Monday, August 30, 2010

Chevy Chase Parkway: WARNING

Recall the vitriol within the Chevy Chase community when DDOT proposed installing speed humps as a traffic calming measure on Chevy Chase's Morrison Street. Those humps were installed essentially at the request (see Feb 25, 2008 Minutes, cited here) of the ANC. Then DDOT Director Emeke Moneme came to an ANC 3G meeting to discuss the Pedestrian Signal about which the ANC complained so bitterly despite their request for its installation:

He said the test phase of the light would be completed in April and that at this time DDOT is not inclined to change the light. He noted that there were three options on the table: to leave the light as it is presently functioning; to provide a short flashing yellow for motorists on Morrison Street; or to make the signal a regular green/yellow/red light including a short 8 second advance pedestrian only phase, with the addition of speed bumps on Morrison Street.

After the humps were installed, the ANC waged a campaign of delay and even removal. Recall, also, that Mayor Fenty has a policy of installing speed humps wherever a block wanted them. In this situation, the ANC made a choice which necessitated the installation of speed humps (and why is the city giving ANC transportation planning choices?)

So why bring this up?

It seems as if a speed hump, a very large and pointy one, has been installed on Chevy Chase Parkway, right around the corner from the residence of outspoken ANC Commissioner and speed hump opponent David Engle. This hump was installed despite:

-the absence of any discussion at any ANC meeting about traffic calming for this location despite the inclusion of speed humps on the agenda for virtually every meeting over the past 18 months;

-any announcement from DDOT or the ANC to the community about its installation;

-any mention of a request on the Community listserv, nothing.

The reason for this post? There is also no signage warning motorists of its existence. It begs the question, was this speed hump installed by DDOT, or by some of the residents who felt like they wanted to by-pass the process and the scrutiny of an ANC that has been steadfast against road safety within Chevy Chase, DC?

So be forewarned, there is a speed hump on Chevy Chase Parkway between McKinley Street and Patterson Street, NW.

(For an additional bit of irony on this matter, since the Morrison Street pedestrian signal was re-programmed to a traditional signal, DDOT has installed HAWK signals and other innovations in Northwest DC. Maybe it is time to reconsider re-programming the Morrison Street light back to something more pedestrian-friendly, as originally requested by the ANC?)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Clark Ray and Giant

DC At-Large Council Candidate Clark Ray has put out a new video which promotes his Smart Growth credibility while highlighting some of the keep-it-the-same stance of his primary opponent, Phil Mendelson.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NW Current Endorses Gray

In a surprise move, the NW Current has decided to endorse Council Chairman Vince Gray. In making this decision, the Editorial staff has cited the cronyism and city finances as the main reasons to vote against incumbent Adrian Fenty:

The story of the past four years is not unblemished.

Mr. Fenty initiated the excessive rainy-day spending, we do not see him as any more fiscally sound. Indeed, Mr. Gray at least included budgetary language calling for replenishment of the reserves.

We have further problems with Mr. Fenty’s record. The dark side of his focus on results is a seeming arrogance toward other elected officials and constituents, as well as efforts to justify cronyism as necessary I the name of efficiency.

The saga of reconstruction of recreation centers is the most telling example. When the council refused to turn over the long-delayed projects to the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, the Fenty administration funneled contracts through the public housing authority, a way to avoid council review. The selected bidders just happened to be run by Mayor Fenty’s fraternity brothers, who would have earned outlandish fees. The council’s ongoing investigation may never turn up legal wrongdoing, but that does not mean the administration’s conduct was appropriate.

One will wonder if such an endorsement will give Mr. Gray the votes he needs from Ward 3 to unseat Mr. Fenty.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Giant Moving Forward!!!!!

An announcement from Giant, despite the recently discussed appeal:

Stop & Shop/Giant is moving forward in redeveloping Friendship Shopping Center. The plan is to begin construction of the new development, Cathedral Commons, next year.

This development reflects the community’s desire for a more expansive grocery store with a larger variety of product offerings, convenient and nutritious prepared foods, a choice of organic and fresh vegetables, and a host of shopping options. This vibrant, place-making development is designed to complement the existing Cleveland Park neighborhood, while providing neighborhood-serving retail similar to that offered today, i.e., restaurants, banking, pharmacy, yoga, etc. In addition, there will be exceptionally well designed rental and for-sale housing, an enlivened streetscape, commercial tenants, engaging open spaces, and below-grade parking . A full description of the project is provided at our website

Nice to see the project move forward.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Annual Cleveland Park Giant Poll

It is time, once again to weigh in with popular support for the Cleveland Park Giant. The new All Life is Local blog has announced a poll to gauge support or opposition to the Giant proposal.

A vote to oppose the lawsuit filed by local Giant opponents means you support the Giant construction to move forward post-haste.

GOP Ward 3 Candidate to Endorse Fenty

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post has publicized GOP Ward 3 Candidates support for Mayor Adrian Fenty.

According to Debonis,

The thin line that Cheh has tried to straddle separates her ward's overwhelming preference for Fenty (or, more to the point, schools chief Michelle Rhee) from her own well-publicized disdain for the way Fenty governs the city.

So in steps Hedgepeth. "I just think it will be a way to contrast my position on the mayor's race with Ward 3 voters," he says -- and this position in particular: "Fenty has shown that he is truly 100 percent behind Chancellor Rhee. ... I support the candidate that's shown he's 100 percent behind Chancellor Rhee."

Cheh, it should be noted, has generally been a supporter of Rhee -- it tends to be Attorney General Peter Nickles who attracts the bulk of her invective. But in a race where a vote against Fenty is a vote against Rhee, Hedgepeth sees a wedge issue for the city's most affluent ward.

What say you, does this, or will this make a difference either in the Mayoral race or in the Ward 3 General Election in November?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

More on the Cleveland Park Giant

The recent announcement that the nearby neighbors have filed a lawsuit/appeal against the Planned Unit Development for the Cleveland Park Giant ans promoted some discussion regarding the Cleveland Park Citizen's Association:

I feel we are owed a clear and prompt explanation of the CPCA's position on this issue, and what they intend to do to stop this small group of self-interested Giant neighbors from thwarting the community's desire for an expanded and improved supermarket. As I understand it, the CPCA voted last fall for a new Board that indicated its suppoprt of the Giant expansion. I would hope that the CPCA take immediate action, such as filing an amicus brief opposing the litigants opposing the Giant expansion...

Recall that in 2009, the CPCA underwent internal turmoil when the Board and a handful of its members voted to opposed the Giant (because, in its best Orwellian justification, it supported it).

So now the question begs, given all that the CPCA and the "UNITY" slate went through as a result of this action, will it now support the will of the community and remove the official stance in opposition?

Lost in the debate over this appeal is the overwhelming trend in urban grocery stores, particularly in the District:

...a new generation of supermarkets is arriving in the city as part of mixed-use, transit-oriented developments. These grocery stores are better integrated into the dense urban fabric to offer a wider array of foods and services. They are pushed to the edge of the sidewalk instead of being recessed behind parking lots. In place of blank walls and plate glass, lively street frontage blends with the historic architecture of older neighborhoods.

This recent investment by large retailers indicates they finally consider downtown neighborhoods worth courting. In addition to Safeway Inc., familiar chains like Giant Food LLC, Harris Teeter Inc. and others are overhauling existing facilities and investing in new locations to offer more upscale and convenient shopping for urbanites.

So will Cleveland Park remain stuck in the past, with the surface parking lot, antiquated store and outmoded suburban style living, or will it help facilitate a new store, with new neighborhood amenities and new residents?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

City Paper on Adrian Fenty

The City Paper has a profile of Mayor Adrian Fenty in this week's edition. In it, there seems to be a series of telling quotes from Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh:

Not every political insider wants contracts for their buddies. A little bit of well-timed butt-kissing, for instance, might have salvaged Fenty’s relationship with Councilmember Mary Cheh, whose Ward 3 is the city’s most pro-Fenty jurisdiction.

Cheh, who joined the council at the same time Fenty became mayor, says she had high expectations for working with the young chief executive. And, she says, those hopes were quickly dashed after he made it clear that he expected a quid pro quo type of relationship, where she would support him from the council in return for favors in her ward.

Now, she says, Fenty doesn’t even extend the most routine of political courtesies, like inviting her to ribbon cuttings in her ward. “He’s his own worst enemy,” Cheh says, going a little over the top by comparing Fenty to a “Shakespearean” tragedy. “The idea that you have such promise, you had such potential, you had all that wind at your back and yet because of your own internal failings you squandered it.” In this version, Fenty’s personality doesn’t cut through the bullshit. It creates more bullshit—in this case, a feud that slows down his own agenda.

I think Many Ward 3 voters would be interested in knowing what kinds of "quid pro quo" items we lost out on due to the Mayor's alleged pettiness?

Ah, the political season, the gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wisconsin Avenue Giant: The Saga Continues

ANC 3C Commissioner Trudy Reeves has announced on the Cleveland Park Listserv that the "Wisconsin-Newark Neighborhood Coalition" has filed an appeal on the PUD application for the Giant on Wisconsin Avenue.

The Hogan Lovells law firm filed an appeal to the DC Court of Appeals earlier this month on behalf of WNNC, Wisconsin-Newark Neighborhood Coalition, (Diane Olson, John Korbel, Peter Espenshied, Ann Hamilton, et al.) and the Idaho Avenue folks (Phil Montalto). The appeal says nothing new. Very briefly: they argue that the Zoning Commission does not have jurisdiction in this case; the PUD is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan; and Idaho Avenue is not wide enough for trucks. All of these issues have been covered before. Giant's attorneys will file their brief in the next couple of weeks; then the petitioners have about a month to respond; and then a date will be set for a hearing, which will probably be several months away."

So, given the duration of this process since last year much less 2004 and 2000, how much longer can the 'tyranny of the minority" rule the roost?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fenty Veto's Cheh Election Bill

According to reports on the Washington Post DC Wire, Mayor Adrian Fenty has vetoed legislation sponsored by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh.

According to reports, the bill,

would have enshrined in the local code the federal prohibitions against paying someone to vote or register to vote, or accepting payment to vote or register to vote. It also made it a crime to use a false name to register to vote. Violators could be fined as much as $10,000 and face five years in prison.

According to Fenty strategist Ron Moten,

Gray and Cheh clearly passed a bill that was not clear on what the rules are and they did this at the last minute of a tight election, which is troubling".

A Gray spokesperson said, "The bill says, in the most simple of terms, you can't buy someone's vote ... the fact that the mayor wouldn't sign it speaks volumes. We knew that he had no problem bringing pay-to-play politics to the mayor's office. Now it appears he has no problem bringing it to the ballot box."

The Mayor has well over a million dollars in unspent campaign funds.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vince Gray: Good for Ward 3?

In a recent blog entry David Alpert of Great Greater Washington suggests that a Mayor Vince Gray would be good for urbanists across the city.

The entry notes that:

Gray recently walked along Wisconsin Avenue from Tenleytown to Friendship Heights with a group of residents of the area. They pointed out the many glaring flaws in Wisconsin's streetscape. There's the CVS at Wisconsin and Brandywine, where the sidewalk becomes a sharply sloped ramp to a roof parking deck leaving a 2-foot space for pedestrians between fences and telephone poles. Near the other end, there's the Western bus garage, a half-block blank wall right along Wisconsin and literally atop the Metro. And there are plenty of examples in between.

Gray nodded eagerly when residents and even his own campaign manager outlined their ideas for how Tenley Circle could feel more like a college town if more retail and housing accompanied American's plans to move the law school there. And his reaction bordered on incredulity when Friendship Heights residents told him that many people would oppose any new buildings on the site of the bus garage...

On development, Gray's approach will be to create a good plan and hear out all the opponents before moving ahead, while Fenty's approach has been to move ahead without any plans or much listening. Here, both approaches have merit, and I'd give a small edge to Gray's. Perhaps some bold planning and community engagement could have resulted in improvements along the Wisconsin Avenue corridor, where recent development has more often produced a boring low-scale bank rather than anything transformative.

But as one Smart Growth proponent recently pointed out, we are fortunate. We have two candidates who have made a clear commitment to many parts of a Smart Growth vision. They'd implement it with different styles and might focus on different elements, but four years from now, there will be more housing opportunities near commercial corridors and Metro stations regardless of who is Mayor.

I suppose if one were to really examine the management from the complex Tenley-Janney Public-Private Partnership, or the simple, one could imagine Vince Gray as mayor as a potentially better alternative to the current administration.

It will certainly be an interesting month until the September 14th primary.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Aggressive Fenty Canvassers?

A report on the Chevy Chase Listserv suggests that some Fenty re-election workers may be too aggressive:

Over the course of a month I have had visits from 3 sets of Fenty workers (I don't think I can call them volunteers because I believe they are paid for their work.) Each time I point to the "Gray" sign in my yard and tell them that I am voting for Gray. Each time they challenge my statement with heated campaign rhetoric. They want to know why I am voting for Gray and on two previous occasions I have told them why. Today they were much more aggressive both in word and physical stance. One fellow had opened my screen door and stood directly in front of me while the second fellow continued with his aggressive questioning.

I told them I was voting for Gray and that I had already explained to the two other sets of Fenty workers why I am not voting for Fenty and I did not want to got through it again. "I do not have to explain my vote to you," I said, "and now get off my porch." The one fellow said okay but just tell me one reason. To which I replied, "If you do not get off my porch I will report you for harassment." They wanted to know my name and I said you know my name because it's on your list (on their clipboard). They finally left but grudgingly.

I believe this is harassment and a bullying form of intimidation

Has anyone else had this kind of experience with campaign workers this season?

Ward 3 Public Schools - Failing the Grade

The latestest testing results are out and the results are not exactly stellar. Regardless of your feelings about Chancellor Rhee and the Mayor's race, only 3 schools in Ward 3 met the "annual yearly progress" requirements of the "No Child Left Behind" standards.

According to the DC Examiner:

"Eight DCPS elementary schools made the benchmark, down from 29 in 2009 and 38 in 2008. Two of them -- Mamie D. Lee and Sharpe -- serve only special needs students. Of the remaining six, Mann, Key and Stoddert elementary schools are in Ward 3...

Conversely, Chevy Chase's Lafayette Elementary, attended by Mayor Adrian Fenty's twin sons, did not make AYP even though 87 percent of its students scored proficient in reading and 84 percent met the mark for math. The school failed to meet the standards because of declining scores among its black students -- reading proficiency dropped to 67 percent in 2010 from 83 percent in 2009, and math proficiency dropped to 69 percent from 83 percent.

This means highly valued Ward 3 schools such as Murch, Janney, Eaton, Hearst, Deal and Wilson did not achieve published goals.