Testimony on Residential Permit Parking Voluntary Exclusion Bill

On Friday, September 25, the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment will host a hearing on Bill B23-0859, the RPP Voluntarily Exclusion Act of 2020. Any time the DC Council examines Residential Permit Parking (“RPP”), I will not miss the opportunity to scream that there’s a better way, as the District Department of Transportation laid out in their 2014 Curbside Management Study

As currently designed by the DC Council, the RPP program is based on the block of a residence, not the address. So there’s technically no way to exclude a building from RPP. This bill stems from a case at the Board of Zoning Adjustment at 3400 Connecticut Ave NW, where the developer has agreed to not allow RPP for their tenants in exchange for building a new building without parking which isn’t possible based on topography and zoning restrictions.

I support the purpose of this narrow bill and my testimony focuses on this. But the end shows my vision for a reformed RPP. Smaller zones unrelated to political boundaries, increased fees for houses with off street parking, increased fees for each additional car at an address, dynamic pricing that allows prices to increase or decrease, and allowing exclusion of addresses in exchange for building parking-free buildings.


Good morning and thank you for allowing me time to present testimony on Bill 23-859. My name is Corey Holman, commissioner for ANC 6B06 though I am here testifying as an individual. I wanted to highlight four items related to this bill. 

  1. Zoning orders over the last 10 years generally coalesce around language restricting RPP through condo documents and lease provisions. In my submitted testimony I have included example provisions. A lease or condo provision like this is obviously unenforceable at DMV and there is no interest to property owners to enforce these provisions privately. Despite over a year of effort with DMW, I have further been unable to get RPP data in my ANC through FOIA or asking nicely to confirm that RPP ineligible buildings are complying. A few orders with particularly litigious and involved opponents have harder stronger conditions written. Sometimes VPP is included in restrictions but usually not. What I’m saying is, you’re right, there is functionally no way to prevent a building from being added to the RPP database and functionally no way to verify these private provisions in Zoning Orders unless you happened to be privileged and involved enough to know you needed to ask for verification. [Appendix A has some representative portions of BZA Order conditions]
  1. At many zoning hearings, you will hear DDOT representatives say that RPP is not allowed on commercial blocks. This seemingly arbitrary language is not included in regulation and not enforced in practice and I don’t understand why DDOT keeps trotting it out. For example, looking only at blocks added to the RPP database in 2018 and 2019, my colleague at 6B was able to add the 800 block of Virginia Avenue to the database, despite the fact that block that is mixed-use zoning and whose only building is a small mixed-use building with ground floor retail. Elsewhere, picking the most obvious example, the 1200 blocks of 24th and 25th St NW were added, two dense blocks with large commercial buildings and no existing RPP spaces. These are hardly exclusive, of course, but I wanted to highlight the policy as it’s being implemented now. 
  1. No matter how well tailored your legislation is, implementation will take multiple years and likely require appropriation to DMV. I don’t need to explain this to you, after all RPP still only costs $35 a year after legislation was passed and appropriations given for implementation. And this legislation would require coordination of both DDOT and DMV and, well, yeah, you know where this is going.
  1. Finally related to this bill, I would encourage the committee to work with OAG’s detailed lawyers at the Office of Zoning to get this language right if you want it to apply to 3400 Connecticut Avenue. The draft order on the record from the applicant is clear that that removal from the RPP database is not a condition of approval of this BZA application and includes the standard language regarding lease provisions (which, again, are seemingly unverifiable through FOIA or ANC action) [Appendix B has relevant portion of the Applicant’s Draft Order in the 3400 Connecticut Ave BZA case]

This bill is an obvious fix to an obvious problem at the Office of Zoning. But this obvious problem is simply not that important city-wide and it does not address the multitude of ways in which RPP is fundamentally broken and in need of complete overhaul. 

At the zoning hearing for 3400 Connecticut Avenue, many neighbors complained about intra-Ward 3 parking being one reason for parking spot scarcity. I see this too living near the Potomac Avenue Metro Station, though likely on a much smaller scale. But the solution to this problem isn’t to prevent neighbors at 3400 Connecticut Avenue from RPP. It’s to prevent neighbors from the 3400 block of Wisconsin Avenue or the 3400 block McArthur Boulevard or the 3400 block of Massachusetts Avenue or residents on 34th Street NW in Forest Hills from parking near this project.

Also, preventing people living in these 17 residences at 3400 Connecticut Avenue from getting RPP while houses with multiple off-street parking spaces are eligible RPP is also backwards. The impacts from street parking by convenience more than outweigh whatever impact these building residents will have. Street parking by convenience should simply cost more than street parking by necessity. And right now we are in ways punishing this building for not having parking while rewarding those who do not use their off-street parking. And we should point out near this project, most of the off-street parking often comes with curb cuts, further privatizing public space and adding to the parking crunch. And for the record, our family has a car, we mostly street park by convenience, and we use our street parking space for a play area, garden, and patio. We are part of the problem here too for my neighbors who do not have alley access and we should pay more for on-street parking since we also have off-street parking. 

But underlying this entire testimony is the original foundation of RPP as a policy fully directed by legislation and not executive regulation, down to moving some blocks from one zone to another. So now it’s on the Council to fix the problems. This bill is an obvious fix to an obvious problem at the Office of Zoning. But this obvious problem is simply not that important city-wide. Understanding politics the way they are and the electoral consequence of tweaking a program that provides so much subsidized value to voters, I would encourage the Council to look at this bill as the first step in devolving as much regulatory authority of this program as possible to the executive while setting reasonable and enforceable guide rails to ensure the district uses every possible tool to address the systemic equity, safety, and environmental damage done by the current RPP system. What does a functional RPP system look like:

  1. Zones should be set by land use and neighborhood patterns, not political boundaries, and there should be a lot more zones. For example, in Arlington the vast majority of the county is not eligible for RPP and the remaining areas near transit and major trip generators are split into 24 parking zones. Apply that rate to the district and Arlington being ⅓ of the size of the District, there would be 72 parking zones in the District. Parking zones must be separated from Ward boundaries and devolved to the executive’s transportation experts to draw boundaries. 
  1. Permit prices should reflect access to off-street parking to reduce street parking by convenience. In Toronto, for example, applications for residential street parking must make clear their number of off-street parking spaces available to them and street parking by convenience costs more. I shared my anecdote above. I share an alley with residents that do not have alley access. It boggles my mind that we pay the same price. Residents with access to off-street parking should be required to pay more for RPP, by counting available spots as permits in the graduated permit fee system. So if I have two off-street parking spaces, my first RPP would be the cost of someone without off street parking’s third RPP permit. 
  1. Furthering the fee structure passed in 2019, the Council should continue to increase the price on multiple permits per household.
  1. The above three things simply reduce the value of a RPP and thus reduce demand. While so much recrimination is focused on the price of the RPP, we should refocus on value and then worry about prices. For example, implementing the above three steps would dramatically reduce the demand for RPP and in some cases the costs likely could be adjusted down. However, in areas like Dupont or Adams Morgan, $35year or $50/year simply does not deter anyone from paying for the permit. To that end, the council should devolve pricing to the executive, allowing for dynamic demand driven by-zone pricing and setting an annual cap for price increases but no floor for price decreases, muck like performance meter parking. 

At this point with all other aspects included, the Zoning Commission, BZA, and DDOT could then analyze the requested special exception to provide zero of the five required parking spaces and if necessary require this building to not be eligible for RPP. Removal from RPP eligibility for parking-free projects should be allowed as a condition of approval when seeking a parking-free project as long as those findings are supported by DDOT and the BZA/Zoning Commission.

1333 M Street SE Subcommittee Meeting #1

A new rendering of the project from the east bank in Anacostia Park

ANC 6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee will host it’s first meeting related to ANC input on the planned unit development (explainer) at 1333 M Street SE.

The Virtual Meeting will be on Wednesday, June 24 at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be hosted via Webex.

Webex Link
Meeting Number/Access Code: 160 627 9384
Password: UxZMDfJ7m32
Call-in: 650-479-3208

The meeting agenda is:

1) Overview committee structure and calendar of meetings
2) Appointment of six resident members to subcommittee
3) Presentation from Office of Planning on Planned Unit Developments with a focus on impact mitigation and benefits and amenities
4) Review of 2015-2016 PUD process in ANC 6B and lessons learned
5) Overview of 1333 M Street SE Project and identification of broad areas of impacts and desired benefits and amenities. 

The latest drawings for 1333 M Street are available below starting with the pre-hearing statement which addresses how the plans conform with the regulations and Comprehensive Plan. The plans for “Stage 1” are the plans for the entire site but aren’t necessarily detailed. The “consolidated” plans are for the fully fleshed out plans for the building in Phase 1.


Pre-hearing Statement.pdf
Consolidated-Archictecture.pdfConsolidated-Landscape.pdf
Consolidated-Civil.pdf
Stage1-Architecture.pdf
Stage1-Landscape.pdf
Stage1-Civil.pdf
Cost of Public Space Improvements.pd

1333 M Street SE PUD Developer Meeting

On Thursday, May 28, at 7:00 PM Felice Development Group will host a public virtual meeting to present their 900-unit Planned Unit Development (Planned Unit Developments, Explained) project to the community. The meeting will be via Zoom and all interested neighbors are encouraged to attend.

(LINK TO ZOOM MEETING FOR THURSDAY, MAY 28 AT 7:00 PM)

The location for the Planned Unit Development at 1333 M Street SE

The development at 1333 M (see all related documents here) with have a minimal direct impact on the existing residents of the 1300 and 1400 blocks of L Street SE and 1100, 1200, and 1500 blocks of K Street SE. However, because the project is a Planned Unit Development, the developer must mitigate impacts of the project as well as provide items that “benefit the surrounding neighborhood or the public in general to a significantly greater extent than would likely result from development of the site under the matter-of-right provisions.” The surrounding community plays a vital role in helping shape these benefits as well as identifying impacts that are in need of mitigation. For a look at previously approved benefits and amenities, the DC Policy Center put together a great list in 2019.

The view of the architecture view from Water St SE facing northeast. The plan envisions retail along the lawn space which will be open to the public.

This may all sound familiar to you. A previous owner of this land went through this same PUD process in 2014 and was approved for a slightly shorter and less dense project than what is being proposed now. However, those approvals expired last year and the new owner of the land is moving forward with a new application.

A “massing” diagram from the developer showing the buildings without design. In the foreground you can see M Street SE and in the background is the 11th Street Bridge Complex.

This meeting will be the kickoff of ANC 6B’s public participation in the PUD. In early June, ANC 6B will formally stand up a subcommittee to analyze this project and make recommendations to the project owner as well as the Zoning Commission. The subcommittee will meet multiple times in June, July, and August with representatives of the District Government and development team. Neighbors interested in participating in the subcommittee should contact me (1333M@coreyholman.com) or your ANC Commissioner. The subcommittee will likely be limited to representatives of impacted organizations and residents of 6B04, 6B07, and 6B09 (check your ANC Single Member District here) but all meetings will be open to the public and all public members are encouraged to participate.

The subcommittee report will form the base for the recommendations by the ANC by to the Zoning Commissioner. These recommendations by law must be given “great weight” by the Zoning Commission.

Comments on Proposed Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan: Southeast Boulevard

The District Office of Planning (OP) is nearing the end of a now four-year process to amended one of the most consequential documents in the government, the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is made up of two maps that dictate future growth and land use changes, and many chapters which detail city-wide plans as well as specific plans for neighborhoods. The changes to this plan must be approved by the DC Council. Last year, the Council approved changed to the Framework Element which is the guiding principles of this plan. In October of 2019, OP release proposed changed to the maps and remaining elements of the Comprehensive Plan.

As ANC Commissioner for 6B06, which includes part of the Capitol Hill Planning Area and Lower Anacostia and Near Southwest Planning Area, I took specific interest in these areas as well as the two maps, the Future Land Use Map and Generalized Policy Map.

The Comp Plan Amendment Process has called for detailed comments from ANCs. Below are my proposed comments on the Comprehensive Plan related to Southeast Boulevard, which I will be moving at ANC 6B’s February Planning and Zoning Committee. These comments are draft and have not been voted upon and do not currently represent the view of the Commission.

As part of the 11th Street Bridges Project, the District removed the stub of the Souhteast freeway from 11th Street to Barney Circle from the interstate highway system and marked it for conversion to a “Boulevard.” This process started in 2005. Unfortunately in 2013, then-Mayor Vincent Gray “temporarily” rebuilt the freeway mostly because he believe it would help speed up his commute from his Ward 7 home to the John A. Wilson Building downtown.

Beginning in 2014 through now, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and OP began a series of studies on how to remove the temporary freeway stub and turn that area into an urban boulevard with land available for housing and other uses. I fully support this plan. Bringing Southeast Boulevard to grade is one of the few opportunitites we have in the District to simply Build More City. Further, this will allow pedestrian connections to M Street SE and the Anacostia River.

One concept from OP’s 2015 Southeast Planning Study

Proposed Comments

The quoted text below is the comment I will move at ANC 6B’s February Planning and Zoning Committee on February 4 and will likely be up for discussion at the full ANC meeting on February 11.

ANC 6B fully supports the goals for housing creation laid out in the Mayor’s May 10, 2019 Order Housing Framework for Equity and Growth and subsequent October 15, 2019 Housing Equity Report: Creating Goals for Areas of Our City. As one prong to bridge the 1,120-unit gap of Affordable Housing production, ANC 6B fully supports the proposed revisions to the Capitol Hill Area Element regarding Southeast Boulevard. There are few areas to simply create more city blocks and this is a unique opportunity to create land to meet the market-rate and committed affordable housing needs of the city and Capitol Hill Planning Area.

Given the financial constraints of the project, ANC 6B understands the needs for other municipal uses of the land below a new Southeast Boulevard, including a potential bus garage for DDOT. ANC 6B recommends codification of a process in the Comp Plan that will push the District Department of Energy and Environment to take the lead on any such use, under the auspices of the transportation, environmental, and newly adopted resiliency elements and guided by an unwavering sense of environmental justice and equity. Specifically, ANC 6B recommends detailing the potential negative impacts of a new bus garage including mitigation of impacts on air quality, neighborhood traffic, and increased noise.

A newly created Southeast Boulevard will be adjacent to Hopkins Apartments, a DCHA public housing community. All development in newly created land must be sensitive to the current uses and the improvements and benefits from the changes must be shared with all residents including those in Hopkins.

The land created by Southeast Boulevard serves as the perfect buffer between the existing moderate density rowhouse neighborhoods to the north and the proposed high density uses to the south. Given the uncertainties of future ward redistricting and legislative action, ANC 6B recommends the land for Southeast Boulevard be changed in the Future Land Use Map to Medium Density Residential and Low Density Commercial rather than maintaining the existing Production & Technical Employment designation. Further, we recommend this change extend all the way to M Street SE incorporating a small but impactful triangle (Square 1024, Lot 0808) owned by CSX, whose industrial uses are incompatible with the surrounding FLUM designations.

ANC 6B is excited to be an equitable partner in housing development, and encourages OP to work with its sister agencies to expeditiously move plans forward for Southeast Boulevard.

Proposed changes to the Future Land Use Map referenced in comments

Rezoning Maritime Plaza, 1333 M St SE, and District-Controlled Reservations

The triangle formed by 12th St SE, Southeast Boulevard, and Water Street SE is currently zoned high intensity industrial uses. At ANC 6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 3, I will propose to rezone this land to medium density commercial zoning, to preclude any future industrial uses on this land.

Current Use and Zoning

Before delving into the history of this site and the process for rezoning, let’s take a look at the current state. There are three properties owners and one long-term ground lease holder.

Source: Google Maps 3D View, annotated by me.
  • The red parcels are owned by Washington Gas. After decades of remediation after life a coal-fired natural gas plant, Washington Gas entered into a ground lease with a series of entities to develop what is now known as Maritime Plaza, two office buildings. The current lease holder, which has about 85 years to run, is Corporate Office Properties Trust.
  • The purple land is owned by a LLC controlled by Crescent Heights, a large developer, with an approved Planned Unit Development for 673 apartments and a fair amount of public space improvements. This PUD has already filed for a time extension and likely will not be moving forward until Southeast Boulevard development and connection across the CSX tracks proceed.
  • The green parcels were historic National Park Service land. The sites were transferred to the District on November 7, 2008

The subject properties are all zoned PDR-4, the highest intensity industrial zoning possible. From the DC Zoning Handbook:

The PDR-4 zone is intended to permit high-density commercial and PDR activities employing a large workforce and requiring some heavy machinery under controls that minimize any adverse impacts on adjacent, more restrictive zones and minimize non-industrial uses.

http://handbook.dcoz.dc.gov/zones/production-distribution-and-repair/pdr-4/

The Rezoning Process

Historically, most rezoning took place as part of a specific zoning process called a consolidated planned unit development (PUD). However, because of recent legal issues, the PUD has fallen out of favor and there have been a number of simple rezoning cases lately. This is good for someone like the ANC, who really doesn’t have the capability or time to create new processes.

The rezoning process requires a series of steps, detailed later, and a legal justification for this changed based on the Comprehensive Plan for the District of Columbia. We will first focus on this.

Future Land Use Map

The Future Land Use Map (FLUM) designates areas into broad categories of where use of land should go in the future. For example, much of Capitol Hill is designated Moderate Density Residential, which is the category for attached rowhouses and small apartment buildings. In the case of the land at issue, the entire triangle is designated as both of medium density commercial and institutional.

Medium Density Commercial: Defines shopping and service areas that are somewhat more intense in scale and character than the moderate-density commercial areas. Retail, office and service businesses are the predominate uses. Areas generally draw from a citywide market area. Buildings are generally larger and/or taller than those in moderate density commercial areas but generally do not exceed eight stories in height.

Institutional: Includes land and facilities occupied and used by college and universities, large private schools, hospitals, religious organizations, and similar institutions

https://planning.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/op/publication/attachments/03%20RedevelopmentFramework_Part1_Part2.pdf

I mentioned earlier the FLUM designated broad categories of use. The comprehensive plan gives examples zoning for each FLUM category. Medium Density Commercial is defined as “generally do not exceed eight stories” and “generally include C-2-B [ZR16 MU-5-A], C-2-C [MU-6], C-3-A [MU-7], and C-3-B [MU-8]. These are commercially zoned mixed use districts with both development standards and use regulations that would preclude uses currently allowed in PDR zones. The current zoning of this triangles is inconsistent with the Future Land Use Map.

Generalized Policy Map

The triangle is question is designated as Land Use Change Areas in the Generalized Policy Map (GPM). Then GPM designates land into various buckets, but the land use change areas are lands where rezoning should take place. Rezoning this triangle is consistent with the Generalized Policy Map

Non-Map Elements of Comprehensive Plan

In addition to the maps above, which are likely sufficient for the rezoning to be approved, there are other elements in the comprehensive plan that further give weight to approving this application. The formal applicaiton will details these elements (it’s a lot of work), but they boil down to efficient land use, improving access to the waterfront, revitalizing neighborhood, balancing growth, and lots of other portions.

The Rezoning Process

First and foremost, let’s recognize that ANC is exempt from filing and hearing fees related to rezoning. Without this, I would not encourage the ANC to take on this effort. A private owner would have to pay a $325 filing fee plus around $75,000-$150,000 in hearing fees. (11 DCMR Table Z § 1601) depending on the final zone.

The map amendment process goes somewhat like this:

  1. Distribute a Notice of Intent to File to all affected property owners and the affected ANC 45 days before filing a map amendment. ANC 6D in this case would likely also have to be noticed
  2. The applicant must attend a duly notice meeting of the affected ANC in the 45-day period. Again, in this case ANC 6D would likely be considered an affected ANC but 6B, of course, would be taking the lead on this and discussing at their meetings
  3. A complete application including the following:
    1. A completed application form
    2. A certified plat of the subject property prepared by the Office of the Surveyor
    3. A map showing the location of all properties, existing zoning, and proposed zones
    4. A description on the amendments consistency with the Comp Plan
    5. A statement of outreach to the community, OP, and the ANC.
    6. The name and addresses of all owners within 200 feet of the subject properties.

So after the 45 days notice period, the ANC can file this application. Within 5 days, the office of zoning will review for completeness.

ANC 6B Should File a Map Amendment to Rezone This Land

Given the consistency with the Comprehensive plan as well as preventing future adverse industrial uses, I will encourage ANC 6B to move forward with rezoning this land at this month’s meeting. I will take feedback from commissioners and committee members to the final zone, but I want to stress this is less about adding density and more changing by-right use permissions.

Reversing the 500 and 700 Block of 15th St SE Bike Lanes

Tonight, Wednesday June 5th, I will present concept ideas and a request to convert the existing southbound bike lane on the 550-700 blocks of 15th St SE to a contraflow northbound lane. There are two reasons for this. One, 15th St NE/SE is entirely northbound except for this one block. And, two, to better connect to the forthcoming changes to the complex intersection of 15th, Kentucky, Potomac, and G.

Here’s a quick mockup of the design:

What will these look like in actuality? Well we all know the G/I street contraflow lanes around the H Street Streetcar. But this rode is actually two feet wider than G/I. Instead, if we look at the 900 block of M St NW we can see the installation that will be here.

Another good example, where we can see the inevitable double parking from enforcement failures, is the 1400 block of N ST NW

This is a solution that increases bike connectivity and doesn’t impact parking. It’s a win-win all around.

ANC 6B April Committee and Commission Votes

This month, I again was only able to make it to the Planning and Zoning and Transportation Committee Votes. Below is a record of the committee and commission votes I took

Planning and Zoning
Case 1: 1719 C St SE, for a special exception to use the second story of a new two-story garage as an apartment. This is one part of the zoning code I simply do not understand. If you have a two-story garage that was built in 2013 or earlier, you can use it as an apartment. If you build a new garage, you can use it as an apartment only after five years. What? But if you build a garage now and want to use the second story as an apartment, you need a zoning exception?

Anyway, the applicants want to build a garage and use the second floor here as an apartment. It’s a giant lot (3400 feet), it’s a huge square, the alley is wide, they ensured a home for their trash cans not in public space. These are the kinds of buildings we want, not for the applicant to seek a second unit by building down or adding up or pushing back. Everyone wins here.

The committee unanimously supported this application and put it on the consent agenda.

This building is by right. The use requires a special exception. But if the apartment were in the basement of added to the rear or added to the top of the primary building then that we’re good?

Case 2: 811 E St SE

This was a straight forward case about adding a non-visible rear addition to a small wood framed building.

The committee voted unanimously to support this application and sent to consent

Case 3: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Resolution of Support for dispposition and a 20-year ground and property lease of the B.B. French School.

There are always some cases where a hearing seems perfunctory but we appreciate CHAW coming to give us an update. This bill will give CHAW the ability to acquire financing for necessary capital improvements and to stay a pillar in our community for another 20 yeas.

Case 4: 620 C St SE

This hearing was continued at last month’s HPRB hearing. HPRB generally approved the design but requested changes and the case come back before HPRB. ANC 6B took the opportunity to also look at those changes.

Click to enlarge, but this shows the major changes to the design of 620 C St

At the committee hearing, the commissioners presented support the first- and second-floor changes but took no position on the third-floor, instead kicking that to the full ANC with comments to change the rear fenestration. I voted with the majority in these motions

At the full ANC, the applicant presented updated rear elevations along with more renderings and perspectives of the concept.

The changes to the rear elevation are more in line with standard rowhouse rear elevations and, in my opinion, present no compatibility issues.

With little time for in depth discussion, the changes to the first floor and second floor were unanimously approved by the ANC.

Long time readers will recall I supported last month’s design for a mansard addition on the third floor. I thought it narrowly threaded the preservation regulations and should have been approved. Given that, it should be no surprise I also supported the more modern minimally visible third floor addition here, including the rear elevation. For much the same reasons, this is a commercial building on a transitional block that retains only portions of it’s original state.

The ANC first voted to oppose the third floor, a motion that failed 2-4-3. I amended a second motion to support the third floor a that passed 4-2-3.

Transportation Committee

Case 1-1300 E Street Changes

As discussed in Reimagining E Street, I presented the idea of adding bike lanes to the 1100-1400 blocks of E Street SE and potentially to Potomac Ave or down Kentucky Ave. As the committee meeting, Will Handsfield of DDOT presented the idea of advisory bike lanes. The committee supported my position outlines in the above posts and tentatively supporting the advisory bike lanes, requesting a bit more information. I am authoring a post that will go up later this month or in early may on the concept. The case passed unanimously out of committee and onto the consent agenda

Case 2-Circulator Route Changes at Eastern Market

The committee discussed this cast last month as well without taking a formal position. In the end, we unanimously and vehemently opposed the concept of running the circulator down the 700 block of D and 400 block of 7th. Also I anger tweeted this about the real problem with the design.

Full ANC Votes
1) District Soul Food Liquor License Renewal
. The ANC moved to delay considering of this case for a month but also issue a formal notice to cure. I’m sure one of our two local newspapers will cover this story, but I could not vote to support this action because we are clearly singling out a new business rather than working with them during the renewal process. If we were two years from renewal and they had been operating this way for an extended period, sure, let’s go wild. But this is a new business in a struggling retail corridor that needs our support. I abstained from the vote because I liked the idea of delaying considering for a month while working with the applicant, but a formal notice during renewal is just unnecessary.

2) 7th Hill/Montmarte and Lavagna Liquor License Renewal Both applicants failed to appear given two opportunities so the ANC moved to formally protest the license. It’s frustrating but since ABRA functionally consolidated all opposition opportunity to the ANC and the ANC only, we need to take no shows seriously. I voted with the majority to formally protest the liquor licenses.

3) Resolution of regarding use of taxpayer dollars for sexual harassment settlements.

I’ll let’s Commissioner Krepp take the floor

And with that, I’m on vacation and will be back to ANC duties in a couple of weeks.

Reimagining E Street SE

ANC 6B Transportation Committee
Monday, April 1 7:00 PM
The Yard Ground Floor Conference Room

700 Pennsylvania Ave SE (next to Trader’s Joes)

Believe it or not, we’re nearing the end of the multi-year process of the dramatic changes on the 1300 Block of E Street SE. There’s no better time than now to reclaim and reimagine the curbside and street use on this block to express our values as a community. We have the chance to turn this (and adjacent) blocks from a wide cut through with industrial uses to a street that serves residents first.

What options do we have for this block?

Raised Mid-Block Crosswalks/Speed Tables: With construction finished, both Jordan Alley (south side) and Carry’s Way (north side) will be incredibly active spaces. The 1300 block is a uniquely long block for our neighborhood. We will all cross mid-block at the alley whether there are crosswalks or speed tables. Raised mid-block crosswalks will make this crossing safer for everyone.

Bike Lanes: E Street is 40 feet wide, two feet narrower than the current engineering minimum for on-street bike. However, we can push District Department of Transportation to engineer options for this block. The is currently no east-west bike lanes east of 11th and south of East Capitol. Lanes here will serve a great need as well as narrow general travel lanes to slow traffic all while maintaining existing car parking.

In-street Bikeshare, in-street scooter/bike parking: Bike lanes also would allow us to ensure the sidewalks remain for the use of pedestrians. With bike lanes, we can move the bikeshare station off of the sidewalk and into a curbside space. Furthermore, as we see more scooters and dockless bikes, we can push for racks and dedicated space not on the sidewalk and free space for strollers, wheelchairs, and families.

Pickup/Dropoff Zones: As the residential projects come online, so will demand for Uber/Lyft/Via and and delivery services. These drivers, now, usually double park. Given the expected demand from the new residential buildings, should we allocate space for these activities? Double parking is frustrating, annoying, and dangerous. Can we design our street to minimize this?

I used an online tool, streetmix.net, to mock up some cross sections for some of these ideas. These haven’t been engineered and the District may shoot them down.

Street and curb uses

Here’s something I dreamed up. I want to hear what you all think about options like that, that retain all previous residential parking (and likely increase it) and allocate road space in ways to protect vulnerable road users and keep sidewalks clear.

E Street with Two Bikes Lanes

Note, here, the drive + parking lanes are 30 feet. This is a standard condition in Southeast Capitol Hill and the streets all tend to be very low speed. Some examples, for context:
  • 16th Street between East Capitol and Kentucky
  • K Street between 12th and 15th
  • D Street between 14th and 19th
  • 9th Street between Independence and G
  • E Street between 4th and Pennsylvania

E Street with one bike lane and sharrows

If engineering prevents two bikes lanes, we can explore a westbound lane with sharrows the other way. Again, this will narrow the roadway, slow traffic, and reallocate space to vulnerable road users. And will allow wider traffic lanes.



ANC 6B March Committee Votes

A full agenda for both Planning and Zoning and Transportation

Planning and Zoning

124 11th ST SE (BZA 19976, HPA 19-137), 1639 Potomac Ave SE (BZA 19948), 522 6th St SE (HPA 19-189), 1225-1227 Pennsylvania Ave SE (BZA 19957)
These were relatively uncontroversial plans that passed through committee unanimously and onto consent at the full ANC.

124 11th St SE BZA Files
124 11th St SE HPRB Files
1639 Potomac Ave SE BZA Files
522 6th St SE HPRB Files
1225-1227 Pennsylvania Ave SE BZA Files

360 7th St SE (Public Space #107125654)

This is the sidewalk occupancy for The Eastern Wine Bar. It complies with all the regulations and the owner agreed to widen the clearance between the tree boxes and fence from the minimum six feet to eight feet. This application passed the committee unanimously and was placed on consent for the full ANC.

620 C Street SE (HPA 19-222)


This is a complicated application that I ran right into a Robert’s Rule cluster of motions and amendments. In the end, I voted in support of the motion to support the first floor fenestration changes and voted against the motion to take no position on the visible third floor.

The building, an original one-story blacksmith shop from 1882, is currently being used as an office. The applicant presented evidence that the first-floor exterior is far from the original layout and the design is restorative in nature. A motion to support these first-floor changes passed 10-1-1 and I wholeheartedly support those changes.

The third-floor mansard, on the other hand, is more controversial. In committee, I opposed this addition. However, after reconsidering everything, I think a visible mansard rooftop addition is compatible with preservation law and the addition is compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District. It’s a huge ask, but here’s how I got there:

1) This house is adjacent to a commercial area, next to some surface parking lots, and the rear of opposing houses. To quote the preservation regulations, “Pertinent considerations about the relationship of a project to a historic district include its compatibility with its immediate context and not merely its consistency with conditions found elsewhere in the historic district. “ (10A DCMR 2001(c)). The immediate context here is a one-off commercial building breaking up two identical rows of houses across the street from a surface parking lot and adjacent to the brutalist Rumsey Pool.

2) Commercial buildings in a residential zone play a unique role in the Capitol Hill Historic District, but at the same time they are apart from purpose-built residential rows. Their design is often utilitarian and most are not in their original state. This building was originally a one-story commercial building and a second floor was added. At first glance this building seems to be a materially intact, it exhibits a fair amount of change. Regulations state “Pertinent considerations about the historic property include its relative importance, nature of significance, condition, and degree of material integrity.”

Stepping back from the regulations, the adopted law says the intent of preservation is “To retain and enhance those properties which contribute to the character of the historic district and to encourage their adaptation for current use;“ and “To assure that alterations of existing structures are compatible with the character of the historic district” (DC Code 6-1101 2(a)).

To that end, I will make (or support) a motion to support the third floor addition.

209 C St SE


The applicants in this case filled in a side yard and added a rear addition four or so years ago. They’ve returned to make changes to the areaway to add a basement entrance as well as redo the entry stairs to create a safe set of stairs and add a larger landing at the door. The committee voted unanimously to support this application.

While we recognize the process wasn’t great and (shock of shocks) DDOT issued permits it wasn’t supposed to, the actual plans for the area way are consistent with the intent of preservation law and in character with the Historic District. The exterior had been redone and regraded many times. The house is not in a continuous row of similar retaining walls at the sidewalk and is next to a non-contributing apartment building. Again, context and integrity (and safety related to aging in place) lead me to support this even though the areaway changes do not strictly conform to design guidelines

Transportation Committee

DDOT NOT 19-001 (700 Block of D Street changes, to support Circulator Turnaround)

This Notice of Intent is to allow the new L’Enfant Plaza-Eastern Market Circulator to turn around without dead-heading to 4th Street. While this design looks good on paper, there is one fatal flaw and I will support any ANC resolution to oppose this change.

Buses are at their most dangerous when they’re turning. And while this change will reduce the number of left turns by one, it does this by remove two signalized left turns into one unsignalized, unprotected left turn right next to a metro station and a heavily trafficked cross walk. There is no way I will support a design that adds an unprotected left to a bus route.

Now, technically, this NOI is only for the road changes. I’m fairly agnostic on those. I find the discussion about relieving congestion on 8th street to be a classic failure of DDOT’s engineers looking at level of service for people driving cars, not people walking or cycling. In many ways, a heavily congested 8th street is a feature. I don’t want cars to be able to quickly get to speed with so many pedestrians and cyclists using the street. But, that being said, I’m not sure changing the 700 block of D Street will have that much of an impact on either 8th street congestion or adding cars to the neighborhood.

The committee took no position on this and will have DDOT back next month to continue this discussion.


ANC 6B February Meetings

As expected, it took me one meeting to fall behind on logging my votes. Anyway, February’s ANC 6B meeting was relatively light. Here are the votes.

Captiol Hill Classic: Due to my misunderstanding, the organizers of the Capitol Hill Classic were not invited to the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting. As a neighborhood staple, this vote was relatively perfunctory as nothing changed from last year. The ANC unanimously voted to send a letter to DC HSEMA in support of the planned event routing.

Southeast Library: My feelings are expressed in the committee report but this is a pretty straightforward application, given existing preservation law. The ANC unanimously voted (with three abstentions) to send a letter in support of this application to HPRB.

Office of Zoning Oversight: I will put up a longer post on my testimony, but I voted for and the ANC supported this testimony.

Office of Planning Oversight: Commissioner Sroufe put forward some testimony regarding HPRB’s treatement of non-contributing buidlings in historic distrcits. I agree with him that HPO’s treatment of non-contrbuting buildings is somewhat inconsistent with preservation law. It’s a gray area that needs more legislation or regulations though I think we disagree on preferred outcome (the lax guidelines employed I think are the right option, but clearly not in line with the law as written). I voted to support this testimony but the full ANC opposed it; Commissioner Sroufe will testify as an individual commissioner in lieu of officially representing ANC 6B.

Onto next month