ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION 3E
TENLEYTOWN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS
CHEVY CHASE WAKEFIELD FORT GAINES
c/o Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home 5425 Western Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20015
January 14, 2016, 7:3O pm
The meeting convened at 7:33 PM. Commissioners Wallace, Hall, Bender, McHugh and Quinn were present.
Announcements / Open Forum– opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
No open forum announcements were made.
Presentation by 2nd District Police
Cmdr. Gresham and Lt. Hill from the 2nd District provided an update on crime trends in the area. Since the December meeting, there were four violent crimes in PSA 202. Two were robberies without guns, one of which was a “Craigslist robbery” and the other was of a woman walking alone at night. There were two assaults with deadly weapons with arrests made in both incidents and one burglary. Thefts are down 9%; most thefts are from retail establishments and package thefts, although Lt. Hill noted that thefts from autos which had a been in decline were up during the period. Finally, two autos were stolen this month.
Cmdr. Gresham announced a new crime deterrent pilot program called Capital Shield. For a very low maintenance fee, Kastle Systems will install video cameras at establishments such as churches, schools and small businesses that had not installed security cameras because of cost or unfamiliarity with security systems. Capital Shield is important because it gives law enforcement access to video footage from additional locations to help them solve crimes.
Commissioners posed a number of questions about traffic and pedestrian safety. Commissioner McHugh asked if a Traffic Control Officer could be posted to the intersection of 40th and Brandywine Streets where Wilson HS is located to control traffic and pedestrians at school dismissal times. He asked about installing a traffic camera at the intersection of Wisconsin Ave. and Albemarle St.
Commissioner Quinn asked about MPD’s traffic enforcement efforts and Commissioners McHugh and Bender asked about the process for reporting automobile accidents that involve pedestrians. Commissioner Bender stated that his daughter recently was struck by a car at the intersection of 41st and Chesapeake Streets and noted that the investigation seemed quite cursory. Commissioner Bender questioned whether MPD was collecting enough data about traffic accidents involving pedestrians and what the public should expect from an investigation. Lt. Hill indicated that the investigation of a serious crash could take six to twelve months before any charges were filed. He stated further that the MPD Major Crash Unit responds only in cases involving death or life-threatening injury, and investigations into all other incidents in which pedestrians are struck are, in fact, quite limited.
Attendees asked if parties involved in a crash and members of the general public could obtain copies of police reports; Lt. Hill said that redacted reports are available to the general public under the Freedom of Information Act.
Commissioner Hall asked about the police response to the bomb threat at Whole Foods earlier in the week.
Lt. Hill reminded the audience that if you witness a crime or see something suspicious call 911. For any other questions, email Alan.firstname.lastname@example.org
Presentation by and discussion with Mayor Muriel Bowser regarding District of Columbia priority issues
Mayor Bowser stated that her primary focus during her first year in office has been on funding an affordable housing trust fund, investing in schools, and ending homelessness. She spoke about the Vision Zero initiative which is intended to make DC roads safer for pedestrians, transit users, and bicyclists, the Safer Stronger DC plan (initiatives to reduce violent crime in 5 PSAs), and her plan to close the DC General Emergency Homeless Shelter.
Attendees asked why DC agencies do not consistently give great weight to ANC resolutions and the lack of a central resource to track resolutions and their outcomes. Other questions included the selection of swing space during the renovation of Murch Elementary School; two campaign finance bills introduced by the Council; development along Wisconsin Ave. and the accompanying increase in density; plea bargains for violent offenses; fines for excessive speeding on residential streets; increasing real estate taxes and property assessments; last year’s budget cuts at Wilson High School; and a homeless man seeking help finding a safe place to live.
Commissioner Wallace thanked the Mayor for awarding the Tenleytown Main Street grant.
Commissioner Quinn thanked the Mayor for her commitment to Vision Zero and said he supports higher fines for people driving 25 mph over the posted speed limit and recommended the City consider allowing low-income offenders to perform community service instead of paying a fine. He noted that MPD and DDOT appear to respond to squeaky wheels approach and urged them take a more thoughtful approach to enforcement. He noted that traffic and pedestrian safety improvements such as bulb-outs, could and should be made part of every infrastructure improvement project. Finally, he also voiced his support for smart growth and planning in Upper Northwest.
Commissioner Hall spoke about the problems with funding at Wilson High School and the need for outdoor space and community space in this area. She applauded the Mayor’s efforts to help homeless families but noted the needs of homeless individuals.
Commissioner McHugh also commented on school funding and noted that the comprehensive staffing plan appears to penalize schools for their popularity. He mentioned problems with the design and funding of the Friendship Park improvements.
Commissioner Bender discussed issues related to affordable housing and development in the neighborhood. He noted that a developer in the neighborhood sought to obtain a significant portion of public space to build on without directly compensating the District for the land, and asked whether the Mayor would support such a move. The Mayor said the District occasionally permits very small portions of alleys and the like to be transferred to developers without charge, but in this case, with over 5,000 sq ft of public space at issue, “I think we’d expect to be paid,” she said. Commissioner Bender noted that in analogous situations, the District requires “payment” in the form of affordable housing at the site, and he urged the Mayor to do so in this instance.
Commissioner Bender also raised the issue of pedestrian safety and suggested that MPD should be collecting more data after accidents to better support her Vision Zero initiative. Mayor Bowser offered to have a complete Vision Zero presentation made to the ANC so these and other issues could be more fully explored.
Presentation by CM Elissa Silverman, and possible vote on resolution, regarding campaign finance reform bills
Councilmember Elissa Silverman (Ind., At-Large) spoke about projects she worked on during her first year on the DC Council. She co-sponsored the Universal Paid Family Leave Act which would allow for up to 16 weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a sick family member. There will be a public hearing on the act on February 11.
The Council is currently considering the construction of a $55M practice facility for the Wizards at St Elizabeth’s Campus. While supporters of the facility believe it will be a catalyst for development in Ward 8, CM Silverman questions the use of taxpayer dollars for the project, believes a mixed use development would be more beneficial to the neighborhood, and thinks that Ted Leonsis should pay for part or all of the facility or reimburse the city if the projected financial benefits to Ward 8 do not come to pass. Lastly, she noted that the practice facility includes a large number of on-site parking spaces which Silverman believes will encourage visitors to drive in and out of the facility and not spend time in the neighborhood.
Commissioner Hall stated that if the facility is approved, the city should demand time for community/league use of the facilities. Commissioner McHugh said he would support the facility if a “clawback” were included.
CM Silverman also discussed two campaign finance bills that are making their way through the Council. Silverman’s bill would eliminate campaign contributions by limited liability companies and corporations and tighten the rules on indirect expenditures by PACs. David Grosso (Ind., At-Large) introduced a bill that would provide public funding for political campaigns using a 5 to 1 match for all money contributed to a candidate. Both bills are in committee and are awaiting hearing dates. Commissioner Quinn noted that constituent services funds are far more likely to be abused than campaign finances. Councilmember Silverman replied that she would support one fund for the entire council to share instead of individual funds and establish strict guidelines for its use. Commissioner McHugh asked how Grosso’s bill would be funded. The city would budget for it and candidates must meet certain fundraising minimums to gain matching funds. Commissioner Wallace stated that while she agrees that campaign finance is a problem, she disagrees with the proposed solution. She asked how much the matching funds would cost the city. The bill has not been scored yet. Commissioner Bender would be in favor of both bills in principle but would like to see more details on Grosso’s bill. CM Silverman noted that other jurisdictions, such as Seattle, had proposed interesting variations on public financing, and she would be happy to explore those with the ANC.
Discussion of and possible vote on resolution regarding addition of raised crosswalk and related pedestrian safety improvements near Chesapeake and 40th at the path to Deal Middle School
Commissioner McHugh introduced a resolution to address pedestrian safety of Deal and Wilson students around Chesapeake and Brandywine Streets. The crosswalk to the “cowpath” on Chesapeake St is a busy intersection that does not have a stop sign or a raised crosswalk. The resolution also requests additional stop signs at the intersections of Chesapeake and 40th Streets and Chesapeake and 41st Street, and additional traffic control measures at the intersection of Brandywine, 40th St and Ft Drive. An attendee noted that Communikids, a local preschool, frequently uses the intersection of 41st and Chesapeake to get to Fort Reno and face speeding traffic every day, and Commissioner Bender suggested noting that fact in the resolution. Commissioner Wallace suggested changing some typos and Commissioner McHugh offered to change the title of the resolution. Commissioner Quinn suggested the resolution be more focused and the title was changed and the Brandywine intersections were removed. Commissioner McHugh made a motion to approve the resolution as amended and Commissioner Bender seconded the motion. The motion was approved 5-0-0.
Discussion of and possible vote on resolution urging DDOT and the Office of Zoning Administration to examine possibly illegal / grandfathered / unsafe curb cuts and parking spaces along Wisconsin Avenue
Commissioner Quinn stated that he was interested in tackling pedestrian safety and aesthetics on and around Wisconsin Ave and introduced a resolution asking DDOT to review the myriad illegal curb cuts and parking spaces in public parking. Commissioner Quinn noted that if DDOT were to eliminate all these illegal curb cuts and parking spaces, some small businesses might be adversely affected. Commissioner Bender suggested they add a few sentences to the resolution asking DDOT to provide some leeway to small businesses who might have no other options while reviewing the issues. Commissioner Wallace made a motion to approve the amended resolution and Commissioner Bender seconded the motion. The motion was approved 5-0.
- Security Fund Resolution. Commission Quinn moved and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of December 2015 meeting minutes. Commissioner Bender moved and Commissioner Wallace seconded a motion to approve the December meeting minutes. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of expenditures. Commissioner Quinn moved and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve payments of $543.75 to Sherry Cohen for administrative support, $37.62 to FedEx for copying services and $25 for the Security Fund Resolution. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of 2016 budget, meeting schedule, and officers. Commissioner Bender moved and Commissioner Hall seconded a motion to approve the budget as amended, the tentative schedule to meet on the second Thursday of each month, and to re-elect the current slate of officers. The motions were approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:40