Monday, July 21, 2008

McVey is First

The Examiner noted today that ANC 3E Commissioner Amy McVey was the first DC resident to register a handgun under the new laws. DCist reported the story with some interesting comments about the nature of the Commissioners gun ownership and the timing of the license. Perhaps some good questions for the next commission meeting.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

OP Parking Discussion

While note directly related to Ward 3, there has been some interesting discussion on the Tenleytown Listserv regarding the Office of Planning parking regulations proposal under the new Comprehensive Plan.

A contributor opened the discussion with the following:

The Office of Planning has proposed major changes in the parking regulations for new construction, eliminating many of the current minimum parking requirements. Minimum parking requirements have been used to reduce the impact of parking "spillover" on our neighborhoods. Even with our current regulations, many DC neighborhoods already bear significant costs related to spillover parking from nearby commercial and higher density residential zones. Spillover parking reduces the availability of parking for residents and brings an increase in traffic to residential streets.

OP proposes to eliminate all minimum parking requirements for residential uses. In fact, minimum parking requirements would apply only for retail, office, service, or restaurant uses in C-2 zones that are not designated "transit oriented development zones" and for nonresidential uses in low- or moderate-density residential zones. In addition, the draft regulations include an unspecified limit on the amount of off-street parking that developers can provide. These are radical changes that would set into motion a sweeping citywide experiment that could potentially have irreversible, adverse impacts on many neighborhoods across the District. The quality of life in our neighborhoods is diminished by the increased traffic and reduced on-street parking. OP's proposal can exacerbate the spillover parking problems in these neighborhoods and introduce new spillover parking problems in other neighborhoods.

There has been interesting discussion, but this response framed the conversation from a different perspective:

How does being adjacent to a piece of property somehow convey ownership? A homeowner only owns the land to the sidewalk. The sidewalk, grass strip, and street are city property.

This notion that homeowners/residents have come to view city property as there own and populate it with as many possessions as they desire seems to be a central issue here. And given that the number of cars per household correlates well with the drain such household has on the roadway system, that becomes a fairly insidious misconception.

In terms of the over-all discussion, instead of framing the situation in the pejorative terms of "spillover", "inadequate", "at the expense of stability", "reduction in their quality of life", the situation should really be described as what it is:

-The disproportionate use of land, both public and private, by some residents for their home, their possessions, and their transportation.

-These high-density residential developments aren't needed because of some fashionable desire people have to live more tightly packed together but because they are a wiser use of land than the suburban-style low density communities. It makes no sense then, to further support these low-density communities by continuing to give away public street space on the already under-serving streets.

-That street space should be used to full capacity by allocating it fairly to community residents irrespective of who happens to be closest to it (obviously this is a factor in it's usefulness, though).

These limitations on parking availability will naturally ensure a limit on automobile use, which is the ultimate goal, and one best achieved (as indicated by the previous toll discussion) by limiting source and destination parking. After all if there's one thing that's evident in this day and age it's that overbuilding roadways and parking creates a constituency that obstructs ever shrinking those structures back to more reasonable levels. The idea that failing to build a parking garage is only a missed opportunity completely ignores that fact.

Planning and the Comprehensive Plan are about the future. Maintaining discourse in a framework from a previous era which was predicated on $.20 gas and a seemingly unending source of fossil fuels seems to be short-sighted. This is an important time for staking out the future of the District. All residents should be encouraged to provide their input to the appropriate offices.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fenty Announces Tenley-Janney Team

From the Washington Post's DC Wire Blog:

Fenty has chosen a developer from among three teams who responded to a request for proposals issued in 2007. The three are LCOR Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company with offices in Bethesda; Roadside Development, a D.C. firm whose projects include redeveloping the historic O Street Market; and the See Forever Foundation, in partnership with UniDev.

The developer will build 120 to 130 housing units--apartments or condominiums--above a new library, (Eric) Scott said. Most of the units will be market-rate, but some will be subsidized as "workforce" housing for low- to middle-income residents.

Scott said the project will use some of the land behind the library, but leave most of the schoolyard intact. He said some of the profit from the project will go to modernizing Janney, and emphasized that the development team will work with city and library officials to "minimize any library construction start delay."

And here is the Press release:

Fenty Announces Development Partner for Tenley/Janney Site
Project will include workforce housing and financial support for school modernization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on Thursday announced the District has selected LCOR as its development partner for the 3.6 acre Tenley Library/Janney Elementary School development site.

“We’ve got a real opportunity to leverage this site to help pay for the cost of improving Janney Elementary, enhance the existing open space and add both market-rate and workforce housing – all atop a Metro station,” Mayor Fenty said. “LCOR is a highly capable developer. They know how to make public-private partnerships work.”

The District selected LCOR after issuing a competitive solicitation last fall. Three development teams responded to the solicitation. The teams were evaluated on vision, financial capacity and past performance.

LCOR has proposed building between 120 and 130 units of housing – primarily above the future Tenley library and a portion of the land that lies between the library and Janney Elementary. LCOR will work closely with the District of Columbia Public Library to ensure a quality integrated structure that will provide a vibrant, mixed-use learning and living environment that will produce an architecturally engaging, LEED certified project.

LCOR will collaborate with DCPL to ensure that any delay to the Library’s construction start will be minimized. LCOR will also work closely with the Janney Elementary School community to ensure that the Janney’s needs are met. This selection presents the opportunity to provide a tremendous financial benefit to Janney Elementary School by using a portion of the proceeds of the deal to support Janney’s modernization. The project will not result in a net loss of green space for Janney.

Keeping with the Administrations commitment to affordable housing, the project will also provide the opportunity to add workforce housing to the Tenley Friendship neighborhood.

In the coming weeks, the District and LCOR will work closely with community stakeholders such as the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the St. Ann’s community to produce a project that creates a benefit for all involved.


Bolded emphasis on some of the benefits for the city to go this route.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tenley-Janney PPP: A Decision?

This note from ANC 3E Chair Amy McVey was posted on the Tenleytown Listserv:

I have just learned that, despite overwhelming and well-founded community opposition to proceeding with a public-private project at the Janney School/Tenley-Friendship Library site, DMPED has decided to move forward and hopes to partner with LCOR. Janney's LSRT/SIT, Friends of the Library and the ANC as well as at least 5 other community organizations have all indicated their vehement opposition to this plan. This will delay the reconstruction of the library by a minimum of two years and significantly compromise Janney's exterior facilities needs, while seriously disrupting the educational environment at both Janney and St. Ann's during the multi-year construction period.

I urge you to contract Mayor Fenty IMMEDIATELY and to voice your opposition to this recommendation. In the end, the decision is the Mayor's. Let him know that you understand that and expect him to pull the plug on this ill-considered and unnecessarily destructive project. CM Cheh should be urged to transmit a similar message to the Mayor. Without her support the Mayor is unlikely to go forward with DMPED's recommendation.

Please pass this on to your organizations and to any interested people you know.

This is not a time to rely only on email. Call and complain. Do both!

Since there has been no official announcement, and since no one has seen the plans, such calls to oppose the project seem at best, premature.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Drive Through Pharmacy?

The Greater Greater Washington Blog mentions a proposal for a drive-through pharmacy in Van Ness:

Not another drive-thru: Walgreens is planning to build on a former gas station at Veazey and Connecticut, right by the Van Ness stop, reports reader Steve. The somewhat-good news: they're seeking a variance to build only 27 parking spaces instead of 40 (it should be even fewer). The less-good news: Walgreens gets to keep all the curb cuts the gas station had, and so they're building a drive-through. We should not be building drive-throughs in urban areas, especially not next to Metro stations.

More on this later.