A million thanks to Kalia for her extremely detailed notes.
Oh boy! So tonight I went to the ANC meeting and let me just tell you, it was very hard to keep up and try to collect all the info as people were talking as well as try to retain what they were saying so that when it was my turn to speak I knew what to say. There were a couple of interesting topics tonight. I bolded the topics for each paragraph so if you don’t care to read about it you will know which paragraphs to skip. I will not lie and say that anything here is unbiased. I tried to relay the points however as honestly as I can remember while trying to keep my own thoughts on it afterwards. If any of you reading this are named in this I apologize if I misspelled your names, organizations, or even did not convey your points correctly. I am only human and I tried my best. Kalia’s notes continue after the jump.
Kendaja Restuarant up in North Country is trying to extend their Entertainment License so they can stay open until 5am. This will not mean they can serve alcohol past the regulated 2am time, but that they can remain open and serve food and entertainment. They feel that they have been an integral part of the community now for years and have helped bring the community up. They do not wish to be compared to past businesses that catered to different crowds, crowds that were violent etc. The late hours would mostly be Friday and Sat. nights. The residents in the immediate vicinity have raised concerns and are protesting this because they are afraid that with the extended hours they will have worse trash, noise, and possibly crimes committed against them. They are meeting for their second mediation meeting to try to discuss what type of compromise can be reached if say Kendaja does get the extension. For example, if Kendaja gets the extension then they will be required to maintain the trash cleanup in the lot adjacent to them as well as…. I feel torn for both of these sides. I agree with Kendaja that they should not be punished for things they did not do but I wonder how I would feel with a business staying open until 5am next to me. I think they should grant the extension, fine them heavily for infractions, and then set a certain amount of infractions they can amass before having their extension revoked. Then they have a chance to prove they really are responsible and the neighbors also get a chance to not be permanently stuck in a bad situation should it arise.
Also, there was talk about a Green Renovation in 4114 N. Hampshire Street between Upshur and Taylor streets. Ms. Tanya T. (sorry I did not catch the correct spelling of her last name) has purchased this property and wants to completely renovate it to be a zero energy house. She said it would be the first house in the district to accomplish this. The progress has been slow with obtaining all the right permits, dealing with the neighbors, as well as the renovation plan itself. She wants to reuse and recycle all the elements in the house that she can. What can’t be reused in her house she is going to donate to, I believe she said Forklift. Forklift resells original pieces of houses back to others in the community that want to keep the historic items in place since they are rare and usually no longer made anymore. The renovations are mostly internal. Her external renovations are adding a spiral staircase in the back, closing the the front porch, and the solar panels. The house is currently a split zoned house for 2 apartments. She hopes to eventually apply to split it into 3 and rent them out. Her immediate neighbors are opposed to her renovations. They feel that they are going to be the recipients of inconvenience of living next to a house undergoing renovations from the trash to the noise, as well as the final result. They are worried that with things like solar panels on the top of her house that it will depreciate the value of their own houses and entire street. Tanya said that she wants to work with the community and hear their concerns so that she can create her house and at the same time appease her neighbors. She gave out her home phone number for anyone interested in contacting her to talk more about it as well as for her neighbors to get in touch with her about issues they are having with the current construction.
Personally I wish her luck on this as I think that it is very forward thinking and what she does inside her house should really not be any one’s business. Also, I think her trying to go green and create a zero energy house is amazing! Sorry I did not write down her number but I’m sure you could get it from Joe Martin.
Now the issue that I actually went for, the Median Strip between Taylor and Shepherd Streets, NW. Anyone who is a frequent reader of PoP’s blog knows that this was a pretty hot issue and that the complaints generated from that first posting were a big factor in the DDOT asking the ANC to meet again and discuss this issue. Originally the DDOT had plans to put in a Median with trees and grass extending from Park Road up to Grant Circle. Historically the churches along N. Hampshire Ave have been allowed to park their cars on the current medians for Sunday services. The 1st Baptist Church which uses the median area in question requested that the ANC ask the DDOT to not put the new median project into place in that area so they could continue to park.
Tonight this topic was revisited. First to speak was Tim Jones from the ANC board. He pushed for the continued use of parking for the church. Anna Chamberlin, from the DDOT came to state that the DDOT’s goal was to create a project that the community accepted. They need to hear what the community wants. They are willing to consider suggestions for what can be done instead such as double parking or angled parking, etc. She did state that they want to start on this in Oct. and that the project is to help traffic calming, provide pedestrian…( I think she said havens), and green space that would help with storm draining collections.
Also at the meeting was Pastor Tucker of the 1st Baptist Church who expressed his appreciate to the people who gave their sympathy to an organization established for so long in the community. He said that he knows it’s impossible to resolve the needs for parking with the increase of people moving into the area with all the new condos and development. He also said he wanted to do what he could to help people cross safely if necessary. He knows that there will never be enough parking but he asks his neighbors to help and provide their support for their need.
Grayson Dickson, the chairman of the Randolph Street Block also supports this view and is submitting a letter expressing his support. There were, it seemed a lot of church members from the 1st Baptist Church out tonight providing their support for continued median parking.
There were however only a few of us who were opposed to this that were in attendance. Myself, Chris, and Garret the architect were all in strong agreement that continuing to allow the church to park there was unfair to the community as a whole. Garrett reminded everyone that the young girl’s death was the impetus for the project and that this was a safety issue. He also stated that it was an altruistic request to keep parking there because only the church benefited from it. Why could he not park on the median when it suited him. Chris second this point by adding that it was not fair not only to the residential community who would not get the safety and beautification of this project but that it was not fair to the other local businesses. How come Sweet Mango or any other store on N. Hampshire Ave could not have its customers park on the Median to allow them easier access to them. He also brought up the fact that many of the parkers on the median were in fact not even residents of DC and was met with the reply that it was always the new people who wanted these changes and that the people in MD were born and raised in DC but left to try to live better lives. (Interesting…the new people want to live here and the old people from MD, abandoned DC…) Also mentioned by Chris and Garrett was the fact that the metro is a perfectly acceptable form of transportation and that if there was trouble finding parking maybe more people should utilize it. Chris also suggested that the issue of parking should really be the church’s concern.
I myself agreed with what Chris and Garrett said and also mentioned that they were actually justifying having 10-15 cars park closer to the church over the entire communities’ safety. I think it can be a fact that while they may lose their parking everyone in this area could benefit with being safer while only the church group could benefit from parking there. That they were basically saying that it was ok that for their 1 day of the week that they need to park closer to the door that the fact that people were afraid for their lives to ride their bikes down N. Hampshire or that people die crossing it is justifiable.
When talk reverted back to the angled parking questions were asked as to how much more parking would be provided. Anna Chamberlin said they would have to do some measurements to know for sure but that angled parking would always be able to provide more parking than single filed line, as to how much it was uncertain at this point. She also mentioned that this was done in other areas with similar parking issues successfully. Lisle suggested we contact these other groups to ask them about their experiences. However, this suggestion of angled parking was met with criticism from those who want to continue parking the way they do now with comments like “my car is too nice to have someone racing down N. Hampshire Ave crashing into the back of my car”.
In the end a Task Force sign up sheet was created. Joe Martin asked how many people would be interested in working on this and amazingly only a small portion of those that chose to spoke raised their hands. I’m not sure exactly what this task force will accomplish but I am excited to attend the first meeting. If you missed the meeting and would like to join the task force I’m sure you can contact Joe Martin and let him know. He still wants to hear more from the people closest to this strip to get a feeling for what they think and no decisions were made tonight other than an agreement to keep talking and working together to reach some sort of general consensus.