Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue N.E.
June 9, 2010, 7:00 pm
Present: Commissioners Brown, Dixon, Docter, Hamilton, Phelps, Richardson, Silver, Wirt
The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.
Ms. Phelps asked to have the Transportation Infrastructure Amendment Act of 2010 added to Transportation and Public Space and to have a communication from Commissioner Velasco added to Community Presentations. Ms. Wirt asked to have World Cup establishment openings added to New Business. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the agenda as amended. The motion passed without objection.
Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to accept the minutes as presented. The motion passed without objection.
- Treasurer’s Report
Mr. Richardson presented the Treasurer’s Report. The opening balance was $92,820.59, and there was an interest payment of $.79. There were disbursements of $240 to Roberta, Weiner for minute taking and transcription (check #1175); $230 to Karen Wirt for business cards (Check #1176); and $162 to DC Access for annual payment for web hosting (Check #1177), leaving a balance of $92,189.38.
Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.
Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve a disbursement of $380 for Roberta Weiner for the transcription of minutes. The motion passed without objection.
- Community Presentations and Announcements
New Ward 6 Service Coordinator
William Mohring, who is replacing Alex Rotan as the Mayor’s Ward 6 Service Coordinator, introduced himself and said he is looking forward to working with the ANC.
Ryan Velasquez Resignation
Ms. Phelps announced the resignation of Ryan Velasco as ANC representative for ANC 6C07, and read the following statement from Mr. Velasco:
Madam Chair and Fellow Commissioners:
Civic engagement is a wonderfully messy proves, and while, as a community, we may not always agree on the approach, I know our intentions are fundamentally the same: that they are rooted in a desire to build and sustain healthy neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. Each of us should take pride in knowing that ours is now viewed as one of the more functional and responsible Commissions in the City. That would not be possible without the individual contributions and dedication demonstrated by each of you. For more than three years, it has been an honor to work with you, Councilmember Wells and his staff and members of the community.
With all of this said, I will be stepping down from my seat on the Commission effective immediately. While I had hoped to finish my term, I am currently on extended business travel and will be moving out of my Single Member District at the end of the month. I look forward to working with you from the other side of the dais.
Ms. Phelps said that there would not be a special election because it was less than six months before the regular election. She also said that Mr. Velasco would be sorely missed.
New Voting Machines
Kevin Newsome of the Board of Elections and Ethics provided a demonstration of the new, more secure voting machines the District will now be using. He showed how the voter will mark the place on the ballot and enters a vote, the machine will show what that vote was. If it is incorrect, the ballot can be rejected and re-voted. There will also be touch screen machines available, which can also be cancelled and re-voted. He said there will be early voting sites at Hine/Eliot Middle School, Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and the Chevy Chase Community Center, as well as at the Board of Elections. Questions can be answered at boee.gov, or at 725-2724.
He said that petitions for ANC Commissioner positions would be available on August 4th.
- Old Business
Mt. Vernon Triangle Film Series
The Mt. Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District, the Mt. Vernon Square Neighborhood Association, the Downtown Neighborhood Association and “Shaw Together” are applying for a grant of $1500 as part of a $7200 proposal to sponsor the outdoor 5-Eye Asian Film Series in the parking lot at 5th and I Streets NW. Bill McLeod, head of the CID is coordinating the series, and presented the proposal. Ms. Wirt said there will be eight films on Sunday evenings, and if the Auditor agrees, the ANC can support non-film parts of the proposal, as the Commission cannot use its funds to pay for entertainment. Mr. Silver said the grant should be raised from $1500 to $2500. Ms. Brown asked about the possibility of having a market at the film series. Mr. McLeod said he would love to have a market, but that Mike Berman cannot do it on Sundays. He said he hoped the series could begin in July. Motion: Mr. Docter moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion that, contingent on approval from the Auditor, that ANC 6C support a grant of up to $1500 for the 5-Eye Asian Film Festival.
Mr. Silver read the following statement:
It is my firm belief that the most wanton act of neglect this local government can do is the act of no transparency and/or no community engagement. Both were the case regarding the project in the 5th and I parking lot project in SMD 6C01.
I am fortunate enough to report a 1800 turnaround on the other hand. I do thank this same government we all serve of trying to right this injustice and making the concession of allowing the parking lot for community use on the weekends.
Accordingly, and respectfully, I am asking that we reconsider this grant application and raise the amount we are giving for the film festival to $2500.
The amended motion passed without objection. [NOTE: The D.C. Auditor subsequently rejected this application on the grounds that ANCs cannot fund entertainment in any way.]
Transportation and Public Space Committee
Committee Chair Joe McCann reported that the Committee had held two meetings, one that included an update on the construction on H Street for the business owners in the ANC 6C portion of the work. (See report below)
Ethiopic – 4th and H Street
This is a request for support for a public space permit for outdoor seating on the 4th Street side of this new Ethiopian restaurant. There will be 18 two-top tables, and the patio will be open from 5 – 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, and Noon through 11 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. There is no space inside to store the tables and chairs, so they will be stacked and locked outdoors. The plan is to have a rope barrier separating the seating from the street. Gregory Sakol, a neighbor who was part of the team that negotiated the VA for the restaurant, said it is a very good neighbor, (and that the food is very good.) Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support a public space permit for outdoor seating at Ethiopic. The motion passed without objection.
Buddha Bar – 455 Massachusetts Avenue NW.
This is a request for support of a public space permit for outdoor seating at Buddha Bar, 455 Massachusetts Avenue NW. The original request was for 90 seats, with a removable hostess stand.
Seth Slomowitz, who lives across the street, expressed his concerns about considerable noise from people coming in and out, particularly during the week. In response to these complaints, the owner, Duby Kliger, has agreed to reduce the number of seats to 76, to close the outdoors at 11 p.m. during the week, with “close” meaning to vacate the area, and to have no hostess stand outdoors so that customers will have to go inside and wait for tables inside. Motion: Mr. Docter moved/Ms.Phelps seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the ANC support the request for a public space permit for Buddha Bar, contingent on adherence to the following conditions: that the outdoor space have no more that 76 seats; that service cease at 11 p.m. on weeknights; and that there be no hostess stand outdoors. The motion passed without objection.
There was also discussion about valet parking for Buddha Bar, with Mr. Slomowitz objecting to the location of the valet stand, and people interacting with the parkers in a noisy fashion. Mr. Kliger introduced his new valet parking person, and Mr. Silver thanked him for the amount of time he is putting in on resolving issues with Buddha Bar. The valet parking person said that he does many events and also works at the Atlas. He said that the cars for Buddha Bar are parked in the building. Mr. Slomowitz said the can hear everything that’s going on outside the bar: traffic, honking horns, people, etc. and he thinks that the parking difficulties have to be mitigated. He claimed that Buddha Bar had met with 400 Massachusetts Ave., but have never approached his building. He said he had heard that all loading would be on I Street, but that hasn’t happened. He said the problem is that the valet stand is on Massachusetts Avenue, but he feels somewhat confident that they are going to see what they can do. Mr. Kliger said that he never excluded any building, and he came to the ANC. Ms. Phelps said that the Downtown Neighborhood Association had organized a meeting. Mr. Kliger said that it’s not safe to use I Street for customer traffic. Mr. Silver said he agreed, but said that Mr. Kliger might want to meet with the tenants at 438 Massachusetts Ave. He further said that it irks him when valet parkers cannibalize public parking spaces. The valet parking person said they are wiling to work with the neighbors and wants to be of help. Ms. Wirt asked that the community meetings and negotiations take place re valet parking and that the matter be revisited at the July ANC meeting.
400 L Street NW
This is a request for support of a public space application to reduce the number of curb cuts on the lot in the 400 block between New York Avenue and L Street where a residential building is to be constructed. There are currently five curb cuts, and the developer wants to reduce the number to three. Two of them, one on NY Avenue and one on L Street, will provide the entrances to a 22’ wide alley between the two streets where the building’s loading dock will be located. The third will be on L Street and will provide the entrance to the building.
Clarke Ewart of Paradigm represented the developer. The project is being done with Steuart Development. Mr. Dixon asked about the triangular-shaped property on the corner, and was told that nothing is happening with that site. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the request for a public space permit to reduce the number of curb cuts on the 400 block between L Street and New York Avenue NW. The motion passed 7-0-1, with Mr. Dixon abstaining.
Mr. McCann reported that there was also discussion of the building’s landscaping, which, because it will follow the guidelines established by the zoning overlay, does not require ANC approval. Clark Ewart, representing the developer said that there will be redbuds next to the building and London plane trees in the tree boxes. There will also be a 42” fence at the building line. There will be bicycle parking at the building entrance as well as in the garage, as well as two plugs for electric cars. Mr. Dixon said they should consider membership in the BID and they agreed to consider it. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to approve the landscaping plan for 400 L Street NW. The motion passed without objection.
Update on H Street Construction
Mr. McCann reported that at the H Street Update meeting, Councilmember Wells said that the money is back in place to finish the streetcar project. He also said that there will be benefits available to existing H Street businesses: delayed taxes for business owners affected by the construction; a $100,000 grant to H Street Main Street; and most importantly $3 million from the City to existing business owners during the project. He reported that Scott Kubly, DDOT director of the streetscape project, announced that there will be two power generator locations for the streetcars—one under the Hopscotch Bridge and one at 1251 Wylie Place, in a city-owned house. He said there would be access to Union Station at the 1st Street side and they are looking at completing a Metro tunnel that was never used or completely built. MACTEC, the construction firm, and DDOT, provided a new timeline, saying that the construction was moving further east and would take place on both sides of H Street, rather than the original proposal to do one side and then the other.
Transportation Infrastructure Amendment Act of 2010
Ms. Phelps announced that Councilmember Wells had introduced the Transportation Infrastructure Amendment Act of 2010, which repeals 1888 and 1889 legislation that prohibits overhead wires in the District, and re-establishes the provisions as local law. The bill will enable the Mayor to allow aerial wires necessary to power transportation infrastructure specifically on H Street and Benning Road, and requires the Mayor to submit a report by 2014 on the feasibility of converting to non-aerial power. The legislation, while allowing the trolleys to be powered by wires, mandates that the issue be revisited when new technology becomes available. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion that the ANC send a letter to the City Council in support of the Transportation Infrastructure Amendment Act of 2010. The motion passed without objection.
Planning Zoning and the Environment Committee
Rob Amos, Committee chair, delivered the following report:
1111 North Capitol Street – NPR
This is a request for support for a special exception to allow a roof structure not set back the required distance from the exterior walls and not of uniform height.
NPR is requesting that the roof structure/penthouse setbacks follow the existing rear building line and not create a “wedding cake” structure and to have the setbacks appropriate for the proposed building requirements. They are also asking for a variance to allow rooftop antenna dishes along the north and south exposures, as well as a line of “stick” antennas on the roof. The antennas would allow NPR to pull in local stations, provide short wave radio reception as well as transmit and receive FM signals. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation that the ANC support the requested special exceptions at the BZA. The motion passed without objection.
400 H Street NE – New Orleans-style restaurant
This is a request for support for a BZA variance from the floor area requirements, a variance from the off-street parking requirements, and a variance from the loading requirements to allow the renovation an addition to an existing one-story building at 400 H Street NE.
The owner is planning to renovate the existing building at 400 H Street into a New Orleans-style restaurant with an upstairs outdoor roof deck. Patio seating along 4th Street is a t\future consideration. The building will be in the style of a typical New Orleans establishment; the exterior includes extensive metal railing detail like those found in the French Quarter. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served; seating capacity will be approximately 150 people.
Tru Redding, Steven Dawson and Kyrus Freeman of Holland and Knight represented the restaurant. The committee had several suggestions that were met by the time of the full Commission meeting: they added three permanent lights to the alley; they added windows and shutters to the H Street façade, and Mr. Freeman pointed out how the design was planned to meet the H Street Zoning Overlay.
As far as the parking requirements, they said they will have no parking on the existing slab, but will have valet parking, and the Steuart property across the street will have a parking lot, which they will contract to use. Tony Goodman asked about the windows on 4th and H Street, and was told that people will not be able to see in. Mr. Freeman said that they will comply with the H Street design guidelines. A neighbor of the establishment reminded the owner that there are very sensitive issues with that building, and invited them to enter a voluntary agreement with the neighbors, and said he would be happy to work on the VA. Mr. Richardson said he is working on organizing a community meeting. Mr. Freeman discussed the building frontage, pointing out that it will follow the design guidelines. Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the requested zoning variances, and pointing out that the conditions laid out by the Committee had been met. The motion passed without objection.
444 New York Avenue NW
Mr. Amos presented an update on the planned residential high-rise planned for 444 New York Avenue NW. It will be a matter of right, 14-story building with three underground levels of parking. There will be ZipCar spaces as well as plugs for electric car charging. The building will have 300 rental; units, 10% efficiencies, 60% one bedrooms, and 30% two bedrooms or two bedroom with den units. Funding is available and groundbreaking is planned for fall 2010. [NOTE: No vote was necessary as this was a matter-of-right item.
Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee
Update on Buddha Bar
At last month’s meeting there was a discussion about the necessity to amend Buddha Bar’s voluntary agreement for an entertainment endorsement. Mr. Docter reported that ABRA was incorrect, and the necessary language is part of the VA, and there is no longer a need for an amendment.
Club Venus = 15 K Street Ned
This is a request for a CR license renewal. The license has been in safekeeping. It is a CR license for an establishment with hours of 11 a.m. to 3 am. There have been no issues with the license, no complaints, no MPD reports and they use on-street parking.
Marvin Liss, attorney for the Club, said that they would have dancing, DJs, and serve finger food. They are looking to expand their lunch business and provide a variety of options at lunch. He said they have been successful at keeping things under control, and plan to have a metal detector and to use a wand. They have a no-gun policy. They are a club that serves food. In answer to a question, Mr. Liss said that the music was hip-hop. Ms. Phelps recommended that the ANC take no action.
World Cup Hours
Ms. Wirt reported that ABRA has just ruled that establishments who get waivers can open early for broadcast of the World Cup and, with permission, can serve alcohol during those times. She has had a request from the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern for a waiver of its VA start serving at 8 a.m.
Mr. Docter pointed out that the tavern has created problems in the neighborhood in the past and asked if they could wait until the neighbors were canvassed before getting their waiver. Mike Brand of the Tavern said that he doesn’t know what to expect in terms of crowds but he will make sure that everything is orderly and quiet.
Skip Coburn of the DC Nightlife Association said that ABRA had received the request to open early weeks ago, but had ruled only on the previous Monday (June 5th), and had received an increasing number of requests each day of that week.
Ms. Phelps suggested that the ANC could deal with one application, or, like during the Inaugural, provide a blanket waiver for all the ANC’s establishments with voluntary agreements, as the numbers will continue to grow. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to allow ANC 6C establishments with voluntary agreements to open early and serve alcohol on days when there is World Cup action. The motion passed without objection.
The meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.