Thursday, August 30, 2007

Parking debates on Listservs

Maybe it is the summer doldrums, or maybe it is the lack of concentrated parking issues when many people are at the beach, but for some reason, parking seems to be a hot topic in both Cleveland Park and Friendship Heights.

In Cleveland Park, the issue seems to stem around residential versus commuter parking in zoned areas, given the proximity of the Metro. Residents are being creative in possible solutions including the creation of sub-zones, alteration of the duration of allowable time, or the creation of visitor passes.

On the Tenleytown Listserv, residents share a similar fate, but are also concerned with the folks are are using the surface parking to shop at Mazza Gallery and other retail along Wisconsin Avenue. The concern is that while there is plenty of available parking, it is dramatically underutilized, according to a recent Friendship Heights Traffic Study(PDF):

Mazza Gallery - 850 Garage Parking Spaces
Weekday AM 20% Utilization
Weekday PM 30% Utilization
Saturday 40% Utilization

Chevy Chase Pavilion - 675 Garage Parking Spaces
Weekday AM 60% Utilization
Weekday PM 80% Utilization
Saturday 50% Utilization

5225 Wisconsin (Bambule/Elizabeth Arden) - 235 Garage Parking Spaces
Weekday AM 80% Utilization
Weekday PM 80% Utilization
Saturday 20% Utilization.

On contributor complained that the existing parking structures are underground and "creepy". This combined with the expense (as compared to public lots in Bethesda, MD) prompted calls for a municipal parking garage in Friendship Heights.

For a group of people who have consistently opposed new development, partially on the basis of traffic issues in the community, this is an odd request. As noted by one commentor:

You believe that the city should spend money acquiring a piece of property and then spending 30 Million plus on a parking garage (and also preclude generating any future property or sales taxes from the lot) so someone can drive...and have cheap, convenient and essentially subsidized parking?

So the question isn't whether there is adaquate parking because there clearly is but whether the public sector should spend money to make parking, and hence driving, easier?

But the same folks who are clamoring for a parking garage are the same people who routinely are complaining about traffic which is clearly contradictory unless you intend to beam the cars into the garage somehow?

It will be interesting to see if the ANC's and City Council pick this issue up again. The last time proved to be too difficult to arrive at any conclusions for best practices going forward.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

NW Current Now Online

The Current Newspapers now has an online presence, complete with archives. It will be great to see how they expand out functionality, particularly the ability to make comments on articles.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lead Hazard at Turtle Park

Channel 9 reports their discovery of lead paint on fences at Turtle Park. Read the online excerpt for more.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fisher on Pools

After yesterday's entry about the demolition of the Wilson Pool, there is follow up in the form of a RawFisher blog post about Ward 3 Pools, or lack thereof.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wilson Pool Going Away!

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Councilmember Cheh, Chancellor Rhee and Allan Lew will take part in the demolition of the condemned Wilson High School aquatic facility. Together with the DC Public Schools and DC Department of Parks and Recreation, the Mayor will provide an update on construction of the new facility - originally scheduled to begin in 2003.

August 20th (and not soon enough)!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

When "Matter of Right" Isn't

Many of the development issues surrounding Wisconsin Avenue proposals have centered around the PUD process, with many in the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights community beating the drum on "Matter of Right" development versus the PUD (Planned Unit Development) proposals which allow developers to exceed "Matter of Right" zoning provisions in exchange for neighborhood amenities. Such amenities can include support for local non-profits or schools, inclusionary housing, etc. Even with all of its flaws, the PUD process enables community input on a wide variety of issues including density, amenities and even aesthetics.

With this background, some discussion on local listservs have raised the issue of the "Matter of Right" development at the former Outer Circle Theater site. The theater has been demolished to make way for Commerce Bank, with provisions for curb cuts enabling a drive-through window. Such 1950's planning amenities have been forsaken in such outer suburia locale such as Leesburg, and yet become viable in NW DC because of an ANC which has decided to take no action because the proposal is "Matter of Right" under current zoning.

Curb cuts are unsafe for pedestrians.
Curb cuts disrupt traffic on Wisconsin Avenue.
Drive-through windows encourage more vehicular traffic.
One-story banks on a busy corridor will hardly generate pedestrian traffic and activity as a destination.

In an era where ANC 3E has consistently complained about increased traffic on Wisconsin Avenue, where it has complained about needed pedestrian safety, why would it make no noise on this proposal?

Because it is a low-rise, low impact development, potentially ugly building which the bank can build as a matter of right.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Chancellor Rhee Forum

Councilmember Mary M. Cheh will host an Education Forum with Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Fenty on Wednesday, August 22nd at Murch Elementary School. Parents are invited to come and discuss with the Chancellor new DCPS strategies and plans to better the Ward 3 public schools at the elementary school, middle school, and high school level.

"This is an exciting time for DC public schools", said Cheh, "and I am delighted to introduce the Mayor's new education leadership to the parents of Ward 3. The parents should be able to." Cheh stated, "This will be a perfect opportunity to ask the Chancellor how Ward 3 schools will be improved, and discuss any thoughts or concerns that the parents might have"

The forum will be held August 22nd, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Murch Elementary School is located at the corner of Davenport and 36th Streets, N.W.

Contact: Talia Primor
(202) 724-8062

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tenleytown Sees a New Restuarant on the Horizon

A posting from the proprietor of the replacement for the Dancing Crab on 41st Street in Tenleytown announced the coming Lounge:

First of all our business will not be called "41st Street Lounge" and it will not be a nightclub...However, the style and
atmosphere of the restaurant will be different from all the others in Tenleytown. The Restaurant will have a more modern look and more relaxed feel. Many of you enjoy going out to eat, right? Ok, so you go out to eat. You finish your dinner and then what? At our establishment we want you to linger and the design of the place will encourage you to do so. That is where the word "lounge" comes into play. Our goal is to create a place where customers can "make an evening of it" and not just another place where you eat and feel as though you are being rushed out the door and then left to your own devices. We hope to be open around the beginning of 2008.

The post came in reponse to some misconceptions surrounding the new place, including fear of late night noise and traffic as well as parking concerns.

Others were quick to point out the need and benefits of such additions to the neighborhood. One member of the listserv provided interesting and refreshing insight into the benefits of new additions to the community:

Tenleytown is far behind its neigboring communities in terms of the amount and quality of amenities a community with such diverse, affluent and cosmopolitan residents as ours should have. Our retail has many dingy and lackluster spots (e.g., multiple mattress stores...), our dining options are limited and primarily low-end, nightlife opportunities are even more limited than dining AND we have far too many empty storefronts. Whole Foods and the Best Buy complex are great but once you've got your organic wheat-free muffins and your printer cartridges fully stocked, for many other needs/wants a lot of folks will find themselves leaving our neighborhood for better choices elsewhere...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Update on Eco-Vandalism

A recent entry cited a Washington Post report on an act of vandalism to a Ward 3 resident's Hummer. A comment in this forum decried the use of "terrorism" and "hate crime" as a description of this action. An update iin the Washington Post ironically describes the case as having been taken over by the FBI:

D.C. police initially investigated the case, but Groves said officers told him that the FBI had taken it over as a suspected incident of eco-terrorism.

"Everybody seems a lot more angry about what happened than I am," Groves said.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Two DDOT notes regarding the greater Tenley area

Note One
The District Department of Transportation removed the barrier at the River Road, Fessenden and 45th Streets intersection. In May 2007, DDOT announced at a public meeting it would be taking certain measures to help improve vehicular and pedestrian safety at the intersection at River Road, Fessenden and 45th Streets. Once these measures were completed, DDOT would commence to remove the existing barrier.

The courses of action included:

* Complete the installation of the traffic signal at Wisconsin and River Road to allow for a signalized left turn onto Wisconsin Avenue.

* Remove the bushes/shrubs in the public space to greatly improve sightline visibility.

* Coordinate with MPD to install a speed camera on River Road.

* Re-stripe the crosswalks with high-visibility crosswalks. Install new high visibility pedestrian signage.

* Install new signage indicating no left turn during morning rush hours at both Fessenden and Ellicott Streets to discourage through traffic and encourage vehicles to utilize the new traffic signal at Wisconsin and River Road.

DDOT will continue to evaluate the area for a 180-day period at which time, if necessary, further measures may be recommended.

Note Two
In addition to the afore mentioned DCFD light at the Tenley Firehouse, there will also be a signal installed at Wisconsin and Warren Streets:

The signal at Wisconsin and Warren , NW will be separate from the signal at Wisconsin and Engine Company Number 20. The signal at Wisconsin and Warren, NW will cycle like a normal semi-actuated signal with a full component of vehicular and pedestrian signal heads; its operation will not be dependent upon the presence or absence of a fire truck at Engine Company Number 20. All pedestrian signal heads will feature the countdown modules. All vehicular and pedestrian movements will be permitted at Wisconsin and Warren , NW, but there will be no turn arrows designating permitted or protected movements.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

River Road Barrier Removed

We are pleased to announce that effective today, the barrier at the intersection of River Road, Fessenden, and 46th Streets, NW has been removed.

The barrier was erected in December of 2004. Since then, we--with the widespread support of the neighborhood-- have been working for its removal because it never responded effectively to its claimed purpose--to improve safety at the intersection. The unintended but foreseeable impact of the barrier was to simply redirect traffic, shifting it from a collector street onto other streets in the neighborhood and creating new safety and traffic concerns elsewhere.

While we are delighted with the removal of the barrier and appreciate the efforts made by DDOT officials in the past few months, the fact that it took over three years to resolve this issue is a sad reflection of the way in which the city government deals with issues such as this. We hope that some lessons have been learned from this experience, most notably the need for DC government officials to consult with the ANC and neighborhood residents BEFORE any action is taken. If the neighborhood had had the opportunity to meaningfully address the concerns about the intersection prior to the implementation of ill-conceived solutions, we believe that a better solution would have been arrived at--and more importantly--would have avoided the polarization that has too often characterized discussions regarding the barrier. We have been heartened by the responsiveness of DDOT's new director, Emeke Moneme and Karyn LeBlanc, who has spearheaded the barrier's removal on behalf of DDOT, and hope that their effort signals a new willingness on the part of DDOT to work with the community and to consult with residents and the ANC before making any changes that will have a significant impact on our traffic .

Even now, the removal of the barrier is not without its price. While we have hopefully seen the last of any barrier, the community is faced with increasing number of turn restrictions from River Road. While this may be a reasonable price to pay, all of us may find that the increased traffic restrictions most detrimentally affect those of us who live in the area, not others who traverse our neighborhood. Because the effects of the new traffic patterns may, once again, bring about unforeseen and unintended consequences, Emeke Moneme and Karyn LeBlanc have committed to monitor traffic issues in the neighborhood and to conduct a review sometime in the next 6 months. Accordingly, please bring to our attention issues that may need DDOT's further attention or "tweaking" so that we can assure that our neighborhood is both safe and traffic moves with relative ease in the area.

Our thanks again to all of you for your support and perseverance during the past few years.

Ad Hoc Coalition for Safe Streets in ANC3E