Archive for the ‘Streets and Trees’ category

Neighborhood Leaf Collection Begins Next Week

November 13, 2018

In reviewing DPW’s 2018 leaf collection guide, the first round of leaf collection in Park View will begin the week of November 19th — provided that leaves are raked into the treebox space this Sunday (Nov. 18th). More information is available at the DPW Website and you can also track the progress of DPW’s leaf collection crews throughout the collection period.

The maps and schedule below can also be useful.

Community Meeting on Warder & Park Place Bike Lanes this Wednesday, Nov. 7th!

November 5, 2018

DDOT has been working on plans to install protected bike lanes on Park Place, Warder Street, and the 400 block of Kenyon St. as part of their implementation of the Crosstown Multimodal Transportation effort. These bike lanes would connect Park View to Brookland by expanding the current bike lane network.

In collaboration with ANC1A, DDOT will be the featured guest at the Wednesday, November 7th Park View UNC meeting where they will provide an overview of the project and be available for questions and feedback on their current proposal. Among the ideas that DDOT is considering is additional on-street parking on Park Place and tree bump outs on Warder Street.

Please see the flyer below and check out https://www.dccycletrack.com/crosstown for additional information.

Sustained Advocacy Results in More Trees for Park View School Project

October 3, 2018

I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to get 10-13 new trees added to the landscaping plans for the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School project. But it took a lot of doggedness and refusing to take no for an answer for nearly a month.

While one would think that the landscaping plans would have been discussed at a School Improvement Team (SIT) meeting, of which I’m a member, they really weren’t. Furthermore, it has been a few months since the last SIT has met. This is an area that I’m extremely interested in as the school grounds have long been on my list of places where we could potentially get large shade trees to help address the tree desert in the middle of the neighborhood.

Site plan of the school showing location of new bioretention areas to be added at Bruce-Monroe @ Park View.

I was surprised when I inspected the school grounds in late August that bioretention areas were being added to the grounds at the front of the building, prompting me to request a copy of the landscaping plans on August 30th. After four requests, a copy of the plan set was finally shared with me on September 6th. A quick review of the plans showed that no trees were being added in the front of the building.

Immediately upon seeing the lack of trees on the site, I contacted the construction team, and later the DCPS project team, and asked about adding trees to the landscaping plan. The initial feedback I received was that trees would interfere with the bioretention areas, and that the bioretention areas were required by the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE).

Refusing to give up, I also contacted DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration and requested a site visit. I also had a long conversation with DOEE which informed me that green infrastructure elements are required, but that bioretention areas were one of four ways that a project could meet that requirement. Another way was to plant trees, and that in many ways DOEE has a preference for trees but leaves the selection of which way to go to the project team.

Armed with this knowledge, I shared with DCPS that trees were an option and that if push came to shove trees would be the better choice on Warder Street.

Following DDOT’s site visit to the school, and after nearly a month of dedicated oversight, I was finally informed on September 21st that both the Warder and Newton Place sides of the building could accommodate trees without disturbing the bioretention areas already planned. This will include three trees on Warder Street and one on Newton that will mature between 60′ and 70′, helping expand the tree canopy. See the illustrations below for approximate locations and suggested species.

The illustration below also helps provide an idea of what each of the recommended trees will look like when mature.

DDOT Bike Lane Pop-up on Kenyon Offers Good Insight

September 24, 2018

 

The pop-up bike land on Kenyon, 9/21/18.

As part of Parking Day on Friday, September 21st this year, DDOT constructed a temporary pop-up bike lane on the 400 block of Kenyon Street, NW. This was an extremely valuable experience as DDOT is looking at ways to incorporate a permanent protected bi-directional bike lane on Irving Street between Michigan Avenue, NE, and Warder Street, NW. The temporary bike lane on Kenyon offered a good opportunity for DDOT to get feedback from residents as well as watch how traffic adjusted to accommodate the lanes.

Overall, I believe the bike lane pop-up was a success due to the information learned to help inform the next steps. As expected, comments related to DDOT’s plans are mixed, with some strongly in favor and others opposed. In addition to making Kenyon one lane during rush hour, some are concerned that a protected bike lane will reduce on-street parking. All of this would still need to be worked out.

Although, based on the boards that were shared with the community, it does appear that there is room for protected bike lanes, bump outs for new trees on Warder Street, and new parking along Park Place IF the suggestions proposed by DDOT meet with approval. Its difficult because every opportunity is accompanied by a trade off.

(Discussing the crosstown protected bike lane project with DDOT during the pop up event.)

Bump Outs

I was really exited to see that DDOT has been paying attention to much of what I’ve been suggesting over the years, especially with regards to incorporating bump outs on Warder Street to create new locations for street trees. See plan below.

(Proposal to incorporate bulb outs on Warder Street, creating areas for new trees.)

In DDOT’s proposal, they suggest 11 areas where bump outs could be created. But, this would remove 20 on-street parking spaces. As it is, the bike lanes may also reduce on-street parking spaces. This is a difficult trade off considering that demands on parking are increasing rather than decreasing. I’ve already met with the members of the project team at DDOT’s offices to review the plans and will be going over them block-by-block to see if there are missed opportunities or better locations for bump outs, and hope to get an initial survey completed before the end of October.

Potential Increase in Parking

In order to counter balance the impact on parking along Warder and Kenyon, DDOT is looking at the possibility of placing parking on both sides of Park Place, NW.

(DDOT’s updated plan showing parking on both sides of Park Place, NW)

The benefits of placing parking on both sides of Park Place would be that cars in addition to bollards would help protect the bike lane along the Soldiers’ Home. Additionally, it would reduce Park Place to a single travel lane, greatly reducing the speed of traffic along the street which has long been a problem. It would also increase neighborhood parking by more than the spaces lost elsewhere due to other aspects of the project. The biggest negative would be that it would limit the vista of the Soldiers’ Home along Park Place.

While there is much to consider, DDOT is still working to get to a 30% plan by the end of the year, and presuming the development of a winning plan, implementation by the end of 2019 at the earliest.

To help the community get more information and provide more feedback, I’ve invited DDOT to be the guest at the November meeting of the Park View UNC. That will give them time to incorporate the feedback they receive during their pop-up trial last Friday.

DC Protected Bike Lane Pop Up Event Schedule for Kenyon Street on Friday

September 17, 2018

As part of DDOT’s efforts to establish protected bike lanes in Park View, they have scheduled a Bike Lane Pop Up Event for the 400 block of Kenyon Street on Friday, September 21st. Below are the details and this is definitely worth checking out.

Meeting Info

On Friday, September 21st, 2018 from 7-9 AM and 4-7PM, the project team will be available to speak to the public about a full-scale model of the protected bike lane along the 400 block of Kenyon Street NW located between Park Place NW and Warder Street NW. The temporary bike lane will be along Kenyon Street NW from September 19 -September 22, 2018 as part of the Crosstown Protected Bike Lanes Project. The goal of the temporary installation is to demonstrate how the proposed bike lanes will function and to provide the public with an opportunity to speak with the project team about the Crosstown Protected Bicycle Lane Project.  www.dccycletrack.com/crosstown for more information on the project.

Project Background

The Crosstown protected bicycle lane designs along Irving Street NE/NW and the 400 block of Kenyon Street NW is Project Recommendation B.1 from the September 2016 Crosstown Multimodal Transportation Study. In addition to the protected bicycle lane recommendations, the Crosstown Study recommended a variety of multimodal improvements throughout the corridor to enhance operations for motorists, transit, cyclists, and pedestrians. The study identified safe east and westbound biking connectivity as a priority to close a major gap in the existing bicycle network between Columbia Heights and Brookland. Bicycle lanes were installed on 5th Street NW/Park Place NW and 7th Street NW/Warder Street NW between 2006 and 2010. However, the community has requested protected bike lanes in this portion of the project. This project provides an opportunity to reassess the existing street design of Park Place NW, Warder Street NW, 7th Street NW, and 5th Street NW to examine design options for protected bicycle lanes.

Crosstown is one of the three (3) locations DDOT is looking to implement protected bike lanes as part of the Protected Bike Lanes Project to increase safety and mobility.

Construction at Park View School Could Create Opportunity for More Trees

August 23, 2018

The current construction at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school is still going strong, and while most of the results will primarily benefit the students and teachers at the school, I think there is an opportunity to create a significant benefit for the entire community. I’ve noticed that the majority of the grounds in the front of the building have removed the landscaping from the Warder Street side of the property. When it is time to replant those areas, we need to include new trees that will mature to provide shade for that block. A few years back the law was changed to allow DDOT’s urban forestry administration to also plant on public property like schools and recreation centers. Based on my quick review, we should be seeking to get an additional 3-4 trees on this block.

I’ve already reached out to both DDOT and the construction crew to begin this conversation.

(The frontage of the Park View School is currently being used to support the construction at the school. New landscaping can and should accommodate new shade trees.)

Laws to Protect Large Trees Sometimes Fail to Do Just That

August 10, 2018

The District of Columbia is making a real effort to protect, maintain, and increase the city’s tree canopy. This includes large trees on private property. Private property trees between 44” and 99.9” in circumference are considered Special Trees. Trees that are greater than 100” in circumference are considered Heritage Trees.

The removal of Special Trees requires a Special Tree Removal Permit. Heritage trees in healthy condition cannot be removed. Yet, despite these protections I’ve seen large trees removed without permits on more than a single occasion, and often in parts of the neighborhood that can ill afford the loss of tree canopy.

The two cases that come to mind immediately are one that just occurred in the rear of 430 Manor Place. In this case a developer cut down a healthy special tree without a permit. Upon inspection, DDOT confirmed the special tree status and will be issuing a fine.

(All that remained of a special tree when DDOT was able to inspect the property on Manor Place, NW)

The other case occurred ca. 2015 when two large trees were cut down on the 800 block of Otis Place, NW, without permits. That case was particularly sad as they were the only two large trees on that block, and there is no public space available for new street trees. In both cases I alerted DDOT for inspections when they came to my attention.

The Tree Canopy Protection Amendment Act of 2016 is now in effect. It amended the law passed in 2002 known as the Urban Forest Preservation Act. The new law raised the fines for unlawful tree removal from $100 to no less than $300 per circumference inch. In simple math, if you cut down a tree that has a 50-inch circumference you could be fined $15,000.

Considering how long it takes trees to grow to maturity, the challenges we have in developing a tree canopy in many parts of the city, and the benefits that trees provide to neighborhoods, it is in the community’s best interest to protect our large trees. While the money raised through fines is significant and can help plant new trees … there really isn’t anything that can replace a mature tree for the current generation.

If you think a large tree is in danger of being cut down without a permit, you can reach out to DDOT, request an inspection via Twitter, or reach out to me for assistance. I’ll give the Ward 1 arborist a heads up.

(These large trees on the 800 block of Otis Place were cut down without permits around 2015, leaving the entire block absent of large, mature trees.)


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