Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BCA Historic Preservation Committee: Meeting minutes for BCA Historic Preservation 01/23/2017 presentation – results on historic preservation review

From: BCA Historic Preservation []
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:53 PM
To: BCA Historic Preservation <>
Subject: Meeting Minutes For BCA Historic Preservation January 23, 2017 Presentation - Results on Historic Preservation Review

Greetings Neighbors:

For those that were able to make it out to the January 2017 monthly meeting on Monday, January 23, 2017, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to attend.  For those of you that were there in spirit, thank you for the positive vibrations.

These are the meeting minutes for the Historic Preservation Presentation on the results and recommendation on how to retain Bloomingdale’s historical character.  This presentation was conducted during the second half of the BCA January 23, 2017, monthly meeting.  The purpose of this presentation was to present the (1) detailed study conducted over a year and one half by the BCA Historic Preservation Committee, (2) results, and (3) recommendations.   

The meeting went very well and focus areas presented by the BCA Historic Presentation Committee [Committee] were well researched and documented/supported by facts.  No conclusions were derived from opinions, only the facts.  The Committee looked at historic districts all over the city, with in the Greater Metropolitan area (Annapolis and Alexandria), and around the country (Chicago, New York, Dubuque Iowa, Ulysses’ Grant home (18th President), and a small main street in Elizabeth Illinois).  Tax date bases were searched to compile and compute taxes for several DC historic districts areas to compare and identify trends of tax increase (and a possibility of tax increase nexus to historic districts).  Gentrification was explored and the conclusion reached (does historic district contribute to or cause gentrification?) was based on observations.

Bloomingdale [community], thru its feedback to the Committee, overwhelmingly indicated that they wanted to preserve Bloomingdale’s streetscape, while continuing to modernize their homes inside and the backs (w/roof decks, additions, etc.).  To achieve this, the Committee has met w/the Office of Planning to review and discuss draft special zoning crafted [by the Committee] especially for Bloomingdale to address their desires (like what Georgetown did for its community w/their special zoning).  Bloomingdale resident’s desperately want to “stop the pop” (which has fueled great interest in historic district) and believed that historic district designation to be the only option.

The Committee concluded thru facts that :  (1) updated R-4 Zoning provides regulations necessary to stop “pop-ups” and irresponsible construction – the zoning is working; (2) Special zoning preserves Bloomingdale’s streetscape, culture (make Heritage Trail landmark), addresses affordable housing, retains family oriented community, controls density, prevents overdevelopment and ill construction of large lot sizes [provides protection for residents], and gives communities a greater voice in renovations of apartment/condo and commercial buildings; and (3) Historic districts do contribute to property tax increases, expedites gentrification, requires more expensive materials, takes additional time thru the permitting process (approximately 8 months) for additions and the like, unpredictability/consistency in Historic Preservation Review Board approving your design (length of time and subjectivity); and isn’t always enforced for violations (checkout house on Elm (200 block) under construction – dug out front yard to create a separate entrance, which is not allowed under historic district.  Look thru "slits" in black plastic bags covering the front fence.
The Committee recommended: (1) Special Zoning to retain Bloomingdales’ streetscape, and historical character and culture; (2) All Bloomingdale residents, not only BCA members vote – accomplished thru a community-wide survey/vote ballot to all residents (ANC 5E would determine/decide the weight of homeowner and renter votes, and (3) Conduct at least 2 more presentations on the study, findings, and recommendations to allow everyone in the community the benefit of hearing the outcome of this study and understand that there is another option – special zoning for Bloomingdale.
Proposed Next Steps:

The Committee proposed that Bloomingdale (1) Continue the discussions with the Office of Planning (OP) to finalize the draft zoning that the Committee submitted to OP on January 6, 2017 (via a roundtable discussion w/all the right people at the table to make it happen; over half of the proposed zoning developed by the Committee were found to be acceptable by OP [this draft zoning was also handed out to participants during the BCA January meeting]; (2) Bloomingdale then meets to finalize the zoning; (3) Send draft out to the entire community for comment and approval; (4) Give draft zoning back to OP and engage the council members if necessary; (5) Project that the zoning could become effective by the end of 2017;  (6) IMPERATIVE – MUST HAVE UNIFIED COMMUNITY SUPPORT!  This was the end of the presentation.      

The BCA President stated the Committee’s next steps will be to bring its proposed survey/vote ballot back to the BCA February’s (27th), 2017, monthly meeting and present it to the full body.  It is worth noting that during this January meeting, the Committee passed out the draft ballot to all participants and it was part of the discussion, as well as the and next steps timeline.  It is also worth noting that the Committee’s chair, announced during the December 2016 BCA monthly meeting that the Committee had concluded its review and planned to schedule a separate meeting for January.  The ANC 5E07, BCA Board member put an amendment on the floor to have it during the January 2017 monthly meeting.  It was the opinion of the Committee Chair that this information needed to be disseminated widely thru the community and in separate meetings.  The one hour allocated was not enough time for such a meeting.

The President further stated that our BCA members [body] would vote during the February 2017 BCA monthly meeting to decide if the survey/vote ballot should be sent to the entire Bloomingdale homeowners.  It is important that Bloomingdale residents attend this meeting whether or not a property owner or not, and definitely if a property owner.  Decisions will be made that affect all residents.  The study's results showed that materials are more expensive in a historic district and while taxes increase over time, historic districts contributes to tax increases.  It is worth noting that the Committee chair stated to the meeting participants that [nearly] everyone in the room had already renovated (pop-ups, etc.) (note restored is required under historic district preservation) their property and now those want to fiercely pursue historic district designation for all residents. 

A lot of information was presented and will go on the website under the Historic Preservation Committee w/in 7 days for your viewing.  If you would like to send a question or comment on this matter, please send it to

Best Regards,

Serita Sanders
BCA Historic Preservation Committee, Chair


nobodyhomehere said...

Thanks to the historic preservation committee for an excellent piece of analysis, looking at the pros and cons of historic designation, and providing an alternative that might be workable. We cannot reverse the atrocities already constructed or permitted but we might find a compromise that helps our diverse community of homeowners and renters.

Alexandra in Bloomingdale said...

Thank you so much (Serita) for putting together these detailed minutes, and to Scott for posting. From initial examination it seems we may have the making of an innovative compromise that I am inclined to support. Looking forward to seeing the full presentation on the BCA website soon!

Bloomingdale Resident said...

Question for Serita - could you elaborate on this statement and share if you have checked the records for this house to see if the work has been permitted. If not permitted, have your reported it? HPRB violations are generally dealt with more swiftly than zoning and general construction violations.

" isn’t always enforced for violations (checkout house on Elm (200 block) under construction – dug out front yard to create a separate entrance, which is not allowed under historic district. Look thru "slits" in black plastic bags covering the front fence."