ANC 6A Report – June 2017

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A Chair Phil Toomajian called the meeting to order at Miner Elementary School (601 15th St. NE), with Commissioners Calvin Ward, Patrick Malone, Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, and Mike Soderman in attendance. Marie-Claire Brown arrived shortly thereafter; Stephanie Zimny was absent.

The meeting opened with several community presentations,

Streetcar Update
Jamie Henson of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is a transportation management planner and the project manager for the planned streetcar expansion west from Union Station to Georgetown. He reported that the streetcar serves approximately 3,000 riders per day on the H Street NE line, operating 14-16 hours daily with a 12-minute “headway.” Although there are continuing service interruptions due to traffic accidents, overall the project is exceeding expectations.

DDOT estimates that the extension of the line to Georgetown would reduce transit times to 23-27 minutes, compared to the 45-60 minutes using current transit options. Funding for the extension was included in the mayor’s original budget but was pulled back in the most recent version put forward by the DC Council (see below).

An environmental impact study for the extension of the line, with a focus on noise issues, is underway. It will be followed by public meetings this fall. Final approval could take place in 2018. DDOT will pursue federal grant money to extend the line. According to a “ridership comparison” prepared by the department, the project compares favorably to those in other cities, making it a good candidate for funding.

Traffic Congestion at Chick-fil-A
Matthew Marcou of DDOT spoke about traffic congestion at Chick-fil-A. As predicted by the ANC 6A Transportation and Public Space Committee, Commissioner Zimny, and neighbors, the opening of the Chick-fil-A (between the 1400 block of Maryland Avenue and G Street NE) has resulted in serious traffic congestion in the immediate area. The situation on G Street is particularly concerning, as emergency vehicles would find it difficult to service residents living there. There are also intermittent backups onto Maryland Avenue.

The business offers only carryout service; there is no indoor seating. It is geared toward serving customers in cars; it’s unclear to potential customers how walk-in traffic is accommodated. This discourages pedestrian access, resulting in increased car traffic.

Although these problems were anticipated and concerns brought to DDOT’s attention months ago, the department declined to address them, responding that they would wait to assess the situation after the restaurant opened.

Marcou reported that, since the restaurant opened, DDOT has worked closely with the operators to mitigate neighbors’ concerns, that the changes have “dramatically improved” the situation, and that the operator should have made these arrangements initially. Entrance from G Street is no longer allowed; a temporary “No entrance” sign has been placed at that exit. “Channeling tools” (cones and barrels) have been deployed to direct traffic on both the G Street and Maryland Avenue sides. An off-duty police officer, paid for by Chick-fil-A, directs traffic. The operator will be required to make additional changes, among them, narrowing the G Street exit and installing permanent signage, including “Don’t block the sidewalk” signs.

Neighbors asked why this had not been done before the business was granted a certificate of occupancy (CO) and allowed to open. Marcou responded that DDOT only has jurisdiction over public space and that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has responsibility for granting COs.

Neighbors in attendance acknowledged that, while under close-scrutiny from DDOT, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the ANC, the situation is marginally better and traffic is no longer completely stopped. However, many expressed skepticism that the proposed changes would result in an acceptable long-term reduction in traffic congestion.

Alcohol Beverage Licensing Actions
The commissioners voted unanimously to authorize a protest of the substantial change request by the Elroy (1423 H St. NE) if the ANC 6A Alcohol Beverage Licensing (ABL) Committee votes to do so at its June 20 meeting. The Elroy is requesting permission to add a cover charge and dancing.

Similarly, ANC 6A will protest the request for a new license by Dynamix Lounge (1220 H St. NE) if the ABL Committee votes for a protest at its June meeting.

Transportation and Public Space Actions
The commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to the DC Council supporting DDOT’s exploration of the feasibility of installing 3,000-Kelvin LED lights, citing concern about higher-intensity LED lights and recommending full shielding.

ANC 6A will also send a letter to DDOT requesting a traffic-calming study for the 1200 through 1500 blocks of C Street NE. Such a study has been approved for C Street east of 16th Street.

The commissioners will send a letter to the chair of the DC Council, Phil Mendelson, requesting that funding be restored for completion of the eastern and western ends of the streetcar line.

Economic Development and Zoning Actions
A new business, Puff, Pass & Paint, has opened in an apartment on Tennessee Avenue NE. Despite the name, the owner, Stacey Mulvey, insists that it “is not a marijuana business” but a “safe space” for clients of her yoga studio to consume their own marijuana. She also offers painting classes.

Commissioners and neighbors questioned whether the business is operating “in private” (where marijuana can be legally consumed) or “in public” (where it cannot), since she is offering services to the public in a commercial setting. The owner likened it to a hair salon where clients might be offered wine. Commissioner Malone pointed out that such activity might also be illegal. Mulvey said that she limited her clients to five per day, the maximum for a business operating in a residential zone. However, Commissioner Soderman pointed to her website where it was possible to purchase 10 tickets for the same session. There have been complaints of smoke seeping into adjacent residences, but Mulvey said that had been corrected.

ANC 6A will send a letter seeking guidance on marijuana businesses operating in residential areas and will appeal DCRA’s issuance of a business license and a home-use permit for Puff, Pass & Paint.

ANC 6A will send a letter of support to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for an interior renovation and two-story rear addition with a cellar at 1362 East Capitol St. NE (HP#17-403). Originally, the plan called for a three-story addition and enclosing of the dogleg, but the owners have scaled back the project in response to objections from adjacent homeowners.

Reports & Announcements
Commissioner Toomajian announced that HPRB has approved the application (which the ANC supported) for the Emerald Street Historic District.

The Historic Preservation Office (HPO) is accepting applications for the Historic Homeowner grant program until July 5: http://planning.dc.gov/service/apply-historic-homeowner-grant.

Turf renovation is underway on the field at the Sherwood Recreation Center.

A new business, The Capital Candy Jar, is coming to a long-vacant storefront at 201 14th St. NE.

Levy plans to resign as commissioner for ANC 6A04, effective July 31. His fellow commissioners thanked him for his service.

Commissioner Ward reported an increased police presence in his single-member district (SMD), especially near 18th and D streets NE, where it is most needed. This is part of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Summer Crime Initiative.

Some ANC 6A committee meetings may have a change of venue in July. The public is advised to check the website calendar; locations will be posted as they become known.

ANC 6A meets on the second Thursday of every month (except August), usually at Miner Elementary School. However, the July 13 meeting will take place in the community room at Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G St. NE.

The 6A committees meet at 7 p.m. on the following schedule:

Alcohol Beverage and Licensing, third Tuesday of each month, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th St. NE.

Community Outreach, fourth Monday of each month, Maury Elementary School, 601 15th St. NE.

Economic Development and Zoning, third Wednesday of each month, Sherwood Recreation Center, 640 10th St. NE.

Transportation and Public Space, third Monday of every month, Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G St. NE.

Visit www.anc6a.org for calendar of events, changes of date/venue, agendas, and other information.