Category Archives: ANC

ANC Preview: Next Bus Edition

Next week ANC2E will meet for its April session. By comparison to last month’s brawl over another neighborhood’s traffic changes, this meeting should be downright serene.

One item caught GM’s attention: “Electronic Bus arrival signage in the Georgetown commercial area”

Going back to the Gabe Klein era, DDOT has been floating proposals to install screens at some bus stops that would inform riders of the nearby transportation options and include predicted bus arrival times based upon NextBus. Only a few locations have seen them installed yet, though.

GM doesn’t know why this is on the ANC agenda. It seems unlikely that Georgetown would get one of these screens, given the restrictive signage rules we have. (Don’t get GM wrong, he’s love to see them here, but it’s unlikely). Continue reading

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ANC Preview: The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data

Photo by randomduck.

The ANC meets next week for its March session. And it will be a star-studded affair. Well…not really “star-studded”, more like “public servant-studded”.

You see, not one, but two councilmembers will be in attendance to discuss a topic that has created a significant degree of whining recently: the Glover Park lane reconfiguration. Ward Three’s Mary Cheh and our own Jack Evans will be there to go through the ritualistic act of listening to angry people stand up and complain about how a few extra seconds of travel time via car through Glover Park is the absolute worst thing to happen to them in their entire lifetime.

The ANC has been incredulous of the changes ever since they were first implemented. Recently, they have been soliciting residents to complain about how the changes have affected them (ostensibly they asked for positive comments too, but who is going to write their commissioner and say “got through a couple blocks in a reasonable amount of time!”?).

To be fair, some have been complaining about the changes before the ANC asked them to complain. But now it appears that the ANC might request the changes be undone simply based upon these anecdotal complaints (to the tune of millions of dollars wasted). The old saying goes, the plural of anecdote isn’t data. Particularly in this case where we can actually gather real data!

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ANC Round Up: Race Fatigue Edition

Photo by Thetejon.

Last night the ANC met for its February session. And like many sessions, a good deal of it was spent complaining about race-generated street closures. And despite the fact that the closures in question were down to a single block, the resistance was strong as ever. Of course, that’s not all they talked about:

Race Fatigue

Starting back a couple years ago, the ANC decided to start pushing back more against all the requests to close roads for races. The argument was that too many organizations were trying to use Georgetown for their races and it was creating too much of a burden on the neighborhood.

In order to start making distinctions between “good” races and “bad”, the ANC starte insisting that all races be predominantly charitable in purpose. This led to an epic showdown with the controversial Charles Brodsky (a Fenty crony) over several of his DC Triathlon events.

Since then-and perhaps in response to the ANC’s efforts–most organizers of events calling for street closures in Georgetown have presented their case about how charitable their cause is. Moreover, organizers (with help from the city, no doubt) have learned to minimize the amount of street closures necessary in Georgetown.

But last night there were three such requests on the agenda. And that sort of concentration is bound to raise their hackles. The first request came from the Nike half marathon scheduled for April. The thing is, though, that the race won’t even take place in Georgetown. But the organizers will be staging most of their activities either at the Washington Harbour or the Nike store. Thus they’d like to close Thomas Jefferson for the day of the race.

It didn’t take long for the ANC to cut to the chase: while the overall race meets the charitable element, this particular closure had nothing to do with the race. It seems solely designed to draw runners and spectators into the store. The organizers tried to spin the closure as charitable since the street would be (supposedly) turned into a street fair. The commissioners weren’t buying it.

In the end, though, the commissioners told the organizers to come back next month after some more rounds of discussion. Essentially, the ANC challenged them to make this particular closure more explicitly charitable.

A second road closure request then came up. It was from WABA and called for Rock Creek Parkway to be closed early one Sunday for BikeDC. This request met no objection.

Continue reading

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ANC Preview: Sticka Mic Drop Edition

Next Monday is the February session for ANC2E. Near the beginning of the meeting, the commission will perform its biannual duty to honor the recently departed ANC member with a special commendation. This time it’s Jake Sticka who will be so honored. Perhaps in a nod to Jake, the ANC will be meeting again at GU, specifically the McShain Lounge in McCarthy Hall.

The ANC will also deal with more meaty topics. On the agenda is the proposed residential zoning rewrite. This project–part of a city-wide effort–will modernize the zoning code in Georgetown by recognizing that much of what technically is “non-conforming use” today (i.e. stores in the neighborhoods, English basement apartments, etc.) includes features many think are what make Georgetown Georgetown.

A group of representatives from CAG, the ANC and the OGB have been meeting for over a year hashing out a proposal for OP to consider applying to Georgetown. The group includes voices from across the issue. (Full disclosure: As a member of CAG’s board, GM has had a tangential role in this effort). Some in the group were very conservative and wanted little change, others are straight up urbanists pushing for much more progressive change. The compromises the group reached are true compromises born from serious and honest discussions. (At some point–not today–GM will go over the finer points of the proposal).

Finally, one other issue the ANC will discuss is also near and dear to GM: the proposed new locations for Capital Bikeshare stations. GM hopes the ANC is on board with the plan because it would mean him getting a station just three blocks away. Continue reading

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ANC Round Up: Pinstripes Edition

Last night the ANC met for its first hearing of the new year. And there’s no need to beat around the bush: the proposed bowling alley was front and center.

Pinstripes

A representative of Vornado attended the meeting to present his company’s plans for the mall, generally, and the bowling alley, specifically. The presentation was interesting for GM since it was the first time in a long time that Vornado has said anything publicly at all about the project (particularly the interior elements).

The plans for the bowling alley call for a company called Pinstripes to operate it. Pinstripes is a company founded in 2006 by Dale Schwartz in suburban Chicago. Mr. Schwartz was on hand last night to present his vision.

The phrase “high end” was used a lot.

Specifically the phrase “extraordinarily high end wine and food coupled with a bowling and banquet experience” was used. Moreover, the food promised is going to be “Four Seasons” and “Ritz Carlton”-level quality. In a bowling alley. Yeah, GM’s skeptical too.

But unbelievably audacious promises of food quality were not the primary focus of the discussion. That was instead the issue of noise.

Physically, Pinstripes would be located on the southeast corner of the building. You would enter the top of two floors along the canal just south of the old firehouse (soon to be the Frye Company).

On the top floor would be some restaurant and bar space as well as some banquet rooms (more on that later).

Downstairs would have the bowling lanes themselves, along with more tables and bar space and a bocce court. There will be twelve lanes.

Continue reading

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ANC Preview: Lets Go Bowling Edition

Tonight, wasting no time the ANC will meet for its first session of the new year. And it should be a good one!

Mark It Dude

The most interesting item on the agenda is the proposed bowling alley for the redeveloped Georgetown Park mall. This will be the first chance for the public to see first hand what Vornado has in mind for the bowling alley. And in a larger sense, this is the first time Vornado will have to come before the public to talk about the interior of the mall period (they’ve been to the ANC multiple times for proposed exterior changes).

So far GM hasn’t heard too much of a negative response to the bowling alley from Georgetowners. But the Georgetown Park condo dwellers might not be so sanguine. They have struggled to get any information at all out of Vornado and are probably not in the mood to trust Vornado that all sound issues will be addressed.

And who knows, maybe Vornado will finally open up on their other plans for the mall? (Actually, GM knows: they won’t.)

Moving a Bikeshare Station

As mentioned here back in December, some people are angry at DDOT for eliminating a few parking spots on Wisconsin Ave. south of the canal in order to relocate the Capital Bikeshare station there.

The ANC is scheduled to take this matter up tonight. Expect them to take a position asking DDOT to move the station somewhere else and restore the parking spots. Continue reading

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ANC Round Up: Seeing Signs Edition

Stores

Last night the ANC met for its last meeting of 2012. It was also the last meeting for Commissioner Jake Sticka, who did not run for reelection this year due to the fact he’ll be graduating this spring. As is normal, the commission will honor him with a special commendation at the February meeting.

But he wasn’t gone yet. And he dutifully took notes through the length of the relatively uneventful meeting. (GM wonders if the next crop of student-commissioners will refuse to serve as secretary. They’ve been stuck with the job going at least as far back as Jenna Lowenstein.)

One of the more substantive topics on the agenda last night was the city’s proposed signage regulations. This is something GM has mentioned briefly before. In short, the city is proposing the adoption of signage rules for the whole city. Technically speaking signage rules are nothing new for Georgetown. But too often they are more honored in the breach than the observance. The new rules would bring some more vigor to the rules, even those that already apply to Georgetown.

Last night the ANC voted to submit a letter supporting the new rules with some proposed changes. For instance, the ANC’s comments suggest that neon signs should be banned unless they meet certain criteria such as being the only sign on the store identifying the store name (like Bridge Street Books does). Additionally, they suggest that sandwich boards should be kept off of the main drags but remain allowed on the side streets.

(Full disclosure: GM drafted CAG’s comment letter on the same rules. CAG took a more conservative approach. For instance, rather than list exceptions out to the blanket prohibition on electronic signs, CAG suggested the rules be drafted to make it clear that the Old Georgetown Board’s review standards should apply.)

Everyone is in agreement that something needs to be done to crack down on the proliferation of ugly and illegal signs. Hopefully these rules can lead the way. Continue reading

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ANC Preview: Don’t Fool Jesus Edition

Next week the ANC will hold its last meeting of the year. This will be a somewhat unique meeting because it will be held on the campus of GU at the Leavey Center (it’s still at it’s normal time: Monday 6:30).

The item on the agenda that jumps out at GM is the one regarding the zoning application by the Georgetown Park Mall to add a bowling alley.

GM was excited to hear the plans. And so far most of the people he’s spoke with around Georgetown about it have been in support of it too. However, GM is aware that some of the Georgetown Park condo dwellers are less enthused about the idea. Next Monday should be the first airing of any objections. Continue reading

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ANC Preview: Gypsy Sally’s Edition

Next week, the ANC will meet for it’s November session. And one item jumps way out from the rest: a new music venue called Gypsy Sally’s.

According to the liquor license application, the venue will be on the second floor of 3401 K St. That’s the address of the future Malmaison (and once Hibiscus Cafe). It will be a “restaurant with a seating capacity of 224 seats, [with a] total occupancy load of 284. Requesting an entertainment endorsement featuring live acoustic music with cover charge. No nude performances.”

(GM doesn’t know for sure, but the somewhat un-PC name probably comes the song Tecumseh Valley by Townes Van Zandt)

If any new live music venues has any chance of getting through the approval process, picking a location like this is probably the best first step. There’s no immediate residential neighbor. However, there is a condo building a couple doors down. And during the approval process of Malmaison there were concerns expressed over the noise of people coming and going from the new restaurant. Additionally, another point of contention was the number of reimbursable detail MPD cops the restaurant would hire.

If approved, this of course would not be the first music venue along K St. From 1953 to 1998, the Bayou stood at 31st and K. Will Gypsy Sally’s live up to that reputation? We’ll see. Continue reading

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ANC Round Up: Demolition By Neglect

 

The ANC met for its October session last night. Here are some of the bigger items they discussed:

Demolition By Neglect Reaches it Inevitable Conclusion

The agenda was marked by a solemn item. The new owner of 3324 Dent Place has filed a raze request with the city. Such requests are rare in Georgetown, and even more rarely granted.

The house in question can be seen above in slightly better days. It is a wood frame house and likely dates from the mid 1800s. It can be seen in this old map from 1903. Even as late as then, that block of Dent was home to only a couple of other houses (also, it was called S St., not Dent).

The house’s more recent history was retold by Chairman Ron Lewis last night. In 1978, the owner of the house requested a raze permit. The Old Georgetown Board denied it. For whatever reason (perhaps out of spite) the house was left to rot for decades. As the neighbors complained last night, the property became a fetid eyesore attracting vermin and mosquitoes. One resident complained that when she lived there 15 years ago, she couldn’t believe the house was in such poor shape. And she mentioned that when she returned to the neighborhood after living abroad all those years, she was shocked to see it had only gotten worse.

Up to a little over a year ago this was a classic case of demolition by neglect. This is the situation whereby an owner of a historically protected building allows the building to fall into such disrepair that the city will be forced to grant a raze permit. The proper response to such a tactic is to jack up the property taxes and deny a raze permit. Unfortunately, in this situation Mother Nature had her say. During Hurricane Irene a large silver maple fell squarely on the house. It is now unsalvageable.

Ron Lewis recognized the difficulty of the situation. Allowing a homeowner to tear down a century-and-a-half year old house is irrevocable. But the neighbors who had lived with the eyesore for too long. It is a shame that such a historic structure cannot be saved, but a raze permit must be issued.

Lewis added a clause to the motion supporting the raze permit that requested that the new owner of the building not be permitted to use this raze as an opportunity to build a much larger house. It’s a small gesture in the face of a bad situation all around. Continue reading

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