City Paper Widget

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dupont ANC Resolution on St. Thomas Church: "A Back-to-the-Drawing-Board Situation"

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B/Dupont Circle set up a special meeting September 29 to consider the revised plan for the development of St. Thomas' Parish Episcopal Church (1772 Church Street NW) and condo units on neighboring land owned by the church. By the end of the meeting, the ANC had revised its original proposed resolution to advocate increased setback for the proposed residential condominiums.

"It's a back-to-the-drawing-board situation", project developer Kevin Riegler of CAS Riegler told the meeting.

Commissioner's view of the meeting, from ANC2B's Twitter feed
The meeting was structured to give every person who wished to speak on the matter an opportunity to do so, while trying to keeping the length of the meeting within the limits of sanity. The meeting ran about 2-1/2 hours, including an initial presentation of the revised project by the developers and architects, as well as debate and questions by the Commissioners.

By my count, the community testimony was more than two-to-one against the church -- 17 speaking against, seven for, and one mixed. About 100 people filled every chair and lined the walls of a conference room on the fifth floor of 1717 Massachusetts Avenue (part of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies). If the sound and frequency of applause is any indication, the anti-development forces outnumbered their opponents by a similar margin, or perhaps more, in the audience at large.

ANC lets everybody prepare, speak, then passes resolution

As part of the effort to make the decision as transparent as possible, ANC2B posted a draft resolution online before the meeting and solicited public comment. ANC2B also posted the 56-page revised design drawings and presentation.

Some of the revisions made at the meeting were minor rewordings. The more substantial revision to the resolution at the meeting, proposed by ANC2B Chair Noah Smith (Commissioner for district 09), recommended to DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) that the setback of the building be increased starting on the fourth floor. Yesterday, less than 12 hours after the end of the meeting, ANC2B had posted the full revised text of the resolution as sent to HPRB -- see the letter here.

HPRB will meet at 10:45am tomorrow (October 2) at 1100 4th Street NW to take up the historical preservation aspects of the proposal. HPRB staff has issued a mixed review of the proposed revisions in advance of the meeting.

Two architects involved in the design spoke at the meeting. "We're refined the design," said Jim Clark of MTFA Architects.

A representative of Hickok Cole said the design contained "nothing really all that new". He said the new design was set back further. The proposed construction above the parish hall would not be visible. The overall massing was "simplified", the architect said -- previously, the design had been "wedding-caked".

Atmospherics

The atmosphere remained mostly polite during the period where members of the public made comments. Each comment was initially limited to two minutes, and later one minute, but many ignored the alarm that signaled the end of their allotted time. Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 01) sometimes told people that their time was up, but Chair Smith seemed determined to let everyone speak their piece.

Civility began to break down a little as the ANC closed the period of public comment and debated the draft resolution among its members. Members of the audience from both sides of the issue tried to interject themselves, with the anti-development forces more likely to break in, in rough portion to their larger numbers. Toward the end of this period of the meeting, when the final resolution was taking shape, St. Thomas' Parish Episcopal Church Rector Nancy Lee Jose stood and attempted to make a statement, and was roundly shouted down by the anti-development forces. When the hubbub had nearly died down, someone shouted: "Shut up, please!"

Endgame

During the Commissioner-only portion of the debate, Chair Smith made a motion
to include language that would recommend the height of the project be reduced by one story.

Kevin Reigler said: "It would make the project not viable."

Smith then withdrew the motion, and went on to propose the language concerning the setback, which was included in the version of the resolution that passed, advocating increased setback.

"Today I am concerned about how it would look from the street," Smith said.

The vote was 6 for the resolution, one against, no abstentions. The lone vote against was Commissioner Abigail Nichols, who felt that the resolution as passed did not go far enough. Nichols then proposed a second resolution about finding a public-private partnership to buy the church's land and turn the current park at 18th and Church Streets into part of a memorial for Eleanor Roosevelt.

It was getting late, the room was crowded and stuffy, everybody wanted to leave. Nichols agreed to table the motion until a regular meeting of the ANC in November.

ANC2B will have its next regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 8, at 7pm, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

911-913 L Street Raze Endorsed by Logan Circle ANC Committee

At its regular monthly meeting September 24, a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle endorsed an application by Square 369 Hotel Associates, LLC, to raze two adjoining buildings at 911 and 913 L Street NW.

ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) voted 6-0, with three
The property in 2007 (from Flickr, licensed for reuse)
abstentions, to support the raze on the condition that the buildings be carefully deconstructed and the materials be reused as much as possible.

The buildings, which have been vacant for many years, are protected because they are located in the Shaw Historic District.

911 L Street was built before 1860 and is "among the oldest buildings remaining in the district," according to a document from DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). A June 26 HPRB staff report says that the demolition of 911 and 913 L Street would be "inconsistent with the purposes" of DC's historic preservation law.

911 L Street is also alleged to have been the place where a "Polish revolutionary, translator, and journalist" named Henry Korwin Kalusowski died in December 1894 at age 88. A report on Kalusowski's funeral from the New York Times (available behind the Times' pay wall here) says that Kalusowski's father was Chamberlain to the last king of Poland. Kalusowski himself was a General in the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at 24, fought on the side of Louis Napolean against the Russian army, was Minister of Finance in an unsuccessful Polish revolutionary government in the 1830's, emigrated to the US, fought in the US Civil War with the Thirty-First New York Regiment, and worked for the Treasury Department. While working at Treasury, he "translated all the documents from the Russian language relating to the purchase of Alaska". In 1891, he founded the Polish Library and Museum in Chicago by giving 3,000 volumes from his personal library.

913 L Street was built in 1892.

Now, developers want to put two hotels (a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn by Marriot, according to the Office of Zoning web site) on this block, as well as a condominium. The proposed buildings are large, and developers have assembled many adjoining properties on the same block to make it happen. There are now nine historically protected buildings on the proposed future site of the hotels and condos. The developers told ANC2F that these two buildings had to go but the seven others would be "retained in full or part".

Attorney Carolyn Brown of Holland and Knight led a team in a long and wide-ranging conversation with the members of the committee and the public over various aspects of the project, including the overall look of the proposed construction, the traffic pattern, the height, the alleyways, the possibility of physically moving the buildings, the possibility of some design features attracting homeless people, the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the project, and historical preservation aspects not only of the buildings planned for demolition, but the buildings to be renovated and reused as well. Eventually, the discussion returned to the demolition of the buildings, and the committee voted to support.

The demolition of any property in a historic district must be approved by the Mayor's Agent at the Historic Preservation Office. It was reported that a hearing by the Mayor's Agent had been postponed and was now scheduled for December 12. An Office of Zoning hearing on the PUD for this development scheduled for 6:30pm, January 29, 2015, at their offices at Judiciary Square (441 4th Street NW).

This very complex development project is generating a lot of neighborhood opposition. It is very likely to be back before ANC2F for further debate. To see some of the documents in the case, including drawings of the proposed constructions and letters of outlining objection from neighboring condominiums, go to the DC government's Interactive Zoning Information System and enter case number 14-09 in the search bar.

See a more recent photo of 911-913 L Street, plus some research, from a May 7, 2014, blog post of the DC Vacant Properties blog.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Proposal Mandates More Affordable Housing in Rowhouse Conversions

DC's Office of Planning (OP) is considering a proposal to require more affordable housing in residential house conversions. The proposal says that, under certain circumstances and in certain districts, any rowhouse conversion cannot result in more than two units to be rented at "market rate". Any further units would have to rent at a lower rate.

Steingasser (standing right) addresses the meeting
Jennifer Steingasser, OP's Deputy Director for Development Review and Historic Preservation, said September 27 that the proposal is one of several variants being considered. Steingasser spoke at an information session about a wide-ranging OP proposal to limit the conversion of single-family rowhouses into multiple-unit dwellings.

Talking about R-4's on a beautiful Saturday morning

The meeting was sponsored jointly by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A/Columbia Heights and 1B/U Street. At an August 4 joint ANC neighborhood meeting about the same topic (see SALM blog post of August 5), attendees said not everyone could come to meetings held on weekday evenings. They urged meetings on Saturdays. Steingasser and the ANCs agreed to hold a Saturday meeting, but attendance was fewer than 25 people, in part perhaps because the meeting started at 9am and the weather was drop-dead gorgeous.

The proposal would change the rules for house expansion and conversion in districts zoned R-4 only. Most of the residential properties between 14th Street and 7th Street/Georgia Avenue, from below Logan Circle to well beyond Columbia Heights, are zoned R-4. 

Many aspects of the proposed revisions of R-4 zoning rules were unchanged since Steingasser's presentation at the August 4 meeting. These included: the reducing the height that a house can be expanded "by right" (i.e., without asking DC government permission) from 40 to 35 feet, allowing expansions up to 40 feet by "special exception" (obtained from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment), and changing zoning definitions so that mezzanines will now count as a story of a home when calculating how many stories a building has.

Inclusional Zoning wrinkle

A new wrinkle is the proposed inclusion of Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) requirements. Inclusionary Zoning is an attempt to make affordable units a part of all new multi-unit residential constructions, often meaning large apartment buildings. The requirements have two parts.

One part of this new proposal would mandate that, in the case of "by right" conversions of rowhouses in R-4 zones, all residential units after the first three (meaning, the fourth one and all after) would be "subject to IZ at 60% AMI". See explanation of AMI below.

The second part of the new proposal would mandate stricter limited on conversions that required a zoning variance. These, I believe, would include both proposal for buildings that exceeded 40 feet in height as well as proposals for buildings that covered more than 60% of the total area of the lot. In the case of these buildings, "all units beyond two" (meaning, the third unit and all after) would be "subject to IZ at 60% AMI".

"AMI" stands for Area Median Income. The latest AMI figures I could find were from 2012 -- see here.

Assuming that the 2012 figure (AMI = $107,500) is the latest and my calculations are correct, units at 60% AMI would be judged "affordable" for a family of four making $64,500 per year. If I am understanding information on a DC Department of Housing and Community Development web page correctly, the property owner could rent apartments at 60% AMI for about
  • efficiency: $1,130
  • one bedroom: $1,290
  • two bedroom: $1,450
If you understand affordable housing better than I do, I invite you to examine my figures and, if incorrect, please set me right in the comments below.

OP staff is scheduled to issue a final report with recommendations by the end of 2014. On January 15, 2015, at 6:30pm, the DC Zoning Commission will have a public hearing at its offices at Judiciary Square (441 4th Street NW). Then the Zoning Commission will take a first vote on the matter. After that, there will be another comment period, followed by a second and final vote, also by the Zoning Commission. This second vote could take place as early as March 2015.

The proposal will be subject to review by the National Capital Planning Commission and the US Congress. The DC City Council will not vote on this matter.

At least three ANC Commissioners attended the September 27 meeting, including ANC Chairs Kent Boese (ANC1A Commissioner for district 08) and James Turner (ANC1B Commissioner for district 09). At least three candidates in contested elections for ANC1B seats also attended.

The meeting took place at the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School (1100 Harvard Street).

Public documents about this proposal -- including official memos about the proposal, videos of hearings about the proposal, and transcripts of the hearings -- are available by going to DC's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 14-11 in the search bar. The number must be entered with the dash in the middle to yield the documents for this case. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

No Parking for 132 Microunits at 90-91 Blagden Alley: "This Is Wishful Thinking"

CORRECTION: When first published, this article did not specify the date of the meeting. Apologies.

On September 24, committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle told developer SB-Urban, supported by parking consultants Wells & Associates, that it could not endorse its plan for absolutely no parking or loading area for its proposed 132-microunit residential building at 90-91 Blagden Alley NW. The parking issue was tabled until the next scheduled meeting of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) in late October.

Proposed view from across M Street, from BZA files
The developers sought ANC endorsement for a handful of zoning variances and special exceptions (see pages 4 and 6, respectively, of document here for definitions) that it wants from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The cold comfort for the developers was that the CDC approved all of the requests apart from the parking. For example, the CDC did not object to the proposed roof structures (one is a five-foot-tall elevator overrun, set back 10 feet from the edge of the building), or the lot occupancy (the proposed footprint of the building will take up 89% of the property, whereas zoning allows 75%).

According to information on PropertyQuest, 90-91 Blagden Alley is zoned category C-2-A. Under current zoning regulations, there must be at least one parking space for each two dwelling units, or 66 spaces.

The argument for no parking spaces

SB-Urban's argument was that they could only fit eight parking spaces on the property, and to do so would require putting a ramp in a historic building. The presenters said their target demographic was car-free young professionals. There is a metro stop, a Circulator bus route, several conventional bus routes, 19 car share spaces, and two bike share stations, all within a quarter-mile of the building.

SB-Urban's representative also said they would offer a series of amenities to encourage bike use, including 42 spaces of bike parking, a "real time transportation board" (which would show, among other things, availability at nearby bikeshare stations), a maintenance space for bikes in the basement, a complimentary Capital Bikeshare membership for new arrivals, and ten helmets on hand for residents to borrow.

SB-Urban presented a very similar package of bike-friendly amenities to ANC 2B/Dupont Circle in March when they convinced the ANC to endorse a car-free micro-apartment concept for the Patterson Mansion (15 Dupont Circle) -- see SALM blog post of March 18.

The push back

The committee raised many objections. A committee member said expecting every inhabitant of 132 units to be car-free was unrealistic. Even a small number of tenants with cars would put an additional burden on an area with insufficient parking.

"Even if only 10 percent have cars, that's another 13 cars," said committee member Joel Heisey.

"There's got to be some other way than zero," Heisey said.

"We can't guarantee that zero percent of the people will have cars," a presenter said.

CDC Committee Chair Walt Cain (Commissioner for district 02) brought up "the loading question". There is no loading dock in the proposal, and no place for delivery trucks to park legally.

Presenters said all of the units would be furnished, so tenants would not arrive with truckloads of furniture to be unloaded.

Committee members and residents pointed out that the type of people who live in micro-units are also likely to shop on-line, meaning UPS and Fedex trucks visiting frequently, as well as deliveries of food from services like Peapod. One of the presenters said tenants wouldn't order food online because there was a newish Giant grocery store nearby. Members of the audience begged to differ.

"There's not even a place for a trash truck," a committee member said.

"Where is the trash going to be?" another committee member asked.

"On the sidewalk," the presenters replied.

There was an audible gasp from some members of the audience at this assertion. The discussion continued over the practical upshot of garbage from 132 units, however small, being picked up curbside on M Street. The presenters said garbage could be taken out to the curb and away in five minutes. Listeners were skeptical.

"This is wishful thinking," one resident said of the proposal.

The consensus seemed to be that there needed to be some parking for deliveries and loading, at the very least. The alternative, Commissioner Cain said, was an outright rejection of the request by the committee.

The presenters agreed to return with a revised proposal at the next CDC meeting, scheduled for October 29, 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle). Normally, if the CDC endorses a proposal, it is considered by the full ANC at its next meeting, which in this case would be on the evening of November 5.

SB-Urban has a BZA hearing scheduled for the morning of November 5, i.e., before the ANC meeting. So the presenters asked if the ANC could agree at its October meeting to take the extraordinary step in this case of granting the CDC power to endorse a zoning request without full ANC consideration. Cain said he would try to work some arrangement out with the full ANC. 

The vote to endorse zoning relief requests except the special exception for parking passed the committee unanimously.

Ninety and 91 Blagden Alley are actually two unconnected properties, one of them (90) fronting on M Street, the other facing the Washington Convention Center across 9th Street. The proposal joins them by an elevated pedestrian bridge over Blagden Alley. They are being considered by the BZA as a single property.

This proposal was previously heard by the CDC in March when SB-Urban sought endorsement for an application to DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) -- see coverage by the blogs Urban Turf and District Source. It received an unfavorable review from HPRB staff in July before receiving approval by a 4-3 vote by the full Board, according to District Source.

The documents pertaining to the application for zoning relief, including detailed plans and drawings of the project plus a 47-page transportation study, can be viewed by going to the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18852 in the search bar.

Cheater's Guide to Dream City -- Part 18 (City on Trial)

This is the eighteenth installment of a series (see the first installment here) summarizing the 1994 book Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C.by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. This book has recently been republished as an ebook and a paper book. HBO has plans to use material from the book to make a movie about the life of Marion Barry.

Chapter 15: City on Trial (three of three)

After the dramatic premiere of the videotape showing Marion Barry smoking crack at the Vista Hotel, the prosecution laid on ten witnesses who testified that they used drugs with Barry, along with dealers and non-drug-taking witnesses.

Barry's attorney "Ken Mundy put on a perfunctory defense that lasted only a few days" (Kindle location 5113).

"Based purely on the facts, Barry's defense looked weak mesured against the government's overwhelming evidence.... It was clear that he went to great lengths to obtain the drugs and conspired to buy it.... It was also quite plain that he'd lied about his drug use.... Witness after witness had described using narcotics with the mayor, and the government introduced the mayor's own phone logs that proved that he made calls to many of the people who testified. If the jurors believe only half of the evidence, there was enough to convict Barry on most of the counts, including the felonies" (l. 5120).

"But there was much more than simple evidence at work in this case. The larger issues of race and politics and government power loomed over the courtroom and permeated every piece of evidence. When the testimony was complete, power shifted to the jury" (l. 5121).

"The case of U.S. v. Barry went to the jury on August 2, 1990" (l. 5139).

"But from the first hours of deliberation, the twelve jurors were deadlocked -- some frozen in their divergent views as were the people of Washington, D.C. There were two separate realities: One accepted and trusted the American system of justice; the other believed in a conspiracy against blacks. Across that chasm, consensus would be hard to reach" (l. 5148).

"In the end, after eight days of frustrating debate, the jurors cut a deal. On eleven of the fourteen counts, including three felony charges, they were hopelessly deadlocked by scores of 7-5 and 6-6. They didn't vote on the conspiracy count. But on two counts they decided to strike a balance." (l. 5167).

"The outcome had more to do with horse-trading than with weighing the evidence. The antigovernment, pro-Barry bloc denied the prosecution its felonies and gained acquittal on one misdemeanor. The other jurors saved face and some integrity by hitting Barry with one misdemeanor. It was a political rather than a judicial verdict" (l. 5168).

"The jurors sent a note to Judge Jackson at 4:25 p.m., August 10, a Friday" (l. 5169). The jury foreman said the jury had found Barry not guilty of one misdemeanor count, and guilty of one misdemeanor count. The judge send the jurors back to try again. A short while later, the foreman sent a note saying the jury was hopelessly deadlocked.

"Eight minutes later [Judge Thomas Penfield] Jackson called the jurors back and declared a mistrial" (l. 5177).

"Marion Barry wept.... He thought there was little likelihood of a jail sentence. He had taken on the government and won. His supporters in the room cried and grabbed him. He hugged Mundy and left the courtroom amid a throng of wellwishers" (l. 5178).

"Word already had spread outside.... The mayor walked from the side door around to the front in a victory march that thrilled his waiting fans but apparently infuriated Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. In front of the courthouse, the crowd erupted in a chant of 'Ba-rry, Ba-rry, Ba-rry!' The mayor soaked it in for a few minutes and headed off into the late summer evening" (l. 5184).

"When [US Assistant Attorney General and lead prosecutor] Jay Stephens tried to hold a press conference on the steps, the raucous crowd booed and shouted him down. Horns of passing motorists honked along Pennsylvania Avenue. Not since the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl had the town seen such spontaneous celebration" (l. 5186).

Cheater's Guide to Dream City continues next week

Further installments will appear on successive Fridays. All posts will be cross-posted on the ad-hoc "Cheater's Guide to Dream City" blog.

Full disclosure: I have a commercial relationship with Amazon. I will receive a very small portion of the money people spend after clicking on an Amazon link on this site.

This is a great book and well worth reading in its entirety.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2131 N Street: ANC2B Asks for Delay, but Historic Preservation Goes Ahead with Approval

At its regular monthly meeting on September 10, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle voted to ask for a delay in the consideration of the case of a two-story rear addition at 2131 N Street NW. But DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) went ahead and gave it tentative approval anyway on September 18.

(Google Street View)
Like most properties in Dupont Circle, 2131 N Street is in a historic district -- in this case, Dupont Circle Historic District. Significant changes to the exterior of the building require the approval of HPRB.

The owners and their representatives from architecture firm Soe Lin & Associates appeared before ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee on September 3. They showed drawings and described the proposed addition, which will extend the house a further 10 feet, 9 inches, to the rear. The highest point of the building will be 4 feet, 3 inches above the current height. However, the added height will be completely in the rear of the building and will not be visible from N Street.

The addition would be built in an area which currently has a walk-out deck. Behind the deck, there is a parking space. A trellis would also be added over the parking space.

Density, whether up or behind, is always an issue in this area.

"Do we want more rear additions?" a committee member asked.

The committee also asked if the neighbors had been consulted. The applicant said they had tried to contact one neighbor, but the neighbor worked for the World Bank and was out of town for a long period.

One member of the committee suggested support for the project if the applicant provided evidence that the neighbors were contacted.

Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06) was concerned that there were no pictures provided of the view down the alley. 2131 N Street is in Silverstein's ANC district.

In the end, the ZPD Committee voted to table a decision until October, and ask the applicant to come back both with evidence of consultations with the neighbors and with more pictures showing what the project might look like when completed.

This decision was ratified by the full ANC, as mentioned above. All six Commissioners present at the full ANC meeting voted in favor of the motion.

The letter sent by ANC2B to HPRB, dated September 16, can see seen here. It asks for "additional time for neighborhood input".

On September 18, HPRB staff recommended approval to the project -- see document here. HPRB staff found the "overall concept" of the renovation consistent with historical preservation but suggested the architect revise some of the details, including those involving materials and windows.

The project will be back before the ZPD Committee anyway. Assuming that the HPRB management signs off on the staff's recommendation, the next step will be for the homeowners to get a zoning variance for lot occupancy from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). According to DC Zoning code, the footprint of this building should cover no more than 60 percent of the lot. With the new addition, it will cover nearly 70 percent.

ANC input is solicited for zoning variances. This will give the ANC another chance to see if there was any consultation with the neighbors and address other concerns.

The zoning variance may be considered at the ZPD Committee's next meeting on Wednesday, October 1, at 7pm, at the Dupont Circle Resource Center (9 Dupont Circle). Any decision made would then be considered by the full ANC, scheduled to meet at 7pm, October 8, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue).

A BZA hearing on 2131 N Street is on the BZA calendar for October 28.

Plans, including architectural drawings of the proposed addition, submitted by the owners in support of their request for a zoning area variance can be seen by going to the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18844 in the search bar.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Interview with Ellen Nedrow Sullivan, Candidate for ANC1B District 02

This is a written interview with Ellen Nedrow Sullivan. Sullivan is a candidate for Commissioner in district 02 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street.

Sullivan is running against Jennie Nevin. An interview with Nevin appeared here yesterday.

District 02 contains some of the fastest-developing territory in the U Street NW corridor. It extends from 12th Street in the west to 8th Street in the east. The southern border is S Street. The northern border is a jagged line, mostly defined by Florida Avenue. See bottom center of the map at right.

Don't know your ANC district? There are two search tools: one by the DC government, the other by Code for DC.

-- Tell a little about your online presence. What will voters find there? What other ways can potential voters find out about you?


Voters can find me online at my Facebook page, Ellen Nedrow Sullivan for ANC 1B02. There I’ll be posting about issues that matter to our community, hearing directly from neighbors, and giving campaign updates. I really enjoy getting out and talking with people so I’ll be knocking on doors and hosting a meet and greet on Oct. 19th. When I collected signatures to get on the ballot, it was a family affair with my husband, our toddler, and our dog joining me (our cat declined) so I hope to do that again though with cooler weather this time.

-- At the last ANC meeting, Commissioners agreed that your district is the one generating the most work -- liquor licenses, historic preservation requests, zoning. How will you balance your volunteer responsibilities as a Commissioner with your day job?


If I am elected as the Commissioner for ANC 1B02, it will be my day job. I will start a long planned break from working in the Senate at the beginning of January and that flexibility will allow me to work for our neighborhood during business hours and not just when I can fit it in.

I have also been an active member of our ANC’s ABC committee for two years and as a homeowner, I have worked with both the historic preservation and zoning offices. I know that these issues areas are time intensive and need someone who can attend the daytime meetings where the decisions are being made.

-- Your district has a lot of retail in it, and parking is always a problem. What, if anything, can ANCs do to help businesses get the local parking that they need?

I live on 9th right off of U St. NW so I see the fight for parking every day with businesses and residents both wanting more. While we work on big solutions like zoning regulations for parking requirements in new developments, resident only parking and a visitor pass system, and improving our mass transit system we also need to focus on how to make improvements now. Small things affect someone’s decision whether to drive or not- is the bus going to be late, is the metro escalator out, is the sidewalk so broken that using a wheelchair, granny cart, or stroller is impossible? If we work on these issues and improve street lighting and crosswalk safety while adding bike racks then we can decrease the number of cars inching along looking for a parking space.

 -- There is push back now against density in residential area, particularly in favor of limiting “pop ups”? What do you think about these proposed new regulations? How is it possible to have more affordable housing if it is so difficult to add to the housing stock?

Density, pop-ups, and affordable housing are three separate issues to me. DC is not going to solve the need for affordable housing through pop-ups; it will take a partnership between our government and developers to build mixed income housing. Pop-ups, like all matters of zoning, should be clearly regulated and so I think reviewing the current regulations and exploring the need for new ones are the right first steps. Increased density has positive and negative impacts and they deserve their own debate. As a founding co-chair of the Westminster Neighborhood Association’s Business Improvement Group (WNA BIG), I have worked for two years with neighbors, developers, and business owners to find the right balance and type of density in our part of the neighborhood. We surveyed our neighborhood association members and brought their opinions directly to the ANC meetings and the developers pushing for amenities like a grocery store that will benefit all of us for years to come.

-- Several liquor licensees in your district are the targets of chronic noise complaints from the neighbors. How can the ANC and the district government more adequately address these complaints?

I have been an active member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Committee for our ANC for two years during which every liquor license in our ANC came up for renewal so I’m familiar with these issues. We discuss ways to prevent noise issues with every establishment that comes before the committee and most are very willing to work with us because they don’t want complaints from neighbors. So they close windows, don’t dump bottles in the middle of the night, have their security keep things more orderly as people wait in line, close outdoor areas a little earlier, etc. and the noise levels improve. I feel the committee has been successful in brokering these types of compromises especially with new applicants so I think things are improving and will continue to do so.

The cases like the ones I think you are referencing are normally about bigger problems than just noise. These are the establishments that require the neighbors, the ANC, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), and in very unfortunate cases the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to work together to build a case and either make the punishment harsh enough and frequent enough to change the behavior of the owners or as a last resort to take away their license. With this type of case it is important to have an ANC representative that can attend all of the ABRA hearings and meetings that take place during business hours and keep the pressure on ABRA.

-- What is your position on the proposed Reeves Center land swap? If the deal goes through, what would be the best use of the current site of the Reeves Center?

I grew up playing soccer and have been playing in a DC area league since 2006, my dad played, my brother played, and we have already started our son in a neighborhood toddler soccer group. It is a great sport. But this is a major financial decision for the city and it needs careful consideration and not just an emotional response. I would need to see all of the details before making a decision.

If the deal were to go through, I would like to see a development that combined daytime use such as offices and retail with residential so that we would see benefits from it 24 hours a day. To me, the Reeves Center was built as a symbol of promise and any new development on that corner should aim to do the same.

 -- Why vote for you, and not the other person?

Seventeen years ago I came to Washington, fell in love with the city and politics, and chose to make this my home. My husband and I moved to Shaw five years ago and we are raising our son in a home and community we love.

Community matters to me. It is why I have worked in the US Senate for thirteen years for Senators who fight to improve healthcare, transportation, and education. It is why I have enjoyed serving on the ABC Committee for our ANC. It is why I founded and co-chair the Westminster Neighborhood Association’s Business Improvement Group, working directly with business owners and developers as our neighborhood changes. We all have a responsibility to be involved and work together because that is how our community will flourish. I hope to be given the chance to put my experience and commitment to our community to work as your representative on our ANC.

I have been impressed with Jennie Nevins’ involvement with the ANC and with her quickness in becoming involved after moving to DC. I look forward to getting to know her as we both campaign and to working with her in the future.


End of interview

ANC1B, in addition to U Street, includes all or part of the following neighborhoods: Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Shaw, University Heights, and lower Georgia Avenue.

The election will take place on Tuesday, November 4. Thanks to all candidates for responding to my questions.