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by Andrew Ramonas November 9, 2016 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment

"Vote Here" sign

Results are in for races to serve on the District’s Advisory Neighborhood commissions, the D.C. government’s lowest level of elected office.

The vote tallies, which are still unofficial, cover dozens of ANC contests in or near the Borderstan coverage area.

As of 12:26 a.m. today, the winners (in bold) are:

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by Andrew Ramonas November 8, 2016 at 10:30 am 3 Comments

i-voted-sticker-2016

(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) More than 100 locals who live in or near the Borderstan coverage area are running for the lowest level of elected office in the D.C. government today.

In contested Advisory Neighborhood Commission races, we’re curious who got or will get your vote. You can weigh in through the polls below and in the comments.

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by Tim Regan November 7, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

2014 Grimke Redevelopment rendering, photo via Sorg Architects/Roadside DevelopmentU Street community leaders are asking a group of developers to get moving on a plan to redevelop the former Grimke School building and surrounding area.

ANC 1B last Thursday passed a resolution urging the developers to move forward on the redevelopment of the properties at 1923 Vermont Ave. and 912 U St. NW by Dec. 1.

Under the developers’ plan — first awarded about two years ago — two parcels of land containing the historic school and the African American Civil War Museum would be redeveloped for residential and retail use. The project would also include offices for local dance studio Step Afrika and approximately 10,000 square feet devoted to new African American Civil War Museum facilities.

But in the time since the project was awarded, little has happened with it. Now, members of of the local community are getting cold feet, the ANC’s members said.

“We don’t think that it is acting in good faith to delay projects as long as this one has been delayed,” said commissioner Robb Hudson. “You’re sitting on a project [and] you have other people that are waiting to move into the space.”

According to the resolution, the developer has until Dec. 1 to execute a deal related to redeveloping the site. If that deadline isn’t met, the ANC will ask the District’s general counsel or attorney general to “aggressively pursue legal remedy, fines, and penalties” and seek to bar some of the project’s developers from participating in D.C. Government sponsored real estate projects for years to come. The ANC would also seek to “reissue an accelerated RFP for a new developer for the Grimke Redevelopment that retains the proposed tenants” if the deadline isn’t met.

“We’ve kept these people on the hook for many, many months,” Hudson said. “We’re very serious about this.”

Though the ANC doesn’t have the authority to enforce those demands, it can “definitely shed some light on what’s happened here,” Hudson noted.

Despite the warning, the ANC’s chair, James Turner, said the resolution was meant to “help move things along.”

“We want to work with you to keep the Grimke School used,” Turner added.

Rendering via District Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

by Tim Regan November 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm 6 Comments

15th-and-w-streets-nw

A small group of people who live near Meridian Hill Park have banded together to speak out against a plan to put a bike-sharing hub near their homes.

About seven neighbors showed up to last night’s ANC 1B meeting on U Street to make their voices heard regarding a DDOT plan to install a new Capital Bikeshare station at 15th and W streets NW.

Over the past few weeks, the neighbors have debated with local leaders and DDOT officials over whether a new Bikeshare station should be installed at the southeast corner of the intersection.

Some locals, like Steve Fotiu, say installing the station there would be too noisy and could create safety problems for cyclists traveling through the area.

“This is a very dangerous intersection,” Fotiu warned, “and they’re going to ride right off of a sidewalk into the street to get to the bike lane on 15th.”

The station could also lower home values in the area and help set a precedent for more Bikeshare stations in other residential zones throughout the District, he added.

“If I was to go to DDOT… to put a hot dog stand at this location, DDOT would reject that request on an inappropriateness for this location.”

Fotiu continued: “If we had a referendum of homeowners in the city [asking] if you want a Bikeshare directly in front of your single-family home, I believe majority would say, no thank you.”

Not everyone at the meeting agreed with that assessment, however. Alex Lopez, who lives on the 1300 block of Belmont St. NW, said the neighborhood could use another Bikeshare station.

“There is a serious issue in our neighborhood of bike availability,” Lopez said. “In the morning, there are no bikes, and in the evening there are no stations to park your bike.”

Commissioner LaKisha Brown, who represents that part of the neighborhood, said she sympathizes with some of the neighbors’ concerns.

“I did agree with Steve that I personally wouldn’t want a Bikeshare in front of my home,” she said.

But Brown stopped short of saying she’d ask the city agency to reconsider its plans. Though DDOT was willing to look at several other potential locations for the stations, she said, the most “ideal” alternative spot was in front of the nearby St. Augustine Church.

“It’s a tough decision,” Brown said. “But the other alternative was to remove three parking spaces in front of a church… and I really didn’t want to do that.”

Ultimately, the ANC backed DDOT’s proposal by a vote of 5-1-1, “with the stipulations that DDOT install an angled docking station and reduce the size of the docking station to no more than 37 feet, which is the size of the existing planter.”

by Tim Regan September 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

A planned eight-story building on U Street could come with a handful of benefits for residents thanks to a deal between local leaders and a D.C.-area developer.

ANC 1B, which covers parts of U Street, Shaw, Columbia Heights and LeDroit Park, voted last Thursday to support several zoning variances for a forthcoming mixed-use development at 1355-­1357 U Street NW.

The Goldstar Group, the developer behind the forthcoming building, sought the ANC’s blessing ahead of its Sept. 27 hearing with D.C.’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). Goldstar is seeking variances from public open space, rear yard, open court and off-street parking requirements.

In exchange for the ANC’s support, the developer agreed to contribute $20,000 to the Housing Production Trust Fund and provide two affordable housing units, a “large bike room” on the property, Capital Bikeshare memberships to all residents regardless of when they move in and designate a parking space for use by Zipcar or another car-sharing service.

Despite the deal, one of the ANC’s commissioners, Brian Footer, questioned whether the agreed-upon $20,000 contribution was just an “arbitrary number.” Footer — who was careful to point out he was “passionate, not frustrated” with the deal — said that he felt like the contribution would be a drop in the bucket compared with the $82 million that Mayor Bowser allocated to the program earlier this year.

“It gives a low- to moderate-income family an opportunity to put a down payment on a… unit that they can afford,” commissioner John Green replied. “I think we got the best deal possible.”

Commissioner Mark Ranslem added that he felt the deal was “pretty remarkable,” and ANC chair James Turner said the members who struck the deal “accomplished more than I thought you could, respectfully.”

The ANC then gave the developer’s variance request its stamp of approval by a vote of 8-1.

by Andrew Ramonas August 11, 2016 at 5:30 pm 1 Comment

Vote Here sign(Updated at 5:55 p.m. Aug. 21) The 2016 ballot for the lowest level of elected office in the D.C. government is now almost final.

More than 100 locals who live in or near the Borderstan coverage area have submitted nominating petitions to serve as members of the District’s Advisory Neighborhood commissions. They had until yesterday to collect the signatures of 25 of their neighbors in their single member districts and bring the paperwork to the D.C. Board of Elections.

But before the ANC candidates officially can get on the ballot, they must make it through a petition challenge period, which lasts until Aug. 22.

The candidates for the Nov. 8 general election for now include:

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by Borderstan.com July 12, 2016 at 2:50 pm 6 Comments

"I Voted" sticker(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) The race to enter (or stay in) the lowest level of elected office in the D.C. government officially has begun.

More than 20 locals who live in or near the Borderstan coverage area yesterday picked up nominating petitions to serve as members of District’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

Monday was the first day prospective candidates could get the nominating materials. They have until Aug. 10 to collect the signatures of 25 of their neighbors in their single member districts to get on the Nov. 8 ballot.

So far, the candidates include:

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by Courtney Brown June 8, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Inside of a fire truck, photo via Twitter : DC Fire and EMSAn upcoming event will bring emergency vehicles, free health screenings and information booths to a park in Columbia Heights this weekend.

ANC 1B, which covers part of U Street, Shaw, Columbia Heights and LeDroit Park, will host a health and safety summit at the small park at 14th and Girard streets NW this Saturday at noon.

Locals can meet with representatives from MPD, Mayor Bowser’s office, the Department of Health and other government agencies to learn about services, ask questions and weigh concerns during the summit, according to 1B Commissioner Jessica Smith.

Additionally, kids will have the chance to explore a police car and fire engine during the event, and free health screenings and information about CPR will also be freely available, Smith said.

“My biggest hope is that people will have an easy outlet to connect with their local government agencies,” Smith added.

Smith said she expects many locals will ask about Metro’s SafeTrack plan. Luckily for them, WMATA officials will also be on hand to answer questions.

Photo via Twitter / D.C. Fire and EMS

by Tim Regan June 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm 9 Comments

Renderings of the short-term family housing unit planned for 10th and V streets NW

Community leaders with the ANC that covers parts of U Street, Shaw, Columbia Heights and LeDroit Park are urging the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to take a second look at a developer’s plan to build on a vacant lot at 10th and V streets NW.

The commission last night voted on a resolution to oppose a request from the project’s developer, Sorg Arhcitects, to extend several zoning variances the BZA first approved for a different project at the site in 2014.

According to the ANC, the current (and somewhat controversial) plan to build a transitional housing shelter on the site differs too much from the mixed-use development that Sorg proposed for the site years ago, and thus, needs to be examined as a separate project.

“This is a new use for this land. It needs to be treated in that way,” Commissioner Ellen Sullivan said. “As we have said from the beginning, this commission is supportive of having a family homeless shelter in this location… but we want it to be reviewed properly. We are going to have this as part of our community for decades.”

Furthermore, the ANC argues that Sorg isn’t eligible for the variance extension for a long list of reasons.

Commissioner Robb Hudson told Borderstan today that the reason for the commission’s opposition is to “make sure what is built is not something that’s cobbled together from other plans that don’t fit the new use.”

“These families don’t deserve half measures,” Hudson added.

The ANC vowed in its resolution to hold many more public meetings and to treat the forthcoming shelter “like any other construction project.”

by Tim Regan May 6, 2016 at 10:45 am 2 Comments

Photo via MRP Realty

Members of the ANC that covers parts of U Street, Shaw, Columbia Heights and LeDroit Park threw its support behind a plan for a hotly anticipated development at 965 Florida Ave. NW.

ANC 1B unanimously voted last night to “support the request for flexibility from zoning regulations and the community benefits” for developer MRP Realty’s plan to build a 10-story mixed-use development at 965 Florida Ave. NW, which would include more than 50,000 square feet of space devoted to a Whole Foods grocery store.

The developer is seeking flexibility from D.C.  zoning regulations for its ground level open space, loading zone, penthouse, lot occupancy, residential parking and a waiver of inclusionary zoning requirements.

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by Tim Regan December 2, 2015 at 4:40 pm 0

publictrashcan15thStreetThe ANC that represents parts of Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Shaw and U Street is looking for volunteers to help clean up the community this weekend.

Volunteers and ANC 1B commissioners will gather at Saint-Ex (1847 14th Street NW) this Sunday at 9 a.m. for the commission’s first annual volunteer clean up day.

After meeting at the restaurant, the crowd of clean-uppers will move along 14th St. and Florida Ave. NW, 14th and V streets NW and between 8th and 9th and T streets NW to help beautify the surrounding areas.

D.C.’s Department of Public Works (DPW) will provide brooms, rakes, shovels and bags, but volunteers are encouraged to bring along an old pair of gloves and wear an outfit they don’t mind getting a little dirty.

by Tim Regan October 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm 0

Amanda Bonam

ANC 1B has a another new commissioner.

The commission applauded Amanda Bonam, 1B-10, as she took her new seat during a general meeting at the Reeves Center last night.

Bonam, a 19-year-old student at Howard University, said she’s glad to take over for previous 1B-10 commissioner and Howard alum Allyson Carpenter.

“[Allyson and I] came to ANC meetings, we checked it out and it was something I was really interested in,” Bonam said. “Once I realized Allyson was on her way out, I thought that would be a natural step up, to run for the seat.”

Bonam added that she hopes to use her seat to connect the university and surrounding residents.

“As the newest commissioner, something that I think is absolutely important is connecting Howard University back with he community,” Bonam said. “I represent most of the Howard dormitories, so making sure that Howard and the community are connected is really important to me.”

 

by Tim Regan October 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm 0

ANC 1B Community Heroes Award presentation

Community leaders from ANC 1B honored two Ben’s Chili Bowl cooks last night for saving a man during a violent mugging that occurred in an alley near the restaurant in June.

Ben’s employees Juan Roman Carrosco and Pedro Contreras confronted two attackers as they beat and robbed a man behind the restaurant, reported FOX 5. Armed only with their belts, Carrosco and Contreras charged at the attackers and chased them away. The victim — who has previously gone by the name “Lance,” — later said that, had it not been for Carrosco and Contreras, he could have been seriously injured or even lost an eye.

With Ben’s owner Virginia Ali in the audience, Commissioner John Green, 1B-12, presented the commission’s community heroes award to Carrosco and Contreras during the ANC’s monthly meeting at the Reeves Center.

“There was a man … who was being mugged, violently beaten, by two individuals behind Ben’s Chili Bowl, and these gentlemen stepped in and prevented the crime from becoming much worse,” Green said from the podium.

Green then read a letter addressed from the victim to his saviors.

“Words cannot possibly express my gratitude to the two of you, despite being complete strangers to me,” Lance wrote in the letter.

“I remember grabbing my eye and then seeing blood, and then not being able to open my eye,” Lance continued. “As I looked up in the alley, hunched over, your silhouettes looked like the calvary coming to the rescue. My mother called you angels. At that moment, seeing the two of you running with your belts in the air, chasing the two cowardly thugs. I just remember thinking, thank God it’s over, and I’m okay.”

“These guys have my back,” Lance’s letter concluded. “It was one of the best moments of my life.”

Green read the letter in Spanish and presented copies to Carrosco and Contreras to a thundering round of applause.

Ali, who has previously called her employees “stars,” then spoke up. “Thank you very much,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind if we take them back to their duties,” she joked.

by Tim Regan September 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm 0

Brianne_NadeauWatch out, frequently absent ANC commissioners.

D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau today introduced a bill that would ax commissioners who miss meetings for three months in a row.

The bill, called the Advisory Neighborhood Commission Absenteeism Penalty Amendment Act of 2015, was co-introduced by councilmembers Anita Bonds and Elissa Silverman and aims to “make it easier for ANCs to reliably have the quorum required to conduct official business.”

“Like several of my colleagues, I was an ANC Commissioner,” said Nadeau, who served on ANC 1B from 2006 to 2010, from the podium. “I found, as many commissioners can relate to, it can be difficult to enforce attendance among a group of volunteer leaders.”

As written in the bill, any commissioner who fails to attend official public meetings for three months will “be considered resigned from the position.”

“District residents and business leaders should not be penalized for poor attendance of their representatives,” Nadeau added from the dais.

Nadeau said that the legislation was requested in a resolution from Columbia Heights and Park View ANC 1A, and that it “mirrors similar language already in the procedures governing ANC 1B.”

Photo courtesy of Brianne Nadeau

by Tim Regan September 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

LaKisha Brown

ANC 1B has a new commissioner.

The commission welcomed LaKisha Brown, 1B-04, to her new seat with a round of applause during a general meeting at Howard University’s Founders Library last night.

Brown, who quietly participated in the meeting, said she’s excited to learn the ropes and start participating in the process. “It’s a lot of information to take in, but I think I’ll learn a lot more about it. I’m interested in a lot of these issues,” she said.

“I’ve always had a passion for helping my community, so I think this is something that will help fulfill that passion,” she explained.

Brown added she hopes to take up issues of parking, affordable housing, zoning and noise complaints in the future.

Above all else, Brown says she wants to act as a representative for her neighbors to voice concerns.

“It’s great interacting with people and learning about [their issues],” she said. “At least I’m another voice.”

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