Attend My Neighborhood Town Hall this Thurs., May 28

May 26, 2015

I’m hosting a Neighborhood Town Hall meeting this Thursday, May 28, 6:30-8 pm at Historic Congressional Cemetery Chapel (1801 E Street SE). Representatives from the Goldstar Group and NOVO Development will be on hand to provide updates on their projects at 1500 and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, respectively. Washington Gas representatives will also provide an update on the gas line replacement happening on 17th and D Streets SE. And I’ll provide updates on Reservation 13, Eastern Branch Building, 17th Street Safety Improvements and other issues.

Please bring your questions and concerns to the meeting. Use the main gate located at 18th & Potomac Ave SE to enter the cemetery.

Hope to see you there!


ANC 6B May Meeting Recap

May 24, 2015

Here is a brief recap of major actions at the May 12, 2015 ANC 6B meeting:

  • The commission voted unanimously to send a letter (pdf) to the District Department of Transportation and the District Department of Environment asking the agencies to include Freedom Way SE in the District’s Green Alley Program. A big thanks to John Cochran and Caryn Ernst, residents of 15th Street SE, who have helped organize this resident-driven effort.
  • ANC 6B voted unanimously to send comments (pdf) to the Marine Barracks Washington voicing support for Alternatives 4 and 5 for the new site of a Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) for the Barracks. Alternatives 4 and 5 are located on sites already on federal property (Alternative 4 is located in the Washington Navy Yard while Alternative 5 is located at the current site of the Marine Annex). ANC 6B strongly opposes Alternatives 1,2 and 3, sites ripe for retail and residential development. You can read more about MBW’s plans for a new BEQ at http://www.mbweis.com/.
  • The commission voted unanimously to support a new liquor license (pdf) for Elaine’s One, a new restaurant by the owner of Rose’s Luxury slated to open at 715 8th Street SE. The commission and the applicant signed a settlement agreement outlining key issues related to hours, noise and trash.
  • The commission voted to support a number of liquor store liquor license renewal requests, including renewals for World Wine & Spirits (1453 Pennsylvania Ave SE), S&J Liquors (1500 Massachusetts Avenue SE) and Albert’s Liquors (328 Kentucky Ave SE). All three of these applicants agreed to sign settlement agreements with ANC 6B. You can review the letters and settlement agreements of all the May cases on the ANC 6B website.
  • Metropolitan Police Department First District Commander Jeff Brown shared an update on public safety and crime trends in the neighborhood. Commander Brown referenced an increase in burglaries in PSA 108, which covers a good portion of Hill East (and all of 6B09). MPD is putting additional resources into areas seeing a spike in crime, particularly violent crime. As always, MPD encourages attendees to call 911 if they see anything suspicious.
  • After an attendee said she was put on hold by 911 after hearing gun shots near her home, Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) asked the commission to add a letter to the Office of Unified Communications, which oversees 911, to the agenda, to relay this troubling incident. The commission voted unanimously to send a letter (pdf) to OUC. Representatives from Mayor Bowser’s office and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen’s office also said they would follow-up on the issue.
  • ANC 6B’s June meeting will be on Tues., June 9, 7pm at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave SE).

Friday Quick Takes: Hill East Task Force, Town Hall, Cinematery, Capitol Hill Classic

May 15, 2015
  • On Thurs., May 21, ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force will hold a meeting from 6:30-8 pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave SE). Topics include a discussion on crime and public safety in the neighborhood with PSA 108 Lt. James Dykes and an update from Donatelli Development on plans for Hill East/Reservation 13.
  • I’ll be holding a Neighborhood Town Hall meeting on Thurs., May 28, 6:30-8 pm at the Congressional Cemetery Chapel (1801 E Street SE). Representatives from Goldstar Group and NOVO Development will be on hand to provide updates and answer questions related to their respective projects at 1500 and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave SE. Representatives from Washington Gas will also provide an update on their pipe replacement project on the 300 block of 17th and 1700 block of D Streets SE. And, as always, I will open the floor for any questions on city or neighborhood issues.
  • Tonight (Fri., May 15), Congressional Cemetery is hosting its first “Cinematery,” an opportunity to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds  under the stars. Gates open at 7:30 pm and the movie begins at 8:30 pm. There is a suggested donation of $10.
  • The 36th Annual Capitol Hill Classic is this Sunday, May 17. The CHC is an annual fundraiser for the Capitol Hill Cluster School. You can learn more and register for the 10K, 3K and fun run on the CHC website. Be advised that the race will close East Capitol Street between roughly 8:30 am and 11 am so plan your travel accordingly.
  • If you have not already done so, please visit the much improved ANC 6B website and sign up to receive e-mail notifications of commission meetings and other events. Just type your e-mail address in the box in the top right hand corner of the homepage.

ANC 6B April Meeting Recap

April 30, 2015

Due to DCPS spring break, ANC 6B moved our monthly meeting from April 14 to April 20. Here are highlights from the meeting:

  • The commission voted unanimously to send a letter (pdf) to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson with comments on Mayor Bowser’s FY16 budget plan. While supportive of the Mayor’s proposed funding to replace and close DC General and for Reservation 13/Hill East infrastructure, ANC 6B noted its opposition to continued delays for modernization funding at Ward 6 schools, including funding for Eliot-Hine and Jefferson Academy Middle Schools.
  • ANC 6B voted 10-0 to send a letter (pdf) to the DC Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency expressing the commission’s disappointment with the lack of agency coordination evident during the 2015 Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon event. Absent proactive measures by the event sponsor and city to address major shortfalls, the commission will not support this event in 2016.
  • The commission voted unanimously to send the District Department of Transportation a letter (pdf) urging the department to restore funding for  projects awarded under its 2014 Performance Parking Zone Community Benefits Program.
  • The commission considered and voted on a number of historic preservation and Board of Zoning Adjustment cases related to specific properties. Information on these cases are included in the commission’s April meeting packet (pdf) and final votes and letters are posted on the commission’s website.
  • I was elected by my colleagues to serve as chair of the ANC 6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force. The task force works to strengthen the commission’s communication strategies and tackles issues not in the purview of other ANC 6B committees and task forces. A big thanks to my commission colleagues for their support.
  • Representatives from the District Department of the Environment provided an update on their Anacostia River Clean Up Project. DDOE is currently testing sediment in the river to determine the level and source of contaminants. Once testing is complete, DDOE will identify potential remedial actions and work to fund clean up efforts. The DDOE website includes more information about the project.
  • ANC 6B’s May meeting will be on Tuesday, May 12, 7 pm at the Hill Center.

Initial Thoughts on Mayor Bowser’s Proposed FY16 Budget

April 6, 2015

On April 2, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser released her proposed FY16 budget. As with any budget, there are a lot of proposals that I could highlight. I’ve chosen to focus on three items of particular interest to Hill East:

Replacement of DC General
The Mayor’s proposed budget includes $40 million to fund 4 smaller scale homeless shelters to replace the deteriorating DC General shelter. After years of rhetoric about the need to close DC General, it is refreshing to see some actual funding in the budget to achieve this goal. While we still need to see her closure plan, Mayor Bowser deserves credit for making the closing of DC General the budget priority it should be.

Infrastructure Funding for Reservation 13/Hill East Development
I was also happy to see $11.2 million in the Mayor’s proposed capital budget for infrastructure funding for phase I of the Res. 13/Hill East Development. The 11.2 million, which would be spent over 3 years, would be used to fund the roadway extensions (Mass Ave SE, the new 20th Street SE, etc.) surrounding the Donatelli/Blue Skye mixed-use development.

School Modernizations
While the Mayor’s FY16 capital budget includes funding for the modernization of Watkins Elementary School (30.9 million in FY16 and FY17), the budget plan further delays modernization funding for a number of other Capitol Hill schools. Long overdue modernizations at Eliot-Hine and Jefferson Academy Middle Schools are delayed until FY19. These delays are totally unacceptable, particularly in a budget document that claims to make strengthening middle schools a priority. (Councilmember David Grosso’s office has put together a nice breakdown of how the Mayor’s budget will affect school modernizations).

Look, I understand that budgeting is not easy, particularly when the city has to fill a budget gap. And DC has limited borrowing authority and must stay under a statutory debt cap. This means that Mayor Bowser and the Council have to make tough choices. I get it.

But it is hard to accept further delays to school modernizations when the same capital budget includes $106 million in new capital funding (all borrowed) for the DC United Stadium at Buzzard Point – a stadium that the DC Council’s own independent consultant estimated would provide only $40 million in benefits (and is going to eventually cost taxpayers a lot more than $106 million). So the Mayor and the Council (OK, the previous Council) have essentially prioritized a giveaway to a professional soccer team over better (and safer) school buildings. This cannot be labeled a tough choice. This can only be described as a really, really bad decision.

So while I give Mayor Bowser credit for her proposed investments in new shelters, affordable housing and Reservation 13, she also deserves criticism for supporting a soccer stadium that is taking capital dollars away from school modernizations. Hopefully, the Mayor and Council will work to restore some of this funding during consideration of the budget in April and May.


DGS Responds to ANC 6B on Eastern Branch Building Redevelopment Proposals

March 31, 2015

In a March 30 letter (pdf) to ANC 6B, Jonathan Kayne, interim director of the DC Department of General Service, stated that his agency does not plan to re-issue its Request for Proposals for the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). The letter was sent in response to the commission’s March 12 letter (pdf) urging DGS to re-issue the RFP with longer lease terms.

DGS is currently evaluating two redevelopment proposals submitted in response to an RFP issued in Fall 2014. After concerns were raised about both proposals at a Jan. 20 community meeting, DGS asked each development team to respond to a Best and Final Offer request. A summary of the BAFO responses (pdf) provided to ANC 6B by DGS seemed to suggest that only one of the responses – the Dantes Partners/Menkiti Group proposal – complied with the BAFO (though DGS has clarified to me that both proposals still remain under consideration).

Throughout the process, ANC 6B has voiced concern about DGS’ insistence on an initial 25-year lease with a development team. We feel that the short lease length unnecessarily limited the number of proposals the agency received and has resulted in a process that has led to one proposal.

In the March 30 letter, Interim Director Kayne writes, “It is Agency policy to ensure that ground leases on projects minimize the length of time a District asset remains under a third party’s control” to explain why DGS cannot propose a longer lease term. While I can understand this point of view,it is also in the District’s best interest to ensure that the city and residents have an opportunity to review multiple proposals and potential uses for the building. A longer lease term would have likely led to more redevelopment proposals.

Kayne did not state when or if DGS would select one of the redevelopment proposals. Once and if a proposal is selected, the project will have to be reviewed and approved by the Mayor and DC Council. I’ll continue to post updates as I learn more.

Here is a link to the full letter (pdf) from DGS.


ANC 6B March Meeting Recap

March 16, 2015

Here is a recap of major actions from ANC 6B’s March 10 meeting:

  • The commission voted unanimously to urge the Department of General Services to re-issue its Request for Proposals for the Eastern Branch Building. In a letter (pdf) to DGS, the commission urges notes that both responses to the initial RFP were flawed and asks the agency to extend the allowable lease terms. The letter also includes specific comments on both the Century Associates and Dantes Partners/Menkiti Group proposals. It is unclear whether DGS will agree to re-issue the RFP or proceed with one of the proposals.
  • I was really pleased that the commission voted 10-0 to send a letter to Mayor Bowser urging her to support and fund the Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park proposal. The proposal would convert a portion of the wasteful north parking lots at RFK Stadium into athletic fields and outdoor recreation space serving city residents.  The CRYSP proposal exemplifies the kind of creative thinking the city needs when considering the future of the RFK Stadium site.
  • The commission voted 6-1-3 to withdraw its protest of the Ugly Mug Dining Saloon’s request for a substantial change to allow expansion of its second floor capacity. ANC 6B and the applicant agreed on a settlement agreement that limits the hours that a new retractable roof can be open and prohibits the roof from being opened during live entertainment events. A big thanks to Commissioner Jim Loots (6B03), the nearby neighbors and the applicant for all the time and effort they put into reaching this agreement.
  • Brynn Barnett, a 6B10 resident, was unanimously elected chair of the ANC 6B Hill East Task Force. The vote marked the first time that ANC 6B has elected a non-commissioner to chair one of its task forces. A big thanks to Brynn for volunteering to serve in this important role.
  • The commission also approved resident members for both the Hill East and Outreach & Constituent Service Task Forces. I particularly want to thank Julianne Bythrow, Katie Donahue, Nike Opadiran, Ross Parman and Pat Taylor for agreeing to represent 6B09 on the Hill East Task Force.
  • On a 9-0-1 vote, the commission authorized testimony (pdf) at the March 11 WMATA performance oversight hearing. The testimony was delivered by Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) in front of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
  • Commissioners and attendees heard a presentation from Rashee Kumar with the Neighborhood and Victim Services unit of the DC Office of the Attorney General about how the office can help with vacant and nuisance properties.
  • Note that ANC 6B’s April meeting, originally scheduled for April 14, has been moved to Monday, April 20 due to DCPS spring break. As always, the meeting will take place at 7 pm at the Hill Center.

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