The chair of a local governing body congratulated four candidates on their unofficial wins in last week’s elections during their monthly meeting Wednesday.
Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission Chair Joel Causey congratulated Commissioners Trupti Patel, Yannik Omictin, Ed Comer, Evelyn Hudson and himself on their unofficial victories after they pulled ahead in their respective election counts, which the D.C. Board of Elections will finalize next month. Commissioners also proposed a grant for a St. Mary’s Court resident who was displaced due to a building fire Tuesday and voted in support of two bills addressing local business recovery and affordable housing.
The D.C. Office of Planning also presented plans for a public life survey that will monitor pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic in Foggy Bottom in the spring.
In case you missed it, here are a few of the meeting’s highlights:
ANC Chair Joel Causey announces commissioners’ unofficial wins
Causey congratulated commissioners on the unofficial election totals, but the DCBOE stopped collecting ballots on Tuesday and hasn’t finalized ANC election results.
As of Sunday, Omictin and Nassar have garnered 69 and 96 percent of their votes, respectively, while Comer has received 67 percent of the vote. Malec has garnered 361 votes, netting about 96 percent of the SMD’s vote share, while Patel received 299 votes and about 90 percent of the total vote share, according to the DCBOE.
Omictin of 2A01 and Jordan Nassar of 2A08 declared their unofficial victories on Twitter last week.
Causey, who currently represents the Single Member District 2A02, the area spanning the uppermost Northwest quadrant of West End, said he won as an unopposed write-in candidate for 2A06, the SMD representing the northeastern side of West End and properties like Yours Truly and the Ritz-Carlton. Commissioner Jeri Epstein confirmed she would be stepping down as 2A06 commissioner in the next term upon Causey’s announcement.
“I do know the results of the write-ins,” Causey said. “I can tell you mine and Commissioner Hudson’s, and that’s all I know. I can’t tell you how many write-ins there were, I can just tell you that in the seven-day period to file, no one filed in our SMDs.”
Commissioner Adam Friend of 2A07, who ran for reelection as a write-in candidate, initially said he did not know the results of the write-in races upon a constituent inquiry about the ANC representatives for the next term. He later announced he would not be returning to the ANC next year, making it likely challenger Dasia Bandy, a junior, will assume his 2A07 seat in January after receiving about 93 percent of the tallied vote Sunday.
Commissioners vote to create grant for displaced St. Mary’s Court fire victim
Commissioners unanimously voted to allocate $10,000 of their budget reserves toward a grant application process aiding residents of a senior living home after a fire in the apartment building caused “catastrophic” damage, injuring and displacing several residents Wednesday afternoon.
Friend said the grant would replace damaged or destroyed belongings in residents’ units in St. Mary’s Court or other costs associated with their temporary displacement. He said the grant will provide some relief for the building’s senior residents, many of whom may be living on a fixed or low income.
“To have that disaster happen where everything in your apartment is gone, it would be hard to come back from,” Friend said.
D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service responders evacuated residents from St. Mary’s Court after a fire broke out from an unknown source on the second floor of the eight-story building Tuesday morning.
Officials said during Wednesday’s meeting there were at least six injuries and more than 10 residents displaced after the incident. They also reported water damage in eight units and smoke damage in many others, while one unit remains uninhabitable due to fire damage.
Julius Terry, a liaison for the Executive Office of the Mayor, said to the commissioners that officials at Medstar and GW Hospital have discharged most of the injured residents sent for evaluation and that 10 residents were displaced because of a power outage on their floor can return starting Thursday. He said the man that lived in the uninhabitable unit is now staying in a hotel where he is receiving support from organizations like the Red Cross, D.C. Department of Human Services and the Office of Tenant Advocacy.
“In this case, the fire was contained to one unit, unit 214, but there’s water damage combined with the smoke damage,” Terry said. “It hit the electric at one point, so there’s a few different issues.”
Terry said officials are operating the elevator again, have replaced smoke detectors and installed a new generator in the building. He said it will take officials two weeks to address water damage and complete fire restoration and that the OTA provides hotel stays for displaced tenants for up to 14 days while building managers and property managers arrange other living arrangements.
Commissioner Causey said the grant may also be vital to the displaced residents because very few of them can afford or own renter’s insurance and the building’s insurance policy doesn’t cover tenants’ personal property. He said this means displaced residents are unlikely to receive any compensation for belongings destroyed in the fire and may also not have the financial means to replace them.
“There are a number of individuals who have either lost everything or have significant damage to their property,” Causey said.
Denise Snyder – the executive director of the Foggy Bottom and West End Village, a neighborhood nonprofit volunteer organization – said she will open a separate checking account for the grant to oversee the contribution and grant process in partnership with the ANC and the Foggy Bottom Association with “full transparency.”
“Besides our concern for our members, we’re concerned about all of the folks who have been significantly impacted by this,” Snyder said. “The village is happy to act as a fiscal agent for any donations that would be made for this relief fund.”
The ANC will host a special meeting on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. to discuss the requirements of the grant application, like the public purpose and local benefit of the fund.
Commissioners pass resolutions supporting economic recovery and affordable housing bills
Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the Rediscover Equitable Central Occupancy Vitality and Encourage Resilient Yield Amendment Act of 2021, a bill At-Large Council member Christina Henderson and Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto cosigned. Patel, who introduced the resolutions, said the bill is a “targeted investment” to incentivize housing and office conversions in Ward 2 and directed toward businesses in the Golden Triangle and Central Business District to prevent them from going into “atrophy.”
“We sadly know since COVID-19 has happened, downtown has become a ghost town,” Patel said. “Restaurants and hotels are not getting the kind of clientele and traffic that they used to.”
Patel said the bill asks for ways to redevelop and reutilize space within Ward 2 to strengthen businesses and bring more people to the area, an issue she said is “deeply personal” for many commissioners in the area after seeing cherished businesses close their doors throughout the pandemic. Patel encouraged other commissioners and constituents to testify their support of the bill before At-Large Elect Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who chairs the D.C. Council’s Business and Economic Development Committee in a hearing of the bill on Nov. 22.
“We want to make sure that this becomes a destination point and that people will want to spend their money here,” Patel said.
Commissioners also voted unanimously in support of the Green New Deal for Housing Amendment Act of 2022, legislation Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis George proposed that will establish a D.C. office of social housing and convert existing properties into city-owned “social housing units” for residents in the District.
Patel said Pinto and four other council members sponsored the bill, which proposes climate-conscious housing accommodations with space allotted for low-, medium- and higher-income residents and looks to find high-paying jobs for the residents of the building.
“It is already being done in the DMV region,” Patel said. “Montgomery County is actually already implementing this.”