City Paper Widget

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dupont Indian Grocery Kickstarter Succeeds

A Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 for Pansaari, a planned organic Indian grocery store in the Dupont Circle area, has succeeded. Rano Singh, Pansaari's aspiring owner/operator, informed Kickstarter supporters in a January 21 email the effort to raise funds for unanticipated renovation and development costs for the store space had reached its goal. Pansaari will be located in the basement of 1603 17th Street, at the corner of Q Street.

1603 17th Street is on the right
"Tonight I will sleep knowing I can pay for my construction materials, and go to meet my landlords tomorrow reinforced by the support of my community. Thank you all," Singh wrote in an email through Kickstarter.

Contributors have already had their credit cards charged.

"I spent yesterday firming up order for the construction materials. Now that I have the funds I don't want to delay. I want Pansaari to be open as soon as possible," Singh wrote in a separate email.

In the latter email, Singh indicated Pansaari could be open in May. She also invited Kickstarter contributors to a pre-opening ceremony.

Pansaari's Kickstarter campaign was the subject of a January 2 SALM blog post.

Singh announced her intention to open Pansaari at the November 13, 2013, meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Publication Suspended While Visiting Far-flung Family

Hope to resume activity before the end of January.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Deadline Nears for Cooperative Play Program in Stead Park

Friends of Stead Park is still looking for Dupont-area parents of children who are now between 10 months and 4 years of age to express interest in an affordable morning toddler and pre-school program this September. It's not too late to help them convince the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) there is enough demand in the area to justify a city-run program of toddler daycare, called "Cooperative Play Program", starting in September 2014. Many parks in other neighborhoods have Cooperative Play Programs.

Stead Park is located at 1625 P Street NW
The easiest way to express interest is to navigate to their Google Docs form and sign up on line. Expressing your interest in the program does NOT obligate you to participate in it, if and when it should become a reality. Friends of Stead Park just need to demonstrate to DPR that there is great neighborhood interest.

A link to the Google Docs form can also be found on the Friends of Stead Park Facebook Page.

Over 75 interested parents have joined the initiative already, according to Friends of Stead Park Board Member Kishan Putta. More names would strengthen Stead Park's case even further.

Putta is also the representative for district 04 on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

If approved, the program will run from September 8, 2014, to May 22, 2015, Monday through Friday except D.C. school holidays. The toddler care will run from 9am until noon. There will be paid full-time staff, but the program is also partially powered by the parents of the children in the program. Participating parents will have to "serve duty days" once a week, possibly including the organization of visits by outsiders and/or the organization of field trips. Parents will have to pass a background check.

The cost to participating families is anticipated to be $216/month.

The initiative to create a Cooperative Play Program at Stead Park first came from a Friends of Stead Park Board Member and Dupont-area resident. The last time she applied for the program, she found her 23-month-old was on the waiting list for Cooperative Play Programs in both Columbia Heights and Volta Park. Eventually, she had to place her child in a privately-run preschool.

The city-wide registration for Cooperative Play Programs will start in February. At this time, the DPR will have to make preliminary budget and human resource decisions, including how many people to hire for the educational year. They will also need to start interviewing and performing background checks on prospective new employees. That's why Friends of Stead Park wishes to impress DPR with the depth of community interest now.

"We are trying to keep families in the city by making sure they have affordable resources for them -- so we don't lose them to the suburbs," Kishan Putta said.





Friday, January 17, 2014

Muriel Bowser on local Dupont/Logan/U Street Issues

Ward 4 City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser spoke last night (January 16) to a group of approximately 60 potential voters in the ballroom of the Chastleton Cooperative (1701 16th Street NW). The event was co-hosted by several Commissioners from midcity Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and by the Bowser campaign.

Bowser spoke to the crowd about her biography, accomplishments, and vision for the future. See a one-minute YouTube sample of the beginning of Bowser's address below.

If video will not display, see it on YouTube here.

 

Here is what Bowser said about some of the issues of purely local interest, posed at a subsequent question-and-answer session.

16th Street Bus Traffic

ANC 2B/Dupont Circle Commissioner Kishan Putta (district 04) began the question-and-answer portion of the evening by asking Bowser about the difficulties that riders in his district were experiencing on the 16th Street bus (S1, 2, and 4). Putta told Bowser the buses were often full by the time they descended from Columbia Heights down to the area below U Street. Putta solicited another member of the audience to testify to the severity of the problem. The other member of the audience said on some mornings ten city buses pass by without stopping.

"We made some adjustments in the last year," Bowser said. "It sounds like we need to do more."

Bowser went on to say there was not a lot of extra space to add buses on 16th Street during rush hour, and special lanes were really not an option. However, Bowser said there could be improvements in "bus prioritization". Federal money had gone to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for this purpose. WMATA had in turn transferred to funds to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

"But DDOT hasn't done anything about it," Bowser said.

Bowser also mentioned "bus signalization". This would enable approaching buses to send signals to traffic lights, which would help keep buses moving more smoothly through congested areas.

Reeves Center Land Swap

Bowser touched on the state of the proposed land swap that would trade the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets) for a parcel of land in Southwest Washington, in order to allow the construction of a stadium for the D.C. United soccer club. (See SALM blog post of January 7.)

"With the soccer stadium, it's not a fait accompli," Bowser said. "There are many moving parts to that."

Bowser called D.C. United "good neighbors" in D.C. and said they had approached the land swap deal thoughtfully. However, she was not enthusiastic about the land swap deal.

"It's not perfect. A land swap is a bad idea because we don't know the true value of the Reeves Center," Bowser said.

Bowser concluded that the $150 million that D.C. is putting into this deal would be better spent rebuilding the District's middle schools.

"What we should be doing now is challenging all the council members not to rubberstamp a deal that they haven't seen," Bowser said. "That's number one: let's get a good deal for the residents."

Charter Schools vs. Community Schools

An audience member objected to the way charter schools were developing, especially the way the students with the most involved parents ended up in charter schools, and the rest ended up in community schools.

"This is the problem of not being able to put the toothpaste back in the tube," Bowser said.

Bowser said she expected to continue to see a lot of charter schools attempt to open, but not always serving the people who needed them.

"We ought to be able to limit the number of charters that open and be able to direct what part of the city they open in," she said.

She continued: "You also probably know I have the unpopular idea that charter schools have to educate kids in their neighborhoods."

Bowser recalled that she had a big argument with journalist Tom Sherwood on this issue on WAMU's "Kojo Nnamdi Show". However, her opinion was unchanged.

"I do think we have to have a neighborhood preference for charter schools," Bowser said.

At the end of the question-and-answer session, ANC2B Commissioner Stephanie Maltz (district 03) thanked Bowser for coming to speak.

Also attending were ANC2A Commissioner Jackson Carnes (district 07), ANC2F Commissioner Chris Linn (district 03), ANC2B Commissioner Mike Silverstein (district 06), and Jack Jacobson, Ward 2 representative on the DC State Board of Education.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bar Charley Community Meeting: 14 Against, 3 For

A community meeting took place at the Dupont Circle Hotel last night, January 15, to discuss the application by Bar Charley (1825 18th Street NW) to extend its liquor license hours. Elected and non-elected government officials, Bar Charley management, and representatives of community groups all attended, but no compromise seemed on the horizon.

Bar Charley is seeking permission to stay open three hours later, seven days a week -- until 2am Monday to Thursday, and 3am Friday, Saturday, and the day before holidays. These are the normal hours of operation for liquor-serving establishments in D.C., although not in the neighborhood where Bar Charley is located. Bars in this neighborhood often stop serving at 11pm Monday to Thursday, and midnight Friday, Saturday, and the day before holidays, or earlier.

Bar Charley is located between Swann and T Streets
I counted 14 individuals who spoke against the request to extend Bar Charley's hours, and three individuals who spoke for.

Bar Charley is in district 08 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle. The ANC Commissioner for this district is Will Stephens, who is also the chair of ANC2B. On his blog, Stephens explained that the purpose of the meeting was "to have a more full discussion than is possible at an ANC meeting, where ... there is often not any opportunity to discuss items for more than about 15 – 20 minutes maximum."

At the meeting, Bar Charley co-owner Jackie Greenbaum said, "We have a bunch of people who are supportive. We've gotten a lot of signatures from a lot of people."

But very few of these people were present at the meeting, and the anti-Bar Charley forces were able to muster their troops. Representatives of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) and a group of 105 people, both of which have standing to protest Bar Charley's application before D.C.'s liquor licensing authorities, showed up to state their continued opposition to extended opening hours.

Many people who were against the extension of Bar Charley's opening hours felt it necessary to preface their remarks by stating they were not anti-business in general or against Bar Charley in particular. A sample of remarks:
  • "I have seen the neighborhood changed. We have paddy wagons in the street. This summer I could not believe the noise."
  • "Nobody in this area is anti-business. It's just that three in the morning is anti-us."
  • "We disagree with the hours. They are not conducive to a sane and happy neighborhood. People work, people go to school. They need to get some rest."
  • "You told the [Washington] Post that you wanted to be part of the neighborhood. We need to have an agreement. You need to please us. You're losing a substantial chunk of the people here."
  • "We are very uncomfortable with the clients that you're likely to have at later hours."
A woman identified as the longest continuous resident of the neighborhood, living in the 1800 block of New Hampshire Avenue since 1954, also declared herself against extending the liquor-service hours.

Attempts at compromise solutions went nowhere. A suggestion to extend liquor-serving hours for one additional hour met objection from both sides. A suggestion to put off the decision for a year while "we [the community] get to know you" similarly went nowhere.

The next step may take place on February 11. On this date, D.C.'s liquor-licensing authorities will attempt to begin mediation between Bar Charley and the three groups officially protesting longer liquor-service hours, i.e., ANC2B, the DCCA, and the group of 105.

The application for extended hours was also discussed at November 13, 2013, meeting of ANC2B -- see SALM post of November 18, 2013 and a November 14, 2013 article from the blog Barred in DC.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I am Asked to Leave a Meeting of the Dupont Circle Conservancy for Blogging

Minutes after I arrived last night, January 14, I was denied permission to observe a meeting of the Dupont Circle Conservancy (DCC). The reason given was that I am a blogger. I left the meeting as requested, without argument.

A representative of the DCC approached me a short time after I arrived and told me the meeting was not open to me. I protested that I was an interested member of the public. The representative told me I was a blogger and I could not attend the meeting. It seemed clear that further objecting would not do any good, so I left.

I have previously attended two meetings of the DCC. The first meeting I attended was on October 8, 2013. I openly took notes. Based on these notes, I published the SALM blog post of October 15 about the proposed development of the single-family home at 1618 Q Street NW.

In November, I again attended a meeting of the DCC. At that time, the same representative as above approached me and asked me what my interest was. I told him that I wrote a blog. The representative said interested members of the public were welcome but he did not want me to write about meeting. I agreed to make no notes and write nothing about the meeting. I was allowed to observe the entire meeting. There is no blog post about the November meeting.

On its web site, the DCC describes itself as "an all volunteer membership-based non-profit 501c(3) educational organization". I am not a lawyer and I don't know what rights and obligations this status gives them. Particularly, I do not know if they have an obligation to have open meetings and/or are allowed to limit the purpose or behavior of people who attend.

This is the first community organization that I have been asked me to leave. I have previously attended meetings of two other local community organizations (the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance), and even published articles based on what I saw and heard at these meetings, without interference.

I was at the last night's meeting long enough to notice that it was also attended Commissioner Abigail Nichols, representative for district 05 on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont. Nichols was just winding up a short presentation to the DCC when I arrived.

I also saw other presenters waiting at last night's meeting to appear before the DCC. These presenters have previously appeared before ANC2B and its committees, and I have written about their projects on this blog. The properties in question are 1618 Q Street and 1528 Church Street.



Thursday, January 9, 2014

1528 Church Street: "They're Both Nice Designs"

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle endorsed plans to renovate a dilapidated 142-year-old house at 1528 Church Street. The vote came at the meeting of the full ANC last night, January 8. The ANC's endorsement will accompany the plans to its next stop in the D.C. bureaucracy, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), which must approve the design concept.

1528 Church Street (propertyquest.dc.gov)
The HPRB has a say in the design concept because 1528 Church Street is located in the 14th Street Historic District.

The plans were discussed at length at the meeting of ANC2B's Zoning,
Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee on the previous evening, January 7. At that time, an unusual situation occurred: there were two separate designs, and the committee liked both of them.

The existing two-story single-family home is in a state of disrepair, and the new owners told the ZPD Committee that the first order of business would be to meet with a rat exterminator.

The new owners and their architect, Sacha Rosen of R2L:Architects, told the committee about the original vision for the project. It was to add a set-back third story on top of the existing structure and add a carriage house in the rear, in the style found behind many houses in the neighborhood. Rosen had presented this idea to D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Just hours before the ZPD Committee meeting, he received word that HPRB was "no longer supporting third story additions on top of existing structures".

This explicit and categorical rejection of additional stories seemed to be news to the members of the ZPD committee.

In any event, the owners and architect went back to the drawing board and came up with a new design. It will be a three-story structure that will abut the existing house to the rear. The ground floor will be a garage, and the structure (including the additional floor) will not be visible from Church Street.

The new owners did not seem to be very concerned that the original design had been rejected. They were more concerned about getting the house ready for long-term occupancy.

"It's all about making it livable for a family with kids," they said.

The new owners told the committee they had discussed the project with their neighbors, sending letters to all residents within 200 feet of the proposed project. The neighbors were "strongly in favor". The owners had also talked with neighbors about improved lighting and cleanliness for the parking lot which abuts the property to the east.

Although the petitioners seemed satisfied with ZPD endorsement of the new plans, members of the committee told them that "plan a" seemed just as good and the ANC could live with either alternative.

"They're both nice designs," said Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07). Dwyer is also chair of the ZPD committee.

According to online information, the house was bought in November 2013 for $740,000.

Sacha Rosen has been the architect on a few high-profile developments lately, including the Parcel 42 project and the Wonder Bread building, both in Shaw.

The project is on the agenda for the HPRB meeting of January 23.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Smaller 1618 Q Street Project Set to Move Forward

Congressional Q Street LLC, owners of 1618 Q Street NW, together with Workshop T10 Architects seemed relieved that their visit of last night (January 7) to the design review committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle could possibly be their last.

1618 Q Street
The third time could be the charm as ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee seemed set to go along with the latest opinion of D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on the revised plans for the renovation and expansion of the building, which was formerly a single family home.

The original plans called for the building to be converted into seven apartments, but the current plans are for only six. In the original plans, the largest apartment would have been 772 square feet, and the average apartment would have been 570 square feet. Now, the largest apartment will be a single duplex of 1058 square feet plus a 210 square-foot roof deck, and the smallest apartment will be about 420 square feet.

About the size of the project, one presenter at the meeting said: "Overall, it just keeps getting smaller, somewhat to our dismay."

The project received a highly critical review from the HPRB on November 21, 2013, which said the project as planned would result in "incompatible additions and alterations to the house". After Workshop T10 reworked the plan according to HPRB's suggestions, it received a more favorable reception in a December 19, 2013, report, which called the new design concept "compatible with the character of the [Dupont Circle] historic district".

Desiree Hollar, presenting for Workshop T10, said the new design would "maintain more of the existing structure".

The team overseeing the reservations also dealt with some of the complaints of the neighbors, which stalled the progress of the project. In addition to decreasing the size of the roof deck at the request of an abutting neighbor, Workshop T10 also offered to soundproof the same neighbor's nearby bedroom to attenuate any noise that might come from the deck.

This same neighbor was also concerned about the effect the renovation (which is scheduled to include basement excavation) on the foundation of his home. Workshop T10 reported the neighbor was more comfortable with this aspect of the renovation after meetings with architects and the planning team.

ZPD Committee Chair Leo Dwyer (Commissioner for district 07) told Workshop T10 he was also more comfortable with the project. Dwyer thanked everyone for their patience developing the project, which will have the effect of bringing the structure, which is currently non-conforming to zoning regulations, into conformance. It will also preserve the front facade, he noted.

"I think it's awesome and it will increase your curb appeal and your visibility," Dwyer said.

Dwyer said a motion to support the project as presented will be brought before the full ANC when it met the following day, i.e., today, January 8, at 7pm, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue).

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reeves Center Swap Deadline Missed

Representatives of D.C.'s Department of General Services (DGS) told a public meeting January 2 the deadline had been missed for assembling a complex land swap that would open the way for D.C. United to build a new stadium at Buzzard's Point. According to the terms of the agreement between the team and the D.C. government, D.C. United may now choose to "exit the transaction".

D.C. United play Real Madrid in 2009 (Wikipedia)
DGS public outreach coordinator Kenneth Diggs and Chief Operating Officer Scott Burrell briefed Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on the state of the land swap. The pair told ANC Commissioners that the promise had been to complete the deal by the end of 2013, but it had not been.

The end-of-December deadline was still being championed as late as December 17 by D.C. City Administrator Allen Lew, while at the same time the City Administrator's office was promising to send an agreement to the City Council before Christmas.

This is of great interest to ANC1B and local residents because, according to the proposed terms of the deal, the city will swap land at Buzzard's Point in Southwest Washington for the city-owned Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets NW. Commercial real estate developer Akridge may have to make a cash payment as well.

DGS testimony

In spite of the missed deadline, the deal still seemed to be in the works. Diggs and Burrell told ANC1B about the plans for disposal of the Reeves Center, should the deal go through. Three independent assessors would determine the worth of the Reeves Center, and "money would exchange hands". The plan now was to close the swap in "early to mid-2014" and then lease back the building to D.C. for three years so the agencies in the building would have time to find other accommodations.

At times, it seems like the DGS had astonishingly little information about the building they proposed to swap.

Commissioner James Turner (district 09) asked about the average maintenance budget for the Reeves Center.

DGS didn't know.

Turner then asked about the "book value" of the property.

DGS didn't know.

How many jobs would be moved? he continued.

All of them.

How many jobs was that? Turner asked.

DGS didn't know.

When pressed, the pair speculated that 70-80 percent of the jobs now in the current Reeves Center might move to the proposed new building, also to be called the Reeves Center, in Southeast Washington. The rest of the jobs might remain in the neighborhood, some perhaps at the office space above the Green Line metro station at 1250 U Street. The DGS currently rents space in this building.

Public reaction

The fate of the Reeves Center was the subject of a public hearing on December 17, 2013. At that time, to quote the Washington Post:
The dozens who spoke at the meeting were nearly united in their desire to see the Reeves Center replaced not with luxury apartments, as is almost certainly the most profitable use of the site, but with office space or other uses that would generate daytime commerce in a neighborhood that is increasingly dominated by nightlife businesses.
Members of the public who spoke at the January 2 meeting expressed similar sentiments.

One woman said: "We need daytime foot traffic. We don't need more high-priced condos."

"The community has a different definition of the efficient use of this space," one man said.

"It's offensive to the community to find our that you're giving away a community asset," another woman said. "We should have been part of the process."

"Maximizing profits shouldn't be the main goal," a resident of W Street said.

A woman who identified herself as a local resident since 1988 said: "Two thousand people work here. If you move them away, our area will lose daytime traffic. Businesses will close."

Brianne Nadeau, former ANC1B Commissioner and candidate for the Ward 1 seat on the D.C. City Council, spoke at the meeting and distributed a flyer calling on Mayor Vincent Grey and the D.C. Council
to specify commercial and community space as the primary designated uses for the building and lot, reserving office space within for entities such as the Office of Latino Affairs, the LGBT Center, the DOES Career Center and the U.S. Post Office...
Nadeau has set up an online petition in support of this initiative.

ANC1B unanimously passed a motion to hold another briefing about the fate of the Reeves Center with DGS and other appropriate agencies before the next ANC meeting in February.

Monday, January 6, 2014

City Dog Fight at ANC1B

It was Citydog! vs. City Dogs at the January 4 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street. The two canine daycare establishments seem headed toward a long and unpleasant turf battle.
City Dogs: 15 years in D.C.

The dogs in the fight 

The struggle appears to center on trademark infringement -- not an area where ANCs have any say. 

CityDog! Club, a newcomer to the D.C. area, aims to start operations near City Dogs Daycare. City Dogs Daycare has been in business in D.C. since 1999, according to a statement by an owner at the ANC meeting. The CityDog! Club plans to do business at the corner of Florida Avenue and 14th Street NW; the City Dogs Daycare is located at 1832 18th Street (between T and Swann Streets).

City Dogs Daycare also shares space and management with City Dogs Rescue, a non-profit operating since September 2011 and "formed for one reason: to rescue adoptable dogs in overcrowded and high-kill shelters", according to its FAQ page.

Citydog! Club: first franchise in D.C.
Partisans of City Dogs Daycare/Rescue have established both a Facebook page in opposition to Citydog! Club as well as an online petition at Change.org that has gathered more than 100 electronic signatures.

The newcomer CityDog! Club came before ANC1B January 4 to request endorsement of requests from D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for zoning variances and special exceptions that would allow it to operate on the first floor of a mixed-use building. ANC1B's Design Review Committee had already recommended the full ANC endorse CityDog! Club's request -- see SALM blog post of December 18, 2013. (No representatives of City Dogs Daycare came to the Design Review Committee meeting, which took place on December 16.)

At the January ANC meeting, City Dogs Daycare told the ANC the establishment of a nearby business with a similar name would confuse customers and have an adverse effect on the community, and urged the ANC not to endorse the request.

Discussion

There followed a long discussion about what exactly the ANC should be discussing. Citydog! Clubs argued that their request to the BZA only required a demonstration that the operation of a canine daycare/grooming service would not inconvenience the neighbors directly abutting the proposed location of the business. Citydog! Club said they had demonstrated to the Design Review Committee that abutting neighbors would not be adversely effected. In reply, City Dogs Daycare advocated consideration of the impact on the wider community.

An attorney for Citydog! Club said their zoning-related requests met the letter of the law. City Dogs Daycare had a different interpretation.

A representative of Citydog! Club said they would not consider renaming their business, which is part of a chain.

A proposal by Commissioner Jeremy Leffler (district 02) to send the matter back to the Design Review Committee for reconsideration went nowhere. It was determined that, by the time the Design Review Committee met, made a decision, and sent the decision back to the full ANC for another vote, CityDog! Club's hearing at the BZA would already have passed, rendering the activity pointless.

The vote

The motion to endorse the request for zoning variances and special exceptions failed on a tie vote of 4 - 4.

Commissioners voting to endorse the request: Sedrick Muhammed (district 03), Ricardo Reinoso (05), James Turner (09), and Tony Norman (10).

Commissioners voting against the endorsement: Marc Morgan (01), Jeremy Leffler (02), Juan Lopez (07), Zahra Jilani (12).

Commissioners Deborah Thomas (04), Emily Washington (08), and E. Gail Anderson Holness (11) were not present at the meeting.

Commissioner Dyana Forester (06) was present earlier at the meeting but had to leave before the vote due to a family emergency.

Next steps

The request by CityDog! Club will now proceed to the BZA without ANC1B endorsement. The BZA hearing is scheduled for February 4, at 9:30am, at the Zoning Commission's hearing rooms, located at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, Room 220 South.

Meanwhile, on its anti-CityDog! Club Facebook page, City Dogs Daycare put out a request for ANC1B residents, especially residents of the mixed-used building where CityDog! Club is intending to set up shop (View 14, 2303 14th Street), to come forward and support its attempt to block CityDog! Club's petition before the BZA.

Friday, January 3, 2014

James Turner New Chair of ANC1B

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street elected new officers at its meeting of last night, January 4. Commissioner James Turner (district 09) was elected ANC1B Chair, defeating incumbent Tony Norman (10) in a narrow 5 - 4 vote. Marc Morgan (01) was elected Vice-Chair, also by 5 - 4, over Jeremy Leffler (02). Ricardo Reinoso (05) and Dyana Forester (06) were elected without opposition as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.


Gottlieb Simon and ANC1B elect new officers
The election was conducted in public view by Gottlieb Simon, Executive Director of D.C.'s Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. Simon arrived at the meeting when it started at 7pm in a bicycle helmet and a soaking-wet yellow rain slicker, indicating that he had braved last night's slushy winter storm on two wheels to make the election happen.

Simon explained the election could not be by secret ballot, since all ANC activity is supposed to be public. After making that clear, Simon and the ANC agreed candidates for contested positions would have a minute to speak to the other commissioners.

Speaking first, Turner said the ANC had experienced a difficult year. The ANC had not leveraged the strengths and weaknesses of its members, Turner said, and the ANC had been criticized for not filing documents on time.

"My focus will be making us strong operationally," Turner said.

In reply, Norman said there had been a lot of improvements in the last year, including bringing a staff person on board. Norman said the ANC wants to move toward having its meetings broadcast live online.

The vote tally for ANC1B Chair:

For Turner: Leffler, Reinoso, Forester, Juan Lopez (07), and Turner.
For Norman: Morgan, Sedrick Muhammed (03), Norman, and Zahra Jilani (12).

The vote tally for ANC1B Vice-chair:

For Morgan: Morgan, Reinoso, Forester, Turner, and Norman.
For Leffler: Leffler, Muhammed, Lopez, and Jilani.

Commissioners Deborah Thomas (04), Emily Washington (08), and E. Gail Anderson Holness (11) were not present at the meeting.

Once Turner was elected Chair, he immediately took up his position, and the balance of the meeting took place under his leadership.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign for Dupont Indian Grocery

Pansaari, an organic Indian grocery store try to set up near Dupont Circle, has started a Kickstarter campaign.

"My trouble is cost overruns with construction," says Pansaari's aspiring owner/operator Rano Singh on her Kickstarter appeal.

Pansaari seeks to open at 17th and Q Streets
Pansaari seeks $20,000 in pledges before the Kickstarter campaign ends on January 22. As of January 1, it has $2,235 in pledges.

Premiums on offer for low-level contributors include Pansaari mugs, aprons, and tote bags, plus free servings of chai and a chance to visit the store prior to its official opening. At higher levels, enticements include sit down dinners for six or eight, or recipes and tables at the establishment named in the contributor's honor.

On her Kickstarter appeal, Singh says: "The location is perfect, but the space is not. The space has been vacant for 4 years, and the costs of providing basic heating, ventilation, cooling, plumbing, and electric upgrades are far greater than my original estimate from a contractor. I am hopeful my landlord will reconsider, and help with making this a useable space."

If funding comes together, Pansaari will open in April in the basement of 1603 17th Street NW, in a mixed-use building at the corner of Q Street. The last tenant was the Club Chaos nightclub, which closed in 2008.

Rano Singh announced her intention to open Pansaari at a meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont on November 13, 2013. See the SALM blog post of November 15, 2013, for more information.