First District Commander Morgan Kane briefed Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C at its May meeting on several police issues around the community, including the armed robbery of Grubb’s Pharmacy on the 300 block of East Capitol Street. Kane assured commissioners that while the pharmacy itself was targeted – not the customers in the store – this incident was not part of a rash of pharmacy robberies. She added that since the start of 2017, violent crime in the First District has gone down about 36 percent. However, she plans to meet with community and area leaders to prepare for the coming summer, a time when crime can rise. “Going into the summer, our plan is to beef it up,” she said.
The quorum: Karen Wirt (6C02, chair), Heather Edelman (6C06), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Christine Healey (6C01, secretary), and Scott Price (6C03, vice chair). Christopher Miller (6C05, treasurer) was absent.
Homeless Encampments in NoMa Underpasses
Commander Kane updated commissioners on what police and DC agencies can and can’t do in handling the homeless population that camps in tents under the L, M, and N Street underpasses in NoMa. Commissioner Edelman has expressed concern for her residents’ safety because the tents often take up the whole sidewalk and push pedestrians into the street.
Kane explained that if the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the DC Department of Health determine that an encampment is a threat to public safety or health, they can call the DC Department of Public Works (DPW) to clean it up and remove the items. However, they must post the cleanup notice 14 days in advance, offer outreach services 48 hours in advance, and keep any property found at the cleanup to store for 60 days.
Kane explained that many people sleeping there will see the notice, pick up and leave before the cleanup, and then return once it’s finished. A representative from the Department of Human Services (DHS) told commissioners that his agency works to get these people into housing, but when many don’t possess an ID, Social Security number, or birth certificate, it takes time. MPD and DC agencies work to balance the needs of the homeless and the needs of the surrounding residents. “Homelessness is not a crime, so we can’t treat it as such,” Kane said.
Disagreements over New York/Florida Avenue Intersection Redesign
Representatives from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented an initial concept plan for the redesign of the circle intersection connecting New York Avenue and Florida Avenue NE. The redesign takes away the circle concept and replaces it with a typical intersection style. The main concept assumes that the Wendy’s fast-food restaurant won’t remain, and therefore allows the roadway to cut into that property lot.
Commissioners had several comments on the lack of support for bicycle commuters and pedestrians in the plan. The main New York Avenue roadway would grow to eight lanes across with only a four-foot pedestrian rest median in the middle of the crosswalk. Eckenwiler argued that it not only threatens the safety of pedestrians who can’t make it across eight lanes in the set time, but it doesn’t make the intersection pedestrian-friendly in a city that is moving away from car-centered designs. “Start thinking about how you can make this a more hospitable environment,” he said. Some of the bicycle lanes didn’t quite connect across intersections, making it less bicycle-friendly.
Commissioners voted to send a letter with comments to DDOT and representatives, and asked for more public outreach as DDOT moves forward in the redesign.
Nike USA Office Permit Violation
Developers for Nike USA’s new office space at 507 Second St. NE failed to obtain proper permitting for the mechanical equipment on top of the building, and have applied for the permit after the fact. Commissioners chose to look at the permit request as if the work had not been completed (as they would any permit request) and decided unanimously to oppose the request for relief on the placement of the mechanical equipment. “You don’t get to benefit from your own errors after the fact,” Eckenwiler said. They added they will not ratify the contractor’s mistake.
The screen wall for the equipment is about three feet beyond the limits, but Nike’s representative for the project said that a fix and move of the equipment would cost about $25,000-$30,000. The representative added that they might consider putting up a parapet wall, but commissioners did not support the block to view. The hearing for the permit was set for May 17.
Commissioners unanimously supported the Historic Preservation Application for 17 Sixth St. NE, a project for the site’s rear, rooftop, and garage additions. The project is now matter-of-right.
The park at Third and L streets NE is expected to open in the fall of 2017. It includes a dog park.
Commissioners supported without discussion the projects at 516 Third St. NE and 630 Lexington Place NE. They agreed to appeal the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) appeal for 1125 Seventh St. NE, and supported the initial concept plan for Capitol Crossing at 222 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
The ANC delayed a vote on the K Street NE traffic study until more people can see the details. It runs from North Capitol Street to Florida Avenue NE, and commissioners recommended a hybrid approach, only where necessary, to left-turn lanes for cars in the traffic flow part of the study.
ANC 6C regularly meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The next meeting is on June 14 at 7 p.m.