Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

Visitor Parking Passes Begin Arriving, Register to Get Yours

December 29, 2015

The 2016 visitor parking passes began arriving by mail over the weekend. Unlike previous years, residents must request them from DDOT to receive them. Registration for the VPP began on December 1, 2015 and will be open until December 1, 2016. Registeration for the 2016 VPP began on December 1, 2015 and will be open until December 1, 2016. More information on the VPP program can be found at the DDOT VPP page.


Should There Be a Special RPP Zone Around the Georgia Avenue Metro Station?

December 10, 2015
Typical residential parking sign with regular hours of 7 am to 8:30 pm

Typical residential parking sign with regular hours of 7 am to 8:30 pm

On-street parking has long been an issue in the neighborhood, and over the years it has only become harder for residents to park near their residences. Over the past several years, blocks like the 400 blocks of Newton, Otis, and Princeton have all changed from open parking to Residential Permit Parking blocks, leaving few remaining non-RPP blocks in the neighborhood. In 2012 residents in Ward 1 also began to participate in Enhanced Residential Permit Parking which reserved one side of the street for Ward 1 residents only, leaving the opposite side available to non-residents for 2 hours of parking or longer with a visitor’s pass.

However, neither the RPP or Enhanced RPP programs take into account the location of the Georgia Avenue Metro station or the impact it has on area parking. The station is located on the north side of the Ward 1/Ward 4 border, and RPP borders are duel zoned when it comes to RPP. For example, Rock Creek Church Road is the current boundary between Wards 1 and 4. So, when it comes to the RPP Zone designation, that means that border streets as well as the blocks directly north and south of the border all get duel zone designation. The intent was to make parking fair for residents living near Ward borders, but it also potentially opens these streets up to residents from the entirety of two Wards parking there. At the Metro station east of Georgia Avenue, that means that Rock Creek Church Road, Quincy Street, and Quebec Place are all zoned 1/4 and any resident with a Zone 1 or 4 sticker can park on these streets.

Normally, this would not be a problem. However, as stated above, there is a Metro station in this mix … and over the years residents from further north have begun to use these dual zoned streets as commuter parking. I noticed this in 2012 during the Enhanced RPP implementation and things haven’t gotten better since. Most recently, residents frustrated with streets parked up by commuters opposed a Board of Zoning parking variance request for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue due to their concerns that the parking situation would get worse. I appreciate those concerns, yet the opposition to the parking variance request didn’t address the original issue of the area being used as commuter parking.

So the question becomes, has the impact of commuter parking reached a point where DDOT should consider implementing a special RPP Zone around the Georgia Avenue Metro station. Its certainly something I’m going to explore beginning with a request for DDOT to perform a parking study to determine the extent of the problem. The results of that study should provide a clearer understanding of the scale of the issue and suggest appropriate next steps.

Update on 3701 New Hampshire Development

December 3, 2015
Proposed 21-unit building at 3701 New Hampshire Ave, NW.

Proposed 21-unit building at 3701 New Hampshire Ave, NW.

Yesterday, the post-hearing statement for the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) case related to the redevelopment of the former Sweet Mango property was filed (read in full here). The BZA will make a decision on the requested lot coverage and exemption from parking variances on December 8th for the redevelopment of 3701 New Hampshire Avenue NW.

While there were several concerns expressed by those testifying in opposition the the new 21-unit building, the chief concern boiled down to parking and its impact on the surrounding residential blocks. In response to this, the developer is agreeing to restrict residents in the building from participating in the RPP program. The language from the filing is as follows:

The Applicant considered the Board’s request and further studied public comments related to providing an RPP Restriction in the Project. Based upon this, the Applicant is agreeing to restrict application for Residential Parking Permits, although tis transportation consultant found that the Project’s Transporation Demand Management Plan (“TDMP”) is sufficiently robust to address the parking and traffic mitigation concerns on its own and DDOT confirmed the robustness of the TDMP and the Hearing … (although the Applicant believes there will be a chilling effect on the marketability of the Project as a result).

With regards to the requests to relocate the mural, provide additional affordable housing, and local hiring and local retail tenant placement. The statement continues that “such items are typically found in public benefit and amenities packages in Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) applications … and are not applicable to a BZA variance case.” This being the case, the developer restates their commitment to recreating the mural, that they are providing more affordable units than required by law, and is committed to not leasing the retail space to a convenience store.

The case will be decided on December 8th.


Admiring the Tree Boxes by Casey Trees

November 9, 2015
The tree box area outside of Casey Trees on 12th Street, NE.

The tree box area outside of Casey Trees on 12th Street, NE.

Yesterday, I was by Casey Trees on 12th Street, NE, and noticed the tree box area outside of their location. I was impressed with the mix of trees, liriope, pebbles and other plants arranged in a way that becomes a green oasis where grass generally is. I also liked that the curbing was cut in places to guide storm water into the planted areas for drainage and watering.

This is an example I’m going to make a note of with the hopes that something similar might be possible in our neighborhood during street improvement projects.

I’ve also been taking note of bioretention areas and bulb outs when I see them, which more frequently happens when I travel west of the Park.

Tree Study to be Conducted in Park View Area

October 21, 2015

Upon returning home yesterday, I found a flyer on my door (and had seen them on many of the doors along my route home), introducing a forthcoming survey regarding urban trees (flyer below). As the flyer states this is a collaboration between Casey Trees and Penn State University PhD candidate Nathan Frey, I’m curious to know more but have not had a follow up to my initial outreach.

I was able to find Nathan Frey’s Curriculum Vitae and found it interesting that he gave a presentation in August at the Summer Meeting of ISA Research Committee 28 on Social Stratification and Mobility titled Demographic Disparities in Access to Urban Environmental Amenities: The Case of Washington, D.C.

I’m eagerly looking forward to learning more and participating in the survey and hope others who received the notice will participate as well.


Development Plans for 3701 New Hampshire Encounter Opposition in Petworth

October 19, 2015
Proposed development for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue.

Rendering of proposed development for 3701 New Hampshire Avenue.

Last week, the plans to redevelop 3701 New Hampshire Avenue, formerly home to Sweet Mango, encountered opposition from ANC 4C and members of the community. The blow-by-blow of the meeting — described as dysfunctional — is well covered by the Petworth News blog and can be read here. One of the key areas of opposition in that meeting had to do with how the 21-unit building would impact residential street parking.

Last month, ANC 1A also weighed in on the variances required for this project to move forward. Based on the Comprehensive Plan, the goals of the Georgia Avenue Overlay for the corridor, and need for more density and housing in the community, and how the developer is proposing to find solutions to accommodate potential car owners, ANC 1A passed a resolution in support of this development (read here). It is important to note that neither ANC 1A’s support nor ANC 4C’s opposition was unanimous.

It is fair to say that parking is an important issue — and an important quality of life issue. It must also be recognized that no two developments are exactly the same. In the case of 3701 New Hampshire, due to the oddly shaped lot, it just isn’t physically possible to build underground parking on the property, especially to the extent that zoning would require. The property also doesn’t have abutting properties to the north or south within the Georgia Avenue Overlay that would be able to be added to the development making parking possible. Keeping this in mind, along with the property’s close proximity to a Metro station, several bus lines, and a Capital Bikeshare station, there is no reason why this building should not be built. Furthermore, ANC 1A’s request to remove the loading zone and associated curb cut on Rock Creek Church Road as part of their approval should add two on-street parking spaces to the block.

To manage parking, Rooney Properties (the developer) is planning to provide new residents with SmarTrip cards, a bike share membership and car share membership for the first three years. They are also including space for bicycle maintenance and storage within the new building, and the lobby of the building will offer a transit screen that shows the number of bikes available and a real-time Metro train schedule. Rooney Properties is also actively seeking off-street parking options and has noted that several of the recent buildings in the area that have off-street parking are not parked up. They would be willing to provide free parking in these garages to new residents for three years as well.

According to the Petworth News report from the ANC 4C meeting, the following gives an idea of how much off-street parking is available in the immediate area. The Swift apartments (above Safeway) have 70 spots leased of their available 158 spots. The Park Place development has 138 spots leased of their 181 spots, and the 3 Trees Flats has 115 spots leased of their 130 spots. There is a lot of untapped parking potential in these buildings.

But another part of the story that wasn’t part of the ANC 4C discussion — and one important to developing some understanding of the potential hardships the immediate neighbors may face — is how much off-street parking exists in the community. Residents from the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road were among those expressing concern about the potential impact this development could have on that block, so I took the time to walk the alleys to the north and south of that block to see if any off-street parking existed for these properties currently. What I learned was that 63% of the residential properties on the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road currently have some form of off-street parking that they are currently using, or have the potential to use. If I include the west side of Warder street, this goes down to 61%. The map below shows the location of the proposed development and all the residential properties that have off-street parking.

3701 New Hampshire parking analysis 2(Map key: Orange=two-car garage; Yellow=one-car garage; Red=four car garage; Dark Blue=two car parking pad; Light Blue=one car parking pad)

(Note: in taking this survey of parking, I did not include a garage if its entrance was bricked in, but did include a garage if the doors were merely boarded up. In one case, I included a single-car garage that was too small for a modern car, but which had a driveway currently used for off street parking).

Here is how the parking on the residential properties represented on the map above breaks down.

  • There are 54 residential properties on Rock Creek Church Road and the west side of Warder Street. 33 of these properties (61%) have off-street parking.
  • 10 residences (18%) have garages.
    • There is 1 four car garage
    • There are 6 two car garages
    • There are 3 one car garages
  • 23 residences (42.5%) have parking pads
    • 6 properties have two car parking pads
    • 17 properties have one car parking pads
Garages and parking pads abound on the north side of the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road.

Garages and parking pads abound on the north side of the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road.

Overall, in adding all this up, there are currently 48 spaces on this block for off-street parking. In looking at the south side of the 700 block of Quincy, each residential property there similarly has at least one off-street parking space.

With the amount of off-street parking currently in this area, one starts to question why parking is so tight currently … and based on my observations I believe some (but definitely not all) of this stress is caused by factors other than housing. For instance, the 700 block of Quebec Place and nearby blocks are often stressed due to church parking from the Fisherman of Men Church. I have also witnessed on several occasions residents from further north in Ward 4 using Quebec, Rock Creek Church, and other nearby streets as commuter parking so that they can easily drive, park, and ride Metro. Whether there are solutions to these stresses or not, they certainly aren’t related to development or housing in the immediate community.

Factoring all of this together, I believe that the benefits of the proposed development far outweigh the cons, and that the impact the building may have on parking and the surrounding community will not live up to people’s  worse case scenarios.

Otis Place Will Get 8 New Trees This Planting Season

September 22, 2015
Area on Otis Place where trees will be planted.

Area on Otis Place where trees will be planted.

I’m happy to report that the south side of Otis Place next to the school will get eight new trees this year. If you walk down the street, look for the orange dots on the curb which indicate where the trees will be planted. I don’t know what species of trees will be planted yet, though the DDOT arborist did meet with the school to discuss this topic at the end of last week.

The ability to start planting trees on this section of Otis Place was a result of an on site meeting I had with DDOT at the end of June and advocated for moving the sidewalk away from the street to create a new tree box. I’m hopeful that I can collaborate with DDOT in the next fiscal year to do the same on the north side of Otis Place.

Overall, Park View will not be getting many new trees in the 2015/2016 planting season as nearly all of our tree boxes are full. In order to tree up our treeless areas, we need to either find solutions such as the one on Otis Place, or make trees available for private yards such as the ones on Luray, Manor, Warder, and Park Road.

Below is the map showing the new trees on Otis Place with other nearby plantings in the coming season.

Tree planting map school 2015(Map showing where new trees will be planting in the 2015/2016 season).


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