April ANC 6E Report

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E held its monthly meeting for April on Tuesday evening, April 7, 2020. The meeting had to be held virtually through an online application due to the restrictions on public gatherings imposed by the Mayor’s order on the Coronavirus crisis. Commission Chair Rachelle Nigro (6E04) called the meeting to order with Alexander Padro (6E01), Michael Brown (6E02, Secretary), Frank Wiggins (6E03, Vice Chair), Alex Marriott (6E05, Treasurer), Alvin Judd (6E06) and Kevin Rodgers (6E07) in attendance. There was a quorum to conduct official business.

Police Service Area (PSA) Reports
Captain Dorrough of the First District reported that there were still problems with people hanging out at the Sursum Corda site. There were also complaints of house parties that violated the prohibition on large gatherings during the first week of the Mayor’s shutdown. There has been an increase in domestic violence calls over the past month. The numbers for property crimes have gone down. Commissioner Marriott asked how domestic violence incidents should be reported. The captain suggested DC Safe, which can arrange for shelter and assist with obtaining stay-away orders. Commissioner Judd noted that there was a lack of lighting on the unit block of New York Avenue, which may prevent the police from recognizing problems.

Captain Kim from the Third District reported a shooting on March 26 on Rhode Island Avenue. A lookout resulted in the vehicle used being located and the arrest of a suspect. Other crimes in 3D included the robbery of a purse, with a suspect arrested; an arrest for dealing crack cocaine on N Street; and an arrest for a stolen vehicle. The crime numbers for PSA 307 looked good, with a reduction in thefts from autos. Commissioner Wiggins asked if there was any information about an earlier shooting on the 600 block of S Street. Kim replied that they had leads on the case. Commissioner Padro complained that that there were still parties being held on a lot on Rhode Island Avenue. Kim said that he would look into it. Padro added that the visible presence of police in the neighborhood during the health emergency has helped make residents feel safer, although he would like more attention to the area of Eighth and O Streets. Kim expressed frustration dealing with a gathering of 40 people that assembled at Seventh and O.

Jacqueline Beathea, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Third District, introduced herself and said that she was a resource to deal with public safety issues. A property owner in the audience complained about criminal activity in the parking lot at Eighth and O Streets. Captain Kim noted that the lot was in the area managed by Captain Mack. Commissioner Padro added that suspicious activity was brazen in the area, and offered to help the property owner contact Captain Mack.

Councilmember Charles Allen Update on Covid 19
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen conferenced into the meeting. He wanted to provide an update for the Commission and residents on what the District was doing to address the Coronavirus crisis. He noted that it was a stressful time for DC, with a huge number of businesses closed overnight. The government has developed a $25 million dollar fund to provide microloans to affected businesses. There was also an expansion of the unemployment insurance program. The District has already received 50,000 unemployment applications. There will also be an expedited Coronavirus testing program, with people getting results in one or two days. Current estimates are that virus infections will reach their peak in the District about mid-June or July. That would crush the current healthcare system. There will also be a major impact on the District’s budget. Allen also announced that he was holding a Facebook Town Hall later that night for the residents of Ward 6.

Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee
There were three establishments requesting support for licenses on the agenda. Commissioner Padro stated that the Committee postponed consideration of them since the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board had stopped holding public hearings until at least June, due to the lockdown brought on by COVID-19. Commissioner Marriott, however, said that he still wanted to hear from the public if they had any issues with Cloakroom (476 K Street NW), which was asking for an increase in their allowed operating hours, but not their hours of alcohol service.

Zoning and Planning Committee
1331 Eighth Street NW. Commissioner Padro introduced the project. The plan by Roadside Development is to build a condominium building on the District-owned lot at the southwest corner of Eighth and O Streets. The project has previously completed the approval process, but the authorization given by the DC Council has expired, requiring the Council to pass a new measure. Richard Lake, principal of Roadside Development, said that the project, which would have 79 units, 30 percent of them affordable, had all of its financing in place and that the closing on the property could take place by the end of 2020. Padro said that the project extension was supported by Councilmember Allen and other members of the Council. Commissioner Wiggins, in whose single member district the project is located, said that he supported the project. A resolution to support the project passed unanimously. Padro noted that the Commission’s approval should be sent to the Mayor, DC Council and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

111 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Drew Turner of Douglas Development asked the Commission to support an extension of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) approval for the proposed redevelopment of the building, colloquially referred to as the Darth Vader Building. It is currently being leased by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which had planned to leave for a new building in Prince Georges County. However, the new CBP building is behind schedule, requiring Douglas Development to extend their lease, delaying the planned redevelopment. Douglas Development is asking the Zoning Commission to extend the length of the PUD, which expires in May, so that their redevelopment can start next year. The ANC unanimously supported an extension of the PUD.

Transportation Advisory Committee
Alex Lopez, chair of the Committee, had three resolutions that it wanted the ANC to pass. First, it wanted the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to do a traffic safety assessment at Rhode Island Avenue and Q. That intersection requires a sharp turn, a danger since it is in front of Seaton Elementary School. The Committee suggests that there be a physical intervention to slow vehicles turning from Rhode Island to Q. Commissioner Padro added that the current turn is right in front of the area where parents drop off and pick up students.

The second resolution was to request a traffic study of the impact on the neighborhood of the new Banneker High School now under construction. Commissioner Padro said that the request came from residents in the vicinity of the site. Padro added that the study should look at the parking demands created by the new school’s staff.

The third resolution was to reinstitute the DC Circulator’s Convention Center/SW Waterfront bus route. The route was one of the original Circulator lines, going up Seventh Street from the harbor all the way to O Street and back. It was discontinued in 2011, and there is currently no substitute for the route it took. The resolution proposes ending the new Circulator line at Florida Avenue. Commissioner Nigro added that she thought it was a well-used route and that it should not have been discontinued.

All three transportation resolutions were passed by the Commission unanimously.

Other Issues
Commission Chair Nigro mentioned that she had gotten a number of inquiries about ANC grants, probably due to the economic crisis. She suggested that the process for getting grants have a more prominent place on the ANC 6E website.

Next Meeting
ANC 6E will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m. Plans are to continue to hold virtual ANC meetings until the Coronavirus emergency is lifted, allowing large public gatherings to take place. Visit www.anc6e.org for more information.