BNCA Meeting Notes
July 21 2020
Officers Present: Helen LaCroix, Terence Hardy, Kathy Jacquart, René McCray, Fred Jackson
Dan: Welcome everyone. It’s good to see you all. Our first agenda item is our Treasurer’s Report.
Terence: Good evening. I’m presenting the report for the month ending June 30. $4,397.62 was our beginning balance. We have not had that much activity. Some membership dues. $154.66 came in via PayPal, which included some donations. Zero expenses. We ended with $4,552.28 ending cash balance.This aligns with our TD Bank balance shown on our statement. Our members total 234. We have 5 new members. I’m officially submitting this report to the association for approval.
Dan: I should note, we voted at our first online meeting to do business online. We do a truncated version of this procedure with the treasurer’s report. If I hear no objections from dues-paying members then it’s accepted.
No objections. Report accepted.
Dan: We noticed zero expenditures in our officers meeting and there’s a lot of need in the community. We are launching a campaign to support another neighborhood group. Thanks to René for alerting us to the Brookland Union Baptist Church which has a food pantry. There’s economic distress in the community and we can step up. I will include information about how to make donations and volunteer in my communication to members. Thank you Renè for looking into that for us. Please look for information on this for ways to support Brookland Union Baptist Church with their work.
Rene: They’ve been doing this for several months now and seeing an uptick in need among Brookland residents. Please think about canned goods, rice, whatever you can spare.
Dan: Our next agenda item is a presentation by representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They are a Federal office and prosecute Federal and local crimes. They had been interested in coming to Civic Association for some time and I’m excited to have them. I noted to them we had a great conversation last month with CM McDuffie about racial justice and BLM and asked them to think about that in their presentation. At this point I’m turning it over to Magdalena Acevedo and Monica Veney.
Monica Veeny: Thank you. And thank you for Commissioner Amin who is a great advocate. The US Attorney’s Office has a monthly report called the 5D Court Report. It’s a listing of everyone who has been arrested in 5th District. Location of arrest, when it occurred, and name of USAO attorney involved in the case and charging number. Also if you want to write a community impact statement you can do that. The victim gets a chance to speak to the court and to the judge, and the community does too. Those are collected 10 days before the court date, we take steps to get to judge in plenty of time. You can make an argument to the judge about someone’s character and whether they should go hard or soft.
I have a couple of events to share. Thursday July 24th at 6:30 p.m. we’ll have a Court Bias presentation. And August 20th at 6:30 p.m. Hate Crimes presentation via WebEx. You’ll get info on email.
Magdalena: Part of our job is to try to listen to the community and be one with the community–we work for the community. I’m a community prosecutor. Don’t have a caseload, my job is to bring court programming and training to the community. Be a link between you and USAO. Programming about hate crimes and hate groups, childhood trauma and involvement in the criminal justice system, programs about knowing your rights in interactions with police, we can do those for any group. We have pressure from the administration when it comes to highly political cases but are left to our own devices to do what is best for the community. We have a lot of diversion programs to keep people in jail who should be there. Get others services so they can stay out. I had a case with a distinguished gentleman with heroin addiction, got treatment and thanked everyone in the system for helping him. I’m trying to bring that approach to USAO. Our office has always had conversations about racial justice and LGBT issues. Most prosecutors do their job with that in mind. We have multiple working groups to figure out how we can best serve the community and not become a cog in the wheel of systemic racism. Every other week I serve as screener, talking to officers and everyone involved to see if we’re going to take on the case. We don’t proceed with cases involving violations of peoples’ rights. Would be happy to take questions.
Dan: Can you tell us more about your work to monitor and address hate groups?
Answer: 2-3 weeks ago we put together a virtual program with counterparts at the DOJ Office of Civil Rights and Anti-Defamation League looking at current trends with hate groups, what to watch out for. It was a hit and we’ll be bringing it back.
Dan: Is there any activity of hate groups in DC?
Magdalena: we saw it during protests downtown. Don’t see as much as other areas, but there are instances of graffiti. Hard to tell if it’s a hate group or hateful individuals. We have incidents that are investigated as a hate group by MPD and FBI.
Monica can share info about the hate crimes event and how they are prosecuted in DC. We’ll talk about some prosecutions ongoing in DC.
You have my cell phone and please reach out anytime.
Ra: Thank you for coming. We work hard to build partnerships so when we need them they’re there. I’d like to acknowledge Emma Brownstein who is Executive Director of Greater Brookland International Village. Would like to make an introduction. Want to make sure we protect seniors, vulnerable populations, and protect volunteers. Can we have a call with Emma and how we can continue to grow and build as GBIV?
Magdalena: Yes, for sure, the more partnerships the better.
Ra: Excited to make this connection.
Emma: Look forward to chatting with you both.
Dan: great point about knowing who to reach out to when we need it. We have had perennial issues with public safety in a few areas of neighborhood where there are drug dealing and shootings, and the people who live there who are concerned about safety. These are not people who want to bust every kid with a small amount of pot. We’ve worked with folks in the DC government, for example the AGs office. We looked into whether we can have a nuisance case against property owners but it hasn’t gone anywhere No one wants to see vice squads come in and bust everyone. But we don’t know what to do, problems don’t go away, shooting just the other night.
Magdalena: big topic, we could discuss for hours. When I was prosecuting homicides I appreciated the cameras. We have solved so many crimes through video footage. You can participate in criminal investigation without revealing identity. A person arrested in one shooting is usually a suspect in 10 more. There is a camera rebate program. We can have a longer discussion that the community is involved in violent crime prosecution and how to make sure everyone feels safe.[DC MPD camera rebate]
Dan: that would be useful, I’ll follow up. Thank you Monica and Magdalena and we’ll share information out to the community.
Dan: Our next agenda item is a presentation by property owners on Reed Street. They had planned on coming in January but we canceled because we had no space. That time allowed Ra and I to meet with them and neighbors as well. We now feel it is time to bring this matter to BNCA. Then we have a presentation from the neighbors. Nicole Clement is their de facto leader. They did something proactive and admirable–what kind of development do we want to see here? They have a draft of a letter they want BNCA to support and adopt regarding how the properties should be handled within the DC Comp Plan. What the document represents is not a yay or nay on what developers want to talk about — it’s related and goes to the conceptual level of what the neighbors have in mind.
Andy Ross is on the line and Rob Foa.
Andy Ross: Thank you, that was a cold night. Dan and Ra and Nicole and neighbors have been great to work with virtually. Rob Foa of Metropolis Capitol Advisors and Andy Ross representing owners, I’m a project manager. I’m not in DC and would like to get back. Chip Glasgow from Holland Knight and there’s Kevin Sperry the architect.
One of the objectives of this presentation is to give context to the resolution that follows–that’s the community’s resolution, we’re not taking a position on it.
Priority is to avoid pitfalls, and we’re walking this alongside the Comprehensive Plan. Long overdue wider take on what we are working on. Kevin Sperry would say a lot of sculpting left to go. Fairly complex entitlement process because CP is in process.
Ultimate goals–how does it go from collection of industrial buildings, spaghetti collection of alleys, built for another purpose, to something more cohesive. Franklin and Rocky properties, Jack Sarf, owned Jimmie Muscatello’s. Many conversations and the entitlement process to come.
Site is 9 parcels, goes 250 feet across on north and south ends, Reed street is half street and half alley. In need of modification. 2607 is the hole in the ground where Trammell Crow is building a project – this is not our project. Neighbors we are speaking to are the most adjacent. For clarity we divided the parcel into 3 sections, NE quadrant–sensitive to how close we are with density to row homes. That’s what we’ve tried to solve for with Nicole and Ra and the neighbors. Goal to get to where there wasn’t a need to maximize density on any given piece of the parcel. Embarked in good faith in conversations with Nicole and Ra and feel good about how they are teed up to go forward.
General brick aesthetic similar to Brookland Press. Residential and retail mixed use environment. Some of the larger industrial properties–pressure to get those to something that isn’t PDR. However, the District is trying to protect PDR ground – but this is near the metro station. Retail placemaking on north end of site and how that is a gateway for the next part. Opens up connectivity to trail by the bridge. PDR is Production Distribution and Repair uses–mostly industrial. Can allow for office and commercial. PDR has some scale to it–60 foot matter of right. We’re not focusing on PDR.
Site is broken into 3 pieces. SW block is 90,000 SQF. Bulk of site. Focused on building and lot where Old Town Trolley is housed. Hasn’t been the focus of consternation from the community. The geography is a little challenging. We have an elevation change– 150 to 118 elevation from one side of Franklin St bridge to other. In terms of traffic flow, Evarts as only egress is no go for DDOT. Lot of traffic in the alley between site and row homes on 10th St. Current street bends around the building. How do we get a third point of connection – use Franklin St? Awkward, unsafe intersection bw Franklin and Reed currently.
Creating a buffer from the railroad tracks would be a benefit. Decrease some noise from elevated track.
Have had preliminary conversations with DDOT. Slow rise up Reed Street meeting with Franklin St. That divides the site into three areas. Evarts to Franklin, 5% from alleyway north of Evarts to Franklin. Comfortable to have tables and chairs there. Less slanty than a parking garage.
John Feely: How is the road [being proposed, ie, extending Reed St to Franklin] a buffer? Is there an open space?
Answer: Road can be a buffer, it is about placemaking – room for patio seating; street trees, providing space between buildings for sunlight.
Renè: we spent a lot of money mitigating sewage issues occurring in and around the Metro station, down to 4th st. Has this been integrated into those plans? They’re almost done. We’re talking about building more and building high density–will require more infrastructure.
Kevin (architect): DDOT has to sign on any permit being approved for any project in the District. They manage all piping. DDOT will review and approve. It will automatically happen. Any project of this size will have a major improvement on septic, freshwater, fire protection. It’s currently an alley and making it a street will improve maintenance. Anything that is within the property, the developer pays for it.
Ra: I want to acknowledge Commissioner Feeley and Commissioner Higgins who have joined us.Thank you for joining. All of that stuff is in process of being coordinated by ANC now. You will have an opportunity to meet with Departments to ask those questions. It’s a 5B thing. Nicole and others started a Leadership Engagement Team, I applaud them for doing that. These decisions won’t be made just by BNCA or 5B04. Held in a larger forum through 5B. Important to recognize that ultimately these decisions will be made based on what’s best for the entire city.
Dan: In terms of process, what we’re anticipating here is a PUD, a zoning process where person who has a project goes through enhanced public participation process, involves ANC and immediately affected neighbors, where details get worked out. We submit comments so Zoning Board can take them into consideration, and there’s a community benefit package. I think a PUD process could actually work. So community can have its needs addressed. We’re not there yet, we’re in a conceptual phase.
Andy: The CP [comprehensive plan] update is a necessary part but confusing thing to throw in at the same time. We are looking for CP to get through the council process. I produced a proposal for SW block in 2017 and BNCA did too [Dan: BNCA proposal is for moderate mixed use throughout current PDR area]. OP took proposals and then two years later, did a roadshow, our proposals were both rejected. [However, the OP draft that went to the Council marks the area now as mixed use high density residential and PDR.] We’re all working toward a meeting of the minds that we can do something that works for this space. Nicole seeks clarification on Future Land Use Map categories, it generally aligns with our vision though we won’t take a position on it.
Whether road or building or park is a buffer, we’re trying to create a buffer from existing uses. The City wants lots of affordable housing. There is a need.
Mayor will support housing in this change of use. Changes to inclusionary zoning mean maybe 15-20% at some level of affordability.
We want to be transparent about the size, it’s 4 acres, it’s complex.
Question: have you looked at development to the north of franklin street in the industrial area there? Reuse of industrial buildings on a lower scale? As we go into the PUD process I hope you will be talking about making livable spaces. How is it going to be a beautiful and livable place?
Andy: CP is a guiding document for development in DC, not a document that allows me to do what I want to do. A lot of consideration will be given to that in subsequent conversations.
Question: I live at 10th and Jackson. Not appropriate to keep low-density, industrial space. Building more housing is appropriate.
Andy: I know that project well [referring to Tastemakers] since I did that deal. It would be hard to fill 4 acres with reuse like that. That building was a mayonnaise plant back in the day. It was a unique building and Kirk [Francis – operator of Tastemakers] loves that. Some concepts in retail have been thrown out. Seeing that retail as being neighborhood focused. Want to integrate with north side community focus–Noyes Park.
Andrei: There are other examples of how you do low density reuse–not just building new stuff. We talk in generic terms–what about the details? How many apartments? How many parking spaces? I did an estimate and am thinking this will be 1100 apartments.
Andy: That’s higher than what we’re looking at. SW block allows 400 unit range. NW block range is 250-300, NE 100-150. Maybe about 800 units. As it relates to affordability, we’re doing a hefty percentage, exact numbers are being discussed.
Commissioner Higgins: What does affordability look like? Who are we looking at for these units? Many are still not affordable for every day Joe. What is the percentage and what are the rates?
Andy: I have to dodge, way too early to speak to that. Statutorily driven and DC is making the rules yet. Minimum 10-20%. Level of affordability will be dictated by outcome of DC conversations about expanded IZ program.
Dan: Process has been really constructive, not what we got from Trammell Crow, the community has been really involved. I’m cautiously optimistic, but the devil is in the details. Through Ra at SMD and 5B level, there will be more coming as we move into PUD process.
Want to transition into the presentation about the Comp Plan, one of the ways we can be supportive of appropriate mixed use transit oriented housing while providing protection and predictability for the process.
Nicole: As Dan laid out, we’ll end up with a PUD process that will go through conversations and continued engagement with owners and developers. Andy is representing current owners and then there are developers. The CP, when this moves forward is up in the air. It could be delayed. There is a major piece of that, the Future Land Use Map.. Doesn’t define what land WILL be used for, but it is leaned on when issues are brought forward to the Zoning Commission. Opportunity for the community to document our perspective in public sphere. Says what we are for. Statement of what we would like to see. Overall main concerns are height, density and traffic flow, because of creation of major thoroughfare. We moved to Evarts St 4 years ago–we love sitting on the porch, getting to know neighbors. We want new residents to be part of that. Other concerns–what is impact during and after construction. Rodents, sewage, e.g. — we want to be part of the conversation as we move into the PUD process. More a framework to work with developers as they build something out. Not dedicated to what we have to do or what all the decisions are. Build in segments. Proposal will be looked at holistically. I also am cautiously optimistic.
We’re looking at East, moderate density, mixed use – ~4 stories. West lot, medium density mixed use, 4-7 stories, 60 foot limit, south lot 7-9 stories, 80 foot height limit. Step down approach.
Dan: BNCA proposed moderate mixed use infill development. What the city did in OP’s version that went to council a few months ago, marked the entire area as mixed use high density residential and PDR. Weird thing. We know that OP wants continued industrial use in the city. PUD process in future could have a developer pointing to that saying that the city wants a 90 foot building. Andy and crew don’t necessarily want to do that. What neighbors are proposing is more reasonable, tiered approach.
Irene: I’m a longtime Evarts resident. Thank you to all. I’m hoping that folks think carefully about what we’re trying to be cooperative about. Density. Maybe it’s not good for the city to load everyone into tall buildings just to sleep and then go back and forth to work on the Metro.
Question: How tall is Brookland Press?
Answer: 6 stories and 80 feet.
Question: Max for HDR you’re proposing is 80 feet?
Answer: Trammell Crow will be 80-90 feet, zoned differently. Mixed use 6, that’s a by right situation.
Question: Why is it ok to have a 5 story building on RIA and 10th but that’s too high for you [on the east lot behind the 10th/Evarts residences]?
Nicole: to protect ourselves because there are loopholes for penthouses and similar workarounds. Stepdown density. We assume 5 may be the total height.
Andrei: Doesn’t work to have a 9 story building next to 2 story homes. Need to make sure stepped development is provided.
Question: That 5 story brick building has been there a long time and is across from 2 story building. It’s not unheard of.
Answer: Yes, development has happened in a patchwork pattern. Now we have an opportunity to address it. Also RIA is a commercial corridor more appropriate for taller buildings.
Nicole: Also that building has green space, balconies, with gardens, lots of Brookland in that building. It’s not just the number or height of buildings, but it’s their character.
Question: why is the resolution important right now?
Answer: We started conversations among neighbors in April, knowing the developers want to move, and the council wants to move forward quickly. We want to see something in the public record sooner rather than later, there are a lot of unknowns in the schedule. There is no immediate date we’re trying to meet but we don’t want to be too late.
Question: So the resolution will help developers. Does BNCA think that this will help dialog and conversation with the developers?
Dan: it’s not in line with what OP wants which is HDR and PDR. It’s important to show solidarity from the community with neighbors. I don’t feel empowered to do anything without membership support–will allow us to be effective advocates with council members. These designations are something we will need to fight for. It’s not a foregone conclusion that this is in line with what developers or CM or Council wants. Those stakeholders have interest in maximization of new housing. And I totally understand the rationale for that. Council will take up CP by the end of year at the latest. OP’s view is that they think it’s important to get the Comp Plan changed. We need something to go to CM with. To say this is what we want at the site. Springboard for advocacy. Foundation of what we would be advocating for.
Ra: We missed an opportunity at 2607 Reed St for many different reasons.
Dan: It can be hard for a community group to be proactive. Thanks to the neighbors, we have very specific and reasonable ideas for what should be happening at this site.
Ra: And developers did start to reach out to us early to allow us to have input.
Dan: We would be adopting this as a BNCA letter.
Helen: I move to close debate.
Seconded. No objections to moving to vote.[Voting]
Dan: I verify that a quorum of at least 2 officers and 10 BNCA voting members is present.
3 abstentions, otherwise unanimous vote of membership in support.
Nicole: please reach out directly and I’m happy to put you on our distribution list.
Dan: Thank you, thanks everyone for a great meeting. We will move this matter forward. We’re over time so please send announcements to me via email and I will send it to membership.
Meeting adjourned, 9:05 p.m.