the Smithsonian Museum of African-American Culture (pretty outstanding). Uqdah mentioned his company has been given credit for changing law in 14 states exempting hairbraiders from cosmetology standards. Part of the collection to be given to the Museum are ceremonial pens that various governors have used to sign such laws into effect. He mentioned that his company has published several books on hairbraiding, and one publication is now a collector's item.
Conrows & Co. is located at 14th and Jefferson Street NW, “One location, international reputation,” he said.
Commissioner Teutsch said he was impressed by the work of the AHNHA, as cosmetology associations have burdensome regulations, and their efforts have helped small business owners and consumers. Commissioner Galloway said Uqdah's organization was instrumental to getting the Army to allow changes to women's hair (braids, twists). Uqdah said that the Marines just made the change as well, and that the Navy contacts them every five years for guidance. (John Stossel even wrote about the challenges hairbraiders face and Uqdah's role on fixing.)
Then Sarah Fashbaugh came up at the invitation of Commissioner Irwin to discuss the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration’s (ABRA) upcoming alcohol licensing renewals, the process of which is starting at the beginning of February and must be completed for restaurants, hotels, multipurpose facilities and others by March 31. Everyone who fits in the required bucket must renew. Ms. Fashbaugh is the Community Resource Officer for ABRA.
Interestingly, Ms. Fashbaugh mentioned that there are three sea vessels register as being licensed for alcohol in the area (who’s boating around Petworth, people?). There are 34 establishments in ANC 4C up for renewal. To help residents and establishments understand the renewal process, Commissioner Irwin and Ms. Fashbaugh will be holding a “town hall” meeting on January 25th at the Petworth library.
Commissioner Teutsch asked Ms. Fashbaugh for the three most common outcomes after an ABRA protest. Ms. Fashbaugh said community and licensee usually create a settlement agreement (with stipulations) is the most common outcome. Commissioner Halpern thanked her for starting the advanced notice, and asked about liquor store renewals, “Are they under ABRA?” Ms. Fashbaugh said that while they are regulated by ABRA, liquor stores and grocery stores are not up for renewal in March (they follow a different schedule). Commissioner Irwin asked where settlement agreements can be found, and Ms. Fashbaugh said all agreements are online on ABRA’s website, or residents can contact Ms. Fashbaugh with questions.
(Side note, ABRA asked me to write an article about license renewals, so look for something coming in the weeks ahead.)
Then Emily Dalphy from DDOT’s traffic administration safety team got up to talk about upcoming changes along Upshur Street in front of Powell Elementary. Besides a ton of new parking signs along the street, the east side speed bump will changed (enhanced?) to be crosswalk. It will feature pedestrian refuge islands (known as “bulb outs”), but will use bollards / flexi-posts for now to allow pedestrians to be safe. Parking won’t be allowed on the crosswalk.
Ms. Dalphy was pretty excited about new “zigzag lines” that will be painted onto the street to warn drivers, and said that a new center line should help keep cars in their designated lanes. DDOT will submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to ANC 4C on January 21st. Details of the changes can be found in an article from December 19th, “What happened at the meeting to discuss traffic concerns on the 1300 block of Upshur.”
Commissioner Irwin asked if DDOT can move the speed table to school’s front door (as the recommended location is halfway down the block from the main exit, away from the park the kids use daily). Ms. Dalphy said that wasn’t an option at the moment, since using the eastern most speed table allowed them to make no physical changes to the street. She said she will look at it during the NOI period.
Commissioner Teutsch asked if it’s not in the short term cards to move the crosswalk, perhaps they could revisit the issue depending upon the paving plan for the street. Ms. Dalphy said she didn’t know if that was possible, but that she is planning at being at parent meetings over the course of the school year and would look into it.
Teutsch asked about traffic movement, and if the new Kiss & Go area in front of the school will resolve the double parking issue. Ms. Dalphy said that the area in front of the school has no allowed parking, and is dropoff only. DDOT is working with school and parents to comply with that zone. She said that with the new center double yellow lines, drivers are more reticent to drive on the wrong side of the road if the center line is painted.
Commissioner Uqdah said that he has noticed that “At this area, in addition to drop off and pick up, Powell has before- and after-care. A lot of people are there, like school is just letting out. The problem starts with morning dropoff and goes on until 6pm.” Ms. Dalphy said that’s why the parking regulations extend to 6pm.
Commissioner Halpern asked, “Has there been any look at 14th Street in anticipation of spillover due to these changes?” Ms. Dalphy said they haven't necessarily looked at 14th Street, but there shouldn't be capacity-related issues since only lane stripes are being installed.
Dolly Turner from Commissioner Brandon Todd's office spoke. She briefly discussed the recent 14th Street cleanup, and that they have communicated with business owners that cleaning the tree boxes is their responsibility. She said they continue to work with retail establishments.
She mentioned that 5100 Georgia Ave NW was going to be redeveloped into a senior facility for memory / Alzheimer's residents. The first floor has retail. There was concern it was going to be a 7-11, but that she hasn’t heard if that's true, been checking with DCRA but nothing filed.
Commissioner Martin said that in the area, bars and restaurants are the more dominant type of business as rent is high. He said he would like to see CM Todd's office make suggestions on how to support small businesses who can't afford $3,000-4,000 monthly rents. Ms. Turner said she would take concerns back to Todd.
Commissioner Halpern asked about restarting the 14th Street clean up, and Ms. Turner said they are working with Mayor's office and Commissioner Teutsch to set a date. “Hopefully soon, when we get a break in the weather.” Halpern asked if there was money available for the repair of tree boxes, and Khalil Thompson mentioned it was the property renter's responsibility to clean the boxes. Commissioner Irwin said she spoke to DDOT and they said the tree boxes along 4600-4700 block of 14th were the responsibility of the property owners, they can keep or get rid of them. Ms. Turner said that the metal railings around the tree boxes were expensive and not easy to replace, and suggested they be fixed rather than trashed.
Then the ANC voted to approve the settlement agreement for Ruta del Vino (8th & Upshur Street NW). Approved with no discussion.
Commissioner Hayworth said that DDOT contacted him to say they were installing a new traffic signal at Webster and Georgia Avenue NW. DDOT found it was a dangerous intersection, especially for school children. DC DDOT spoke with USDOT and got approval to put in a light. Construction should begin mid-February as long as no public opposition.
Commissioner Teutsch made a motion to author a letter of support for DDOT's tentative measures to increase safety at Powell. Approved.
Commissioner Uqdah made a motion to request Department of Motor Vehicles eliminate any alpha/numeric tag plate considered to be offensive, specifically tags that start with "FU.” Approved.
Lastly, the developers of 615 Upshur St NW, a condo redevelopment of a Wardman townhouse into three units presented their request for a special exception (three units is not available “by right” and request ANC approval for the special exception). They plan on adding a 14-16 feet expansion along the back (aka, a pop-back) and raising the roofline by 3 feet (a full 25 foot extension in the back), removing the mansard roof and putting in three windows in the front (instead of the normal two of this block). They also plan a roof deck. One of the basement condos will also have an “in-law” suite.
They plan to use "in-kind" replacements for the front materials and hardy board plank along the visible sides of the pop-up.
Commissioner Irwin asked about turning in-law suites into apartments under zoning rewrites. Commissioner Uqdah said that owners would be able turn one unit into an apartment, making it a four unit building. The developer’s attorney, Mr. Sullivan, says it couldn't be four due to Inclusionary Zoning regulations, but it would be an en-suite, in-law suite. Uqdah said, “Whoever buys that condo, the condo owner could change the unit into a rental.”
He went on to say that he was aware Commissioner Hayworth has tried to bring the residents and the developer together, but nothing was done until this morning by the developer. Uqdah said he was disappointed that the ANC wasn’t given enough time to review the developer’s plans prior to the meeting.
Commissioner Hayworth said the biggest concerns are the shade and shadow plan of the new, mid-block structure. Some neighbor's will have backyards in complete shadow.
Several neighbors got up to share their opposition to the planned development, saying that had significant concerns about the proposed back addition, “It’s adding a whole additional structure onto the back.” They added that they felt the current architectural design would have significant affect on quality of life issues. The developer, Duane Young, said they are willing to entertain a change, but any product, or property they do, they are mindful of the character of neighborhood. They think it will add to the neighborhood.
The residents spoke about how the plans were maxing out the green space and the lot occupancy, and that a basement flooding issue has still not rectified by the developer. Additionally, one resident mentioned that it would be a terrible shame to destroy the mansard roof, which sits at the top of every other 100 year old house in that row.
Hayworth mentioned that due to poor communication from developers, there was no time to review plans before the meeting. He said he since there was a possibility to get the community and developer to work together, he wanted the ANC to oppose the special exception, but would consider withdrawing opposition if an agreement is made prior to Board of Zoning hearing in February. Commissioner Irwin requested they include a construction management agreement with the neighbors. The ANC voted to oppose the special exception.
To end the night, Commissioner Galloway thanked Kathleen Crowley for her service as Treasurer, and Taalib-Din Uqdah for his role as Secretary. Round of applause, and the meeting ended.
1/20/16 Correction: Updated the section about ABRA license renewals to replace "taverns" with the correct "restaurants, hotels, multipurpose facilities and others" per ABRA's request. Apparently, taverns renew by September 30th. Thanks Jessie!