This is an expanded version of the meeting summary that appears in the December 2016 Burleith Bell. Voting results were announced in a November 12 email to BCA members and in the November 13 Annual Meeting Vote Report post.
The November 10 meeting at Washington International School was called to order at 7 pm with nearly 80 BCA members and guests in attendance. Upon arrival and registration, BCA members were handed a ballot to elect the Board for 2017. The ballot also included a vote on whether or not to retain the phrase “including safeguarding the neighborhood's heritage;” which the Board added to the bylaws in May.
State of Burleith. BCA President Eric Langenbacher opened the meeting and provided a recap of the association’s 2016 activities: popular community events (e.g., summer picnic, Halloween party, and Santa visits); special interest groups; town halls regarding the exploration of historic designation; regular updates to the website; four editions of the Burleith Bell; spring and fall clean-up events; attendance at ANC meetings; and participation in meetings of the Georgetown Community Partnership. He noted that the community has seen a decline in neighborhood noise concerns, and that the BCA is working with the DC Fair Skies Coalition to reduce noise from the flights in and out of DCA. BCA membership is at 177 members.
State of Ward 2. Councilmember Jack Evans discussed the presidential election results. He said he spent time with Mr. Trump during the opening of the new Trump Hotel, which is in Ward 2. Evans is hoping to get some early meetings with the president-elect to discuss issues of importance to DC, including statehood and reopening street closures near the White House. He is looking forward to a positive relationship with the new administration. Evans painted a positive picture of the city with its strong reserve funds and bond ratings. About a thousand new residents are coming into DC each month. Lots of school renovations are underway, yet, despite a generous budget, the school system still needs work, he said. Crime has gone up in some areas, though down since last year. The Mayor is looking for a new police chief, education chancellor [since selected], and director of the Department of General Services. Housing affordability remains a citywide issue. While Ward 2 is very prosperous, there are homeless issues in the ward (as well as across the city). Traffic congestion remains a problem across the area. As chairman of the Metro board, Evans said the system has gone downhill since its heyday about 15 years ago. There needs to be a regional commitment to getting it fixed and funded, he added.
Q: Would you support conservation districts in DC as an alternative to historic designation?
A: Evans said he wasn’t familiar with the term but would definitely look into that. He said he would support the neighborhood if that’s the desire.
Q: How can a resident get long-term visitor parking passes in Ward 2?
A: Evans said it’s an ANC issue. ANC commissioner Ed Solomon said he would address.
Q: Has there been any further discussion about having a new public high school in Ward 2?
A: Evans said there has been no progress in the current administration, but he believes it’s critical to establish a high school in the ward.
Burleith Community Fund Update. BCF vice president Liane Jones said the 501(c)(3) organization was established to fund specific projects, which have included Ellington Field landscaping, GU 10-year plan advocacy, and the Daniel Boone monument, among others. The BCF is not supporting anything currently, although community members have donated through the BCF in support of historic designation. The BCF is audited every three years; there is about $8,000 in the bank, she said.
Proposed 2017 BCA Budget. Langenbacher said income is projected at about $16,000, with expenses slightly less than that. There is about $20,000 in the bank, with no immediate plans for using the funds.
Audience Question on the Ballot. Someone asked (and was seconded) why names and addresses were requested. A board member said providing the information was optional. Others said the board should seek a way to make it a secret ballot.
State of DC. Richard Livingstone, Ward 2 liaison from Mayor Bowser's Office, said residents can get up to $500 rebate for installing private security cameras. He said the Mayor will be at a CAG-sponsored Hyde-Addison renovation meeting on November 29 and encouraged Burleith residents to attend, since Burleith may have different opinions than Georgetown. Livingstone can be reached at (202) 805-7122 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can we have a walk-through of the neighborhood that also covers sidewalk issues?
A: Livingstone said he would be happy to schedule something in December or January to look at infrastructure issues.
Q: What can we do about the new, extremely bright LED street lights?
A: Livingstone said to contact him or call 311. In response to a question about whether they were cancer causing, he said he didn’t think so but would look into it.
Q: What is the Mayor’s position on Hyde-Addison swing space?
A: Livingstone said he hadn't been briefed on her position and expected one would be forthcoming after she listened to input at the November 29 CAG meeting.
State of ANC-2E. Commissioner Ed Solomon said Ellington will be completed this June or July, and that there would be a graduation ceremony in June. He said R Street parking issues should be resolved soon. Contractors parking in the neighborhood for the Ellington renovation remains an issue. Rodent control efforts are underway. He said during the summer DDOT proposed resident-only parking on one side of the street, but that the ANC voted to turn it down for various reasons. Solomon said there are more cars than parking spots, so granting long-term visitor parking passes would pose a problem; he suggested Burleith have a meeting to discuss parking in the new year. He agreed that the Georgetown Community Partnership is working well, and that noise from student parties is down significantly in the neighborhood. Regarding safety, he said the city would like to increase from 3,700 to 4,100 police officers. He mentioned some recent sexual assaults, and said that although our area is still very safe, everything is a concern. Solomon said S&R Foundation, the new owners of Fillmore School, will commence interior renovations. Some of their exterior plans continue to be reviewed.
Q: What do I do about snakes that might be coming from a yard that’s not maintained?
A: Solomon said it’s the same process as rat abatement: call 311 and take the case number so it can be tracked.
Q: What’s the latest on the DC Fair Skies Coalition?
A: Solomon said the lawsuit is still pending, but the group is also having discussions with the FAA about moving the narrow flight path back away from DC line side. There are 80,000-100,000 people represented in the coalition. The coalition has the support of the city, which has budgeted $300K to conduct a noise study of its own. The coalition has funded some legal work using funds donated by Burleith and other neighborhoods. He referenced the coalition's website for more information.
Neighborhood Police Report. MPD-2/PSA 206 Captain David Sledge and Sargent Kimberly Lawrence reported on five burglaries in Burleith on T, S, and 35th Streets. There was an arrest during a break-in on July 11; the suspect lives in the neighborhood. There was one sexual assault case in Burleith. Captain Sledge promised to send Langenbacher periodic crime statistics for distribution to the listserv.
Q: How are the burglaries occurring?
A: Sledge said usually through widows, window-mounted air units, and unattended doors.
Georgetown University Office of Neighborhood Life. Chris Murphy, Vice President for Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, thanked the community for the work on the 2017–2036 campus plan, which was achieved by consensus. He said GU is still working to implement the current plan by getting students back on campus and mentioned a new recently completed dormitory. He said students are now opting to live on campus. The renovation of the Ellington track, which is used 8 hours a week by the track team, was completed faster than planned. He said GU staffer Theon O’Connor is dedicated to supporting Burleith. Murphy encouraged residents to sign up for the “Neighborhood news and events” weekly email.
Q: I made a lot of suggestions on the new campus plan via the campus plan website, but never got a response.
A: Murphy said GU responded to publicly posted comments and suggestions on the website itself and encouraged the questioner to check the site.
Cory Peterson, Director, Office of Neighborhood Life, said all undergrads who live off campus are required to go through orientation and read the Hoya Living Guide, which includes sanctions and guidelines on offenses. A PDF of the Guide is sent to off-campus graduate students. He said the number of reported offenses is going down. He described the snow plan for students to share resources like shovels.
Q: Can SNAP proactively patrol known hot areas?
A: Peterson said they can and should be. He added that SNAP responses include graduate student homes.
MedStar Georgetown Hospital Expansion. Regina Woods, Vice President, Government Affairs, and Eric Fisher, National Healthcare Practice Leader, Trammell Crow, described the new hospital upgrade and construction of the surgical pavilion. There will be 32 operating rooms, 156 private patient rooms, a 32-room ER department, a dedicated imaging facility, three levels of underground parking, and a rooftop helipad. A comprehensive construction plan will minimize disruption. Contractors and employees will not park on-site; instead, shuttles will ferry contractor and hospital employees from off-site locations. The project is expected to be completed in Fall of 2020. More details are available at Buildingmedicalexcellence.com.
Historic Designation. Eric Langenbacher read a statement explaining that the Board recognized the concerns that some neighbors had about the historic designation exploration process. He then opened the floor to a discussion on historic designation and how to move forward. Among the comments were the following:
- I want to learn more about the HD process. I want to preserve my quality of life and the natural light that is threatened by additional heights. I am upset by the harsh tone of the anti-HD comments on the listserv.
- I would appreciate looking into controls, like conservation districts, in addition to the strict focus on HD.
- Let’s establish what the goals are before jumping to a conclusion.
- Let’s invite a representative from the DC zoning office to appear at the next public meeting.
- I moved to this neighborhood, in part because of how it looks, and I don’t want to live in an ugly neighborhood.
- Let’s reboot the HD Committee and pursue the concept of a new Steering Committee.
The meeting concluded shortly after 9 pm.