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
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.
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


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
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

June 2016 Monthly Meeting Minutes

Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association Meeting Minutes
Tuesday June 21, 2016, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Gingras Ecumenical Center, 1419 V Street NW.
Introductions / Etc.
Members present included Chris Young, Kenneth Yu, and Stewart Bunn. Guests included Emily Gibbs and Corey Owens of WeWork.
WeWork Shared Workspace in Manhattan Laundry Building
(1348 Florida Ave., NW)
The historic Manhattan Laundry building, just west of 14th Street on Florida Avenue, will become a shared workspace for small and start-up businesses of all stripes—operated by an international company, WeWork—after several years of use as a charter school. The company also operates a shared work space in Shaw in the old Wonder Bread building, and this facility will be the sixth in the DC area. It is scheduled to open in early August.  MHNA Members have agreed that promoting daytime commerce in our neighborhood is a development priority, and this space, which will have a maximum capacity of over 900 workers using its work, office and meeting space, appears consistent with that goal.
Once open, the building will be staffed for full operation from 9am to 6pm, and open for members/renters at all hours. Members may rent space in a variety of sizes and configurations, intended for small businesses to grow in a flexible and collaborative environment. The space will include multiple conference rooms, and a large shared space appropriate for larger meetings or launch party events.
As discussed at an earlier meeting, WeWork will offer beer to its members. For this reason WeWork has obtained a Tavern license, even though it will not sell alcohol as part of its business or to the general public. The staff, know as Community Team Members, will be ABRA certified. 
The exterior of the historic building will not be modified. Representatives stated that signage typically consists of a decal on the window, which is what they expect here. The interior will preserve as many historic features as possible, including a large smoke stack in the primary large event space. WeWork will not offer parking on site (according to Emily and Corey, most WeWork members do not arrive by car). The street is primarily residential. At the moment, some “school loading” signs are still posted from the time that charter schools occupied the space.
ABRA License Renewals / Updates
Pizzeria Vetri.
Settlement Agreement finalized. (The Board agreed to support a one-time substantial change to Pizzeria Vetri’s liquor license, for DJ entertainment at its opening party June 24.)
MHNA attained standing in both related proceedings: the petition to terminate its Settlement agreement, and the application for renewal of its existing license.  Other parties include roughly half a dozen abutting property owners, a “Group of Five or More” that comprises more than one hundred members, and ANC 1B (for the petition to terminate only).
New Business / Announcements
ABRA training for residents and community organizations,
If you’re interested, a potentially informative training is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, July 28.
Next meeting:
• July 19, 2016

May 26, 2016 Meeting Minutes

Thursday May 26, 2016, 7:00 pm 
The meeting was held in the lobby anteroom of the Union Row Condominium building, 2125 14th Street NW. 
Introductions / Etc.
MHNA President Chris Young opened the meeting Board members in attendance, in addition to Chris, included Monika Pamp and Christina Parascandola.  Roughly twenty residents and two representatives of Mulebone were present: Alisha Byrd and Ericka Byrd-Thompson.  Chris gave a brief overview of the ABRA protest process and categories of groups and organizations that have standing to participate.
Mulebone Application to Renew Liquor License  
License No.: ABRA-078882  (Eatonville)
At the regular May monthly meeting, MHNA voted to oppose Mulebone’s petition to modify or terminate its existing Settlement Agreement (SA).
Mulebone’s representatives stated that the noise level generated by a fundraiser for WPFW radio station, which was held at Mulebone on May 16, 2016, “got out of hand” and “was not what the establishment expected.” The representatives stated that they intend live music to be “ambient,” and have no intention to turn Mulebone into a full-time nightclub. Mulebone’s representatives stated that with the closure of Bohemian Caverns and other establishments that have historically been part of the U St. area’s jazz tradition, there may be a role for live jazz at Mulebone.  They also stated that their intention is to terminate the current Settlement Agreement incorporated in Mulebone’s alcohol license in its entirely so there would be no formal restrictions on music other than that provided by the license class, and that it would be bound by already applicable DC rules such as those applying to noise, waste disposal, etc. Chris Young noted that in MHNA’s experience it can be a benefit to the community if compliance with these rules is listed in an enforceable SA, because it makes enforcement by ABRA simpler and more straightforward.
MHNA members who live in Union Row expressed concern about Mulebone’s violations of the current SA, such as noise emanating from Mulebone, as well as Mulebone’s failure to comply with sanitation rules (trash, grease disposal, leaving loading area / trash room open), etc.  Two members stated that they witnessed Mulebone leaving open a kitchen exit door that is required to remain closed, and improper trash disposal.  Several other members questioned the need to exit the Settlement Agreement, and stated that they would prefer a new SA that is more protective of residents than the existing agreement, including additional and stronger provisions, and questioned the reasonableness of relying on statements by Mulebone’s representatives in light of the establishment’s track record.
Dror Karni moved to protest the renewal application for purposes of entering a settlement agreement. Stewart Bunn seconded. After brief discussion the motion passed unanimously (16 – 0), with no abstentions.
New Business / Announcements
Next meeting:
June 21, 2016 


May 17, 2016 Monthly Meeting Minutes