City Paper Widget

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hive Hotel Gets ANC Buzzing

November 19 2015

ANC 2A and Neighbors Have Reservations

Developer Jim Abdo, the name behind such as Wooster-Mercer Lofts, Landmark at Senate Square, Monroe Street Market and Bryan Street Lofts, is launching Abdo Hospitality with the renovation and restoration of the former Allen Lee Hotel in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of the District.

Located at 2224 F Street NW in Foggy Bottom at the corner of F Street and Virginia Avenue, the Allen Lee previously offered low-cost rooms to travelers and locals with minimal accommodation needs.

Abdo's Hive Hotel will be DC's first pod hotel, offering rooms of approximately 250 square feet in size. Restoration of much of the original exterior, along with incorporation of architectural elements such as 115 year-old exposed brick on the interior, is well underway, The interior design is hip, urban and smart, utilizing tech and small space storage solutions to offer guests a compact-but-stylish, plugged-in experience. Hive Hotel will also offer a summer garden and sidewalk cafe. Located very near Foggy Bottom Metro Station (orange, silver & blue lines), the hotel will also be convenient to Foggy Bottom's Whole Foods market, various eateries and shops, Georgetown and West End.

So why did ANC 2A commissioners and some local residents issue a stinging protest against Hotel Hive;s liquor license application at Wednesday night's ANC 2A meeting?

In short, parking, traffic congestion and noise. Residents worry that there is not enough space in front of or behind the building to allow for deliveries, loading and unloading of passengers and luggage, or taxi service.

From one resident:"You have no loading dock..." and "The width between the wall and the sidewalk is about the length of a car. I think you've exaggerated your space availability." 


Abdo responded that a 100' no parking zone in front of the hotel will be designated for loading and unloading:


Noise, roofdeck, summer garden and sidewalk cafe operation hours were primarily at issue, with some residents complaining that noise in the area has an amphitheater effect throughout the neighborhood:


Abdoi Hospitality seeks approval for:
  1. Application by “Abdo F St., LLC” (dba Abdotel) for a substantial change to their Retailer’s Class “C” Hotel liquor license (2224 F Street NW, ABRA-090189) 
Commissioners unanimously voted to protest on the basis of parking, noise and diminution of property value.

Aldo and his team stated their intention to work with the commission to reach solutions agreeable to neighbors.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Parishoners vs Zip Car - The 3 Space Battle


A lengthy discussion wore on at Wednesday night's ANC 2F meeting over the allocation of three parking spaces on the north side of Corcoran east of 14th Street.

Parishioners of John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church faced off against Zip Car representative Scott Holland and commissioners, parishioners making the case that they need the parking for services, Zip Car bemoaning the recent loss of their 14th Street lot at 1617 14th Street, and commissioners trying to sort out the DDOT details.

 Le Diplomate restaurant General Manager William Washington turned up in support of the parishioners.

In the end, the commission voted to allot two of the three requested spaces to Zip Car.

Is This Thing On? 1001 O Street


At tonight's ANC 2F meeting commissioner Kevin Sylvester (SMD 2F07) wanted to make sure we were recording when he brought up an off-agenda item regarding 1001 O Street. Sylvester says the owner of the single family rowhouse, architect Suzane Reatig, wants to convert the residence to a two unit condo. Permits are pending and Sylvester says the commission and the residents it represents were not consulted, or allowed to provide input:

On June 25 2015, the Shaw Historic District's Historic Preservation Board found the project to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Bens Chili Bowl Heroes Honored
ANC 2B 10/1/15

On June 8, 2015 a man walking through the alley behind Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW was assaulted. Two employees outside on a break put their own safety in jeopardy by coming to his aid.

Juan Roman Carrosco and Pedro Contreras are seen in surveillance video running to the victim's rescue.

On October 1st, ANC 1B's Public Safety Committee chair John C Green presented the two courageous men with the ANC’s first Community Hero Award:

We caught up with Pedro and Juan outside the ANC meeting room for a quick comment on their actions that night.

Following the award ceremony, the two men headed back to work at Ben's. Take a moment the next time you're on U Street to stop by and congratulate them.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

ANC 2B Meet the Candidates!

Two candidates for ANC2B07 Vacant Seat
ANC 2B 9/9/15
At Wednesday night’s ANC 2B meeting, Chair Noah Smith introduced the candidates for 2B07 Commissioner election taking place October 14th to fill the seat vacated by Former Commissioner Justine Underhill, who relocated to New York.
Holly Billow made reference to the St. Thomas Church project, a hot-button issue for 2B07, while John Kupcinski gave an overview of his background:
Video Clip:
The election will be held during the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of ANC 2B on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 from 7:15 pm to 9:00 pm at the Brookings Institution at 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW.

Who’s eligible to vote? Registered voters of ANC2B07 only.  Potential voters must present themselves at the polling place and must have either a BOEE voter identification card showing that they are registered to vote in SMD 2B07 or be listed as a voter in SMD 2B07 on the voter registration list provided by the Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE).


Perfect Pitch From Owners of 1315 22nd Street

A primer on how to get your renovation project enthusiastically approved by the ANC.

Wednesday September 9 2015 ANC 2B

The homeowners of 1315 22nd Street NW presented their renovation project with such detail, clarity and charm that the Commission not only approved 6-0-0, Chair Noah Smith complimented the couple on their writing and presentation skills. Watch and Learn:

[Video Clip]

Planning to present your own renovation project to the ANC? Take notes!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Naylor Stables LLC: “…the Community is going to freak out when they hear about this.”

That was the statement by Charlie Bengel (District 06) at ANC 2F's September 2nd meeting when a discussion about Naylor Stables LLC’s proposal for a new Class-C Tavern revealed its seating capacity.

Kate Gordon ANC 2F District 01 Video Clip:

Though representatives for Naylor Stables LLC were not present and may not have been aware of their spot on the night’s agenda, Gordon made a motion to protest Naylor Stables LLC’s request on the basis of “the effect of the establishment on peace order and quiet, including the noise and litter provisions, the effect of the establishment on real property values, and the effect of the establishment upon residential parking needs and vehicular pedestrian safety.”

All were in favor, none opposed. 

A hearing on the project with Naylor Stables LLC will take place at 5 Thomas Circle NW on September 16th at 7PM. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Short Articles About Long Meetings

will resume under new ownership this September with a new look, covering ANCs 1B, 2B, 2F and 6E.

Thanks to David McAuley for entrusting us with a great blog.
Have a great time in Viet Nam, David, and let us know how we're doing!

The Isaacs Team LLC
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
1606 17th Street NW DC 20009

Monday, April 13, 2015

Short Articles about Long Meetings Ceases Publication

This is the last post on the blog Short Articles about Long Meetings.

I am moving out of the DC area because my wife, an American diplomat, will take up an assignment this summer at the US Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Thanks to the people and publications who have complemented and linked to my writing.

I have mentioned to a few people that I will be winding up the blog. Some have suggested that I find someone else to continue it. I have not conducted an organized search for a successor, and no one has stepped forward and indicated a desire to write about Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the way that I do.

I enjoyed doing this, but unsurprisingly found there is no money in it.

If anyone wishes to take ANCs up as a topic, I have no intellectual property claim on the style and method of this blog. All you have to do is to go to the long meetings and write down what people say.

Friday, April 10, 2015

479 Ridge Street: "Any Change Is a Huge Deal"

Some homeowners on Ridge Street NW do not want any houses on their block expanding.

(Google Street View)
That's the message the homeowners of 479 Ridge Street got when they presented a proposal to Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw on April 7. The homeowners sought ANC endorsement on the project before they presented the concept for a three-story rear addition to their two-story house to DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The project requires HPRB approval because it is located in the Mount Vernon Square Historic District.

An architect and the homeowners presented to the ANC. They said the rear addition would not be visible from the street. They wanted a staircase off the back of the present building to lead up to a master bedroom suite. The homeowners plan to live in the house.

The proposed addition would bring the height of the building up to 27 feet -- below the 35 feet the homeowners are allowed "by right" under zoning regulations. Similarly, after the proposed renovations, the house would be under 60% lot occupancy, meaning, the footprint of the house would not require zoning relief.

Commissioner Rachelle Nigro (district 04) said she had to oppose the request "because of the possibility it can be seen from the street". 479 Ridge Street is in Nigro's ANC district.

Nigro said she had spoken to or received emails from five Ridge Street residents in favor of the project, and eight against. The people in favor of the project, she said, were people who were seeking or thinking of seeking expansions themselves. Those against the expansions were uniformly people who had no interest in expanding their own homes.

For this latter group, Nigro said: "Any change is a huge deal."

Because of the desires of her constituents, Nigro said, she would have to oppose the expansion.

Three Commissioners then spoke up in favor of allowing the expansion: Kevin Chapple (district 02), Frank Wiggins (district 03), and ANC6E Chair Marge Maceda (Commissioner for district 05). 

Since the project is in Nigro's district, she was allowed to make the first motion on the project. Nigro moved to oppose the project. The motion died for lack of a second. The Commissioner Alex Padro (district 01) moved to approve the project. Padro's motion passed, five to one, with Nigro the sole vote against.

This is the second request in two months from Ridge Street that followed the same pattern: protesting neighbors, Nigro proposes a motion but fails to get a second, and then approval from the full ANC with Nigro against.

At the previous meeting last month, a Ridge Street resident told a homeowner and resident who wanted a rear addition to their house to either keep the house as it is or find somewhere else to live -- see SALM blog post of March 6. That homeowner, too, got approval from the full ANC.

This matter is on the agenda for HPRB's next set of meetings, the first of which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 23, at the Board's meeting room at 441 4th Street, Room 220 South (Judiciary Square metro). If all of the items on the agenda are not address, there will be a further meeting on April 30.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shaw ANC Protest for Joe Englert Bar near Dacha Beer Garden

Long-time DC restauranteur Joe Englert got a frosty reception for his proposed new tavern, Trinity, on Tuesday, April 7. Englert appeared before Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E/Shaw to ask for endorsement of a new tavern license for the proposed operation at 1606 7th Street NW, two doors up from Dacha Beer Garden at 7th and Q Streets.

Blue building center right is 1606 7th Street
Englert told the ANC the tavern would be a "barbeque concept", serving from a food truck parked on the patio behind the main building. There will be DJs inside the establishment, so Englert is seeking an entertainment endorsement on his liquor license.

According a Notice of Public Hearing by DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), available here, Trinity will have a "[f]ull menu with ribs, pulled pork, turkey, and salads". It will have an inside capacity of 199 and outdoor space with capacity of 68. Trinity seeks to keep the interior portion of its operation open until 1:45am Sunday - Thursday, and 2:45am Friday and Saturday. The exterior portion would be allowed to stay open until 2am seven days a week, according to the application, but liquor service outside would end before midnight Sunday to Thursday, and just before 2am weekends.  Live entertainment would be permitted until 10pm, seven days a week.

Back-to-back with people's homes

1606 7th Street is back-to-back with a series of row houses that face 8th Street. They would be separated from Trinity's outside service by a narrow alley. ANC6E Commissioner Alex Padro (district 01) noted "significant concern" from these neighbors. The proposed tavern would be in Padro's district.

"We have families that live 10 feet from the back" of the proposed establishment, Padro said.

"The inside part, I welcome. It's the outside part that bothers me," one neighbor said.

"You need to make choices about what this is going to be," the same neighbor said.

"For us, it's a quality of life issue," said a representative of the Central Shaw Neighborhood Association. "Outdoor residential drinking space is a non-starter for some neighbors."

"We do largely welcome development in the neighborhood," she added.

Slightly odd ANC conversation

The conversation took some strange turns. Commissioner Rachelle Nigro (district 04) asked, if this application failed, and the next applicant wanted to open a "titty bar", would the neighbors object to that also? Nigro said that the neighbors could not "pick and choose" what type of businesses they liked in the neighborhood.

Other Commissioners openly disagreed.

Commissioner Kevin Chapple (district 02) said: "I can completely sympathize. You have a right to pick and choose."

Commissioner Frank Wiggins (district 03) also expressed solidarity: "I hear the cry of the neighbors."

Padro said he had served on ANCs for 15 years, and had never protested a liquor license. In this case, however, Padro (also chair of ANC6E's liquor-licensing affairs committee) said talks with Englert about the establishment and "what were the deal breakers" yielded no satisfactory conclusion.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room was the nearby Dacha Beer Garden (1600 7th Street). This establishment was mentioned in connection with the noise issue several times. When a speaker did so, the speaker usually felt it necessary to acknowledge the present applicant was not the Dacha Beer Garden, and any complaints about the behavior of the patrons of the Dacha Beer had no bearing on this application. Yet Dacha Beer Garden still seemed to be on everybody's mind.

Padro said when Dacha applied for a liquor license, they claimed their capacity was 129, but often "in reality" there were 400 people there.

"The noise is unbearable," Padro said.

Nigro noted some neighbors who had been before the ANC in support of Dacha a few years ago were now emailing and appearing against this bar's liquor license application.

Englert was present during the discussion but did not speak very often. He mentioned there was "many ways to attack noise", but he did not make any specific suggestions or promises.

Vote and next steps

The ANC voted to protest the liquor license application. The vote to protest was five to one -- the dissenting vote was from ANC6E Chair Marge Maceda (Commissioner for district 05).

The petition of protest by the ANC (and the neighbors, if they choose to act separately) have to be filed by April 27. Trinity's next scheduled ABRA hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 11, at ABRA's offices on the 4th floor of the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

Englert has opened over a dozen bars in the District. He is perhaps best known for many establishments on H Street NE, including The Rock and Roll Hotel and H Street Country Club. Englert operations in the Shaw/U Street area include DC9 and the now-closed State of the Union.

Read a 2012 Washingtonian magazine portrait of Englert here, which includes (near the end) some information about Englert's relations with ANCs on H Street NE.

(Photo credit: Google Street View)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

DCRA Director on Noise, Row House Crowding, Illegal Construction

Melinda Bolling, interim director of DC's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), answered some questions before the start of the the regular monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on April 2. The questions addressed various topics which are under DCRA's purview.

Bolling (center) answers questions
Bolling explained some details about about DC sound regulations. Noise was a constant complaint, she said, but DC was "hesitant" to impose new soundproofing requirements on existing buildings. Instead, DCRA concentrated on assuring that new constructions and buildings getting renovations were up to code in this regard.

"If you make renovations, you have to meet the code," Bolling said.

ANC1B Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09) brought up a specific place which he predicted would be a future headache for Commissioners.

"We're going to have a problem with Nellie's," Turner said.

Nellie's Sports Bar is a popular establishment located at 900 U Street NW. It is next to a parcel of land likely someday to hold a multi-story mixed use building. This neighboring parcel is one of two parcels which are being considered (together as a single unit) for redevelopment by the Bowser administration. The other package in the deal is the nearby Grimke School (1923 Vermont Avenue).

A proposal to redevelop these two pieces of land was approved in the last moments of the administration of former Mayor Vincent Grey in December 2014. The award was "put on hold" shortly after Mayor Bowser was sworn in, and is now being reevaluted.

In response to a question on illegal construction, Bolling gave the name of the city official responsible -- Jill Byrd -- and a telephone number to call -- 202-442-STOP. (Byrd's email is However, Bolling says, "no one works on weekends", so complaints about any illegal construction happening after Friday evening will have wait until the next business day for action.

In response to a question about illegal rooming houses, Bolling said it was legal for six unrelated people to live together in one house.

ANC1B Commissioner Nick Ferreyros (district 05) said he had been told the actual legal limit is five or less.

No, Bolling said, six was permitted.

DCRA has the responsibility to enforce rules against illegal rooming houses but "we have to build a case", and it was often difficult to do so, she said.

Bolling also briefly addressed the DCRA"s "Third Party Inspection Program", meaning, practice of having private businesses to do inspections to ensure buildings are up to code, in lieu of inspectors on the city payroll. Bolling said many inspectors were hired by developers. There was a profit motive for inspectors not to scrutinize too closely the properties they were being paid to inspect, she admitted.

There was only one person in the audience who had a question, and the matter turned out to be one handled by another DC government agency.

The ANC thanked Bolling for coming. She departed and the ANC moved on to its regular agenda.

Bolling became DCRA interim director at the beginning of 2015. She was DCRA's General Counsel for several years prior.

Read here a February 27 post from the blog Park View DC about a recent Ward One town hall meeting where DCRA's chronic "unresponsiveness and failure to address issues" was the focus of many citizen complaints.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Florida Avenue Improvement Project Delayed Until 2016

A long-planned improvement of Florida Avenue NW between U Street and Sherman Avenue will be delayed until April 2016, according to Richard Kenney of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Kenney made the announcement during the latest regularly-scheduled meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on April 2.

(From October 2014 DDOT presentation)
According to a presentation made by DDOT on October 27, 2014, the Florida Avenue project was to start construction in October 2015.

The delayed project will eventually bring bike lanes and sharrows to this stretch of Florida Avenue. It will also improve drainage, provide a traffic light at V Street, widen sidewalks, and add wheelchair ramps. There will also be additional green space, Kenney said. 

Kenney told the ANC that "outstanding issues were putting the project on hold" including one involving District Department of the Environment (DDOE) storm water management regulations and another involving curb cuts along Florida Avenue which need to be closed before work could start.

In addition, a separate project will soon begin nearby on Georgia Avenue, Kenney said, and DDOT does not want to have two projects in close proximity in progress at the same time, since both will obstruct north-south traffic.

The Georgia Avenue project will bring dedicated bus lanes. The October 2014 presentation said construction would start in February 2015. At the meeting last week, Kenney said the start of the Georgia Avenue project was "imminent".

ANC Commissioner Ellen Nedrow Sullivan (district 02) asked Kenney if, since the project was delayed anyway, whether new street lights for the 1900 block of 9th Street could be incorporated. Much of the neighborhood has received new street lights with an elegant, retro look to replace utilitarian-looking street lights used before -- see a examples of the two styles in this SALM blog post. But the 1900 block of 9th Street has not yet benefitted from this upgrade.

See a September 2012 post from the blog Greater Greater Washington about this project here. This post references 2011 input (see here) from ANC1B.

Monday, April 6, 2015

All Souls Bar Mobilizes Social Media to Support Outdoor Service

CORRECTION: When originally published, the first sentence of this article said the patio would be at the corner of "8th and I Streets". Apologies.

All Souls Bar (725 T Street NW) has launched a campaign on social media to gain community support for a planned patio at the corner of 8th and T Streets. As a result, Nick Baumann, chair of the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street, has received about 50 emails in support of the planned patio as of last Thursday evening, April 2, when the ANC had its regularly-scheduled monthly meeting. (Baumann also tweeted this information on the same day.) By comparison, at a meeting of the liquor-licensing committee on March 18, Baumann reported he had received eight emails, divided for and against.

From All Souls Bar's Facebook page
In order to serve outside, All Souls will have to get permission from DC liquor-licensing authorities. The first step toward this permission would be getting buy-in from the community, including the ANC. Neighbors of, and property-owners near, the establishment have come to the last two meetings of the liquor-licensing affairs committee of the ANC to oppose the proposal -- see SALM blog posts of February 25 and March 25.

On April 1, All Souls Bar published a post on its Facebook page asking for community support. At the same time, it tweeted a "call to action", directing readers to the Facebook post.

The Facebook post has pictures of the proposed space (see above) and also cites reporting on this blog. All Souls Bar's owner/operator David Batista writes he feels "opposition is unwarranted with some misinterpretation of the law and our intentions." Batista also writes:
We want to take a barren lot and surround it with trees and plantings to beautify the corner for pedestrians and patrons alike. We want a patio with table service only—no standing, no speakers and no smoking (sorry folks). A patio with limited hours.
The post urges supporters to email Baumann and ANC Commissioners and "let them know why you support All Souls and our patio". As of this writing, the post has 190 "likes" and has been shared 40 times, including on the SALM Facebook page.

Shortly after the post was published, it was shared on the Facebook-based blog U Street Buzz and was the subject of a sympathetic article on the blog Popville. In both places, it received many additional likes and favorable comments. The Popville article also has some unfavorable comments.

Since the original Facebook posting, All Souls Bar has thanked it supporters on Twitter for the "great and truely humbling" response, and urged supporters to "keep the emails coming, you are being heard".

At the April 2 meeting, several ANC1B Commissioners said they had received emails in support of the patio. Baumann told the ANC the matter would come up again at the next regularly-scheduled liquor-licensing committee meet, and he expected it to be "contentious". There was little further discussion and no vote of any kind on the project at the April 2 meeting.

The next meeting of the liquor-licensing affairs committee of ANC1B is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15. Meetings usually start at 7pm, and take place at the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th Street, between S and T Streets).

Friday, April 3, 2015

DC Attorney General's Office Launches Charm Offensive at ANCs

In the quest for budget independence, representatives of newly-elected DC Attorney General Karl Racine stopped off at the regular monthly meetings of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) 2F/Logan Circle on Wednesday, April 1, and 1B/U Street last night, Thursday, April 2.

Representatives of the office pitched a plan that would allow the Attorney General's office to retain up to $20 million annually from settlements and awards it wins as a result of litigation.

"We want to keep some of the food we kill," said Vanessa Natale, chief of the Neighborhood and Victim Services Section of the Attorney General's Office at  ANC2F's meeting.

"What we're asking for is to be more independent," Natale also said.

Natale told the ANC the Attorney General's office was seeking the unusual funding arrangement in part to be able to hire more attorneys. The office currently has 275 attorneys, she said, and it needed another 75 attorneys to bring it up to size that similar offices have in cities of the same size.

The Attorney General's office also wished to strengthen its consumer protection division, she said, and be able to fund a proposed new "affordable housing" division.

Natale also compared the budget of the Attorney General's office -- about $55 million a year, or 1% of the District's overall budget -- with the amount of money the office ("a revenue-generating agency for the District government") takes in. For example, the Attorney General's office won an award of $60-90 million from online hotel companies who were booking hotel rooms without paying appropriate taxes.

A presentation submitted to the ANCs said: "This fiscal year, we project that we will recover or save the District more than a billion dollars."

At the ANC1B meeting last night, attorney Argatonia Weatherington, also of the Neighborhood and Victim Services Section of the Attorney General's Office, made a similar, but shorter, presentation, emphasizing that the Attorney General's Office sought "more independence" and "more autonomy". The Attorney General's office wished to retain a portion of settlements and awards in order to "expand the organization". Weatherington mentioned hiring 65-75 new attorneys.

The proposal must be approved by the DC Council. Natale said a hearing on the proposal is scheduled for April 22. Weatherington told ANC1B the hearing on April 27.

See a March 30 article from the Washington Post about Racine's proposal here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

16th Street Bus Study: Dedicated Lane a Possibility

REVISED to add quote by former ANC Commissioner Kishan Putta -- see comments.

A new transit study that could result in dedicated bus lanes on 16th Street NW kicked off on March 31 at the Mt. Pleasant Library (3160 16th Street). Megan Kanagy of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) addressed about 100 people who overflowed into the hallway outside the stuffy library meeting room.

Blow-up map of 16th Street at meeting
Kanagy said DDOT would first diagnose bus problems and then consider a number of solutions, including the following:
  • all-door bus boarding 
  • a pilot program of "off-board fare collection"
  • equipping buses with equipment for "signal optimization", meaning, computer chips that will signal traffic lights so they will stay green longer when a bus is approaching and turn green faster when a bus is waiting
  • a dedicated bus lane for 16th Street
About dedicated bus lanes, Kanagy said: "We want to make sure it's really enforced."

To emphasize the problem, she had a photograph of a open moving truck parked in a clearly-labelled bus lane. 

"Just painting it [the lane] white isn't enough," she said.

Kanagy said the level of public outreach on this study was going to be greater than it was on DDOT's 2013 and 2009 studies on the same subject. She also said the study would "drill down block by block" to address causes of bus delays.

The objectives of any changes, she said, would be to improve reliability and travels, to maintain operations, and to accommodate unmet demand.

Before Kanagy's presentation, and again after, attendees could go to a series of easels and displays and add their comments, often by writing on sticky notes or by putting colored dots in various categories to indicate perferences. In one case, there was a three-panel blow-up map of 16th Street (see photo) from the White House to Alaska Avenue and beyond. Participants were encouraged to put tabs on the problem intersections and bus stops. The tabs were color-coded to categories of transit problem -- orange for bunching of buses, blue for overcrowding on buses, and so on.

See the DDOT web page for the 16th Street NW Transit Priority Planning Study here. On this page, those interested can leave comments or sign up to receive additional information.

There is also a shortened URL to the same page:

While campaigning for Mayor last year, Bowser said she was "not sure" about dedicated 16th Street bus lanes because, during rush hour, there was "not a lot of space to add buses" -- see SALM blog post of January 17, 2014. See a video of Bowser answering the question on bus lanes here.

The possibility of future public meetings about the 16th Street Bus study was mentioned, but no meetings are scheduled now -- perhaps in "early fall". The study was scheduled for completion in January 2016.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

10th and O Streets: "Based on Past Experience, We Don't Have Confidence that We Will Like Your Final Product"

A tidy vacant lot at the northwest corner of 10th and O Streets NW will change from an unofficial dog park to three-story townhouse, if plans by Suzane Reatig Architecture are made reality.

Coming soon: one place fewer to walk the dog
However, a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle said it will "recommend to not recommend approval" of the planned project at 1001 O Street because it is "not consistent with historic preservation guidelines, scaling and massing of elements". ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) passed a motion against the plans as presented at its last meeting on February 25.

Megan Mitchell of Suzane Reatig Architecture led the team that made the presentation to the committee. 

"A significant amount of green will remain on the corner," Mitchell said.

She also said the proposed building would have two "likely to be" condo units with entrances at the front of the building. It will have two parking spaces -- only one is required. The plan is for the building to be "slightly under 40 feet maximum" -- taller than neighboring buildings but still not tall enough to trigger the need for zoning relief.

Mitchell said that corner buildings in DC are often taller than mid-block buildings.

Artists' conceptions of the building show a pink building with windows that wrapped around the front corner. Members of the committee asked if this color was what the finished product would actually look like. The presenter said no, that this color was used in the illustration to make the building stand out against its neighbors. Were there illustrations that would show how the finished building would look? No, a lot of those details hadn't been decided.

"Our understanding is that we don't have to present exact color and materials," a member of the team said. "We change things, we adjust things."

The architects would work with DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on the details, they explained.

This did not match up with the committee's idea of its own responsibilities, which included approving the materials. Members of the committee asked what materials the presenters were thinking of. A member of the team said ironspot bricks. See an example of a house fronted with ironspot bricks here.

"The committee needs to get guarantees that what is presented is what is built," one member said.

The committee also objected to what appeared, on the artist's conceptions, as an exterior staircase to the second floor, facing 10th Street, which would be on public space, meaning, over the sidewalk.

The architects said they were planning a building in a more modern style, as opposed to something that matched or recalled the styles of the older buildings nearby. The committee wasn't enthusiastic. A member of the team asked the committee if they hadn't ever, when in Europe, been in an old section of a city, and come upon "a little jewel, a little glass box" and been impressed with how beautiful it was? This line of argument failed to win over the committee.

Instead, the committee suggested the design should "pull something in from around it" -- meaning, it should resemble other buildings in the neighborhood.

Members of the committee asked the presenters if they had looked at the ANC's guidelines for presenters, which are posted online. The presenters had not.

"Every single time that firm presents there's confusion about the process," a committee member said after the architecture firm had left.

1232- 1234 10th Street (photo credit: BadWolfDC)
Community members also came to the meeting and cited previous works in Shaw by the same firm with disapproval. See 2012 blog posts about their work at 926 N Street on the blogs Preserving DC Stables and DCmud, and a 2014 post about their work on 1232-1234 10th Street (see photo) on the blog BadWolfDC.

"Based on past experience, we don't have confidence that we will like your final product," a committee member told the presenters.

This item is on the agenda for consideration by the full ANC at its the regular monthly meeting, scheduled for tomorrow, April 1, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

Monday, March 30, 2015

Is Blagden Alley a Street?

The proprietor of the Lost & Found bar (1240 9th Street NW) came to a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle on March 25 to propose an outdoor patio of four tables and 16 seats. The proposed outdoor patio would be in Blagden Alley out behind the building where the bar is located. As proposed, it would take of seven feet of space in the alley and close at 10pm. It would be located in a corner of the alley, near where the alley dead-ends.

Chairs and tables here an impediment?
The discussion at the meeting is only preliminary -- no official application to use the public space has yet been made, nor has Lost & Found applied for the necessary revision to its liquor license that would enable outdoor service.

Members of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) were reluctant to encourage the application. The main sticking point objection seemed to be that Blagden Alley was a "street right of way" -- also known as a street. Vehicles would have the right to pass, make deliveries, etc., so you could not put tables in Blagden Alley any more than you could put tables in 14th Street.

"I'd want a clarification that you can use that land," said one committee member, directing Lost & Found's proprietor to get an opinion from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which has authority over public space use issues.

One woman, a resident of the 1200 block of 10th Street, told the committee she supported the public space application because the area would be safer if more businesses were open and operating in the evening.

"It would be a real opportunity to make a safe space on the street," she said.

Another person, whose property abuts Blagden Alley, was against the use of alley space for safety reason.

"The determining factor should be: Can you get a fire truck down there?" the property owner said.

The committee directed the proprietor to get a written opinion from DDOT on its right-of-way policies and also to consult the Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association before moving forward with the application.

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Everybody That Goes to Popeye's Must Be Drunk"

When the Popeye's Fried Chicken on 14th Street NW between N Street and Rhode Island Avenue closed recently, some were sad. It was inexpensive, and also had a drive-up window on the neighboring alley.

The leaders of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church (1306 Vermont Street) were not so
sad. For decades, the back wall of the church has been victimized by drivers in the alley. Many, the church management thinks, might have been customers of Popeye's with the late-night munchies.

How it was (Google Street View)
"We always said, 'Everybody that goes to Popeye's must be drunk'," a representative of Mt. Olivet's building committee told a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle on March 25.

Why were the church and the Community Development Committee (CDC) discussing the sobriety of the drivers emerging from a now-closed business? Because now Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church must spend $100,000 to repair and repoint the rear wall of the church.

It is using $50,000 of its own money on the job, and asking the DC Preservation League for a matching $50,000 grant. A representative of Mt. Olivet appeared before the CDC to request a letter of support.

The church yesterday
The church will be repointing and repairing the whole length of the wall, but it is not clear yet on how high the labor-intensive repairs can go -- assuming the church gets the $100,000 it wants.

"Mt. Olivet has always been a valued member of the community," said a CDC member.

The committee unanimously passed a motion to send a letter of "unqualified support of the matching grant" to the DC Preservation League. The matter will now move to the full ANC for approval, where it will probably meet with little opposition or discussion.

Once repaired, the wall may not be subject to the same level of wear-and-tear, as the proposed new mixed-use building for the location will fill in the alley, as wall as replace the two neighboring buildings. 

See the agenda of the next meeting of ANC2F here. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 1, at 7pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).

Popeye's will soon open a more upscale version of the franchise across 14th Street from its former location.

See a short video explaining repointing brick walls here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Owner Pledges Cat Cafe Will Not Attract Rodents

On March 24, DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) voted unanimously to support a request for zoning relief by Crumbs & Whiskers (3211 O Street NW), which will become the area's first "cat cafe". Crumbs & Whiskers anticipates an opening this summer, according to its website.

Future site of Crumbs & Whiskers
"What a unique situation!" BZA Chair Lloyd Jordan said at the meeting.

"I'm not a cat person per se," Jordan said. "But I think this is really innovative to me."

The application was unusual in several ways. Beau Archer of the Washington Humane Society wrote a letter and also appeared in person before the BZA to support the project. Two electronic petitions in support with 86 signatures total were submitted. It was also perhaps the first time the BZA received a Powerpoint presentation where one of the bullet points was "Hairballs".

The Powerpoint presentation also detailed the steps the owner would take with trash and waste disposal so that the cafe would not attract rodents and other vermin.

The BZA supported the application on the stipulation that the cafe have not more than 20 cats at any one time, a point the owner Kanchan Singh was clearly comfortable with. The 20-cat maximum was a stipulation in the resolution of support for the cat cafe passed by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E/Burleith-Georgetown. The establishment needs zoning relief because it is officially classified as "animal boarding use" since the cats will be there overnight.

The atmosphere of Singh's appearance before the board was very cordial. No one on the board or in the audience objected to the request. The hearing took eight minutes to complete.

After approving the application, Jordan asked Singh how much she was going to charge patrons at the door to enter. Singh said the cover charge hadn't been decided yet. Then he asked what type of beverages would be served. This had also not been decided.

"So, I pay $20 to play with the cats and drink? OK, that works," Jordan said.

The documents related to the case, along with a streaming video of Singh's appearance before the BZA, can be seen by accessing DC's Interactive Zoning Information System and putting case 18954 into the search bar.

In the last three days, articles about Crumbs & Whiskers have appeared on the blogs Washington DC Eater and DCist, plus on the website of WNEW news radio.

Crumbs & Whiskers also has a Facebook page.

(photo credit: from BZA files)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Two Questions about Outdoor Seating for All Souls Bar

CORRECTION: Someone wrote to me that the "neighbor" mentioned below does not actually live in the neighborhood. Whenever he is referred to as "neighbor" in the text below, I changed it to "man". Apologies for the error.

David Batista, owner/operator of All Souls Bar (725 T Street NW), with his attorney Andrew Klein of Veritas Law Firm, appeared at last meeting of the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on March 18. They wanted to talk about the details of proposed outdoor seating at the corner of T and 8th Streets. They had artist's renderings already on set up on easels, ready to show the committee. But the papers covering the drawings were never removed, and the committee never saw them, as neighbors once again were there to object.

All Souls Bar (grey building left) wants to serve here
"Not much has changed since the last meeting," said committee chair Nick
Baumann. The only development, Baumann said, was that he had received about eight emails total on the topic -- some for, some against.

All Souls Bar has not officially applied to DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for permission to serve outdoors. The ANC has taken on the task of trying to negotiate between the parties.

ANC1B Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09) urged all parties to try to arrive at a durable solution.

"Everybody wants a patio, a roof deck, a pop up, a pop out, a shoot out," Turner said in exasperation. Turner told both sides the ANC wanted "something we're not going to get a noise complaint about later".

The discussions at the meeting generated two questions...

Was the decision to allow the bar to open illegal?

"ABRA put a bar there even though there is a law against it," said one of the neighbors man about a 2012 decision (13-page .pdf here) that allowed All Souls to open.

Attorney Klein said: "I would suggest that he [the neighbor man] familiarize himself with the law." Klein sarcastically referred to this neighbor man as "the gentleman from Montgomery County".

The law the neighbor man refers to is a DC law forbidding issuance of liquor licenses to establishments within 400 feet of a school -- in this case, the Cleveland Elementary School (1825 18th Street), which is across T Street.

The neighbor man would be wise to take the attorney's advice about familiarity with the law. As this Greater Greater Washington blog post explains, ABRA found the prohibition against a liquor licensee within 400 feet of a public school did not apply in this case, since there was already another licensee (an Ethiopian market/restaurant on 7th Street) operating within 400 feet. This stipulation is clearly laid out in the law -- see DC Code §25-314(b) here.

The neighbor man could, perhaps more accurately, state that enforcement of the spirit of the law -- to protect schoolchildren from seeing and interacting with drunk patrons -- had been violated over a technicality. The Ethopian market/restaurant on 7th Street is around the corner and out of sight of the school, therefore drinking there not a matter of immediate concern to parents. The tavern, on the other hand, is across the street, clearly visible from the school.

However, this argument also is unlikely to gain traction in this case for two reasons: (1) All Souls is committed to operating only outside of school hours, and (2) ABRA's 2012 decision clearly states it is not in the business of shielding children's eyes from seeing establishments where liquor is served.

What's the law on outdoor service near schools?

Rule 23-302.5 of DC Municipal Regulation (available for download here) says
No alcoholic beverage shall be sold or served by a licensee upon any portion of any premises which fronts upon, abuts, adjoins, or is opposite to the premises of any of the institutions or recreation areas mentioned in this section unless that portion of the premises where alcoholic beverages are served is within a building; provided, that the restriction of service within a building is not applicable to Class C or D licensees on non-school days, weekends, and after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, allowing alcohol products to be served on licensed outdoor patios which are part of the licensee's premises.
All Souls Bar is a class C licensee, so service after 6pm school days, and longer hours on other days, is possible, according to the regulations. So neighbors of the bar will probably make a case for denying outdoor service on the basis of "peace, order and quiet" -- this being the most frequently used language when neighbors oppose a liquor license.

All Souls Bar is located in ANC1B district 01 -- Brian Footer is the Commissioner. It is also borders on district 02 -- Ellen Nedrow Sullivan is the Commissioner. These two will have the task of trying to bring the sides together. Sullivan is on the liquor licensing affairs committee and said she was planning to start meetings with a protesting neighbor in the week following the meeting.

No vote was taken on any aspect of this proposal at the March 18 meeting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Long-delayed Dog Daycare at Florida and 14th Moves Forward

A long struggle to open a dog daycare facility on the ground floor of the View 14 apartment building (2303 14th Street NW, at the corner of Florida Avenue) appears headed toward a successful conclusion. The aspiring proprietors had to engage in a multi-year struggle to change DC zoning. In addition, they also had a conflict over the name of the new establishment, which was very similar to a local pet care organization of long standing.

From Doozy Dog's submission to DC zoning authorities
The establishment has changed its name -- it will now be called "Doozy Dog". This name was arrived at after much research, the management team told a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street. The research could uncover no establishment with this similar name, not only here in the DC area, but indeed anywhere in the US, a team from Doozy Dog told ANC1B's Zoning, Preservation and Development Committee on March 16.

Doozy Dog is the first branch east of the Mississippi for a Los Angeles-based chain of dog daycare facilities known elsewhere as Citydog! Club. When it first appeared before a committee of ANC1B over a year ago asking for zoning relief -- see SALM blog post of December 18, 2013 -- it used this name. Shortly afterward, a local business called City Dogs Daycare, Dupont Circle-based and open since 1999, objected to the new establishment's name -- see SALM blog post of January 6, 2014. The dispute seemed to lead to the decision to change the name of the local branch of the chain.

In addition to changing the name, the proprietors and their attorneys were involved in a successful effort to change DC zoning requirements regarding pet boarding, grooming, and care businesses. As a result, it is no longer required that such an establishment be at least 25 feet from a residence. Another revision to zoning regulations now allows pet care establishments to open in the basement of a mixed-use buildings as a "matter-of-right", that is, without needing any zoning relief.

In addition, the former requirement that such an establishment be in a "sound-proof building" was relaxed -- instead, the establishment must show it will produce no "noise objectionable to residential units" in the same building or nearby buildings. A similar relaxation of standards was made in regard to odor.

With all these problems solved, Doozy Dog is now ready to take the final steps. These involve obtaining an officially-blessed revision of a 2006 Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement that allowed the View 14 building to be built in the first place. This revision will allow Doozy Dog to open without seeking further zoning relief.

Representatives of Doozy Dog allowed that applying for a revision of a PUD so long after the initial agreement was "unusual".

The ANC committee heard the case for the planned revision of the PUD. The proprietors and their attorney reviewed some details of their planned operation, including disposal of animal waste. Parking was also discussed -- there will be a 15-minute drop-off zone. No other parking mitigation is planned. The proprietors expected most of their customers would come on foot.

The committee voted unanimously to endorse the proposed revision to the PUD. The committee's recommendation will go the full ANC for approval. It will probably be on the agenda of the next scheduled meeting of the full ANC on April 2. The meeting will be at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets) and is scheduled to start at 6:30pm -- 30 minutes earlier than usual.

A hearing before DC zoning authorities on this case is scheduled for April 20. There was no mention at the meeting of when Doozy Dog was planning to open.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tropicalia Assault Case Report: No Blame on Club

The owner of the dance club Tropicalia (2001 14th Street NW) gave a freshly-minted official report to a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on March 18. This report, the owner said, exonerated his club of any wrong-doing concerning two alleged cases of assault by club bouncers against women customers -- see SALM blog post of January 22.

Tropicalia is in the basement of this building at 14th and U
Jesse Cornelius, Public Affairs Specialist at DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), said in an email the report (see copy here) states that ABRA "took the matter under consideration and decided to take no further action."

The chair of the liquor-licensing affairs committee, Nick Baumann, began the discussion as a part of the committee's regularly-scheduled committee meeting. Baumann had invited both the customers and the club ownership to the meeting to discuss the incident, and both sides were present.

"It's not our role to rule on the facts," Baumann said.

Baumann then said ABRA had not yet ruled on the case. It was at that moment that Tropicalia owner Amanollah Ayoubi first informed the committee of the ABRA report's existence. Ayoubi said the report had been issued that day and had "dismissed the case". He gave the committee a copy of the report.

Ayoubi was given the floor and disputed much of the customers' version of events as presented to the committee in January. The owner's version of events largely agrees with that presented in the ABRA report. For example, one customer stated at the January committee meeting she had been assaulted by the nightclub bouncer. However, the report says the only assault that occurred at that time was when the woman struck the bouncer after refusing to leave.

The owner also said there was no video of the incident. The club keeps surveillance camera video for two weeks. They were notified by ABRA of the investigation 17 days after the incident took place, the owner said.

The owner also accused the customers of waging an unfair campaign against the club on social media.

ANC Commissioner John Green (district 12 -- where Tropicalia is located) asked if the bouncer involved in the incident was still working at Tropicalia.

Another member of the management team said the bouncer involved in the incident had left -- "for unrelated reasons".

The customers who had made the allegations and their allies sat silently while the owner talked to the committee. When he was finished, Baumann asked if they wished to say anything. One of them took up his offer.

"The reason I came before this body was to give you a heads up," she said.

She said she had been "attacked and injured" at the club and a report had been "filed with the prosecutor". However, she said, she understood the owner's perspective.

"I want to prevent that from happening again," she said.

Barring further developments, this seems to be the end of the case. The committee did not take any action or any vote on this matter at the meeting.

(Photo credit: Google Street View)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Problem Liquor Stores at 14th and U and in Columbia Heights Seek Liquor License Renewal

This is the second of two articles published today about renewals of liquor store licenses -- more specifically, about the renewals that the liquor licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street discussed at its March 18 meeting. All DC liquor stores have until the end of March to file applications to renew their Class A liquor licenses.

Many of the applications seemed routine and generated little or no discussion. The two cases below were exceptions.

Bestway Liquors

The owner of Bestway Liquors (2011 14th Street) attended the meeting and reported that his mandatory placard about the renewal application has been up in the window of his store for about a week. Commissioner John Green (district 12 -- also the location of Bestway Liquors) reported "positive and negative remarks" via email about the store. He read the emails to the meeting about the store, which is located on the east side of 14th Street just north of U Street. Some emails said the store "attracts unsavory people", that there were "people loitering", and "drunks passed out" in front of the store.

Bestway Liquors and placard on March 19
The owner of the store said he tried to do everything possible to limit people from congregating in front of his store, but the space was after all a public sidewalk as well as a bus stop. He said it was particularly difficult to get people to clear out of the bus stop, which had a bench. Police had told him not to shoo people away from the store -- he should call the police, because anything on the sidewalk was police responsibility.

The owner and his attorney showed the ANC several "certificates of compliance", which is what liquor stores get when DC authorities attempt a "sting" to get the store to sell liquor to underage or obviously drunk patrons, and the store (complying with the law) refuses to do so. The owner also showed several "barring notices" -- official documents that allow an owner to refuse to sell to specific individuals who have been a problem. On some occasions, the owner says he observes, on the store's security cameras, barred individuals sitting at the bus stop persuading others to buy liquor on their behalf. When the owner sees this, he said, he refuses the sale.

The owner also said he does not sell malt liquor or "singles".

A police officer at the committee meeting said the MPD had a new additional police officer assigned to that stretch of U Street and hoped the officer would reduce the problems in front of Bestway Liquors.

The committee voted to take no action. If there are no official complaints to DC's liquor-licensing authorities, the store will probably have its license renewed.

Fairmont Liquors

"It draws a huge crowd of Howard students," said one committee member of Fairmont Liquors (2633 Sherman Avenue).

"They come in six, seven, ten at a time," the owner of Fairmont Liquors told the committee.

(Google Street View)
The committee noted three cases of selling liquor to minors. In November 2014, Fairmont Liquors was fined $8000 and ordered closed for 15 days for selling to underaged individuals who were probably Howard students -- see SALM blog post of December 9, 2014.

"The problem is a fake ID," the owner said. "They [meaning, the ID cards] come from many states, not just Virginia, Maryland, but Alaska, many states."

The owner told the committee he had gotten a booklet from DC's liquor-licensing authorities to help him distinguish genuine out-of-state IDs from not-so-genuine.

"We need to take a serious look at the record," said ANC1B Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 08). Turner noted there were occasions when there was no ID check.

"Is that a good community neighborhood establishment?" Turner said.

During the discussion it was also noted there had been a homicide at the liquor store sometime during the last three years. However, the homicide was unconnected with the store, except for the fact that it took place there, and no one suggested the owner was in any way culpable.

A member of the committee asked if the establishment had security camera. The owner said he had one inside camera and was planning four cameras outside.

The liquor license renewal application for Fairmont Liquors has not started its placarding period yet, so there was no vote at the meeting. The committee expects to take up the case at its next meeting. The owner was advised to prepare as much as possible in order to make a strong case for renewal when he comes before the committee.

Many other liquor stores in the area between U Street and Columbia Heights are coming up for renewal -- see the bottom of today's other post for a list.