Posted tagged ‘Ward 1’

Tubman Field Permitting Creates Conflict with Community Use: Meeting Seeks Solutions

July 20, 2017

Early this July, the Department of General Services (DGS) issued a permit to Zog Sports reserving the athletic field at Tubman Elementary School for an organized soccer league on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The permit runs through August 31st. A Bocce league currently has a permit to use the field on Tuesdays. The permits for these leagues have effectively closed use of the field to the neighborhood pick up soccer games that have occurred nightly at Tubman for many years.

This conflict of use was brought to the attention of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A on July 12th when an incident occurred on the field during their meeting. While most recreational areas are under the Department of Parks and Recreation, athletic fields on DC Public Schools property are part of DCPS and supervised by DGS.

Over the past week, I’ve been working in collaboration with DGS, the Mayor’s office, and the Office of Latino Affairs (OLA) to find both short- and long-term solutions to this issue. The community members organized a meeting on Wednesday, July 20, to continue the conversation with representatives of DGS, OLA, the ANC, and the Mayor’s office to follow up on where things currently stand.

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

DGS’s Jackie Stanley came prepared with an initial short-term solution that included reserving the field for the community on Friday evenings and Saturdays as well as before 6 pm on weeknights. Based on the community’s response, this proposal doesn’t meet the neighborhood needs, and Stanley listened to feedback from the residents so that she can continue to work from within DGS to find a solution.

I addressed the assembly stating that I believe there is both a quick fix to prevent this conflict occurring in the future and suggested a need to review the underlying cause that allows for school athletic fields to be permitted in the first place.

The simple solution moving forward would be to change DGS’s process to require that permit applications be reviewed by Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and have a letter of support from them as part of the application process. This is currently standard practice for DPR permit applications. When a permit application is reviewed by the local ANC the community is able to identify use conflicts before an application is approved. In short, this provides the necessary oversight to ensure that the community is not adversely impacted by the issuance of the permit.


(Commissioner Boese discussing the need for ANC review and letters of support for DGS/DCPS school field permits.)

The practice of issuing permits to use DCPS athletic fields dates back to 1982, with the establishment of the DCPS Realty Office as a result of D.C. Law 4-158, the District of Columbia Board of Education Leasing Authority Act of 1982. The purpose of this law was to grant permission to the Board of Education to enter into lease and other agreements for the use of DC Public Schools buildings and grounds, to defray costs associated with the operation and maintenance of public school buildings, and for other purposes.

I believe that this 35 year old law no longer adequately serves the best interests of the community or the District of Columbia as a whole. It was established during a period when the District population, and our tax revenue, was in decline. As the District has grown, so has its budget. This has resulted in many school fields being renovated for the benefit of the community. However, this also makes these athletic fields more desirable for organized sport clubs which are also looking for places to play.

Because of this, we need to go back and review the 1982 law as well as the entire permitting process with the goal of amending both to ensure that we continue to have fair and balanced access to school fields for all who wish to use them.

 

ANC1A Votes to Oppose DC Council’s Small Business Parking Bill

March 13, 2017

Enhanced parking sign limiting parking to area residents only.

On March 8, 2017, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) that represents Park View and northern Columbia Heights voted unanimously to oppose Council Bill 22-0125 that would expand access to the residential parking permit program (RPP) for small businesses having 10 employees or fewer that abut residential RPP blocks. Small business would pay the same annual $35 per pass rate that residents currently pay. The bill was introduced by Councilmembers Robert White (at-large), Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), and Brandon Todd (Ward 4) on February 21, 2017. The bill had no co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

The resolution passed by ANC1A identified the following areas that the legislation does not address:

  • the high demand for parking on public residential streets that currently exists in Ward 1;
  • how small business parking permits would be managed within the context of Ward 1’s enhanced RPP program; and,
  • if small businesses would be permitted to participate in the RPP program if they are located in new buildings where residents have been denied participating in the RPP program through restrictive covenants.

More broadly, the bill raises questions of equity and fairness. Currently, large developments that are unable to provide off-street parking are restricting their future residents from participating in the RPP program, suggesting that local streets are already at capacity with no space remaining for new residents. If participation in the RPP program is extended to out-of-District employees of business, does this set a precedent to other out-of-District employees such as teachers, police officers, firemen, etc.. Lastly, there is not indication that there any consideration was given for limited use of metered parking space on commercial corridors for employees. In any case, there certainly was no outreach from the Council to ANC1A prior to the introduction of the bill.

ANC1A will continue to be engaged on this issue as it is reviewed by the Council. On Wednesday, the ANC voted to oppose the Small Business Parking Permit Act of 2017 as it found the bill as introduced to be lacking an equitable balance for both businesses and residents. The approved ANC resolution identified a number of areas of concern, some being that it:

  • promotes a greater overall reliance on automobiles;
  • offers no rational for extending parking benefits to non-District residents;
  • does not audit the current availability of on-street parking or require DDOT to perform a transportation impact study on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis throughout the District of Columbia; and,
  • does not take into account the deeply subsidized fee currently extended to District residents when setting the fee for small business parking.

The full resolution is below:

Then and Now: Lithuanian Embassy on 16th Street

January 26, 2017

Recently I found a glass magic lantern slide showing the “Norwegian Ligation” located on 16th Street in 1912 (see below). The Norwegian embassy moved to a new building on Massachusetts Avenue in 1931, where it remains today.

1912-norway-lithuania-embassies(Lithuanian Embassy building on 16th Street in 1912)

Anyone familiar with the building will know instantly that the building in the photo is actually two buildings. the northern half is the Lithuanian Embassy, and the southern half was razed and replaced with a tall apartment building in 1965 which is jarringly incompatible with the surrounding architectural character of the area. However, I think it is easy to miss that the Lithuanian embassy building itself has also had an addition — not just in the rear but also on top. In this way, I think the expansion of the 1907 building was accomplished successfully. It is also good to see that Lithuania is a good steward of its building, and undertook a restoration of the limestone and terracotta facades in 2008, which can be seen here.

lithuanian-embassy-2017(View of Lithuanian Embassy and abutting apartment building as it appears today)

Ward 1 Holiday Concert Scheduled for Wednesday, December 14th

December 13, 2016

Yesterday, Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau’s office sent out an announcement that they will be hosting a Holiday Concert tomorrow, Wednesday, December 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street. The event is free, and while it was created for Ward 1 seniors, it is also open to anyone who is able to attend.

See the flyer below for details:
nadeau-winter-celebration

Banning New Developments From Participating in Residential Parking Program Is Destined to Fail

August 8, 2016

700 block of QuebecA few readers have reached out to me regarding Urban Turf’s coverage of whether or not bans on residential parking permits (RPP) at select new residential developments is enforceable. On July 28th, Urban Turf received the following from DDOT confirming that there is no enforcement from DDOT or DMV when it comes to such properties.

“When residents apply for an RPP, DDOT and the Department of Motor Vehicles may not be aware of a contractual agreement between a landlord and tenant. There is no self-exemption process under current regulations, thus eligible residents applying for RPPs may receive them. The current exemption clauses being proffered during the zoning process are to be enforced between the developer, landlord, and any future tenants.”

While some found this surprising, I did not. I have long be of the opinion that buildings banning participation in the RPP program in exchange for providing the number of parking spaces required by zoning was a house of cards. During my time on ANC1A, we have reviewed several developments seeking relief from the amount of parking required by zoning. The Commission has supported some requests and opposed others. However, there has only been one instance where the developer proposed denying residents of the future building from participating in RPP parking. The project in question was considered by the ANC on October 8, 2014, and is destined for 3619 Georgia Avenue (southeast corner with Princeton).

The ANC opposed the requested parking relief even after the attorneys told us that the owner would voluntarily deny residents from RPP participation. While this seemed like a reasonable trade off to some, it did not sway my position precisely because I believed that 1) such an arrangement would be unenforceable, and 2) that denying residents access to the RPP parking would be illegal.

In addition to the latest news that neither DDOT nor DMV has a mechanism to enforce such exclusion from the parking program, I also believe that even if these agencies were able to track and enforce parking restrictions that such enforcement could be illegal — especially in Ward 1 where denying residents from participating in the RPP program is contrary to D.C. Law 18-240, which states that “Any resident owning a vehicle registered at an address on a Ward 1 residential block may be granted a Zone 1 residential parking sticker.”

In short, buildings that may agree to not participate in the RPP program in exchange for relieve from parking requirements are only kicking the can down the road. They may be able to prevent residents from obtaining parking permits in the short term, but eventually the house of cards will come tumbling down. There are good reasons to support parking relief, and there are good reasons to oppose parking relief, but in either case we should not fool ourselves that exempting a building from participating in the RPP program is a long-term solution that is sustainable.

 

Metro Mural Tells History of Georgia Avenue

August 5, 2016
Commuters depicted in the mural at the Georgia Avenue Metro station.

Commuters depicted in the mural at the Georgia Avenue Metro station.

With Metro’s current focus on repairing and upgrading the Metrorail system — and the disruption it is causing for daily commuters — it might be easy to overlook some of the things Metro has done well. One example that I appreciate every day is the mural at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Station titled Homage to a Community.

The following description of the mural is from WMATA’s Web site,

Homage to a Community, by Florida artists Andrew Reid and Carlos Alves, is located at Georgia Avenue-Petworth station on the Green Line in the District of Columbia. The artwork consists of two components. The 130-foot-long stylized painted mural by Andrew Reid illustrates the rich history of the Georgia Avenue-Petworth community. The bold design of the contoured mural is a flowing chronology of defining events in the George Avenue-Petworth community in the context of local and world histories. The high energy of the handmade clay and cracked tiles of the accompanying frieze by Carlos Alves captures the spirit and promise of the Georgia Avenue-Petworth community.

In 2015, the Georgia Avenue station served about 6,300 daily riders. That’s a lot of people walking past the mural every day — yet I suspect  few pay much attention to the mural and possibly fewer still take time to appreciate some of the imagery and how it relates to the community. In looking at the images, the mural largely shows a history of Georgia Avenue south of the Metro station and reads from right to left.

Among the images are references to Native Americans; Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, & the emancipation proclamation; Schuetzen Park; Howard University; Griffith Stadium and the Senators & Grays; the Bakeries of lower Georgia Avenue, such as Corby and Bond Bread; Duke Ellington and U Street; World War II; Civil Rights; and modern commuters.

Below are a few images from the mural:

IMG_1295(Native Americans are depicted at the beginning of the mural as one enters the station from the west side. One of D.C.’s oldest continuous streets is Rock Creek Church Road, which likely started at a trail blazed by Native Americans.)

IMG_1294(Abraham Lincoln is prominently included in the mural. Lincoln summered at the nearby Soldiers’ Home and would  travel on Rock Creek Church Road and Georgia Avenue on his daily commute to the White House.)

IMG_1291(Germans drinking and shooting game refer to the old Schuetzen Park, located near Georgia Avenue and Irving Street.)

IMG_1292(Baseball at Griffith Stadium — located where Howard University Hospital now sits — is represented by this section of the mural.)

IMG_1287(The once active bakeries of southern Georgia Avenue are shown above. The section also includes a streetcar.)

IMG_1293(Duke Ellington and the vibrant U Street community are depicted above.)

Ward 1 Landmarks: The Cavalier — 3500 14th Street, NW

July 22, 2016

Cavelier

This imposing apartment building opened in 1927 as Hilltop Manor, an appropriate name given its topographic position, general prominence, and Renaissance Revival architecture. The building was one of a number of collaborations between architect Harvey H. Warwick and developer Morris Cafritz. It is a visual landmark in Columbia Heights in part because it immediately adjoins the public sidewalk, stands 90 feet tall at the roof peak, and occupies frontage along an entire block. The density of the development illustrates the rapid growth on major suburban thoroughfares in the post-World War I era, largely directed by the streetcar system and a new zoning ordinance. It was among the earliest cooperative apartments in the District of Columbia, a housing phenomenon that arose here in the 1920s, promising to give more control to resident owners and afford a high level of services by spreading costs among them. It was renamed ―The “Cavalier” only two years after opening.

(DC designation June 28, 2007; NR listing July 26, 2007)

Cavelier

In 2009 the Cavalier Apartments were renamed “Hubbard Place” in honor of community leader Leroy Hubbard, whose career was dedicated to rebuilding 14th Street after the civil disorders of 1968. The building is a nine story mid-rise with 230 apartments along with ground floor retail and office spaces. All 230 apartments are rent-assisted units.


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