Notes from the March ANC 4C meeting

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C had its regular monthly meeting on March 13th. Here are the notes, covering a report by MPD Captain Sean Conboy on the detaining of youth at the Petworth Metro, some updates from the mayor’s office and more. It was a shorter than normal meeting.

Commissioner Kim Varzi said there is a street cleanup planned for March 23rd at 10am at 9th & Upshur Streets. No RSVP needed, just show up to help keep the neighborhood clean.

Commissioner Maria Barry spoke briefly about Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd’s meeting on the 14th Street  Bus Barn. WMATA presented their plans to update the Bus Barn for employees and to be a LEED certified facility. The bus barn closes at the end of May for a four-year project. Will include retail and electric buses (no electric buses exist yet… Elon). 

The update meeting on the Hebrew Home redevelopment is tonight.

Gabrielle Priest from the Mayor’s office spoke about the 311/911 changes at the Office of Unified Communications. Now, you’re expected to use 311 for non-emergency calls or events that occurred more than an hour ago. She said this was being done to streamline 911 and address real emergencies. 

She said Pepco is giving away 1,000 trees. More details at Arborday.org/pepco

As of March 1st, DC Fire & EMS will assess symptoms and may not call an ambulance for medical issues, and may instead connect patients with a nurse instead of taking to ER for non-emergency issues, relieving burden on the ERs for minor issues.

Josh Fleitman from CM Todd’s office spoke on a few issues, and said that it’s budget season for the DC Council.  

Frazier O’Leary, the Ward 4 School Board of Education representative said he’s focused on transparency for all schools, Charter and DCPS. He said CM Charles Allen is proposing legislation on the topic, hearings coming up. He said he has concerns about teacher turnover, meeting coming up — highest turnover in the US. Recent compelling testimony from students from Basis Charter school and Ballou. 

Justin Ralston and Julian Hipkins from Roosevelt High School spoke about their recent visitors from Egypt as well as US State Dept International Visitor program came by to learn from Roosevelt. They also spoke about the school’s latest edition of their school paper (you can find a copy at Lulabelle’s Sweet Shop on Upshur).

Then Captain Sean Conboy from MPD got up to speak about the February 21, 2019 incident outside the Georgia Ave/Petworth Metro Station, where youth were being detained for an hour based on a 911 call of theft. The incident drew many complaints from residents who felt the detainment was too long. Capt Conboy gave an overview of the incident and offered to answer questions, but few were asked.  

Conboy said eight juveniles ages 13-17 were detained, and one was arrested for theft of a phone. 

He said that 911 received a call at 10:20pm from a business on the 3700 block of Georgia Ave NW, claiming a group of youth were attacking staff. He said some of the youth had tried to steal alcohol, then stole a phone from a staff member. MPD was told the youth who stole the phone was wearing a red jacket. When MPD was in the business, the group was seen outside, and a male in a red jacket was identified — he ran and was apprehended. Video from the business was reviewed, and the youth was arrested for theft. The other youth were released on their own recognizance.

Conboy said that Metro police were there because the metro stations are their jurisdiction and they happened to be on-scene at the time.

Michelle Moore from Groundswell

The CEO of Groundswell, Michelle Moore, spoke about community solar projects in Ward 4. She said that Groundsell builds community-based solar projects that allow neighbors to benefit from and share solar power as part of the DC DOEE “Solar for All” program. She gave an example of how her company places solar panels on local churches, thereby allowing both the church and low income residents (defined as 85% AMI) to leverage the solar savings, to the tune of about $500 a year. 

Ajan Brown from the DC Office of Human Rights

Ajan Brown, the Community Engagement Specialist from the DC Office of Human Rights gave an overview of what his agency does. He said the OHR enforces anti-discrimination laws, race, religion, orientation, origin, credit, etc. Basically, being treated differently, unfairly. He said they rely on the community to file claims (online or in person). It’s a free service for District residents or those employed in or visiting DC. Complaints first go to mandatory mediation then, if not merited and not resolved, a full investigation.

Commissioner Debbie Matties

Commissioner Debbie Matties spoke briefly on a resident survey about prospective use if opened to the public. (Note that this isn’t a simple flip of a switch to allow residents to use the pool. Funds would have to be allocated to construction to allow separate access during non-school hours for residents. DGS would do the construction, DPR would manage the pool. (More here: “Do you want the Roosevelt HS pool to also be open for residents? [survey]”)

Then a couple who own a condo at 539 Randolph Street NW got up with their architect to request the ANC’s approval for zoning exceptions. They own the top floor, and basically, the original developer did a terrible job and to remedy the problems they basically have to rip off the top structure of the house and redo it. Since they’re doing all that… they want to drop in some upgrades. The house is a “non-conforming structure,” meaning it doesn’t meet current zoning rules (height) that they can’t do anything about. (This will get very likely be grandfathered and approved by the Zoning board.) It’s a 3-unit building, converted in 2015-17 with bad workmanship issues. Because it’s a 3-unit in a RF-1 area, which now only allows 2-units, they need to go to BZA. Also want a height exception above 35’ — will be 40’, which it is already. Other owners and neighbors have given consent.  ANC approved a letter of support for the exceptions.

Commissioner Varzi spoke briefly about Safari, which has a shooting outside the bar due to a fight that started inside. Patrons beat the DJ, then someone shot another person outside, who died of his wounds. Safari’s alcohol license was suspended after the fight and homicide. On February 27th the owner requested a hearing to get their license back, and ABRA instead sent the issue to the Attorney General’s office to show cause. Community members can submit testimony pro/against. 

The ANC opposed an application for Live Entertainment for Barrilito Bar and Restaurant (3911 14th Street NW). The bar said they will withdraw their application. ANC cited many assaults, public drunkenness and other issues.

Commissioner Barry introduced and the ANC approved a letter of support for Uptown Main Street’s Upshur Park Earth Day. This will be the second year the program does an “Umbrella Stroll” will feature residents decorating umbrellas (as well as artist-made umbrellas) while going from business to business along 14th Street. It was well-attended last year.

COMMUNITY COMMENT

A resident in a dope cowboy hat raised her concerns about bicyclists going through stop signs and red lights. She said she wants bikes to have tags and insurance. 

The broken playground equipment at Bernard Elementary School was brought up — especially how it’s been a very long time since it was first reported to DGS.

Meeting ended early!