November Meeting Highlights
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4A held its November meeting Tuesday evening at the Metropolitan Police 4th District Headquarters. Here are the top stories that may be of interest to you.
Children’s Hospital at Walter Reed Zoning
For the past three months, representatives from Children’s Hospital have been shepherding a proposal to set zoning standards for the use and development of their portion of the Walter Reed site through various community advisory groups. The land that the hospital was given when the District took control of the former Army Medical Center was not subject to zoning. Children’s wishes to establish two new zones that are consistent with their mission as a public healthcare provider.
Normally, zoning is a mundane affair that goes unnoticed by most city residents. However, in this case, nearby neighbors identified two items of concern in the proposal:
- One of the proposed zones would establish a maximum building height of 110 feet. That’s 25 feet taller than the existing pathology building
- The other zone sets aside a portion for “residential” use for “temporary housing for less than 30 days.”
The consternation over these concepts is magnified by confusion. Throughout the redevelopment process, Children’s has insisted that it doesn’t plan to construct any additional buildings on the site. In conversations on the local message boards and at meetings, people wonder why, if that is the case, Children’s is trying to establish the zones as they are configured.
To address this point, their land-use attorney, Laila Batties, reiterated that Children’s does not have plans to build anything new at this time. And even if they wanted to do so in the future, the deed for the property restricts the use of the land to “the protection of public health including research” and related functions. The site would still be under the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Review Board as well.
There are fears that Children’s could use some of the land for some commercial purpose such as building a hotel. Ms. Batties stated that an example of a “temporary residential” use that she could envision would be temporary housing for families of patients, like a Ronald McDonald House or on-campus housing for researchers.
To address the building height issue, she and her team presented the results of a “line of sight” study from positions on the ground on Fern Street and Alaska Avenue NW. As they were illustrated, the view of a theoretical 110-foot fall building would be blocked by the existing stand of mature trees on the perimeter of the site. She also said that that they are proposing 110 feet instead of the 85 feet of the current pathology building because modern medical standards require 15-foot-tall stories in buildings, and they wouldn’t want to lose an entire floor if this future building were ever to be built.
The hospital has a date before the DC Zoning Commission next month.
After a contentious debate, the Commission voted 4-2-1 in a favor of a resolution to support the requested zoning changes, with caveat that it is still in opposition to any building on the WR campus being over 85 feet tall.
News from Mayor Bowser’s Office
Mayor’s Office – Mayor’s Office of Community Relations liaison Gabrielle Priest shared a few tidbits:
- The DC Office of Planning will hold a DC Comprehensive Plan meeting with the Ward 4 community on November 19th from 6 to 8 pm at Roosevelt High School. As you know, the DC Comprehensive Plan is the enormous planning document the city uses to set its long-term vision for physical growth and change. The Council recently approved introductory portion called the Framework Element. The city and various stakeholders will debate and analyze the rest of the 1,600-page tome for the better part of the next seven months. ANC 4A Chair Gale Black is forming a discussion group to review parts of the plan that are relevant to Ward 4; please contact her if you are interested in participating.
- DC Health Link, the District’s implementation of President Obama’s Healthcare law, is ready for Open Enrollment. In-person enrollment Centers are staffed and ready to serve you. Mary’s Center on Georgia Avenue and the Leadership Council for Healthy Communities at Bertie Backus are the nearest centers. Visit dchealthlink.com to learn more.
News from Councilmember Todd’s Office
Councilmember Todd’s Chief of Staff Sheryl Newman came to share a bushel of legislative activity. The most interesting one was something they dubbed the “Golden Girls Bill”. Introduced along with Councilmember Robert White and others, this bill would provide financial assistance to senior homeowners to rent spare rooms to other senior residents. As proposed, it would provide a one-time grant of $2,500 to help with the costs of modifying the home to accommodate a senior tenant. It would also waive the fees for the Basic Business License normally required by landlords and provide a monthly stipend of up to $300.
Ms. Newman joked that the bill was nicknamed “The Golden Girls Bill” because the 80s sitcom was “his favorite show”. Any wagers on which Councilmember she was referring to??
In addition to mitigating the rising cost of housing, this idea may help reduce the incidence of social isolation and loneliness in senior adults that researchers have linked to negative health conditions such as depression, cognitive decline and heart disease.
This bill (B23-0537) was referred to the committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.
Walter Reed Dog Park, Plaza and Playground
The Commission voted to support the Walter Reed development team’s plans to add a dog park, plaza and playground to the site plan. The master developer will present this plan at the Historic Preservation Review Board’s December meeting.
Lead Water Pipe Replacement
John Deigman from DC Water came to share information about a new program to help residents replace lead water service lines to their homes. This is the pipe that connects the city water supply to your household plumbing.
Lead in water can cause a variety of negative health effects, especially in children and pregnant women. Possible injuries include behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, premature births, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems. Lead was the predominant material used for service lines in homes built in the 1950s or earlier, but records indicate that some homes built as late at 1977 may have them as well.
This new program has three facets:
- If DC Water is replaces lead service pipes in your neighborhood in conjunction with other construction projects, it will replace the pipes on your private property FOR FREE!
- If the portion of lead pipe in public space was replaced with copper in the past and you did not replace the portion on your private property, you can now do so at a reduced cost. Depending on income, residents can receive a 50%, 80% or 100%(free) discount.
- Customers with lead service pipes in neighborhoods without planned capital improvement projects can enroll in the Voluntary Replacement Program. DC Water will pay for all work in public space; the home owner will be responsible for costs on private property.
Fall Leaf Collection
The Department of Public Works annual fall leaf collection program began on Monday and will run through January 24, 2020. Pickup teams are already out working neighborhoods in the norther areas of Ward 4. As always, residents are asked to rake loose leaves into the tree box (or at the curb if there is no tree box) the Sunday before your scheduled collection week. DPW mailed a copy of the leaf collection brochure to every household in the city. Residents can also find the updated schedule on the MyDPW app via the AppStore or GooglePlay.
DPW representative Celeste Duffy noted that they have adjusted the schedule a bit this year. The agency has included a gap week between the two passes of the leaf pickup teams. It hopes that this built-in flexibility will help it overcome past scheduling hurdles due to bad weather. The mechanical leaf pickup equipment does not work on wet leaves.
To learn more about the leaf collection program, please visit dpw.dc.gov.
Georgia Avenue Main Streets Grant Award
Brightwood Community Association President Monica Goletiani announced that its partner, The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, won the competition for the recent Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street grant (the DCNorthStar blog provided a letter of support for this bid).
The purpose of this program is to establish a business district to improve the retention, expansion and attraction of neighborhood-serving retail stores and unify and strengthen the Georgia Avenue commercial corridor.
The Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street program will serve the community from Missouri Avenue NW north to Eastern Avenue and touch the Brightwood, Manor Park, Takoma and Shepherd Park neighborhoods.
Electric scooters, the popular personal mobility devices being seen more frequently all over town, have become somewhat controversial lately. Some DC residents complained at a DC Council hearing on Monday that the devices create problems for many citizens because of careless parking and unsafe riding practices by users. DDOT and the Council are considering increasing the number of licensed scooters in the city to 10,000 while reducing the number of operators from eight to four.
One of those operators is Spin. A representative from the company, Josh Bair, was at the meeting to share information about a new program called “Spin Access”. The program offers free 30-minute scooter rides to moderate income residents. The qualifications for the program are:
- Are you a D.C. resident?
- Are you enrolled in a public benefits program (i.e. utility discount, SNAP, Free or reduced school lunch)?
Visit spin.app/spin-access to learn more.
About Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4A represents the Ward 4 neighborhoods of Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, Brightwood, 16th Street Heights and Crestwood. An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected to two-year terms and serve without pay.
The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government. Although they do not have to follow the ANCs’ advice, District agencies are required to give the ANCs’ recommendations “great weight.”
These are the members of ANC 4A:
|Single Member District||Commissioner||Neighborhood|
|4A01||Phyllis Caudle Green||Colonial Village||4A01@anc.dc.gov|
|4A02||Stacey Lincoln||Shepherd Park||4A02@anc.dc.gov|
|4A03||Stephen A. Whatley||Shepherd Park/Walter Reed/Brightwood||4A03@anc.dc.gov|
|4A06||Candace Tiana Nelson||Brightwood/16th Street Heights||4A06@anc.dc.gov|
|4A07||Marlene Moss||Brightwood/16th Street Heights||4A07@anc.dc.gov|
|4A08||Gale B. Black||Crestwood||4A08@anc|