Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

New Seasonal Park on K Street — Could this Work on Georgia Avenue?

July 16, 2015
The ParKIT sign expalin

The ParKIT sign explaining the concept.

On Tuesday, a new Parklet was opened on K Street in front of the Gensler building at 2020 K Street NW. The seasonal park takes the place of two parking spaces. As I checked it out (and I know others in the community have also been thinking along these lines too), I wondered if a seasonal, temporary park would be something that could be done on Georgia Avenue. More-so, I wondered if a parklet could be paired with a bike corral in an area like DC Reynolds, Looking Glass Lounge, and Walters.

One of the issues with Georgia Avenue is that the sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate outdoor cafe space. Furthermore, in an area like the 3600 block of Georgia, on a popular night their just aren’t enough bike racks to accommodate cyclists. If we could identify an area where three parking spaces aren’t needed, or, where the benefit of removing them for a seasonal park and bike corral would outweigh the loss of three spaces, we might be able to create the outdoor vibrancy that is definitely needed on Georgia.

Parklet(The new parklet on K Street, NW.)

While the parklet on K Street is a great place to sit, read, and relax, these aren’t the only activities that could be accommodated. As the photo below shows, the space could also be configured as an outdoor cafe or summer garden. This is precisely the type of activity that would help enliven Georgia Avenue but that we can’t accommodate with our current sidewalks.

San Francisco parklet(1300 Fulton Street Parklet (Hosted by Cafe Abir) Photo By: SF Planning (AS))

So the questions become: 1) Would the community be interesting in swapping out a few parking spaces for some type of seasonal park? 2) What activities should this park support? and 3) Ideally, where should this park be located?

Mayor Bowser’s AlleyPalooza Nets Fast Results on Manor Place

July 10, 2015

On July 8, 2015, Mayor Bowser announced the launch of  “the first-ever AlleyPalooza to improve 64 alleys across the city in just two months.” In Ward 1, most of the alleys that will be repaired are in Columbia Heights, though there is one in Mt. Pleasant and appears to be one on T Street on the Ward 1/2 border. There was also one on Manor Place in Park View.

AlleyPalooza map(Map showing location of Ward 1 alleys to be repaired.)

In checking out the Manor Place alley, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the work was well underway on July 8th and appeared to be finished on July 9th (Photos below.)

According to the full press release:

Alleys represent a vital, but often unseen, part of our city’s infrastructure. The District has more than 350 miles of alleys. These backyard lanes are important for transit, parking and services like trash pickup – and increasingly, they also serve as places for families to hang out, neighbors to catch up with neighbors, and kids to ride their bikes.

We’ve heard from the community that we can do a better job of updating our alleys. With input from residents through 311, my team has identified 64 alleys – eight alleys in all eight wards – that will be repaired or renovated by mid-September. You can stay up to speed on our progress by checking out the following map. Bear with us during the construction process – we promise the end result will be worth it.

AlleyPalooza comes on the heels of our successful PotholePalooza – the District’s annual effort to fill in those pesky potholes that plague our streets every spring. This year, the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) used new technologies and strategies to effectively identify and repair potholes across all eight wards. I’m pleased to report that DDOT has already filled nearly 32,000 potholes across the District, and they’ve hired more crews to get the job done.

We want our streets and alleys to reflect the quality and strength of our neighborhoods. With AlleyPalooza and PotholePalooza, we are two steps closer to making that a reality.

Photos of Manor Place alley:

Manor Place alley




Initial Look at DC’s Vision Zero

July 7, 2015

Following up on yesterday’s post about the need for better bike lane maintenance, I wanted to highlight the District’s adoption of the Vision Zero Initiative which began in earnest in March 2015. It is an initiative already adopted in other cities which “aims to improve pedestrian and bicycle transportation safety by showcasing effective local actions, empowering local leaders to take action, and promoting partnerships to advance pedestrian and bicycle safety.” The stated objective of Vision Zero, according to the DDOT Website is:

By the year 2024, Washington, DC will reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system, through more effective use of data, education, enforcement, and engineering.

In particular, I like the inclusion of the Vision Zero safety map which lets residents indicate safety issues collaboratively. I noticed that there aren’t many issues listed in the Park View area yet, but presume it will fill in over the next several weeks.

Access to some of the related safety and traffic plans is available at the DC Vision Zero page here.

Vision Zero map(Detail from Vision Zero map showing Park View area.)

The District Needs a Long Term Solution for Clean & Safe Bike Lanes

July 6, 2015
Beginning to clean up the gravel in the Warder Street bike lane.

Beginning to clean up the gravel in the Warder Street bike lane.

On June 1st I was alerted to loose gravel in the bike lane at the south end of Warder Street, NW. I presumed this would be an easy issue to resolve and reported it to 311. As it turns out, this was not an easy issue to resolve. After reporting the issue to 311 and then escalating the issue with the Mayor’s Ward 1 representatives in the Office of Community Relations and Services (MOCRS), a month later the loose gravel was still there.

As I’ve dug into this problem, it is my understanding that keeping bike lanes clean of minor but often dangerous debris is a citywide issue. Not being one to let a problem with a simple solution linger, I took it upon myself to clean up the gravel myself. While Warder Street is now clean, there are other bike lanes elsewhere that still need attention. With this in mind, I will continue to work with the city to find a lasting citywide solution to this problem.

In short, I believe that if Washington is going to invest in bike infrastructure, we also need to invest in bike lane safety and maintenance to ensure that these resources are in good repair and safe.

Boese cleanning bike lane(Commissioner Boese removing gravel from Warder Street bike lane.)

Warder bike lane(Warder Street bike lane with gravel removed.)

DDOT Replacing Sidewalks on Otis Place, Fails to Consider Street Trees

July 2, 2015
State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of June 30, 2015.

State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of June 30, 2015.

Readers of this blog will now that I’ve been a strong advocate for trees and improved streetscapes for several years. Sadly, despite walking the streets of the neighborhood with the Urban Forestry Administration and getting a good sense of which treeless streets could support street trees, I discovered at the beginning of the week that DDOT began a project to replace the sidewalk on the north side of Otis Place — along the Park View Recreation Center — exactly as they found it. In short, the treeless block of Otis between Warder Street and 6th Street will remain treeless.

I contend that the one way street is wide enough to accommodate a slight narrowing to make room for trees. Additionally, no parking is allowed on the north side during school hours.

Upon learning of the sidewalk project which also included a complete replacement of the curb and some of the road, I contacted DDOT immediately and was told by the end of June 30th by a DDOT representative that “I confirmed with the team that the work can stop after today and investigate the cost and feasibility of adding tree boxes.” This sounded like good news, as at that stage only half of the new curbing had been installed and none of the sidewalk had been poured.

Sadly, DDOT did not honor their word. The following day the rest of the curbs were poured along with most of the sidewalks. To my knowledge, there was no investigation regarding cost  or feasibility. Furthermore, the stretch of street where this occurred contains no storm water catch basins. This should have been the easiest win/win for both DDOT and the community.

State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of July 1, 2015.

State of sidewalk work on Otis Place, evening of July 1, 2015.

I feel strongly that it is critical that the long term goals of the community not be ignored when real opportunities present themselves, such as this sidewalk on Otis Place. I also feel it is important that the voice of the community — your voices — not be silenced because DDOT and others choose to work around their ANCs who I can assure you receive many, many emails with suggestions, concerns, and ideas on how to make our neighborhoods great.

Moving forward, I have written and will introduce a resolution at the July 8th meeting of ANC1A urging that the ANC law be amended such that DDOT be required to provide notice when significant streetscape & sidewalk replacement projects are undertaken. DDOT already does this for curb cuts, public space permits, and handicapped parking requests. Significant streetscape work should be no different.

I will continue to press DDOT on this issue, both specifically on Otis and more broadly on our other treeless streets. As for Otis Place, I’ve reached out to the Mayor’s Office, Councilmember Nadeau, and others to bring light to this epic fail.

Looking at Historic Garages in Park View

June 17, 2015
1911 real estate ad from the Evening Star identifying a garage at 636 Rock Creek Church Road, NW.

1911 real estate ad from the Evening Star identifying a garage at 636 Rock Creek Church Road, NW.

One of the things that is interesting about Park View’s original development is how automobiles impacted it. The neighborhood south of Otis Place was largely constructed before personal automobile ownership became common place. In fact, in that section of the neighborhood one is more likely to find the occasional stable — a rather fine example being the horse stable that served the Tenth Police Precinct.

The area north of Otis Place was developed by Kennedy Brothers beginning in 1909. Their development (named Princeton Heights) was developed from 1909 to 1917 and coincides with the growth of personal car ownership.

In the District, there were 4,833 residents with registered vehicles in 1914. This rose to 8,009 in 1915. From 1916 to 1919, ownership continued to rise, from 13,118 to 35,400, respectively. By 1920, Washington had one vehicle for every 10.73 residents, ahead of the national average of 14.14 persons per car.

What one learns when looking at how Princeton Heights was built out is that the original houses on the south side of the 600 and 700 blocks of Rock Creek Church Road and the 700 block of Quebec Place were all built with no accommodation for personal vehicles. This began to change as soon as new residents moved into the community. The earliest evidence of a private garage building in the Princeton Heights development is a real estate add from 1911 that features a “garage on rear” for 636 Rock Creek Church Road. Slowly, other homeowners began to construct garages in the rear of their properties too.

In response, Kennedy Brothers began to incorporate attached garages into some of their house designs, with the first being 3640 Warder Street constructed in 1914 (the southwest corner of Warder and Quebec Place). Moving forward, Kennedy Brothers began to include attached garages in their semi-detached corner houses with one notable exception. When building the row of houses from 3664 Park Place north to 608 Rock Creek Church Road, every house in that row contained an attached garage.

For those who purchased houses prior to this change in construction, or who later decided that they wanted a garage afterall, the private detached garage was still an option. Of the four oldest garages in the area, three of them were built by Kennedy Brothers in 1914 and 1915. These were constructed of brick and can be found behind 633, 634, and 624 Quebec Place.

A quick survey of the alleys in the four Princeton Heights blocks between Princeton, Georgia, Rock Creek Church, and Park Place — both in person and on old maps — indicates that there were once about 46 private detached garages in the neighborhood. Of these 18, or roughly 39%, still remain today. Considering that many garages were more modest and not constructed of more durable materials, it is not surprising that many of these are now gone.

Below is a sample of some of the garages that remain.

633 Quebec Place(633 (Rear) Quebec Place, NW. Built by Kennedy Bros. in 1914.)

636 Rock Creek Church Road(This garage is located behind 636 Rock Creek Church Road. Dating to ca. 1911, it has the distinction of being the oldest surviving private garage in the northern part of the neighborhood.)

754 Quebec Place(A more modest garage at 754 Quebec Place, this metal sided garage was built in 1918.)

3639 Warder(Perhaps the nicest brick garage in the neighborhood is this 1917 example behind 3639 Warder Street. This may be the only area garage of Flemish bond construction.)

3637 Warder(Little is known about this metal sided garage at 3637 Warder Street yet, though the search goes on.)

Sidewalks on Rock Creek Church Rd to be Restored

June 12, 2015
Flaking sidewalk on 600 b/o Rock Creek Church Road.

Flaking sidewalk on 600 b/o Rock Creek Church Road.

According to signs posted on the south side of the 600 block of Rock Creek Church Road yesterday, parking along that side of the block will not be permitted from June 13 through June 27 (except Sundays) to allow for a sidewalk restoration project.

The sidewalks on this block were last restored in June 2010 along with street repaving. Yet, many of the sidewalks restored during that time have begun to flake, a problem DDOT has been working to correct as reported earlier.

IMG_8830[1](Emergency No Parking Signs on the 600 b/o Rock Creek Church Road, NW)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers

%d bloggers like this: