11 Feb 2010

ANC 6A 02 Special election

The ANC 6A 02 special election is still happening on Thursday (February 11) night at Miner Elementary at 7 p.m. Voting will go from 7:10 to 8:10.

ANC 6A used to be the worst in the city. The City Paper said so. The first meeting I went to in 2000 was actually one of two. The ANC had split and were holding two separate meetings so I went to the one across the street.  Then in a few short years they changed their tune and called it the best in the city. Well how did that happen??  Many people attribute the rapid transformation to the efforts of former ANC 6A chair Joe Fengler. Joe ran a tight ship and embraced Roberts Rules of Order like a mantra. Gone were the hours-long rantathons and secret meetings of years past. Joe guided the ANC 6A during the early years of the H Street revitalization, the Cluck U controversy, voluntary agreements with the new bars and restaurants and wrote many, many letters that I confess I didn’t always  read, though they came through my inbox with regularity. Bless him for taking the the job.

Joe and his wife and dog recently left their NE house and found digs nearer to Lincoln Park. Citizens of ANC 6A 02 are now asked to vote for his replacement.

Who is seeking to fill these shoes?

Two individuals, who should be familiar to anyone who follows H Street and its surrounding drama, are running for the seat: Drew Ronnenberg and Bobby Pittman.

Drew has been the Chair of the Economic Development and Zoning Committee since 2006. He has been the community’s voice when dealing with developers on H and has maintained a vigilant watch on both illegal row house build  outs as well as negotiating multi-million dollar proposals for large tracts of land on H Street NE . From my perspective he’s been able to strike a balance between the need for sensitive an sensible redevelopment with respect for the historic nature of the neighborhood.

Bobby Pittman currently is Co-Coordinator of PSA 102 and was helpful linking the H Street businesses with the reimbursible police detail which has brought off-duty police officers to patrol the street weekend evenings, for which the businesses pay half the cops’ fee.

Both candidates were asked to a debate by Andrew Lightman, of the Hill Rag. He offered to moderate and the Atlas Performing Arts Center offered to host. When offered a few dates, Bobby said he was busy. When offered additional dates he then said he had never agreed to a debate and would have his team consider it if they were given the questions in advance. Needless to say the debate never happened.

So last week I emailed both candidates and asked a series of questions. I tried twice but I never got a response from Bobby. He has put out an informational flyer which is up on Frozen Tropics. The blog has been paying close attention to Bobby since the H Street Festival which he tried to have stopped this year.

Bobby’s flyer  says he wants to change the ANC, reestablish SMD meetings and  he claims that “one commissioner signed every agreement behind closed doors” and that this commissioner is not running for reelection because “he doesn’t have the votes.” So it seems Mr. Pittman is claiming that Joe sold his house on F Street NE and moved to a presumably more expensive house near Lincoln Park simply because he couldn’t get reelected to his SMD seat.

His most disturbing desire is to work to repeal the H Street Overlay. The Overlay came out of a long process in which the community was deeply involved. It guides development but requires mindful treatment of the existing housing stock. The Overlay came out of the initial H Street Strategic Development Plan. It is what divided the redevelopment into Housing, Retail and Arts and Entertainment Districts.

I would have loved to have gone to the website he refers to on his flyer to get more in depth answers but unfortunately, it isn’t working. NOTE Frozen Tropics has found the correct address. http://pittman6a02.spaces.live.com/

Here are Drew’s answers:

Why are you running for the position?

Drew Ronnenberg: I am running for ANC 6A Commissioner because I want to continue the great work started by the previous Commissioner, Joe Fengler.  I have been a citizen volunteer for ANC 6A since 2003 and have served as Chair of the Economic Development and Zoning Committee since 2006.  In these roles, I have shown that I understand resident’s concerns, work hard on behalf of the community and will bring positive changes to the neighborhood.

What are the most pressing issues facing your SMD and how to you propose to tackle them?

DR: a) Crime and Safety issues. Although the neighborhood has improved significantly since I moved to the area in 2001, the recent spate of carjackings show that there is still have a lot of work to do to make the neighborhood safe. As Commissioner, I will help get information to residents when crimes occur; help residents fight crime through regular meetings with beat officers in our neighborhood; and ensure that high crime areas receive increased police surveillance.

b) H Street Corridor Revitalization: I will continue ANC 6A’s efforts to revitalize the H Street Corridor by increasing police presence on H Street during evening hours; support the redevelopment of the H Street Connection; work with local business owners to reoccupy vacant buildings, leverage the untapped $25 million in TIF funds for H Street;
and work with DDOT to make Mayor Fenty’s pledge to have streetcars running on H Street by 2011 a reality.

c) Parking issues:  As H Street continues to develop, it creates greater parking pressures on the surrounding neighborhood.  I will help reduce these parking pressures by working with police and bars/restaurants to ensure that valets do not park on neighborhood streets; help residents restrict parking on affected streets to resident-only parking; and work with parking enforcement to ensure that parking restrictions are enforced.

Your ANC went from being called the worst in the city to being called the best in the city, why do you think that is AND how do you intend to keep that status?

DR: ANC 6A went from the worst to the best ANC for several reasons:  1) Joe Fengler provided strong leadership as ANC Chairman 2)Committee membership and committee chairs were opened to citizen volunteers 3) the ANC because an open, transparent and efficient organization through the hard work of the Commissioners and committee members. I intend for the ANC to keep its status as one of the best run in the city by sticking to these key principles.

ANC 6A includes part the of H Street corridor, including  the emerging nightlife and arts destination known as the Atlas District. In your opinion is the growth of this nightlife area a positive one for the neighborhood?  In the past a moratorium on liquor licenses has been proposed, what is your opinion regarding a cap on licenses?

DR: The revitalization of the H Street Corridor has been extremely positive for our community.  It has brought new business and attracted new residents to the area.  In addition, the ban on the sales of singles has helped alleviate public drunkenness and urination.

I don’t support a blanket moratorium on new liquor licenses for H Street businesses but would consider a cap on the number of Tavern (bar) licenses if circumstances warranted it. The city distinguishes between Taverns and Restaurants by requiring restaurants receive a certain percentage of their receipts to come from food.  Capping the number of tavern licenses might be an attractive option if H Street was becoming a bar-only strip.  However, it is currently attracting a diverse set of businesses and should be allowed to develop organically as long as this remains the case. I believe that nightlife has been the first phase of redevelopment and we should focus much of our energy on encouraging more daytime uses and attracting more retail establishments.  The redevelopment of the H Street Connection site will be an important piece of this larger picture.

So why should we vote for you?

DR:Over the past 7 years of being a citizen volunteer for ANC 6A, I have shown that I listen to residents, understand the issues facing our community and will work as a tireless advocate on their behalf.

The election is still happening Thursday (February 11) night at Miner Elementary at 7 p.m. Voting will go from 7:10 to 8:10. You can vote and leave if you can’t stay. Bring and ID or a utility bill to prove residency. Miner Elementary is located at, 601 15th St. NE.

Note that Scott Magnuson, of the Argonaut, is offering rides to anyone who can’t make it because of the weather. He has a Jeep and can be reached at 202.460.7461.

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3 responses to “ANC 6A 02 Special election”

  1. Joe Fengler says:

    I appreciate your kind words. I really enjoyed serving and I must confess, I miss it already. My wife and I were actually going to renovate our house on F Street, NE. However, we unexpectantly found a lovely house near Lincoln Park that really provided all the things we were expecting to accomplish with our renovation. And as these things go, the sellers were motivated to sell which only accelerated the decision to move. In the end, we still own our house on F Street (and plan on keeping it for many years) – so we have a vested interest in ANC 6A. While I only moved less than a mile away, H Street will always be important to me. And I look forward to working with Tommy Wells, as a normal citizen, to make sure the street cars will run down H Street.

    It is disappointing when Bobby blatantly lies on his flyer. For example, at the January ANC 6A meeting, Bobby asked my why I resigned and I told him my wife and I found a lovely home near Lincoln Park and we decided to purchase the house over the holidays. While I was fortunate to serve as Chair for seven years, I had that position based on the votes of fellow commissioners. In short, I served at the pleasure of the Commission and if not re-elected, I certainly would looked forward to working with the new leadership. After all, not being chair doesn’t mean you can’t be a Commissioner.

    Bobby also conveniently doesn’t mention that ANC 6A worked for years to have an office – both at Sherwood Recreation Center and other city owned property in Ward 6. We formally asked the OPM for office space and they replied that none was available in Ward 6. Given the relatively small size of ANC 6A budget ($22K), the Commission decided not to pay market rates for an office that would essentially consume most of our budget. We instead relied on a robust webpage to create an electronic office and directed a majority of the budget to community grants. Of course, this is all in the minutes from our meetings. Again, this selective presentation of the “facts” speaks to how Bobby operates.

    I have known Drew and Bobby for over seven years – and hands down, Drew is the better candidate for all the reasons stated here. But, he is also one of the most honest, hard working person I know. Many of our accomplishments for ANC 6A would not have come to pass without Drew’s active participation as a resident volunteer.

  2. Margaret says:

    Ronneberg won, 92 to 14, and was sworn in immediately by Tommy Wells.

    Thanks to everyone who came out on a snow-drifty night to vote!

  3. restaurants wells says:

    I had so much fun reading this blog…I like Drew Ronnenberg,especially the he answered the questions,I think his good..Hope he win..

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