Photo by Mr. T in DC.
Last night the ANC met for its February session (apparently they have a time machine that made last night actually February). GM couldn’t stay long due to his new paternal responsibilities, but the bits he caught are worth passing on.
The ANC invited the Director of DCRA, Nicholas Majett, to speak about his agency. Majett took his time to describe all the ways in which DCRA touches on DC citizens’ lives. From building permits, to corporation licensing, to inspections, DCRA is likely the agency you need to call when you have a problem.
While Majett’s presentation was interesting, the main draw for Georgetown was the situation with 1424 Wisconsin Ave. This property, which until last year hosted Ashhik clothes, was undergoing construction to become a Z-Burger. But on Thanksgiving day, half the building collapsed. Some have suggested that the cause of the collapsed was unauthorized excavation. Majett, however, suggested that if it was excavation that caused the collapse, it wasn’t unauthorized since the owner had a permit to dig.
Right now the parties seems to be engaged in a blame-sorting exercise. The ANC was a bit alarmed to find out that the structural engineer hired to determine the cause of the collapse was to be hired by the building owner. Tom Birch wondered whether that wasn’t a huge conflict of interest and that won’t the engineer be inclined to say it’s not the fault of the guy who’s paying him. Majett responded that it was the opposite of a conflict of interest since it put the responsibility on the building owner, not the government, to determine the cause. GM’s not quite sure that counts as “the opposite of a conflict of interest”, and the ANC remained skeptical too. They asked Majett to consider using an independent engineer to evaluate the collapse (particularly considering that the building owner in question has a history of building collapses in Georgetown).
After wrapping up the discussion on 1424 Wisconsin Ave., the ANC noted that there was another item on their agenda that touched on DCRA: food trucks. DCRA has proposed regulations governing food trucks, which up to this point have operated under the rules for ice cream trucks. The new regulations would address food trucks more directly and allow them to operate in any legal parking spot, under certain restrictions. Continue reading
The ANC meets next Monday for its February meeting. There’s not much terribly interesting on the agenda, but some items might make it worth showing up for.
One of those interesting topics is 1424 Wisconsin Ave. This is that building that basically collapsed a while back. The building did house Aashik, a clothing store. But it was in the process of being converted into a Z-Burger. Whatever they were doing (and GM hears it was likely illegal excavation), it wasn’t done well. Now the back half of the building is gone, and the neighboring buildings are condemned.
At the ANC meeting, the DCRA Chief Building Official, Rabbiah Sabbakhanon, will be present to discuss the property. It should be an interesting story, both how it happened and what’s going to happen next.
Also on the agenda is our old friend the GU Campus Plan. But don’t get too excited; it’s just an update. And GM can give you a brief preview: the Zoning Commission is meeting to decide the school’s fate on February 9th at 6:30 pm. The meeting is open to the public, but there is no more opportunity for public input. Theoretically the commission is going to discuss the plan and come to a decision, but there is no requirement that they actually come to a final decision that night. But the discussion should at least shed light on the commission’s thinking and how it is likely to decide. Continue reading
Tonight the ANC is meeting for the first time in this futuristically sounding year of 2012. While there are a headache-inducing amount of private projects on the agenda, some more interesting items are near the front and worth coming to see if you’re interested.
The first among those issues is the West Heating Plant (seen above). This gigantic property is being surplused by the federal government and will soon be put out for bids. Some Georgetown-based developers, including Richard Levy, are preparing bids and are vying to take the lead with plans to convert the property to high-end condos. But GM has heard some rumors that the staff of the Old Georgetown Board have made it known that condo-conversion would not be acceptable. This doesn’t leave much in the way of economically viable options for the building, absent some mythical and extremely well-endowed museum that wants to use the cavernous space for art (like GM and others have suggested).
The ANC is not likely to take any particular position or approve any motion. It just likes to take the time to announce big projects like this in a public forum for those that don’t read totally awesome and informative websites…
Photo by ad454.
The ANC met for the final time in 2011 on Monday night (sorry for the delay in the report, but yesterday GM wanted to pump the CAG meeting). The agenda was short and the proceedings efficient, so there’s really not much to report, but here goes.
The biggest item on the agenda was the issue of Glover Park’s planned streetscape improvements. Part of those improvements call for lane reconfiguration, which frightens a lot of people. The fear is that by limiting lanes on Wisconsin Ave., the drivers will take the side streets instead.
As GM reported on Monday, the ANC is concerned about this. Glover Park, however, didn’t take too kindly to the possibility that ANC2E might derail the project. So Chair of the Glover Park ANC, Brian Cohen, showed up at the Georgetown ANC meeting to testify in favor of the changes and to argue that it would not negatively affect Georgetown (DDOT representatives were also at hand to make the same case, but the bureaucratese they used didn’t do a great job selling the project).
In the end the ANC (the Georgetown one, that is) passed a motion simply asking DDOT to keep in mind the possible effects this project could have on Georgetown and to include Georgetown in the discussions going forward. For the record, GM predicted Monday that Commissioner Bill Starrells wanted to “derail” the project; in fairness GM must report that Starrells since assured GM that he never intended to try to stop the project, and just wanted to air his concerns about the project. Continue reading
Tonight ANC2E will meet for the final time in 2011. And the most important item on the agenda doesn’t even directly relate to Georgetown.
As you may have read in the Current, Glover Park has worked with DDOT to reconfigure Wisconsin Ave. through that neighborhood. These changes came in response to two recent pedestrian fatalities and a serious injury, all of which have come on the stretch of Wisconsin Ave. through Glover Park. And in particular, the stretch of Wisconsin south of W Pl. is very dangerous to pedestrians because it is unnecessarily wide, which encourages cars to drive unnecessary fast, and it has several crosswalks without crossing lights. While increased enforcement can make a minor difference in driver behavior, the most effective way to change drivers’ behavior is to change the road. This is the approach that Glover Park’s leaders took.
So they worked with DDOT to develop a plan to widen the sidewalks (which are way too narrow) and limit Wisconsin Ave. to one lane in each direction. Parking would be limited during rush hour to provide an extra traffic lane during those hours. (Update: The changes are even better. They’ll include a traffic median and some left turn lanes. Here are the plans: http://anc3b.org/issues/roadway-streetscape-pedestrian-safety/) These are changes that have been public and long discussed among Glover Park residents and leaders, and its perfectly reasonable for Glover Park to take these measures in response to the clear and present hazard created by the current situation. Continue reading
Over the last couple months, Georgetown University has been rolling out a series of efforts aimed to address the quality of life complaints that were aired at the spring’s campus plan Zoning Commission hearings. GM is personally convinced that GU has its eye on the upcoming hearings on the campus plan as it introduces these initiatives (which doesn’t mean they’re not good initiative, just that they’re not motivated by neighborly kindness). The idea being that it will argue that it is being proactive to address the neighbor’s concerns and thus the Zoning Commission shouldn’t take the draconian step of demanding GU either build on-campus housing or obtain housing outside 20007 for all undergrads by 2015, as the Office of Planning requested.
To undercut this argument, the ANC just issued a supplemental submission to the Zoning Commission. The ANC writes:
GU’s grudging, small-scale responses to community concerns throughout this case have been disappointing. Instead of responding meaningfully to Chairman Hood‟s suggestion to the University that it propose truly new, large, and effective approaches to the neighborhood issues, GU has instead come back with small-scale tweaks to existing off campus student programs.
The ANC takes a particularly cynical view of GU’s quality of life measures:
GU reserves the right to modify any and all of its student conduct measures at any time… And GU certainly cannot expect us to believe that any 11th-hour clamp-down it may have attempted over the past several months – in the spotlight of an impending Zoning Commission decision – will or could be sustained by GU over the long run. Continue reading
Photo by Thisisbossi.
Next Tuesday (NOTE THE DAY CHANGE DUE TO HALLOWEEN), ANC2E will meet for its November session. One thing you may not know about ANC meetings if you don’t attend them is that normally the most interesting stuff is right at the beginning. And this month, that rule continues to apply.
This month, in this slot are two developments that have grabbed attention recently: the 7-11 expansion and the West Heating Plant.
GM’s not sure what the ANC is going to have to say about either of the two items. The 7-11 doesn’t sell alcohol and isn’t subject to a voluntary agreement, so it’s not like it needs approval to expand into the P St. It will ultimately need OGB review for whatever signage or awnings they ask for, but that’s probably not what the ANC wants to talk about now. Either way, could be interesting.
As for the West Heating Plant, this is something a bit more in the ANC’s wheelhouse. They probably just want to make the public aware the the GSA is planning to sell it. GM’s heard nothing about any possible bidders, but it’s still early.
Another early treat: DC U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen and two of his AUSAs will speak. Last month: the Mayor. This month: the U.S. Attorney. How can they top this in December?
Among the other items, only one jumps out at GM as being potentially interesting. A new restaurant called M Cafe has applied for a liquor license. They propose to be located at 3236 Prospect St. Here’s what the application says:
Contemporary bistro serving Italian food and cuisine, including salads and desserts. No Entertainment provided. Sidewalk Cafe with 50 seats. Seating capacity is 120. Total occupancy load is 140.
The outdoor cafe part of the plan sounds like it could be controversial, since Prospect street is one of those battleground streets where bars and neighbors are seemingly always battling each other. Look for round one to start at the meeting. Continue reading
Last year, Georgetown voted overwhelmingly for Adrian Fenty (84%) over Vincent Gray (14%) for mayor. And by most accounts, Jack Evans is somewhat on the outs with Gray for supporting Fenty. But you wouldn’t know either of those two things by attending last night’s ANC meeting.
In a rare occurrence, the mayor stopped by ANC2E’s meeting last night. He was introduced as some length by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans (who does stop by ANC meetings once or twice a year). Despite the reported chilliness between the two politicians, last night it was all warmth.
And maybe it was simply out of respect for the office, but the crowd was similarly warm to Gray despite not voting for him, even giving him two standing ovations. Bygones were bygones last night.
As for the substance, GM posted the audio below if you want to listen, but in summation it was basically a typical stump-like speech touting the budget that was passed and some of his accomplishments in expanding universal pre-K and limiting special education costs, among other things.
But this being ANC2E, it wouldn’t be a community event without the issue of students being put to the forefront. But on this occasion, it was actually the students doing the pushing. Two students stood and asked a question during the mayor’s Q&A. The first asked him to weigh in on the controversial ANC redistricting. Gray punted, but then Evans stood up and basically explained the process that occurred and how it was open to everyone who wanted to participate. The message between the lines was “hey, you didn’t get enough people on the committee to draw the map as you wanted, so that’s why you’re disappointed.” Continue reading
North east Georgetown (which was historically called Georgetown Heights) doesn’t get talked about a whole lot at ANC meetings. There aren’t any bars there. There are hardly any students. And those two issues alone account for a large percentage of most ANC discussions.
Well next meeting that changes. Northeast Georgetown is the subject of each one of the New Business items on the agenda (well, 4 out of 5 if you don’t count Rose Park as northeast Georgetown, which it isn’t quite).
Here’s what they are:
- The Hurt Home is on the agenda to discuss widening the curb cut to the alley. Some neighbors think this is essential since the alley itself will be widened. DDOT, however, has said widening the curb cut isn’t appropriate.
- The Friendly Estate was deemed to be vacant and blighted by the city, resulting in a gigantic tax bill. The new owner wants it reclassified back to occupied and not blighted. It’s not clear whether they will either: A) occupy it or B) make it not actually blighted, before they want the reclassification.
- Proposed changes to late night bus schedules for D2 and G2 (OK G2 isn’t really northeast Georgetown either). The ANC has successful prevented cutbacks in the past, but GM’s not sure they can do that now.
- 3029 Q St. apparently wants a curb cut, which both the ANC and DDOT has generally opposed.
- Rose Park Master Plan
And that’s all just the new business! MRP Realty will be back with modified plans for their overhaul of Washington Harbour. That long promised boutique hotel on 31st St. will present its first plans. And, as always, plenty more.
Here’s the draft agenda: Continue reading
As reported by The Hoya, Georgetown University is moving forward with a plan for a large new athletic training facility. The plans call for a 125,000 square foot building that will, according to the Hoya ” house practice courts, locker rooms, team meeting rooms and coaches’ offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs. Locker rooms for men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse as well as weight training facilities and training room areas for all varsity athletes are also slated to be built.”
The building has actually been on the drawing board for quite a while. It was even included in Georgetown’s 2000 campus plan. It is included again in GU’s most recent proposed plan. The proposal calls for the building to be constructed where the tennis courts now stand:
GM has heard that GU intends to rebuild the tennis courts on top of the new building.
GU is coming before the Old Georgetown Board next month for approvals. Which means they’ll be stopping by the ANC a few days before. And it wouldn’t be a GU matter before the ANC if it didn’t somehow get wrapped up in the campus plan. But this time it’s actually not a stretch! Continue reading