May 13, 2021, 7:30 pm
The meeting convened via Zoom at 7:34 PM. Commissioners Bender, Cohen, Hall, McHugh and Quinn were in attendance.
Announcements / Open Forum– opportunity for members of the community to raise issues of concern or importance to the 3E neighborhood
Emir Gur-Ravantab, the Ward 3 Liaison to the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations, could not attend the meeting but he asked for the following to be announced:
- DC will be hosting another Vaccine Day of Action on May 22nd where volunteers canvass neighborhoods to raise awareness of the vaccines. The link to register to participate is bit.ly/dayofactiondc
- The city has moved to walk-up vaccination sites, with no appointment necessary. Details regarding these sites can be found at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/page/get-vaccinated. Any site that offers Pfizer vaccine is open to residents 12 to 15 years of age.
- Most capacity limits in DC will be lifted on May 21st and all remaining capacity limits (those at bars, nightclubs, and entertainment/sports venues) will be lifted on June 11th.
- The CDC announced that people who are fully vaccinated are safe to go without masks or social distancing, and DC is reviewing the local mask mandate, but as of today, masks are still required indoors.
- DCPS is reviewing their plans for next school year and new guidance is expected to be released soon.
- DC DMV has contracted with third-party testing centers to allow for knowledge testing. Appointments at those sites cost an additional $25 and can be made at https://takemydrivingtest.com/dc.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Presentation by 2nd District Police
Lt Beistline provided an update on crime in PSA 202. She stated that in the past 30 days, there was one robbery, no burglaries and one motor vehicle theft. On May 9th at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW), there was a conflict between patients and one patient had a broken toothbrush that they were using as a weapon. By the time the police arrived it took a while to settle everyone down and sort out what happened. This event was confined to the facility. Representatives from the MPD will be having a meeting at PIW to suggest how the facility could be better secured. Beistline reported that in a separate incident, an individual pulled a gun on someone in a car on the 4600 block of Connecticut Ave. The suspect and victim knew each other and the MPD does not believe there is a danger to the community.
Attendees had no questions. Commissioner McHugh stated that he will also be at the meeting with PIW and asked anyone with a question or concern to contact him. Lt Beistline can be reached at email@example.com or at 202-779-2854with any additional comments or questions.
Discussion of and possible vote on liquor license and public space applications for Rodman’s to be able to offer an outdoor cafe with alcohol service
Nolan Rodman stated that they currently have a Class B license to sell beer and wine. Class B licenses are no longer being issued by the city, so Rodman’s is in the process of updating their license to a Class B full-service grocery store license. They have an application with DDOT to add a 56-seat café on Wisconsin Ave and an application with ABRA to add a Class D alcohol license which would allow them to serve beer and wine at the café. Commissioner Bender stated that the hours of operation are modest – they would close at 9:30 PM Monday to Saturday and at 7:00 on Sunday. Mr. Rodman stated that they will be moving the plantings that are currently in front of the store to the side of the building.
Attendees and Commissioners had no questions.
Commissioner Bender moved and Commissioner Hall seconded a motion to approve the resolution in support of Rodman’s Public Space and ABRA applications for the sidewalk cafe. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
Discussion of and possible vote on liquor license renewal application from Tenley Market
Commissioner Bender informed those in attendance that the ANC does not normally take action for liquor license renewals (as opposed to initial applications) unless there are complaints about the establishment. There were no concerns raised by those in attendance or sent to the Commissioners ahead of the meeting regarding Tenley Market therefore the Commission took no action on this renewal.
Update by the River School regarding its application to move and expand to a lot bounded by 42nd and Van Ness Streets, NW, and Nebraska Avenue, NW
Rachael Weller head of The Board of Trustees for the River School stated that their school is the only one of its kind in the country offering support services and inclusionary classrooms for hearing impaired children. They would like to move to the 4220 Nebraska site so they can grow the school up though elementary school and provide green space which they don’t currently have. They are taking note of the issues raised at the community meetings and are studying the intersections of concern. Their plans can be found at https://riverschool.net/proposed-new-campus/
Alison Prince, attorney for the River School stated they have had some dialog with neighbors and want to be open with the community. The property is not historically designated, but they are treating it as if it is and have shown their plans to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for a courtesy review, received feedback from HPRB, are making significant changes to their plans, and will present the updated plans to HPRB at end of June. They know there are traffic issues around the site and are trying to solve the existing problems in addition to not exacerbating them. Their Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) hearing is currently set for October 13. She also stated that the clinical services they will provide includes diagnostic testing and will have some outside users. They plan to come back to present to the ANC a number of times before their BZA hearing.
- Asked where people who walk to the campus would enter. River replied there will be a separate sidewalk into the campus separated from the driveway and DDOT might ask them to keep the entrance on 42nd St open for pedestrians.
- A number of current and former parents stated the school goes out of its way to be a good neighbor and is respectful and responsive to the community and the lack of greenspace at the current campus is an issue.
- Stated that people bought houses in a quiet community want it to stay that way.
- A number of nearby neighbors thought this isn’t the right location for the River School and believes it will increase traffic around the site.
- A current River parent doesn’t think people are being given the correct information about the school’s plans and thought the site near the Metro will help get cars off the road.
- Two attendees were concerned about how the school will ensure that people living further away from the school won’t be impacted by the traffic the school will generate. Commissioner McHugh asked them to look further out to 16 intersections around the school.
- Would like the city to address the current traffic issues we have in the area.
- Stated they would like the community to be more inclusive.
- Stated that given the total number of cars that drive on Nebraska each day, the traffic added by the school wouldn’t be noticeable.
- Warned that if the school doesn’t buy the property it might be bought by a developer and might end up being multiple homes.
- Was concerned about the traffic backups at NPS and thought the River School would have similar issues.
- Stated that the MacArthur Blvd campus has backups at pickup now. River replied that because of Covid they currently have no after school programs and all students are being dismissed at the same time. This will not be the case once Covid conditions are changed.
- Asked what will happen if the maximum number of cars is reached on the driveway. River replied that the driveway can hold 22 cars, but they can fit seven more cars on a grasscrete areas, there are three parking spaces for parents in the garage, another seven spaces in front of the garage and room for 10 more cars in the circle in front of the mansion.
- Was concerned about River conducting the traffic study in June when schools were not in session. River stated they have already done the traffic counting and were working on the modeling now.
- Stated they have significant concerns about the traffic.
- Noted that, in comparing the River application to GDS’, it is important to keep in mind that GDS purchased a property that was zoned for commercial use and had a lot of trips already.
- Was concerned about how many cars will flow through the neighborhood especially if they can’t put in a turn signal to allow left turns out onto Nebraska.
- Thought River might have to require 80-90% bussing.
- Was concerned about the proposal but not opposed and would like the community to reduce the hyperbole as Commissioners need to take into account what is best for the entire city not a particular neighborhood or block.
- Would like to see a strong Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to reduce vehicle movements.
- Agreed that the amount of trips River would generate is small compared to the volume of cars on Wisconsin Ave (30,000 in each direction per day) and Nebraska (10,000 in each direction per day).
- Was concerned that there has not been much engagement with the community and asked if they could interact in small informal groups. River stated they were constrained by Covid restrictions, they did host a number of tours of the site with groups of neighbors and they met with neighbors as recently as a week ago.
- Asked for clarification on the number of trips and would like to see a significant reduction in volume of cars by requiring carpooling and bussing.
Quarterly update from Georgetown Day School on traffic control and other issues
Russell Shaw, Head of School at GDS, provided a quarterly presentation on the operation of the school. He announced:
- All of their students are back on campus four days per week.
- They are partnering with Tenleytown Main Street and will be a stop for the Art All Night event.
- Their playground is open to the community on evenings and weekends.
- The Traffic light at Wisconsin and Chesapeake is installed and operational.
- They have been able to increase capacity on their buses to 50% capacity. They should be at full capacity on their buses by next fall.
- They are providing personalized commuting plans to each family for how they can arrive at school and are sharing expectations (no parking or drop offs in the neighborhood, being a courteous driver, etc.)
- Some of the transportation plans were paused this year because of Covid (carpooling, public transportation, limited bus capacity, etc.) but all will be in place next year for students and staff.
- They were recognized as a Platinum School Ambassador and Emerging Commuter Program School of the Year for the GoDCGo program.
- They conducted the first trip count earlier this week and will share the results with the ANC when they receive it.
- They will be conducting bike safety and public transportation safety programs at the school this summer.
- They will be hosting monthly town halls with neighbors and will be conducting quarterly meeting with the ANC to address any concerns by neighbors.
- Thanked GDS for adding bike racks around their campus.
- Asked how many students lived within ½ mile and 1 mile of the school. GDS replied they have 80 families living within 1 mile and 314 families living between 1 and 3 miles from the school.
- Stated they reported to the school that some buses going the wrong way around the mini traffic circles at 42nd and Warren Streets and GDS was very responsive to them.
- Asked how GDS handles enforcement of the agreements they made with the ANC. GDS stated they hired off-duty police officers to be out in the neighborhood and neighbors should report any complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Asked if GDS bus routes will change now that the traffic signal at Wisconsin and Chesapeake is operational. GDS did not think they would change.
- Asked what responsibilities GDS has in enforcing the agreements with the neighborhood as it seems residents are responsible for reporting infractions. GDS replied they are responsible for measuring traffic on a regular basis and if they don’t meet the goals outlined in the agreement, they cannot expand enrollment. They are also required to ensure the number of trips to and from the school will not increase from the number of trips from before the expansion of the school. They hired multiple people to help enforce the agreement and will report to the ANC quarterly.
- Asked if the people they hired to enforce the agreement are employed or contracted with the school and what authority they have to enforce traffic laws. They are GDS employees that are trained in traffic management and if they witness the infraction, they can engage the driver and report the incident to GDS administrators. If a resident observes a violation (please send reports to email@example.com and include license plates, photos and videos), they can report it to the school and people who have repeated violations can have their child(ren) removed from the school.
- Stated that a constituent was in touch about aggressive drivers exiting the parking garage on River Rd. GDS stated they moved traffic monitors to River Rd, are adding mirrors and are considering adding an arm boom rather than having a stop sign at the garage exit.
- Asked why GDS bus routes go down Warren and asked to meet offline to discuss possibly changing the route.
- Asked if they have their enrollment has changed to include more students from the neighborhood. GDS replied many students live within three miles of the school.
- Stated they heard multiple complaints from constituents that parents are doing pick-ups and drop offs on River Rd and asked if they had someone monitoring River Rd. GDS has two people monitoring it.
- Asked if they could extend the traffic light over the travel lanes at Wisconsin and Chesapeake as the trees are blocking the lights on the corner.
- Stated that their plans sound good but the real test will come in the fall.
Discussion of and possible vote on DDOT notice of intent to install sidewalks and traffic calming on Western Avenue, NW between Fessenden and Brandywine
Commissioner Hall stated that Western Ave is a major street with no sidewalk on part of the DC side. As a result, there are many people running and biking in street. Adding the sidewalks would impact some residents between Brandywine and 47th Streets. She stated that DDOT came out to a few ANC meetings and met with the impacted neighbors a number of times, most recently on May 6. Hall stated that the sidewalk is important for pedestrian safety and that DDOT has additional safety improvements slated for Western Ave, including bike lanes, but asked to have the sidewalks addressed sooner rather than later.
Attendees: supported sidewalks on both sides of every street as pedestrian deaths in DC were up last year and are up again this year; stated that not having sidewalks is unfair to those in wheelchairs and parents with strollers; would like DDOT to also add sidewalks on 46th and River by the park; stated that 47th and Western needs traffic calming measures; stated that the city needs sidewalks on both sides of the street on every street in the neighborhood and city; and wanted the resolution to study the addition of protected bike lanes.
Commissioners: stated that this is a long-time coming and DDOT has worked hard to work with the neighbors to address their concerns: stated that there are a lot of people walking in the streets or in people’s front yards; noted that the sidewalk design isn’t finalized but DDOT will have that in the next few days; would like to make sure that any bulbouts DC adds will not interfere with bike lanes that might be added in the future.
Commissioner Hall moved and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve the resolution in support of install sidewalks and traffic calming measures on Western Ave. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of April 2021 Meeting Minutes – Commissioner Bender moved, and Commissioner McHugh seconded a motion to approve the Draft April 2021 Meeting Minutes. The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of 2nd Quarter Treasurer’s Report – Commissioner Quinn moved, and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the report. The report was approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
- Approval of expenditures – Commissioner Quinn moved, and Commissioner Bender seconded a motion to approve a payment for $390.00 to Sherry Cohen for administrative support. The expenditures were approved by a vote of 5-0-0.
The meeting was adjourned by acclimation at 10:39 PM.