March ANC Update

Here’s your Northwest Georgetown March ANC Update (Sign up here to get these directly!):

Alley Buildings:

I wanted to focus this month on a project that the ANC reviewed this week that would be somewhat novel for Georgetown: a new alley dwelling.

Of course, alley dwellings have a long history in Georgetown. In the 19th and early 20th century, the small houses tucked away off the street were home to a large percentage of Georgetown’s working class residents, both black and white. While some were demolished as part of the city-wide alley clearance efforts of the 1920s and 30s, many in Georgetown were simply refurbished and remain, such as homes on Pomander Walk or Poplar St. Inevitably the working class residents were priced out and now the homes sell for six to seven figures.

But since then, few or no new alley dwellings have been built in Georgetown. But that may soon change. The District amended the zoning regulations recently to make it easier to obtain permission to construct a new alley building and use it as a home. (Zoning regulations are largely the reason alley dwelling construction ground to a halt in the first place). And a homeowner in our district is making use of these changes to construct a new home adjacent to her own (which, oddly enough, is itself technically an alley dwelling).

The new dwelling would be in a small U-shaped alley that comes off of 34th St. between R and Wisconsin Ave. The home would be constructed on a site that is currently five parking spots most recently used by a real estate agency for visitor parking. The home would have two stories, two bedrooms, and a garage. The rendering looks like this, along with the parking spots it would replace:

Here is another rendering showing its relation to the applicant’s home next door:

After conversations with multiple neighbors and others in the neighborhood, I decided to propose a resolution supporting the general concept of the new home, which was approved by the ANC unanimously. But language in the resolution also asks the Old Georgetown Board (which is the body that actually gets to decide if this moves forward) to pay attention to the impact the building would have on the privacy of the neighboring homes.

(Monday night we were discussing only the Old Georgetown Board application. A separate application has been made to the Board of Zoning Adjustment to be able to actually use the building for residential purposes. That decision will come later.)

The ANC was particularly impressed with the quality of the design for this building. Some people I spoke with were excited about this novel approach. Others, however, were somewhat anxious about the precedent this would create. While the ANC felt comfortable generally supporting this project, I do hope it sparks some conversations among the community about this approach. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Let me know! We may see more of it.

Quick Bites:

  • TODAY MARCH 1 at 10:00 am at Volta Park, there will be a community engagement session to discuss the plans to rehabilitate the baseball diamond and fields. I will be there, along with reps from the Friends of Volta Park. I hope to see you there!
  • A born-and-bred Volta Place native has won Congressional support for her idea to construct a memorial to women who worked the home front during WWII. She attended the State of the Union as a guest of Eleanor Holmes Norton. Congrats Raya! (If you have other news about residents in our little corner of Georgetown making a splash, let me know and I’ll share it in future updates!)
  • An early spring means free cherry blossoms at Dumbarton Oaks.
  • Coffee shops rebounding after brief lull.
  • New bagel shop coming to Wisconsin Ave.

I Ran This Marathon and All I Got Was a Late Bedtime:

Clocking in at 4.5 hours, our March meeting (held Monday night) was a true marathon. I’m not complaining personally (this is what I signed up for, after all) but I do feel bad for the people waiting until nearly 11pm to finally speak. The ANC is focused on this and is brainstorming on ways to speed up the meeting. Hopefully we can make some progress on that end!

Of course, the main reason the meeting was so long was that we were addressing a lot of topics. And in the interest of speeding things up, I’ll quickly summarize them here:

  • Leaf Collection: We passed yet another resolution concerning the poor performance of the annual leaf collection this fall and winter. On top of our previous suggestions that DPW issue more timely alerts about when collection will actually take place, the ANC also requested one more sweep through the neighborhood to collect all the remaining piles of leaves.
  • Crime: We received an update from MPD, which offered confirmation that crime is somewhat on an upward swing in Georgetown (although the absolute numbers are still relatively low). Specifically Sargent Robinson gave a presentation that included the following chart:Motor vehicle theft is up and continues to largely be a problem associated with delivery drivers. Three of the four car thefts were from such drivers. Thefts generally are up as well, although they still primarily relate to shoplifting from the commercial areas. On the plus side, thefts from vehicles is down 31%.

Additionally, Sgt. Robinson gave us some updates on arrests and progress towards arrests for several incidents. Most notable he stated that MPD has identified a person of interest in connection with a raft of muggings involving Canada Goose jackets, including one incident on 28th St. Hopefully that individual can be found and arrested shortly.

  • Short Term Rentals: We heard from a representative of the new Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection about enforcement of the new rules governing short term rentals, like AirBNBs. The new rules distinguish between homeowners that are physically present with the guests (who may rent out as many nights a year as they want) and those who are not present with the guests (who are limited to 90 nights a year). The agency is focused primarily on making sure that the homes being rented out are licensed in the first place, but they can also enforce the night limit as well. If you have a house near you that is renting out on a short term basis without a license or too many nights (or is just an issue generally) let me know! We can work with the new agency to get the property into compliance.
  • New MacArthur High School: In anticipation of the new DCPS in-boundary high school opening this fall at the old Georgetown Day School location in the Palisades, the ANC passed a resolution asking the city to improve transportation options to the new school. Specifically we echoed ANC 3D and Councilmember Matt Frumin’s requests to increase bus service to the new school and to provide safer pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure between Georgetown and the Palisades.
  • Georgetown Transportation and Access Study: And lastly, the long awaited study that will (hopefully) analyze just about ever aspect of our transportation environment in Georgetown and make recommendations for needed improvements is about to kick off! DDOT representative Ted Van Houten spoke and stated that the consultants running the study should be in place in a matter of weeks and then follow the following schedule:I am participating on the Community Advisory Committee and I am excited to get to work on this! If you have any ideas you want to pitch (no matter how wacky) please come out to the workshops or just email them to me at

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