Posts by Nolan Treadway
|Nolan Treadway is Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for district 5C-07, covering parts of Woodridge and Langdon neighborhoods in Northeast DC. By day Nolan works at Netroots Nation and by night he hangs out with his wife, Joan, their daughter.|
This week's Washington City Paper cover story quoted AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend calling Greater Greater Washington editor David Alpert "retarded" and a "ninny," and comparing Greater Greater Washington to the Ku Klux Klan.
Many other reporters, people on Twitter, and residents generally have clearly stated in response what should of course go without saying, that such personal attacks are beyond the pale.
Some may get the sense that there is personal animosity between Townsend and the team here at Greater Greater Washington. At least on our end, nothing could be further from the truth. We simply disagree with many of his policy positions and his incendiary rhetoric.
Spirited argument is important in public policy, but it should not cross into insults. When it does, that has a chilling effect on open discourse. Fostering an inclusive conversation about the shape of our region is the purpose of this site, but discourse must be civil to be truly open. That's why our comment policy here on Greater Greater Washington prohibits invective like this. In our articles, we try hard to avoid crossing this line, and are disappointed when we or others do, intentionally or inadvertently.
The "war on cars" frame unnecessarily pits drivers against cyclists and pedestrians instead of working together for positive solutions. The City Paper article, by Aaron Wiener, does a good job of debunking that, and is worth reading for much more than the insults it quotes.
When pressed, Townsend told Wiener he wants to back away from the "war on cars."
"I regret the rhetoric sometimes," he says. "Because I think that when you use that type of language, it shuts down communication with people who disagree."We hope Townsend, his colleagues, and their superiors also regret the things he said about David and Greater Greater Washington. We look forward to the day when AAA ceases using antagonistic language and begins working toward safety, mobility, and harmony among all road users.
In the meantime, residents do have a choice when purchasing towing, insurance, and travel discounts. Better World Club is one company that offers many of the same benefits as AAA, but without the disdain.
In early- to mid-May, DC will hold a special election to fill the seat vacated by Harry Thomas Jr. Many potential candidates have already emerged. The time is right to elect a councilmember focused on ethical and effective representation for the people of Ward 5, but to do so, progressives must unite to support a single candidate.
If the race is as crowded as current speculation and past experience lead us to believe, any contender that can secure the support of a strong, passionate, and unified constituency will be well positioned to win the seat.
A compelling, good government candidate will be able to fuel a campaign with local activists, progressives from across the city, and voter anger at corrupt and entrenched political interests. However, if progressive energies are split, a candidate still loyal to Thomas, or hand-picked by the political establishment, will easily rise to the top instead.
Current at-large, and former Ward 5, councilmember Vincent Orange has already called a meeting of the "Ward 5 leadership" for 7 pm tonight at Israel Baptist Church. He is likely attempting to anoint an establishment-backed candidate, someone with deep ties to current political leadership in the ward. If a consensus is reached, that candidate will become the immediate frontrunner.
This is not acceptable. Ward 5 has been poorly represented for too long. For every passionate and effective ANC commissioner or civic association officer, there are many more simply interested in lining their pockets, amassing personal power, or advancing a selfish agenda. Now is not the time for the past political reality, it is the time for leadership that stands up, stops the culture of corruption, and makes Ward 5 proud.
Several talented progressive individuals have announced an interest in running for the seat. They include Kenyan McDuffie, who ran against Thomas in the last race, and John Salatti, an ANC commissioner in Bloomingdale. Jaime has pledged her support to McDuffie, Nolan stands squarely behind Salatti, and Matt is undecided. But we all agree that everyone must work together to put forward the single most qualified and electable candidate, for the good of both Ward 5 and the District of Columbia.
Progressives in the ward must now come together to have an open, honest discussion to achieve consensus on a single candidate. Rather than letting personal relationships or friction between individual camps dominate, progressives must focus on what is best for the ward and quickly translate that into a winning campaign.
This campaign cycle is condensed, and may be even more so if the Ward 5 special election is moved up to coincide with the primary on April 3. Either way, there is no time to waste on duplicative efforts in gathering signatures, attending community forums, and get-out-the-vote activities.
A strong, progressive candidate can truly move Ward 5 forward. But a contentious fight will set us back.
The R Street NW bike lane is an important east-west thoroughfare for cyclists in DC, stretching from Massachusetts Avenue NW to Florida Avenue NW. The only gap remaining is 6 blocks between Florida Avenue and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. DDOT hopes to fill this gap soon.
On Saturday morning, local ANC Commissioners hosted representatives from DDOT to meet with residents of Eckington and Bloomingdale to discuss their proposal to complete the direct connection for cyclists between the MBT and Rock Creek Park.
The proposal calls for a combination of sharrows and protected bike lanes between Florida Avenue and the MBT along R Street. According to DDOT representatives, the choice of sharrows, rather than bike lanes, was one of necessity because much of R Street through Bloomingdale and Eckington carries two-way traffic rather than one-way, rendering the street too narrow to incorporate bike lanes.
R Street is one-way eastbound on the block between 2nd Street NE and 3rd Street NE. Westbound cyclists cannot legally remain on R Street, and either have to go out of their way, or bike on the sidewalk here. The proposal calls for a separated contraflow bike lane on this block. This design is similar to that of 15th Street NW, where a lane of parking provides a buffer between cyclists and traffic.
One goal of this project is to increase safety for both cyclists and drivers, especially for drivers on southbound 2nd Street NE, where the column of parked cars would obscure their ability to see oncoming cyclists.
Among residents in attendance, the proposal for sharrows along R Street was uncontroversial. Residents noted the unobtrusive nature of the markings, a sample of which was displayed by DDOT representatives, and that the sharrows will provide another welcome impetus for motorists in the area to slow down and be mindful of bicyclists and pedestrians (speed humps are already installed on this stretch of R Street).
Of more concern to the gathered residents was the overall traffic volume in the neighborhood, particularly the truck traffic emanating from industrial areas along the MBT and railroad tracks, as well as from the FedEx facility at Florida and New York Avenues NE.
The ANC Commissioners present spoke of past agreements with these companies to limit the use of local streets for through-traffic, and how those agreements have been forgotten or ignored over the years. They also noted the difficultly of imposing weight-restrictions on R Street because of its status as a major east-west route and collector street.
Ultimately, attendees and DDOT representatives recognized the value of sharrows is more symbolic than physical. Unlike separated bike lanes, sharrows don't provide any physical protection to cyclists, who are still vulnerable to dooring or being squeezed by traffic.
Still, the sharrows provide an important psychological benefit, letting drivers know bicyclists are present and have a right to the road, and letting cyclists know they are welcome on the street.
As the next step in their process for community input and approval, DDOT will present at an upcoming ANC meeting. The ANC may hold a vote on the issue, though such a vote is not required for DDOT to move forward.
If approved, the project itself will be relatively inexpensive. Each sharrow marking runs about $75 and costs another $75 to install. Approximately two markings in each direction will be installed per block. Barring significant opposition within the community, DDOT representatives estimated the project could be completed before Thanksgiving.
Join us tonight at Laughing Man Tavern to talk urbanism and earthquakes at the latest Greater Greater Washington Happy Hour!
We'll be downstairs from 6-8 pm. Laughing Man will offer happy hour drink specials and selected appetizers for $4.
Laughing Man is at 1306 G Street NW, near the 13th Street entrance to Metro Center station.
Also, Greater Greater Washington and the Mobility Lab are inviting technologists and designers interested in re-inventing transit information tools to participate a hack day on September 10th.
Bring your projects or ideas to share, or join up with others and collaborate on building tools to improve transportation around the DC region.
In addition to providing a space to collaborate and learn, staff from area transportation providers will be on hand to answer your questions about transit data and opportunities for collaboration with third-party developers. A schedule of presentations will be announced prior to the event.
The session will run from 10 am to 5 pm, followed by drinks nearby, at the Mobility Lab, 1501 Wilson Blvd in Arlington (near the Rosslyn Metro, DC Circulator, many other buses and more).
Join Greater Greater Washington for our upcoming happy hour! The latest edition of our occasional series will take place next Tuesday, August 23, from 6-8 pm at the Laughing Man Tavern in downtown DC.
Attendees will have the opportunity to meet contributors, editors, and other readers for drinks and great conversation.
Laughing Man is at 1306 G Street NW, near the 13th Street entrance to Metro Center station. We'll be downstairs and there will be drink specials and selected appetizers for $4.
As the shutdown of the federal government looms, DC residents prepare to lose basic services, trash collection, libraries and anything beyond emergency repair.
It's a perfect example of why DC needs more autonomy. And it calls for a little civil disobedience. If Congress is going to force DC to stop picking up the trash, maybe residents should take the trash to Congress or House Speaker John Boehner himself.
Some are suggesting DC just stay open anyway. DC does have the money, it's just that its budget is technically part of the federal one. It might violate the Anti-Deficiency Act, but will anyone do anything about it?
At-large Councilmember Michael Brown last night called on Mayor Gray to declare all DC government workers essential, "regardless of Federal prohibitions or repercussions." Alan Suderman noted that this might make it tough to then declare them nonessential for a furlough, though depending on your view of the furloughs as a budget-cutting measure, perhaps that's just as well.
Others have suggested ways for residents to get in on the act, like dropping their trash on the steps of the US Capitol. A friend and I proposed another option on a whim last night that has really taken off: Take your trash to John Boehner's house. Our Facebook group on the idea has picked up 620 supporters so far.
The logic is simple. If John Boehner is going to take away our trash collection, it seems only fair to show him the consequences. If we do go through with it, it will be organized in such a way that we don't actually litter or disrespect our fine city.
What ideas do you have for light civil disobedience? A good action would call attention to the way DC ends up holding the bag for a mess not of it's own making. How can we drive home to the rest of America that the federal colony of DC shouldn't be Boehner's playground?
The proposed Walmart on New York Avenue NE has made some progress from a terrible initial design, such as moving buildings toward the street, improving public space, and adding a Capital Bikeshare station. However, many questions remain, including how the development will deal with the day laborers that it will almost certainly attract.
Currently in Ward 5, there is a robust market for day laborers in the parking lot shared by the Home Depot, Giant, and TJ Maxx. Everyday there are dozens of guys hanging out in the parking lot and on the edges of the property, looking for work.
A few years ago, there was a push, admirably led by Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., to build a "Multicultural Training & Employment Center". This effort died on the vine when faced with opposition from the community in and around Brentwood.
That's highly unfortunate, given that the problem of unorganized people standing around the parking lot persists today. The center would have brought, among other goals, "An organized system linking contractors and individuals seeking work from contractors at the Home Depot site."
Given the rumors we've heard of Lowe's sharing the site with Walmart (and the people you can already spot selling bottled water and flowers in the median at New York Ave NE and Bladensburg or Montana), are accommodations being made to give these people a place to look for work with dignity?
It doesn't have to be a palace, but a few resources, including a bathroom and a way to get out of the way of bad weather, would probably go pretty far toward making the day laborer scene more appealing for the stores, customers, and the day laborers.
And there are people who will be against offering any accommodation to day laborers, based on the fact that many are in the United States illegally. While it may be true that many are here illegally, they are also still people, and ignoring the problem will not make fewer day laborers congregate around places where contractors shop. If some accommodation is made for them, it would provide a huge benefit to the customers and neighbors, not just the laborers themselves.
It can be difficult and dangerous to navigate your car around people loitering in a parking lot and unattractive to have dozens of people congregate around the perimeter of the property. We can bury our heads in the sand if we're determined to do so a second time, but it won't make our problems go away.
Councilmember Thomas now chairs the DC Council's Economic Development Committee. He has helped make Walmart's second attempt to open a store in DC much less adversarial than its first. So will Thomas make sure that day laborers are thought of if and when this new development is built? Will he work with the developers to make sure they include shelter and resources for the day laborers who will almost certainly congregate on the premises? Will the developer pay for the center or will the DC government be asked to pay (as it was proposed in 2007, though the funds were never used)?
Three concept ideas for the McMillan Sand Filtration site were presented Saturday. All designs attempt to meld commercial, retail, open space, and residential, while responding to community feedback. Still, some residents remain fundamentally skeptical after so many failed attempts at development.
At this third community meeting, hosted by development team "Vision McMillan," plans began to take shape. The design team of Matt Bell of EEK and Warren Byrd of Nelson Byrd Woltz presented general designs of for the site and sought feedback.
Area residents are actively participating in the meetings, many remain skeptical. As these plans move from spoken ideas onto paper, some residents expressed concerns that they look too similar to previous designs presented, all of which ultimately were scrapped.
The design team presented three very basic plans, all of which include a mix of retail, office, open space, row houses and multi-family residential (condos, apartments and/or senior living). Reflecting community feedback, the taller office buildings are located to the northwest corner of the site, near First Street, NW and Michigan Avenue. The plans call for lower buildings and setbacks in the east to match the row houses across North Capitol Street in Stronghold.
All plans include a grocery store, likely facing North Capitol with parking on the roof or below ground, as well as probably some protected angled or parallel parking, like on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park. Developer Jair Lynch, however, offered some words of caution in his remarks on the grocery store. Comparing statistics of Bloomingdale and surrounding areas with Georgetown and Barracks Row, he made the case that the site is not yet at the point where locating a grocery store there would an obvious choice for a retailer based on include median income, dollars per mouth spent on groceries, and dollars spent dining out.
A representative of DC's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development assured one group that there would be space for community activities in the site as well, probably located within the retail areas.
The southern half of the site will have approximately 150 row houses and open space, the configuration of which was the focus of much of the discussion. Residents voted with stickers on sheets of paper to indicate what they'd like to see reflected in the final design.@evoque. One group, apparently unsatisfied with the choices, created an additional choice, "MUCH more open space," which received a good number of votes/stickers.
Talk of "daylighting" Tiber Creek, which runs dozens of feet below the southeast corner of the site, seems to have been deemed unworkable, although water features that recall the creek were discussed.
Area residents seemed split on how to configure the row houses and open space. Some prefer houses on the south portion of the site, in order to continue the Bloomingdale neighborhood, others would like to see the open space separate the new from the old, to delineate the difference between traditional Bloomingdale and the historic McMillan site.
The most iconic element of the McMillan site is the silos and the two brick "service courts" that surround them. All three designs seem to using the north court for a driveway, while keeping the silos. The south court seems to be destined to be more open, probably integrated with adjacent open space.
Each cell is about an acre, or about twice the square footage of the entire Spy Museum. The general talk seemed to be around preserving two or three of the approximately 25 cells on the site.
Residents seemed to appreciate this open, collaborative process, but at times displayed disdain that so much of the site (approximately two-thirds) would be used for new buildings. Other lingering criticisms of redevelopment include the increased traffic the development is sure to bring and storm water runoff issues, because Bloomingdale has a history of flooding downstream of the site. It also remains to be seen what effect, if any, the transfer of power to Mayor-elect Gray would have on site plans.
The next and final community meeting is set for Saturday, December 4th where presumably more detailed plans will emerge.
- Latest Metro map drafts add Anacostia parks and other tweaks
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- Short-term Washingtonians deserve a voice, too
- DC Council makes major policy changes overnight
- Public land deals have both benefits and pitfalls
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Parklets give every block a little park