Commissioners vote to send resolutions to D.C. Council, plan Francis Field improvements at monthly meeting

Media Credit: Caroline Moore | Photographer

2A03 Commissioner Trupti Patel introduced four resolutions to bring to upcoming D.C. agency performance oversight hearings regarding D.C. transit, housing, wages and properties at an ANC meeting Wednesday.

Local officials passed four resolutions to bring to upcoming D.C. agency performance oversight hearings regarding D.C. transit, housing, wages and properties at a local governing body’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission and District officials also plan to gauge community feedback on renovating a park bordering Foggy Bottom. Commissioners also voiced concerns about the National Park Service’s recent clearing of an encampment of unhoused people in McPherson Square.

In case you missed it, here are a few of the meeting’s highlights:

Commissioners pass four resolutions to bring to WMATA, DOB, DOES, DCHA officials

2A03 Commissioner Trupti Patel introduced and passed four resolutions to bring before the yearly D.C. Council performance oversight hearings, when residents and commissioners can hear updates and give feedback from local District agencies, occurring from Jan. 23 to March 3.

Commissioners passed a resolution calling for increased D.C. train service and a proposal to prioritize neglected properties in ANC 2A. Patel also put forward resolutions pushing city agencies to enforce a measure to increase the city’s tipped minimum wage and prioritize permanent solutions for the District’s affordable housing resources.

Patel said her first resolution – directed toward the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for their department’s hearing late last week – expresses concern about the agency’s level of service and funding because WMATA is “bleeding money” by continuing limited train service while operating on a full budget.

She said the current service schedule closes too early for many workers, especially those who receive low wages and work eight to 10 hours. Commissioners passed the resolution 5-2, with Jim Malec and Ed Comer voting in opposition.

“I just want to go ahead and be able to testify before Council member Charles Allen that they implement policies to promote safe, affordable and reliable transit options for all riders,” Patel said.

Patel also proposed a resolution requesting the D.C. Department of Buildings act with more urgency in addressing “vacant and blighted” properties, illegal construction and dispensing of cannabis in buildings within her single-member district like Circle Arms Apartments. The resolution passed 5-2, with Malec opposing and Joel Causey recusing himself because of a conflict of interest due to his membership on a mayoral board that reviews and updates District construction codes.

Commissioners also unanimously passed a resolution encouraging the D.C. Department of Employment’s “proper” implementation of Initiative 82, a measure that will increase hourly wages for tipped workers from $5.05 to $15.20 over the next four years after District voters passed the measure in November.

She said the District needs more auditors within DOES because it continually claims it can’t fully enforce Initiative 82 and catch “pervasive” wage theft while facing understaffing and funding deficits.

Patel’s final resolution was for the D.C. Housing Authority and called on the Council to reintroduce permanent legislation that prioritizes safe and sanitary public housing, serves lowest-income renters first and strengthens the board’s capacity, expertise and accountability.

She said the resolution seeks financial and operational transparency, stemming from an October Department of Housing and Urban Development report that she said indicated the D.C. Council had “failed” in its oversight, allowing DCHA to go into “complete chaos.”

The resolution passed 6-1, with Malec being the sole opposing vote.

D.C. officials, commissioners discuss plans to renovate Francis Field

Christopher Dyer, the community engagement manager for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, presented upcoming city plans to renovate Francis Field – including new fencing around athletic fields, grading, sod, irrigation and turf in the dog park – as well as upgrades to a park and playground on 26th and I streets.

Dyer said officials are kicking off the $3 million Francis Field project – the green space on the border of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom – with the first of three community meetings this year where constituents can provide initial feedback on March 4 at West End Library from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Officials already hosted one meeting for the $1 million 26th and I Street park project and have slotted the second for March 13, where they will present two or three “concept designs” to the community, he said.

“This is your opportunity to tell us what you want in the project, given the understanding that there are some parameters of budget and space,” Dyer said.

Officials also discussed the process of transferring the jurisdiction of a portion of Francis Field from NPS to the D.C. government.

NPS bought the section of the park in 1913 to form a “buffer” between Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, spanning a part of the field’s dog park to the athletic fields for the School Without Walls.

Meridith Moldenhauer, legal counsel for the D.C. Department of General Services, said a transfer of jurisdiction is when the city, via DGS, places its own facilities and parks on federally-owned land administered through NPS. She said DGS and NPS will work together to declare the transfer’s boundaries and rights under the purview of the District, and then file an application for a TOJ in the D.C. Surveyor’s Office and send it to the National Capital Planning Commission, who will finalize the transfer and submit it to the D.C. Council for approval.

She said they hope to send the application to the Council by July but said the process is “very long.”

“The [transfer of jurisdiction] allows the D.C. government through DGS to administer the rights and manage those specific properties, while the U.S. government keeps ownership interest,” Moldenhauer said.

“A very sad day”: Commissioners voice concern about McPherson Square encampment removal

2A01 Commissioner Yannik Omictin said the NPS’ clearing of an encampment in McPherson Square last week may drive some displaced individuals westward to the Foggy Bottom area.

The encampment, which borders ANC 2A, housed about 70 people and became more populated after D.C. officials cleared other encampments in the city, including those in NoMa, Truxton and Columbus circles and Capitol Hill, according to DCist.

In October, NPS officials announced plans to clear the McPherson Square encampment in April but switched gears in late January, rescheduling the sweep to Feb. 15 and claiming the cleanup would reduce upticks of violence and drug use in the square. Omictin said officials’ reversal left displaced people with “distrust” toward D.C.’s housing services and a little more than two weeks of notice to find other housing options.

City data shows about two-thirds of unhoused people formerly living in the encampment continue to sleep on the street. Omictin said some former McPherson Square residents haven’t finalized housing arrangements through the city despite obtaining housing vouchers because of a lack of funding for case managers — liaisons for those with vouchers who help them into permanent housing.

“It’s frustrating,” Omictin said. “We’ve got all the resources, but we don’t have the people power to actually use those resources.”

ANC approves renewal of liquor license, substantial change to establishment

Officials from WineLAIR, a “private club” near the Ritz Carlton hotel, requested an entertainment endorsement for live jazz or guitar music inside of the premises. The commission approved the application 6-1, with Patel abstaining.

Michael Schultz represented CharBar, a kosher cafe on L Street, in its application for a liquor license. He said while the restaurant does not plan to hire a full bartender, they will train some wait staff to make “basic” cocktails.

Commissioners approved the application 5-2, with Patel opposing and Bandy abstaining because of concerns about the establishment’s lack of a formally-trained bartender.

Nathan Varnell contributed reporting.

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