Sunday
May272018

May 2018 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes – Tuesday May 15, 2018
The meeting was held at the Gingras Center, 1419 V St NW, at 7 pm.
(Note the April meeting was cancelled.)

Introductions
Board members included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, and Monika Pamp. Visitors included DC Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Tai Meah from the office of CM Nadeau, and Mohammed Rashed and Hani Abo Awad for Pal Mediterranean Spot. A quorum was present.

Councilmember Brianne Nadeau
Councilmember Nadeau provided an update from the day’s budget hearing, among other things, reporting that (1) funding was allocated to provide full-time staff at Harrison Recreation Center (this is widely viewed as needed and the news was well-received); (2) it is possible that Harrison Park and Recreation Center will have a program partner, but it will not be the Anthony Bowen YMCA as previously considered; (3) she succeeded in securing funding for a dog park in Columbia Heights; (4) weekend pool hours will resume at Marie Reed in fiscal year 2019, as well as morning hours at outdoor pools; and (5) the schools budget is adequate for the year. she also reported on criminal justice reform and social integration, and issues of access to justice and legal representation for the immigrant community.

15th and U Sunoco station
A concerned resident who raised an issue of unnecessary noise ricocheting up the new alley caused by the new Berkshire 15 apartments was not in attendance. We discussed possible interventions and solutions to the problem, and will continue the discussion.

Meridian Hill Park Cooperation
Chris reported that interest in improving the Park seems strong this year. He has heard from residents of the Northumberland on New Hampshire who are interested in working on several improvements such as turf, painted benches, etc. They have been corresponding with NPS about these potential projects and the associated budget. He also received other inquiries from a resident of the 1300 block of Corcoran, among others. We discussed working with Commissioner Ackerman, Washington Parks and People, or other groups. The discussion will continue. The Rita Bright project will earmark 15 of the 50 units for seniors.

ABRA License Renewals / Updates

Mediterranean Spot
Pal The Mediterranean Spot (ABRA-092484) has submitted a Request for Substantial Change to ABRA to extend its hours of alcohol sales to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. We had a long discussion. Mr. Rashed stated that the establishment currently averages about $70 per night in alcohol sales. He also stated that he wants to increase the sales, as well as that there is no live music allowed, and that he is not requesting extending hours of the outside seating area. Concerns raised include that the request contradicts earlier statements made during the original application process, that it represents a change in operations away from being a restaurant to an alcohol centered business, proximity to multiple residences, loud patrons in the outside area, inappropriate placement and use of trash storage facilities, and blocking of rear alley egress of neighbors. Members also noted that most alcohol licensed establishments in the area have a substantive settlement agreement on file. Mr. Rashed stated that he is willing toward an agreement “but can’t promise anything.” Members present voted unanimously to protest the application for substantial change.

Other
Chris in his personal capacity noted his support for a Group of 5 that was dismissed from an ABRA proceeding due to an ANC signing a settlement agreement, even when it was not a party to the proceeding.

Executive Session
Following the open meeting, members of the MHNA Board met briefly and confirmed that the bylaws permit an Officer to retain his or her position for the entire calendar year for which he or she was elected, whether or not he or she continues to reside in the Association boundaries for the entirety of that year.

Sunday
Mar252018

March 2018 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes - Tuesday March 20, 2018
The meeting was held at the Gingras Center, 1419 V St NW, at 7 pm. 
Introductions
Board members included Chris Young and Ken Yu. Other members included Mike Schwartz, Matt Abbruzzese, and Andre Denegri. Visitors included Tai Meah from the office of CM Nadeau, and Kent Boese, Ward 1 Council Candidate. A quorum was present.
Update on Madison Investments / Martha’s Table Redevelopment
BZA Case No. 19705
Chris Young provided an update on MHNA’s brief letter to the Board of Zoning Adjustment opposing the requested special exceptions, in particular relief from the 45-degree slope requirement over neighboring residential zones, following our discussion at the February meeting. He also provided an update about the BZA hearing, which was continued to April 11, after the April ANC 1B meeting. The BZA asked several informed technical questions, to which Madison Investments is expected to reply at the continued hearing. Topics included details about the “subsidy” for arts use, and the form of the “baseline” of right building used to develop comparative shadow studies, among others.
Mike Schwartz noted that the Historic Preservation Review Board hearing is set for Thursday March 22, and that the DC Preservation League wrote a strong opposition to the plan on historic preservation grounds.
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Chris provided brief updates on Busboys and Poets, which is seeking 24-hour operations, and Mediterranean Spot, which is seeking to extend its hours.
Busboys and Poets
Busboys seeks to extend its open hours on Fridays and Saturdays to 24 hours. According to the ABRA placard, it would continue to close at 2 am Sundays through Thursdays.  It seeks to begin serving alcohol two hours earlier on Sunday (at 8 am) with no other changes in alcohol hours.  We have heard little concern about Busboys and Poets. That said, the Protest Petition Deadline is April 2, 2018; parties wishing to oppose the change must file petitions with ABRA by that date.
Mediterranean Spot
Mediterranean Spot has submitted a request for a change in hours and alcohol service from midnight to 2 am and 3 am, despite earlier statements that midnight would be late enough. There is a question whether ABC Board has the discretion to determine what constitutes a "substantial change" under DC Code 25-762 (13). We will monitor the ABRA web site to see what the Board decides.
Candidates Forum
Participants discussed a request for MHNA to co-sponsor a Ward 1 Candidates Forum scheduled for Thursday March 29 at Busboys and Poets, to be moderated by Tom Sherwood. The request includes $50 to help fund Spanish and sign language interpreters. Meeting participants expressed confidence it will be a good event. The Board will consult the treasurer, and consider sponsoring. [NB: following the meeting, the Board decided to sign on as a co-sponsor of the event.]
Annual Spring Beautification
We are still working to select a date. Earth Day 2018 is Sunday, April 22, so Saturday 4/21 or 4/28 would work well. Chris reached out to Washington Parks and People to see if we can coordinate participation in an Earth Day event in Meridian Hill Park, but hasn’t connected.
Kent Boese, Ward 1 Council Candidate
Kent Boese introduced himself and his history supporting communities in Ward 1. He prioritizes community involvement in decisions regarding the built environment and transportation to connect communities, not just the downtown core. He answered questions, and presented a hands-on approach to community involvement and governance.
Councilmember Nadeau Update
Tai noted several…. upcoming events, including Council budget oversight sessions, and constituent walks including one in ANC 1B scheduled for Monday April 9 at 14th and Girard Streets, and an annual public safety meeting April 25, 2018 at 6 – 8 pm at Banneker Recreation Center.

Tuesday
Mar202018

February 2018 Monthly Meeting

Tuesday February 20, 2018, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Judy's Restaurant, 2212 14th St NW, at 7 pm.

Introductions  
Board members included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, Ken Yu, and Monika Pamp. Other members included Wayne Shields, Christopher Ede-Calton, and Andrew Velthaus. Visitors included Tai Meah from the office of CM Nadeau, ANC Commissioner Ackerman, and representatives of the MPD 3rd District. A quorum was present.

Board Elections
The nominees included: Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, Monika Pamp, Ken Yu, and Kurt Staiger. A vote was held. Wayne Shields moved to elect the slate, and Christopher Ede-Calton seconded. The motion passed unanimously.  Congratulations to the 2018 Board.  

Metropolitan Police Department, 3rd District
Several representatives of the 3rd District attended. They provided a brief update of recent crime statistics, noting that crime has been down recently by most measures. Theft from autos is a notable exception to that—all should remember not to leave any objects, especially not objects of value, in a parked car. They also announced that this spring the bicycle tactical unit will begin operation, which brings officers closer to community members, with good mobility throughout the neighborhood.  
We also asked for an update about a February 4 shooting on 14th St. at Euclid. The police acknowledged that the shooting occurred, and stated that the case was closed with no further information to share. In response to a question as to whether the incident might indicate ongoing activity (e.g., gang or another situation that could lead to further safety issues) MPD staff stated that was not a factor in this incident.

Madison Investments / Martha’s Table Redevelopment
BZA Case No. 19705
Representatives of the proposed building on 14th between V and W Streets that will replace Martha’s Table attended to discuss the project. Jake Greenhouse of Madison Investments (the developer) and Eric DeBear of the law firm Cozen O'Connor (the developer’s attorney) attended. Mr. Greenhouse noted that the Elysium Fourteen (1925 14th St.) is an example of one of their local projects, among others in the DC area. Together they provided a detailed overview of the project design and requested exceptions to “of right” zoning requirements. We appreciate that they both stayed far later than anticipated to answer participants’ questions.  
Currently the project plan entails a rental building (subject to change) with 242 rental units, along with 6,000 sq. feet of office space and ground level retail. The development would rise above most of the block between V and W Streets, north of the Provision-14 building[1] on the corner of 14th and V. It will extend to W St, taking over the Valero gas station at W St. It would provide 65-70 parking spaces in an underground garage. The project representatives highlighted plans to maintain the existing streetscape along 14th St, both by preserving and providing setbacks above some of the existing architectural features, and through other design decisions. These other decisions include placing a building entrance in the alley on the west side of the project along with other retail, commercial or entertainment uses (they referred to this as “activating the alley”), and placing the main building entrance on W St, so that no street frontage on 14th St will be taken up by a residential entrance or lobby.  In addition, the developers intend to incorporate “arts” features and amenities, including an outdoor space on the roof of the existing “garage” building in the center of the block. The proposed building will be 85 feet, 11 1/8 inches tall, as measured from the uphill W St side of the structure.  
The project requires approvals, and requests relief from certain zoning requirements, as discussed below. Participants at the meeting raised questions about other aspects of the proposal as well.  
The total height will be about 2 feet 10⅝ inches taller than what ARTS-3 zoning rules permit of right, according to post-meeting calculation. The rules allow for 75’ of “basic” height, up to 83½ feet including livable penthouse space and mechanical equipment.  The project seeks an exception from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for the difference. A related request involves the angle at which the top of the building will slant inward at the higher floors. DC rules required that when a building abuts a residential zone, as this one does, normally it must slant back away from the residential zone starting where the building is above 50 feet. This rule helps maintain air and light in residential zones where the buildings are not allowed to reach such heights at all.  Finally from BZA, the development seeks an exception from a lot occupancy requirement on the second floor.
In addition to these exceptions from “of right” zoning rules, which require BZA approval, the developers also seek approvals from HPRB and DDOT. Participants did not raise questions about the historic preservation aspects of the proposal, but HPRB must approve the design because the project lies within the U Street Historical District and includes several contributing structures. DDOT approval is required because of the existing curb cuts at the gas station and need to position an entrance to the underground parking garage.  
As permitted under zoning rules, bay windows would project above W St, outward from the property line, on upper floors. Some participants expressed displeasure that the bay windows may jut six feet over the sidewalk on W St, obscuring the view down that street from 14th St.
The project’s incorporation of “arts” also raised questions. Plans call for a lit artistic video display within the building along 14th St. The representatives also said that plans for the “activated” alley will also entail “arts,” but could not provide details. Finally, the proposed “arts” space over roof of garage building, underneath the proposed bridge portion of the building, is intended for “arts” use. The representatives stated that access would be controlled, but did not clarify whether that would be by the building management or a commercial tenant. They also stated that they are unsure how entrance and egress would work. There is an elevator shaft in the alley, but the representatives stated they were not sure they would use it. Despite some questions, participants could not determine exactly what the “arts” use will entail.[2]  
In response to a question about the arts overlay zoning requirement that limits the amount of eating and drinking establishments on a block, the project representatives stated that they had not considered how adding retail space in the alley would affect the requirement, and stated it is an open question whether the rule would include the alley.  
One attendee noted that in the past, one of the Martha’s Table plots was used as an auto repair shop, and was known to dump oil on the site. Thus, there may be an environmental remediation issue in addition to whatever may be discovered around the Valero gas station’s underground storage tank.  The same attendee also reminded us that an architect unfortunately passed away due to carbon monoxide asphyxiation in the cellar beneath one of the buildings, and suggested that some kind of memorial to that person would be appropriate.  

New Business  
Spring Beautification Day  
We briefly discussed whether to organize the event for April 21 or April 14, but tabled the discussion due to the length of the discussion with Madison Investments.   


[1]That building will remain, and the Madison Investments project does not own it. The owners have entered a sort of “air rights” agreement that allows Madison Investments to put windows on the south side of its project above that building, and to be considered a “through lot” for DC regulatory purposes.

[2] At an earlier, separate meeting, residents of Union Row raised questions about noise, and whether the rooftop space would be a bar, or regularly involve music.

Saturday
Dec302017

November 21, 2017 Monthly Meeting

Tuesday November 21, 2017, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at the Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street, NW. 

Introductions
Board members included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, and Monika Pamp. Visitors included Tai Meah from the office of CM Nadeau. A quorum was present.

Association Business and Announcements
Annual Post-Holiday Party and January Meeting
We discussed dates and ideas for MHNA’s annual holiday season social event. We discussed holding the event at a local restaurant such as Piola or Judy’s, or the home of a member. Monika Pamp offered her and Daniel’s home. The next regular meeting is scheduled for January 16, 2018. Board members agreed to decide details via email. [NB:  The Board subsequently decided to hold the event January 16 in a member’s home. Please contact Chris or Monika for details or to offer a dish.]

Fundraising and Other Plans for 2018
Meeting participants discussed goals for 2018. In addition to fundraising ideas, suggestions included further liaison and communication with public safety institutions (MPD and NPP), cooperation with Washington Parks and People, and building on the success and momentum of our September historic walking tour.

Harrison Recreation Center
The rec center has been closed since April 2017, with staff reassigned elsewhere, although the playground remained open. At a recent meeting held at MPCS, DPR announced that it is considering a “program partner” agreement with the YMCA to run membership-based programming at the site, replacing the previous free services. Apparently, an application would be available for lower income children to request scholarships. Reaction, both at the earlier meeting and at the MHNA meeting, was skeptical.

New Business
2018 Board Nominations 
Nominations for 2018 Board Members are open. please email suggestions to President@MeridianhillDC.org.  

Ward 1 Short-Term Family Housing Site
The transitional housing facility initially proposed for 10th and V Streets NW (back in February 2016) has a new final proposed location. Tai confirmed that 35 units of short-term family housing, and 15 units of permanent supportive housing for seniors, is slated to be built at 2500 14th St NW, along with improvements to the Rita Bright Family and Youth Center.

Monday
Nov062017

October 2017 Social Meeting

Members met for a happy hour meeting October 17 at Quarter+Glory on 14th Street. We discussed upcoming events, including the possibility of a Ward 1 DC Council Candidates' Forum, collaboration with Washington Parks & People, and futher interaction with local law enforcement (both MPD and U.S. Park Police).