Thursday, September 3, 2009

ANC2F, 1B Vote to Endorse ARTS Overlay Committee Recommendations

At Wednesday night's ANC2F meeting, the Commission voted unanimously to support the proposal put forth by the ARTS Overlay District Committee regarding zoning recommendations to guide the further development of the U Street and 14th Street arts corridors--despite objections put forth from ANC2B Commissioner Ramon Estrada on certain recommendations included in the proposal.

On Thursday night, ANC1B voted to endorse the proposal as well (voting 6-0 in favor, with one abstention).

The recommendations--which can be found here--detail a number of items that the Committee feels should be addressed in order to ensure that the arts corridor remains vibrant and a haven for artists and the arts. Some highlights of the Committee's recommendations include:

  • allowing for greater density on developments including--in certain rare circumstances--an additional floor of height beyond the current 75 foot restriction;
  • requiring that all developments above 15,000 square feet have a dedicated arts use, which can be lessened if the use is placed on the street level;
  • increasing the allowable percentage of street frontage devoted to bars and restaurants from its current 25% level to 40-50%, and measuring the amount in smaller segments as opposed to throughout the entire district (for instance, on any given block, no more than 40-50% of the retail frontage could be bars or restaurants);
  • splitting the U Street and 14th Street districts into two separate districts; and
  • applying a single, unified zoning code to the entire district.
ANC2F Chairman Charles Reed praised the Committee's work, which included meetings throughout the summer with numerous business owners, city officials, developers and residents, prior to calling for a vote on a motion to endorse all 25 of the Committee's recommendations.

The vote was not without some degree of controversy. During the period where comments from the community were solicited, ANC2B Commissioner Ramon Estrada stood to voice objections to certain parts of the proposal.

Estrada indicated that while he generally supported the Committee's proposal, he took issue with two specific recommendations--to split the arts districts, and to apply a unified zoning code to the entire arts district. He then went on to announce that ANC2B "would not be supporting the Committee's recommendations in their entirety."

This is notable because ANC2B had not yet met to discuss the recommendations--leading to questions as to whether Estrada was speaking only for himself, or for the entire ANC.

Reached for comment regarding the matter, ANC2B Chairman Mike Silverstein indicated that "no single commissioner" can speak for the Commission. As to what ANC2B will do regarding the proposal, he said "I really don't have a clue. [T]here have been no deals. Most of us haven't fully read the ARTS Overlay Committee report yet." He went on to state "Personally, I think it's an impressive report, well researched and well reasoned."

Regardless, the strong endorsement of two area ANCs gets the proposal off on the right foot. Committee chairperson Andrea Doughty will appear before ANC2B next week to present the proposal, which will be presented to neighborhood associations as well before eventually being sent to various District of Columbia agencies for review. The ultimate goal is for the DC Office of Planning to implement the Committee's recommendations as part of the overall zoning code governing arts districts in DC.

Additional information about the Committee's work can be found by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

It is time for Estrada to go. Actually, it is long-passed time for him to go.

Anonymous said...

As is often the case, your report is inaccurate and slanted. I was at the meeting and Commissioner Estrada's comments were thoughtful and pertinent. Why are you adverse to people voicing ideas? Isn't that what the Committee exercise was all about? Your high and mighty brand of blogging is tiresome. Perhaps in time you'll be able to find value in multiple views. This is a community not a clique.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:59,

I did not read anything in this post that was adverse to multiple ideas being presented. Reading all the Committee documents, seems they have done everything possible to hear from as many viewpoints as possible and incorporated that response into the recommendations.

What I read was that Commissioner Estrada was going before ANC 2F and representing his viewpoints as those of his entire ANC 2B, which has yet to take a position. This, according to the chair of ANC2B is inappropriate, and I thank 14th & you for calling attention to this misrepresentation.

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Anon 10:59- As I always offer after charges of inaccuracy are leveled, I will kindly ask you to provide me with the inaccuracy in my report, and I will be happy to correct it.

Mr. Estrada is welcome to share his own views; he is NOT welcome to present his views as those of the entire ANC. I will assume that your criticism relates to something else, so I'll kindly await your response.

Saltk006 said...

Was anything said about "The Space"? I saw last minute they were on the agenda, but Mike Bernardo and Charles Reed assured me nothing would happen until next month (October). I couldn't make the meeting, so I was just curious.

Mr. Other Upper NW said...


The representatives from the Sacrifice Foundation (the entity taking over the Space's, er, space, were not in attendance and thus nothing was done. Look for it at next month's meeting.