Posted tagged ‘public space’

The Conversation Continues of Balanced Public Use of School Athletic Fields

July 26, 2017

Yesterday, the Kojo Nnamdi Show had a segment that focused on access to recreation spaces as a follow up to the recent dust up at the Harriet Tubman athletic field. Guests included Rachel Sadon (Editor-in-Chief, DCist @rachel_sadon), Omar Gonzalez (Member, local pickup soccer group), and Alex Bearman (Executive Director, District Sports @DistrictSports).

The issue of community use of the Tubman field was settled when ZogSports decided to relinquish use of the field after the public outcry. However, similar issues can still happen in the future based on the current permitting process from the Department of General Services. I called in to the show and shared that a number of things could be changed to the permitting process, including requiring permits to have a letter of support from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission and working with the community to determine a balanced plan for which days should be reserved for open community and school use and how much time should be identified for permitted organized sports clubs.

You can listen to the Kojo Nnamdi show segment here.

(Commission Boese addressing the community on July 19th at Tubman Elementary School with DGS’s Jackie Stanley (left) and OLA’s Eduardo Perdomo (right).)

Seeking Feedback on Long-Term Uses for the Bruce Monroe Parcel

August 10, 2015

The ANC 1A Task Force focused on the long-term use of the Bruce Monroe site is seeking public participation through a survey that is available online and will be distributed in print as well.

Bruce monroe site(The former Bruce Monroe site (shaded) showing area zoned commercial (east of blue line) and residential (west of blue line)).

For the past five years the Bruce Monroe parcel located at Georgia and Irving has been a temporary park. Despite modest improvements, the site continues to under-serve the community. Early development proposals in October 2010 in response to the city’s call for proposals went no where, and the property has mostly been a nearly three acre open space since that time with the exception of a fairly successful community garden located in the southwest corner of the property.

There have been many ideas over the years on what the future of the parcel could hold, including an idea I floated in November 2013 to use part of the land to help get the Park Morton redevelopment underway.

In an attempt to find a long-term solution to this parcel, ANC 1A passed a resolution to form a task force in February 2014, to begin working with community members and develop a better sense of where the community is on this issue. The result is a survey that is available online and will be distributed in print as well.

Below is the full announcement from  the area listservs. Please take a moment and send in your thoughts on the parcel.

The 1A Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Bruce Monroe Task Force is soliciting community input to identify the desirable long-term use(s) for the former Bruce Monroe School site located at 3000 Georgia Ave NW Washington, DC 20010 (between Irving St and Columbia Rd). The Government of the District of Columbia currently owns this parcel. This site was formally designated to establish the Bruce Monroe Elementary School, which was later demolished in 2009. Currently, the site is designated for temporary park use. We need your input to determine the potential permanent use(s) for this site.The survey link can be found here:  This survey will take about 5 minutes to complete. The deadline to submit your response is September 9, 2015. Feel free to contact Commissioner Rashida Brown if you have any questions at 1a10(at) or (202) 903-4561.

Columbia Height’s “The Coupe” Applies for Outdoor Seating

July 11, 2013

The Coupe
At last night’s ANC 1A meeting we learned that The Coupe, located at 3415 11th Street, NW (southeast corner of Monroe) has applied for a public space permit for outdoor seating. ANC 1A considered the matter and voted to support the application by a vote of 5 in favor, 4 against, and 3 absentions.

According to the presentation, here are the basics:

They plan on putting two rows of 2-top seating directly in front of all the bays except for the one by the bar which has pepco grates. The total count  will be  25 tables and 50 seats. Around the perimeter, low profile (18″ high) decorative rails will be used define the space. They will not be affixed to the pavement. As planned, the railing will be placed so that it preserves 6 feet of sidewalk clearance between the railing and the grassy curb area. This clearance is in keeping with the other businesses along 11th Street.

The proposed hours of operation are:

  • 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. — Monday through Thursday
  • 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. — Friday
  • 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Saturday
  • 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. — Sunday

That said, The Coupe still needs to go before the public space committee for their determination and go through the ABRA process for approval to serve alcohol outdoors so this issue isn’t completely settled yet … nor should anyone expect to see tables outside in the coming weeks.

Below are the sidewalk plan and elevation of the Coupe’s proposed sidewalk cafe.

Sidewalk plan showing proposed locations of tables and chairs.

Sidewalk plan showing proposed locations of tables and chairs.

Elevation illustrating style of fencing and associated height.

Elevation illustrating style of fencing and associated height.

Columbia Heights Z-Burger Closer to Having Outdoor Eating Space, Installs Fence

June 3, 2013
New fencing installed at A-Burger, Columbia Heights.

New fencing installed at A-Burger, Columbia Heights.

Z-Burger‘s Columbia Heights location is showing progress with their plans to have outdoor seating for patrons. Late last week, the fencing that will indicate the extent of the Z-Burger seating was installed.

The Z-Burger sidewalk cafe issue, as I’m sure many remember, became a contentious issue due to its location within the Columbia Heights Public Realm space which included the successful and popular Columbia Heights Plaza. The issue first came before ANC 1A in July 2011, was further addressed at the September and November 2011 meetings, was the subject of community meetings in April 2012, and finally approved by the District’s Public Space Committee in May 2012.

Throughout the process, some attempted to blame ANC 1A for holding up Z-Burger’s opening — including Z-Burger owner Peter Tabibian who consistently argued that it was impossible for Z-Burger to open or operate without outdoor seating.  Clearly this was not the case. Z-Burger opened in August 2012 without its outdoor seating in place and has been operating for 10 months without the critically important outdoor seating [emphasis added by author].

Ultimately, what was important here was balancing a restaurant’s request to use public space with the uniquely-designed community amenity that is the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza. Due to the months of community meetings and working with Z-Burger, the end result here is better than the one initial proposed.

The location of the bench (center of fence) became a central concern in evaluating the use of public space and its impact on the Public Realm.

The location of the bench (center of fence) became a central concern in evaluating the use of public space and its impact on the Public Realm.

Fence Removed at Sweet Mango

August 6, 2012

The Sweet Mango fence along Rock Creek Church has been removed

Residents who live along Rock Creek Church Road, or at least walk it to get to the Metro, may have noticed that the fence at Sweet Mango was removed last week. In light of the duct fire at Sweet Mango that occurred on Saturday this event was definitely overshadowed — though not noticed.

Readers may recall that back in May 2010 Sweet Mango began to erect a fence without permits on public space. At the time, I wrote the following: “After receiving a stop work order, DCRA issued a permit that allowed them to finish. However, DCRA inappropriately issued that permit without the approval of DDOT, which has authority over public space.”

Taking up the issue in November 2012, ANC 4C commissioners voted to retroactively approve the public space application for the fence permit “with the provisions that the fence meet with DDOT guidelines and the sidewalk be deemed compliant with ADA guidelines.”

Well, guess what, that never happened.

After talking to a neighbor about this, they decided to do some digging. After doggedly staying after DDOT, below is the response they got on May 22 of this year:

On May 10th [DDOT] investigated the site conditions at the rear of 3701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. [Having] received community concerns that the existing sidewalk presented a condition that was so narrow as to obstruct people with disabilities from being able to traverse the sidewalk. …  At the present time the sidewalk at the most narrow point is 40” wide, which is of adequate width to let one wheelchair pass. However, it does not meet the ADA and FHWA recommended minimum width of 4’.  Under a more practical assessment, it is operationally too narrow and way below the DDOT minimum requirement of 6’.

Upon further research we found that the owner of the restaurant, The Sweet Mango,  came before the Public Space Committee on November 18th, 2010 for an over-height fence and it was DENIED.  (3701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW – Application No. 56385). It appears that DCRA may have issued a permit, but this fence is located on public space and so it is not under the jurisdiction of DCRA.

Accordingly, we are recommending that the fence be removed from public space and that the existing curb cut, which is now serving no useful function and technically has been abandoned, be removed and the curb returned to its original condition to serve as a separator from the main roadway.

This is a great example of what can be accomplished by an active citizenry … and that some of our government agencies, in this case DDOT, really do listen to residents’ concerns.


Z Burger Public Space Application Approved by the Public Space Committee

May 27, 2012

Z-Burger will be located in the former Tivoli Theater

Z Burger’s application for a sidewalk cafe permit at 14th Street and Park Rd, NW, was heard on the evening of May 24th by the District’s Public Space Committee (PSC). Z Burger’s pubic space application has been under review for nearly a year, first coming before ANC 1A in July 2011.

According to an email send out by Commissioner Laina Aquiline (1A 05) on the Columbia Heights listserv, below is the outcome of the PSC’s review of the application.

Z Burger’s application for a sidewalk cafe was approved contingent upon the following conditions (please note: this is not the specific language used by the committee, but a summation):

1)  Z Burger will choose furniture that is more consistent with the furniture at other restaurants in the Columbia Heights Public Realm, subject to the approval of the Office of Planning.

2) The layout of the sidewalk cafe as applied for by Z Burger will remain the same, except for the removal of a four-top table (the middle of the three tables to the left (west) of the granite bench) and the handicap four-top table adjacent will be shifted to the left (west), in the former table’s place, allowing greater access to the granite bench.

3) Z Burger will only have a fence that runs parallel to Park Rd.  There will be no fence enclosing the bench or on either the east or west sides of the cafe.

I have attached a copy of Z Burger’s plan.  You will have to mentally make the modifications to the plan as approved by the PSC.  The photo of the fence attached is what I believe PSC approved.  When I receive a final version of the committee’s decision, including images of the fence, I will provide it.


Scoop Your Poop!, Another Way to Keep the City Healthy and Beautiful

April 20, 2011
scoop your poop

Neighborhood signage about pet waste

Dog waste that is left on sidewalks and in the parking along streets continues to be a bit of a community problem. While this can be particularly nasty in the winter, now that warmer weather is here the issues of children’s health and providing food for rats become ever-increasing problems.

I’m encouraged that the neighbors I’ve spoken with who tend to be the angriest about unclaimed excrement tend to have dogs themselves and tend to speak out when they witness someone not doing their civic duty.

There are a couple of ways that this issue has been addressed, but I personally wonder how effective any of them are. The area has several locations where signage is posted. The triangle park at Park Place and Rock Creek Church Road has a sign as do several locations in lower Park View — specifically along Irving and Kenyon Streets. The most effective method tends to be just calling a transgressor out when you see it, but even that can sometimes lead to altercations.

Below is a more passive attempt by a resident on Irving Street who decided the posted signage wasn’t enough. Their strategy?:

1) Place homemade “Pick Up After your Dog. It’s the Law” signs at ground-level; and,

2) Provide FREE plastic bags to assist pet owners.

"Pick up after your dog. Take a plastic bag."

The Department of Public Works, on the other hand, created the flier below to address the issue. Clicking on the image will get you both English and Spanish versions. Yet again, I wonder how effective they are since I don’t recall ever seeing them distributed publicly.


Area ANCs Begin to Weigh In on the Bruce-Monroe Site

March 4, 2011

The Former Bruce-Monroe site located west of Georgia Avenue, between Columbia Road and Irving Street, NW.

The future of the Bruce-Monroe site continues to wend through the greater community. Earlier this year, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force (GACDTF) drafted a letter to the City seeking hard data relevant to the area’s demographics, school projections, and educational needs and demanding that the District halt all development at the Bruce-Monroe site until this information is shared with the impacted neighborhoods.

Among those the GACDTF hoped to include as signers of the letter were the  ANCs 1A, 1B, and 4C. While the issue has not come before ANC 4C yet, last night ANC 1B weighed in on the issue. After some discussion, the 1B Commissioners decided to support the letter by a vote of 5 Yes, 1 No, and 5 Abstentions.

During its February meeting, ANC 1A decided to pass its own resolution urging that the Bruce-Monroe site remain public land rather than sign onto the GACDTF letter.


Sweet Mango Fence Retroactively Getting Approved

November 10, 2010

The fence at Sweet Mango was erected in May, 2010

Back in May, Sweet Mango erected a fence on the public space along Rock Creek Church Road without permits. After receiving a stop work order, DCRA issued a permit that allowed them to finish. However, DCRA inappropriately issued that permit without the approval of DDOT, which has authority over public space.

Last night, ANC4C took up the issue of voting on the public space permit application for the fence that has already been built. As expected, the discussion centered on the lack of process and the oddity of seeking approval for something that has already been done.

Chief among the concerns discussed were the fence’s compliance with DDOT regulations and how much sidewalk currently exists between the fence and the loading bay. Several residents expressed concern that the sidewalk currently is so narrow that it is difficult for strollers to pass and may even be too narrow for wheelchairs.

After a significant amount of discussion, the commissioners voted to approve the application with the provisions that the fence meet with DDOT guidelines and the sidewalk be deemed compliant with ADA guidelines.


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