Alex Baca will be writing about community and development issues for Borderstan, including occasional reports on local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. She also writes for the Housing Complex blog at Washington City Paper.
The famously sprawling ANC 1B (Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Shaw/U Street, and University Heights) held its monthly meeting last Thursday, May 6, at the Reeves Center, 14th and U Streets NW.
Amongst the slew of liquor license applications and renewals, the evening’s agenda also included the public safety report and design reviews of the African American Civil War Memorial Museum.
The United Negro College Fund’s agreement to occupy the site between S and T at 7th Street NW started the meeting on a high note. The Shaw space was intended to house Radio One, which backed out in February. UNCF’s forthcoming move elicited quite a few smiles from the commissioners–as well as a unanimous move to write a letter to the City Council supporting a potential $1.5 million tax abatement for UNCF.
Liquor License Requests: Masa 14’s Rooftop Deck
But things heated up as representatives from local establishments came forth to request liquor licenses. Masa 14 had their request protested in the name of “parking, peace, and quiet” alongside potential neighborhood newcomers GII and The Florida Cafe. The commission, as is typical, recommended that the businesses attempt to reach a voluntary agreement with the neighborhood associations before coming before the ANC.
It was evident, however, that a few potential businesspeople didn’t understand that particular caveat of operating in DC. Commissioners Nadeau and Thompson repeatedly requested that the board establish a consistent protocol with which to handle liquor license requests.
During Masa 14’s request (which asked for operating hours for its proposed roof deck to be set at 1 am on weekdays and 2 am on weekends) there was quite a bit of back-and-forth between Commissioners Nadeau and Raia–the former questioning the latter’s involvement in both ANC 1B and as the Liquor License Committee Chairman.
It seemed that no agreement suitable for either Masa 14 or the community regarding the restaurant’s rooftop hours had been reached in a voluntary agreement. Masa’s lawyer, Andrew Kline, insisted that Raia had promised him that he would support Masa’s requested hours of 1 am weekdays and 2 am weekends. Raia denied this, prompting Kline to ask, “Are you calling me a liar?” 14th & You has an extensive play-by-play of the inter-commission dialogue on Raia’s possible double agency–read it here.
Two Grants Awarded
Two $2,000 grants were awarded. One went to WeR4U, an offshoot of WPFW.org Pacifica Radio and designed to educate the community about the history of jazz. The second went to the Friends of Harrison Recreation Center summer film series. The movie series elicited excitement; you might not be able to party on Masa’s roof anytime in the immediate future, but you can look forward to a screening of the PBS special Duke Ellington’s Washington (no sarcasm here, it’s a great documentary!) come August.
The commission concluded at 9:15 pm, about 40 minutes into overtime. Prior to the meeting’s closing, an area resident voiced a complaint, saying she felt that not enough time was allotted for community input. Let’s hope next month’s meeting sees the ANC 1B board tightening their procedures so that the residents they represent can make their voices heard.
ANC 1B will meet next on Thursday, June 3, at 7 pm in the second floor conference room of the Reeves Municipal Center.