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Breakfast links: Walkable retail for C. Park


Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
UMD wants transit, town center: Under new President Wallace Loh, UMD is not only allowing the Purple Line, they're actively eager for it and its potential to help create the "college town" downtown that College Park lacks. (Baltimore Sun)

Restore the sidewalk: A group of residents is organizing a petition to restore a full sidewalk on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, where one side became a service and parking lane in the 1960s and now inhibits lively sidewalk cafes. Sign the petition!

CSX blocking RI Ave bridge: The planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge at Rhode Island Avenue Metro and the Met Branch Trail is ready to go, except CSX is dragging its feet on granting permission for the bridge to cross their line. (Life On The Edgewood)

Bond tax stays in budget: In the final budget debate, Mary Cheh lost her bid to reverse the bond tax, but Medicaid and Green Teams jumped ahead of police, affordable housing and more in the list of how to spend future revenue. (Post)

ART strike over sexual harassment, bathrooms: ART bus operators explain why they struck: they say the bus company ignored sexual harassment complaints, then fired the union leader, and refused to let drivers use the bathroom. (TBD)

Anderson joins Planning Board: Casey Anderson, a WABA board member and smart growth proponent, was named to the Montgomery Planning Board. Those who "get alarmed" about development backed another candidate. Norman Dreyfuss, developer of Leisure World, was reappointed for a full term. (Facebook, Gazette, Nancy At Large)

Sex and the city: Vienna/Fairfax station is the most romantic across 5 metro areas, or at least the most often mentioned in Craigslist Missed Connection ads. (BeyondDC) ... Another survey, this one by Trojan, ranks DC residents as most sexually active, but that's probably not what's behind Catholic University ending co-ed dorms. (DCist)

The mother of all unexpected rankings: DC was rated the best city for families (yes, out of all cities) by Parenting Magazine. The many free museums played a role, but so did schools, which they ranked 9th best. (Post)

And...: The National Building Museum will start charging admission fees. (City Paper) ... Barack Obama has been pushing hard for statehood and self-determination... for Puerto Rico. (DCist) ... Hey WV and PA, stop blowing smoke in our faces. (Examiner)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Sad news about the national building museum. I go there for coffee very regularly and love the interior. Rather than charging an admission fee, they should consider looking for ways to better leverage the value of their space.

by Nicoli on Jun 15, 2011 8:46 am • linkreport

The courtyard and cafe will remain free, by the way; the admission will just apply to the exhibits.

by David Alpert on Jun 15, 2011 8:47 am • linkreport

“They treat me like a slave. That's why I'm standing here for my rights with all my coworkers,” said bus driver Solomon Araya.

Sigh. You think this is the best way to get sympathy from the public?

but so did schools, which they ranked 9th best

So apparently, DC's private schools are fan-tas-tic, cuz DCPS is so bad, they can't even beat Nebraska for being the worst public school system in the US.

by Jasper on Jun 15, 2011 8:59 am • linkreport

Anyone who thinks ANCs don't matter should probably take a look at this link, in which the DC Office of Planning takes its marching orders from ANC 2E regarding the Georgetown University campus plan: http://blog.georgetownvoice.com/2011/06/15/office-of-planning-anc-collaborated-on-2010-campus-plan/

Good thing we have lots of objective, independent professionals doing work free from political influence over there in OP, huh?

by Dizzy on Jun 15, 2011 9:02 am • linkreport

These magazine rankings are more than worthless. I mean, what a joke. It's a damn good thing Marylanders and Virginians can't go to all the free museums that make D.C. such a great place to raise kids...

by Adam L on Jun 15, 2011 9:06 am • linkreport

I love the NBM, but it's far too small to warrant an $8 admission fee. Will the central courtyard and weirdly-fantastic gift shop at least stay open to the public?

by andrew on Jun 15, 2011 9:13 am • linkreport

@David

Thanks for the clarification. Just skimmed the article and didn't catch that sentence.

by Nicoli on Jun 15, 2011 9:13 am • linkreport

Oops. Reading FAIL on my part. Just saw David's comment.

(And, yeah. If the allegations about ART are true, the hyperbolic rhetoric is actually 100% appropriate in this case.)

by andrew on Jun 15, 2011 9:15 am • linkreport

So apparently, DC's private schools are fan-tas-tic, cuz DCPS is so bad, they can't even beat Nebraska for being the worst public school system in the US.

Lot of middle-class DC parents with kids in DCPS and public charters. There are actually a lot of public options in DC, and there's a huge lag between the perception (held by many childless DC residents and most suburbanites) and the reality.

After all, the single most proffered reason suburbanites claim the city is unlivable is "schools". If you take that away, you're left with a quarter acre lot and a lawyer foyer.

As far as "Marylanders and Virginians can't go to all the free museums"--I grew up just outside the Beltway in the 'burbs. I think we went to museums about once every 3-4 years or so. My kid rides her bike to the Library of Congress. There's a difference.

by oboe on Jun 15, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

@oboe

I grew up in the area and went to museums with my folks every couple months. I think that's more of parenting than proximity.

by Adam L on Jun 15, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

@Adam L:

Possibly. Although looking back, I think the culprit was youth soccer. Another scourge of the suburbs.

Anyway, you might as well say that "Broadway shows" are available to residents of the MD and VA suburbs. A motivated parent could surely take their kids up to NYC every few months. Not exactly the sort of thing you're going to do after church, though. Or as a summer day camp option.

by oboe on Jun 15, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

@ Dizzy: Have you sent that link in as a tip for GGW? I wonder if it'd make the headlines...

by Jasper on Jun 15, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

There are actually a lot of public options in DC, and there's a huge lag between the perception (held by many childless DC residents and most suburbanites) and the reality.

@Oboe, the obvious defender of DC/DCPS as I am, hopefully people will begin to see the truth in your statement.

I think I talk about the perception vs. reality a lot...maybe too much.

by HogWash on Jun 15, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

I like the idea of rewidening sidewalks on Connecticut Avenue ... especially down around Dupont between the exit to the underpass under the Circle and Florida Avenue. These would be perfect sidewalks for outside cafes. Though I'm not so sure about the ones in Cleveland Park. Cleveland Park isn't 'city' like Dupont. It's one of DC's premier less-than-urban areas with some of the finest homes in the city a short drive from Connecticut Avenue. So, first that parking is needed by these folks in the same way small shopping center parking lots are needed in small towns through out the country. And yes, in the perfect urban model you do have varying levels of urbaness ... even in a city. Additionally, because Connecticut Avenue at that point is more 'throughway' than local road, I'd suspect taking aways the aprons on each side of the road would actually serve to more divide the two sides of the street than to unite them ... And part of the reason I say this is that because this area is less-than-urban, once you make it impossible for the folks in Cleveland Park who are more than a walk away to get there (because they won't have parking) you won't have the critical mass of people needed to make for a lively sidewalk cafe scene like in Dupont. H@ll, you don't have the critical mass there now! ... I think this could be a case where the right solution is being applied to the wrong area ... and will result in very unintended consequences ... i.e., essentially an even less urban area as less people in the immediate area are able to access those shops. Like I've said before and will repeat again, one of the biggest failings of this so called smart growth is the one size fits all beliefs.

by Lance on Jun 15, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

I saw that and it seems like making a big deal out of nothing.

It seems to say:

  1. OP met with the neighbors 3 times.
  2. The report includes some research Lewis pointed out to OP.
  3. Steingasser reviewed the ANC recommendation before they approved it.
  4. Lewis sent some emails suggesting OP not take supporters' ideas seriously.

So?

On #1, did OP refused to meet with the university? Did they refuse to meet with students? Because my experience has been that OP will meet with you if you want to meet with them.

If the neighbors asked for more meetings, maybe they got more meetings. Do we know how many times the university met with OP? Did students try to get a meeting?

On #2, Lewis suggested some things that OP adopted. What's wrong with that? People submitted ideas, and OP agreed with some of the ideas and used them. On zoning issues I've sent ideas in to OP, and sometimes they use them and sometimes they don't. This is what public input is supposed to be — the agency listens and maybe gets useful knowledge.

I don't think there's some kind of ideal that the agency officials don't listen to anyone and don't get any ideas from anyone and just make their decision totally in a box. In fact, that's a bad system.

On #3, if they already agreed with each other, I don't see the problem with Steingasser reviewing the recommendation to see if she has any suggestions.

On #4, Lewis sent Steingasser an email suggesting she not pay much attention to other views. That doesn't mean she paid no attention to them.

I don't agree with the OP report, but I think this post is looking for impropriety that's not there.

What I do get from this post is that the people who are pushy about getting meetings with top officials seem to get their views more strongly considered. That's not much of a surprise, but it means that student groups and others need to be trying to get meetings too, even though it's time-consuming.

In general, the process is biased toward those who are willing to spend all their time on an issue and keep talking the ear off of everyone. That's too bad; we've talked about that in the past.

by David Alpert on Jun 15, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

Another idea for Cleveland Park: Eliminate the service roadway, but move the edge of the outer sidewalk back a little ways toward the stores, and add angle parking. That would alleviate storeowners' concerns about loss of parking, while providing useful traffic calming on Connecticut Avenue.

by Ben Ross on Jun 15, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

That examiner article about smokestacks in W.Va is a little disingenuous. Maybe if we stopped using West Virginia as a unregulated antienvironment playground and focused on alternative energy then maybe we would also see the benefit of cleaner air quality.

by Canaan on Jun 15, 2011 9:59 am • linkreport

U Street needs it's sidewalks restored in an even worse way.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 15, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

@Ben Ross

That was going to be my suggestion as well. This isn't really a parking issue (or it shouldn't be), it's about how poorly that service lane performs - both for cars and pedestrians.

by Alex B. on Jun 15, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

I think Ben is close to the right solution. Eliminate the service lane, but leave a cut-in where possible (the metro vents would be a significant issue) so cars can park even during peak periods.

The service lane was implemented in the late 1950's or early 1960's, but the broad sidewalk is actually the original intent of the neighborhood deign.

There is enough density on Connecticut Avenue, with the large scale residential between each of the low-rise commercial strips, to support the businesses without the 25 or so cars the service lane accommodates.

The poor choices made in that era should not be preserved for future generations to endure.

by Andrew on Jun 15, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

As a former small-town resident, I'm a bit skeptical of Lance's scenario. Parking is needed up there, but it can be done in a better way. Downtown San Anselmo, CA (I'm sure I've mentioned it before) has an inventory of about 200 parking spots behind the 5-block long downtown. Little of the parking is visible from the street, however, and it's broken up into small lots around the downtown. Overall, the area has a feel akin to Cleveland Park and is definitely drivable.

I think it's eminently possible to increase pedestrian space without sacrificing real drivability, but it needs to be done intelligently.

by OctaviusIII on Jun 15, 2011 10:12 am • linkreport

From the emails released, it does appear that students did try to start a dialogue and were ignored, see the bottom of: http://dcstudentsspeak.org/2011/06/14/emails-reveal-close-relationship-between-office-of-planning-and-anc-2e-cag-bca/

I tend to agree that neighborhood associations and ANCs having an affect on OP's decision making isn't surprising: they probably should have influence. But the extent to it here seems inappropriate. Lewis got their report before the public and essentially had right of first refusal (within an hour OP had 'corrected' his issues with the draft). Their lawyer emailed OP a random link...and suddenly it was in the final report.

by @David on Jun 15, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

@lance; I suspect the majority of parking users on the CP service lanes are local residents.

If anything, CP is a poster child of when you don't have underground garages. You're right that driving there is a good option, but those service lanes are a mess.

And moving the "thruway" back from Macomb to say, Porter would not be a bad idea. I think angle parking would not be a good idea as it would block traffic.

Turning some of the permit parking on side streets into meters would help as well.

I'm not a fan of "re-developing" Cpark, and the need for parking will remain somewhat limited by the lack of size. Small tinkering, such as eliminating the srevice lanes, might be enough.

by charlie on Jun 15, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

@Lance

The portion of Cleveland Park along Connecticut Ave is quite urban given the number of large apartment and condo buildings and metro access. Furthermore, businesses along Connecticut that are north of Cleveland Park seem to do just fine without a service lane, and they are certainly less urban.

As for angled parking, it seems DDOT considered such a solution but determined it would be unsafe to add such a feature along Conn. Ave. I should also note that angled parking is not very popular in Adams Morgan.

by Sameer on Jun 15, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

@David, yes, OP did refuse meetings with Georgetown. This came up in the cross-examination of OP at the Zoning Commission hearing. You also missed the part where OP provided a draft of its report to the ANC for review. That's clear evidence of bias.

by Phil on Jun 15, 2011 10:29 am • linkreport

Yes, providing the report to the ANC and not others for review ahead of time does seem to be wrong. That wasn't in the Voice article. The extra detail in the Students Speak article does point to some potentially troubling actions.

by David Alpert on Jun 15, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

And the student commissioner on the ANC offered to meet with OP, which unsurprisingly never followed up.

by Phil on Jun 15, 2011 10:33 am • linkreport

@Charlie

Back-in angle parking doesn't disrupt traffic any more than parallel parking does.

by Alex B. on Jun 15, 2011 10:40 am • linkreport

Downtown San Anselmo, CA (I'm sure I've mentioned it before) has an inventory of about 200 parking spots behind the 5-block long downtown.

I think I'm familiar with this strategy--Boulder, CO is similar, but I think the construct of "behind the 5-block long downtown" is a bit out-of-whack to me.

by oboe on Jun 15, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

David,

To build on what's been said above, the purpose of the OP report is supposed to be for them to offer their professional take on the campus plan from the perspective of the District's planning and development goals, the comprehensive plan, etc. They can take outside input into account to some extent, but the real mechanism for consideration of community and other views is supposed to be submissions and hearings before the ZC, NOT during the writing of the OP report. And certainly not to the extent demonstrated here.

This is akin to having a hearing before the City Council on some matter, where one of the parties to the hearing gets to ghostwrite portions of the testimony to be given by a DC government agency. There's a process for airing their claims, but they want to circumvent this and instead have them appear under the seal and imprimatur of a government agency. Introducing a claim as part of an official OP document makes it seem a lot more credible than if it is introduced before the Zoning Commission as "the testimony of Stephen R. Brown, Persona Non Grata in the State of Israel and Proprietor of DrunkenGeorgetownStudents.com"

by Dizzy on Jun 15, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

RE; CP Service Lane. (I think this issue deserves it's own post here. It's being studied so there exists the real possibility for change)

My opinion is that we don't need to go in search of new parking to replace the handful of spaces that would be lost by removing the service lane. I say that as a Mount Pleasant resident that uses the service lane often, but only because it's there. If parking becomes harder I will just stop driving and take the bus/Cabi (they should add a station at Adams Mill and Klingle by the way. And while we are at it a separated bike lane on Porter/Klingle from Adams Mill to Conn Ave!). I suspect there are plenty like me who are not adverse to transit but will drive if you make it convenient for us. You may alienate a few patrons who just refuse to take transit, but by eliminating the service lane you will be making CP an infinitely more attractive place to shop, eat, and linger. If anything there will be a bump in patronage to the strip and plenty more room to accommodate them. Shop keepers should remember that diners are shoppers too and not fall victim to the usual fear mongering. Right now I use the service lane most often to pick up Vaces Pizza. No shopping going on for those trips. Eliminate the service lane and Vaces can get outdoor seating and maybe serve draft beers too. I'll happily bus over and make an evening of it then. See a movie and do some shopping. Anticipating a lively debate on the issue though I would suggest a compromise. Turn the service lane into a pedestrian street that is closed to cars in the spring and summer. But open it to cars in the winter months when transit and outdoor seating are far less attractive.

by Johnny on Jun 15, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport

I live just south of Cleveland Park - and I agree, that section of Connecticut Avenue is very poorly designed. I signed the petition. I think residents would adjust - they could park along Connecticut.

by Weiwen Ng on Jun 16, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

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