Last night the DC Zoning Commission handed neighbors a rare victory against untrammeled development when it voted 5-0 to grant a petition, presented jointly by Lanier Heights neighbors and ANC 1C, to downzone the bulk of Lanier Heights from R5B (which allows multi-unit apartment buildings) to R4 (which allows only row houses with a maximum of 2 units absent an unusually large lot size; normally, this means a home of several bedrooms along with an English basement).
The residents of Lanier Heights had overwhelmingly supported the proposal both out of revulsion at a series of ugly popups, which had overshadowed their row houses and deprived their gardens of light and air, and concern that breaking row houses up into apartment buildings of four or even more units meant that fewer families with children would be able to live in close-in neighborhoods. The neighbors testifying at the hearing elegized the mixed character of Lanier Heights, which has both apartment buildings and family-supporting row houses, while decrying the impact that popups, popbacks and cut-ups posed to the area’s diversity. (more…)
Some people hate them.
Some people like them.
Most people are “meh”.
On Monday evening, some of the haters and some of the likers will be nervously shuffling around in the crowded Jerrily R. Kress Memorial Hearing Room at 441 4th Street NW, Suite 220-S (Judiciary Square) waiting their turn to speak (for up to three minutes) before the five members of the Zoning Commission, who will listen, and eventually vote on, an application by residents of Lanier Heights and ANC1C to “rezone” the row house sections of that mostly-apartment-house neighborhood in order to (you guessed it): “Stop Pop-ups”.
If the commissioners decide to grant the rezoning application, owners of residential row houses in Lanier Heights will lose some of their existing property rights. Building height will be capped at 35 feet (rather than the current “matter-of-right” 50 foot limit) and the maximum number of apartments or condos that can be carved out of a single row house will be two. (There is no numerical cap under current zoning, although four units are typical for houses on small to medium size lots).
If this all sounds eerily familiar to you, its probably because you remember that the Zoning Commission recently took the initiative to redefine the rules citywide for the District’s 35,000 row houses located in R4 zones. They requested a study from the Office of Planning in 2014, who came back with suggestions to reduce matter-of-right development in R4 zones. New rules were approved summer 2015, reducing the “M-o-R” for height by five feet, from 40 to 35, and limiting the maximum number of residences per building at two.
What you probably didn’t know (unless you are a devoted reader of this blog) is that the battle over pop-ups in Lanier Heights was well underway at least a year before the zoning commissioners decided to take a look at the city’s R4 zones. (more…)
This unit is located at 2922 18th Street, Northwest. The listing says:
“Amazing patio-level 1 BR/1 BA condo in Mount Pleasant/Adams Morgan. Renovated 2008 w/ private outdoor patio, gas range, in-unit washer/dryer, granite, SS appliances, wood floors. Private entrance. 10 minutes to Red & Green lines, steps to shops/restaurants, 2 blocks to Rock Creek Park. Walk Score of 92. Stylish French doors blend patio & living room spaces. Pet friendly. Condo fees $161 monthly.”
This house is located at 1801 Clydesdale Place, Northwest. The listing says:
“Sophisticated studio in The Saxony! Features include parquet floors, modern kitchen, and open floor plan. Bathroom is roomy and has bright white tile, unit also has enormous walk-in closet. Located in the heart of Adams Morgan, close to Rock Creek Park & National Zoo.”
Picture and video below from 1801 Clydesdale Pl NW Apartment Building surveillance camera, on the corner of Clydesdale Pl NW and Summit Pl NW
On Friday, 6/19, my apartments surveillance camera was able to capture footage of a young black man with dreads going down to about mid-back riding a red bike and often carrying a backpack. The young man was caught breaking into cars (including mine, see the black Ford) along Clydesdale Pl NW at 5:15pm while pedestrians and cars were passing by.
The first photo is one of the best close ups I was able to take with the surveillance photo, but MPDC attained a full frontal shot.
The first video shows how the thief first bikes closely to cars and looks inside to see what he can steal.
The second video shows the actual break in. The thief bikes past the cars he wants to rob again and parks his bike further down. He then walks past the cars on the passenger side, checks out what’s inside and then breaks the window and reaches in to steal the item. (At this moment you can see that a van and a sedan are driving by.) He then hides behind a car to go through what he stole, checks out other things to steal in cars and get back on his bike to steal some more.
MPD knows the young man by sight only and has yet to catch him for the various thefts over this past weekend. If anyone sees this young man riding on a bicycle looking in cars, please contact MPD immediately.”
This rental is located at 1726 Lanier Place, Northwest. The listing says:
“Fabulous new renovation of this 99 yr old end townhouse in Adams Morgan! Completely gutted and redone! Upper floor Penthouse 2BR, 2BA + upstairs Den w/ wet bar, oversized private roof deck. High end appliances, designer finishes, pre-wired sound system and full size washer/dryer in unit. First occupancy after renovation. Assigned, secure parking included, Walk score of 96!!!”
This house is located at 1801 Clydesdale Place, Northwest. The listing says:
“NEW LISTING! Situated on a quiet street in the heart of Adams Morgan, this stylish studio offers the best of city living. Freshly painted and move in ready, this home features a great floor plan and is flooded with light from large, west-facing windows. Wood floors, updated kitchen, fresh bath, cleverly designed custom murphy bed with bookshelves and a large closet/dressing room. Kitties yes!”
My dog, a black lab named Charlie, and I were crossing Adams Mill Rd from Walter Pierce Park to Ontario Pl; Charlie was about 3 feet in front of me on a red leash. The cyclist was northbound, riding towards Harvard from Calvert. If he looked at all when approaching the intersection, which I doubt he did, he might not have seen Charlie in the darkness. Given his speed and where we were in the crosswalk when he ran the stop sign, he would have either hit my dog or been tripped up by the leash. He swerved to the right at the last minute, jumped the curb, and went into a iron fence around the building on the corner before falling off his bike. Then he jumped off, got up, and came straight towards us. He didn’t even check his bike, he just started yelling. “This is your fault, you’ll have to pay for the damage, I should have just hit your dog, it would have been a softer landing…” stuff like that. I was totally shocked so I didn’t say anything for the first minute and then I pointed out that we were already in the crosswalk when he appeared and he should have stopped at the stop sign. When he started demanding my contact and insurance information, I just walked away. When I looked back, he was disappearing around the corner down Adams Mill, walking his bike.”
“ANC 1C Votes Unanimously to Support Zoning Reform Barring Popups
This is a statement on behalf of the informal group of Lanier Heights residents whose campaign for zoning reform led to a vote by ANC 1C on December 3, 2014, to support a change to R-4 zoning:
Clearly the vast majority of Lanier Heights and Adams Morgan residents want to change zoning to protect the remaining 165 row houses against efforts to build them up and out and carve them up into multi-unit buildings.
Over the past two months, the ANC scheduled a series of public meetings devoted explicitly to the issue of whether a change in zoning would be the right response to the flood of rowhouse conversions in the Lanier Heights neighborhood, which represents the northeastern section of Adams Morgan, north of Columbia Road and east of 18th and Calvert Streets. Media reports of the controversy, in an understandable effort to be even-handed, have given equal weight to proponents both of reform and of popup development. But the public meetings have revealed that the overwhelming sentiment of the neighborhood is on the side of protecting the neighborhood against popups. The vast majority of the owners of Lanier Heights row houses that would be directly affected by the proposed change who have spoken, and indeed the vast majority of the residents of Lanier Heights apartment buildings, favors preservation of the neighborhood character of the inner streets of Lanier Heights. Specifically, the neighbors themselves want to preserve the rowhouses along such streets as Lanier Place, Ontario Place, and Argonne Place, along with parts of 18th Street, Ontario Road, and Adams Mill Road overlooking Rock Creek Park.
The owners of over 100 row houses have by now put their handwritten signatures on a petition supporting zoning reform, and hundreds more in the neighborhood have both hand-signed and joined an online petition. A copy of that petition, and supporting materials, can be accessed through our web site at http://lanierheights.info/?page_id=475. Despite a monthly door-to-door distribution of full-color, glossy, cardstock flyers by a few people calling themselves “Neighbors Against Down Zoning” so as to sound more weighty, only ten row house owners, and a few pop-up condo owners, have said they support keeping the current zoning.
Statements by ANC commissioners at last night’s monthly ANC meeting revealed that private email communications from their constituents reflected the same overwhelming tilt in favor of zoning reform. The attached resolution was passed late Wednesday evening December 3 by a unanimous vote of the ANC; concluding as follows: “Resolved that Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C supports the proposal to change the Lanier Heights zoning designation to R-4 and will send a letter of support to the Office of Planning and Zoning Commission to that effect.”
Lanier Heights neighbors look forward to meeting with city zoning and planning officials and with the Zoning Commission to secure a vote in favor of this change.
Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group”
and the other side:
“ANC-1C VOTES IN SUPPORT OF DOWNZONING LANIER HEIGHTS
The ANC vote came as no surprise.
The ANC was most interested in the opinions of the owners of the 165 unconverted single family row houses in Lanier Heights. They are the group that will be most directly affected by downzoning, since their property rights are on the line. They are the group that will be most directly affected by any new pop-ups. That was the view of the ANC.
The downzoning petition claims support from 99 of that select group while “only” 15 people who have signed our petition against downzoning own unconverted single family row houses. The 50 Lanier Heights row home owners who never publicly took a side on the issue weren’t a part of the ANC’s calculation.
Obviously, we disagree with the ANCs decision, but we understand why they voted as they did, based on their definition of who the true stakeholders are.
Our view is different. Those 99 petition signers represent just 60% of the affected home owners. Although that’s a majority, it is not an overwhelming majority. If only a handful of those 99 people change their minds or sell their homes and move, the percentage could easily drop down to around 50%.
While those slim percentages might be enough for the ANC, we think it is a weak result to use as a basis for taking away the rights of 100% of current and future home owners in Lanier Heights.
The ANC did their job as they viewed it. Now the downzoning petition will move on to the next step in the process.
We are encouraged that more home owners on Lanier Place signed our petition and put up yard signs in just the last few days.
To those who have a NEIGHBORS AGAINST DOWNZONING yard sign in your yard, keep it there. If you want a yard sign (or two or three) let us know. If you live in an apartment or condo in Lanier Heights and want signs for your yard or window, let us know. We think your opinion counts. Everyone who lives in Lanier Heights is a stakeholder.
Thanks for reading
Lanier Heights home owner”
Neighbors Against Downzoning