Summer Update

 

I hope everyone is enjoying a happy and healthy summer. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5E takes a two month break in July and August so I’m taking this opportunity to catch you up on recent developments, a few exciting upcoming events, and some personal news.

 

Recent developments 

Rhode Island Avenue “Pop-up” Bus Lane

As you no doubt are aware, Brookland and Rhode Islane Avenue metro stations have been shut down since July 21 and will continue to be closed until September 3. Thanks to the ANC5E Comprehensive Transportation Resolution we passed in January, and the advocacy efforts of many of you receiving this email, WMATA and DDOT agreed to try out a temporary bus lane on Rhode Island Avenue. While getting traditionally risk-averse government agencies to try something new is a major accomplishment, as we’ve seen in the first week, there remains much to be done in terms of communication and enforcement of the bus lane.

Hopefully the pop-up bus lane is just the first step in a series of improvements that we’ll make to transportation in DC together. I sincerely appreciate the time and energy many of you put into this and hopefully the model of ANC Resolution on subject + public advocacy campaign= change can be replicated moving forward.

In this case, we had an ANC resolution in hand calling for pop-up bus lanes when WMATA announced the Metro closure on February 14. That night, I began emailing WMATA GM Paul Wiedefeld, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian, and WMATA Board Chair and DC Councilmember Jack Evans with the idea that we should try out the bus lane along RI Ave for this closure.

That night, I set up a letter writing campaign on ActionNetwork, and 65 of you sent letters to these three leaders. No doubt, being spammed by the same request can be irritating, but I’m also sure this kept the issue in their minds.

The next day, February 15, we teamed up with GGWash for an editorial and petition campaign, which 44 people signed. On April 3, I delivered these signatures to the recipients. WMATA indicated they were not opposed to the idea, but that implementation would require DDOT support. Over the course of April and May, I followed up extensively with Director Marootian, who took the lead in embracing the idea of “tactical urbanism” and trying something out to mitigate the impact of the shutdown on residents in our neighborhoods. On June 20, WMATA’s press release confirmed the bus lane would be part of the shutdown plans.

We’re hosting a happy hour at Dew Drop Inn next Wednesday, August 1 to talk about this process, our success, and the bus map (ahem) forward. Transit Center will be there with some cameras as well as they’re working on a documentary on the bus lane process.
 
 
RSVP to Happy Hour
 

Transportation

8th St NE Sidewalk

A smaller, but no less significant, petition campaign led to success in getting DDOT to complete the sidewalk on 8th St NE between Monroe and Lawrence. The fact that there is a very limited amount of sidewalk along 8th from Monroe to Franklin, where there are businesses, schools, and a bar, has always surprised me. Adding a sidewalk along this full length is recommended in the 2016 DDOT Brookland-Edgewood Liveability Study. As the Monroe Street Bridge project is currently going on, we chose to focus on the north end of the block. 86 people signed our petition and this item was included in our January ANC5E Resolution. After a community meeting, DDOT agreed to install the sidewalk March 6. My mom came and visited to check out the new sidewalk (during a cold snap that seems a long time ago).

Hamlin Street Bridge

Following the same model of recommended by DDOT + ANC Resolution + advocacy campaign, another item from the Transportation Resolution that we have been advocating for is the Hamlin Street Pedestrian/Cyclist Bridge. Along with collecting 346 signatures on our petition to include funding for the project in this year’s budget, we teamed up with GGWash to write an editorial and do a joint petition campaign.

While the projected cost of the bridge ($5 million based on the comparable Rhode Island Ave pedestrian bridge) is high, we thought $20,000 for a feasibility study in this year’s budget would be a down payment on getting this project done in the future. Unfortunately, there are always competing priorities, and our project was not selected for including in the FY19 budget. I’m open to suggestions for how to continue this campaign either through private donations for a study or in the FY20 budget.

 

Housing

Housing Resolution

Another resolution that ANC5E passed this year was the Comprehensive Plan and Affordable Housing Resolution. My belief is the current system that allows a few individuals to stand in the way of neighborhood-approved developments is fundamentally undemocratic. We need to find alternative resolution methods that don’t include years-long battles waged by a few people in the DC Court of Appeals that overturn the will of the people.

ANC5E certainly doesn’t have all the answers and my personal views don’t match some of the views of the other commissioners. I thought the compromise we reached on this resolution was a good case study in listening respectfully to the experiences of others while still forcefully advocating for our beliefs. 

In the end, the resolution attempts to compromise between concerns about allowing existing residents to stay in place and creating room to grow. We call for mediation in lieu of litigation. I don’t think this is a silver bullet but keeps the process moving. Likewise, we argue that the comprehensive plan should guide but not dictate land-use decisions, which should included the broadest set of voices possible. 

We also highlight the need to allow older residents to “age-in-place”. We need to encourage public programs, PUDs, and by-right development to create spaces for this to happen. Along with being the right thing to do, these residents are a vital resource to the city.

Finally, on affordable housing, our stance is “Yes and Yes”:

Yes: we need more supply to keep up with the rising demand for housing.
Yes: we need more subsidies to maintain the diversity that makes our city great.

St. Paul’s Development Approved by Board of Zoning Adjustment

On July 19, the Board of Zoning Adjustment unanimously approved the development of 60 townhouses at the former St. Paul’s College site at 3015 4th St NE. While I know some neighbors are disappointed in the loss of open space in the neighborhood, I think this development is a good example of how we can implement the ideals set out in the ANC5E Housing Resolution. 

By building on an empty site, no one is displaced from the community and new supply will be created. I’m proud that as part of the negotiations, we got a 50% increase in the affordable component of the project, from 6 homes to 9 homes, and a better diversity of income levels - 3 of the homes will be at each of the 50%, 60%, and 80% of Median Family Income. We also got commitments on buffers to minimize the impact on the existing surrounding community. Finally, the remanning green space in the development -  a natural playscape, a smaller open field, and a pocket park - will be open to the entire community.

 

Upcoming events

Opportunity Zone Designation for Edgewood

In March, we learned about a new designation for tax-advantaged investment in economically distressed areas. I asked Mayor Bowser to include the two census tracts eligible in Edgewood. In addition, thanks to the leadership of Councilmember McDuffie, 8th St businesses are now eligible for Great Street grants. Hopefully these actions will have a long-term impact on the neighborhood as it continues to grow.

Grant for Dance Place Community Day 9/8

In April, ANC5E voted to support a grant for a community day in Edgewood, hosted by Dance Place. Check out their website for more info, but they’ll be free classes for kids and a community cleanup starting at 9:30.  RSVP for the cleanup here.

Personal News

Talk about burying the lede - if you’ve gotten this far, bravo. February 14 was a significant day in the Garnett house, and not just because I stayed up all night writing the bus lane petition. It’s also the day that my wife and I found out we are expecting twins.

The Garnett twins arrive sometime towards the end of this fiscal year so I’ll be stepping down from the ANC at the end of this term. If you know anyone who is interested in running for ANC, let me know as I’d be happy to help out. In the near-term, we’ve got lots to do: hopefully sharing more news about a grocery store on Monroe, cutting the ribbon on the bike lane coming to 4th St NE, and perhaps more development along 8th.

Thanks for reading and for giving me the opportunity to serve.

 

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Winter Update

I wanted to share updates on the recent activities of ANC5E as well as the following upcoming events:

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September Update

I hope everyone had a great summer. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission traditionally takes off the July and August months, so our next meeting will be Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 07:00 PM at Friendship-Armstrong Public Charter School. Here’s a quick roundup of news and notes that impact our Edgewood community.

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June Update

A quick update on the June 20 ANC5E meeting and the June15 ANC5E01 Single Member District (SMD) meeting.

 

June 15 SMD Meeting (video)

Mike Goodno from DDOT presented the plans for the 4th St bike lane (presentation). The bike lane is proposed to run along the west side of 4th St between Franklin and Michigan Ave NE. The plan will remove rush hour parking restrictions on the east side of 4th St. Both of these measures should provide traffic calming on 4th, which is a 4 lane wide road that feels like a highway but connects Trinity University, Lee Montessori, Washington Leadership Academy, and the basilica. I'll continue to work with DDOT as the new development on 4th St takes place to make the street safe and livable for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers.

 

I presented a draft Comprehensive Plan amendment to implement the recommendation of the 2016 Brookland-Edgewood Liveability Study to create a pedestrian bridge over the metro and freight rail tracks at Hamlin Street. I think this bridge would increase the connection between Brookland and Edgewood and provide a safer route for children on both sides of the tracks to school as well as increased foot traffic for business. You can provide comments here.

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BZA 19377 ANC5E Resolution

Update (July 19):

On July 11, the BZA voted unanimously to approve the special exceptions for this project.

Update (May 29):

The BZA hearing has been continued to July 11.

Update (May 22):

The BZA hearing has been continued to May 23 at 9:30. You can see the video from the first part of the hearing here.

Update (March 14):

The BZA hearing for the case has been postponed to April 25 at 9:30.

Update (February 3): 

The BZA hearing for the case has been postponed to March 21 at 9:30.

Update (December 23):

On December 19, ANC5E voted to support the proposed design. The resolution is here.


The BZA hearing for the overall development is currently scheduled for March 14 at 9:30.

Update (December 5):

On December 19, ANC5E will review the proposed design for the new Paulist building, which is part of the proposed Boundary / Elm Street development the ANC reviewed in May. The design, which you can see here, meets the standard of our resolution, which was to set the building 75 feet back from the existing homes in the area.

On November 16, The HPRB Board designated St. Paul’s College, 3015/3025 4th Street NE, a historic landmark in the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites with the modified boundaries recommended by HPO, and recommended that the relevant historical information in the two nominations be combined and archaeological potential be addressed in the final nomination for forwarding to the National Register of Historic Places for listing as of local significance. You can see the staff report and proposed boundaries here.

On October 17, ANC5E voted to support the historic designation application 17-14 and opposes the historic designation application 17-21. You can see the resolution here.

Update (October 9): There are two Historic Preservation nominations (17-14 https://planning.dc.gov/node/1261891 and 17-21 https://planning.dc.gov/node/1278246). Both will be discussed at the October 17 ANC meeting and at the November 16 HPRB meeting.

Update (September 10):  BZA hearing has been postponed to January 10. Historic Preservation Review Board hearing will be at 9 am on October 26: https://planning.dc.gov/node/1176060.

Update (May 29): The BZA hearing has been postponed from May 31 to September 27 as there has been a historic designation application filed.

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I want to update you on the outcome from the May 16 ANC meeting (video starting at 1:44:15). I want to thank my fellow commissioners and the community for their interest and attention to the BZA Case 19377 - St. Paul’s. This wasn’t an easy process nor is it a perfect result, yet I think the end compromise is a fair one. By building a coalition on the Commission, we were able to speak with one voice to the Board of Zoning Adjustment and I will continue to represent the ANC5E01 community at the BZA hearing. 

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Reviewing BZA 19377

A Brief History

On March 18, we held an ANC5E01 Single Member District Meeting at the Edgewood Arts Building. At that meeting, Boundary Companies and Elm Street Development presented their proposed development at 3025 4th St NE. They are working in  coordination with the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle, better known as the Paulist Fathers.

On April 18, the proposed development was presented to the full ANC5E Meeting at Friendship-Armstrong Charter School. You can view the video of the meeting here and the presentation here.
 
On Tuesday, May 16 the 10 members of ANC5E will vote on whether to support the project, oppose the project, or provide no input to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The BZA will meet on May 31 to decide whether to approve the special exception sought for the project. The BZA is required to give “great weight” to the input of the ANC.
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ANC5E01 Community Feedback on BZA 19377

ANC5E01 Community Feedback on BZA 19377

On March 18, we held an ANC5E01 Single Member District Meeting at the Edgewood Arts Building. The topic was the development at 3025 4th St NE proposed by Boundary Companies and Elm Street Development in coordination with the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle, better known as the Paulist Fathers.

I received the below responses to the survey from people who attended the meeting, who participated online, and who I reached during an in-person canvass the neighborhood.

The results below reflect the serious concerns of the ANC5E01 community with the proposed project, particularly the loss of green space and the location of the proposed new Paulist Fathers’ building.

These concerns came from residents located in the Chancellor’s Row community as well as residents living on 4th, 5th, and 6th Streets NE. Several longtime residents of ANC5E01 indicated that the Chancellor’s Row project and the two new charter schools have negatively impacted traffic and parking in the area and that this project has the potential to exacerbate those issues.

While only 1/33 of respondents indicated support for the current plan, 21/32 respondents indicated they would support a plan that reflected additional green space and a different location for the Paulist building.

I appreciate Boundary Companies and Elm Street Development’s willingness to meet with community and take feedback. I am hopeful that an improved plan can continue to provide needed housing (including affordable housing) in a metro-accessible and vibrant neighborhood while reflecting community input and preserving as much useful green space as possible. 

I look forward to providing additional feedback in the lead up to the April 18 ANC5E meeting. Please feel free to reach out to me with responses that I can provide to the community.

 

Commissioner Eddie Garnett

ANC5E01

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