October 2018 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes - Tuesday September 18, 2018
The meeting was held at the Gingras Center, 1419 V St NW, at 7 pm. 

Board members included Chris Young and Ken Yu. Visitors included Tai Meah from the office of Councilmember Nadeau, John Green (representing the Office of the Attorney General), Dan Winston, and Christopher Ede-Calton. A quorum was present.

Office of Attorney General (John Green)
In his capacity as Community Engagement Coordinator for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, John Green, who also current ANC serves as Commissioner for SMD 1B-05, provided an update on the activities of the OAG.  He emphasized that the OAG has primary jurisdiction over juvenile crime. He also emphasized that that the District has a law mandating the reporting of child abuse, trafficking, and neglect. This law applies to all, with particular provisions applicable to “mandatory reporters” including teachers and other child care workers. To report child abuse, call 202-671-SAFE [202-671-7233].
John also discussed the OAG’s prosecutorial discretion in the area of youth justice, mentioning the ACE (Alternatives to the Court Experience) diversion program. Other programs include a new Special Victims Unit that will address crimes directed at children, elderly people, disabled people, and other vulnerable groups, and a Financial Crimes division that conducts its work with the US Attorney.

ANC 1B-12 Candidate Daniel Winston
Dan Winston currently serves on the ANC transportation committee as co-chair. He attended our meeting to introduce himself and explain his candidacy for ANC 1B-12, the SMD seat that John Green is stepping down from. He discussed his commitment to traffic safety and the District’s “vision zero” program, ANC openness, and guiding new development to benefit the community.

Community Updates
ANC 1B-05 Candidate Christopher Ede-Calton
Christopher Ede-Calton was not on the agenda but attended the meeting and introduced himself. He is running for the ANC seat to be vacated by Nathan Ackerman (1B05). He discussed his desire to be responsive to community needs, and available to his constituents.
Tai Meah of CM Nadeau
Tai provided an update on current DC Council activity.

Meridian Hill Park Cooperation
The National Park Service (NPS) organized a meeting Oct. 17 from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Library (3160 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20010).
DC Parks and People scheduled park cleanup Saturday 10/20. Will anyone from MHNA attend?

New Business
Meeting attendees continued the conversations informally at Grady’s bar.


September 2018 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes - Tuesday September 18, 2018
The meeting was held at the Gingras Center, 1419 V St NW, at 7 pm. 
Board members included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, and Ken Yu. Other members included Mike Schwartz, Matt Abbruzzese, and Scott Clark. Visitors included Reuben Forman from the Office of the Mayor, Tai Meah from the office of Councilmember Nadeau, several members of Keep Meridian Hill Green, including Gary Youngblood and Phyllis Blair. Commissioner Amanda Fox Perry of ANC 1C also attended, as well as at least one new neighborhood resident. A quorum was present.
Chris provided a brief overview of the association and its boundaries.

Keep Meridian Hill Green (KMHG)
Gary Youngblood of KMHG provided a history of the group and its goals, seeking to ensure that any development on the site of the Meridian International Center (just across 16th Street from the park) is sensible and follows the District’s approved zoning and other land use requirements. first, Mr. Youngblood described KMHG’s platform: (1) to address community concerns, including ensuring that community input is addressed by government institutions; (2) enforce DC law, namely the DC future land use map and zoning rules; and (3) save our existing trees. More information is currently available on KMHG’s web site [].  The presentation discussed at our meeting is here.
We spent time discussing the administrative history and process related to the International Center’s request to build a large conference center and a 110-unit residential building on the site across from Meridian Hill Park. In particular we discussed, both in an initial presentation and in answer to audience question, the International Center’s controversial relief from DC taxes, an earlier finding that it was exempt from certain rules because it is a “school,” (which does not appear to be the case), and that exception’s relationship to a requested departure from approved zoning to extend the R4 zoning area into an existing mapped R2 area.  Apparently 8 of the 110 units would be designated low income for residents earning 80% of the area median income (currently about $117,000 based on information from HUD). We also addressed questions about whether the ANC has received its legally-entitled "great weight," what are details and the actual cost of the International Center’s 100% tax exemption, and how the DC Comprehensive Plan should govern any requested exceptions to zoning regulations. Finally, KMHG representatives noted that DC law and policy specifically protects the existing tree canopy, which is an additional policy concern stemming from the development proposal.
Members present at the meeting supported using MHNA’s listserv to distribute information about the organization, and expressed support for slowing down the process so resident concerns may be considered. We agreed to consider a formal action in support of KMHG at an appropriate point in the process.

Meridian Hill Park Cooperation
Following upon recent discussions, we discussed opportunities to work with volunteer efforts in the Park, and potentially to initiate action around any priorities we identify. The next cleanups organized by Washington Parks & People will occur 9/22 and 10/20. 

Other Business
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Mediterranean Spot settlement agreement was signed. In doing so, Chris Young observed that it should not serve a precedent. Unique circumstances regarding the situation and location of the business allowed this settlement agreement to contain some provisions, particularly noise provisions, that are weaker than existing regulations. In other situations this would not be acceptable.
Again, remember that next year all restaurant and tavern licenses will come up for renewal. Please think about which establishments are a constructive part of our neighborhood community, and which are problem establishments that we should seek to improve through the renewal process.
New Business
Reuben Forman disturbed information about updated rodent and trash rules, to which some attendees raised questions about how to enforce those rules when commercial establishments (restaurants) don’t follow them and contribute to rat problems.
Sadly, we did not have a social event after this meeting.


June 2018 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes - Tuesday June 19, 2018
The meeting was held at Restaurant Judy, 2212 14th Street, NW, at 7 pm. 
Board members included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, Kurt Staiger, and Monika Pamp. Other members in attendance included Daniel Hardy. It was primary election day in DC and no city officials attended. A quorum was present.
Administrative and Association Business
Discussion of Priorities
Meeting participants discussed possible priorities for the upcoming year or so, including strategies for community engagement, promoting volunteerism including in Meridian Hill Park, internet and social media presence, etc.
Meridian Hill Park Cooperation
Chris noted ongoing interest in the condition of the park, as previously discussed. We agreed this is an issue worth working on, and an opportunity to engage more members of the community. We will follow up with people who have expressed interest and possibly work with other interested organizations.
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
A mediation with ABRA staff regarding Mediterranean Spot’s proposed license change occurred June 14. It was not conclusive, but the owner seemed at least somewhat open to discussing a settlement agreement.
Next year, all restaurant and tavern licenses will come up for renewal. Members are encouraged to think about which establishments are a constructive part of our neighborhood community, and which are problem establishments that we should seek to improve through the renewal process.
Board Succession
Meeting participants discussed the composition of the Board, whether to enlarge it, and expectations of Board members. Chris suggested that a slightly larger Board that asks relatively less of each member may be a more efficient way to maintain the organization’s stability. (Last month the Board clarified that an Officer may retain his or her position for the duration of the calendar year for which he or she was elected, even if he or moves out of MHNA boundaries during that year.)
New Business
In his personal capacity Chris noted his support for a Group of 5 that was dismissed from an ABRA proceeding because ANC 1B signed a settlement agreement, even though the ANC was not a party to the proceeding and previously decided not to intervene.  MHNA did not have time to consider whether to intervene formally in. Members generally agreed that dismissing community input for such a procedural reason stifles input and sends a chilling message about government openness.


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.)

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.

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.


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. 
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.