The former chair of Dupont Circle’s advisory neighborhood commission announced today he won’t seek another term.
ANC 2B Commissioner Noah Smith said this morning he plans to step away from his neighborhood commissioner post at the end of his term in January.
“I’m sorry to announce that this November I will not be seeking re-election as your neighborhood commissioner in 2B09,” Smith wrote. “In the end, my growing career responsibilities and travel schedule make it difficult for me to commit to two more years as Commissioner.”
Smith, who passed his responsibilities as chair to commissioner Nicole Mann earlier this year, said he will back Dupont resident Scott Davies as his replacement.
“When I think about who I want to represent me to the city, I think of someone who is level-headed, patient, experienced in dealing with government and interested in making a positive difference without a personal agenda; that is Scott Davies,” Smith wrote. “You can look forward to getting to know Scott and some issues important to him when he goes door-to-door this fall to hear from each of you.”
Read Smith’s full statement below:
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:
A compromise on a controversial plan to redevelop a building along P Street NW seems in the works.
Neighbors gathered last night for a special meeting of Dupont Circle’s ANC 2B to share concerns and ask questions about a plan to turn a building at 2147-2149 P St. NW into a mixed-use development with apartments and space for a shop or restaurant.
Developer Valor in April filed plans with D.C.’s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to add two floors to the building to make way for eight residential units and space for a ground-floor restaurant. The property currently houses Moroccan eatery Marrakech and its nightclub, Aura Lounge.
The developer has asked the BZA for a zoning variance that would allow it to move forward with its plans. The project must also gain the blessing of D.C.’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).
Neighbors who live in nearby condominiums and apartments are resistant to the idea as planned.
“The developer’s plan would accommodate many more additional residents that the neighborhood could reasonably handle and worsen its existing noise, parking, delivery and waste management problems,” wrote one Dupont resident in an email to the BZA last month.
Another local who lives in the Dupont West condominium wrote in an email that “the new development would completely block the present view of Rock Creek and Georgetown as well as cutting off the light source for these units.”
“We would be permanently harmed by this addition because approval of the variances would set a precedent for future such projects,” the resident added.
Feldstein, a longtime ANC 2B commissioner who died roughly two weeks ago, will be remembered by friends and family at the Dupont Circle Hotel (1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW) this Sunday at 11 a.m. All are welcome to attend and a light reception will follow the service.
(Updated at 5:03 p.m.) Dupont Circle community leaders have put their support behind a scientists’ organization’s plan to make its headquarters much more energy efficient.
Members of ANC 2B unanimously (save for Commissioner Mike Feldstein, who we’re sad to report passed away yesterday) voted to support a proposal by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to renovate its headquarters at 2000 Florida Ave. NW.
AGU’s planned renovation includes new insulated windows and improved shading, a sewer heat exchange system and a rooftop solar array, all of which would help the building produce as much energy as it consumes.
A member of Dupont Circle’s advisory neighborhood commission and an advocate of free local events passed away yesterday.
Mike Feldstein, commissioner with Dupont’s ANC 2B, passed away Wednesday, according to several of his fellow commissioners. Feldstein died in his home after suffering from health problems for several months, those close to him said.
When the S Street Dog Park in Dupont closed Tuesday afternoon, some residents wrote us to voice their concerns. Fear not, dog-havers: the park was merely being upgraded.
The doggy play area reopened yesterday with two new metal benches, said ANC 2B Commissioner Michael Silverstein during last night’s monthly meeting.
Before the upgrade, the park had six trees, but only four circular metal benches. Now, each tree has a metal bench surrounding it. Those benches, according to Silverstein, prevent dogs from “marking” the trees “hundreds of times a day.”
The rules, which were established on a trial basis last month, create a new event license fee for pub crawls, put a greater responsibility on organizers to clean up after events and give the board authority to veto bar-hopping events for any reason.
ANC 2B, the advisory neighborhood commission that covers Dupont Circle and the surrounding area, voted on a resolution to commend and comment on the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board’s rules during its general monthly meeting last night.
“[Some recent pub crawls] have been pretty tremendous in terms of the negative impact on the neighborhood,” said Noah Smith, 2B-09. “Litter, public safety, trash, noise issues. We’re talking about hundreds and thousands of people coming to the neighborhood. … and there is nobody responsible for cleanup and public safety while this is happening.”
Smith, who introduced the resolution, added that he “applauds the ABC board for adopting these emergency rules.”
Though Smith said he thought the rules were “pretty good” overall, he did recommend a list of changes, including asking ABRA to notify the ANC of future pub crawl applications and create a rule that would penalize businesses participating in unlicensed pub crawls. Smith also suggested that ABRA create a provision “that assures more than one pub crawl is not licensed at the same time in the same area.”
Commissioner Mike Silverstein, 2B-06 and ABC board member, said three pub crawl applications have been denied since the emergency rules were established last month.
“Pub crawls can be helpful to an area if they’re done right and if they’re small,” Silverstein said. “But if you bring in too many people for a neighborhood to handle, you’re going to discourage retail and all kind of other things. If it’s too big for the neighborhood, it’s not appropriate.”
The ANC supported the resolution by a vote of 7-0-1.
Impacted businesses and members of the public will be able to weigh in on the new rules during a hearing at the Reeves Center (2000 14th St. NW) on March 2 at 1:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Golden Triangle BID
(Updated at 11:52 a.m.) Some residents are losing sleep over 24-hour permits issued for the demolition of the former Washington Post headquarters at 15th and L streets NW.
Representatives from the nearby Presidential Cooperative apartments, Capitol Hilton and the University Club said that noise from the demolition — slated to begin next Monday — would disturb peace and quiet in the area, especially late at night and in the early morning.
The group last month sent letters of concern to the D.C. Department of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs (DCRA), said Mike Fasano, who represents the Presidential, at last night’s ANC 2B meeting at the Brookings Institution in Dupont Circle. (more…)
Sam Zimbabwe, an associate director at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), addressed the ANC on behalf of the department to request comment on installing new Bikeshare stations at the intersections of 22nd and P streets NW and 21st and R streets NW.
The intersections, Zimbabwe said, were identified by users as sought-after spots for new stations. “We’re starting the process of community outreach to narrow down the focus of where that will be,” he added.
Commissioner Daniel Warwick, 2B-02, said residents in his single member district (SMD) did not have comments regarding the intersection at 21st and R streets, but added that neighbors suggested the southeast corner by the leading lamppost on P Street, along a street frontage in front of Crios (2120 P St. NW) or next to the bookstore as possible options at the intersection of 22nd and P streets.
Several Dupont residents in the audience weighed in with mixed opinions.
“I think the 22nd and P southeast corner near the bookstore is not a bad idea,” one resident said. “But I don’t know where you’re going to find space at 21st and R.”
Another person in the audience didn’t comment on the proposed locations, but instead asked Zimbabwe to make Bikeshare users better “aware of what the traffic laws are.”
“I live on 17th Street, which is a one-way street, and the bicycles are constantly coming the wrong way,” the resident said. “They don’t stop at stoplights or pedestrian crossings and that’s a concern to the people that live in this area.”
Zimbabwe responded by saying the department does put traffic laws on the bikes themselves “but it’s something that we struggle with and we will try to do better than that.”
Ultimately, the ANC gave its blessing to the proposed stations by a vote of 8 yeas, 0 nays and 0 abstentions.
Dupont residents flocked to last night’s ANC 2B meeting at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW) to ask questions and share their concerns about local issues.
Bowser attended the meeting as part of a series of community forums held across the city, and began her appearance by briefing the audience about the city’s recent efforts in affordable housing and ending homelessness. Then, the ANC 2B’s commissioners took turns weighing in on topics they felt strongly about.
By ANC 2B Commissioner Nicole Mann
Traveling to a foreign country with limited phone and internet service is frustrating to begin with, but the stress is tenfold realizing everyone in the room is checking their cell phones in a panic and you’re left feeling uninformed.
I was sitting in a restaurant in central Paris on Friday evening, on vacation with a friend to get a feel for a foreign culture I had never experienced before. I had the overwhelming feeling that something important had happened when the Parisians at tables around me began to scroll through their phones in nervous whispers, receiving phone calls from friends seemingly all at once.
They were speaking in French, and I didn’t understand a word. I couldn’t stand sitting in the dark, so I switched on my data plan to check the internet against my better judgement.
Immediately the source of tension in the room became clear: there had been attacks in central Paris.
So many different reports were coming in — bombings, shootings, hostages — that, at first, I was skeptical. Surely something had occurred, but often initial reports on Twitter are hyperbolic and inaccurate, so at the time with limited information, I assumed the likelihood of all three reports was slim. I was wrong.
In the next few minutes the busy restaurant had fallen into a nervous dialogue. I don’t speak French, but I could still interpret the conversations: each Parisian was reporting that they were safe on social media, checking phones for updates, receiving calls from concerned friends and family, and rushing to be the first to report new information to the table as the initial speculation became fact.
Bombs had gone off at a stadium outside the central city. There were shootings outside restaurants about a 15 minute stroll from where we sat. And there were hostages held inside of a concert hall not far away.
We paid our check and rushed back to the hotel, flipped on CNN international, and checked Twitter for news.
Matt and I just found out about the bombing / shooting in central #paris – we're not near by
— Nicole Mann (@nikkimann17) November 13, 2015
As is usual with breaking news, Twitter is both the best and worst source to consult. While much of it was informative, just as much was inaccurate. Reports were flowing in about additional bombings and an active shooter at Centre Pompidou and Les Halles – both about two blocks from our hotel, and both of which we had walked by only hours before.
We didn’t believe it – we were convinced we would have heard the commotion from where we were. Anxious to be engaged in the story, we left the hotel to confirm, and walked to both places. They were silent and empty, and we reported back that the speculation was unfounded.
All quiet here, Les Halles news seems a bit unfounded guys. pic.twitter.com/3ai8GgI5va
— Nicole Mann (@nikkimann17) November 13, 2015
By then, Paris had been essentially shut down by a curfew, a purported first in the city since WWII. But people were still milling about. Emergency vehicles raced down the streets in large caravans every few minutes but otherwise the neighborhood was still. There were active shooters around the city, motives unknown at the time, but no one seemed panicked.
The next morning, with museums closed, we had nothing much else to do but to walk around the city. Our lunch waitress seemed stressed and fatigued but not scared. Some shops were closed, some were open, and some had been adorned by makeshift memorials; a black sheet draped over the door, a black winter scarf tied around a sign.
A salesmen at a clothing store browsing his phone spoke limited English, but asked us if we were American. He showed us a photo of the Empire State Building colored in blue, white, and red.
“Have you seen this?” We had.
“It is beautiful. That this is for us. It is lovely. We appreciate it.” His words were genuine; he was not fearful or shaken. Rather, he seemed resolved, proud; he had had his store open all day.
I told him we had appreciated, too.
Shopping for clothes in Paris & we say we're from US. Store owner says Blue/White/Red WTC is beautiful & he appreciates. I said we did too.
— Nicole Mann (@nikkimann17) November 14, 2015
That night we visited the memorials at each of the affected sites. Crowds of mourning Parisians were littered with news trucks and live shots, but the Parisians ignored them. The mourners were subdued and quiet.
Next to the memorial near the concert hall where hostages had been taken, a neighborhood bar was open — and packed! The crowd at the bar was so large, it had spilled out onto the sidewalk, but they weren’t sitting at tables sipping beers. Instead, they were standing and drinking in large masses, laughing and loud and tipsy and noisy and excited as though watching a sports game.
Fifty feet from the candlelit memorial, the news crews, and the blood-spattered street, Paris was still alive. I think that was the best way I could ever have experienced French culture.
Nicole Mann is an ANC 2B commissioner. Follow her on Twitter here.
Commissioners with Dupont Circle’s ANC 2B had some strong words for Claudia’s Steakhouse (1501 K St. NW) over allegations that the restaurant repeatedly blocked a sidewalk and bike lane along 15th Street NW several times since it opened in June.
Marlon Alfaro, general manager at Claudia’s; David Bowing, assistant general manager at Claudia’s; and Ben Tesfaye, valet parking manager for Claudia’s valet company, U Street Parking, attended the ANC’s monthly meeting on Tuesday to request that two metered parking spaces near the restaurant be allocated for evening valet parking use.
“[The restaurant] is located in an area where parking is difficult,” Tesfaye said. “There are garages in the area, but unfortunately they do close early.”
“We’re looking at eight to ten cars a night,” he continued. “Two, three people per car, spending $35 or $40, that’s a lot of revenue for the restaurant.”
But ANC 2B chair Noah Smith had some criticisms for the steakhouse’s previous operations along that stretch of 15th Street. (more…)
Midtown Partyplex (1219 Connecticut Ave. NW) may harbor multiple “safety concerns,” said Dupont Circle’s ANC 2B during its monthly meeting at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW) on Wednesday.
The commission voted 4-0-1 to send a letter to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board in advance of an Oct. 21 protest hearing concerning the renewal of Midtown’s alcohol license.
“Since [November 2013], ANC 2B has become aware of numerous other problems at Midtown as documented in ABRA’s investigation history,” reads the letter. “Serious problems requiring ABC Board attention since the ‘expiration’ of the license of the license on Sept. 30, 2013, comprise underage drinking and violence including death, assault on police officers and sexual assault.”
Commissioner Abigail Nichols, 2B-05, is the one who motioned to send the letter.
Nichols noted that the ANC first voted to protest the bar’s license due to noise complaints from neighbors in November, 2013. Since then, she said, the ANC became aware of more serious problems.
“In those two years after, other kinds of operational problems have come to my attention as the commissioner for that area,” she said. “In 2013, there was a brouhaha in which people fighting inside Midtown were thrown out onto the street. One man died. Two police officers went to the hospital,” said Nichols.
“Midtown made the papers again in february about a week after they reopened after they closed down for underage drinking and assorted things,” she added.
“What we are doing here with this letter is not trying them for those things,” Nichols said. “What this is doing is saying to the board, we noticed this pattern, we ask that you take action.”
“This is a very large nightclub with lots of dark corners,” Nichols added. “Commissioner Michael Upright, [2B-04] and I went to the police headquarters Sunday just to see if we were overstating the nature of the problem, but we looked at this list of violations and problems that the police have been called for and I’m confident we’re not overstating the level of problems there.”
Dupont Circle residents, meet your newest ANC Commissioner.
Locals overwhelmingly voted in favor of candidate John Kupcinski during a special election at ANC 2B’s general meeting at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW) last night.
The meeting started with a ceremonial ballot box unveiling from Director of the Office of ANCs, Gottlieb Simon. The director, with help from Mike Silverstein, 2B-06, then sealed the box with tape and officially opened the voting period. Neighbors who live in the ANC’s 2B-07 single member district — including Greater Greater Washington’s David Alpert — filed in throughout the night to cast their votes.
In the end, Kupcinski won 31 votes. His opponent, Holly Biglow, received seven. In the hallway after the election, defeated candidate Biglow was all smiles.
“I’m really happy to have been apart of this process,” she said. “This is my very first time running for something. I was glad to be apart of it.”
Moving forward, Kupcinski said the St. Thomas Church renovation, traffic issues and local development will be at the top of his agenda after he’s sworn in.
“I would need to sit down with the other ANC commissioners first, but … the traffic situation at 18th and P [streets NW] is just horrendous,” he said. “There’s also a lot of development that’s going on, especially at the Patterson Mansion … and Dupont Underground is going to be more and more important as we move forward with that project.”