City Paper Widget

Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ghana Cafe: ANC2F Meeting Accomplishes Nothing

A committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle had a long and acrimonious multi-sided debate about the Ghana Cafe (1336 14th Street NW) during its December 18 meeting. In the end, not much changed, except everybody was more aggravated. The committee voted to recommend to a continuation of the current ANC2F protest against Ghana Cafe's request for an amendment to its liquor license.

Ghana Cafe moved to 14th Street in 2009
Ghana Cafe seeks an entertainment endorsement on its liquor license. This will allow it to host live music.

The meeting got ugly. In the end, Ghana Cafe owner Tony Opare called members of ANC2F's Alcohol Policy Committee (APC) "racist", after he was denied the opportunity to continue the long and repetitious argument with committee members and protesting neighbors.

Both sides seemed to feel they would lose some important part of the argument if they were not allowed to have the last word, even if that meant repeating what they had said only a few minutes before.

There had been an attempt at mediation by D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), but it apparently was going nowhere. The real issue seemed to be that the protesting group of neighbors plainly wished to demonstrate that Opare had not lived up to agreements in the past, which damaged his credibility and made negotiating another agreement a waste of time.

"There is no evidence that he'll live up to his agreement," one neighbor said.

The protesting neighbors all live on the 1400 block of Rhode Island Avenue. Many of them live in an abutting property.

The protesting neighbors provided a long and well-documented list of occasions where the existing settlement agreement had not been honored. For example, the agreement calls for no parking in the area behind the Ghana Cafe. The protesting neighbors presented 13 photographs of 13 different days in June 2013 when Opare parked his personal car in the area.

Opare said that he had gotten a permit from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to park in the space. The committee explained that, permit or not, he had signed an agreement saying he would not park in the space. Opera argued that, once he received the DDOT permit, he was allowed to park there.

The debate ranged over a wide variety of issues, including noise, vermin control, trash collection, valet parking, deliveries, the content of Ghana Cafe's website, and the sale of Ghana Cafe Sauce at the P Street Whole Foods.

Opare did not help his own case by making statements which were demonstrably false, like when he claimed that D.C. health inspectors had recently come to his restaurant and "found nothing wrong".

"We passed with flying colors," he said.

It took committee members a few short minutes on their smartphones to find records showing Ghana Cafe had been cited for three critical violations of health code regulations on December 11 and six critical violations on July 31.

ANC2F Commissioner Jim Lamare (district 05) eventually came to the defense of Opare and the Ghana Cafe, saying that the neighbors were seeking to put him out of business. Lamare was the sole vote against continuing the ANC protest against Ghana Cafe's entertainment endorsement request. The vote was three for and one against, with Commissioner John Fanning (district 04) abstaining.

Fanning is the chair of the liquor-licensing affairs committee.

The full ANC2F will probably take up the matter of the Ghana Cafe again when it next meets. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

The conflict between Ghana Cafe and its neighbors about the entertainment endorsement on its liquor license was the subject of the October 10 SALM blog post.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Special Zoning for Big Box Stores Endorsed

Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 1B/U Street will consider a resolution at its next meeting that will force "big box" stores to apply for special zoning permission. The Design Review Committee of ANC1B unanimously approved a draft resolution which will deny "as-of-right" development for large retailers.

A labor attorney presented the proposal to the Design Review Committee at its meeting of December 16. The attorney said that big box stores have a uniquely adverse effects on part of the local community, including small retailers. If a special exception from zoning regulations were required, first local ANCs would have to be consulted, after which applications could proceed to D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustments.

If it approves the resolution at its next meeting, ANC1B will become the third ANC to approve a resolution of this type. ANC 4B and ANC 4D are the other ANCs who have voted in favor of the extra bureaucratic step for big box stores.

There was some debate about exactly how big a store had to be before it qualified as a big box store. The draft resolution devised by the attorney suggested 75,000 square feet or greater. ANC1B decided to go along with this definition.

There was also some discussion about whether certain other types of stores, like grocery stores, would then be subject to this same rule as well. All agreed that no one wished to discourage grocery stores.

The labor attorney told the commission that his draft resolution was only a suggestion and ANCs could revise it as they saw fit.

Design Review Committee chair Tony Norman (Commissioner for district 10) predicted that the zoning commission would agree to the proposal. There was no public process for big box stores now, Norman said.

Norman is also chair of ANC1B as a whole.

The next meeting of ANC1B will be Thursday, January 2, 2014, at 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets NW). 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Citydog! Club First DC Location at 14th and Florida

A committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street voted December 16 to endorse the request for zoning variances necessary for the establishment of a day-care service for dogs on the first floor of a mixed-use building at the corner of 14th Street and Florida Avenue NW. The recommendation of the Design Review Committee will now go to the full ANC for consideration at the next meeting in January.

CityDog! Club seeks to open here
CityDog! Club aims to set up its first franchise east of the Rockies at a building whose address was given variously at the meeting as 2301 and 2303 14th Street. However, the building also has humans living in it, so it needs a handful of zoning adjustments. Specifically, D.C. zoning regulations state animal shelters, animal boarding, and pet grooming establishment shall not abut a residential building. This case is somewhat unusual in that the abutting neighbors are not to the east, west, north, or south of the establishment seeking relief, but above it, i.e., the residents of the second floor apartments.

Presentation to ANC

A team lead by attorney Leila Batties of the law firm of Holland & Knight made the presentation to the committee. Also present were representatives of Citydog! Club and building owner-operator UDR.

Batties reported they had reached out to residents of the building five weeks ago. They had collected 105 signatures of residents saying they had no objection. This is 60 percent of the occupied units. Of the five apartments directly above the proposed canine day-care center, three had signed letters of support, and one apartment is vacant.

The presentation included a comprehensive summary of the planned business's layout and procedures. Half of the area of the business will be rooms for dogs to run around in. Ten percent is for canine sleeping and eating. There will never be more than 50 dogs on the premises at any time, and at most times there will be far fewer. Dogs may be dropped off for long or short periods, regularly or irregularly. Overnight boarding will be possible -- there will be staff on the property overnight to mind the dogs.

The two possible irritants for neighbors of this business will be odor and noise. The presenters demonstrated why they believe their business will be a good neighbor, meaning, the neighbors will not be subject to unpleasant smells or sounds.


Speaking about their experience opening the other branches, one presenter said: "What we learned is -- you can't be too clean."

The entire space will be cleanable and will be cleaned four times a day, the presenters said. Ventilation will be planned so that the air in the establishment will "turn over" eight to twelve times an hour. The presenters also showed  pictures of "Pet-o-Potties" (trade name: "PooPee Patches"), an indoor toilet for dogs. They are raised platforms with grass and a fire hydrant. Each dog "play room" will have one. These will be sanitized throughout the day and will drain directly to the sewer. The grass on the platform will be replaced monthly.


The team brought along a sound consultant from the Polysonics Corporation to explain noise alleviation measures.

The consultant proposed a worst-case scenario. If the establishment was filled to capacity with 50 dogs and they were all barking continuously without stopping, the sound would probably be about 100 decibels (similar to the noise of a hand drill or a power lawnmover at three feet). The seven-inch-thick concrete slab between the first and second floors only alleviates sound up to 80 decibels. So, Citydog! Club will have an additional dropped ceiling, containing two layers of drywall and insulation. These measures taken together, the consultant said, would attenuate sound up to 100 decibels.

The representative of UDR pointed out that, because the company owns and manages both the residential and retail portions of the mixed-use building, it is in their interest to mitigate the noise as completely as possible.

The vote to support Citydog! Club's application was passed unanimously, with one abstention. 

CityDog! Club currently has two locations in the Los Angeles area, and one each in Dallas and Seattle. The first branch was opened two years ago.

The DC branch plans to employ 15 people, about half of them full time. Representatives of Citydog! Club said they planned to hire all staff locally.

The next meeting of ANC1B will be Thursday, January 2 9, 2014, at the Reeves Center, located at the corner of 14th and U Streets. CityDog! Club will want ANC1B's endorsement at that time so they will have it in hand for their scheduled hearing at DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on February 4.

(Photo credit: Google Street View)

Monday, December 16, 2013

1618 Q Street: Neighbors Turn Out Against

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle once again debated the contentious renovation of 1618 Q Street NW at its regular monthly meeting on December 4. Unhappy neighbors aired their views, and there was disagreement over whether the renovation as it stands is permitted under D.C. zoning regulations.

Sold for $1.14 million on 11/18/13
1618 Q Street is 132-year-old row house, built for one family. Workshop T10 is trying to develop it into a seven-unit apartment building. Their project would include excavating the basement and adding a one-story pop-up on top of the building, which is currently two floors. This project has had an unfavorable reception from various organizations it has presented to, including the Dupont Circle Conservancy, ANC2B, and D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).

Details were reported previously in SALM blog posts for December 6, November 13, and October 15.

Is this project really "by right"?

Workshop T10 previously declared this renovation was entirely "by right" with reference to zoning, meaning, no waivers or variances were required from the D.C. government. Instead, Workshop T10 contents, it only needs the blessing of the HPRB. It is not clear if Workshop T10 has an official confirmation of this opinion.

ANC2B Commissioner Abigail Nichols (district 05) presented a conflicting view. In a resolution condemning the renovation, Nichols quoted extensively from Title 11, Section 1501 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. This concerns the Dupont Circle Overlay District, created by D.C.'s Office of Zoning to guide development in the Dupont area.

One of the purposes of the Overlay District, it says, is "[e]nhance the residential character of the area by maintaining existing residential uses and controlling the scale, location, and density of commercial and residential development".

It is difficult to evaluate whether Nichols' interpretation of D.C. Municipal Regulations would limit or even forbid the type of renovation Workshop T10 wants.

In any case, the point became (for the time being) moot, because ANC2B decided to send the whole project back to its Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee for reconsideration. The vote was 7-1, with Nichols the sole opposing vote.

The ZPD Committee is next scheduled to meet on January 3, 2014, at 7pm, at the Resource Center (9 Dupont Circle).

Neighbors speak

Neighbors of 1618 Q Street had shown up at the previous two ANC meetings but were not given a chance to speak because of time constraints. December 11's ANC2B meeting was less full. ANC Chair Will Stephens (Commissioner for district 08) apologized for the previous inability to let neighbors have their say on the project, and vowed to allow enough time for public comment at this meeting.

An abutting neighbor told the ANC he was an architect and "very pro-business", but he was worried about two aspects of the project. First, he felt the basement excavation could endanger the foundation of his own property.

His second: "The roof deck will destroy my peace in my bedroom."

People on the roof deck would be able to look directly into his bedroom, he said.

In reply, Desiree Hollar of Workshop T10 denied that the structural integrity of the neighbor's house would in any way be endangered by the renovation, and the work around the foundation would proceed according to "a process mandated by D.C."

At another point in the meeting, Hollar agreed that the roof deck would look directly into the neighbor's bedroom.

Another neighbor, who lives on the 1600 block of Q Street, said she had not heard anything about the project until a notice was left in the door of her home just a week previously. In October, ANC2B asked Workshop T10 to reach out to the neighborhood about the renovation.

The same neighbor also disputed a claim by Workshop T10 that the house had previously been inhabited by "7 to 9 people". This neighbor, a 20-year resident of Dupont Circle, said the house had been a single-family home for 20 years until 2012. At that time, it was rented out to multiple tenants.

Finally, another group of neighbors from the 1300 block of 21st Street came armed with an eight-page handout, which they called a "case study". The case study referred to another renovation, at 1321 21st Street. This document contended that their experience with the project was relevant to 1618 Q Street and showed development "may well be worse than proposed due to lax oversight and enforcement."

The debate among Commissioners and testimony from the community took over an hour, and threatened to consume the whole meeting. Eventually, it was agreed to defer a decision, especially as Workshop T10 had submitted a new set of drawings to ANC on Monday for a meeting on Wednesday. Commissioners had not had a chance to thoroughly examine how the project had changed, accoding to Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07).

"I see that the project has improved," Dwyer said. "I'm not saying it's great."

Dwyer is the chair of ANC2B's ZPD Committee.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Liquor License Roundup - ANC2F

It's nearly the end of liquor license renewal season. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle had a handful of liquor license renewals, as well as some other liquor license related business, at its last meeting, held on December 4.

Tortilla Coast (1460 P Street NW) has been in business for well over a year. Its current closing hours are 10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday. At the meeting, commissioners reported on ANC2F's original agreement with Tortilla Coast. This agreement stipulated, if Tortilla Coast was open for business for a while without any liquor license related problems or conflicts with the neighbors, it would be granted permission for longer hours.

Commissioner Walt Cain (district 02) reported no complaints against Tortilla Coast.

The ANC passed unanimously a resolution which will allow Tortilla Coast to stay open until 1am Monday to Thursday and 2am Friday to Sunday, which is consistent with other liquor-serving business in the neighborhood.

ANC2F also unanimously approved a settlement agreement it had negotiated with Glass House Coffee (1333 14th Street), a "high-end coffee shop with evening cocktails". Commissioners called the agreement "non-controversial". The outdoor space would be open until 1am Sunday to Thursday, and 2am Friday and Saturday. Read the September 20 SALM blog post for more about Glass House Coffee.

A settlement agreement is a document negotiated between a liquor-serving business, the ANC, and possibly other parties. It deals with an establishment's opening hours, trash removal, pest control, valet parking, and other aspects of a business that might impact the community.

The Ghana Cafe (1336 14th Street) was back again in front of ANC2F. A group of five is protesting Ghana Cafe's attempt to modify its liquor license (see October 10 SALM blog post). There had recently been a mediation hearing. The ANC voted to direct this matter back to its liquor licensing affairs committee for further consideration. The committee is next scheduled to meet on December 18, 7pm, in the second floor multipurpose room at N Street Village (1135 N Street). See an agenda here.

ANC2F also voted to support the recommendation of its liquor licensing affairs committee to support the liquor license renewal for A n D (1314 9th Street) and Black Whiskey (1410 14th Street).

It decided to take no action in the case of Lotus Lounge (1420 K Street). As reported November 22, an attorney for an abutting office building is protesting the application of Lotus Lounge to renew its license. The attorney seeks a settlement agreement with Lotus Lounge. ANC2F is not part of the protest.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Compass Rose Asks ANC1B for Sidewalk Cafe

Rose Previte, one of the aspiring proprietors of the bar/restaurant Compass Rose (1346 T Street NW), came before Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street at its December 5 to ask for endorsement of a sidewalk cafe on T Street. However, no vote was taken because there were not enough Commissioners present to obtain a quorum (see December 9 SALM blog post).

1346 T Street (Luis Gomez Photos, used by permission)
ANC1B Chair Tony Norman (district 10) told Previte that the matter would be handled at the ANC's "executive session" on December 19, when Norman expected to be able to obtain a quorum.

Previte told the Commissioners in attendance that her public space permit for the sidewalk cafe from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) had already been approved pending endorsement from ANC1B.

Previte also said Compass Rose hoped to open in January 2014.

According to documents submitted at the meeting, the sidewalk cafe will be tiny -- 11.5 feet deep by 17 feet wide. It will have four tables with 10 seats. The iron fence that surrounds the space now will not be altered.

Compass Rose is working with Baltimore-based design collaborative Alter Urban on the design of the establishment's physical space, including sidewalk cafe.

Compass Rose has had a struggle to open. After long negotiations with the community group Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and other actors, a detailed agreement on bar operating hours and other details was approved by ANC1B in April. Further conflict resulted in June when the SDCA attempted to block Compass Rose's opening on the basis of area zoning.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

David Catania on Education at ANC1B

DC City Councilmember and possible mayoral candidate David Catania addressed a meeting of ANC1B about the Council's Education Committee on December 5.

Catania at ANC1B December 5
Catania touted the achievements of the committee, which he has been chair of since January. He said he is still pursuing his goal to visit every school personally. So far he has visited 102 schools, he said.

Other achievements of the Education Committee included measures to promote test integrity and reduce truancy, Catania said.

Catania also said he was pleased about the passage of a bill ending the practice of social promotion in D.C. schools. Previously, he said, D.C. could only hold students back in the third, fifth, and eighth grades. As a result, when students got to high school level and had to take standardized test, one-third of ninth grade students failed. In ending the practice of social promotion, Catania said, he had returned responsibility for promotions to the teachers.

Another bill Catania explained was his attempt to get more city education funds directed towards at-risk students. He said the new funding system measures to what extent students are at risk and rewards increased funding based on how dire the at-risk student's circumstances were.

During a short Q-and-A session, a member of the audience asked, "What are you doing to keep me here?"

By this, the audience member meant that many D.C. parents enrolled their children in public elementary schools, but felt the need to move their families to the suburbs in time for their children to attend middle school.

He said the DC education system was "designed to defeat itself", because it does not support middle schools. Catania told an anecdote about middle-school students who preferred to travel across the city to one of the few adequate middle schools than go to an inadequate middle school that is across the street from their homes.

Improving D.C.'s middle schools was also the subject of a contentious Education Committee hearing earlier this month.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ANC2F Weighs in on Franklin School Proposals

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted to endorse two proposals to convert the long-vacant Franklin School (13th and K Streets NW) to other use. One endorsed proposal is for an art gallery space called the Institute of Contemporary Expression (ICE). The other is for a boutique hotel to be called "the Benjamin".

The Franklin School was built in 1869.
There are four proposals total -- see November 1 SALM blog post. ANC2F's input was solicited by the Office of Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development (DMPED) without guidelines, so the ANC could endorse all, some, or none of the proposals.

The motion to endorse the gallery and hotel proposals was put forward by Commissioner Matt Connolly (district 08). The Franklin School is in Connolly's district.

The two proposals favored by Connolly are the two proposals that would result in the Franklin School continuing to be open to the public in some form. ANC2F Commissioners agreed it was important that the community have access to the building, and their letter to the DMPED will emphasize the importance of public access.

However, according to ANC2F's web site: "The letter will commend all four redevelopment proposals and express the Commission’s support for whatever decision DMPED makes."

Some of the other Commissioners expressed preferences that did not exactly match Connolly's. Commissioner Walt Cain (district 02) was partial to the hotel proposal over the others, while Commissioner Chris Linn (district 03) thought there might not be a market for more boutique hotel rooms.

During the discussion that followed, between the Commissioners and later Commissioners and the public, there was some fear aired that "we might end up with another white elephant" if the project were not properly financed. Connolly said he had looked at the proposal and was satisfied that the funding plans for the projects were sound.

In the end, the other Commissioners deferred to Connolly's analysis and voted for his proposal without modification.

The unanimous decision occurred at ANC2F's monthly meeting of December 4.

Monday, December 9, 2013

ANC1B Commissioners Attend Party, Skip Meeting

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street was unable to obtain a quorum at its monthly meeting on December 5, because only six of twelve Commissioners were present. ANCs cannot take binding votes unless there is a quorum, which requires more than half the Commissioners to be present.

At the December 5 ANC1B meeting
At least some of the missing Commissioners were attending the annual Christmas party for ANC Commissioners, ANC1B Chair Tony Norman told the meeting. Norman told the audience early in the evening he hoped enough of the Commissioners would depart the party early to achieve a quorum, but not enough did before the meeting was adjorned.

The meeting went ahead, with local citizens and business people speaking to the Commissioners present. Local business people came to discuss applications by restaurants and bars for liquor licenses and use of outdoor space.

Norman promised that the ANC would meet in "executive session" next Thursday (December 12). He implied that votes on the matters discussed at the meeting would be taken at that time. There was no indication that this meeting would be open to the public, nor did he say how the ANC's decisions would be communicated to the public.

Commissioners who were present when the meeting started at 7pm: ANC1B Chair Norman (district 10), Ricardo Reinoso (05), and Zahra Jilani (12).

Commissioners who arrived less than 15 minutes late: Juan Lopez (07) and Emily Washington (08).

Commissioner who arrived 90 minutes late: E. Gail Anderson Holness (11)

Commissioners who failed to attend the meeting: Marc Morgan Norman (01), Jeremy Leffler (02), Sedrick Muhammed (03), Deborah Thomas (04), Dyana Forester (06), and James Turner (09).

At one point, during a presentation by a liquor licensee, Norman took a cell phone call, apparently from an absent Commissioner.

Although Norman took his phone out in the corridor, he could be clearly heard asking the caller: "Are you coming?" No additional Commissioners came after Norman received the call.

It is impossible to determine how many of the missing Commissioners were at the Christmas party, which was held at the Wilson Building.

To be fair, there were other activites (apart from the party) taking place the same evening which might have drawn off Commissioners, including a local fundraiser to buy winter coats for children and a forum for mayoral candidates.

Friday, December 6, 2013

1618 Q Street Renovation Tries Again

Workshop T10 was back before a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle December 3. They had a freshly-revised version of their attempt to convert 1618 Q Street, currently a two-story single-family home, into a three-story building with seven apartments.

1618 Q Street was built in 1880.
The project has had a rocky trip through the approval process. First, it was presented to the Dupont Circle Conservancy (see SALM post of October 15). The Conservancy was not enthusiastic about the plan. On November 5, it was presented to the ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee (see SALM post of November 13), where it was criticized for not consulting with the project's neighbors. ANC2B as a whole voted to oppose the project at its meeting the following week.

It has not fared much better at the D.C. government level. A staff report from D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) was sharply critical of the project, saying that the project "will result in substantial demolition" of the house, as defined under law.

"The project results in incompatible additions and alterations to the house," the report also said.

Workshop T10 representatives came to the ZPD committee meetings with drawings fresh off the printer, based on recommendations and information obtained from the D.C. government less than five hours before. The new revisions incorporated HPRB's suggestions. They include preserving the original footprint of the house and reducing the height of the third-story addition.

The third story addition would be 13 inches shorter in the revised plans.

The new design would preserve as much of the original building as possible and would also move the location of the third-story addition toward the rear of the building.

However, it still seems as if the project would result in seven apartments and a roof deck, as previously.

Workshop T10 representatives apologized for "springing this on you at the last minute." But ZPD Committee members were not inclined to be charitable. Committee chair Leo Dwyer (Commissioner for district 07) noted that this was not the first time Workshop T10 had brought recently-changed drawings to a ZPD Committee and asked for swift approval. Committee members agreed they wanted more time to look at the new drawings.

Dwyer also said the neighbors to the west of 1618, who had protested the project at the previous ZPD meeting, were still opposed to the project. There was a meeting scheduled with the neighbors on December 5.

The ZPD Committee decided to take no action until they had had more time to examine the details of the new design.

"I'd feel better with no decision tonight," said Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06).

The project will also be presented again to the Dupont Circle Conservancy on December 10 and is on HPRB's agenda for their next meeting on December 19.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Initiative to Change O Street Traffic Pattern

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle heard a proposal last night to change the direction of O Street NW between 9th and 11th Streets. The proposal was made at ANC2F's regular monthly meeting last night (December 4).

Intersection of 10th and O Streets (Google Street View)
Paul Harrison, a resident of the 1000 block of O Street, came before ANC2F to announce the initiative of a group of concerned citizens. Harrison reported that most of the people on that block had signed a petition to D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2), requesting the change in traffic pattern.

If the change went through as request, O Street would turn one-way westbound between 10th and 11th Streets, and one way eastbound between 9th and 10th Streets. To put it another way, O Street traffic would diverge from 10th Street.

Harrison said the block had many families with young children who were concerned their street was no longer safe. O Street is currently a two-way street. Traffic had increased dramatically on it due to activity around the future site of City Market at O at the corner of O and 7th Streets. Many trucks have started using O Street as a regular route.

The proposal was supported by Sheri Kimball, constituent services director for Evans. Kimball told ANC2F she lived on the block. Of the residents of the block, only three had not signed the petition for the change, she said.

"The truck traffic down O Street is outrageous," she said.

In the ensuing discussion, it was asked why there were not signs banning trucks from the block. It turns out that there are, but the ban is not enforced.

Kimball told ANC2F that changing the traffic pattern on this stretch of O Street was just a matter of appropriate signage. It would be easy to remove the signs back again if the traffic pattern change turned out to be problematic.

"It would take about five minutes to undo," she said. "If it causes all kinds of problems, it won't be the first thing we've have to undo in this city."

ANC2F did not vote on the proposal.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Abandoned 30 Years, 1442 T Street to Get Renovation

The electricity was turned off sometime before 1983. A significant portion of the existing structure has decayed and collapsed. Some walls are braced from the inside. D.C. authorities have replaced part of the roof with plywood sheeting.

Inside 1442 T Street today (Photo credit below)
A committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle has heard a plan to covert a long-abandoned single-family house at 1442 T Street NW into a livable space. If it clears the necessary bureaucratic hurdles, 1442 T Street will once again be a single family home. It will be expanded to three levels and approximately 2,700 square feet, of which about 700 square feet will be in the basement.
Representatives of E/L Studio made the presentation at the regular monthly meeting of ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee last night (December 3).

The proposed design would replace the existing L-shaped footprint. In its place would be a third story addition at the rear, and would create an enclosed lightwell on the north side of property.

According to testimony at the meeting, the proposed third floor addition would not be visible from T Street.

E/L Studio is seeking ANC2B endorsement on the renovation before they bring their project to D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for approval. HPRB approval is necessary because 1442 T Street is located in the U Street Historic District. No additional permissions or zoning variances will be required for the project to move forward.

ZPD committee chair Leo Dwyer (Commissioner for District 07) expressed enthusiasm for the project.

"It will be taking an abandoned structure and revitalizing it," he said.

No vote was taken at the meeting, but remarks by the commissioners indicated they would probably endorse it at the next meeting of the full ANC, scheduled for December 18 11, 7pm, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue). Commissioner Noah Smith (district 09) said he would write up a resolution and circulate it to the other ANC Commissioners before the meeting.

1442 T Street is in Smith's ANC district.

Online records show 1442 T Street was built in 1870 and sold in September 2013 for $450,000. 

(Photo credit: from documents presented by E/L Studio to the ZPD Committee) 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Neighbors, Civic Association Protest Mova Lounge

2204 14th Street in 2011
An representative of the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association has said the Association, plus a group of 19 citizens, will protest the application by Mova Lounge (2204 14th Street NW) for a renewal of its liquor license. The liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street heard on November 25 that the residents of the nearby residential condominium at 1407 W Street were concerned about the noise level coming from Mova Lounge's outside deck.

"The deck is literally 20 feet from our windows," the representative said.

Mova Lounge's application for the renewal of its liquor license had been endorsed by the full ANC1B at its previous monthly meeting along with a host of others. There had been no protests or neighborhood concerns voiced against Mova Lounge, so it was treated as a routine matter. ANC1B's endorsement has already been sent to D.C.'s liquor licensing authorities, and cannot be withdrawn.

The man from the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association claimed Mova Lounge had not "placarded" the liquor license renewal application, meaning, it had not posted the mandatory large red signs in the window of their establishment, notifying the public of the opportunity to protest a liquor license renewal.

As a result, neighbors were unaware that ANC1B was considering Mova Lounge's license, so no one from the community came to voice concerns about the noise coming from Mova Lounge's roof desk.

A member of the committee said if the allegations about the placards can be substantiated, then Mova Lounge's liquor license application would move back to square one and the whole process would start from the beginning. This time, however, ANC1B could join in the process.

In any event, the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association and a group of 14 neighbors have standing to protest the liquor license. The representative of the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association said the aim was simply an agreement with the club.

"We don't oppose their existance," he said.

(Photo credit: Google Street View)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Salina Restaurant: Liquor License Renewal Protest by ANC1B

The liquor licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 1B/U Street decided on November 25 to protest the application by Salina Restaurant (1936 9th Street NW) for renewal of its liquor license. Since Salina's liquor license was last renewed, there was a homicide connected with the bar, as well as 10 liquor-license related violations. Additional public information indicates Salina has had problems with health inspections as well.

Salina Restaurant (Google Street View)
"This place has a lot of issues," said ANC1B Commissioner Jeremy Leffler (district 02). Leffler is the chair of the liquor-licensing affairs committee.

Leffler mentioned that there had been a homocide connected with the establishment during the last liquor license period. However, D.C. liquor-licensing authorities decided to take no action against Salina in connection with the incident. For more information about the May 2010 slaying, read a report by Washington City Paper here.

On October 6, 2010, Salina was ordered to install security cameras within 30 days.

Leffler also read to the committee a list of liquor-license related violations which led to a total of $10,000 in fines against the establishment during the period. Most of these violations seemed to be connected with inadequate bookkeeping.

Official documents show Salina Restaurant was closed by D.C. authorities on October 23, 2013, after failing to pay outstanding fines and fees. It was allowed to reopen the next day after the fines and fees were paid.

Also mentioned at the meeting were health violations connected to the restaurant. The website of D.C.'s Department of Health shows that inspectors found three or more critical violations every year for the last three years. The problems noted in the 2013 inspection reports included improper storage of raw chicken and fish, unclean work surfaces, and no soap or paper towels at staff sinks. There were inspections in August and September 2013.

The committee voted unanimously to protest the liquor-license renewal on the basis of peace, order, and quiet, and indicated it wished to see a security plan for the establishment.