Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wisconsin Avenue Giant Affirmed

The appeal (PDF) for the Wisconsin Avenue Giant has been issued. From the order:

Petitioners, Wisconsin-Newark Neighborhood Coalition, the Ordway Street Neighbors Association, and 3300 Idaho Neighbors, challenge a July 13, 2009 order issued by the District of Columbia Zoning Commission (“Commission”), which approved a Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) and related Zoning Map amendment application submitted by Intervenor Friendship-Macomb SC, Inc. (“Giant”) for a project on property that Giant owns. The project encompasses a 178,236 square foot area bounded by 1) Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. and Idaho Avenue, N.W., and fronting Macomb Street, N.W. Petitioners argue that the Commission erred in

(1) failing to refer the project to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (“BZA” or “Board”);

(2) failing to enforce the Macomb-Wisconsin Neighborhood Commercial Overlay District’s (“MW Overlay”) height and density restrictions to the project;

(3) approving a project that allegedly conflicted with the Comprehensive Plan for the District of Columbia; and

(4) concluding that there was substantial evidence supporting Giant’s claim that its truck-loading plan was feasible.

We disagree and affirm the Commission’s order.

This project can now move forward towards the planned Spring 2012 groundbreaking.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Wisconsin Avenue Giant - another update

According to this Washington Post coverage the neighbor appeal is still pending, but the developers hope to break ground in the Spring of 2012.

Anyone else holding their breath?

More on PEPCO

Rachel Baye of the Examiner updates the previously reported news that PEPCO has purchased the 5220 Wisconsin Avenue lot. Of interest are the comments in the article, particularly this one:

A high-rise would have been too large, creating an "oppressiveness to the walkability of the area with the tall buildings looming over the sidewalk," said Marilyn Simon, a board member of the Friendship Neighborhood Association.

So which is better, a 5-7 story building with street front retail, or a substation?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Ward 4 "land grabbing" Ward 3?

In "The Mail" from DC Watch, one commented noted an anomaly in the language from the Ward 4 redistricting task force:

The ANC redistricting task force reports are in. Here’s an oddity: the Ward Four task force has defined an ANC 4A that extends south of the Ward Four boundary, incorporating a quarter-mile strip of Ward One. Why? It’s that dreadful, interminable Klingle Road dispute again, rising from the dead, perhaps to plague us anew.

I won’t bore readers with the details. Suffice it to note that the Ward Four boundary at the southeast corner, adjacent to Wards One and Three, is where Piney Branch Parkway intersects (almost) Rock Creek. From that point, “southwest along Rock Creek to the centerline of Klingle Road,” is the boundary line between Wards One and Three. It’s not part of Ward Four, which ended up there at Piney Branch, a quarter mile to the north.

But tell that to the Ward Four ANC redistricting folks, who have defined an ANC 4A that extends “south on Rock Creek to Klingle Road; east on Klingle Road to Beach Drive; northeast on Beach Drive to Piney Branch Parkway.” What’s this funny little extension south of Piney Branch, a narrow and unoccupied piece of Rock Creek Park, to Klingle Road, about? Essentially, one ANC 4A commissioner wants to have a physical connection to Klingle Road, believing that will give that ANC standing to continue to fight to reopen Klingle Road. In 2008, the District Council put this in legislation: the closed portion of Klingle Road “shall not be reopened to the public for motor vehicle traffic.” Not everyone is ready to accept that, apparently. Happily, the Office of Planning has spotted this little ploy, and presumably will compel ANC 4A to limit its dimensions to Ward Four.

Mary Cheh, will you stand for this? A new border war has commenced!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4P's, er 4 Fields Extended

DCist (and PoP) have been covering the saga in Cleveland Park. Here is the latest.

Westover and AU: The hypocisy documented

There is a little history documented in a piece that appeared in the NW Current as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

5220 Wisconsin Ave: An Update

According to Michael Neibauer of the Washington Business Journal, the former Akridge project at 5220 Wisconsin Avenue has been sold to PEPCO.

The PUD application for this site was highly contentious as nearby neighborhood residents feared the additional floor of apartments and mixed-use retail afforded to the approved application. Now, residents will have to contend with the possibility of an expanded power substation and minimal street activity within a stone's throw of the south entrance of the Friendship Heights metro station.

If this comes to pass in a worse-case scenario, I wonder if those who opposed this project might, in hindsight, reconsider?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rethinking Ward Circle

GreaterGreater Washington has an interesting blog entry that analyzes Ward Circle in its current condition and suggests alternatives.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kick-Off for Tenleytown Safeway

Here is City Paper coverage of the Clark Construction kick-off neighborhood meeting for the Tenleytown Safeway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Safeway Community Meeting

From the Tenleytown Yahoo Group:

Clark Realty Capital is working with Safeway to design and deliver an exciting new mixed-use development at the location of the existing Safeway store in the Tenleytown neighborhood. The development will include rental apartments atop a new and improved Safeway grocery store. As we begin the planning process, we invite you to join us for a brief discussion to meet our team, learn about the development issues, and share your thoughts and concerns.

Tenleytown Safeway Development
Community Workshop
Thursday October 27, 2011
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
St. Mary's Church Community Hall
42nd and Fessenden Streets, NW

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Housing Complex: YIMBYs Are Back

A write-up in the City Paper about one organization trying to make a difference in the Ward.

Ward 3 Redistricting Questions

In a recent issue of The Mail from DC Watch, one resident aired some issues related to the recent Ward 3 redistricting effort:

Ward 3 ANC Redistricting has been a distressing affair. I was horrified by the lack of democracy and the lack of concern for Ward 3 citizens, as ANC lines were redrawn with little or no consideration for residents. A coup by ANC 3E, which retained its small five-person commission, resulted in the ANC’s taking over all the issues in Tenleytown, leaving more than half of Tenleytown’s citizens in ANC 3F.

The five commissioners of ANC 3E now have jurisdiction over every business and institution in Tenleytown (including DC Public Schools Janney, Wilson, and Deal and countless private schools) and all businesses on Wisconsin Avenue between the District line and Veazey Street, while being accountable mostly to citizens in American University Park and Friendship Heights. Yes, there are a few of us in Tenleytown east of Wisconsin who are now in ANC 3E, but not enough of us to be a political force or to have our own SMD. My new single member district will be populated mostly by people who live on the opposite side of Wisconsin Avenue, mostly residents of AU Park. Unlike most of my neighbors, my home was pulled into ANC 3E because of a last minute deal that puts local ANC boundaries on small, non-arterial residential streets. Most of my neighbors, whose lives are centered on Wisconsin Avenue and Tenleytown institutions, will be represented by ANC 3F (whose commissioners resisted the coup) that must now focus on Connecticut Avenue issues, far to the west of where they live.

It was a situation where the majority of the Task Force representatives were responsible to no one but themselves and/or their employers. Most who voted against the residents did not feel compelled to answer our letters and still fewer gave reasons for their votes. But there was code: “the reunification of Tenleytown” was how several ANC 3E commissioners repeatedly characterized their stick of dynamite.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Safeway Un-Postponed

Nearby residents to the Tenleytown Safeway have received notice of a "community workshop" at St. Mary's Armenian Church on Thursday Oct. 27 at 7:30 PM. This after the project was put on hold after complaints about the original design of the space.

Clark Construction appears to be the redevelopment partner for Safeway.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tenleytown Redevelopment - The Discussion Continues

In light of the Babe's site at Wisconsin and Brandywine being revisited, discussion on the Tenleytown Listserv has intensified. This post by former ANC Commissioner Beth Kravitz, in response to a question regarding the most sensible place to house some of the expected 2 Million new residents in the region, is self-explanatory:

How about putting them in OTHER parts of the city that are also near the subway and public transportation and are desperately looking for quality development that new residents would bring, such as east of the Anacostia and the new North of Union Station? Not all development and high density residential has to be in Tenley. Many of us worked very hard to keep Tenleytown from becoming like Cleveland Park and Friendship Heights. Growth, even "smart growth" (whatever THAT is) is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes status quo is actually best. For those who want a Manhattan/Ballston/Friendship Heights style of living, I say, go there. Leave Tenleytown the small town oasis that it is.

I think the idea is to fully realize the regional investment in Metro. It shouldn't be an 'either/or' proposition. There should be new, transit oriented development in other parts of the city, and, there should be new transit oriented development in Friendship Heights and Tenleytown. One can see the walkability, sustainability and tax benefits realized by Montgomery County (Bethesda and Friendship Heights) and Arlington (the Orange Line corridor). These are models (if not necessarily the scale) for the kinds of positive changes that can take place along a transit corridor without negatively impacting the existing residential experience.

A close examination of the parking and traffic impacts to these close-in neighborhoods demonstrate that new residents can be introduced into existing neighborhoods without the negative impacts often claimed by those opposed to new development.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Ward 3 Redistricting Complete

According to accounts on Twitter, the Ward 3 Redistricting Task Force has generally concluded its business. Sources indicate few substantial changes from the 2001 effort.

Among them are

-the consolidation of students into Single Member Districts in ANC 3D, and the expansion of 3D to 10 Commissioners, to include the Department of Homeland Security; and

-the consolidation of ANC 3E around Wisconsin Avenue from Van Ness Street to Western Avenue.

Other changes generally moved Single Member District lines to conform to the 2000 population (+/-5%).

ANC 3/4 G remains split between the two Wards.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Greater Greater Washington: 3D Gerrymander?

According to a post on Greater Greater Washington, there are members of the greater Spring Valley/Palisades area who are interested in gerrymandering American University students, thus potentially violating the rights of a protected class in the District of Columbia.

It would be nice if the Task Force shared other proposals in the ward, to make a more transparent process.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Babe's Site Update

ANC 3E Chair Jonathan Bender shared a PDF of the preliminary plan for the former Babe's Billiard site at the intersection of Brandywine and Wisconsin in the heart of Tenleytown.

According to Bender, the ANC will post the application and other details once the PUD is filed.

One commenter on the Tenleytown Yahoo Group has already weighed in:

That is an absolutely beautiful use of the site.

It is nicely scaled and a well-proportioned urban building. It will be an asset to the neighborhood and a significant improvement to a derelict site.

Anyone want to break out the popcorn and follow the usual back and forth on the Yahoo Group?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear DDOT, How Did this Happen?

Former ANC Commissioner Chris Fromboluti posted the following on the Chevy Chase Listerv:

Dear ANC Commissioner Henry Griffin:

Recently I returned from a short vacation to find that Kanawha Street had been made one way Eastbound between Connecticut Avenue and 38th Street NW. I have polled a number of neighbors and residents of the affected block and all are annoyed at the change and none had been notified nor informed that this change was in the works.

This new traffic pattern is very inconvenient for all who live in the immediate area. It means that residents can no longer turn onto Kanawha from Connecticut but have to take a roundabout route to get to their destination. This in turn adds traffic to the streets that we now have to detour through. It just doesn't make any sense.

Per my experience as a former Commissioner, any change to street configuration is always vetted with the affected neighborhood to gauge citizen reaction before it is enacted. Were you or the ANC aware of this action? If yes we would appreciate knowing why no-one was notified in advance. If, as I suspect, you knew nothing about this I would appreciate an investigation into this very irregular procedure.

So if this is correct, DDOT, possibly in conjunction or advice and consent of ANC 3/4G Commissioners, has altered the configuration of a street in the grid in upper Northwest to be one-way, causing residents to significantly alter their driving patterns adding unnecessary traffic to adjacent streets. This appears to be without any notice to the community for discussion. To wit, a quick search of the ANC 3/4 G website suggests nary an agenda item or minutes indicating any sort of public notice.

Rumors in the community are that the local Single Member District Commissioner was fully aware and advocating for this change.

Seriously, how does this happen without a peep to the broader community? What happens if or when other residents or ANC Commissioners decide they want significant changes to their streets? What is the process for making a street one-way? Was Councilmember Cheh's office aware of this?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Giant Redux

And, like so many times before, the Wisconsin Avenue Giant has been delayed once again.

Courtesy: DC Metro Urban Diary

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AU Tenley Law School Update

As posted on the Tenleytown Listserv:

We would like to host a meeting of the AU Campus Plan Task Force at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30 in Mary Graydon #4 on the AU campus.

The purpose is to present parts of the Campus Plan that have evolved in recent weeks and which we either have filed or will be filing with the D.C. Zoning Commission. This includes project details for the North Hall student residence adjacent to the President's Office and plans for the Washington College of Law on the Tenley Campus.

The North Hall plans are now posted on the AU Campus Plan Web site, and the law school/Tenley Campus plans will be posted prior to the Aug. 30 meeting.

We hope that you can attend the meeting on Aug. 30 for an update and discussion.

Thank you.

David Taylor
President's Chief of Staff

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A New Middle School in Palisades?

The Examiner covers the prospects of a new Junior High School in Palisades, as proposed by Mary Cheh.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DDOT Announces Capital Bikeshare Expansion

DDOT has announced the addition of two Bikeshare stations in Ward 3:

3000 Connecticut. NW – National Zoo

Calvert Street and 39th Street, NW (Stoddert Recreation Center)

In addition, DDOT will expand the station at Calvert Street and Woodley Place in Woodley Park.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fare thee Well 4P's?

The Prince of Petworth confirms rumors that 4P's Irish Pub in Cleveland Park is set to be re-branded as McFadden's, a companion to the Foggy Bottom pub.

Chevy Chase Park Meeting

Rhere will be a community meeting tonight (7/26) at 6:30PM with DPR regarding Livingston Street Park. During this meeting DPR will review the additions to the park, areas that need attention, and the timeline for repairs or remaining installations (spray park, sand box, benches, etc.).

Who: DPR Staff, Director Aguirre, CM Mary Cheh and Community
When: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 6:30 PM
Where: Chevy Chase Community Center Multi-Purpose Room
5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

AU Campsu Plan: East Campus

One person's perspective on the East Campus Plan from American University. One commenter has shared an early campus plan from 1899.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Proposal for Babes in Tenleytown

DC Metro Urban Diary provides and update for the Babes Billiard site at Wisconsin and Brandywine Street in the heart of Tenleytown. According to the article, the property owner will now seek a 6 story structure via the PUD process.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Woodley Park McMansions

Lydia DePillis updates the new houses at Garfield and 29th Place in Woodley Park.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

NW Current: Threat of razing sparks outcry on Jocelyn

The July 6, 2011 edition of the NW Current has an article entitled "Threat of razing sparks outcry on Jocelyn". The Brady Holt piece describes the efforts of residents in the vicinity of 3901 Jocelyn Street who are opposing the raze permit submitted by developers earlier this summer upon purchasing the 10,000+ lot and house.

Recall the effort in 2007 by Historic Chevy Chase DC to create a historic district in anticipation of the neighborhood centennial. The effort proved to be too controversial and the application was never formally submitted to the Historic Preservation Office.

During the debate, one Historic District supporter suggested or better, warned about a coming "tipping point" in local neighborhood economics:

Rampant teardowns are triggered when a neighborhood reaches a tipping point on land economics. In our neighborhood (20015), the average price for an existing home is about $900,000. As a developer, I have calculated that when a homebuilder can reasonably expect to get about $1,800,000 for a new McMansion, he could afford to pay $900,000 for an existing historic house as if it were a vacant, buildable lot. As recent sale prices on the upper end demonstrate, we are getting dangerously close to this tipping point. And once we hit the tipping point, there is no going back, as has been seen by the rapid demolition of homes in places like residential Bethesda. It is worth setting up protections now, before we reach that point, rather than trying to fix it retroactively.

Given the number of new houses and teardowns on Jenifer Street, Nevada Avenue and Tennyson Street, these words from 2007 seem more prescient than ever.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zoning Commission Approves UDC Plan

The Zoning Commission has approved the UDC Campus Plan (case 11-02) and construction of a new LEED Platinum student center. This will be a major step forward for the University Campus and the Van Ness area.

Next up? American University.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome Back, Woodley Park

In a stunning reversal, the City Council approved a late amendment to the Redistricting Bill bringing precinct 136 back to Ward 3. The area, generally east of Connecticut Avenue between Devonshire Place and Calvert Street had been in Ward 1.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More on the Cleveland Park Service Lane

The petition for the removal of the service lane in Cleveland Park is drawing attention from The City Paper and GreaterGreaterWashington (see comments).

What are your thoughts?

Monday, June 13, 2011

City Paper: Ft. Reno Schedule

The City Paper has provided the early schedule for the Ft. Reno concert series.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Service Lane in Cleveland Park

A petition was posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv recently in response to discussion regarding the "service lane" on the east side of Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Newark Streets in Cleveland Park.

The lane was created during the early "automobile era" when planners assumed that the provision of auto facilities would create a business-friendly environment. Cleveland Park is home to an early example of the auto-centric strip mall.

Petition organizers suggest that restoring the broad sidewalk will enhance the pedestrian experience, provide more lively streetscape in the form of outdoor seating for restaurants and enable the many neighborhood visitors to enjoy the commercial strip without being crammed into a pedestrian facility that is at many times of the day inadequate for demand.

Opponents suggest the retail and service businesses along the strip would not be able to survive without the necessary parking, or in the alternative, that a reconfiguration would push more vehicles into the residential areas.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Municipal Bonds and Ward 3

A resident has shared a correspondence from Mary Cheh on the passage of a tax on Municipal Bonds. As the Councilmember notes, this retroactive action affects seniors living on fixed incomes and ward 3 residents disproportionately:

I’m sorry, I am reading your emails, but I’ve been inundated of late, as you might imagine. I was opposed to this tax but accepted it because (1) we are now the only jurisdiction to offer an exemption on out-of-state bonds and, contrary to the past, the District offers a wider array of its own tax-exempt bonds, and (2) it was linked to a promise that the extra revenues we anticipate in the balance of this year would be used to eliminate the retroactive effect, thereby grandfathering in bonds purchased before October 2011.

Regrettably, Councilmember Tommy Wells and others introduced an amendment that took away the promise to grandfather the tax exemption and instead use future revenues to pay for other programs. And, in an instance of rank politics, that group of Councilmembers secured their necessary seventh vote for the amendment from Councilmember Vincent Orange by promising him that he could use a half-a-million dollars of the expected revenues for the Lincoln Theater and Emancipation Day Festivities. I think that that action was unprincipled and unraveled an arrangement that was previously fair.

There is also an underlying issue of fairness here. In tax year 2008, there were 19,917 taxpayers that had reported some tax-exempt interest. Of those, 70% lived in Ward 3. There are many retired people--a great many of them in Ward 3--who rely on the interest of these bonds as part of their retirement plans. I have spoken to Chairman Brown and impressed upon him the urgency of having that amendment reconsidered, and he tells me he is attempting to do that for the second and final vote. So we'll see.

Given the state of the Council and Government leadership at this time, this hardly feels like a fair action to those who have saved, rather than those who are squandering city resources on pet projects or for private gain. Perhaps the Council and Executive Branch ought to ensure the financial house and safety systems on taxpayer monies are sound before burdening District Seniors with a retroactive tax.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Review of the AU Campus Plan

Here is one person's take on the American University Campus Plan.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Ward 3 Schools Vie for Baseball Title

Congratulations to Sidwell Friends for capturing the Congressional Bank DC Baseball classic after edging St. Albans, Maret and Wilson en route to victory.

Wilson High School should also be congratulated for taking its 19th DCIAA Baseball Trophy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Post: Ward 3 Flower Thief on the Loose

Lori Aratani of the Washington Post reports on the wily flower bandit of Ward 3.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Traffic Demonstration at American University

This alert and the related irony speaks for itself:


A coalition of neighbors surrounding American University will be gathering together this Thursday morning, May 26th from 8:30 am to 9:00 am to walk around Ward Circle, crossing Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues several times to physically demonstrate the impact 600 or 700 students will have on traffic, if AU puts the number of beds it wants on the Nebraska Avenue parking lot.

Almost 21,000 vehicles use Mass. Ave. daily and about 24,500 use Nebraska. And yet, AU's flawed traffic study, which they are presenting to the Zoning Office to get approval for their beds, claims that adding to the pedestrian traffic load will have no impact on traffic at the circle.

Help us show the city AU is wrong.

If we can get a large number of residents to walk around the circle several times, wearing buttons that say "Stop the AU Campus Plan" and have a couple more stationed on the sidewalk with signs that say "AU Plan Causes Gridlock" "Honk if You Hate Gridlock" and put large "Stop the AU Campus Plan" in the center of the Circle, our case will be self evident. Everyone will see firsthand the traffic gridlock and noise pollution that will result if AU gets its way.

We need your commitment now. Join with your friends and neighbors to really do something to get our plight noticed and have a little fun. We're not just paying lawyers to make studied arguments. We're standing up for ourselves and using
our feet to fight for our neighborhoods!

We're meeting just inside the gate of Westover Place, in the front courtyard of 4300 Massachusetts Ave, behind the guardhouse at 8:30 Pick up your buttons and those of you who want signs can get them. Then we'll go up to the Circle and cross the street.

The guard at the gate will be alerted. Secret Code is "Stop AU". There are several guest parking spaces behind the Mass. Ave. wall which will work if we all carpool.

Census 2010 - No Proposed Changes to Ward 3

The Council Sub-Committee charged with redistricting has issued draft recommendations. Currently there is no suggestion to alter the borders of Ward 3.

The proposal is subject to full Council review and community input, with final adoption later in June.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Panera to Tenleytown

The Prince of Petworth blog has credited an acute reader with news that Panera is going to occupy the infill space at the NE corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Albamarle Street.

While this had been rumored for a while, the confirmation of the placards is helpful.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

City Paper: Cheh Investigates the Mayor

A recent Loose Lips column about Mary Cheh and the Executive Office investigations.

Monday, May 16, 2011

1953 Wisconsin Ave. Giant Advertisement

Courtesy of "DCRez" in the DCist commnts section.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Developments on Wisconsin Avenue

The Washington Post has two storied related to grocery stores on Wisconsin Avenue:

Jonathan O'Connell updates the latest on the Tenleytown Safeway. According to reports, Safeway has moved forward with a mixed-use development, but is still working with immediate neighbors on details.

Meanwhile, Lori Aranti provides provides details on the latest in the Giant redevelopment in Cleveland Park. It appears as if final arrangements are being made to commence construction despite the ongoing appeal by some local residents.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More on Streetcars

Recent discussion on the Tenleytown Listserv has revisited the idea of a Wisconsin Avenue Streetcar. These exchanges prompted a post on Greater Greater Washington rehashing many of the same arguments, pro and con regarding the streetcar system and the implementation of the system specifically in upper Northwest DC.

Former ANC 3E Commissioner Carolyn Sherman suggests that instead of Wisconsin Avenue, Connecticut Avenue ought to be studied:

Let's revisit for a minute the option of putting the streetcar, if there is to be one, on Connecticut rather than Wisconsin. Remember that from Van Ness on up--and it's a long way to Chevy Chase Circle--residents have no access to Metro, and many fewer buses. That area includes much of Chevy Chase, Forest Hills, and many other neighborhoods. Residents there tend to drive, with the understandable excuse that there's no easy mass transit. Suppose there's a streetcar every few minutes that takes all those workers, etc., straight down Conn to the K St corridor and beyond. Isn't that route just as needed and likely to have heavy usage as the route taking people who live along Wisconsin over to Benning Road? AU and GU have their own bus systems, and DHS will have its own too. Wisconsin is already filled with mass transit options. And consider the fact that if, as one poster says, "a big reason for a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar is to create demand for high density in-fill development along the corridor,"isn't that another reason to go for Connecticut Ave? There's much more room for infill along upper Connecticut. Think of all the possibilities for infill from Chevy Chase Circle on down to Van Ness. There are blocks and blocks of low- and medium-rise buildings. Imagine that whole area mirroring the development along Wisconsin and Western. How vibrant that area could become, with all the revenue for the city coming in.

Why does it need to be a choice? Both streets had streetcar lines in previous eras (see map for post consolidation era layout). Connecticut Avenue was developed by the Chevy Chase Land Company, and the development patterns on that road were created specifically for the Streetcar. Ms. Sherman is correct that connecting downtown to Chevy Chase Circle and beyond by Streetcar is a good idea. However, this should not be done instead of Wisconsin Avenue, but in addition.

Connecting Rosslyn and Georgetown to Tenleytown, Friendship Heights, and extending up to NIH and Rockville was part of a system in the 20th Century. Similarly, connecting downtown to Chevy Chase and Chevy Chase Lake and beyond via Connecticut Avenue is a good idea. There is no reason why these shouldn’t be part of the long term plans for the region.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

E6 Line - WMATA Town Hall

From WMATA in consideration of the proposed elimination of the E6 bus line through upper NW Washington, there are a series of Town Halls:

We are tuning in to you to help us make important decisions about Metro's future.

For the first time ever, Metro will host combined Open Houses and Town Hall Meetings prior to its official Public Hearings. Metro staff members will be available at Open Houses for one-on-one conversations about Metro service and programs. Town Hall Meetings will give you an opportunity to talk about the future of the system with Metro leaders, including members of the Metro Board of Directors. During the Public
Hearings, Metro will take formal testimony on the following options under consideration for the FY12 budget:

o Increasing the Metrorail train wait times on weekends

o Eliminating the Metrobus E6, K1 and N8 lines

o Restructuring the Metrobus M4, V7, V8, 70 and 71 lines

o Eliminating the 50¢ discount on certain Anacostia bus routes, resulting in MetroAccess fare increase, and modification of the Anacostia station bus transfer discount program

The Open Houses will be from 5:30-6:00 p.m. followed by the Town Hall Meetings/Q&A from 6:00-6:45 p.m. The Public Hearings will start at 6:45 p.m.


St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church
4125 Fessenden St, NW
Washington, DC
Metrorail stop: Friendship Heights

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ANC 3F holds AU Meeting

ANC 3F is holding a forum with American University regarding the proposal to move the Law School to the Tenleytown Campus.

The meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on Monday, May 2, in the large meeting room at the Tenley Library.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mara Carries Ward, Orange Wins the Race

In a landslide, Republican Pat Mara carried Ward 3 in the at-large Council race. However, former and future Councilmember Vince Orange won the day.

Alan Page 60
Dorothy Douglas 30
Bryan Weaver 993
Arkan Haile 9
Joshua Lopez 401
Patrick Mara 3825
Sekou Biddle 1920
Tom Brown 36
Vincent Orange 480
Write-in At Large 16

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wisconsin Avenue Giant: An Update

DC Metro Urban Diary has an update on the long-awaited Wisconsin Avenue Giant.

AllLifeisLocal is reporting that many retailers are making plans to remain operational in other locations during the construction process.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Zoning 101 at the Tenleytown Library

The Office of Zoning (OZ) is conducting community meetings in every Ward in the District to inform citizens about zoning. The educational series of presentations Zoning 101, 201, and 301, will cumulatively provide a detailed collection of information that will bring an even more solid foundation of zoning knowledge to the community.

On April 27, 2011, OZ will be presenting Zoning 101: Zoning Basics to Ward 3 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and citizens. Zoning 101 is a presentation on zoning essentials and does not address more complex aspects of process and procedure. The presentation will run approximately 30-40 minutes, leaving an additional 30 minutes for questions.

Please note that questions should be strictly geared to the subject matter presented in Zoning 101.

Tenley-Friendship Library
Large Meeting Room
4450 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Please RSVP to Sara Bardin of the Office of Zoning at or
(202) 727-5372.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Valet Parking in Cleveland Park

ANC 3C has announced the pending application for Yanni's replacement Medium Rare to facilitate valet parking. The several responses have objected to the application.

What difference does it make whether it is the customer or a valet parking service parking when the cars are using public space in the neighborhood?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cleveland Park Library on the Books

The Housing Complex Blog notes that the Cleveland Park Library is slated for update in 2016. Writer Lydia DePillis suggests that the Connecticut Avenue site may be eligible for a mixed-use development plan including housing and/or other uses.

Stay tuned. This probably won't go over well in Cleveland Park.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Smart Meter Forum- March 30

Re-posted from the Cleveland Park Listserv:

What happens when the reliability of electrical service is uncertain and what happens when new technology is introduced by utility companies? In 2011, AARP DC will take up these issues by exploring solutions to improve reliability, providing information on smart meter installation and operation, and giving DC residents the opportunity to raise concerns.

What: Reliable Electric Service and Smart Meters
Panelists: AARP, Office of the People’s Counsel, Pepco, and the Public Service
When: March 30, from 6:00 - 7:30pm
Where: Tenleytown Library, 4450 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC

All DC residents are invited. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2010 Census and Ward 3

The Washington Post has announced the results of the 2010 Census for the District of Columbia. The GreaterGreaterWashington Blog has a very good analysis of the results.

The overriding question for Ward 3 will be what, if any changes come as a result of this count. On the one hand, it may be that any shifts in Ward boundaries may be surround only the wards which need to have population adjustments as defined. On the other hand, shifting borders in several wards may mean that all wards will have changes.

In 2000, Woodley Park was divided, with the portion east of Connecticut Avenue ending up in Ward 1. Similarly in Chevy Chase, the areas east of Broadbranch Road were moved into Ward 4.

The DC Council, particularly Jack Evans and Phil Mendelson, will have the most to say about this process.

EDIT: GGW has created an application that will allow one to test out different options. There is also an ANC feature.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

March 14th: Connecticut Avenue Design Charrette

From the DC Office of Planning:

Residents and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the upcoming Design Charrette for open space along Connecticut Avenue from Albemarle to Tilden Street.

When: March 14th, 2011
Where: University of the District of Columbia; 2nd floor of Building 38, Windows

Charrette program:
3:30-4:00 Project Presentation
4:00-5:30 1stBreak-out design session
5:30-6:00 Break
6:00-6:30 Presentation of results of first break out design session
6:30-8:00 2ndBreak-out design session
8:00-8:30 Summarize and wrap up

How can you contribute? Come share ideas, design solutions,place-making ideas, mobility suggestions. You can drop in at any time during the charrette/design workshop,or you can actively participate in a full design breakout session or both(they will build on each-other);or just attend the 8pm summary and wrap-up.

This Design Charette is part of the Connecticut Avenue Van Ness-UDC metro Commercial Corridor Enhancement Study process led by the District Office of Planning, funded by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government, and in partnership with the UDC Sustainability Initiative and the UDC School of Architecture.

For more information on this project, please contact:
Andrea Limauro at the DC Office of Planning.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

DDOT Releases Livability Plan

After 9 months of community input and study, DDOT has released the "Livability" plan for Rock Creek West 2. The study area includes parts of Friendship Heights, Tenleytown, AU Park and Chevy Chase.

In sum, there are some great new features detailed including alterations to Ft. Drive and Nevada Avenue, a HAWK signal at Northampton and Connecticut Avenue, and several miles of "bicycle boulevards".

The study was executed in conjunction with the affected ANCs and Connecticut Avenue Pedestrian Action.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New AU Campus Plans

From a posting on the Tenleytown Listserv. This will no doubt garner much discussion about the future shape and form of both the Spring Valley and Wisconsin Avenue corridors. There is a real opportunity to work with American University to catalyze these areas, while at the same time addressing the issue of student group homes throughout the communities. However, stark opposition will simply, at best, maintain the status quo and push the discussion into future campus plans. The community should consider how colleges and universities nationwide have been economic growth engines for their communities and think creatively about how American University can be a community asset and focal point.

Dear Tenleytown and AU Park Neighbors:

We are writing to let you know that American University has proposed to move its law school to the Tenley campus, which is located Nebraska Avenue and Yuma Street. Under the proposed 2011 Campus Plan, available on AU's website, the law school would also expand from 1,700 to 2,000 students, plus an estimated 500 faculty and staff. The property is the current home of the University's Washington Semester program, with a small resident
population estimated at 300 students.

Unlike the location of the current law school, the Tenley site is zoned for residential use. AU purchased the Tenley property in 1986 and proposed to build a new law school there, but zoning problems and fierce opposition by the neighborhood forced AU to abandon the project and sign an agreement to limit future expansion.

When we first heard of the latest proposal last spring, the neighbors adjacent to the property re-formed the Tenley Campus Neighbors Association (TCNA). Our starting proposition is simple--what was a bad idea for the neighborhood in 1986 is probably still a bad idea today.

Despite serious reservations about the entire project, our group has diligently attempted to engage AU in constructive dialogue over the last year. Although we have been successful in getting AU to consider our input on the design aspects, the statements in the draft Plan suggesting neighborhood "buy-in" are misleading. The fundamental issues with developing the Tenley site in 1986—traffic, parking, density, historic preservation concerns etc. have still not been addressed by AU, nor are they adequately addressed in the current draft campus plan.

TCNA has the following specific objections to the draft plan:

Traffic and Parking—AU now plans to more than quintuple the number of students and personnel using the site to 2,500 people. The most obvious consequence is that there is simply no way to accommodate the additional traffic and parking pressures in our neighborhood. The current students on the site do not drive.

With regard to parking, AU proposes an underground parking lot with 400 to 500 places, but many of these spots would be used by faculty and staff. Even if half the campus population used Metro (a very optimistic scenario given that, according to AU, only 10% use Metro now), where will the extra 1,250 or so additional cars park? And since the law school is will be a 24/7 operation, many students will be parking after
the Zone 3 parking restrictions lapse.

If even more parking is built, where will all that extra traffic go? The proposed law school will contribute to further gridlock on Wisconsin and Nebraska, forcing even more commuter traffic to cut through our neighborhood.

Future Development. The AU campus plan indicates that new buildings will only be erected on the east side of the property near Nebraska Avenue. But AU has also announced plans to raze certain historically sensitive properties on the west side of the property. This suggests that AU's ultimate intention is to develop the important green space on the western part of the property, which intrudes deeply into our
neighborhood. AU should commit to a plan now for the west side of the property that minimizes its impact on the neighborhood. Some community uses, such as a tennis court or park, are a possibility.

Other Neighborhood Impacts. Any benefit of moving the law school must be weighed carefully against the costs to the neighborhood. AU claims that moving the law school will lead to the "re-vitalization" of the Tenley corridor. There is ZERO evidence that this will be the case. Many AU students, including law students, already visit this area. In fact, more gridlock and parking problems may actually have a negative economic
impact on local merchants. And more "group houses" and a massive new construction project will certainly diminish our property values.

To be sure, AU's proposal will impact Tenleytown and your quality of life. We suggest you take the following actions:

1. Please write or e-mail your ANC representative and City Councilmember Mary Cheh to express your views.

AU intends to submit their plan to the DC Zoning Commission in March. Your elected ANC representatives have an important voice in the DC zoning process. Please write them now, highlighting the following likely issues:

* Too many students and faculty (increased from under 500 to 2000 students, plus 500 additional faculty and staff)
* Noise (including group houses)
* Traffic
* Parking
* Historic preservation concerns
* Other objectionable conditions

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tenley Library Opens on Monday

DC Metro Urban Diary has shared a sneak preview of the new Tenley-Friendship Library, which opens on Monday, January 24, 2011.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Curious Tenley-Janney PPP Update

The following message from Friendship Heights residents David Frankel was posted on the Chevy Chase Listserv:

In July and December 2009, I filed two separate but related Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (ODMPED) to learn more about the Fenty Administration's plans for adding a residential tower on top of the proposed Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library and on the adjacent Janney Elementary School soccer field.

The first FOIA request encompassed documents created between February 1 and July 17, 2009. The second request covered documents created between July 17 and December 4, 2009. ODMPED did not take my FOIA requests seriously.

They provided very little information in response to my first FOIA request -- all late -- and they completely ignored my second FOIA request. I therefore retained an attorney to represent me in two separate lawsuits against ODMPED. The first case was filed in October 2009 and the second case was filed in January 2010.

This litigation has been very time consuming and expensive. I am financing it on my own and have not sought or received any contributions from anyone. The judges in both cases have issued rulings requiring ODMPED to do more extensive searches and turn over documents, portions of documents and an index of documents ODMPED refuses to release. Those indices, known as "Vaughn" indices, show that ODMPED continues to stonewall and resist production of the most important documents.

Through this time consuming process, I've learned and shared with the community that the Fenty Administration spent $991,000 in taxpayer funds to add structural supports to the western one-third of the Library to allow for the future construction of a possible residential tower as described in the first paragraph above. We know that the design of the Library was modified to eliminate windows on the western side, overlooking the Janney soccer field. That explains the bunker-like appearance of the western one-third of the Library, which contrasts so starkly with the glass shell that characterizes the remaining two-thirds of the Library.

We also know from a presentation at a recent Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E meeting that the Janney Elementary School modernization plans have been modified to move the soccer field from its original location between the Library and the historic Janney building to a location adjacent to single family homes at Janney's rear (south side) -- much to the dismay and alarm of those residential property owners who are rightly concerned about the level of soccer game noise that an official from the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization conceded at the ANC meeting.

While I do not know the whole situation yet, it appears that the key document or documents relating to the city's plans for our Library and Janney's soccer field are one or more reports prepared by Jair Lynch Development Partners. Taxpayers paid $28,000 for these reports (in addition to the $991,000 for the Library's structural supports).

Last week, ODMPED produced to me a hard-to-make-out diagram from a Jair Lynch report depicting the proposed residential tower. My attorney asked his opposing counsel to produce a better quality version which he received Tuesday, January 11 -- in color. To my knowledge, this is the first time anyone outside of the executive branch of the DC government has seen a diagram of the proposed residential tower. It depicts a nine story building that would contain 122 residential units. The 90 foot residential tower is measured from the Janney soccer field and not from Wisconsin Avenue. Since the site slopes downward from the school to Wisconsin Avenue, the building would be much higher than 90 feet measured from the Wisconsin Avenue elevation. In addition, the 90 foot height does not include the 18 or so feet the zoning regulation allow for a mechanical penthouse on top of the building.

The drawings provided to me also depict two or three levels of underground parking beneath the residential tower and the Janney soccer field, but not beneath the Library. It appears that access would be from the driveway on the north side of Saint Ann's Church property but that is something I am not completely sure of at this time.

The drawings depict the residential tower taking up a substantial portion of the Janney soccer field. If they were drawn to scale, someone should be able to figure out the soccer field displacement.

Last week, ODMPED produced to me another very heavily-redacted document that will interest the Janney community. A July 24, 2009 Jair Lynch letter to ODMPED contained this statement with respect to the proposed residential tower: "This site is also in close proximity to American University which will make it a popular housing choice for students." While this statement may be true with respect to college students, it may not be so true with respect to Janney parents, teachers and staff.

Here (PDF) is the color drawing I received Tuesday, January 11

At the outset of this litigation I said I would share my findings with the community. There is still a long way to go here. It continues to amaze me that our government -- the government we elect and fund -- is so reticent to share information with its citizens on a subject that is so central to its purpose.

In this case, our government refuses to release documents relating to its plans to develop our Library and Janne's soccer field. Whether anyone thinks the concept of a 90 foot 122 residential unit tower is a good one or a terrible one, I would hope we can agree that all DC residents have a right to see these plans and engage in a spirited, civil debate about their costs and benefits.

With kind regards,

David P. Frankel
Friendship Heights, DC

A couple of thoughts on this.

First, unless there is private sector confidentiality involved, thee is little to no reason why these documents should have remained outside of the initial FOIA requests.

Second, there were schematics and proposals throughout this process that suggested moving the soccer field from the small area near Albemarle Street to the rear of the Janney property. Indeed, had the original proposals passed muster from those who were opposing this process, the parking for the residential component, the library and the faculty could have been combined and/or shared. Thus the side note that the parking would not be under or associated with the library is disingenuous.

Third, the suggestion of complaint of noise associated with the soccer field is another red-herring. There is/was already a soccer field on the property which has been used by youth teams for years. Thus, there is already the related traffic, parking and noise. And really, how much noise is there for a soccer game, particularly as compared to the former playground, which had unregulated usage? Those darned kids making that noise.

Fourth, given the potential nature of the building, the additional red-herring of proximity to American University is puzzling. As it is, residents near the University complain that they don't want new dorms on the potential south-side development. The idea that undergrads are throwing beer-bash keg parties during elementary school hours is somewhat of a reach. Even still, this structure would likely house graduate and law students, if it houses students at all. Whether this potential structure becomes private residences (and new DC Taxpayers) or are university students (who can also support the retail on Wisconsin Avenue), either way, it would be a welcome addition to most people who are attuned to this subject.

Fifth, the author indicates that the 90 foot "tower" would be measured from Albemarle Street rather than Wisconsin Avenue. Because the elevation slopes down to Wisconsin Avenue, the residential structure would appear much taller. However, there are many examples of such a phenomenon throughout the city. Any measurement beyond the legal requirement of Albemarle Street would be subjective.

Had the community worked together with the city, rather than tossing obstacles at every turn, the suggested $5 Million costs associated with faculty parking garage currently borne by DC Taxpayers would have been absorbed by the developers. The final result probably would have been a more cohesive renovation and construction process for the redevelopment of that area. Instead, there has been needless waste of taxpayer money, additional costs absorbed by DC Taxpayers, and potentially additional construction fatigue thrust upon the Janney community.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Klingle "Valley" Moving Forward

After years, almost two decades, of discussion, debate, and acrimony across several neighborhoods, it appears that the city is close to a resolution with Klingle Road. Some residents wanted the road to be restored and upgraded from its 1990 condition. Others suggested a bike/hike trail while a third group suggested a compromise.

As suggested, there were several options considered, with a dedicated trail (option C in this link) as the preferred alternative.

Given the technical variables associated with the different options, the proposed solution appears to be a good result.