November 09, 2021
Zoom Virtual Meeting
Officers Present: Dan Schramm, Joe Miller, Leila Duman, and Fred Jackson, René McCray
1. Welcome – Dan Schramm
Dan welcomed everyone and again noted that anyone interested in serving as BNCA president in the future should reach out to him as he will not be running for BNCA President next year.
2. Treasurer’s Report – Joe Miller
Joe shared that November was a quiet month.
- $5,874.34 at the beginning of the month.
- $144.22 were deposited in membership fees and there were no expenses.
- $6,018.56 at the end of the month, of which $108.29 are GoFundMe Funds leaving $5,910.27 in the bank account.
He also noted BNCA is considering which charitable donation options or campaigns to make over the holiday season. The last of the GoFundMe amount will be used to cover part of Brookland Union Baptist Church Thanksgiving meals. Anyone with other gift ideas should reach out to the board.
The Treasurer’s report was accepted with no objections.
3. FOIA How-To: Miranda Spivack (DC Open Government Coalition)
Miranda provided a truncated training in how to submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIS) requests:
- Most public agencies in DC are subject to FOIA laws.
- If something is enforced, inspected, licensed, or purchased, there is probably a public record. FOIA requires agencies to make a reasonable effort to locate existing records if requested.
- The first suggestion is simply to ask a contact at the organization for records before submitting a formal request, as many will oblige.
- FOIA in DC mirrors Federal law; DC has an Office of Open Government that can provide assistance (opengovoffice[AT]dc[DOT]org 202-481-3411)
- To make an online request, use the portal https://foia-dc.gov/ which will direct you to the proper agency.
- Cite FOIA and ask that any fees are waived, citing public interest, which sometimes works.
- DC has a 15 business day response time, which is better than many other places, though they can also cite unusual circumstances which will give them an extension.
- Feel free to reach out to the DC Open Government Coalition volunteer board members, which includes layers and government experts, who will help you to file a request (info[AT]dcogc[DOT]org 202-780-6020).
4. Reed Street Discussion: Developing a BNCA position on the Project and Community Benefits
Dan introduced the upcoming Reed St Development, the evolution of which BNCA has been following for a couple years. At the October BNCA meeting, the developer, Hannover Co., presented their plans for buildings, traffic, parking, and the community impact the development will have. The development package will be submitted by February, so they are attempting to garner community agreement before then. The Hannover presentation from last week is available on the BNCA website.
After meeting with Hannover, the neighbors to the development have some asks they would like to share with the developer. This evening we will discuss these asks and look for input from BNCA members as BNCA considers what to advocate for in the development process.
Andrei P presented on behalf of the nearby neighbors to the development. Their proposed priorities are:
- Density and height of buildings — limits on height, planting vergatiatve strips to assist in runoff and drainage, and increasing affordable housing proportions and the number of higher bedroom affordable units proposed.
- Construction Impact — developing a Construction Management plan is requested, as is surveying existing conditions of adjacent properties before and during construction, and establishing a Community Advisory Council.
- Connection with the Community — suggestions include community meeting spaces, Reed St streetscaping to accommodate a farmer’s market, Maker’s space for rent, Noyes Park enhancements, and donations to Brookland groups such as the Intergenerational Village.
- Traffic/Circulation — traffic calming tactics in the alleys and stop signs and crosswalks at intersections are requested, as is a comprehensive circulation/traffic study for the site to include existing traffic counts nearby to determine what impact the addition of 1,000+ residents will have
He also provided asks for DDoT such as a traffic light at Reed and Franklin and noted that the property management will need to have a way to address potential ongoing nuisance issues.
Dan thanked the neighbors for their work and opened the discussion to the attendees. Discussion covered numerous topics including:
- Discussion of building height. Generally, near the tracks may be fine to be higher but nearer the existing houses may be preferable to match the shoulder of existing buildings. However, it was noted that by reducing height the developer will have fewer total units and thus fewer of them will be affordable.
- The importance of having adequate affordable housing units was returned to repeatedly.
- The traffic plan and parking may be problematic if new residents do not use the garage (which should accommodate a car for around 50% of the units). The development would restrict residents from having residential parking permits which may mitigate parking issues nearby. One thing to check is if the income restricted apartments will have access to one of the parking spaces/how those spaces are set to be distributed (i.e. need vs. ability to pay). It was agreed that this is an important topic – it may be possible to reduce the total number of spaces, while ensuring some are reserved for those with most need.
- Traffic safety and calming is absolutely essential especially in light of existing issues in the neighborhood. Further suggested to those already proposed include using curb extensions, raised crosswalks, more bumps, humps or “dots,” and chicane-style design. Pedestrian safety is part of the issue of traffic as are multimodal forms of transportation. Members noted they commute with their children to schools located just on the other side of the Franklin Street bridge. Already traffic is far too dangerous in this area. How will this project make it better?
- It was observed that the addition of a new, off-grid street that connects in with Franklin will completely change the traffic pattern of the area and likely not for the better. This is, in fact, a large ask from the developer that should be reflected in the negotiations.
Determining priorities and what trade offs to make will require continuing conversations.
Dan asked whether the membership was generally comfortable with the topics and “asks” that had been drafted. No formal vote was taken, but the sense of the meeting was general assent.
Once a more final set of improvements and benefits have been negotiated with Hanover, Dan explained that this would likely come back to the membership for a final vote.
4. Neighborhood Announcements
BNCA will try to have representation on the ongoing DC redistricting process.
- Vaccination rates continue to increase across the city.
- Children between 5 and 11 years old are now eligible — Children’s National Hospital, Community of Hope Family and Birth Center, the Safeway Pharmacy on Maryland Ave, and Unity Healthcare are open to vaccinate children in Ward 5.
- DHS is partnering with home providers to help house people experiencing homlessness and people interested in helping can email ahomefortheholidy[AT]dc[DOT]gov.
- Emergency renters assistance is still available.
- Anyone with questions can contact Nokomis Hunter nokomis.hunter[AT]dc[DOT]gov
On Saturday the 13th, the Fort Bunker Hill park cleanup will take place from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. The group will meet at 15th and Otis.
BNCA does not meet in December.
The next BNCA Zoom meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 18th at 7:00 PM ET.