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by Borderstan.com — June 27, 2013 at 10:00 am 7 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Sex"

The Men’s Parties club was on the second floor of 1618 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan may vote to oppose the demolition of 1618 14th Street NW, former site of the sex club, “Men Parties.”

At last night’s meeting, ANC 2F’s Community Development Committee (CDC) voted 6-0 to recommend the full ANC not support an application to DC’s Historical Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for a raze permit for the building. The demolition requires permission from the HPRB because the building is within the boundaries of the Fourteenth Street Historic District.

There was a death at the club in 2009 which led DC to file suit to close the club.

Jeff Owens appeared before the committee to plead the case of the building’s owner, Stephen Jaffe. Reports indicate Jaffe has been the owner since before the 2009 incident.

Owens said the building had been gutted and is now exposed to the elements. He also said the building’s perimeter wall is buckling and the floor joists are gone. Neighborhood residents testified the building is neglected and some windows are open permanently.

Owens also said there is a tentative plan for a new building on the site which would have retail on the first floor and apartments above.

Neighborhood residents testified the building has been an eyesore for years and there were many unsuccessful attempts by neighbors to do something about it. One neighbor brought up the owner’s responsibility for the club and the 2009 death.

“He [Jaffe] knows nothing about that,” Owens said.

Members of the committee came out strongly in favor of preserving the building.

“This is the type of case that historic preservation laws have been designed to protect,” said one committee member.

“This is an absolute case of demolition by neglect,” said another.

“It’s a contributing building,” said committee chair Walt Cain, ANC commissioner for district 02.

The matter may be next considered at the regular monthly meeting of ANC 2F. This is scheduled for Wednesday, July 10, at 7 pm, at the Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW.

A notice that an application to raze the building had been filed first appeared at the property in April of this year.

by Borderstan.com — June 25, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

At its second listening session on the East Dupont liquor license moratorium last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont released a list of moratorium-related questions and asked concerned residents to submit their comments electronically on all or some of them. The group email address for the commissioners is: 17thStCommissioners [at] dupontcircleanc dot net.

"17"

Map of Dupont East Moratorium Zone from ANC2B (Courtesy ANC 2B)

The Dupont East liquor license moratorium is often called the 17th Street Moratorium.

The Questions

  1. How has the 17th Street moratorium positively or negatively impacted your vision for the neighborhood?
  2. Do you have concerns about licensed establishments in the neighborhood and do you think a moratorium appropriately and effectively addresses them?
  3. What is the single primary concern in the neighborhood that a moratorium is currently addressing?
  4. If restrictions on the number of restaurant licenses were lifted, do you think the ANC should implement a policy attempting to limit the operations of new restaurants, including hours of operation?
  5. What are your specific expectations/desires if the moratorium expires?
  6. How do you suggest the ANC vote in this matter?
  7. If you favor letting the moratorium expire, are there any restrictions that you would want the ANC to attempt to achieve by other means, e.g., size, outdoor service hours, indoor service hours, security plan? Any restrictions that would be specific to particular addresses?
  8. If you favor extending the moratorium as it is, what specific concerns do you have about what would happen in the absence of a moratorium?
  9. If you have lived near 17th Street or have visited 17th Street for a long time, describe how things have changed since the moratorium went into effect in 1990. Describe specific situations that have been improved or not allowed to increase as the result of the moratorium.
  10. If you are willing to see additional restaurants or no restrictions on the number of restaurants, are there any restrictions that you would want the ANC to attempt to achieve by other means, e.g., size, outdoor service hours, indoor service hours, security plan? Any restrictions that would be specific to particular addresses?
  11. Identify vacant retail spaces in the East Dupont Moratorium Zone (see map) and describe what sort of occupant you would like to see and your ideas about how residents could assist the realization of your vision?

Monday-Night Meeting

The listening session was sparsely attended. Many seats were empty. I heard four people who were not familiar faces from previous meetings on various liquor license moratoriums express their opinions. Of these, one declared himself for preserving the moratorium as is. He identified himself as a long-term resident of the area, a profession economist, and a former ANC Commissioner.

“Passing laws and changing policies is not always the answer,” he said.

Two newer residents, both women, said they wished to see the moratorium scrapped entirely.

One man remarked on the longevity of the 23-year-old moratorium. “We need to hang it up if we haven’t thought of alternatives by now,” he said.

Fred Moosally, Director of DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), gave a short talk on liquor license moratoriums at the beginning of the meeting.

About the timing of ANC 2B’s decision, Moosally said, “The sooner we get something, the better.”

If no action is taken, the moratorium will expire on September 23.

“The Board won’t decide to extend [the moratorium] without a request,” Moosally said. This means ANC 2B would have to get any request to ABRA quickly after its regular monthly meeting in August, when it plans to address the matter.

Community groups may also file independent requests to extend the moratorium.

At the May listening session, there was talk of scrapping the East Dupont moratorium for restaurant licenses only. As a result, at this session, there was a discussion of how to prevent restaurant licensees from turning their establishments into de facto nightclubs or taverns. Moosally said ABRA was the enforcer for violations of license terms, and could issues citations and fines. ABRA will also send investigators into restaurant licensees to check if food is really available, if they receive complaints.

However, Moosally admitted it is often a lengthly and time-consuming process to prove restaurant licensees are not operating according to the terms of their license. Restaurant licensees cannot have more than 45% of their total revenues from alcohol sales, but ABRA requires four full quarters of data to take action.

The Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to an invitation to address the meeting.

ANC 2B Commissioners in attendance were: Kevin O’Connor, 2B-02, Stephanie Maltz, 2B-03, Kishan Putta, 2B-04, Abigail Nichols, 2B-05, Leo Dwyer, 2B-07, and Noah Smith, 2B-09.

by Borderstan.com — June 24, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"17"

Map of Dupont East Moratorium Zone. (Courtesy ANC 2B)

The liquor licensing (ABRA Policy) committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont will hold a meeting tonight, June 24. Time is 7 pm in the ground-floor ballroom of the Chastleton Cooperative (1701 16th Street NW).

The meeting will be the second of three listening sessions on the possible extension of the East Dupont Circle Moratorium Zone, also known as the 17th Street Moratorium. The ANC asks that members of the public come and let ANC commissioners know their opinion on the moratorium, which is set to expire September 23.

Representatives of the Metropolitan Police Department and DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) have also been invited to attend the meeting.

According to a new blog post on ANC2B’s website, the moratorium was put in place in 1990. It was renewed in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. It currently limits the liquor-selling establishments in the zone to two liquor stories, two grocery stores, 16 restaurants, and two taverns. No nightclub licenses are permitted in the moratorium zone.

There are currently five liquor license moratoriums in DC, including East Dupont Circle. No liquor license moratorium, once in effect, has ever been completely repealed.

After consulting community opinion, the ANC may make a recommendation to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on this matter. The ANC may recommend continuing the moratorium or modifying it. Under law, the ABC Board must give ANC opinions “great weight,” but it is not obligated to agree with ANC opinion.

ABC Board decisions on liquor license moratoriums are normally approved by the DC Council and signed into law without modification.

At a meeting of ANC 2B’s liquor licensing affairs committee meeting on June 19, ANC 2B Committee Chair Kevin O’Connor said, based on his observation of the ANC Board’s reaction to the recent debate on the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium, the Board would be unlikely to agree with a resolution to continue the moratorium without modification.

“An ‘as is’ moratorium would be dead on arrival,” he said.

If the ANC decides to let the moratorium expire, it may simply choose to take no action. However, community groups may independently petition the ABC Board for an extension of the moratorium.

At the previous listening session on May 22, opinion was divided on the moratorium, with nearly equal numbers of speakers for and against. A compromise solution to lift the moratorium on new restaurant liquor licenses only was discussed.

If you can’t make the meeting, the ANC is also encouraging people to send their comments by email to 17thStCommissioners [at] dupontcircleanc dot net.

There will be a final listening session on Wednesday, August 7. It is planned that the committee’s draft proposal will be made public at this meeting. After further public comment, the full ANC will then consider the proposal at its regular monthly meeting the following week, Wednesday, August 14.

by Borderstan.com — June 19, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.

"Food Truck"

The Fojol Bros. food truck. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Just a couple of weeks after the DC Council rejected proposed regulations on the food truck industry, the subject is back in the news. The Council met yesterday to approve a number of regulations that had been amended since last being rejected.

After dragging on for four years, these new regulations may finally put this ongoing debate to an end.

What Was Approved

  • As Borderstan noted when these regulations were last up for approval, one proposal was to create “mobile roadway vending zones.” These zones would be handed out to various food trucks through a lottery process on a monthly basis and would apply to the most popular and busy areas around the city.
  • These zones and this lottery process were approved, but instead of requiring food trucks without access to the zoned areas to stay 500 feet away, they must now stay only 200 feet away.
  • Another proposal was that food trucks outside the zones would only be able to set up at sidewalks with at least 10 feet of unobstructed space. The amount of space has now been dropped to just six feet of unobstructed space, which is the same regulation for outdoor restaurants and cafes.
  • Councilmember Tommy Wells also added an amendment clarifying that “parking meters and similar small structures are not considered obstructions.”
  • Another amendment from Councilmember Wells reduced a fine for expired parking meters from $2,000 to $50, which is the same amount that other street vendors face. That fine is doubled for repeat offenses.

Moving Forward

The passing of these amendments was considered a positive thing by both the DC Food Truck Association and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Neither side won on every count, but neither did they lose, and so a compromise seemed the best that either organization was going to come away with. At least now both groups will be able to take in the new regulations and move forward.

All that is left is for Mayor Gray to put his signature on these new regulations. Given the long history of this story, let’s all keep our fingers crossed that nothing happens between now and then (though seriously, nothing should happen between now and then).

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by Borderstan.com — June 18, 2013 at 10:00 am 3 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Bike"

15th Street NW Bike lane. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will repave the two-way bicycle lane on 15th Street NW.

The news was announced at the monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont on Wednesday, July 12. The repaving will be finished by the end of the summer, according to Commissioner Noah Smith, 2B-09, The path runs through Smith’s district.

The bike lanes are in serious need of assistance, with southbound lanes between Massachusetts and K Streets often resembling a washboard.

On his website, Smith adds that there will also be new signs and markings on the path. The news came after the last November’s ANC 2B resolution calling for improvements to the path, and subsequent lobbying of the DC Council.

Smith has also announced that, after ANC prodding, DDOT has agreed to a request to coordinate the pedestrian walk signals through Dupont Circle. It will no longer be necessary for pedestrians to stand on the median between four lanes of traffic when crossing into or out of the circle.

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by Borderstan.com — June 18, 2013 at 8:00 am 2 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Taqueria Nacional"

Taqueria Nacional at 1409 T Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

At its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, June 12, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont endorsed the request of Taqueria Nacional restaurant (1409 T Street NW) for outdoor seating. Tacqueria Nacional opened its doors on May 15.

ANC 2B approved a resolution supporting the public space application with a proviso saying the outdoor seating have shorter hours of operation than the indoor portion of the restaurant.

The public space can operate from 10 am until 11 pm Monday to Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday. Taqueria Nacional has an fountain in its outdoor area.

Elwin Ferris, Secretary of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance told the ANC the restaurant should remember to drain the fountain every evening at the close of business. The neighborhood has a rat problem, Ferris said, and an open fountain would give the vermin population an addition place to find water.

Restaurant management said they currently drain the fountain every night and intend to continue doing so. Drunk passersby using the fountain as a urinal was a concern, the management said.

A neighbor testified the fountain is drained nightly and covered.

The ANC voted to include a clause in its resolution noting with approval this practice, in the hopes it will continue.

The public space use application now goes to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for final approval.

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by Borderstan.com — June 17, 2013 at 10:00 am 2 Comments

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.

The following interview is with Francisco “Paco” Fimbres, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Engagement. A longtime resident of DC, Borderstan recently caught up with Fimbres to discuss why he makes his home here in DC, what changes he has seen occurring in our city and what it’s like working directly for Mayor Vincent Gray.

"Fimbres"

Paco Fimbres (Courtesy Paco Fimbres)

Borderstan: Are you still living in Foggy Bottom? Do you make it over to the Borderstan area often?

Fimbres: I have been living in the West End-Foggy Bottom area since 2009. It is an excellent neighborhood with a great diversity of people. Our ANC Commissioner Rebecca Coder is fantastic. We are very lucky to have her serve our SMD.  Other great neighborhood assets are Gary Griffith and Asher Corson both very passionate about our neighborhood.

We have Trader Joes, Whole Foods, GWU Hospital, GU, Meiwah, RIS, Rasika and so many other great spots. However, I lived from 2007-2009 on 16th Street across from the JCC and miss the neighborhood tremendously. I am amazed and grateful for the transformation of the 17th to 14th Street corridor and the rebirth of Logan and Shaw. Amazing and exciting things are happening citywide.

My wife and I visit Borderstan often. Some of our favorite people and beloved friends live in Borderstan. Also Le Diplomate and Pearl Dive, two of our favorite venues, can be found in Borderstan.

Borderstan: What is it like working for Mayor Gray?

Fimbres: Honestly, it is a true honor and pleasure. I consider it a great responsibility and privilege to serve our city and fellow neighbors, while working for the Mayor of DC.

Vincent Gray is emotionally mature, deliberate and thoughtful in his decision making process; he is also charming, innovative, detailed oriented and has the right temperament for the job. No kidding, he is the first one in and the last one out at the office. On a human and personal level, I could not have asked for a better boss and Mayor; he is a truly decent and kind man.  I don’t know if he will run for reelection, but Vince Gray has earned a second term. Just look around our city, we are moving forward in the right direction by leaps and bounds.

I also work daily with Stephen Glaude, the most important and key member of the Mayor’s cabinet in my personal opinion. Steve is the Mayor’s Community Affairs Director and my direct supervisor. Steve has all of the affinity group offices under his responsibility like OLA, African Affairs, Women’s Policy, Clean City, LGBT Affairs, Asian Pacific Islander Affairs and others. Steve has been a great mentor and teacher. I also enjoy working with Daryl Levine, Sedrick Muhammad, Sheila Bunn, Chris Murphy and Pedro Ribeiro all good people and solid professionals. The Mayor has assembled a great team of committed, dedicated and professional individuals. Still my two favorite ladies in the DC Government have to be Chief Lanier and Assistant Chief Groomes. Both are just awesome.

Borderstan: What exactly does your current role as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Engagement entail? And what is it that those who report to you do?

Fimbres: I direct, manage and coordinate all citywide neighborhood engagement efforts. We serve residents as their link between their Mayor and city government agencies. The Mayor’s Ward Liaisons are under my direct supervision and management, but again we are lucky to work in the same office space as our leaders Mayor Gray and Steve Glaude — they both lead by example. Essentially, we are the Mayor’s go-to folks for concerns, complaints, questions, neighborhood issues and challenges.

No issue is too small or too complex, we are committed to helping residents navigate through our government’s agencies and getting results in a timely, efficient and satisfactory fashion. We are results oriented and accountable to the residents directly, since they contact the Mayor and we act on his behalf to resolve their issues quickly. It is a 24/7 job that is not for the weak of heart, thin-skinned or passive public servant.

Demands and challenges across our city are great, but we pride ourselves on having the experience, background and will to get things done. We especially like to get difficult cases. However, there are times, when we cannot help or our agencies have exhausted their talents and resources to assist our fellow neighbors; this is when we suffer along with the residents. However, we have complete and uncompromising support from Mayor Gray and city agencies.

Ward Liaisons attend nightly, weekly, and monthly meetings/events. They represent the Mayor at graduations, funerals and special events. They attend Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) meetings, canvass neighborhoods, hold office hours, conduct neighborhood walk-throughs with the MPD and the Mayor and they have core team meetings with government agencies.  We also serve as first responders during some emergencies. We share information with agencies for their action based on information provided while visiting their respective wards and neighborhood stakeholders.

Borderstan: You’ve been working in/with Ward 2 for some time. How have you seen the neighborhoods changing?

Fimbres: Yes, the changes have all been positive. We need to keep fighting together for a safe, clean, livable and economically vibrant city and ward. Mayor Gray, during his tenure, has been very attentive and engaged with Ward 2 residents and leaders, Councilman Jack Evans and his team have also played a pivotal role in the current conditions of Ward 2. Finally, a special shout out to all of those unsung and unpaid elected officials (ANCs), bloggers and other civic-minded stake holders, who live and work in W2.

Borderstan: What do you think is the biggest issue not being addressed right now in the city?

Fimbres: In my personal opinion, the biggest challenge for our city is that all of us, together and collectively, ensure that we not only reduce but also eliminate poverty, hunger and unemployment across the city’s eight wards. There are efforts past and current that have attempted to reduce/eradicate poverty, hunger, unemployment and homelessness, but have yet to truly accomplish this crucial objective for DC.  Also we need to keep working on our education system. New, comfortable and beautiful buildings are important, but excellent teachers and committed/involved parents are essential.

We also need to achieve budget autonomy and full voting rights in Congress. This is important for our self-respect and dignity as a people. Another important matter is that we need to support and care for our children, youth and seniors. Finally more affordable housing needs to become available, so that our first responders, police and fire heroes can afford to live in the city they so passionately defend daily.

How can we be the nation’s capital and continue to see developing country issues in some parts of our city? We need more public-private partnerships. The for-profit sector needs to step it up and support non-profit organizations with more fervor.

Borderstan: You came to DC to attend American University in 1996 but you also left to work and travel overseas. What brought you back here? Why DC?

Fimbres: My family still works and resides between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego — but simply put, DC is home. This is where I met my wife and we would like to raise our children here. Therefore my commitment to DC is not only professional, but very personal. I would like to see DC one day be considered like Paris or another of the world’s unique capitals. What makes DC great is not only its rich history, beautiful architecture and current events, but it’s people, the native Washingtonians, and all of those who have moved here to live and work.

I was taught from a very young age, that there is no substitute for hard and intelligent work, but one must also aspire to be the best in their trade. My vocation in life first and foremost is to be an excellent husband and father, but my second is to be a great public servant – a true and sincere servant and leader. My life continues to be a work in progress and I am blessed to serve my fellow residents.

Borderstan: Having traveled and worked overseas, and having worked for a number of presidential campaigns, do you have national or international ambitions beyond DC? What is in the future for a Francisco Fimbres?

Fimbres: I am a firm believer that public service does not begin or end with an election, it starts at home and should transcend into one’s own community. At this time, I am content and honored to work in the City Government. I would like to continue serving Mayor Gray and my fellow residents across the city’s eight wards.

As for the future, time and circumstances will determine next steps. However, my love for DC and its people is great, my passion for public service ever present, and my need to serve well and effectively are all part of my make-up as a human being.

Having worked for two Mayors, I am blessed for these experiences. The great, tireless, passionate and committed people I have met in the city government, my ONE team, supervisors, mentors, neighborhood leaders and beyond inspire me to continue fighting for the residents of Washington, DC every day.

Therefore, I don’t foresee a future where public service is not part of my daily existence.

An earlier interview with another participant in local government, Andrew Huff, can be found here.

The opinions and views expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the city government.

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by Borderstan.com — June 17, 2013 at 9:00 am 14 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"kareoke"

Policy on 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Raj Multhani, manager of Policy Restaurant (1904 14th Street NW), is seeking to terminate an agreement because he says it puts the restaurant at a competitive disadvantage.

“This agreement has hamstrung this establishment,” Multhani told the regular monthly meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Committee 2B/Dupont on June 12. ANC 2B voted to protest termination of the agreement when the matter comes before DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

Liquor-serving establishments in the Borderstan area normally enter into “settlement agreements” (formerly known as “voluntary agreements”) with local ANCs, community groups and neighbors.

These agreements normally may deal with the hours of operation of the establishment (both inside and outside if applicable), the time and frequency of garbage pickup, vermin control, valet parking, outdoor seating and other details.

Policy Restaurant’s settlement agreement is with ANC 2B, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and a group of five neighbors. Since Policy has opened, many restaurants with more liberal settlement agreements have started up nearby.

“Things have changed around us,” Multhani said. “No other establishment has the restrictions that Policy has.”

Multhani and his attorney talked about the ways that their current settlement agreement limits Policy’s ability to operate. Policy cannot expand into its basement space. It must restrict the hours when it can receive deliveries to an even narrow period than that allowed by law. It cannot offer live music.

The most contentious issue, however, seems to be hours of operation. The current settlement agreement specifically lists Policy’s hours of operation, which are also the same hours that restaurants are normally allowed to operate. However, several times a year the DC government gives liquor licensees leave to stay open later on special occasions, most frequently on the Sunday evening of three-day weekends.

When Policy wishes to stay open as late as its neighbors, it must seek out all of the parties to their settlement agreement and get their permission. Some parties have refused to give permission.

Elwyn Ferris, Secretary of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance, appeared as a representative of the group of five neighbors.

“It is vitally important that the voluntary agreement stay in place,” Ferris said.

Commissioner Noah Smith, 2B-09, proposed the motion to protest the termination of the settlement agreement, but said that he hoped he could help negotiate an agreement which is satisfactory to all sides.

Policy Restaurant opened near the corner of T and 14th Street in 2009. It has sponsored benefits for Haiti and Toys for Tots.

The final vote was 8-0 to protest the termination of the settlement agreement. Commissioner Mike Silverstein, 2B-06, recused himself from the vote because his position on the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board; Silverstein recuses himself on all ANC 2B liquor licensing matters.

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by Borderstan.com — June 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm 0

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.

"DC Flag"

Celebrate the third annual DC Flag Day. (Luis Gomez Photos)

As many of you living in DC already know, District of Columbia residents have neither representation in Congress nor representation on the American flag. You are probably well aware of this because you live or work here and the issue seems to come up frequently. But outside of Washington, or the DMV if we’re being generous, this issue is less than a blip on most people’s radar, at best.

And so today, we find ourselves on the third annual DC Flag Day. The first thing that DC Flag Day organizers are asking you to do is to change your Facebook photo to a picture of the DC flag or a picture of you with the DC flag. If you head over to their Facebook page or the Facebook pages for LetUsVoteDC or Neighbors United for DC Statehood, you can show support by “liking” their pages, but you might also fins some photos that you’ll be able to use for your profile picture. Their goal with this particular initiative is to raise awareness across the country and the world of an issue that many people are unaware of.

DC Flag Day Rally

Later today, DC Flag Day will be holding a rally in Dupont Circle. The information for that is as follows:

  • When: Friday, June 14, 2013, 6:00 pm
  • Where: Dupont Circle
  • Program: Shadow Senator Paul Strauss
    Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
  • Sponsors: LUV DC, DC Vote, LuxuryDC, We Deserve Statehood
  • LUV DC will be distributing DC flag stickers and temporary DC flag tattoos at the event, which is expected to draw a large number of DC residents. Show off you DC pride by wearing DC flag apparel, DC flag tattoos (both real and temporary) and waving DC flags. There will also be an unveiling of a DC Voting Rights banner that residents are crowdfundin. The 16-foot banner will be hung across a street in DC on a later date if the fundraising goals are met by midnight on Friday June 14th. If you’d like to support this effort, you can do so here.

About DC Flag Day

DC Flag Day was born back in 2011 by Allyson Behnke and Brooke Lynn Locke. As Allyson says, “DC has a rapidly growing population of highly educated people, small business owners and urbanites. We also have a lot of longtime locals who love this beautiful city… but no one who lives in Washington, D.C. has representation in Congress or on the American Flag. Back in 2011 I had friends who got arrested in the name of DC Statehood, including my good friend Brooke Lynn Locke. We decided to found DC Flag Day to bring awareness to DC’s lack of representation.” As Allyson also pointed out in an email, “The iconic DC flag symbol consists of the bold ‘two bars and three stars’ modeled after none other than George Washington’s family crest. Washington fought against taxation without representation. Ironically, two centuries later, citizens in Washington, DC have yet to win that battle.”

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by Borderstan.com — June 13, 2013 at 8:00 am 8 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Compass Rose"

Compass Rose still fighting opposition at 1346 T Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Rose Previte and David Greene, aspiring proprietors of the bar/restaurant Compass Rose (1346 T Street NW), will try to take another slow painful step toward operation next Tuesday. That’s when the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) will hear the request of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) for a decision that will effectively prevent Compass Rose from opening.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street weighed in on the side of Compass Rose against the SDCA at its regular monthly meeting last Thursday, June 6. A motion by Commissioner Jeremy Leffler, 1B-02, to write a letter to the BZA supporting Compass Rose passed unanimously. Leffler is also the chair of ANC 1B’s liquor licensing affairs committee.

Previte and Greene announced their intention to open Compass Rose in January. They received the go-ahead for their liquor license in April in spite of resistance from the SDCA.

The SDCA is also the petitioner for a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U Street area.

The story of the SDCA’s second front against Compass Rose is a complicated saga of the Uptown Arts-Mixed Use (ARTS) Overlay District, a zone created by the DC government in the hopes of encouraging development on the 14th and U Street corridors. This zoning overlay was supposed to limit the size and number of liquor licensees by limiting the frontage of liquor-licensees on any block to 50 percent.

The SDCA contends ANC1B and DC authorities have been deaf to its appeals to enforce the Overlay District, and more than one block in the area exceeds the 50 percent limit.

“The ANC has, on multiple occasions, discussed tools and other solutions to address the over concentration of liquor licenses (as opposed to a moratorium). When they had an opportunity to support the use of tools and solutions such as the enforcement of the ARTs Overlay, they refused to do so,” Sterling said in an email.

I am not a lawyer but, as far as I can tell from looking at the documents, there are two major points of contention. They are:

  • Is the ARTS Overlay District intended to apply only to businesses facing 14th Street, or does the district wrap around the corner of T Street? If the latter is the case, then Compass Rose, which will face T Street, will be subject to their restrictions.
  • Assuming the district wraps around to include T Street, does the total frontage of the area include more than 50 percent liquor licensees? In this case, there is a disagreement about whether the nearby Source Theater (1835 14th Street) is considered a liquor licensee for the purpose of frontage calculation. The Source Theater has a liquor license, but its primary use is not as an eating or drinking establishment, so DC authorities have ruled it should not count toward the frontage limit. The SDCA disagrees. If the Source Theater is not included in the frontage calculation, Compass Rose may open without exceeding the 50 percent limit.

“If the Board decides to deliberate, they would have 90 days to make a decision. We’ve already invested tens of thousands of dollars. As a tiny business, we watch every cent. Every day we are delayed and can’t open, it becomes harder. Three more months could be devastating,” Previte said in an email.

The public hearing concerning the SDCA’s petition will take place on Tuesday, June 18, at 1pm, at the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment, 441 4th Street NW.

Documents relating to the case can be viewed at the Interactive Zoning Information System of Office of Zoning by entering case number 18568 into the search bar.

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by Borderstan.com — June 10, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

"Evans"

Councilmember Jack Evans launches campaign for mayor of DC. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) officially announced his candidacy for DC mayor on Saturday, June 8. Evans has represented the Dupont-Logan area on the DC Council since 1991 when he first won a special election to fill the seat. (See Jack Evans Dishes on Three Decades of Public Service.) The date for the 2014 Democratic primary, and other party primaries, has not been set.

Evans made his announcement outdoors at the corner of 14th and Q Streets NW in front of the newly opened Le Diplomate restaurant. It was a fitting backdrop for the candidate, who told the crowd, “This is one of the new restaurants on 14th Street… that has transformed DC into one of the most desirable cities in America.” Evans spoke of DC’s transformation in the past decade and talked of how to make it “one of the great cities in the world.”

Incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray has not said whether he will seek a second term. However, Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) is already in the race as is Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6).  It is Evans’ second run for mayor; he was a candidate in the 1998 Democratic primary, which was won by former two-term Mayor Anthony Williams. Evans was re-elected to sixth full term on the Council in 2012.

Evans emphasized that he was committed to “preserving” the foundations of DC while “transforming” it into a world-class city. He spoke of assisting, educating and helping DC residents for the new jobs brought by DC’s rapid development. He said that in terms of education that DC needs a “school to career pathway” that focuses on DC’s “vital industries.”

“Change is difficult. It can also be a good thing,” Evans said.

Ward 2 includes most of Borderstan (Dupont-Logan) west of 11th Street and south of U Street NW, and extends to Georgetown, the Potomac and the Capitol.

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by Borderstan.com — June 10, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Development"

Site of proposed apartments on 1400 block of Church street NW. (Luis GOmez Photos)

At its regular monthly meeting Wednesday night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted on an unusual residential development on Church Street

The full ANC concurred with last month’s Community Development Committee recommendation to support the application by Brook Rose Development for zoning relief on its proposed development at 1456, 1458 and 1460 Church Street NW. The new apartment buildings, as planned, will contain 37 rental units. The size of each unit will be 250 to 400 square feet, and will rent for $1800 to $2000 per month.

An unusual aspect of the development is that tenants will be required by the terms of their lease to refrain from applying for a Residential Parking Permit (RPP). Applying for an RPP will be grounds for termination of the lease.

It is possible to get information about RPP applications from the DC government through a Freedom of Information act request. Otherwise, DC authorities were “reluctant” to give out this information.

Commissioner John Fanning, 2F-04, had concerns about the monitoring, reporting, oversight and enforcement of this part of the lease agreement.

“I think that we need to have some clearer oversight,” Fanning said.

Commissioner Cain said the developers had promised to report to the ANC on a quarterly basis, and might be open to more frequent reporting if asked. Cain also said there was no enforcement mechanism.

“We’re just going to take their word for it,” Fanning concluded.

There was a discussion of the limits of ANC authority to make and enforce agreements, and also the future of parking regulation in the light of planned changes in DC zoning regulations that will essentially eliminate the requirement for parking in new construction.

The final vote was 7-0 in favor of support the application for zoning relief, with Fanning abstaining.

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by Borderstan.com — June 7, 2013 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Evans"

Ward  2 Councilmember Jack Evans. (Luis Gomez Photos)

DC Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) will come back to the heart of 14th Street to announce his candidacy for DC Mayor tomorrow morning, Saturday, June 8. Then he’ll be hanging around to participate in the Capital Pride Parade, the culminating event of Capital Pride Week, according to Evans’ Facebook page.

Go ahead and get your picture taken with him – you know you want to do it.

Evans-spotting: Where to Go

Evans’ official declaration will take place at 10am in front of newly-opened Le Diplomate Restaurant at 14th and Q Streets NW. Evans has said the choice of location highlights the renaissance of the Logan Circle area.

The Capital Pride Parade will start at 4:30pm at the corner of P and 22nd Streets. It is expected to last three hours. The end point will be at R and 14th Streets.

Evans and the Local Issues

Evans has a long history of ties to the area. His most recent City Council campaign was headquartered was at 1402 14th Street NW, near the corner of Rhode Island Avenue.

In 2012, Evans opposed the proposed closing of Garrison Elementary School at 1200 S Street. In January 2013, the decision was reversed. Evans is also on record as supporting the prompt and complete renovation of the school, which is currently in search of funds in the city budget.

Well-known local landmarks like the P Street Whole Foods, the Washington Convention Center, the Watha T. Daniel Library and the future City Market at O Street in Shaw were established with Evans’ help and influence.

More recently, Evans declared his opposition to the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium in a letter to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Other announced candidates for DC Mayor include Councilmembers Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Current DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmember David Catania are rumored to be pondering a run as well.

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by Borderstan.com — June 6, 2013 at 11:40 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Cafe"

M Bar and Cafe, possible opening June 15. (Luis Gomez Photos)

ANC 2F Reverses Decision to Block Sidewalk seating for M Cafe and Bar.

At its regular monthly meeting last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted to endorse an application for a sidewalk cafe by M Cafe and Bar, opening soon at the corner of 14th and R Streets. This reverses a decision made the previous week.

M Cafe and Bar: Outdoor Seating (mostly) Okay

Two weeks ago, ANC 2F’s Community Development Committee (CDC) voted to protest an application for outdoor seating by the soon-to-open M Cafe and Bar (1634 14th Street NW). Representatives of the establishment had not shown up for the committee meeting to discuss the matter.

At last night’s ANC meeting, CDC Chair Commissioner Walt Cain (district 02) confessed there had been a scheduling error. The CDC normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month. This is usually the last Wednesday of the month. However, there were five Wednesdays last month. M Cafe and Bar management were told to come on the last Wednesday in May – a week after the actual date of the meeting.

Given the above, a representative of M Cafe and Bar was given a chance to present directly to the full ANC, so M Cafe and Bar can go forward on its plans for outdoor seating in time for the scheduled opening in mid-June. M Cafe and Bar wants to have 51 outdoor seats in all. Of these, 20 tables will be on the 14th Street Side. Six tables will be on an elevated platform facing R Street. An awning will be placed eight feet off the ground, protruding more than six feet on both portions.

There were concerns that part of the proposed design would create a bottleneck on the 14th Street sidewalk. The ANC voted to approve M Cafe and Bar’s request for outdoor seating with a minor modification to relieve the bottleneck.

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by Borderstan.com — June 6, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 2B/Dupont‘s committee on development endorsed two local projects at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, June 4. One of them is the first complete renovation of the 16th Street Scottish Rite Temple. In addition, the Zoning, Preservation, and Development (ZPD) Committee heard a presentation from the DC Office of Planning about how the proposed zoning rewrite will impact the area.

Green Lights for Scottish Rite Temple and 1451 S Street

"Temple"

Hartman-Cox Architects present to ANC 2B on Scottish Temple Renovation. (David McAuley).

The ZPD Committee will recommend the full ANC pass resolutions of support for two projects in 2B. One will be for the Scottish Rite Temple, 1733 16th Street NW, at the corner of S Street.

The 97-year-old building, known officially as “The House of the Temple,” is the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction. This renovation, the first of this building, will improve handicapped access and use, repair and improve air conditioning and other vital systems, add an emergency generator and replace some of the windows. The scheduled start date is early 2014.

Representatives of Hartman-Cox Architects told the committee a few trees on the street will have to be replaced to allow the installation of the ramp for handicapped accessibility. The emergency generator and a cooling tower will be in a separate building, which fronts onto a public alley connecting 15th and 16th Streets. This building will also be renovated and the cooling tower will not be visible from the street.

Some of the green space that faces 15th Street at the rear of the property will have to be converted into a staging area for construction, but will return to green space when the project is completed.

Michael Beidler of Trout Design Studio presented in support of a proposed set-back expansion of 1451 S Street. The plan will add a third floor to the existing house. The addition would not be visible from S Street, Beidler said, although it will be visible from the rear alley. Beilder said one of the abutting neighbors had been contacted already. Commissioner Noah Smith (district 09) said he would visit the other abutting neighbor.

The resolution presented to the full ANC will also say the new construction has minimal impact on light and air quality, and the construction is in line with the character of the street.

If passed, the resolutions will be presented to DC’s Historical Preservation Review Board (HPRB) when the petitioners have a hearing.

Yellow Light: 2112 R Street

Fowlkes Studio appeared before the committee requesting endorsement of their request for zoning relief for proposed construction at the rear of 2112 R Street NW, near the corner of Florida Avenue and across the street from Restaurant Nora. The wooden structure currently in the rear of the house is unsafe to walk on.

The replacement structure would push the rear of the house an additional six feet toward the narrow rear alley and add 54 square feet to the interior of the house. It will also add a four-story-tall spiral staircase on the rear corner of the project, which will lead to an existing roof deck. A representative of Fowlkes Studio said new structure will not be visible from either R Street or Florida Avenue, and some neighbors had been consulted.

The committee declined to recommend the addition for zoning relief, due to the lack of input from neighbors and the ANC. The committee also encouraged Fowlkes Studio to return with some computer-generated images of what the completed project might look like, and said the structure would likely require consultation with both the HPRB and the Dupont Circle Conservancy as well.

DC Office of Planning on Zoning Rewrite

Joel Lawson, associate director of the DC Office of Planning, talked about the planned complete rewrite of the city’s zoning regulations. The changes that will be felt in ANC 2B include:

  • expansion of the downtown overlay district to include all of ANC 2B south of M Street,
  • elimination of car parking space requirements on virtually all new construction,
  • expansion of bike parking requirements on virtually all new construction,
  • requiring car share spaces in new parking facilities.

Other changes will have a smaller anticipated effect in ANC 2B. A proposed regulation that would facilitate the development of “granny flats” would not change the zoning regulations for most homeowners in the area. Another regulation encouraging the opening of corner stores was found to apply to only one intersection in the area – Swann and 15th Streets. Commissioner Noah Smith said he knew the intersection well, as it is in his district. He doubted any of the corner lots at this intersection would be likely to host a store.

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