Friday, August 14, 2009

ANC 3G seems confused

The issue of traffic calming seems to have reared its head again in the Ward. Earlier this spring, there was consternation when speed humps were installed on Newark Street in Cleveland Park without ANC or community discussion.

In Palisades the conversation has been ongoing regarding calming efforts in the area to the west of MacArthur Boulevard. However, in Chevy Chase, there is a repeat of erroneous information being passed as fact on the community listserv.

The issue is once again centered around Morrison Street where DDOT installed a pedestrian signal and converted it in August, 2008 to a traditional three-color light. The residents of the block must have believed that speeding was an issue and petitioned DDOT for traffic calming to reduce speeds.

In a recent Chevy Chase Listserv post, ANC 3/4G Chair Gary Thompson wrote:

The ANC voted (unanimously) to defer consideration of any such speed hump pending review of all the inter-connected traffic issues on the first blocks E & W of Conn. Ave. in the main shopping district.

But Thompson didn't mention the ANC's decision to take a vote on July 13th, and he didn't mention the ANC's failure to carry out its own decision.

At the June meeting, the ANC said it would collect petitions from all blocks and vote on them in July; According to the minutes

The Commission voted 6-0-1 (Cook abstaining) to defer consideration of the specific application for the 3700 block of Morrison St. until the meeting of July 13, and that for the next 30 days, other blocks off of the Conn. Shopping area should be informed of and invited to submit applications for speed humps (should they have 75% household support), and then when all such applications are in hand, consider them as a group. At the Commission meeting of July 13, the Commission will consider any applications received by that date and vote on the requests. The Chair made it clear that this is not a deadline and that any block could apply for humps after that date, but that the Commission believed that taking up a broader set of applications for all blocks in the Chevy Chase business area would afford a broader perspective and allow for balance.

Instead, the ANC took no vote. There was no record of opposition at the meetings or on the Chevy Chase listserv, and the agency requirement for 30 days had passed. After that point, the opportunity for ANC input with "great weight" had passed. DDOT had seemed to fulfill its obligation.

The ANC did not follow through with what it had stated it would do in June. Instead, it took a different tack once it realized that only an additional block of Morrison and the same block of McKinley submitted petitions (note: McKinley is the "collector" street for the Chevy Chase DC community and is not eligible for physical calming measures that "residential" streets can obtain).

So who is at fault here - the residents of Morrison Street who used standard city process to address a problem on their street? Or the ANC, which failed to act within the prescribed window from city agencies? Even if the ANC had chosen to oppose the traffic calming measures, DDOT would still have been able to install them if they were warranted as noted in this WTOP article,

DDOT spokesperson John Lisle says the process "has been streamlined."

In the past, the agency would require a traffic study be completed for every request. Now, residents simply have to get the majority of their neighbors to sign a petition.

Lisle says the reason for the change is to promote pedestrian safety.

"Safety for pedestrians, residents, workers and visitors is always a top priority. The District has long supported speed bumps in neighborhoods as a means to provide traffic calming. With the streamlined process we are now able to fill requests more efficiently."

Perhaps the ANC ought to have a better handle on how the city functions rather than inciting the public to clog city officials email boxes with misguided complaints.

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