BACA Meeting Minutes from Jan. 9, 2017

In preparation for our February meeting, here our last month’s meeting minutes, including a long discussion with MPD and about the Richardson Place Development (see sections at the beginning and end of minutes). Hope to see you on Monday, February 6!

7:00-7:04 Welcome/opening remarks – Kyle Thomas, President
7:04-7:28, 8:07 Discussion of Richardson Place development from Peter with Oaktree Development

–          Noted he can’t answer things involving the pending appeal but will answer what he can; involves 410-412 Richardson place, 2 two-family flats so 4 units total, plan to rent out to young professionals through co-living company “Common” – see, idea is to share common space

–          They bought the property in April and took over to finish structure which is now done except for punch lists

–          Discussion re parking/whether expect residents to have vehicles since this is on small street – in general common says people don’t usually have cars, would be surprised if more than 4 cars which is amount of spaces required to have; there will be 24 total bedrooms so resident noted it’s possible to have 24 cars

–          Question where else does this exist because sounds like residential living/dorm – rep compares it to condo like in Dupont, agree to disagree about that, otherwise Common has similar properties in New York and San Fran

–          Question what is certificate of occupancy request? They think “family” means no more than 6 unrelated people and zoning council agreed with that

–          They don’t think double occupancy per unit will be allowed, but question about how will they enforce that? Common has to have lease according to DC rules, developer doesn’t have control over that because based on lease

–          cost per unit is up to Common

–          longtime resident of Richardson Place noted the scope of the project has changed from 4 row houses to this co-living project so residents are worried about amount of cars and people coming in and out – developer disagrees with contention that they have been violating DC laws throughout project

–          Kyle noted BACA has different control/input than ANC and DC council etc, our concerns are lack of engagement and parking issues – we can get together with ANC, Oaktree is here tonight in response to our request to address concerns

–          Developer stated that they don’t usually do full resident/neighborhood engagement unless need to seek relief/variance of some sort but they didn’t need that when they got involved with this project – matter of right project

–          They are construction/development company and are leasing building through Common – question is there a Common representative we can engage with? There’s someone who lives in neighborhood so he’ll try to get a liaison for us from them but may need to wait until after the appeal process is done

–          Residents discussed history of prior variance requests and outcomes, concerns that there has been illegal construction over the years – several neighbors have asked to go in property, he is happy to let us in as early as tomorrow

–          Question is there any control they have over Common as lessor to limit parking to what is expected? Keeping in mind appeal in process they’ve been working with neighbors and are open to offering residential parking permit restrictions

–          Resident involved in appeal said they filed appeal so as not to have the deadline run out, they haven’t heard anything in response from Oak Tree or Common – representative noted appeal before BZA in March/April will determine if appeal was timely and whether construction was illegal etc – resident asked are they willing to work with civic association to address concerns before official hearing/appeal process dates? Best efforts yes but it’s somewhat out of his hands, he’s here tonight against advice of their counsel

–          Currently there is no certificate of occupancy

–          Resident says don’t think developer can actually enforce restriction of parking permit under DC rules

–          Resident requests to give us presentation as to the history of this property, with or without Peter present; appeal is of public record on BZA’s website

–          Resume after MPD presentation– developed stayed to allow chance for additional questions but no more so thanks to him for coming

7:29-8:06 MPD Updates – Sgt. Brown from MPD shared stats on crime and discussed community concerns

–          Violent crime is down – 3 ADW cases 2 of which were domestic, 1 robbery gun case still under investigation, 56% spike in theft from autos probably part due to holiday season and in NW area of PSA 501 people tend to look for certain cars, a lot of maids/cleaning services are leaving valuable items in vehicles

–          New bike officer Williams will be in circle area and on N. Capitol around Dollar Store and in NoMa which is now under PSA 501

–          In next few months there may be different officers because reorganizing to have more officers on street and avoid gap between shifts when more times tend to occur

–          Long and sincere discussion of MPD’s response to recent murder of Tricia McCauley, Sgt. Brown was actually one of the first responders, advises to not assume the worst but be cautious when approached by panhandlers, noted there are problems with MPD arresting people repeatedly but them being let out and continuing to commit crimes, problems with the court/justice system and some laws need to change; MPD has been trying to focus on using more bike officers and check the system to see if there is a pattern of troublesome behavior for panhandlers

–          Kyle noted there were multiple failures not under MPD’s control but there are also problems in our area involving loitering, drinking, marijuana consumption in public so suggested getting tough on those – discussion of difficulty enforcing those laws

–          Suggested to contact the captain or Lt. Verna and request focused approach at certain areas such as less obviously uniformed officers for gun recovery and narcotics, but her reporting back from our meeting won’t be enough to get something going

–          Discussion about struggle with resources to cover all areas of the city when some areas have much more crime, hopeful that new 4 10s organization will have better coverage in our area, also Segues/bikes/ foot beats who can’t easily be pulled to other areas and tend to “see the unseen” so can make more arrests

–          if you have somewhere police can be in your unit to have a direct line to observe crime let them know – resident noted she had tried to offer units in coop on Q St but was refused by Ltnt. Verna, to discuss further after meeting

–          Kyle noted we could write letters to MPD and Councilmember’s office to request more funding to put more officers in our area

–          Resident requested ideas on how we can help support specific changes to system – noted system is antiquated and very high recidivism so there is too much for courts/city to keep up with, use text tip line 50411 that gets pinged out to whatever PSA is involved so report crimes/suspicious behavior to get investigation started, if something feels strange just call it in

–          Greg Upwall (resident and close friend of Tricia McCauley) gave summary that it wasn’t MPD missing things in this case because suspect had been arrested many times, judge had suggested mental evaluation and GPS monitor but neither was done while he was in court system 11 days earlier, this has been a longstanding problem, DC’s criminal justice system doesn’t want to just lock people up but give them a chance but there appears to be disconnect of when more forceful alternatives should be implemented such as if there are multiple arrests; he and others are forming a group to do letter writing campaigns and notify key personnel including as to federal funding to see about oversight hearings and why the ball is being dropped so frequently, setting up website with instructions and useful information for advocacy

–          hopefully at next BACA meeting MPD captain will attend too, should express our concerns to her as well as Ltnt. Verna

8:08-8:17 Councilmember (CM) McDuffie’s Office Updates from Communication Director Nolan Treadway (former communications director Kate Mitchell is staying with the judiciary committee but no longer with CM McDuffie)

–          He took notes about crime concerns, expressed sympathy as to Tricia McCauley from himself and CM who both have friends who knew her personally

–          Swear-ins completed, see CM updates flyer including link to MPD updates

–          CM is now chair of economic/business development committee (no longer judiciary committee), also tracking G9 bus that will be another route that CM secured funds for last year, now hoping for March roll out of new bus route

–          First legislative meeting of council is tomorrow – one bill being introduced is voter address confidentiality bill, also task force to address workforce housing around institutions either on or offsite to address affordability in district

–          Question who is new chair of judiciary committee? It is CM Allen – two of CM McDuffie’s former staff who were on judiciary committee transferred to Allen so some of former staff will be continuing, thinks CM Allen is looking into some of the gaps in the criminal justice system as mentioned earlier, such as CSOSA that is involved in supervisory after court action and is appointed by president for 5-year term with no real oversight by DC, noted efforts by residents to try get a hearing or roundtable, Kyle noted can also reach out to Kate Mitchell

–          Question about status of DCRA and committee as a whole

8:19-8:40 Residents/members of Richardson Place Neighborhood Association (RPNA) re status of appeal and history of property

–          They were in negotiations with Peter from Oaktree which were productive but Common never came to table, they filed appeal because deadline was soon

–          noted not assuming BACA in general is against the development, block association’s position is that enforcement power lies between Oak Tree and Common and they don’t appear to have any disincentive to double occupancy, they would not give an agreement as to how to avoid that

–          discussion as to negotiations so far regarding parking restrictions and preventing over-occupancy – bottom line concern is they’ve built an apartment building and called it flats

–          Question will CM McD’s office be attending BZA hearing? Nolan Treadway noted probably not because not sure what their office could do – resident suggested that something that could be wider effect than our neighborhood is that current zoning regulations don’t really accommodate this use so want to avoid that as precedent, also to extent it is allowed under current R-4 than can’t have 60% occupancy and should amend it to 40% occupancy (?) as allowed – see BZA website for more details, would be first co-living in DC

–          Block Association’s position is that if there were actually 4 single families per unit then would be okay but that’s not what’s happening and instead it’s individuals leasing out each room and believe this will be much greater impact on community than 4 families including because renters vs owners

–          Question what does building permit say? 2-family flat

–          Resident on other street noted there could be another perspective that there is crisis of lack of affordable housing in this city, companies are looking at ways to reconsider how to address that, this is essentially Uber of affordable housing so old zoning rules won’t cover it – look at White House paper on housing affordability – block association agreed okay as a concept not necessarily bad but need to address potential adverse aspects on neighborhood, noted they’re doing a build first/ask later approach instead of a proper approach to try to do a new business model; noted primary concerns appears to be parking

–          Block association rep noted that proposed rent is around $1,700(?)

–          Kyle requested association to present request for BACA to consider and will vote at next meeting, asked ANC Commissioners to talk about their role

8:40-8:48 ANC Commissioner Updates – Bradley Thomas (5E05) and new Commissioner Katherine (Katie) McClelland (5E06)

–          Richardson Place is in CM McClelland’s jurisdiction – next deadline is March 8

–          CM Thomas noted there are also some matters involving 3rd and P on that hearing date – small condo and single-family home, same developer for both lots is seeking BZA exception, those developers should be coming to Feb. BACA meeting and then ANC meeting after that before March BZA hearing

–          CM McClelland noted BACA members can vote to have resolution as to either project if desired, usually ANC puts forward what civic association says

–          Kyle noted dues paying members can vote per BACA bylaws

–          CM McClelland will have meet and greet as new commissioner at Big Bear last Saturday in January – although no access to email yet

–          CM Thomas will be having SMD 5E05 meeting on Saturday Jan. 28 at Dunbar too, also see his email re what concerns want to be addressed in next 6 months

8:49-8:50 Wrap-up by Kyle: email him if have things want to focus on for next meeting about Richardson Place development, also email other ideas or requests

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