BACA Meeting Minutes – October 2015

BACA Meeting Minutes – Monday, October 5, 2015; Mt. Sinai Church, 3rd and Q St NW

Brief summary: In addition to general discussion about ways to get more involved and get more neighbors involved in BACA, we had a lengthy presentation and discussion from Councilmember McDuffie in person, as well as brief updates from our two ANC Commissioners and from Tommie Jones as Ward 5 Liaison for the Mayor’s Office.  We also had a discussion with an architect and developer for a proposed development at Bates and N. Capitol (who previously presented in May 2015), and a neighbor discussed making the Florida Avenue Park Committee active again….  Please see below for detailed minutes, including upcoming dates of a hearing and ANC and SMD meetings.

I. 7:07-7:12pm Meeting Called to Order and initial remarks – David Hall, President; noted last meeting was a few weeks ago and main topic was crime from MPD and elected officials

II. Review of Last Minutes – Christa Fields, Secretary (present, see above)

III. Treasurer’s Report – Kyle Thomas, Treasurer (not present)

Community Representatives
• (Metropolitan Police Department – MPD Ltnt. was here at about 7:00 but had to leave due to a shooting)

• 7:12-7:18 pm: Commissioner Bradley A. Thomas – 5E05
o Next Single Member District (SMD) meeting is being postponed until Saturday, Oct. 17, due to people wanting to participate in anniversary of Million Man March – at Dunbar High School, starts at 9:30 am
o Vacant/blighted properties and broken glass task forces have been active; would like to have more participation in school and community relations task force as a liaison between Dunbar and charter schools with function to encourage volunteering but also to deal with issues such as parking/traffic and making sure kids are in school
o Next full Area Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) 5E meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 20 at Trinity University on Michigan Ave – 7:00pm until 8:30 or 9:00
o Questions? Discussed function of broken glass task force is to help improve appearance and/or bring agency etc attention to litter, broken windows, etc to discourage unwanted activities

• 7:19-7:51pm: Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie attended and spoke
o Noted increase in certain types of violent crime this year vs last year, Mayor has put forth proposal to address some issues, CM has also put forth proposal as chair of Committee on the Judiciary to address violent crime in a different way by incorporating departments of health and workforce development and human services agencies through preventative measures, MPD is working hard and his proposal is to supplement those efforts; there will be a hearing on Oct. 21 for both proposals, please come testify if you can or submit testimony otherwise
o Mayor sent down emergency legislation to Council relating to fire/EMS services – proposing to contract with third party EMS provider to respond to calls that are lower priority services meaning they don’t require advanced life support, currently hindered in ability to respond to calls and also to maintain fleet of city vehicles, he thinks legislation will allow to provide better quality of care, CM wants this to be short-term solution but cautions again setting a certain timeline to make sure we are able to respond as efficiently and well as possible; question later re how contract would be funded – it would be out of city’s coffers, in many cases city gets reimbursed for transportation, that means city would lose some money from reimbursements where city ambulances would have provided transport, but need to balance priorities and make sure people aren’t dying due to issues with dispatch and response, would provide rigorous oversight over contract and figure out how to fix problems with city’s system so don’t need private long-term
o Questions? There is a lot of loitering including drugs and drinking at Florida Ave and N. Capitol intersection so how are business going to flourish there and attract new businesses? CM is frustrated about that in several Ward 5 locations, he has met with Deputy Mayor for health and human services and Deputy Mayor for public safety and justice to address this issue but is not satisfied with responses, they recognize there is an issue but struggling with how to deal with it, some of the people are not homeless so that’s not the issue, some of them aren’t breaking any laws so MPD can’t do anything, he has asked them to all collaborate to address it somehow, he has had conversations with SOME on how to preserve their important service but get rid of collateral effects such as at intersections, he talks with businesses and N. Capitol Main Street, asks all of us to please send email to administration about this issue and cc his office
o resident suggested increased police presence because she knows several people who have been accosted, CM noted that MPD can’t just have someone there all the time and most of the time when they show up nothing illegal is happening, he is open to more ideas also to increase pressure, another suggestion related to liquor store and residents noted it is closing in one month
o resident noted that liquor stores are allowed to sell single containers in Ward 5 and that seems to contribute to problems at intersection so would like action to change that – CM noted Ward 5 is unique and he has been working on lots of issues related to environmental justice and industrial use concentration, he’s not sure if getting rid of single container sales would fix the issue; Comm’r Thomas noted that Wards 3 and 5 and certain pockets of Wards 2 and 6 are allowed to have single sales; CM wants to address all quality of life issues, he will look into it and look at how other parts of cities who have gotten rid of single sales did it; another resident noted single sales is also a problem at Rhode Island and Florida intersection but realizes need holistic approach to avoid just moving problem
o resident noted that on unit block of Bates people come and park and stay in car all day dealing and using drugs and alcohol, students from Dunbar seem to come over and MPD has been working on it but hasn’t been able to address it, CM noted that challenge is figuring out why are people doing these activities such as do they need a job or do they have substance abuse or mental health issues, most people won’t break the law in front of MPD and arresting people won’t necessarily address the problem; need to raise level of these issues to address it long-term because MPD and other agencies are aware of the issues already; again please send an email to Deputy Mayor Donald (health and human services) and Deputy Mayor Donahue (public safety and justice) and cc his office
o resident of 100 block of Bates has noticed that enforcement seems to be difficult because it is easy to hide in alleys vs streets, he has only seen police cars and vans recently and not people on bikes or walking although has seen those in Shaw – CM acknowledges there are better models of policing and he has been talking with agencies about this such as including social workers in police precincts and hospitals to hopefully avoid retaliation etc, he had experience in his neighborhood of Stronghold with recent rise in robberies and complained about lack of foot/bike patrol and was told it is due to allocation of resources, he will continue to raise that issue because he agrees it would be helpful to have people out of cars, he will work to try to get different resource allocation to deter behavior, he thinks better policing model would result in more trust and people working with police more such as neighbors who may know who criminals are
o resident expressed thanks to CM for participating in youth mentoring program

• 7:51-8:00pm Commissioner Teri J. Quinn – 5E06
o One of biggest issues in her district is loitering at Florida and N. Capitol
o Also homeless people being picked up on unit block of Q St as discussed in prior meetings – she previously reached out to Attorney General’s office, heard back from them today and are working on creative approach to get more movement on that – resident expressed thanks for her work on that which has been very helpful
o No other very pressing issues for our area, none on ANC agenda to specific to SMD 5E06
o Questions? Resident noted that Comm’r helped get gas station to clean up dumpster area at Q and Florida intersection so don’t have crates available for loiterers and that seems to be helping; another resident expressed thanks for help about loitering at Anxo property after last BACA meeting
o Please make sure to let her or Comm’r Thomas and/or CM’s office or 311 if you see something that concerns you – don’t assume they already know about it
o She hears a lot about blighted properties and keeping people from breaking into them or hanging out in front of them, she’s working with neighbors to get properties designated as vacant if they are vacant because otherwise police don’t know if people should be in front of certain properties or not, if there’s a building on your block that is attracting bad activity she can work with DCRA to get it labeled and then notify MPD to keep an eye out, noted there are some properties on Richardson Place that have been a problem for years and residents are wanting more action but there is a limit to what can be done without blight, consequences of blight are a fine or tax consequence so has limited effectiveness, district cannot go in and simply take away property
o Reminder that Bloomingdale house tour is on Oct. 17, have done this event for several years and is always very good, please attend and can purchase tickets

Community Concerns and Guest Presenters
• 8:01-8:25?pm Urban Green LLC, Flywheel Development LLC, and Studio Upwall – Greg Upwall (lives at 203 Bates) and John Miller – RFP Proposal 1520 North Capitol
o in intro David Hall noted they want letter of support try to force decision by city since there has been delay
o Review of proposal and handed out flyer – studio and one bedroom apartments, all income-based affordable, have proposed restaurant owner from San Antonio Grill in Brookland
o they have not been selected to do this project yet, no knowledge of what other teams have applied, they want to engage with community, Greg is very excited about designing locally and in his own neighborhood; they have heard that a decision is expected but it has been delayed since May
o neighbor on unit block of Bates raised concerns of himself and block neighbors, he has also shared concerns with city officials directly – height would block some of sun and it is not aligned with other buildings on street, there is no parking provided and 15 units, most of people who come in at 50-60% AMI aren’t able to sustain that long-term because they exceed those limits soon so worried about it being used as transitional housing, restaurant could cause traffic/parking and trash problems, there’s nowhere for construction and employees to park or put equipment
 commenter noted that Small Area Plan has proposed raising the height and density of buildings on North Capitol; presenters also noted they are well within height limit and are stepping it down on Bates side to bring it in line with current structures, other proposals are not likely to propose 2-story building and there are also taller buildings a few blocks over such as Mundo Verde, thinks 4-story building is well within density pattern
 re parking/traffic the site itself is too small to provide underground parking, he thinks that if there are more efficiency/small units they will be less likely to have cars anyway, no statistics to back that up, he doesn’t have a parking solution but doubts that another proposal would be able to provide one either
 re parking and space for business deliveries and staff they noted that there would likely be a trade-off of having business there to reduce loitering on intersection, resident noted that it’s not a commercial corridor so different parking availability or situations than on 1st Street
 Comm’r Thomas suggested having restriction on parking based on Ward 5 residency, they would be support that and other proactive solutions
o Emphasized this is not their final idea and hasn’t been vetted by city
o another attendee noted that if he was looking at the proposal from DMPed’s view it would be rejected as too small because DC wants to bring as many more people in as possible

• 8:25?-8:28pm Christa Fields, Secretary: as follow-up to comments by David Hall and residents during prior topic about engaging neighbors of Bates street and availability of meeting info to those who don’t use the internet…
o please get involved in BACA such as letting us know what topics you want to hear more about or if you have info to share, also please volunteer to help with activities such as possibly paper flyers or periodic newsletter and/or share info with your neighbors who may not see meeting info, it takes time and effort and sometimes money (for flyers) to get the word out and coordinate topics and speakers for the agenda
o Comm’r Quinn noted that block captains may be a good idea to get non-internet-savvy neighbors informed

• 8:28-8:31pm Ward 5 Liaison, Mayor’s Office – Tommie Jones – they have been working on trash at Florida Ave park, thanks to Comm’r Thomas for community walk after last SMD meeting and now Mayor’s office will be trying to work on issues so he has emailed to request follow-up info, residents can personally contact him 202-664-7512 or and he also talks with David Hall and SMD Comm’rs, he reiterated that they need all parts of community to be involved

• 8:32-8:40pm Discussion about Friends of Florida Ave Park
o David Hall noted in intro that it should be easier to organize things with city now that we are officially 501(c)(3) and can formalize organization with DPR
o prior head of committee moved out of town, Melanie Hudson (neighbor at 16th and New Jersey) would like to get it going again, she and others go to the park with children and current configuration doesn’t seem to be best use of the space
o this park is far down on DPR’s list for renovations due to recent renovation a few years ago, but organized neighbors may be able to get things done, can have BACA as 501(c)(3) be a financial sponsor
o Mundo Verde parents in attendance said they would be interested in helping, residents in general expressed interest in getting committee active again
o Also noted that New York Avenue park is not on DPR’s radar in general and is not on list for renovations
o Comm’r Thomas noted that in past Friends of Florida Ave Park included Bates and Bloomingdale residents, there is also an SMD task force focused on NY Ave park

8:40 PM Adjourn

Next meeting: Monday, November 2, 2015

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