Notes from the ANC 2E, 2B & 3D Mtgs, Week of 2/4/19

0
Council member Jack Evans attend the induction of Commissioners at ANC 2E. Photo Credit Joe Florio

ANC 2E — Georgetown, Burleith, Hillandale

At the Commission’s Feb. 4 meeting:

Commissioners of ANC 2E. Photo Credit Joe Florio

* City Council member Jack Evans swore-in Anna Landre as a new commissioner. Landre is a Georgetown University sophomore who was elected last month as the commission’s secretary. Two of the nine commissioners are Georgetown University students. 

* The new Metropolitan Police Commander of its second district, Commander Duncan Bedlion reported there were 45 thefts from autos during the past month, as opposed to 17 last year, in the police service area of which the commission’s area is a part. Nine suspects have been arrested since January 9. Frequently, arrested suspects are released after a brief period. One was later arrested on an unrelated charge when he allegedly stole a laptop from another car.

     Bedlion asked residents to be sure to lock their car doors and insure nothing whatsoever is visible within the car. On his way to the meeting, he said he saw four Virginia cars and one from the District with visible bags that would be tempting to thieves. 

     Many of the crime’s perpetrators are driving stolen autos, he said. 

     Bedlion is the former commander of the police department’s Investigative Services Bureau, Youth and Family Services Division.

     Lt. Justin Bellavance reported the good news for the area is that there was no violent crime in January. The bad news was an increase in commercial burglaries

     Since then, there was an assault with a dangerous weapon when three young men using marijuana got into a fight and one was stabbed by his two car mates. The victim got himself to the hospital.

* The commission unanimously passed a Community Commendation for its former chair, Ray Kukulski, who recently died. He was also president of the Georgetown Citizens Association from 2001 to 2004.

* Amr Kotb, one of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s new Ward 2 community representatives, urged residents seeing someone who might be suffering from hypothermia during very cold weather to call a hot line, 202-399-7093.

     He said Christmas trees are being collected by the District government from single family homes and apartment buildings with three units or less.

     Ruth Warner, representing City Council member Jack Evans’ office, said Mayor Muriel Bowser will submit her budget to the City Council on March 20.

* Georgetown Main Street’s executive director Jessica Himmelrich said her organization’s annual meeting will be held March 18 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at at the Capital Tailor, 3214 O St. Small businesses can apply for grants from the organization of up to $5,000. 

* Asst. Fire Chief David Foust reported a new response is being developed for accident victims and others in need of assistance to supplement ambulances taking people to hospitals.

     First responders will be taking those with health problems who do not need to go to a hospital to 20 participating clinics throughout the city where they will be cared for by nurses. So far the plan has worked for between 600 and 700 patients. A general rollout is planned for March.

* Hyde Addison Elementary School, which will soon have a major addition to its complex, also has a new principal, Dr. Calvin R. Hooks, who holds a doctorate in education. He has worked in the District since the 1990’s. The addition will feature a basketball court, a welcome center for visitors, three new classrooms, and a playground. The addition’s framework is now under construction. The completion goal is July 1.  Some students from Stoddard will be transferred to Hyde Addison once all the work is completed.

    Commission Chair Rick Murphy, in whose district the school lies, reported that construction workers are not following the agreed upon parking limitations. He forcefully asked that they follow the agreement.

* The commission unanimously called for the chair of the Public Service Commission, Willie Phillips, to take action to better solve the problems caused by the many gas leaks that have been reported in the Georgetown area. It stated it believes that Washington Gas, the public utility that delivers natural gas in the ANC, can improve the quality of both its project management and its public communications concerning repair work in the ANC.

* The commission unanimously called for the Department of Transportation to remove parking spaces during the morning rush hour on the eastbound side of Reservoir Road “to create a right turn lane at the intersection of Reservoir Road, NW and the hospital’s Entrance #2,” just west of 39th Street until completion of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s construction project. Cars are currently stalled for as much as one half mile, several commissioners stated.

* The commission unanimously endorsed Tudor Place Historic House and Garden’s grant application “for general operating support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. …  Tudor Place enriches our lives by sharing its unique historical resources in interesting and creative ways. The organization’s outreach to area schools provides experimental learning opportunities that compliment and enliven classroom leaning.”  During the month of February, admission to the establishment will be reduced to $1.00.

* The commission agreed to allow Commissioner Lisa Palmer to negotiate changes to its settlement agreement with Escape Room Live at 3345 M St. Ginger Fletcher, the establishment’s owner wants permission to serve hard liquor in addition to the beer and wine currently allowed, to end the requirement that patrons must have a reservation if they are to drink alcoholic beverages, and to allow the closing time to be extended to 1:30 a.m. from the current 1:00 a.m.

* The commission unanimously passed a resolution to ask the Old Georgetown Board to allow Sprint to replace three antennas at a building at 3270 M St. with new antennas which can accommodate more modern “5G” cordless telephone and e-mail communications. Jerome Boone, representing Sprint, said the new antennas could still allow the current “4G” telephones and e-mail to operate.           

     The new antennas could operate in conjunction with “small cells,” which Boone  said he was not applying for. He added, under questioning, that he did not know how large an area the new antennas could service without small cells.             

     When commissioners asked that the antennas not be on the edge of the roof, Boone said they had to be in order to serve a larger area.The commission asked the Board “that appropriate covering or camouflage be utilized in order to protect the viewshed for the community.”

     It also asked that the commission and other organizations be provided “all future (requests for) upgrading of equipment to provide 5G service” as well as the Old Georgetown Board/U.S. Commission of Fine Arts with a fully-developed presentation of planned rooftop installations within ANC2E so that the ANC can evaluate the plans as part of a larger proposal and not as individual installations.”

* The commission unanimously asked the Old Georgetown Board not to allow the owner of 2801 M St. to replace the commercial building’s windows and to make other alterations. Commissioner Joe Gibbons said the property owner “has a long history” of illegal activities and disregarding the process, adding there was a stop work order on changes to the rear porch. 

     The commission stated in its letter to the Board, “The owners of the property have knowingly, continually and systematically disregarded the Georgetown review process for construction in the community.”

     Elsa Santoyo, who chairs the Citizens Association of Georgetown’s Historic Preservation and Zoning Committee, told commissioners the building’s illegal activities were “really flagrant.”

     On a request to remove the roof deck and replace windows and basement doors at 2737 O St., the commission asked the Old Georgetown Board to have the applicant remove the “illegally installed” windows and roof deck.

     It stated, “The applicant has willfully ignored the neighbor notification regulations,” adding “The ANC notes that it does not support roof decks.”

ANC 2B – Dupont

At the special standing room only Feb. 5 meeting:

* Commissioner Mike Silverstein announced there will be be a meeting on overcrowding at the School Without Walls at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 following a 5:30 p.m. supper. The school has 474 students and, he added, a waiting list of over 700. 

     Silverstein said the school has a major need for additional classrooms, more teachers, and a long term renovation of the school’s facilities.

* A Fresh Farm spokesperson said that a protected bike lane on 20th Street would reduce the Sunday market’s size by 60% and “make the market considerably less safe.” She added there would also be safety hazards for cyclists. She said about 40 of the market’s vendors would be forced out and many of the hundreds of area farmers whose produce is sold there would lose their outlet. She said that it would be impossible for the market to move to nearby sites due to heavy traffic on Massachusetts and Connecticut avenues.

* Commissioner Lucky Barbieri summarized the one hour five minute part of the meeting — when residents were allowed two minutes to give their opinions on whether a protected bike lane proposed by the District Department of Transportation between the Dupont Circle area and the National Mall should be on 20th, 21st or 22nd Street. He said 14 speakers preferred 20th Street, 4, 21st and 5, 22nd.

     Other speakers all favored a protected bike lane, but did not express a preference. They said a bike lane would make sidewalks safer for pedestrians as bicycles and scooters would use the bike lane. Several speakers who preferred 21st said they would find 20th Street “acceptable.”

     Those favoring 21st Street pointed out that it is the most direct route between Dupont and the Mall and would not disrupt the Farmers Market. Those favoring 20th Street said the Farmers Market could be moved somewhere else, and that if 21st Street were chosen it would disrupt automobile parking and make it very difficult for the many businesses located on the street to be serviced by delivery trucks. They said it would also be a problem for the elderly and disabled who would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to be picked up or dropped off from cars at the many restaurants along the street.

     Several speakers said 21st Street is so densely populated with many apartment buildings that 20th would be superior. One speaker said that 21st Street is too narrow to have a bike lane while 20th is not. Another gave a general complaint that many bicycle riders do not stop at stop signs or even red lights, adding that scooter users are following in their footsteps.    

     A spokesman for the Washington Bicycle Association said 21st Street would be the best choice, but that 20th could work. Robin Diener of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association said her organization prefers 20th Street.

* The commission voted unanimously that it favored 20th Street, but overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that it make its statement far more forcefully. Commission Chair Daniel Warwick said he did not want to “proscribe what DDOT (the Department of Transportation) should do.” Added Commissioner Matthew Sampson, “We support 20th, but not yet that strongly.” 

     Commissioner Mike Silverstein pointed out that the Foggy Bottom/West End commission favored 20th Street in the area adjacent to the Dupont commission’s service area. The bike lane would have to include both service areas. Commissioner Aaron Landry said putting the bike lane on 21st Street would impede ambulances and fire trucks. Commission Chair Daniel Warwick said 21st Street “is a non-starter for my constituents” and that 20th would be “an easier fit with no loss of business parking.” He added that the Department of Transportation is looking at the possibility of having a bike lane on Connecticut Avenue.

* The commission unanimously supported the Department of Transportation’s proposal to end the restriction which makes 17th Street one way southbound only from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. between Massachusetts Avenue and I Street and on Connecticut Avenue between I and H streets. Several commissioners said the part-time one way policy caused driver confusion and was unsafe.

* The commission unanimously endorsed the Department of Transportation’s proposal ending permission for right turns on red at seven locations within its service area involving 17th, 18th, 14th and 19th streets as well as Vermont Avenue and H Street and Madison Place. It encouraged the police to issue tickets to drivers who do not obey the restrictions.

     It also recommended that six additional locations be added to the list.

     The commission also unanimously supported the Department’s plan to remove a parking space on the west side of 19th Street just south of where it intersects with T Street to improve pedestrian safety and drivers making turns.

* The commission unanimously requested the Department of Transportation to place signs forbidding left turns on red on one way streets which cross one way streets. It emphasized the safety importance of the signs since Maryland and Virginia both allow left turns on red when one way streets cross each other and are therefore unaware of the District’s ban.

* The commission unanimously appointed J. Alan Rueckgauer  and Michael Biedler to its Zoning, Preservation and Development Committee.

     After almost a 30 minute argument, it appointed Howard Bard, J. Alan Rueckgauer, Rudi Riet, Susan Volman, Lawrence Sprowls, Matt Johnson and David Suls to its Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee. Commissioner Ed Hanlon made four additional recommendations, which were rejected. He complained the committee only included one woman and that his nominees were all interested in serving on it.

     Commission Chair Daniel Warwick said that committees should not have too many people as they would not be able to sit around a table and discuss matters.

ANC 3D –  Wesley Heights

At the Feb. 6 meeting:

* Metropolitan Police Off. Anthony McElwee reported traffic at Ward Circle “is getting better” thanks to its new traffic lights. Pedestrians have to push a button to get appropriate lights to cross a street. Police officers will ticket pedestrians who violate red lights. 

     Speeding tickets, McElwee said, are now up to $500 in some cases. The minimum is $50. Speeding, he added, is a major problem on MacArthur Blvd. He asked residents and drivers to call 311 if traffic signs are covered by foliage. 

     In 2018 17,012 traffic tickets were issued grossing $4.5 million in the police department’s second district, McElwee reported.

     Lt. Darren Haskis reported area violent crime fell from 10 incidents in 2017 to 6 in 2018. Property crimes jumped to 297 from 190 due largely to 168 thefts from auto against 2017’s 79. Motor vehicle thefts jumped to 42 from 29. Other thefts increased to 73 from 63. 

     From January 1, 2019 to February 5, there were no area violent crimes, down from one assault with a deadly weapon and one robbery in 2018. Thefts from autos fell to 17 from 18, motor vehicle thefts from 5 to 3, and other thefts from 5 to 0. There were 2 area burglaries this year, against just one last year.

     “50% of crime occurs in the middle of the day,” Haskis added.

     The biggest problem, Haskis said, is theft from autos. It is only  a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen property is less than $1,000. The cost of repairing the car is not counted in with the value of the stolen property. 

     Haskis and McElwee pointed out that smoking marijuana on public property is forbidden, even though it is legal in private dwellings. Commissioner J.P. Szymkowicz pointed out “There is a very big problem” when marijuana smoke drifts into a neighbor’s property.

     Commission chair Chuck Elkins said he believes the commission e-mails do not reach 80% of the area’s residents. He had investigated the possibility of mailing literature throughout the commission’s area, but that it would cost up to $6,000. 

     McElwee said that on April 24 at 6:00 p.m. he plans to go thru area neighborhoods along with area volunteers to distribute literature to many of the homes.

* Commissioner Michael Sriqui reported there is an application from Foxhall Village residents to make the Hardy School “historic.” 

     Commissioner Alan Karnofsky announced the Department of Transportation will hold a meeting at the Palisades Library on Feb. 27 at 6:30 to study results of some of its projects and that the Department of General Services will renovate the recreation center’s field. 

     Commission Chair Chuck Elkins announced Council member Mary Cheh will be at the commission’s March 6 meeting.

* A Spring Valley resident complained that two government leaf pick-ups are insufficient for areas where there are a lot of trees. “We’re the lungs of the city. How about a third collection.” 

     The Department of Transportation’s “Visibility Study”  covering transportation issues for the area west of Rock Creek Park will be discussed at the Palisades Library from 6:30-8:30 on Thursday, Feb. 26 

* Mayor Muriel Bowser’s community representative Jessica Wertheim reminded residents that the District government will reimburse residents up to $500 when they purchase security cameras that the police can check up on.

* Dr. Ralph Holman, who heads the Office of the District Government’s Medical Director, described a new emergency service provided for residents needing help but are not in a life or limb threatening situation. The service will start March 1 and will transport patients to numerous service locations where a nurse would care for them. He said the preliminary service has produced a 90% satisfaction rate.

* Seniors and the disabled can apply for help with their trash by calling 311. Serve DC will also help them with snow removal from sidewalks in front of their homes. Homeowners are responsible for clearing snow on adjacent sidewalks.. Should a home be occupied by a renter, the home’s owner is still the responsible party.

* Commissioner Virginia Gorsevski asked Celeste Duffie of the Department of Public Works why it often leaves masses of salt on highways when it salts them prior to snowstorms. She was told the machine’s salt spreaders occasionally have major problems which the driver often does not see. Except when a truly major snow storm is expected and contractors are called in, city employees do the salting.  Duffie said the public should call 311 if they see clumps of salt on roads.

     Commissioner Paige Ela said unpicked up leaves are a major problem for pedestrians. Duffie asked residents to e-mail her at celeste.duffie@dc.gov if there is a problem in their neighborhood. Commission Chair Chuck Elkins asked Duffie to look into the possibility of a third pick-up for the city’s heavily wooded areas.

* Michael Alvino of the Department of Transportation described possible plans for a Palisades Trolley Trail for hikers and bicycle riders which would be in the District portion of the old trolley line from Georgetown to Glen Echo Park, Maryland which folded in 1960. A key element is the Foundry Line Bridge, built in the 1890’s, which might be torn down. It has been fenced off by the National Park Service as a safety hazard.    

     The first step, Alvino said, is to determine the trail’s purpose  and then describe its concept. Then would come a cost estimate and see if there are any risks with the idea. Next wold come a determination of the level of federal government documentation required for phases of the project on federal government owned land.

     Determining the cost of saving and fixing up the bridge, which is listed as historic, and determining if there are any potential liabilities if it should be put in use as a part of the trail, would be a key step. It might be that a determination will be made to build the trail without the bridge, he said.

     A possibly complicating factor is that there are water mains under the trail. 

     Alvino said a meeting is planned for March 5 at 6:30 at the Palisades Library. When it was pointed out the Palisades Citizens Association is planning to meet at the same time, he said he would see if another meeting time would be possible.

* Lee Goodall of the Department of Transportation said there is no safety issue that would be solved by installation of a traffic light at Arizona Avenue and Loughboro Road. He said there was “overwhelming feedback not in favor of it.”

     He said a study was initiated as a result of a 311 call.

     The commission unanimously decided to write a letter to the Traffic Engineering and Signal Division of the department asking that no light be installed there. The letter pointed out there had been no crashes from 2014 to today and that a light would probably divert traffic elsewhere in the neighborhood.

* The commission unanimously agreed to give a $2,000 grant to Palisades Village to help it finance software. The 10-year old organization’s executive director, Andrea Saccoccia, said it provides transportation to seniors and disabled residents and helps them with their electronic devices as well as with home repairs and snow shoveling. It has a 2-person staff. It serves 200 members and has 150 volunteers, mostly retired people. The software will cost $3,000 plus $2,500 annually.

     The grant is the first one the commission has approved in many years.

By a vote of 4-3 after some highly charged statements, the commission voted to send a letter  to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration that Millie’s Spring Valley was not in violation of a settlement agreement it has with the “Group of 30” local residents and with the commission when the company put in a small enclosure in its summer garden area surrounding an ice-cream take-out window. 

     The Group of 30 strongly disagreed. The commission felt that since there were no seats in the enclosed area and no bar there, the establishment was not in violation. Subsequent to the Group of 30’s protest, the establishment took down the enclosure.

     Commissioner Michael Sriqui said Millie’s was not in violation and objected strenuously in a very loud voice when Christina Warnke, a new commissioner said she had asked a government authority about the settlement agreement.”You should consult with us,” he said to her. “You undermined our authority.” Warnke urged that the issue be tabled until the next commission meeting.

     Sriqui said Warnke was politicizing the issue by asking City Council member Robert White to intervene.

    Sriqui also strenuously disagreed with, and several times interrupted, David Leahy of the Group of 30 who said Millie’s is definitely in violation of the agreement. Leahy later interrupted Sriqoi.  

     Commission Chair Chuck Elkins said the letter was not needed as Millie’s has taken down the structure. His was among the minority.

* The commission unanimously agreed to revise its bylaws so with a majority vote it could appoint someone who is not a commission member to represent it before a government agency as well as some other changes that had been discussed at a previous meeting.

     They included a provision the commission may enter into an agreement with any single party with an affirmative vote. However it must not enter into an agreement with more than one other party unless two thirds of the commissioners, present and not present, vote to approve the agreement.

     Another change is that after five tie votes in an officer election, the two candidates will each serve six month periods.