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.

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.


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. 

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.


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).


September 19, 2017 Walking Tour

In lieu of our regular September 2017 monthly meeting, MHNA sponsored a walking tour of a portion of the Meridian Hill Historical District. Kim Williams, architectural historian, led the tour and provided fascinating historical context, including about Mary Foote Henderson and her controversial role in establishing the existing park, and the various embassy and other buildings up 16th St.
Following the tour, we walked to Pizzeria Vetri on 14th and Florida, to continue the various discussions. Pizzeria Vetri graciously provided space and several delicious pizzas.


July 2017 Meeting Minutes

Tuesday June 20, 2017, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at the Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street, NW. 
Board members included Chris Young, Kurt Staiger, and Monika Pamp. Visitors included Sheika Nikole Reid and Anthony Miller of DC Ticket Reform, Rose Previte of Maydan, and Tai Meah from the office of CM Nadeau. Quorum was present.
Association Business and Announcements
Next Event: Tuesday September 19 Historic Walking Tour led by architectural historian Kim Williams (in lieu of September meeting).
Next Meeting: October 17.
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Maydan (ABRA-106450)
We discussed Maydan’s proposal for a tavern license in the Manhattan Laundry building complex, near the rear side of the 14-W apartment building. The tavern is proposed by the owners of Compass Rose on T St., NW.
A principal owner, Rose Previte, attended our meeting and candidly discussed the business plan. Although intending to operate as a restaurant, the business seeks a tavern license to preserve business flexibility and avoid certain paperwork burdens. It seeks an occupancy of 135 patrons with seating for roughly 100, an endorsement for live entertainment, and hours of operation and alcohol service until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Rose said that the kitchen will close at 11 pm. There will be no outdoor seating. After a polite conversation members present voted unanimously to protest in support of a settlement agreement sought by nearby residents on Florida Avenue.
New Business
Public Safety
We discussed issues regarding public safety and crime, following news that a well-liked cashier at Yes Organic Market was assaulted and injured by three youth on W Street as he left work recently. We also heard stories about a robbery on 14th Street mid-day, and from Rose that a violent sexual assault occurred behind Matchbox last week. Members discussed general public safety and policing issues, and raised questions about how crime statistics are recorded, as well as whether the statistics include more than events that are reported in the MPD’s daily crime report. Meeting participants were interested in being more involved in these issues. We may co-host a meeting with the DC MPD and the National Park Police. Participants in the discussion generally agreed that youth issues are difficult to solve and that social services may be part of a sustainable solution.
DC Ticket Reform
Sheika Nikole Reid and Anthony Miller of presented an issue regarding DC’s speed camera ticketing policy, in particular the steep escalation of unpaid fines. For example, a $150 citation doubles to $300 if not paid within 30 days, and again to $600 if not paid in 60 days. Due to the potential regressive and disproportionate effect upon DC residents with limited ability to pay, the group has sought legislation in the DC Council to amend the fine escalation policy. For more information see https://www.facebook.com/groups/1030844003681788/