City Paper Widget

Monday, September 30, 2013

Neighbors Lobby ANC2F on 1101 Rhode Island Avenue

"You are increasing your property's value, but you are decreasing ours."

CAS Riegler prepares to present
This was a reaction of a local resident to the presentation by real estate development company CAS Riegler about its proposed new multi-story building at 1101 Rhode Island Avenue NW. More than 20 future neighbors of the proposed mixed-use building turned out at the Community Development Committee meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle to question developers closely about their intentions, and to express their displeasure at certain aspects of the project. The meeting took place on September 25 at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

The community mobilizes

The controversy started before the meeting had begun. Activity on Twitter and the web site Popville indicated the possible future neighbors of the proposed project were mobilizing against it. Among the reasons: concern about building height, parking, and setback. Developers responded with a detailed post explaining their position and asking that supporters of the project come to the ANC meeting.

No members of the community other than those connected to CAS Riegler spoke in favor of the proposal during the meeting. However, more than 20 local residents came in a group and identified themselves as having serious concerns about the proposal. Of these, six or seven individual residents identified themselves by name and address before detailing their objections.

ANC2F apparently had advance warning of the turnout, as the published agenda had an unusual annotation reminding attendees that questions about the project from the floor would not be taken until the presenters had spoken and the committee had asked all the questions it wished to.

CAS Riegler presents

Kevin Riegler of CAS Riegler made the initial presentation. He asked the ANC to support a petition to DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) requesting five zoning variances and a special exception. The BZA hearing is scheduled for December 3. (A list detailing the variances and exception are listed on page two of a BZA word processing document available here.)

Artist's view of project, presented at meeting
Unusually for the area, the building site is not part of any historic district, so does not require endorsement from DC's Historic Preservation Review Board.

The proposed building will be located on an odd-shaped lot. It will have existing two-story townhouses to its rear. As planned, the building will be more than more than two stories taller than these neighbors.
Riegler said his company was also a member of the community. The company's offices are located diagonally across from the project site. He talked about the history of the site -- it belonged to the Diamond Cab company, and before that was a gas station -- and is a high-traffic area of Rhode Island Avenue.

"It's a nice quiet street but doesn't necessarily need to be," Riegler said.

The site now
The planned building will have "up to" 40 residential condominium units, and 25,000 to 29,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The vision is for the space to be occupied by a single retailer, most likely a "three-meal bistro, umbrellas on public space".

The developer is planning a single level of parking with 14 spaces for the building. Over the garage, the plan is to create a "green roof", which might cost more to build, but would be more pleasant for residents to look down on than the roofs of cars. The garage will include a bicycle room with 40 spaces.

Another potential problem area is what excavation may reveal about the land underneath the former cab company and gas station. There is expected to be petroleum contamination to clean up and old gas tanks to remove. How many gas tanks are actually below the property is impossible to know. Records indicate that there were once as many as 11, and at least 4 have been removed.

Questions from the committee

ANC2F Commissioner Walt Cain (district 02) asked whether the proposed penthouse will be visible from the alley to the rear of the building, which will face the neighboring historic townhouses. Reigler said that it would "in spots".
From drawing presented at meeting

Cain is chair of the ANC2F's Community Development Committee.

Committee member Joel Heisey asked who would manage the retail space.

"We will," Riegler said.

"Forever?" Heisey asked.

"We can't promise that," Riegler replied.

Commissioner John Fanning (district 04) said that the alley that will separate the building from the row houses was in bad shape and will need to be resurfaced. It was agreed that this could be done as part of the project.

In response to committee questions, the developers put forth a timeline for the project. Ideally, they will be able to get a permit to raze the buildings on the property in 30 days. Demolition would take place in the first quarter of 2014, and construction would stretch for 12-14 months after that.

The community has a say

The first speaker from the community, a resident of the 1500 block of 12th Street, said they had three concerns: parking, roof setback, and lot occupancy. 

The developers assume that most residents will not have cars. Most of the current residents of the neighborhood had cars, the first speaker said. It was not appropriate to assume that new residents will not have cars. The best way to assure the new building would not aggravate the parking shortage would be to meet the legal requirements, which would entail providing 21 parking spaces.

"We feel really comfortable with the ratio of people who own cars," Riegler replied.

Concerning roof setback, there seemed to be some disagreement about whether the penthouse would exclusively house stairs, elevators, and mechanical equipment, as required by law. If the penthouse structure is in any way meant for residential use, it would be in conflict with zoning code.

The proposed building's neighbors to the rear
CAS Riegler is also requesting an exception from lot occupancy requirements. Community members said the building as designed would occupy 90 percent of the lot space, including the "green roof" on the parking area. This is far more than the maximum 75 percent permitted under law. 

Debate went on a long time. It wandered back and forth among these topics as other residents echoed the above concerns. Residents urged the developers to lower the number of units and to dig a deeper garage to get the required number of parking spaces.

"A restaurant is not needed in that neighborhood," one resident said.

"The building looks like a cheap hotel," said another, commenting on the drawings presented to the committee. 

Still another, a mother of a small child from the 1100 block of Q Street, was worried about the ground contaminants that the excavation would uncover, and said she was "worried about remediation".

By the end of the meeting, several members of the Community Development Committee had indicated they felt CAS Riegler's presentation was inadequate. They would have to return and do better. 

"We need concrete documents instead of assertions," Committee Member Joyce Cowan said. Other members of the committee echoed her sentiments, and indicated they expected to see more detailed plans and information in the future.

"I need more concrete information," said ANC Commissioner Matt Connolly (district 08).

No motion was made and no vote was taken about the project at the meeting. It was agreed that there would be further meetings between the concerned parties and the committee would consider the zoning relief requests again in the future.

Friday, September 27, 2013

1628 11th Street: 33 New Residential Units, 21 Parking Spaces

The current home of the offices of the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees (NAPFE) at 1628 11th Street NW (between Q and R Streets) will be future location of 33 apartments and 21 parking spaces. It will also require a handful of zoning reliefs. This is according to information presented to the Community Development Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle at its September 25 meeting.

1628 11th Street is a quarter-acre parcel
The 28,000-square-foot building was reportedly purchased this summer from NAPFE by Fortis, a DC-based real estate investment company, for $5.5 million.

Representatives of Holland and Knight appeared before ANC2F to make a presentation and request ANC support for an application for zoning relief before DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).

They also detailed how the structure will be renovated and enlarged to change it from office space to living space.

How many, how much, how big

Two additional floors of apartments will be added on the top of the building, the presenters said, bringing the total number of planned apartments to 33. This is a decrease from a previously-reported plan for "35 to 40 multi-family units".

During a period of questions from committee members, the presenters said it was not yet decided if the units would be rental or condo. Soon after, in response to a follow-up question from Commissioner John Fanning (district 04), the presenters said that the units would "cost $400,000 to start".

The units are planned to be 600 to 1700 square feet in size.

Car elevator: going down?

One unusual feature is a planned car elevator which residents will have to use to access the 21 parking spaces. Car elevators are found much less frequently in DC than in other major American cities, presenters and commissioners agreed.
This is because DC zoning normally requires cars to be accessible at all times. However, presenters said, they were requesting an exception because a ramp down from street level to the underground parking would "adversely impact housing".

Members of the committee asked about the possibility that a car elevator would make an excessive amount of noise and would require a human operator. Although the presenters did not have information about the amount of noise a newly-manufactured car elevator might make, they reassured the committee "this is not going to be an old lift". The current models use hydraulic lifts, they said, and are operated with a key fob, so there will be no need for a human attendant.

A relief will also be sought for setback requirements for two roof structures that will contact mechanical equipment. The structures will be 18 feet 6 inches tall, but according to currently zoning regulations only 13 feet would be allowed. The resulting structure would be visible from 11th Street, the presenters said, but "you'd have to be on the playground [across the street] to see it."

Although the roof structure does not comply with the setback requirement, the entire renovated building as planned will not require zoning relief for height.

No members of the community raised objections or asked any questions of the developers at the meeting.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the full ANC support all the zoning variances requested. The request may be considered by the full ANC at its next meeting, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 2, at 6:30pm at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Le Diplomate Requests Temporary Seasonal Enclosure

Popular French Bistro Le Diplomate (1601 14th Street NW) has a request in the works for a temporary seasonal enclosure.

Le Diplomate's outdoor seating on Q Street
The Community Development Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle heard the request last night at its regular monthly meeting. Le Diplomate currently has outdoor seating on two sides of its restaurant -- the 14th Street side and the Q Street side.

The Committee voted unanimously after a short discussion to recommend that the full ANC approve the request. ANC2F may consider this issue at its next meeting. The meeting is scheduled next Wednesday, October 2, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle). Please note the meeting will start half an hour earlier than usual, at 6:30pm. Ward Two DC Councilmember Jack Evans is scheduled to appear at the meeting to discuss the recent incidents of gun violence in the Logan Circle neighborhood.

Le Diplomate's request must then be considered and approved by two agencies of the DC government -- the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which handles public space issues, and the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), because Le Diplomate is located in the Fourteenth Street Historic District.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Park at 14th Nightclub Seeks to End Agreement with ANC2F

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan has heard via email that The Park at 14th nightclub (920 14th Street NW) intends to request a termination of their settlement agreement. No one from The Park at 14th appeared at the September 19 meeting of ANC2F's the liquor-licensing affairs committee to explain why. However, an attorney representing the owners of 1400 K Street, an abutting property which is also a signatory to the agreement, did appear at the meeting and urged ANC2F to keep the agreement in place.

It is still not clear why the nightclub wishes to terminate its settlement agreement.

Settlement agreements are entered into by liquor licensees, ANCs, and other interested parties to govern certain aspects of commercial activity that effects the wider community, like operating hours, parking, sidewalk cafes, and vermin control. Decision concerning the termination of settlement agreements are handled by DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

The liquor-licensing affairs committee voted unanimously to recommend the full ANC oppose The Park at 14th's petition to end the agreement. The matter may be next taken up at the next meeting of the full ANC, scheduled to take place at 6:30pm on Wednesday, October 2 at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

The Park at 14th is a multi-story nightclub of 14,000 square feet with a capacity of 615. It has both disc jockeys and live entertainment, and serves food.

In 2011, The Park at 14th was in the news when Brandon Banks, then a kick-returner for the Washington Redskins, was injured in a stabbing outside the club. The club was also in the news in August 2013 when singer/actor Tyrese reportedly passed out at the club.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blagden Alley Meets Restauranteur at ANC2F Liquor Committee

The residents of Blagden Alley came out in force to quiz restauranteur Xavier Cervera on September 19 about his proposed new establishment. The venue was the monthly liquor-licensing affairs committee meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan, held at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle NW).

Blagden Alley is located inside the block bordered by 9th and 10th Streets to the east and west, and M and N Streets to the south and north. It is a National Park Service Historic District.

An anonymous leaflet, which taped to the doors of many area houses on the day of the meeting, apparently helped raise the level of attendance. Over thirty members of the public packed the tiny hotel meeting room, sending hotel staff scrambling for extra chairs.

Meetings of this type are normally attended by only a handful of individuals.

ANC misses protest deadline

Due to a communication error, ANC2F missed the September 9 deadline to protest this liquor license before DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. ANCs often file protests before meeting aspiring liquor licensees in order to maintain leverage in negotiations. These negotiations often are about operating hours, trash pickup, noise, outdoor seating, and other parts of restaurant operation that effect the neighboring area. The agreements that restaurants, ANCs, and other parties sign on these matters are called "settlement agreements". In this case, ANC2F will attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement without the threat of a protest before the ABC Board.

Restauranteur Cervera testifies

Cervera is a long-time restaurant and hotel operator. Late last year, he sold all nine of his DC restaurants to a Boston equity firm reportedly headed by his brother. This restaurant, to be called "The American", is the first one he will open since the sale.

Future front of The American
Cervera told the meeting that The American will go up on a Blagden Alley site until recently occupied by a boxing gym, plus an adjoining parking area for a Rent-a-Wreck franchise. The boxing gym will convert into an indoor restaurant, and the parking lot in a large, completely-enclosed outdoor patio. This will require a "major renovation", he said.

The restaurant will feature "casual dining".

"We will be very neighborhood friendly," Cervera said.

The American will seek a category CR (restaurant) liquor license. There will be no entertainment endorsement, but recorded music will be used. According to Cervera, there will be no unusual operating hours for either the indoor or outdoor parts of the restaurant. This means the restaurant seeks permission to operate inside until 1am Sunday - Thursday, and 2am Friday - Saturday, and outside until 11pm Sunday - Thursday, and 1am Friday - Saturday.

Future location of The American patio
Commissioner John Fanning (district 04), chair of ANC2F's liquor-licensing
committee, asked about the planned patio. Cervera said he plans to level and raise the current parking lot two feet, and install a seven-foot high privacy fence around the outside of the property.

A placard outside the future site of the restaurant says the indoor seating capacity will be 70 and the outdoor seating capacity will be 75.

The planned opening is May - July 2014.

Cervera told the residents "restaurants are coming, not retail" because Blagden Alley is not on a regular route taken by either pedestrians or automobiles. Cervera also said the residents were better off dealing with a restaurateur with a proven track record.

The community's turn

Fanning said that each person would be granted two minutes to speak, but the rule was not strictly enforced. No one tried to monopolize the discussion, and  people gave the impression they had said all they wished to.

A few residents declared themselves categorically against the restaurant.

"Washington doesn't need another restaurant", one said. 

"Totally incompatible with families," said another. "Not compatible with we want in the inner city."

However, most seemed to want air specific concerns or request specific limitations. Most of these were about noise, trash, and parking.

Several of the area residents commented on the "canyon effect" of the alley, meaning, that the noise of exiting customers, deliveries, and other normal restaurant business would be magnified to intolerable levels.

Concerning parking, all sides seemed to be in favor of a complete ban of parking in the alley and instant ticketing for all violators.

"Getting in and out of the alley is a big concern to us," said resident of the 900 block of M Street.

Both sides seemed to agree on a provision that would exclude delivery trucks from Blagden Alley. All delivery trucks would have to park on adjoining thoroughfares and bring deliveries to the restaurant with handtrucks.

In response to a question from a resident of the 1200 block of 10th Street, Cervera said there would no signage showing the way to the restaurant.

A Blagden Alley resident who identified himself as a fellow restauranteur said he was concerned about the restaurant's exhaust and air conditioning system.

"My terrace is five feet from your roof," he said.

The fellow restauranteur and Cervera continued a long discussion over site diagrams in the corridor outside after the meeting was finished.

During the meeting, a debate occurred when the Blagden Alley residents tried to push back on operating hours for the outdoor patio. The residents lobbied for earlier closing on weekdays than 11pm. Cervera disagreed. Finally, there was an agreement not to serve customers outside after 10:30pm, although customers eating on the patio at that time would be allowed to finish their meals.

Motion to support passes

After more than an hour of community comment, ANC2F's liquor-licensing affairs committee passed a motion to support The American's application for a liquor license, with the understanding that there would be continued work on a settlement agreement. The vote was 5-0, no abstentions.

The matter may come to the attention of the full ANC at the next scheduled meeting on October 2 at the Washington Plaza Hotel. The meeting will start 30 minutes earlier than usual, at 6:30pm, to facilitate an appearance by Jack Evans, Councilmember for Ward Two on DC's City Council. Evans and members of the Metropolitan Police Department will discuss the recent gun-related violence in Logan Circle.

The next hearing on The American's application before the ABC Board will occur on September 23.

Monday, September 23, 2013

ANC2F to Weigh Statement against Youtube Stickup Man

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan will consider filing a community impact statement at the sentencing of James E. Wade in November. Wade pleaded guilty on September 6 to the May 17 robbery of two diners seated on a patio outside Pizzoli's Pizzeria (1418 12th Street NW). The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) released a video of the robbery (below) taken by a security camera. The video went viral and got more than 25,000 views.

The sentencing is scheduled for November 7, according to the Washington Post.

At the meeting of ANC2F's Crime and Public Safety Committee on September 18, Commissioner Chris Linn (district 03) said the subject would be addressed at the next full meeting of the ANC, scheduled for 7pm on Wednesday, October 9, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).  

What is a community impact statement?

ANCs sometimes file community impact statements at the time of sentencing of criminals who have been active in their communities. They are entitled to do so under section 23-190 of the DC Code, which states
a representative of a community affected by the crime of which the defendant has been convicted shall have the right to submit, prior to imposition of sentence, a community impact statement and the court shall consider the community impact statement in determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed on the defendant.
Community impact statements often detail the specific negative effects that a criminal's activity has had on the community, and urge stringent sentencing.

See examples of community impact statements filed by two neighboring ANCs --  ANC6E/Shaw here and ANC2B/Dupont here -- in 2012.  

MPD Detective's comment
Detective Scott Guthrie of the Third District commented that "cameras closed that case."

After the video, the department received many calls.

Guthrie said: "They all called and said 'I know that guy and his name is'."

Friday, September 20, 2013

New 14th Street Coffeeshop Liquor License Supported

The outlines of a new "high-end coffee shop with evening cocktails" on 14th Street were drawn before a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan last night (Thursday, September 19). The liquor licensing affairs committee of ANC2F heard the testimony of Ryan Fleming, sole owner and aspiring proprietor.

Future site of the coffee house
The coffee shop will be located on the ground floor of 1333 14th Street NW, on the ground floor of the building currently housing Fathom Events. The establishment is currently going by the name Glass House Coffee.

"This will be our legal name, not our trade name," Fleming said.

Fleming told the committee his shop would be "an improvement on the traditional coffee shop". The shop would break from the familiar pattern of customers lining up and barking out orders to a barista. Instead, Fleming said, the coffee preparer would function more as an expert bartender who is available for consultation and recommendation.

The establishment is in its early planning, design, and layout stage. It will be another 6 to 8 weeks to work out complete drawings for the site. After that, a possibly lengthy certificate of occupancy process would have to be negotiated. Fleming estimated that the shop would be ready for opening by early 2014.

The shop will have a small bar of 10-14 seats and a seating capacity of 40-45 in the main room. A sidewalk cafe on 14th Street with 4-8 tables was also planned.

A summer roof garden was being planned, using part of an existing deck. An existing gallery on the second floor of the building would continue to operate as now.

The shop will serve light food. It will have no kitchen, and "outsourced pastries".

Fleming said the plan was to ask for 7am-2am opening hours, 7 days a week.

There is no intention to seek an entertainment endorsement on the liquor license.

Fleming told the committee the required placards had just been received that afternoon and would be posted on the site the next day.

The committee voted unanimously to conditionally support the application for a liquor license and recommend Glass House Coffee negotiate a settlement agreement with the district ANC representative, who is Commissioner Chris Linn (district 03).

The committee's recommendation now moves to the full ANC for a vote. The next scheduled meeting of ANC2F is Wednesday, October 2.

The committee meeting was led by committee chair Commissioner John Fanning (district 04). Commissioner Jim Lamare (district 05), a committee member, also participated.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Police Tell ANC2F about Logan Circle Shootings

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan was briefed last night (Wednesday, September 18) by the police about the recent shootings in the Logan Circle area. Detective Scott Guthrie of the Third District and other members of the DC's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) gave an account of their publicly-releasable information to ANC2F's Crime and Public Safety Committee. They also handled questions from ANC commissioners and members of the public.

Attendance up at public safety committee
First incident: 9/12, 14th and Riggs

Guthrie told the committee the first shooting occurred on September 12 at 8:53pm, near the corner of 14th Street and Riggs Place NW. Police are classifying it as an assault with a deadly weapon. There were multiple gunshots, and two vehicles were struck. A 45-year-old man was shot in the buttocks. The man has been interviewed but police cannot release details. There are no suspects or known motives. Police are seeking cooperative witnesses.

See a Washington Post report on this first incident here.

Second incident: 9/17, 13th and R

The second incident occurred at 7:22pm on September 17 on the 1700 block of 13th Street, at the corner of R Street. There were multiple gunshots but no victims. Two parked cars were hit by gunfire. One car had a windshield destroyed. The shooter, the intended target, and the motive are all unknown. Contrary to online rumors, it is not certain if the shooting was drive-by or by a pedestrian.

A revolver was recovered near the crime scene under a parked car. It is being sent for analysis to recover fingerprints and/or DNA.

This same revolver was being examined to see if this incident and the September 12th incident were connected. It will take about two weeks to get ballistics results.

There is no evidence that the second incident is gang-related, but it cannot be completely ruled out.

There is a nearby on-street video camera on 13th Street which may provide some useful information. A request to view video from the time of the incident has been made. The camera reportedly points away from area where the incident took place.

At the meeting, two members of the public reported their parked car had received dents and scrapes during the second incident. They believed the damage took place when the shooter stood behind the vehicle. It was unclear whether their vehicle had been photographed by the police already.

A resident of the 1400 block of P Street reported he had been in email contact with Third District Commander Jacob Kishter about the second incident. Kishter reportedly said "they had an idea who did this". Kishter also said the motive was a "neighborhood beef" and the police "were looking to make an arrest".

The MPD representatives at the meeting said they could not confirm this, but sometimes senior management has better information than lower-level police.

After the report, the meeting continued with a long discussion on community involvement to reduce gun crimes.

Attendance at the committee meeting was much higher than average due to the shootings.

ANC2F Commissioners leading the meeting were Peter Lallas (district 01) and Chris Linn (district 03).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four-week-old Restaurant Needs Liquor License Renewal

A restaurant open less than four weeks needs a liquor license renewal. The September 11 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont heard that Doi Moi (1800 14th Street NW) is applying for a renewal of the liquor license originally obtained in 2012, when the restaurant was in its planning stages.
Doi Moi is located at 14th and S Streets

Doi Moi serves Thai and Vietnamese street food and opened for business on August 27.

Doi Moi is ANC2B district 09. The ANC member for that district is Noah Smith. Smith could not be at the ANC meeting due to business obligations. ANC2B liquor licensing affairs committee chair Kevin O'Connor (district 02) said that Smith had recommended that no action be taken on the renewal request, meaning, that the ANC neither protest it or endorse it.

ANC2B took Smith's suggestion, and no action was taken on Doi Moi's request.

According to information posted at the restaurant site, DC's Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board will hold a hearing on October 21 on Doi Moi's application. The deadline for comments, for or against, is October 7.

Attorney Michael Fonseca appeared before the ANC on behalf of Doi Moi's operators. Doi Moi's owner is Mark Kuller, who also owns Estadio (1520 14th Street) and Proof (775 G Street).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dupont Car Break-in Artist Soon to be Back on Streets

A man with more than 50 arrests and a history of breaking into cars, often in the Dupont Circle area, will be released from a short jail term soon. That was the word at the meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont on September 11.
Lt. Jesse Porter speaks to ANC2B

The man was named by an ANC2B Commissioner at the meeting. I am not publishing his name, nor the name of the ANC Commissioner, because I can find no corroborating information on the Internet about the alleged break-in artist.

The same ANC Commissioner also said the man never commits crimes of violence against people, only property crimes. His multiple jail terms have all been of short duration. He will soon complete a 90-day stint in prison.

The discussion occurred after Lt. Jesse Porter of Police Service Area (PSA) 208 briefed the ANC about the recent crime situation in the area. Crime has generally dropped, with a few exceptions like car break-ins. Lt. Porter asked people not to leave anything valuable in cars parked on the streets, or even in garages. Handbags, coats, and GPS devices have functioned as inviting reasons to smash a car window.

Porter said one man recently reported $60,000 in cash stolen from a car parked on the street. Another man said his "family jewels" had been stolen from a parked car, according to Porter. There was no further explanation of either theft.

A resident attending the meeting said most people who are residents in the area already know about car break-ins and are probably not the most frequent victims. The resident went on to speculate that many of the victims may be visitors to the area's nightclubs and bars.

Lt. Porter neither agreed nor disagreed.

The resident asked about more effectively alerting the section of the population that does not attend ANC meetings to this unfortunate trend in crime. For example, signs, placards, and other advertising might be used to alert visitors to auto break-ins. Porter speculated such a campaign might be a tough sell to the local merchant and business community.

A map of the area covered by PSA 208 is available here.

A similar rise in "smash and grab" thefts from cars was also reported at the meeting of neighboring ANC2F (Logan Circle) two days earlier by Master Patrol Officer Jermaine Wilson and Officer Christopher Brown of PSA 307.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pepco Rate Hike: No Evening Hearing in Ward Two

If you live in DC's Ward Two and don't want to pay six dollars more a month for electricity next year, you can make your opinion known to DC's Public Service Commission in two ways. They are:

1) Take a day off work to attend a hearing in the mid-morning on September 30.

2) Write a paper letter and send it through the US Mail.

You cannot tweet, send an email, use social media, or even send a fax.
PEPCO Headquarters (credit below)

According to DC's Office of the People's Counsel, the Potomac Electric Power Company ("Pepco") is seeking a revenue rate increase of $51.75 million. This would add about six dollars a month to the bill for the typical residential customer.

If approved, the increase would take effect in spring 2014 at the earliest.

The Ward Two meeting will be held at the DC Public Service Commission Hearing Room (1333 H Street NW) at 10am on September 30.

If you can arrange to be at the meeting, you can testify for not more than five minutes, but you must call (not fax, email, etc.) the commission at 202-626-5150 by the close of business on Tuesday, September 24, and tell them you intend to do so.

Evening hearings in Wards 5 and 7 will be held on September 19 and October 2, respectively.

Alternately, you can submit a written statement to

Brinda Westbrook-Sedgwick, Commission Secretary,
Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia
1333 H Street NW, Suite 200, West Tower
Washington D.C. 20005

Click here for a .pdf file from the Public Service Commission explaining the proposed rate increase. 

Ward Two covers an area roughly from the National Mall to U Street, and from Mount Vernon Square to Georgetown University. See map here.

(Photo courtesy of AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikipedia)

"Female-Friendly Steakhouse" Gets Liquor License Endorsement

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont put its approval on a request for a liquor license for STK restaurant at 1250 Connecticut Avenue. The vote occurred at ANC2B's regular monthly meeting on September 11.

The Connecticut Avenue location will be the DC outpost of a high-end chain of steakhouses with branches in Atlanta, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. STK steakhouses advertise themselves as "female-friendly". 

"Not your daddy's steakhouse," states a poster on the future site of the restaurant.

STK CEO testifies

Jonathan Segal (second from right) testifies
CEO Jonathan Segal of The ONE Group, operator of the STK chain as well as hotels and other restaurants, appeared before the ANC to ask for a restaurant-category liquor license with an entertainment endorsement. The restaurant will have a DJ to pay recorded background music (from the 70s and 80s, Segal said) while people dine. There will be no dancing and no cover. The full restaurant menu will be on offer until closing time, which will be 2am Sunday-Thursday, and 3am Friday-Saturday.

"We are a full-on restaurant," Segal said.

The capacity of the restaurant will be higher than that of the previous occupant due to the addition of four private dining rooms.

Much of the discussion at the meeting focused on noise from the restaurant. Segal said that there would be no speakers onto the planned sidewalk cafe, no windows opening onto the street, and a single revolving door. Under further questioning, Segal gave further details about the plans for controlling sound in the restaurant. He said the restaurant ensures that speakers are not near columns or on floors, and that they face away from windows.

Segal also said he was concerned about the effects of prolonged exposure to loud music on the hearing of his employees.

"We are focused on these types of issues," he said.

Reason to protest?

Commissioner Stephanie Maltz (district 03) pointed out that ANC2B's policy guidelines required that it protest any new request for a liquor license in this area (called "Club Central") on the grounds of neighborhood peace, order, and quiet. However, STK's application was not, technically, new, since there was a liquor license holder previously in operation on the same spot. Therefore, the ANC was not obligated to protest.

Detail from STK web site
Maltz then told Commissioner Kevin O'Connor (district 02) she perceived some reluctance on O'Connor's part about this application. After some coaxing, O'Connor said he found the concept of a "female-friendly" establishment sexist. It was explained that "female-friendly" referred to solely to certain accommodations the restaurant made to well-established preferences of female diners, especially toward that of smaller portion size.

Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07) said this was not relevant to STK's liquor license request.

The motion passed 7-0. One Commissioner was absent on a business trip, and another recused himself.

The liquor license application moves to DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. A hearing is scheduled for October 21. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Morrison-Clark Asks for 15-minute Parking Spaces

The Morrison-Clark Inn (1015 L Street NW) is asking that two parking spaces on its L Street be converted to 15-minute loading zones for customers. The entrance to the Inn will move from the 11th Street side to the L Street side after current renovations and construction are complete. The new spaces will be in front of the planned entrance.

Renovations on L Street Side of Morrison-Clark
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F/Logan endorsed this request without stipulation. The request will now go to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for approval.

There are currently two spaces on the 11th Street side of the Morrison-Clark that are marked as 15-minute loading zones. ANC2F will write a separate letter to the DDOT asking that these spaces be returned to metered parking in return for the two spaces on L Street.

Gene Weissman of Architecture, Inc. made the presentation to the ANC. He said all permits were in place for the project except this one.

A neighbor asked why the residents of the surrounding area did not receive notification of the hearing. ANC Commissioner Greg Melcher (district 06) explained normal DDOT procedure is to notify the ANC only, which DDOT did. Public notice is not required.

Melcher's district includes the Morrison-Clark and surroundings.

Some neighbors who are unhappy about other aspects of the renovation used this opportunity to express their displeasure. Neighbors said they had never seen an amended set of plans for the renovation, and they still don't know how tall the finished buildings will be.

The vote in favor of the two 15-minute spaces was unanimous, 8-0.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ghibellina Sidewalk Seating Endorsed by ANC2F

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan put its approval on a request for sidewalk seating on 14th Street for Ghibellina (1610 14th Street NW), an Italian restaurant.

No standing and drinking at Ghibellina
Since opening in May, Ghibellina has operated with a fenced-off but unused front sidewalk space. On one side of Ghibellina is a Thai restaurant. On the other is an oyster bar. Both of them use the abutting sidewalk space.

The ANC's endorsement is for restaurant patrons seated at tables only. Commissioner Walt Cain (district 02) added that the approval was not for an outdoor bar for standing patrons.

Cain is the chair of ANC2F's Community Development Committee, which had reviewed and approved the application before it was presented to the full ANC.

There will be room for two tables with a maximum of four seats each.

The ANC vote was 7-0 in favor. Although present at the meeting, Commissioner Greg Melcher (district 06) did not vote. He was outside the meeting room talking to some constituents at the time of the vote.

The public space permit will now move to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for a final decision.

The vote occurred at ANC2F's September 9 meeting at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

New Dupont Pickup for Washington Deluxe Bus Advances

Washington Deluxe Bus may have a new pickup point in Dupont Circle soon. But the pickup point for the DC2NY bus will stay where it is.

Site of the proposed new pickup point
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont sent forward a request by Washington Deluxe Bus to move its pickup point. The proposed new pickup point will be on the Connecticut Avenue side of the triangular park just across from the north exit of Dupont Circle metro. The other two sides of the triangular park are bordered by Q and 20th Streets NW.

Current location unsatisfactory

The pickup point for Washington Deluxe Bus is currently 1320 19th Street, in front of Levante's, a Mediterranean restaurant. The waiting passengers and fumes from idling buses were not raising the popularity of the restaurant's sidewalk seating. Another pickup point was sought.

Lyle Blanchard, presenting for Washington Deluxe Bus, said that the pickup point will be at the north end of the block, near the corner of Connecticut and 20th Streets. Blanchard is a former ANC2B Commissioner.

Effect on Farmers' Market

The Commission Vice-chair Mike Feldstein (district 01) asked about the effect on the nearby Sunday morning farmers' market in Dupont Circle.

There are normally only 4-5 vendors north of Q Street, Blanchard said. (Most of the vendors set up below Q Street.). There will be three buses on Sunday mornings, he explained: one before the market opened, and two while the market is open -- at 10:30 and 11. The buses will stop, pickup, and go. They will not linger at the pickup point. 

Blanchard said he had talked with market coordinator Maddy Beckwith of FRESHFARM Markets.

"She was not wild about it," Blanchard said.

Commissioner Vice-chair Mike Feldstein urged Blanchard to contact the market again about the proposal.

Funds to Maintain Park

Assuming the application goes through, Washington Deluxe Bus has pledged funds to Historic Dupont Main Streets to renovate and maintain the small triangular park.

Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06) remarked that it sometimes snows in Washington. When that happens, the sidewalks around triangular parks often remain icy for weeks. However, if this money is in place, the sidewalks around the triangular park will be shovelled regularly.

The public space application of Washington Deluxe Bus now moves to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for approval. DDOT has informally indicated that they find this arrangement acceptable.

The vote was unanimous, 8-0. Commissioner Noah Smith (district 09) was absent from the entire meeting due to work obligations.

DC2NY stays put

The ANC voted to support the renewal application for a DDOT public space permit for DC2NY bus company. For several years, the company has been picking up passengers along Massachusetts Avenue next to 9 Dupont Circle, and seeks to continue this arrangement. There seemed to be no problems or complaints about DC2NY.

The vote was unanimous, 6-0. Two Commissioners were out of the room at the time of the vote.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

1315 T Street Renovation Twice Fails to Get ANC1B Endorsement

A routine-seeming renovation and improvement on a row house at 1315 T Street NW failed not once, but twice, to obtain endorsement from Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street at their regular monthly meeting on September 5. The matter will now head to DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) and Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) without ANC comment either for or against.

1315 T Street NW
The request seemed ready for routine approval. The ANC1B Design Review Committee had, at its previous meeting, unanimously recommended the request be approved. Zahra Jilani, the ANC Commissioner for the district (12) where the house is located, had endorsed the project. (Jilani was not present at the September 5 meeting.) The homeowners had letters of support from several neighbors, including two who lived directly behind them on Wallach Place.

The problem seemed to start at the September 5 meeting when Commissioner James Turner (district 09) asked if the homeowner and his representative had met with an association of homeowners on neighboring Wallach Place.

The homeowner and representative said they had not met with Wallach Place homeowners.

A community member who resides on the 2300 block of 14th Street urged the homeowners to reach out to Wallach Place homeowners prior to getting ANC approval.

Commissioner E. Gail Anderson Holness (11) said the ANC should wait to vote until after the homeowner had met with Wallach Place residents.

Commissioner Jeremy Leffler (02) made a motion to support the homeowners' petition contingent on approval from a committee of residents of neighboring Wallach Place. It failed -- two votes (Leffler and Turner) in favor, four against, three abstentions.

If the motion had passed, the homeowners would have had six business days to attempt to find, convene, and convince the Wallach Place neighbors before their renovation is scheduled to be reviewed by the HPRB on September 24.

Google searches for the name "Wallach Place Homeowners Association" and similar variants yield no evidence that an official organization of exclusively Wallach Place residents exists.

After the first motion failed, Commissioner Tony Norman (10) made a motion to support the Design Review committee recommendation, which was to endorse the application with no stipulations. This motion also failed.

Norman is chair of both the Design Review Committee and the ANC as a whole.

Three ANC Commissioners, including Jilani, were absent from the entire meeting.

The BZA hearing on the renovation is scheduled for Tuesday, 22 October.

Le Diplomate in Running for Historic Preservation Prize

(Luis Gomez Photos, used by permission)
Popular French Bistro Le Diplomate (1601 14th Street NW) is hoping to add praise for historic preservation to its collection of great reviews.

Le Diplomate in early 2013 (top) and today
Le Diplomate is up for a 2014 District of Columbia Historic Preservation Award.

The award was discussed briefly at the September 9 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan. The ANC then voted unanimously to write a letter to DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) in support of Le Diplomate's bid for the award.

Le Diplomate opened for business in April.

The previous business operating on the site was a dry cleaner.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

ANC1B Passes Liquor License Guidelines

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street passed a set of general guidelines for liquor licenses at its regular monthly meeting on September 5. The vote was 7-0, with one abstention. Four Commissioners were absent.

ANC1B's liquor licensing guidelines were previously reported here.

There were four last minutes changes to the draft.

1) Complaining neighbors now must live 200 feet within a liquor-serving establishment, instead of 400 feet. 

2) The ANC's decision to consider a protest will be based on the number (i.e., more than one) of complaining households, not complaining people. A household will be defined as a one or more person living at the same address. For example, two complainers living at the same address will be considered as one.

3) The ANC will be sensitive to request for changes of liquor license category from CR (restaurant) to CT (tavern), and will consider them on a case-by-case basis.

4) The characterization of the document was changed throughout from "standards" to "guidelines". This was in response to worries expressed by local licensees at the September 5 meeting that future generations of ANC Commissioners would see the document as written in stone and not subject to interpretation or change.

ANC1B held a town hall meeting on the standards on September 3.

Rat Summit for 14th Street in October

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan will host a summit in October to address the rat problem on the 1300 block of 14th Street NW. This block is the home of Birch and Barley, B Too, and The Pig, among other restaurants.

The initiative was announced last night (Monday, September 9) at the ANC's regular monthly meeting at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

Commissioner John Fanning (district 04) said that the rat problem on this block deserved special attention. He hoped to get restaurant owners on the block "in the same room" with the relevant parts of the DC government, including the Department of Public Works, the sanitation department, the District Department of the Environment, DC Water, and the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, among others. ANC2F is working on coordinating with these agencies.

One of the reported problems was cooking grease overflowing from the disposal area of a popular upscale restaurant to storm drains on Rhode Island Avenue. Fanning noted that this was, in effect, dumping oil into a waterway, which is an environmental crime.

Fanning said the restaurant B Too (1324 14th Street) has already offered to be part of the presentation, showing its state-of-the-art waste disposal techniques.

Fanning is the chair of ANC2F alcoholic beverage licensing committee. Liquor licenses often provide crucial leverage for ANCs when they wish restaurants to pay greater attention to public sanitation issues.

Commissioner Chris Linn is a co-sponsor of the initiative. This area of 14th Street falls into his district, which is number 03.

The "Sanitation, Education, & Enforcement" Summit will take place on Thursday, October 17, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

Monday, September 9, 2013

ANC6E Supports Liquor License for Ivy and Coney

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw voted to support a request for a Class "C" Tavern license for Ivy and Coney (1537 7th Street NW) at its regular monthly meeting on September 4.

1537 7th Street NW
Commissioner Alexander Padro (district 01), head of the ANC6E liquor licensing affairs committee, reported the applicants have experience running liquor-serving establishments and there were no anticipated negative impacts on the peace, order, and quiet of the neighborhood.

Applicants are already the proprietors of the Kangaroo Boxing Club, a barbecue restaurant and bar in Columbia Heights.

A prospective proprietor, testifying before the committee, said the bar will be "a Midwestern themed sports bar, DC friendly". He also said the partners in the venture were exploring the possibility of opening a covered deck in the rear of the building.

Asked to explain the name, the proprietor said "ivy" stood for the ivy covering the walls at Wrigley Field in Chicago. "Coney" was for the "famous Coney Island hot dogs of Detroit" which are a favorite of one of the partners. After some laughter, a Commissioner asked if the proprietor was aware that Coney Island hot dogs came from Coney Island in New York City. The proprietor said he was aware and his business partner could never adequately explain why Detroit's favorite hot dog was named after a place in Brooklyn.

The ANC voted unanimously with one abstention to support the request.

It is now up to DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board to make the final decision. According to a notice on the door of 1537 7th Street, there will be a hearing on the application on October 15.

1537 7th Street is less than a block from the soon-to-open City Market at O.

Fire Chief Touts Improved Response Times, New Ambulances

Fire Department ambulance response times are down. There will soon be a fleet of new ambulances.

Those were the messages from DC Fire Chief Kenneth R. Ellerbe brought to the meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on September 5. The meeting was held at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets NW).

Response times

Chart distributed by DC Fire Department
Ellerbe came prepared with a presentation that showed that average response time for ambulances at critical medical calls has improved by more than 15 percent between February and July of this year. The improvement shaves more than a minute off the average time, from 7 minutes 49 seconds in February to 6 minutes and 35 seconds in July. During this same period, the average number of responses increased by more than ten percent, from 170 to 189 per day.

Ellerbe also presented evidence of falling average response times for first arriving Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at critical medical calls, again by one minute (more than 20%) between February and July.

The new fleet

Ellerbe brought evidence to the meeting that the DC Fire Department had ordered 30 ambulances this year. As of the meeting, six had been delivered, at a cost of $179,000. Information distributed at the meeting indicated that the city will take delivery of an additional seven units in September, four in October, seven in November, and six in December.

The purchase of new ambulances, Ellerbe said, had been hung up in the City Council for a long period, and then the losing vendor challenged the purchasing decision in court. This caused DC to go a long period without purchasing any new ambulances.

Hard times for the department

The DC Fire Department has recently suffered a series of embarrassments and high profile failures, like a DC ambulance in a Presidential motorcade running out of gas. Ellerbe said units are required to fill their tanks before each shift, and this incident was inexcusable.

"For a unit to run out of fuel, that's one of the biggest crimes," he said.

In another recent set of incidents, two ambulances were reported to have caught fire on the same day. In response to a question from a member of the public, Ellerbe disputed that two ambulances had caught fire. He said that only one had caught fire; the other had steamed when coolant liquid was poured on a hot engine.

In conclusion, Ellerbe said, "Most of our employees are extremely dedicated and committed. I commend the Department for continuing to move forward."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Black Cat Liquor License Modification Passes Full ANC1B

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street endorsed the request by the Black Cat (1811 18th Street) to modify its liquor license at its regular monthly meeting last night (Thursday, September 5). The vote was unanimous, 8-0. Four ANC1B Commissioners were absent.

The request now moves to DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

Details about the proposed modification were reported previously here.

7th & R: 105 Apartments + Retail, 40 Parking Spaces

Shaw 42 Developers told Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw about plans for a proposed multi-story building to be erected on the corner of 7th and R Streets, NW. The building will be near the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and across the street from Shaw/Howard University Metro station.

Artist's rendition of the proposed building
The empty site now
The presentation by Marullus Williams took place at ANC6E's regular monthly meeting on September 4. Williams said construction was planned to start in 2015 and conclude in 2017.

Parking always an issue

The planned building will have 105 rental units and retail space, and 40 parking spaces for both purposes. The developers have not decided how many spaces will be allocated for residents, and how many for retail, Williams said.

The presentation led to a debate about the appropriate number of parking spaces for the neighborhood, given the changing demographics of the neighborhood and the current shortage of spaces. Commissioners and member of the public made statements on both sides of the parking issue. Some urged more parking in the development. Others advocated making this new development near Metro less car-centered.

"Being close to a metro station will not alleviate parking problems," said Commissioner Kevin Chapple (district 02).

ANC6E then voted to recommend to Victor L. Hoskins, DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development, that the Parcel 42 development have at least two levels of parking. No specific number of parking spaces were recommended. The vote was 5-1. Commissioner Marge Maceda (05) voted against the resolution.

Affordable housing

The building will be only rental units -- no condos.

Of the proposed 105 units, 21 will be designated as affordable housing. Fourteen units will be priced as to be affordable to those at 50 percent of Average Area Median Income (AMI). Four will be priced for those at 30 40 percent of AMI. Three units will be priced for those at 20 30 percent of AMI.

Recent census statistics state that AMI overall in the District of Columbia is $75,807.

[NOTE: See comment below for an explanation of Area Median Income and what it would mean for the cost of apartments in this building. Thanks to commenter for setting me straight.]

There was no discussion of exactly how much an apartment might rent for, or about the cost of parking spaces.

The average unit size will be 700 square feet. Two bedroom units will be 1000 square feet. The building will be divided nearly equally between efficiency, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom rental apartments, according to Williams.

This piece of land, called "Parcel 42", was the site of a long-term protest about affordable housing in the summer of 2010, described here and here


Two retail operations have been chosen for the development.

One is Old City Farm and Guild, a garden store currently operating at 925 Rhode Island Avenue. Old City Farm and Guild will also move and do business on the land while the planning process is in progress.

The other is NURISH, described as "a restaurant and culinary entrepreneurship incubator". The operation will have an educational function for those who wish to enter the retail food industry. The developers have not decided how many seats the restaurant portion of the establishment will have, or the amount of free or paid parking.


The architect will be Sasha Rosen of Georgetown-based R2L Architects. Rosen has recently attracted attention as the architect behind the restoration and development of the Wonder Bread building on the 600 block of S Street in Shaw.

Bernard Demczuk, African-American studies expert and Assistant Vice President for District Relations at George Washington University, made an enthusiastic presentation about the work he is doing on the project. Demczuk described his vision of the building's lobby, which will also function as a map and museum of the 7th Street corridor and its contribution to local African-American and Jewish history.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

ANC6E to Giant: More Security or No Liquor License

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw told Giant Food that it must increase security when it re-opens on the site of City Market at O later this year.

ANC6E meeting in progress
Representatives of Giant Food appeared before the ANC last night (Wednesday, September 4) at ANC6E's monthly meeting, held at the Watha T. Daniel Library (1630 7th Street NW).

They asked for support for a request to regain their two liquor licenses, which were put into safekeeping when the old Giant supermarket on the same spot closed. The ANC twice voted unanimously to support the restoration of the liquor licenses, but in each case with the stipulation that Giant must provide security far in excess of that currently planned by the supermarket.

Beer and wine on shelves

One liquor license is Class B -- covering beer and wine sold in the supermarket for home consumption.

The ANC voted to support releasing the class B license from safekeeping on the condition that Giant have a minimum of three security guards on premises at all time. In their presentation to the ANC, Giant said that they planned to have one.

Commissioner Alexander Padro (district 01), head of the ANC liquor licensing affairs committee, said that one security guard for a projected 7300 square foot supermarket "doesn't seem right."

"We have concerns that you are not prepared," Padro added. 

Representatives of Giant cited the prohibitive cost of two more around-the-clock security guard. It would drastically reduce the site's projected profit margin, which is already razor-thin.

The cafe

The other license is Class D -- for a proposed Giant-run 40-50 seat cafe at the corner of 7th and O Streets.

As planned, the cafe would have two doors onto the street -- one opening onto O Street, the other opening onto Seventh. In addition, there would be a door between the cafe and the supermarket. Padro feared the possibility of grab-and-run robberies in and through the cafe.

The ANC voted to support releasing the class D license with the stipulation either that the two doors to the street would be equipped with "panic bars" and only open in case of emergency, or that there be two armed security guards, one at one of the street entrances and the other at the door between the cafe and the supermarket.

Some facts and figures about the Giant at City Market at O

The target date for re-opening is November 8th, but the opening "could slip to the end of the year," Steve O'Brien, a lawyer for Giant, told the committee.

Hiring will start in October, with a projected staff of 230. The old Giant on the same spot had 100 employees.

There will be at least 50 people on every shift.

There will be 110 parking spaces for customers.

There are 40 indoor and five outdoor cameras planned. Security footage will be saved for 180 days.

The store will be open 24/7.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ANC1B Liquor License Town Hall Sparsely Attended

Three of twelve Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street members attended a town hall meeting on draft liquor license standards, held at Reeves Center (14th and U Streets) last night, Tuesday, September 3.

The Commissioners in attendance were Jeremy Leffler (district 02), Ricardo Reinoso (05), and Tony Norman (10). Leffler is the chair of ANC1B's liquor licensing affairs committee. Norman is the chair of ANC1B as a whole.

"We don't need a quorum," Norman said at the beginning of the meeting.

At its high point, there were 12 people in the audience for the meeting. Of those, four were introduced as members of the liquor licensing affairs committee that had already discussed the draft.

Leffler on the draft agreement

After Norman brought the meeting to order, Leffler noted the problems caused by excessive drinking at licensees. "We have people throwing up on our buildings, peeing on our buildings, having sex behind our buildings," he said.

Nevertheless, Leffler said, "[w]e are a pro-business and pro-liquor community."

Leffler talked about the community response at the March town meeting on the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium. "Ninety percent of the people told us they want more establishments in the community."

The standards are an attempt to preempt any charges of bias against certain categories of licensees, by demonstrating that all licensees must meet the same standards, he also said. The committee had been working on the draft for 3 or 4 months, and it had been publicly available on the site.

Leffler also talked about the areas of the draft standards that had caused greatest debate. One question: How close do you have to be to a liquor-serving establishment in order to protest it? The draft standards said 400 feet. It isn't clear how this number was arrived at.

Another point of contention was how many complaining neighbors are enough to trigger an ANC protest. The committee had settled on the term "multiple", which seemed to mean two or more. Leffler said that it wasn't fair for a single individual to be able to hold up a liquor licensee.

Norman on the process

In his remarks on liquor licensing problems, Norman said that "80 to 90 percent of the controversial stuff can be solved" by Commissioners who are "astute" and doing their jobs correctly.

Norman said he was especially concerned with the effect on the liquor licensing process on small businesses, many of whom cannot afford to hire lawyers and other representatives for a drawn-out series of hearings and meetings.

"I want to be fair to some Mom-and-Pop stores. They can't afford a long process," Norman said. "We don't want to use it as a weapon."

The public contributes

A woman testified about her new establishment near 14th Street, which recently received a liquor license after a series of objections by local residents.

"We had to pay a lot for lawyers," she said.

She thanked the committee for the work on the draft standards, and also for its role in negotiating with the unhappy neighbors.

She commented on the document's stand on converting restaurant (category CR) licenses to tavern (category CT) licenses. The draft document says these will be considered on a case-by-case basis. This is important, she said.

"We are a Mom-and-Pop that couldn't survive on a CR license," she said. "Without a large kitchen, you can't meet the goals for the CR license."

A pair of residents who have lived near the corner of 15th and Belmont Streets since 2000 also testified. They supported Norman's remarks about not creating barriers for small businesses.

"I think you're moving to a balanced document," one said.

The resident remarked that two being enough to trigger a protest seemed too small. He also asked if two people who are living together might be considered one or two protestors for purposes of this process. After some discussion, it was agreed that two people living together might better be considered as one single protestor.

The resident also said the 400-foot rule in the draft standards seemed excessive, and suggested 200 feet instead.

Leffler concluded the meeting by noting that the aim of the process was to adopt the draft standards into the ANC's bylaws, preferably before a new crop of liquor license renewal applications are presented to the ANC in the fall.