Posts about ANC
The illegal signs on the west side of the Uline Arena are finally down. Dogged determination from the local ANC, rather than any city agency, managed to get a powerful owner to comply with the law.
The arena is at 3rd and M Streets NE in NoMA, just east of the railroad tracks. We first discussed the illegal signs in June 2011. A little over a month later, DCRA fined Douglas Development, the owner of the building, for illegal billboards. More than a year has passed, during which time Douglas appealed the ruling and fines.
While Douglas appeared to be successfully running out the clock by keeping the appeal active, another deadline became more pressing. The company needed an extension from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (case number 17809B) that required ANC 6C's approval. The ANC presented Douglas with a list of items the commission wanted completed before giving its consent.
The items on the list included:
- Painting/removing graffiti on the roof
- Fixing any openings providing access to the roof
- Fixing the leak in the side of the wall along the west side of the building
- Rebuilding the sidewalk at the corner of 3rd and M Streets (at the 3rd Street side)
- Getting Clear Channel to paint the billboard post (in the plaza area)
- Complying with any DCRA orders concerning the (potentially) illegal billboards at the west wall
- Installing additional fencing (approximately 4 feet high) to prevent cars from parking in public space at the M Street side of the "ice house" property, along with associated gates, benches and other site furnishings.
Number 6, you'll note, addresses the signs on the side of the building. Douglas Development could have responded that they believed the signs were legal and that their appeal would bear this out. Apparently, this wasn't an action they wished to pursue. Instead, the signs have come down, and other improvements for the historic, yet vacant, shell are underway.
Kudos to the ANC for holding the developer's feet to the fire and getting a substantial set of actions in exchange for support. There's no reason a building can't be minimally (and legally) maintained while it's being warehoused for development, and ANC 6C has proven that's the case.
In the real world: Zoning update hearing, citizen planners, Dupont/Logan bike safety, parking, and gentrification
Now that the summer is over, DC agencies and legislators are kicking it into gear, and there are a lot of important events coming up.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is holding a hearing on the zoning update, and the Office of Planning has a forum about citizens can engage in planning. There's a meeting on Dupont and Logan bike safety, a star-studded panel on gentrification, and two parking think tanks, and more.
Tomorrow, the Dupont and Logan ANCs are having a meeting "for residents, business owners, and organizations to discuss bicycle safety issues in the community," including new infrastructure, laws like those against sidewalk cycling, and any ideas residents have. It's in the ballroom of the Chastleton, 16th and R, from 7-9.
Also tomorrow is a Humanitini panel on gentrification. Washington City Paper editor Mike Madden is moderating the panel, which includes Rauzia Ally and Maria Casarella, two architects who serve on the Historic Preservation Review Board; Jonathan O'Connell of the Washington Business Journal; and former Mayor "that's an old movie" Tony Williams. Sign up to attend here.
Next week are 2 of DDOT's Parking Think Tanks, Wednesday evening 10/3 at the West End Library (large conference room) and Thursday 10/4 at Wilson High School (cafeteria). Both are 6:30-8:30. If you can't make one of them, don't forget to fill out the online survey, which asks about both car and bicycle parking issues.
Also next Thursday, October 4, the Office of Planning is having a Citizen Planner Forum to talk about how planning projects can engage more residents. They held 4 focus groups with residents about ways planning processes can work better, and will talk about the results, new tools to involve the public and more. The event is 6:30 to 8 at the District Architecture Center, 421 7th Street, NW.
Finally, there's a pretty important hearing for those of you who can make a 1 pm DC Council hearing on a Friday. Zoning update opponents convinced former Chairman Kwame Brown to hold an oversight hearing on the zoning update, even though the topic already came up during the annual oversight hearings for the Office of Planning each of the last 4 years. Phil Mendelson kept it on the agenda when he became chairman. It was originally supposed to be today, but since it's Yom Kippur, they moved it to Friday, October 5.
Zoning update head opponent Linda Schmitt sent a predictably provocational and misinforming email, claiming that a process over 4 years with hundreds of community meetings (and more to come) is about "high-handed decisions by city officials ... who make every effort to play "hide the ball," deflecting questions, maligning civic advice and avoiding
stating their intentions." To sign up to testify, email email@example.com with your name, address, and phone number.
Should the Western Bus Garage in Friendship Heights be a landmark? The Tenleytown Historical Society is trying to get it designated as one, and a hearing will take place next week. But the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) says it's just not a significant building.
This mostly unremarkable building is most significant for its location. It's right near the Friendship Heights Metro, and backs onto Wisconsin Avenue. Therefore, many believe that residents opposed to growth in the neighborhood have sought to use the historic preservation process to keep any redevelopment away from this site.
ANC 3E's resolution notes that the Tenleytown Historical Society never sought to landmark the building until WMATA issued an RFP in 2005 to redevelop it; suddenly, they filed the application. The ANC writes, "There is thus at least an appearance that the application in this case may in part be motivated by a desire to forestall the mixed use development of a site that sits on the same block as a Metro Stop."
Is the building historic at all? The first section talks about the history of streetcars in DC, dating back to 1862. The Wisconsin Avenue side of this site held a streetcar car barn starting in 1888. But this building isn't the car barn; that was demolished in the mid-1960s. The ANC writes,
It is hard to see the relevance of the fact that it was used as a streetcar barn when nothing remains of the street car barn that predates the current bus garage. In the meantime, the block itself and surrounding area will remain central to transportation uses regardless of what is done with the garage itself as there is a Metro stop there and it is a central area used by many buses serving both Maryland and the District.As for the architect, Arthur Berthrong Heaton, Jr., he had an impressive resume and designed over 100 buildings in DC, including the National Geographic building. But many of those buildings still remain, and are far more architecturally meaningful than this garage. The ANC writes, "It is clear that this project does not reflect his finest work."
Moreover, while the application goes to great lengths in describing the evolution of transportation uses at this site and in the Wisconsin Avenue corridor dating back to 1862, if approved this application could end or severely limit that evolution.
Finally, the application talks at great length about the brick work. There is indeed a somewhat interesting brick pattern on the 44th Street side. The other walls are not very interesting, and in fact were mostly party walls this building shared with other buildings at the time.
The ANC's resolution says, "At base a simple brick façade is still just a brick façade. There is nothing about the brick used that is particularly noteworthy." They do suggest that any future development incorporate these particular elements, and that they would not object to a historic designation that preserves just this façade while leaving flexibility to actually build something better on the site.
Should DC landmark on such tenuous grounds?
A landmark application must state why the property in question should be designated as a landmark. This application says:
The Western Bus Garage meets criteria for designation in the D.C. Inventory (section 201.1 (b), (d) and (f), 201.2 and 201.3) It is the site of transportation activities that contributed significantly to the development of the District of Columbia. It is associated with patterns of growth and change that resulted in significant development of the residential areas along the routes served by the buses, and it is the work of an architect of recognized achievement.This seems quite tenuous. We have a mostly unremarkable building that happens to have housed transportation activities that were important to DC. The most historically important transportation activities, however, were associated with a different building that is no longer there.
Should we really consider landmarking buildings simply because they contained an activity that affected other parts of the District? Should the headquarters of every developer in the District be a landmark because people in those offices worked on projects which shaped the District? Every government building because people made policy that affected the District?
This architect built a lot of buildings in DC. This may be one of the least remarkable, yet the application argues it qualifies for designation simply because such an architect designed it. Is every building by every architect of any significant merit a landmark?
The bricks are interesting, but does one interesting architectural feature merit a landmark? All of these questions point to the same larger question: should we landmark virtually everything, or just a small minority of buildings which are truly remarkable or historically important?
There are other policy objectives besides architecture
WMATA needs to modernize this bus garage or replace it with a different facility. They hoped to build a new garage in the interior of the Walter Reed site, but opposition from residents and Councilmember Muriel Bowser made that impossible. If they rebuild on this site, a new garage could be mostly underground, possibly as part of a mixed-use building that contributes more to the neighborhood.
That may be exactly what some proponents of the landmark want to stop. The ANC resolution explains that there are many non-architectural goals, such as reducing pollution and noise from the garage, which landmarking could block.
[T]he kind of aboveground bus garages built in much of the 20th Century, like this one, can create health hazards with diesel fumes spreading into nearby neighborhoods. Underground bus garages with air filtration systems are safer and healthier. Similarly, the noise from public address systems can be contained in an underground garage, but can be a nuisance in above ground ones as it has been for neighbors of the Western Bus Garage for years.Is preservation about real significance or just an anti-development tool?
Yet we have heard from individuals with knowledge about the designation process and WMATA's construction needs that designation could make it impossible or cost-prohibitive to convert the current garage to an underground facility if the site is designated. It would be a shame if in an effort to preserve a purportedly historic fašade we took a step that could make it harder to achieve a healthier transportation configuration based on what we know today compared to what we knew when the Western Bus Garage was built.
We share the goal of preserving key elements of the historic fabric of our community. We are concerned, however, that the process of doing so sometimes, intentionally or unintentionally can stifle the goal of meeting the needs of future generations and can be a vehicle used to promote an agenda that is hostile to meaningful development of an area that we believe could benefit from such development.
This Western Bus Garage sits adjacent to an important commercial corridor (and effectively on top of a Metro stop) and in an area in which, in recent years, significantly greater development has occurred just north of the District border in Maryland than within the District. This site should be the subject of significant development to serve the community and City. Indeed, its current limited use makes no sense and creating impediments to the evolution of the site and surrounding area makes less.
The preservation movement has many adherents who value architectural variety and historic treasures based on their intrinsic merit. But since preservation has the power to stop change, it also has accreted many people who just want to stop a building, and who learn that if they slap the "historic" adjective on every sentence, they can add this tool to their arsenal.
There is very little meritorious justification for a landmark here, but an intense desire by some (though not the ANC) to stop any growth in the neighborhood. The preservation staff and Historic Preservation Review Board members will have a chance to keep preservation focused on actual history by postponing or rejecting the landmark application, possibly excepting the 44th Street façade. They should take the opportunity to do just that next week.
Hank's Oyster Bar owner Jamie Leeds has had about the worst time one can with the District's alcoholic beverage licensing process. A years-old fight, which she's essentially won, over outdoor seating popped back up last week and forced her to shut down half her patio during Pride weekend, one of the busiest of the year on 17th Street.
Sadly, Leeds lost out on a lot of business because former Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board chairman Charles Brodsky mis-applied the law. His decision letting Hank's expand its outdoor patio was overturned by the DC Court of Appeals, and until the board can re-hear the case, Leeds is stuck.
This all starts back in 2005 when Leeds wanted to open Hank's Oyster Bar at 17th and Q, NW in Dupont Circle. A number of residents, led by David Mallof and Lex Rieffel, opposed new liquor licenses and outdoor patios in the area, feeling that they created too much noise and other impacts to neighbors.
They went through the official process to protest a liquor license, which allowed them to negotiate a "voluntary agreement" with Leeds specifying various restrictions. ANC 2B, a party to the protest, wanted a standard set of limitations that it asks of all alcohol-serving establishments in Dupont's residential areas, such as a closing time of 11 pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends, says Mike Silverstein, an ANC commissioner and now member of the ABC Board. Other protestants, however, asked for further restrictions.
Critics of VAs say that these are not really "voluntary," and defenders of Hank's have used this case as an example. The ABC Board granted motions to postpone its hearing over several months while neighbors pushed for more concessions. Leeds, meanwhile, was losing money quickly while she couldn't open Hank's, and, as she said in a later hearing (page 164-165), she had no choice but to give in.
Hank's ultimately opened, it became a big success, and many residents enjoyed its great seafood and delicious brunch indoors or out on the patio. In
2098 2009, 17th Street's liquor moratorium came up for renewal. The ABC Board extended it, but also included 2 "lateral expansions" for establishments to grow. At the time, most neighborhood leaders expressed an expectation, and hope, that the expansions would go to Hank's and to Komi. They did; Hank's expanded into the ground floor of the building next door and Komi opened up Little Serow in the basement next to its restaurant.
For Hank's, expanding also required rezoning the property next door as commercial, and changing its voluntary agreement, which limited the amount of outdoor seating. It secured the rezoning, and in November 2010, the ABC board granted a motion to terminate the VA.
ABC board makes a curious move
According to the law, the board can terminate a VA if 3 criteria (one with 2 prongs) are met:
(4) The Board may approve a request by fewer than all parties to amend or terminate a voluntary agreement for good cause shown if it makes each of the following findings based upon sworn evidence:The board, with Brodsky in the lead, granted the termination, but made a strange legal choice. Instead of securing "sworn evidence" on all 4 parts of this test, it disregarded part A, and argued that it didn't need to find evidence for all of the prongs to grant a VA termination.
(A)(i) The applicant seeking the amendment has made a diligent effort to locate all other parties to the voluntary agreement; or
(ii) If non-applicant parties are located, the applicant has made a good-faith attempt to negotiate a mutually acceptable amendment to the voluntary agreement;
(B) The need for an amendment is either caused by circumstances beyond the control of the applicant or is due to a change in the neighborhood where the applicant's establishment is located; and
(C) The amendment or termination will not have an adverse impact on the neighborhood where the establishment is located as determined under § 25-313 or § 25-314, if applicable.
Silverstein recused himself from this decision since he had been involved in the original case, but notes that he argued against such a practice in some other, similar cases.
Leeds went ahead and expanded her patio, and residents have now been able to enjoy even more outdoor seating at Hank's.
Mallof and Reiffel appealed, and on May 17, the DC Court of Appeals agreed that the board needed to make a finding on all parts of the test, not just some of them.
The board moved quickly to schedule a hearing, which will happen this Wednesday, where people familiar with the situation expect they will find that Leeds met part A as well and grant her petition once again.
Hank's has to close half its patio
But in the meantime, someone complained to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), the agency that manages liquor licenses, that Hank's was using its whole patio, and on Friday, ABRA forced Hank's to shut down half the patio to comply with the old VA.
In an email to the neighborhood, Leeds wrote,
We have our hearing on these last two issues next Wednesday before the ABC Board. We are confident we will prevail, because we did try to work this out with those opposed to us back when we first sought termination of the VA, but they refused to meet. Also, since the Court of Appeals decision was reached, we offered to address their concerns with a more limited VA, but they insist we cut our outdoor occupancy by 25%, even though there have been no complaints. As for changes in the neighborhood, I am sure they are well known to you. Of course, it could take months for the Board to rule.The board often takes up to 90 days to issue a ruling, but in this case, they may rule more quickly, Silverstein suggested, especially since this decision only requires rehearing a small part of the original case.
Last night, as a result of a complaint by the protesters, we were visited by ABC investigators. We were told we cannot use half of our patio seating area, because of the Court of Appeals decision. This happened before we even have had a hearing before the ABC Board.
What's wrong with the process?
Leeds and her attorney, Andrew Kline, are primarily pointing the finger at the law that any group of 5 residents can file a protest over a liquor license. Silverstein noted that a citizen task force is more comprehensively reviewing liquor license laws right now, and that group may recommend limiting how far away someone can live and still protest in order to ensure that protests come from immediate neighbors rather than people from blocks away.
However, Silverstein noted, voluntary agreements aren't necessarily bad. Dupont's, which set a neighborhood-wide standard for closing outdoor patios at 11 pm or midnight, just set a "level playing field" for all businesses in mixed-use parts of the neighborhood.
Silverstein also noted that the board has fixed some of the problems since 2009, such as the long timeline for approvals. Leeds suffered because she had to negotiate with residents for months while the board put off hearing after hearing. "Justice delayed is absolutely justice denied," said Silverstein, "and justice delayed is absolutely favoring the protestant over the applicant." Since then, he added, the board has significantly sped up the process to create a "rocket docket" where very few applications are pending for more than 90 days.
Since then, Brodsky also no longer chairs the board, having resigned in May 2011 the day before he was arrested for impersonating a police officer. That's little comfort to Leeds, who is paying the price for his and his fellow board members' actions, but the board can at least minimize the damage by making a quick ruling and getting Hank's patio fully open this week.
Opponents of the Hine project have been trying to discredit anyone who supports it, claiming they have business relationships with Stanton-Eastbanc, don't live in the area, or other. That's false.
I geocoded the first 30 complete addresses from people who sent letters in support of Hine through our form on Tuesday. One was in Arlington; the others are all on the map above. To protect privacy, I had Excel randomly adjust each address up or down by a small amount (up to about half a block) and only show this map at a distant zoom.
One person who left a comment opposing Hine said support comes "from folks that do not live [sic] or frequent the area." That seems fairly clearly not true, as you can see from the map, and the people who sent letters who don't live right in the area clearly noted how they often frequent the area.
Didn't get a chance to send your own letter? It's not too late. Opponents are trying to put pressure on pro-project ANC commissioners Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate, and to ask for more concessions, including now setting back another floor of the building after the developers took the top, set-back floor away to try to satisfy opponents.
The DC Auditor agreed with an article Matt Rumsey posted last month here on Greater Greater Washington, and will begin publicly posting quarterly financial reports from each Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC).
Matt made the suggestion in an article on April 13. He pointed out that ANCs already have to file these reports, and posting them publicly would help citizens or the press detect any wrongdoing, like that from former ANC 5B chair William Shelton.
In a recent letter to the ANCs, DC Auditor Yolanda Branche referred to Matt's article and said that the auditor will start posting the reports. They will not post any bank account numbers, of course, just the lists of checks and receipts and the account balances.
The linked letter is the one they sent to ANC 3F; that ANC actually already posts the same information online on its own, but most do not.
Ms. Branche and her team deserve our thanks for listening to suggestions like Matt's and taking simple steps like this to increase transparency.
The chairman of ANC 5B stole about $30,000 from the ANC last year. DC agencies struggle to provide enough oversight of dysfunctional ANCs. The District can start to increase accountability and transparency by making ANC financial reports available online.
ANCs must provide the DC Auditor with quarterly financial reports. The DC Auditor is responsible for auditing the financial information, maintaining a database of the information, and ensuring that the reports are in compliance.
It would be a small step to also make this information readily available to the public. The press and interested members of the public could then monitor the ANC financial reports and identify mistakes, omissions, and inconsistencies that may have been missed.
Under the current system, the DC government is not providing the resources required for adequate oversight. The size and scope of the ANC system outweighs the resources dedicated to overseeing it. The DC Auditor has many other responsibilities and the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, charged with administrating ANCs, only has two full-time staff members.
With financial information effectively hidden from the public, it takes extremely diligent individuals significant effort and time to uncover improper or missing information. In September 2011, the Washington Times discovered that the DC auditor approved ANC financial reports that were missing basic information, proper signatures, or evidence of tax deductions. The Times also reported that the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions doesn't maintain records from the ANCs.
In the ANC 5B scandal, the DC Auditor initiated an audit after failing to receive financial reports for 3 consecutive quarters. The DC auditor currently posts a list detailing if and when ANCs submitted their financial reports.
If the database were available online, the public could have more easily and quickly found out about the DC Auditor's and the ANCs' failings, without having to rely on intrepid reporters sifting through hidden data.
Making this database available online should not place an undue burden on individual ANCs or the DC Auditor. But it will allow the press and public to better scrutinize these elected officials. Knowing that their records are easily available to the public may also encourage ANCs to follow proper financial procedure.
The ANC system is due for change. Putting these documents online would be a small step in the right direction.
Responding to requests from neighbors, Safeway created an excellent mixed-use proposal to redevelop its Tenleytown store that will reinvigorate its stretch of Wisconsin Avenue. They deserve kudos from residents, not the litany of complaints the project team got at a recent ANC meeting.
In 2009, Safeway announced plans to expand this aging store. Ward3Vision, a group of residents who support more walkable and sustainable urban places, joined others in the community in urging Safeway to approach the expansion more creatively and sustainably than its original proposal.
Safeway went back to the drafting board, and partnered with Clark Realty and New Urbanist architects Torti Gallas to design a mixed-use development with a 56,000 square foot grocery store and 190 residences.
The development team has spent a lot of time engaging the community. They have created an imaginative project with reasonable density that will blend into the existing neighborhood fabric while also enlivening the street.
The plan calls for more than just replacing the timeworn Tenleytown Safeway with a new store. By adding a residential building, the project will reinvigorate this stretch of Wisconsin Avenue marked by aging commercial development and help it start to transform into a mixed-use commercial and residential district.
Unfortunately, at the March 8 ANC 3E meeting, residents lodged a litany of complaints about the height, density, and parking and traffic impacts of the project.
Some Ward 3 residents have criticized the project as being too dense for the surrounding neighborhood. But the site's location on Wisconsin Avenue, between the Tenleytown and Friendship Heights Metro stations and served by high-frequency bus lines, makes it very appropriate for transit-oriented, slightly denser development.
Growth like what Safeway proposes will bring increased foot traffic and customers to stores and restaurants, giving residents in quieter surrounding neighborhoods more shopping and dining choices, and bolsters DC's tax-base while adding minimal traffic.
The development team showed great sensitivity to community concerns. The architects moved delivery traffic to Davenport Street from the originally proposed location on Elicott Street, where drivers will now unload in a covered delivery court. This buffers the noise and keeps truck traffic away from Georgetown Day School students across the street. The team also added a cover over the delivery court after residents voiced concerns about noise.
The architects added a row of liner townhouses to screen off the potentially blank, uninteresting walls of the grocery store, enhancing the sense of a residential environment. They also stepped back the height of the building to create terraces, increasing green space for the development, and added a second entrance to Safeway along 42nd Street to make the shopfront livelier.
Also, in direct response to concerns expressed at the January ANC meeting, the development team removed one whole story from the residential main block, making it 4 residential stories instead of 5 as originally planned.
There are, of course, details that still need to be resolved, such as how to foster lively street life, how to to minimize traffic congestion and enhance safety, putting utility lines, and encouraging other amenities like bike and car sharing.
The one area that could most improve is at the corner of Ellicott and 42nd, where WMATA has a small service building often referred to as a "bunker." Safeway and Clark are negotiating with Metro about this property. A semi-public use, such as a coffeehouse pavilion, would bring many benefits to the community and developer alike. DC could also modify the slip lanes in this area to create additional public space.
Either way, the final proposal is an excellent one. The team has shown willingness to compromise, and deserve full support from area residents.
Pepco trucks recently invaded Glover Park to remove redundant utility poles that have been cluttering neighborhood streets for the past decade. Thanks to persistent community advocacy, these eyesores will soon disappear.
Around 2001, Pepco replaced its existing utility poles in Glover Park with new taller ones, as part of an effort to improve electrical reliability and increase pole capacity. Unfortunately, when the new poles went up, the old poles remained in place, often side by side, with the wires from other utility companies still attached.
Years later, it became clear that the double poles were here to stay.
With no automatic procedure in place for the city to push for removal of the old poles, it took a concerted, years-long effort by neighborhood residents to get them taken out.
In some cases, new poles and old poles were attached to each other with odd collections of metal cables and brackets. Residents wondered whether there was any rhyme or reason to the seemingly random metal supports. W Street NW even had the distinction of a triple pole cluttering a tree box.
According to meeting minutes, ANC3B first attempted to hold Pepco accountable to a specific removal timeline at a November 2004 meeting.
Commissioner [Christopher] Lively reported that Pepco has been in the area and has almost completed removed [sic] their lines off the old poles on to the new poles. Verizon, Comcast, and Starpower, however, have not removed their lines so the poles still cannot be removed. Commissioner Lively will write a letter on behalf of ANC 3B to OCTT [Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications] to bring the issue to their attention.Nearly a year later, at ANC3B's October 2005 meeting, Commissioner Melissa Lane brought up the issue again, to Pepco representative Roger Green. Green asked for a list of double pole locations in order to identify removal needs. The ANC complied and expected Pepco to deliver.
In June 2007, ANC3B invited Pepco to explain its plan to remove the double poles.
Pepco Regional Vice President, Vincent Orange, and Linda Jo Smith, Public Relations, reported on the status of the double utility poles that has been a problem throughout Glover Park for the past five years. Pepco replaced their poles but could not take all of them down because other service companies (Comsat, Verizon, etc.) and the district had their products on the original poles. Pepco is making a concerted effort to work with these other companies and get rid of the original poles. Ms. Smith committed to returning in September with a status report.As a concerned resident, I corresponded with Councilmember Mary Cheh and DDOT in 2008 and 2009. Cheh's Director of Constituent Services stated, "Trust me, we have asked and mentioned it, and reminded Pepco. We will keep doing all of the above until we get responses/action."
Likewise, DDOT's Customer Service Officer assured me, "You will be happy to know that we are working with Pepco and other agencies to resolve the double pole issue. You're right, it isn't happening overnight, but we're getting there."
A few back and forth tweets with the @PepcoConnect Twitter account in June 2011 didn't help either, even after I offered to provide an inventory of locations.
Finally the long drawn out issue turned around in October 2011, when I asked my ANC3B single member district commissioner Brian Cohen to intervene. Cohen worked with Tom Smith, Ward 3 Liaison, Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Engagement, who immediately contacted Pepco's Public Affairs Public Affairs Manager for the DC Region, Chris Taylor. Smith also pulled DDOT and the city's cable office back into the issue.
Taylor provided a 521-page document called NJUNS covering the entire Pepco service area. His email walk-through of the pole removal process may be very useful to other neighborhoods trying to resolve this same issue.
To tell you more about the list, NJUNS stands for National Joint Use Notification System. Several states nation wide use this system. The basis of the system is that all utilities in a specific geographic region voluntarily participate in a program to help track progress in removing double poles. As was indicated earlier, equipment must be removed in sequential order from top to bottom. Pepco normally initiates the process when we first remove wires and equipment. Generally, the order is as follows:Pepco, while now apparently willing to coordinate wire transfers, didn't know where the poles were located. NJUNS listed only three or four double poles for Glover Park, but there were a lot more. Cohen and I counted 41 during our block-by-block survey, and provided a list to Pepco in January 2012.
5. Pepco inspects to ensure pole is completely stripped
6. Contractor pulls the pole
The NJUNS sends an automated email each time a location is updated. If you look on the report, each page has various steps. At each step, NJUNS automatically sends an email to each utility notifying them of any action that is taken and needed next steps.
Behind the scenes, Pepco lit a fire under the other utilities. Only 2 months after identifying all the pole locations, temporary no parking signs went up and convoys of utility trucks scattered around Glover Park to begin removing the redundant poles.
Over half of the excess poles have been removed already, though ironically 3 new double poles were recently installed.
10 years later, a final resolution is in sight. It took a long time, but Glover Park's double poles are nearly gone. There is hope for other neighborhoods willing to put in the work to identify pole locations and repeatedly follow up with Pepco.
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