ANC 6E Report October 2020

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6E held its monthly meeting for September on Tuesday evening, September 1, 2020. Due to the restrictions on public meetings caused by the Covid-19 crisis, the meeting was held as a virtual conference. Commission Chair Rachelle Nigro (6E04) called the meeting to order with Alexander Padro (6E01), Michael Brown (6E02, Secretary), Frank Wiggins (6E03, Vice Chair), Alex Marriot (6E05, Treasurer) and Alvin Judd (6E06) in attendance. There was a quorum to conduct official business.

Commissioner Resignation
The meeting started with Commissioner Marriott announcing that he was resigning his position. He was moving out of his single member district in Mount Vernon to Brookland, and thus had to resign. Commissioner Wiggins was elected to the position of ANC Treasurer left vacant by Marriott’s resignation.

Police Service Area (PSA) Reports
Commander Stuart Emerman of the Third Police District announced that the biggest current issue is stolen autos. There is a chronic problem of delivery drivers leaving keys in unlocked cars. There have been several incidents of stolen cars daily citywide. Additional recent community eyes and ears have supported early closure of cases.

Lieutenant Michael Dyer reported on a homeless encampment at Fourth and P Streets. MPD is trying to do more outreach there. Commissioner Brown asked when the encampment started. Commissioner Nigro interjected that it started in December and has grown since June. Nigro added that the encampment was on DC Parks and Recreation land. Lieutenant Dyer said that there were limits to what could be done during a pandemic. There have been issues with camp members using electricity and water from neighborhood homes.

Commissioner Nigro asked for an update on a robbery at the 400 block of M Street. Emerman said they had grainy video footage of the incident, but no new information. Commissioner Wiggins said that he was told that the 1300 block of Fifth Street saw 15 car break-ins a couple of days ago. Emerman said that it did not ring a bell, perhaps every break-in was not reported. He would check into this. Commissioner Padro said that there were problems reported on the 1300 block of Eighth Street and by businesses on the 1200 block of Ninth Street. The police did get rid of a grill that was being used on the sidewalk on Eighth Street. There is a problem with aggressive panhandling on Ninth Street, and efforts by miscreants to avoid being recorded by cameras.

Commander Emerman said there has been some progress, with arrests for drugs on Seventh and T Streets. With the District allowing restaurants to set up outdoor streateries, there are more people outside that attract panhandlers and the homeless. He said that some restaurants are reluctant to call police. They need to report more incidents.

There was a question about installation of a police camera on Eighth Street. Emerman said that some police cameras were cut from the budget, but that Eighth Street was a priority and that it should be installed by the end of the fiscal year (September 30). “Can there be more cameras?” Emerman noted there are already some cameras near the Second NW COOP, but there are limited funds for police cameras.

A resident said that there has been gunfire at Fourth and N Streets. Emerman said that there had been an increase in reported gun shots. They are doing tests on shells recovered. He said that we need to have judges recognize the impact of violence on the community. ANCs have tried to do this through Community Impact Statements. There is a Google blog, reachable from the MPD website, that lists arrests every day.

Captain Jonathan Dorrough from the First District reported that there had been no violent crime in 1D over the past 30 days. There has been an uptick in property crime, largely due to stolen autos. The police have ticketed autos that are left running to discourage this activity and notify food delivery services about the stolen auto problem. Commissioner Judd commented that he thought the police were doing a good job cleaning up the problems on New York Avenue.

Joe Horn, senior area manager of the 7-Eleven company along with John Rowland, chief for asset protection, entered the conversation to discuss security at the Mount Vernon 7-Eleven. Commissioner Marriott asked about the store’s security initiatives. They replied that there was a concern about aggressive panhandling at the store, and that they were trying to deter unwanted guests. Marriott asked how many have been banned. They could not give a specific number, but said it was from 20 to 30 people.

Board of Elections Presentation

Board of Elections Executive Director Alice Miller and Board Chair Michael Bennett came to ANC 6E to describe their preparations for the upcoming November 3 General Election. The DC Council, in response to the Coronavirus crisis, allowed the Board to send out mail-in ballots to every DC registered voter. The ballots will be sent at the beginning of October. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received within 10 days of the election in order to be counted. There will also be boxes around town to return mail-in ballots. There will also be early voting available starting October 27. There will be 90 voting sites open on Election Day.

Commissioner Judd brought up that he was not on the list of ANC candidates even though he turned in his paperwork and received a verbal confirmation that it had been received and was adequate. Director Miller said that she would look into it. Another candidate in the General Election added that some of the address information listed for the candidates online was incorrect.

Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee

600 T Street. Request for Substantial Change to License to open summer garden with 28 seats. With the start of the COVID crisis, the proprietor decided to set up seats in the building’s outdoor patio. Padro noted that patrons outside are required to be seated. The committee recommended that the commission support the change request, as well as a request for a stipulated license. The request, was approved unanimously by the commission.

Roasted Boon, 1018 Rhode Island Avenue NW. The applicant was asking for a Class C liquor license to serve wine, as well as a stipulated license. The proprietor explained that he wanted to bring his Eritrean culture to the neighborhood and that he hoped to introduce customers to African wines. The request was approved by a vote of four yeas, one abstention.

Zoning and Planning Committee

440 R Street NW. Request for support for historic designation. Africare has sold the building to a developer. The structure was built in 1883 to serve as a school. It was sold to Africare, a non-governmental international development organization in 1981. A development proposal would convert the building into 12 apartments. When the proposal went to the Zoning Committee, there were issues about its accessibility, which have since been addressed. The committee recommended to support the building’s landmark application and its development proposal. A motion to do this passed unanimously.

Cobb Park Reactivation
The Department of Parks and Recreation made a presentation on their plans for reactivating Cobb Park, a small triangle of open land on the 200 block of H Street. Cobb Park was created 40 years ago when the I-395 Freeway came to the District. Lately, it has been a staging area for the construction of Capital Crossing, the series of buildings stretching over the highway. The District has set aside $500,000 for a Phase 1 reactivation of the park. They wanted to start construction in December with completion of Phase 1 in March. Commissioner Wiggins asked about fencing for the park. He did not want it to turn into another homeless encampment. Commissioner Nigro also asked if there would be an enforcement of the District’s encampment law, which makes them illegal. A presentation of the proposed reactivation is available online.

S Street Revitalization Project
Representatives from the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) gave a presentation on their S Street Revitalization Project. The project intends to make improvements on a stretch of S Street, between Seventh and Fourth Streets NW, that had been modified 40 years ago to support a highway exit ramp that was never built. The goal of the project is to restore the wider sidewalks and trees that the street lost, and to improve its role in local traffic. A video going over the options for improvement suggested a plan to close S Street where it goes into a triangle between New Jersey Avenue and Fourth Street. Commissioner Padro said that he had problems with DDOT’s preferred option, since it might affect the operations of the LeDroit Post Office located in the triangle. He offered to give DDOT a walkthrough of the neighborhood to give them a clearer view of the impact of their plan. Andrew DeFrank, DDOT’s Ward 6 Liaison, said that he would set up a walkthrough of the S Street area.

Transportation Advisory Committee
Committee Chair Alex Lopez introduced a resolution reaffirming a previous ANC 6E request to have DDOT set up bike lanes on Seventh Street from Mount Vernon Place to N Street. The resolution was generated by DDOTs recent initiative to establish auto-free lanes downtown on Seventh Street from Pennsylvania Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue. This would create a continuous bike lane along Seventh Street, except for a gap along the Convention Center. The resolution would ask DDOT to close the bike lane gap between Mount Vernon and N. Commissioner Wiggins asked why this bike lane gap was not closed earlier. DDOT Ward 6 Liaison Andrew DeFrank said that there was a problem with markings on different paving materials and maintenance requirements between asphalt and concrete paving, arguing for skipping that section at the time. The resolution passed, three yeas, one nay, one abstention.

Other Issues
Commissioner Nigro brought up a problem with the date of the scheduled November meeting for ANC 6E. It is currently scheduled for November 3, which is Election Day. After a discussion, a motion was made to move the date a week to Tuesday, November 10. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Nigro noted that the commission was getting a new allotment of funds from the District government soon. The ANC should redo its budget and plan on emphasizing the need to give grants to community groups.

Next Meeting
ANC 6E will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, October 6, at 6:30 p.m. Plans are to hold this meeting as a virtual conference. Visit ww