Tag Archives: bike lanes

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.

2019 Goals and Action Items for ANC 6B06

It’s the beginning of a new years so it’s a good time to take stock of the existing neighborhood and what we can accomplish in the next year. When dealing with bureaucracy and vested interests, it’s best to be realistic about time tables. With that in line, here is a semi-comprehensive list of my goals as ANC Commissioner next year:

Help craft a Settlement Agreement with Neighborhood Restaurant Group
The new food hall/restaurant/bar at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE from NRG should open this summer. While I feel that the building and bar is a huge net plus to the neighborhood, patio hours on the 14th Street side of the building are already proving contentious. The patio would be across the street from a residential mental health care facility as well as two row houses. Appropriate hours of use of the patio will be different in this context than if it were facing Pennsylvania Ave or another commercial block.

Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lanes
The MoveDC plan presented an ambitious future for the District to vastly increase non-automotive mode share. Taking them up on their plan, ANC 6B initiated step one of this long-term process getting DDOT to include the lanes in the long range plan for the Metropolitan Washington Coalition of Governments. The next steps will be concept designs and a long vigorous outreach program to the commercial property owners and operators along Pennsylvania Ave. By the end of 2019, I hope those concepts are publicly available and the dialogue of getting buy in starts.

Conservation Districts
Most of ANC 6B06 is adjacent to the Capitol Hill Historic District and some historic preservation groups have argued for Hill East to either be part of an expanded historic district or a new separate historic district. I firmly believe this is is the wrong process for our neighborhood. Through the next year, I will continue to reach other to preservation advocates, elected officials, and administration officials to push for Hill East to be the city’s first conversation district. Often referred to as historic district-lite, conservation districts will allow for design review, development standards, and other positive aspects of preservation without requiring rigid adherence to subjective standards or limiting development potential. By the end of 2019, I hope to have an ANC-led working group on establishing a conservation district for Hill East, working collaboratively with the preservation AND development communities.

Ensuring Community Benefits are distributed quickly from New York Pizza, Watkins Alley, and Bowie’s PUD projects
As part of the zoning flexibility provided to the projects at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave and the south side of the 1300 block of E Street SE, the developers proffered a limited set of community benefits. These projects should all deliver this year and require the benefits to be distributed before they can receive their certificate of occupancy

Residential Parking Issues

  • Residential Parking signs on the 400 block of 12th Street SE, and 1300 blocks of D and E Street SE around the new development projects
  • Add named alleys to the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) system or otherwise allow alley residents to get residential and visitor parking permits. Our neighbors who live in alley dwellings shouldn’t be treated as a separate class when it comes to allocating public curb space.
  • Currently, regulation prevents RPP only parking east of 11th street SE. However, DDOT has signaled recently they are open to changing this and there is a rulemaking pending to allow this. If the regulations change, I will seek to see if there’s a consensus supporting that change and request it for ANC 6B06

Southeast Boulevard
in 2019, DDOT should issue a final environmental assessment on Southeast Boulevard and Barney Circle redesign. This is a project that is very important to the city and should be a huge win for our neighborhood. This year should be limited to the Environmental Assessment and comments on the proposals.

Penn/Potomac Redesign
This year, I hope to see this project fully funded in FY20 and construction starting by the end of the year.

311 Request Followup
Data on 311 requests and resolution is publicly available. As we move forward throughout the year, I will focus on portions of the 311 request backlog and try to get some of the long standing issues finally resolved.



Response to Greater Greater Washington ANC Questionnaire

Each ANC election season, Greater Greater Washingtion sends out a questionnaire for ANC candidates and endorses candidates in contested elections. While I am running unopposed, I still took the opportunity to respond. The questions really helped organized a lot of my thoughts on various issues. Below are my responses, slightly edited for clarity and grammar.

What are your hopes and/or concerns with the 11th Street Bridge Park and its Equitable Development Plan?

The Bridge Park group and its nonprofit partner, Building Bridges Across the River, have been around and active in the community for over four years and have done great work in ANC 6B specifically with residents and facilities at Hopkins Apartments and Potomac Gardens. While less visible, the Equitable Development Plan (EDP) is also a great contribution to the neighborhood and city as a whole.

For ANC 6B, the EDP should be a framework for similar projects and. The Southeast Boulevard land disposition and development, for example, will require a Comprehensive Plan amendment (likely through a council-approved Small Area Plan). Any such amendment and RFP process should look at the work of the EDP as a baseline for community involvement and support for existing residents.

Specifically within the EDP, the Workforce Development and Small Business Enterprise Elements will be non-negotiables for any city-owned or city-funded project like the 11th Street Bridge Park. The Housing Element of the EDP relies strongly on leveraging the Housing Production Trust Fund and working with existing organizations to build, create, and retain affordable housing. I am encouraged that corporate partners are signing onto this aspect of the EDP as evidenced by the recent contribution by JPMorgan Chase.

I really hope the Bridge Park is eventually built and I would urge ANC 6B to help facilitate the building of the park where possible. Equally important, however, is the EDP. I will use that as a benchmark for the redevelopment and excessing of land at Southeast Boulevard and any other similar projects that come across ANC 6B.

What are your hopes and/or concerns regarding the plans for the redevelopment of Southeast Boulevard (including DDOT’s and OP’s plan to create a bus garage) and the Barney Circle redesign?

There are very few opportunities available for the city has to create developable land, fulfill a municipal need, and increase bike and pedestrian connectivity to the Anacostia River. This is a transformational project and one I will support at every turn.

I have been involved in Southeast Boulevard discussions since early 2013. Given the geography of the area, the needs of the city, and financial realities of infrastructure creation, there are two options for Southeast Boulevard. One is the status quo freeway-in-all-but-name that exists now. The other is a subterranean bus garage with a two-lane road and developable land on top of the garage. I categorically reject option one or any similar proposals, such as DDOT’s 2013 plan to rebuild the highway at grade. The second plan represents four years of compromise while accomplishing most of the goals of the immediate neighbors, the wider Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the city as a whole.

Over the last four years, DDOT has convinced me that there is a need for new bus garages in the city. This site minimizes impacts on neighbors and does not crowd out higher and better uses of the underlying land. If there’s one spot for a bus garage in the city, this is it. As we move forward, however, I will continue to encourage DDOT to remove support facilities for gas- and diesel-powered buses. This garage should be the harbinger of a cleaner non-fossil fuel bus system.

Above the bus garage, we have a unique opportunity to build more city. At the Comprehensive Plan level, I would advocate for remapping the boulevard area to a combination of moderate density residential and low density commercial. Because of the broken PUD process, there is only one chance to zone this land right, and I would support RA-2 zoning (matching the existing zoning to the north L Street SE) with a block of MU-4 zoning along 14th Street from L to a new pedestrian ramp across the CSX tracks.

What are your hopes and/or concerns about the future of the RFK Stadium site?

My futile hope is that the National Park Services disposes the land and we build more city in the non-floodplain areas. However, the Bowser administration and Events DC has shown no imagination with this project.

Given that the Bowser Administration will be in charge of this project for another five years, it’s time to accept that they will continue to push a football stadium or basketball arena. Within those confines, ANC 6B needs to continue to advocate for the community-serving aspects of this project and get EventsDC to prioritize those. The Capital Riverside Youth Sports Park group demonstrates exactly the project that I would push ANC 6B to prioritize and support. The one aspect of the existing designs that should come first is the pedestrian bridges to Kingman Island (prioritizing the bridge to River Terrace). I would also urge ANC 5D, 6A, 6B, and 7D to come together and oppose any construction of a riverside road connecting Barney Circle and Benning Road.

ANC 6B recently passed a letter outlining their concerns about DC’s historic district process. What is your stance on this issues, especially in the context of the proposals to expand the Capitol Hill Historic District to encompass all of 6B?

I firmly believe the historic district designation process is fundamentally broken. The Kingman Park designation started the recent discussions about the process, but it’s the Bloomingdale designation that has shown the need for HPO/OP and the Council to rethink completely this process. HPRB approved that nomination with ANC opposition, household survey opposition, and a nomination from a non-neighborhood affiliated organization. It’s clear that well-connected and well-funded groups and residents are using historic preservation in this city to thwart development.

As a commissioner in ANC 6B, I would push for the following changes to historic preservation, through resolutions or comments where appropriate:

  1. Encourage OP to restart their study of conservation districts and push the council to introduce legislation allowing conservation districts. I would also push for the non-historic district parts of ANC 6B to be the first neighborhood to be covered by this new regime.
  2. Require OP to calculate the loss of development potential in new historic districts and offset that lost potential in upzoning of noncontributing buildings and along mixed-use corridors in the district. If OP cannot offset that lost potential, then HPRB should deny the historic district nomination.
  3. Remove solar systems from the list of permit types that trigger historic review
  4. Require HPRB actions to be full legal orders, including addressing concerns from the ANC and affected parties. Further, require HPRB and Mayor’s Agent cases should use the Office of Zoning’s Interactive Zoning Information System (or similar), to ensure all documents and comments are easily available to the public.
  5. Require transportation, sustainability, and equity issues to have weight in HPRB orders.

Residents increasingly requests Ward 6 zone only parking on their blocks. How would you approach this situation as a commissioner? What is the right balance between parking for immediate residents and parking for people visiting the neighborhood?

The RPP system is broken and resident only parking is a Band-Aid over the real problem.

In August of 2014, DDOT issued a Curbside Management Study that laid out potential solutions to the problem. The solutions that would most appeal to me as a commissioner are the following:

  1. Increase RPP prices for each permit after the first.
  2. Increase RPP prices if you have off street parking.
  3. Dramatically increase the number of distinct parking zones with a concomitant reduction is size of zones.

I like to use my family as an example. My wife and I each came into our marriage with a car. We would park both on the street despite having an off-street parking space, dutifully paying out 10 cents per day for the privilege. We maintained this situation for two years, despite never using both cars at once and rarely using the off-street parking space. When we did use a car, it was often to travel within Ward 6 for free parking near Yards/Canal parks and near H Street. This situation repeats itself all over the city.

Residents in buildings without parking and visitors are not the problem. I, and so many people like me, am the problem. I should pay for the problems I create for others. If our second parking permit were more expensive because we had two cars, more expensive because we had off-street parking, and less useful for intra-ward usage, we would have consolidated down to one car right away. Depending on the price of the first RPP, we also would skipped getting an RPP for that car. Making more parking available for the exclusive use of families like mine is the exactly the opposite thing we should do.

If there were a way to improve bus transit of bike infrastructure in your neighborhood, but it required removing on-street parking, how would you approach this situation? Give a specific example.

I would wholeheartedly support any increase in transit of bike infrastructure even if it required removing off-street parking. As a member of the ANC 6B Transportation Committee, I brought up the topic and made the motion to request DDOT begin studying protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave SE from Barney Circle to the Capitol. That project would remove off-peak travel lanes and peak parking spaces from Pennsylvania Ave SE. Because of ANC 6B’s ask, the facility was included in the most recent constrained element of the MWCOG long-range plan. As commissioner, I will continue to push DDOT to move this project forward. Furthermore, I supported the removal of parking spaces on the 400 block of 14th street SE to bridge a gap in bicycle lanes.

The MoveDC transit element includes high capacity transit lines along Pennsylvania Ave SE from the Maryland border to 8th street SE. As commissioner, I will ask that this part of the MoveDC plan moves forward. Not being a transportation planner or engineer, I have no clue how to design those lanes, but I’m sure DDOT and its contracts can design something that works. If parking has to go because of those high capacity bus lines, I would obviously support that

Where would you like to see new bicycle lanes, sidewalks, or other infrastructure to make it safer for residents, families, and seniors to walk and bike? What are you top Vision Zero priorities for your community?

Bike lanes in ANC 6B should be on every diagonal and on all one-lane streets. Luckily, for ANC 6B, most of the neighborhood two-way streets are so narrow the level of stress on bicycle is minimal. So given that, I would support the MoveDC bicycle element’s inclusion of protected bike lanes along Massachusetts Ave SE, Pennsylvania Ave SE, and converting the striped lanes on 4th/6th Street SE to a protected lane, even if parking must be removed near intersections.

As for non-bicycle elements of Vision Zero, there are the ideal and then there are short-term politically feasible priorities. Ideally, I think DDOT should ban right turns on red. I think the default speed limit should be 15 unless otherwise signed (instead of 25). I think speed, red light, and stop sign cameras should blanket the city, with fines reduced and issued within 24 hours to affect change. As for actual short-term options, the following are my priorities:

  1. Push DDOT to add flexposts at all non-right angle corners to sharpen and slow turns and support them when proposed. Specifically within ANC 6B, DDOT will soon be issuing a Notice of Intent to rework the intersection of 15th/Kentucky/Potomac/G. These changes will slow traffic and increase pedestrian connectivity, but remove parking. These are the projects I will push for and support.
  2. Make non all-way stops into all-way stops. Currently as a member of ANC 6B’s Transportation Committee, I am using DC’s open data to document our most dangerous intersections and get four-way stops there as soon as possible.
  3. Remove one parking space closest to intersections in commercial areas and replace them with on street dedicated bicycle parking. This will remove bikes from the sidewalk, increase the amount of parking, and help daylight corners for turns.
  4. Work with bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations to highlight our most dangerous intersections and push DDOT to implement fixes instead of waiting for death or serious injury to make changes.
  5. Remove automated traffic enforcement and parking from the purviews of MPD and DPW respectively. Give those capabilities to DDOT.

What role do you think your ANC could plan in addressing housing affordability challenges? How can you neighborhood contribute its fair share to our growing city needs?

ANCs have limited direct power to address housing affordability challenges. What we can do is foster an environment where housing affordability for both current and future residents is a paramount concern in development projects that come before the ANC.

With the broken PUD process, the ANC will also have less input on large projects, but there are opportunities for the ANC to weigh in on citywide issues. For example, further Comprehensive Plan amendments will at some point be available for comment and I would support the ANC focusing its comments on housing affordability for current residents and accommodating growth for future neighbors.

What is the biggest controversy in your neighborhood not already listed on the questionnaire and what is your position on it?

We have already covered most of the major projects and controversies in ANC 6B. Southeast Boulevard, Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes, major PUD projects coming online and related construction issues, and resident parking issues are or will be import discussions in ANC 6B over the next two years.

Why do you think you are the best person to represent your SMD? What is your vision for the next two years?

Through my work on the ANC Transportation Committee, I am already familiar with many of the ANC processes and can jump into the job on day one. I will doggedly follow up on resident concerns and actively seek to solve problems before the happen.

In two years in ANC 6B06, I am excited to see all six major development projects in the SMD completed, the Pennsylvania/Potomac intersection work well underway, and funding for Southeast Boulevard secured including a vision for major investment in affordable housing on the site. For the larger ANC, I see ANC 6B continuing its roles as a professional and efficient ANC. I imagine the ANC will continue to work with DDOT to identify and rectify traffic safety concerns in residential areas and ANC 6B will be a leading example in the city for traffic calming measures.

Sometime community members advocate for a position that is in their narrow interest but is counter to broader citywide interest and is high problematic position if all communities across DC were to act that way. How will you lead in such a situation?

Neighborhoods are parts of cities and cities need land and services to meet the needs of all of its residents. This is not a controversial stance to take. However, in many situations it is easy to fight against these services and land use rather to seek to accommodate it. In fact, much of our regulatory infrastructure and history with controversial items rewards the loudest most organized group of people who say no.

In situations like this, it is easy for an ANC commissioner to join the chorus of no’s. However, I will not do that. Let’s look at Southeast Boulevard Bus Garage as an example. At every turn and every iteration, I have supported this project. DDOT has demonstrated a need for a bus garage. DDOT has sought a site that will have minimal impact on its neighborhood and pledge to mitigate concerns. The immediate neighbors, of course, would be better off with an at-grade Southeast Boulevard with no bus garage underneath. However, we have a unique opportunity to accommodate a city need and I believe ANC 6B will continue to support this garage (though pushing for electric only instead of diesel- and gas-support facilities). As commissioner of ANC 6B06, I will continue to engage with impacted residents and DDOT to provide the least impactful bus garage while allowing full functionality that will support all residents of DC.