Thursday
Mar302017

March 2017 Meeting Minutes

Tuesday March 21, 2017, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at the Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street, NW.  
Introductions 
Members and visitors present included Chris Young, Monika Pamp, Kurt Staiger, Jeremy VanEss, Daniel Hardy, and Tai Meah (office of CM Nadeau). 
Association Business and Announcements
Agenda Changes
Two items from the agenda were cancelled on short notice: the representative from the Office of People’s Counsel who was scheduled to provide the Hands-on Energy Efficiency Workshop notified us of a sudden conflict in the afternoon, and the representative from P.T.Blooms, LLC, re plans for 1469 Florida Ave NW, asked to visit next month instead due to new information about the project. 
Announcements 
Annual Spring Beautification event scheduled for Saturday, April 29.
Next Meeting: April 21: may include 1469 Florida Ave NW with other items TBA.  
ABRA License Renewals / Updates 
Red Lounge 
Discussed Red Lounge’s (ABRA- 076011, proposed substantial change from restaurant to tavern license). Applicant was invited, both by phone and in person, but did not attend. After discussion, informally decided to take no action, and did not conduct a vote.
Bus Route 59 – Express Service on 14th Street
Considered whether to formally support a proposed express bus on 14th St. The proposal would require and receive new funding from the DC Council, and not displace existing service. Board member Kurt Staiger raised a good question of whether this is an appropriate issue for MHNA. Daniel Hardy raised a logistical question about the route, noting that all busses, whether “express” or not, will move very slowly through Columbia Heights, and questioned whether a different northward route (i.e., up 11th Street) might provide faster service to northern D.C. residents. After discussion, members present voted 5–0 to support the proposal. MHNA will draft a letter of support, and raise the question of whether the route could be optimized to increase its usefulness. 
April 29 Spring Beautification
Moved forward in planning for the annual event. We will meet at Harrison Park at 10 a.m. Saturday as in recent years, but request trash pickup both there and at the bottom of Meridian Hill Park to facilitate more work in the western portion of our boundaries. We also considered steps to promote the event, and outreach to support from neighborhood businesses as well as a post-event social gathering. 
Friday
Mar102017

February 2017 Meeting Minutes

Tuesday February 21, 2017, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Moshe Zusman Photography Studio, 2300 14th Street, NW.
Introductions
Members and visitors present included Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, Monika Pamp, Carole Kramer, Tom Fazzini (office of CM Nadeau), Brianne Nadeau, Mike Lenard (TaKorean).
Councilmember Nadeau spoke briefly, focusing her remarks on citywide concerns about immigration issues, highlighting a new legal services fund to support immigrants and several upcoming events.
Association Business and Announcements
2017 dues level
The 2017 dues level is $25 annually. Members in financial hardship may seek to waive the dues requirement.
Announcements
Announced the 2017 officers from among the current year’s Board: Chris Young – President; Christina Parascandola - Vice President; Monika Pamp – Treasurer; Kenneth Yu - Outreach Coordinator; Kurt Staiger – Secretary.
Annual Spring Beautification event scheduled for Saturday, April 29.
Next Meeting: March 21, featuring energy efficiency presentation from Office of People’s Counsel.
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Franklin Hall
Re the proposed tavern (ABRA No. 103899) for a sizeable beer hall at 1346 Florida Avenue (the Manhattan Laundry building). MHNA largely agreed to the negotiated SA, but proposed compromise language to address the ABC Board’s proposed weakening of parking requirements. Awaiting further communication.
TaKorean (proposed Class “C” Tavern at 1301 U St., NW)
Michael Lenard of TaKorean explained that the establishment will be “fast casual” restaurant primarily serving Korean influenced tacos and bowls in a retail space on the ground floor of The Ellington apartment building. He also explained that the restaurant intends to serve beer and other alcoholic drinks as a small portion of its business. Although the business could meet the food sales requirement of a CR license class, the owners would prefer a Class “C” Tavern license instead, in order to avoid the reporting requirements necessary for the restaurant license class. The business also re-filed its application with shorter service hours than originally posted (ending service at 11pm Sun.-Thurs. and until midnight Fri.-Sat). During a short discussion members expressed some concern about the license classification, and agreed that MHNA should seek to minimize the possibility that the establishment could turn into a full-fledged club. Voted 5-0 to protest with the intention of seeking an SA on those grounds.
DC Office of Planning
Josh Silver and Josh Ghaffari of the Office of Planning presented a comprehensive overview of the DC Comprehensive Plan amendment process. The Comprehensive Plan is the “premier document” in DC land use planning—zoning designations and decisions follow the Comprehensive Plan and may not be inconstant with it. The Office of Planning currently is revising the Comprehensive Plan. It will issue an “open call” for proposed amendments in spring of 2017. Following that, it will issue a draft amendment report later in 2017 with a 60-day comment period and conduct further public engagement. Legislative action by the DC council will be required to implement changes, with action expected in 2018.
The Comprehensive Plan contains ten “area elements” (ours is “Mid-City”) and numerous “citywide elements” covering issues like economic development, housing, urban design, parks recreation & open space, and arts & culture. It also contains a Future Land Use Map that identifies use and density—this is not an actual zoning map, but, at least under current law, zoning must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. It also contains a Generalized Policy Map that identifies areas where more detailed policies may be necessary.
To stay informed about the plan and opportunities to comment and participate, sign up for project alerts at PlanDC.dc.gov. you may propose amendments during the open call for proposed amendments this spring, including on details of the Mid-City Area Element. MHNA may discuss whether to become involved as an organization.
Friday
Nov252016

November 2016 Monthly Meeting Minutes

Tuesday November 15, 2016, 7:00 pm
(The October meeting was cancelled.)
The meeting was held at Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street NW.  
Association Business
2017 Board Nominations 
In addition to the existing slate, Ken Yu of New Hampshire Ave. accepted a nomination to join the Board. The nomination window will remain open through December; please contact any Board member or presidnet@meridianhilldc.org if you are interested or would like to nominate someone else.
2017 dues level
Considered new dues level. Members with long experience in MHNA noted that the dues level has not changed since 1996 when MHNA was established. After brief discussion, it was moved and seconded to increase the 2017 dues level from $20 to $25 annually. The motion passed unanimously.
It was also noted that members in financial hardship may seek to waive the dues requirement, and that members who pay their 2017 dues prior to the end of the year may do so at the lower $20 level.
Holiday /New Year's Party
MHNA Secretary Christina Parascandola offered her house for the annual party. We subsequently set the date as Friday January 13, or Thursday January 12, from 7 – 9 pm.
Fundraising and Development Activities
Participants discussed a "welcome packet" for new neighborhood residents that would provide information about neighborhood and District resources, governmental structure, and local institutions such as MHNA. Associated ideas included a "welcome" page on the MHNA web site that a packet could point to, with occasionally updated information.
A fundraising idea involved a historical walking tour, which could be organized on a fee or donation basis, possibly in conjunction with a historian who has recently written or is currently writing a book about the area. 
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Mulebone Petition to Terminate SA / Renewal Application
Chris reported that negotiations on a settlement agreement were completed, and that the SA was in the process of being filed with ABRA. [Note: after the meeting, the ABC Board considered the SA, and accepted most of the substantive provisions but mandated changes to agreed provisions that simply would have required the establishment to notify concerned neighbors if it seeks to modify its license.
Franklin Hall
This proposed tavern (ABRA license 103899) would be a sizeable beer hall at 1346 Florida Avenue (the Manhattan Laundry building). MHNA, the ANC, and a large group of neighbors on Florida Avenue have been negotiating a settlement addressing potential noise concerns, and last week participated in a mediation conducted by ABRA staff. 
Land Use and Preservation
2213 14th Street (at Florida Ave.)
Chris Young described the proposed residential tower with residential space plus 33 condominiums (with 2 or 3 being affordable), and the requested zoning relief (only 3 parking spaces as opposed to the normally required 12, reduced rear setback, and others)-among other reasons due to financial hardship of complying with the "of right" requirements. The conversation noted that the developer requesting a variance should bear a burden of proof that meeting the requirements is an actual burden, but that the developer, Goldstar Group, did not appear to submit financial pro forma statements at all. Based on this discussion, members voted 5 - 0 to support having Chris oppose the variances at the upcoming hearing before the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment. 
Meridian International Center Project
A petition in opposition to the proposed Meridian Hall development at 1624 Crescent Place NW, has been circulated, and MHNA's Facebook page has been used to promote this petition. MHNA has never discussed this proposal, either at an open meeting nor among the Board. No representatives of the project or of its opponents were present at the meeting.  MHNA still has not considered the proposal.
New Business / Announcements
ABRA Training
Targeted to licensees; Dec 1, 2 - 4 pm
Next scheduled meeting:
January 17, 2016
(May be superseded by the annual New Year's event planned for 1/12 or 1/13 2017)
January Volunteer Event
Plans are in the works for a January volunteer event with Martha's Table

Saturday
Oct152016

September 2016 Meeting Minutes

Tuesday September 20, 2016, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street NW.

Introductions / Etc.
Members present included Board members Chris Young, Christina Parascandola, and Monika Pamp. as well as Jack Farmer, Adam Conner, and Kurt Staiger. Guests included several residents of Florida Avenue, Belmont St., and 15th St., including Brett Wallace, Dara Katz, and Pierre Moster.

Franklin Hall, Proposed Tavern at 1346 Florida Avenue
This proposed tavern (ABRA license 103899) would be a sizeable beer hall at 1346 Florida Avenue (the Manhattan Laundry building). According to the ABRA placard, the proposed tavern would have a total occupancy capacity of 232 patrons, including 40 in an outside seating area.  The proposal would also include live music, inside and out, dancing, and allow for a cover charge for entry. Hours for the establishment, including alcohol sales and consumption, would run from 8am to 2am Sundays through Thursdays, and from 8am to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Also according to the placard, hours for live music, inside and out would run from 6pm to 2am Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6pm to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Several neighbors to the proposed establishment, including members and non-members, attended the meeting and discussed the proposal. Chris Young explained what the placard means, including the various deadlines it establishes, and provided an overview of the ABRA process for community involvement. Meeting attendees had questions about where the outdoor seating would be located, as well as other questions about the planned operation. Unfortunately, an invited representative of Franklin Hall did not attend.
Neighbors and others in attendance at the meeting expressed concern about the size of the establishment (232 patrons), noise (both from the establishment itself and from inebriated patrons leaving), the impacts on parking and traffic including from ride services and taxis on the already-crowded residential street, and other concerns. Some expressed concern that the new 7-11 store attracts people after 3 a.m. already, and may become a noisy magnet after last call.
After discussion, Jack Farmer moved and Adam Conner seconded a motion that MHNA vote to protest the proposed license on grounds of peace order and quiet, effect on traffic and pedestrian safety, and effect on real property values, and that MHNA attempt to pursue an appropriate settlement agreement. The motion passed with a vote of 5 to 0 of members still present at the time of the vote, with zero abstentions.

ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Mulebone
Residents of Union Row have been leading negotiations with the establishment’s owner.  They are ongoing, and it appears that a mutually agreeable settlement agreement likely will be reached.
Other
No other establishments were discussed or raised concerns.

New Business / Announcements

1355/1357 U St NW (Republic Gardens)
Chris Young described the proposed residential tower with residential space plus 33 condominiums (with 2 or 3 being affordable), and the requested zoning relief (only 3 parking spaces as opposed to the normally required 12, reduced rear setback, and others)—among other reasons due to financial hardship of complying with the “of right” requirements. The conversation noted that the developer requesting a variance should bear a burden of proof that meeting the requirements is an actual burden, but that the developer, Goldstar Group, did not appear to submit financial pro forma statements at all. Based on this discussion, members voted 5 – 0 to support having Chris oppose the variances at the upcoming hearing before the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment. 

Next meeting: October 18, 2016

Monday
Aug222016

July 2016 Meeting Minutes

The meeting was held at Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street NW
Introductions / Etc.
Members present included Chris Young, Stewart Bunn, Christina Parascandola, and Daniel Hardy. Guests included residents Dorothea Whitaker, and Jessica Rose, and special guests Lt. Christopher Moore of MDP 3rd District, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, and Tom Fazzini of her office.
Lieutenant Christopher Moore, Metropolitan Police Department, 3rd District (PSA 305)
Lieutenant Moore introduced himself, provided an updates on recent public safety and crime trends in our neighborhood and on policing strategies, provided some tips, and answered questions. Lt. Moore has worked in the 5th and 4th Districts before joining the 3rd District, where he oversees activity in PSA 305.
He notes that activity is greater on weekends, associated with activity in the U Street and 14th Street clubs. There is always a summer uptick in crime, and theft from autos and robberies are issues on weekends. The nightlife units remain active during those times. Lt. Moore noted that likely because of those units, and the existence of more witnesses on U Street, violent incents and robberies seem to occur north and south of U Street (more so to the south, for some reason). Also considering the nightlife units, Lt. Moore has instructed his officers to move off of U Street into the surrounding streets. Chris and members thanked him for this deployment, which we have asked about in previous meetings.
Remain alert. During the past year there has been a slight uptick in incidents involving guns (7 to this point last year, 10 this year), as well as in robberies with force and violence. Trees and shadows make it easier for perpetrators to hide on side streets. Lt. Moore said that he instructs his offers to present themselves to everyone entering an alley late at night, if only as a reminder, as that may unsafe for an inebriated person leaving an establishment. He stated that perpetrators of robbery generally work in groups of two or more, including at least one lookout.
The midnight summer curfew for juveniles is in force. DC has no loitering law, but groups may be in violation of an “obstruction” if blocking passage on a sidewalk. Lt. Moore also stated that the nighttime noise law can be a useful tool for officers. Finally, he reminded residents to call 911 with safety concerns; dispatchers can effectively prioritize urgent emergencies.
Members asked questions about traffic enforcement (pedestrian safety appears to be declining at some busy intersections) and about potential over use of sirens. We passed on thanks for improved enforcement of no parking rules in the 14th St. bike lanes. Last, several members wanted to thank Lt. Moore, and our professional police force, for their professionalism and good work. Particularly in the context of recent national events. To put in a good word, contact Diane Groomes.
Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1
Councilmember Nadeau provided updates from the Ward. The recent multi-day power outage affecting the corner of 14th and V Streets, in particular the Union Row building, was a major event. The Councilmember reported that PEPCO will conduct a post-mortem investigation.
CM Nadeau also provided information about Meridian Hill Park. Maintenance has been poor this summer due to a lapsed contract for mowing, etc.; the National Park Service (NPS) has struggled to keep up minimum maintenance with spare capacity from nearby parks. The bathrooms are working. NPS will look at providing more water sources for visitors. The fountain pumps have been out of service, but should be restored before the end of the summer.
The Council is in recess. The end of the term included action on increasing the DC minimum wage, procurement policies, and adding numbers to the police force. She noted that the security camera rebate program is ongoing. In more local news, Portner Place financing was approved about a month and a half ago [note: author unclear what this entailed]. CM Nadeau stated she is interested in maintaining the affordable affording that already exists in Ward 1, such as Columbia Heights Village.
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Mulebone.
Residents of Union Row have been leading negotiations with the establishment’s owner. 
Florida Avenue
We have seen press reports of a beer hall on Florida Avenue in the Manhattan Laundry building, but have not seen any notice of application from ABRA.
New Business / Announcements
Next meeting:
September 20, 2016