February Newsletter!

Here’s your February Northwest Georgetown ANC update:

Leaf Collection

The city’s leaf collection continues to disappoint as much as the snow gods have. Residents dutifully piled leaves in tree-boxes or packed them into garden waste bags, but the DPW crews came weeks late. In the meantime the leaves scattered and the paper bags disintegrated in the weather. The ANC sent a letter to DPW in response that stated in part:

It was extremely frustrating for our residents to rush to have leaves neatly raked into tree boxes only to wait for weeks for them to be collected with no updates from your agency. Furthermore, the deteriorating situation became dangerous at a certain point when leaves became wet and froze in clumps causing dangerous conditions for pedestrians. As you may or may not be aware, Georgetown has very old infrastructure and older/narrower pipes can become clogged from uncollected leaves.

Lastly, many of our neighbors have bagged their leaves into paper bags (as required by the District of Columbia) and called 3-1-1 for pick up only to have the paper bags sit for weeks and ultimately break down with leaves scattering the sidewalks and roads. For the remaining weeks left, we request DPW pick up the paper bags with Christmas trees.

Moving forward, DPW needs to roll out an entirely new communications and collection plan for Fall 2023 based on experience to date.

The focus going forward will be not on expecting DPW to perfectly predict months in advance how the collection will pan out, but rather on getting alerts much closer to the actual pick-up days. This will allow residents to wait to collect or put out leaves until just before they get collected, thus maximizing how many leaves actually get into their trucks and off our sidewalks and streets.

Quick Bites

Before I get to a somewhat lengthy summary of our ANC meetings, here are a couple quick bites of information you might like to know:

  • The Volta Park field restoration is set to commence this fall. I am scheduling a meeting soon in the park with DPR officials and members of the Friends of Volta Park. I will pressure the city to keep to the schedule and ensure that the scope of the project is as broad as possible, given the budget.
  • Parking tickets happen, but sometimes you don’t realized they happened to you until it’s too late. To avoid this, you can sign up for the DMV’s ticker alert system. This way you’ll get an email when you get a ticket, and you can pay it on-time (or contest it if you’re feeling lucky) and not get hit with the fine doubling after 30 days.
  • No turn on red signs were added to Reservoir and Wisconsin, helping protect pedestrians from drivers who often don’t come to a stop or look to the right before turning.
  • If you are interest in enrolling your children at Hyde-Addison for Pre-k next year, you’ll have to sign up at My School DC by March 1st.
  • 🍩District Donuts🍩 are coming back to M St.!
  • New Açai bowl shop opens in our district!
  • Volunteers painted new pickleball court lines in the Volta Park basketball court.
  • Georgetown is cool again!!

Up and Running

Since my last update, we’ve actually squeezed in two ANC meetings. The first was our January session, which was dominated by administrative matters. Most notably, we elected Elizabeth Miller to serve as chair, with Gwen Lhose serving as vice-chair, John DiPierri as secretary and Joe Massaua as treasurer. Elizabeth is dedicated to running a tight ship, so anyone speaking before the ANC better get their “elevator pitches” down pat!

On the substantive side, we took several actions we hope will lead to improvements around the neighborhood. This includes deciding to send the letter regarding leaves discussed above. Additionally we supported a proposal to remove several parking meters on N St. along the north side of Foxtrot Market. This stretch often gets gridlocked due to the fact it’s a bit too narrow for two-way traffic and the parking lanes. Removing those metered spaces should help ease the flow without limiting residential parking on the block.

Further we voted to send a letter to the city asking it to address crosswalks that are in disrepair around the neighborhood. We want the city to ensure that all crosswalks are high-visibility with the “ladder” style paint jobs. I walked throughout our district and found only one crosswalk that lacked some high-visibility crossings (34th and Q) and added it to our list of deficient crosswalks. Hopefully the city will address all the deficient crossings and pedestrian safety will be suitably improved.

Since the Old Georgetown Board didn’t meet in January, we had no OGB projects to review and the meeting ended at a reasonable hour. The February meeting was a horse of a different color however.

But before we got to the OGB calendar we had several notable items to discuss. One is the arrival of a new high-end sushi restaurant in the former L2 space across from Kafe Leopold. It will be called Kyojin Sushi and it will be the sister restaurant to Yume Sushi in Arlington. The proprietors are asking for late hours, but they say they are aiming for less of a club vibe than L2. And physically speaking, this is a location that is unlikely to cause many issues with late hours. So I believe they will open with the hours they ask for.

At the meeting I also proposed my first resolution (whoo hoo!). It was connected with an application by residents of the 3300 block of Q St. who is requesting to purchase part of their neighbor’s back yard in order to construct a swimming pool. I took a keen interest in this proposal since any excavation that is done on this site will almost certainly uncover human remains. Such discoveries have been found on this block for over a century. But unlike all those other cases, I pressured the applicants to take a pro-active approach to work with the DC archeologist before starting to dig to develop a plan that both avoids disturbing graves unnecessarily, and handles any remains that cannot be avoided in the most respectful and careful manner. I’m happy to report that the applicant has promised to proceed in this manner and I will endeavor to hold them to it. Here is my complete resolution:

ANC 2E expresses no position on the proposed subdivision of 3321 Q St. N.W. and 3323 Q St. N.W. However, the commission does have a strong interest in the manner in which any proposed swimming pool is constructed on the property.

The 3300 block of Q St. N.W. has an important place in the history of Georgetown. It served as a burial ground in the 18th and 19th centuries. Researchers believe it was largely used by Georgetown’s black residents, both free and enslaved, at a time when they were not permitted to use the much larger Presbyterian Burying Ground across the street to the south.

For over a century, residents of this block have uncovered human remains during excavation projects on their properties. Thus there is very good reason to believe that any excavation to construct a swimming pool at 3321 Q St. N.W. will also uncover human remains from the site’s previous use. In addition, the relevant property lots are adjacent to the Dent Place, N.W. lot that was once owned by Yarrow Mamout, a Georgetowner who rose from slavery to become a prominent investor. Yarrow was believed to have been buried near the lot lines, and as a result, his remains may also be found on the subject properties.

The commission believes strongly that any such excavation at 3321 Q St. N.W. should therefore be completed in the most careful and respectful manner and in acknowledgement of the likely fact that such construction is being performed on the final resting place of generations of Georgetown’s black residents. 

Specifically the commission expresses a desire that the applicant work proactively with the D.C. Archeologist of the Office of Planning to develop a plan for excavation prior to undertaking any work. This plan should entail, at the very least, identifying any burials in the impacted area, avoiding those graves if possible, and, if necessary, responsibly disinterring any human remains under the close supervision and approval of the relevant District agencies. Additionally, any such disinterment should be completed in close consultation with any interested local cultural and spiritual organizations, including allowing them reasonable access to the site for research and enrichment purposes.

The commission acknowledges that the applicant has expressed their intent to pursue this course and it exhorts them to follow through on such commitments. The commission believes that if done well, this project could serve as a model for best practices to be used in other construction projects on this block and in other areas of the city where our modern lives abut history and those that came before us.

I’m pleased that my first resolution addressed Georgetown’s black history, a topic I hope to surface throughout my term on the ANC. And I’m also pleased it passed unanimously!

The one OGB matter that may interest a lot of people is a proposed wrap-around porch for a house on R St. On the face of it, adding a modern built wrap-around porch to an 1880’s house would seem to go against general historic preservation guidelines. But this applicant convincingly argued that a porch once stood here and this would merely replicate it. Here is what it currently looks like:

Here’s what it could look like:

It looks pretty good and natural to me! But we’ll see if the OGB goes for it. Stay tuned!



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2 responses to “February Newsletter!

  1. Grace Bateman

    Hi Topher,

    Thank you so much for serving on the ANC. I’m a 1990’s veteran ANC Commissioner/Chair, serving during the “crazy times” in Georgetown which hopefully you weren’t here to experience. I recall how much time and effort serving on the ANC took, and how important the work is for our community. I really enjoy reading your accounts of the ANC meetings in your monthly newsletter. Please keep them coming.

    I’m now in the sunset of my activist years, and am hoping you will take on a small project to improve the appearance of the west side of Georgetown that has been on my visual agenda for many years.

    As I’m sure you remember, nearly a decade ago, DDOT reconstructed the cobblestone surface and trolley tracks on O and P Sts., west of Wisconsin. During the long construction period, DDOT installed what we thought were utilitarian metal “temporary” street signs at the intersections of O, P, and 33rd, 34th, and 35th Sts. These were not even necessary because the existing street signs mounted to the street light poles at most of these intersections were not disturbed by the street construction.

    The attached photo shows an example of the “temporary” sign at 33rd and P. Another set of street signs mounted to the light pole can be seen in the left rear of the photo. The O and P street reconstruction was completed many years ago, but the “temporary” utilitarian metal signs remain. They are superfluous and ugly; DDOT should have removed them years ago. We live near 33rd and P, and I cringe every time I pass the metal sign on the corner there.

    I’m not sure whether any of these metal street signs are in your district, but since they affect the broader appearance of the entire historic district, I hope you’ll work with your fellow ANC Commissioners to have them removed.

    Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    Thanks, Grace Bateman

  2. glohse001

    Love the ski pic and summary.  P.S.:  I am Lohse:) 

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