Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B held its February meeting at the Metropolitan Police 4th District Headquarters Monday evening. There was an especially large audience present to hear from special guest D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton as she shared the latest updates from Capitol Hill. Work and family obligations forced me to miss a portion of the meeting, but here are my notes on the highlights that I did catch.
Norton in Your Neighborhood
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton brought her popular “Norton in Your Neighborhood” series to this month’s meeting. A huge audience assembled to hear her speak on a wide variety of topics.
Del. Norton may be the most powerful legislator in the entire worth without a vote. She spoke glowingly about the recent vote in the the House Oversight and Reform Committee on D.C. Statehood that recently passed with strong Democratic support. It is the latest success in a two-hundred year effort to bring full representation to citizens of the District of Columbia.
She also touched on other important topics. She celebrated many areas of development throughout the city that have made our economy as strong as its ever been. Many of these projects required Federal cooperation, which she had a hand in securing. At the same time she noted that affordable housing is the most serious issue that we face and it is affecting cities all over the country. She noted that D.C.’s Height Act limits our options for buildings ourselves out of this crisis. Saying, “I believe in the United States there is no worse problem than the lack of affordable housing,” she vowed to continue to search for solutions to this persistent problem.
Audience members questioned Del Norton on a few issues including the city’s relationship with the National Parks Service in relation to the federal government’s ability and willingness to maintain its parks that are located in the city. Overall, it was an insightful session and we all learned something about her unique role in our national government.
D.C. Department of Transportation Traffic Assessment Process
As the city and region continue to grow, the amount of vehicle traffic on our local streets increases in volume. Logically, neighbors respond to unwelcome traffic by requesting the installation of additional signs and traffic calming measures. DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) analyst Sayra Molina gave a brief presentation on the Traffic Safety Assessment process and what relief, if any, residents should expect in the near term.
A Traffic Safety Assessment is initiated when a resident, ANC, or other community member or organization raises traffic safety concerns within the public right-of-way. DDOT will ask that the resident fill out a “Traffic Safety Assessment Questionnaire” to better under the issue and requests that the resident obtain a letter of support from their ANC commissioner. However, a petition is not required.
The Traffic Safety Assessment process takes approximately 120 days to complete. Once completed, DDOT will deliver the study results to the resident before closing out the request. If a safety mitigation is necessary, DDOT will develop recommendations and work with the community to identify the most appropriate solution.
Ms. Molina stated that last year 80 traffic safety assessments were requested throughout Ward 4 and that 48 of those were closed. Her colleague said that DDOT received approximately 200 requests per month. Data collection is crucial element of the assessment process. Traffic engineers cannot take an action just because an ANC requests it; they have to justify their proposed solution with data. This can sometimes cause a bottleneck because the collection process is slow and often has to be done multiple times.
Commissioner Alison Brooks commented that a problem with this process is communication between DDOT and the public. She recounted several items that have been completed but the relevant ANC commissioner was never notified. In other cases, the item was submitted and DDOT closed the case without providing a response. Ms. Molina pledged to be more diligent in her responsiveness in the future. She also encouraged the audience to talk with their commissioners if they are interested in submitting a Traffic Safety Assessment.
Chick-Fil-A Coming to Ft. Totten
Zachary Williams, a land-use attorney representing the Chick-Fil-A corporation, shared the latest news about a proposed new restaurant at 220 Riggs Road NE. This location is at the corner of Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue NE. It is the site of an existing KFC -Taco Bell and an abandoned liquor store. The plans call for both buildings to be demolished and replaced with a brand new restaurant with a drive-thru and dining room seating for 42 customers inside and 20 outside.
Though this is a By-Right development, the developer plans to close two existing curb cuts on the sidewalk. This step requires a visit to the city’s Public Space Commission.
An interesting factoid about this development process is that the company originally proposed that restaurant have no indoor seating at all. Vigorous communication from the surrounding neighbors made it clear that that wasn’t in the best interests of the community. The company actually scrapped that plan altogether and came back with a proposal that is much more satisfactory to the neighbor’s desires.
With the busy WalMart across the street, an EYA townhouse development on the opposite corner and continued growth further down South Dakota Avenue at Ft. Totten, traffic is a major concern at this intersection. The company’s traffic engineers were on hand to discuss their traffic assessment and plans for how to keep all road users in the area safe.
A Visit With DC Bilingual Public Charter School
Daniela Anello, the Head of School for DC Bilingual Public Charter School, stopped by to introduce her community to the Commission. DC Bilingual PCS is a PK3 through 5th grade school which feeds into DC International Middle School. It provides Dual Language/Immersion learning to native English and Spanish speaking students.
Although the Riggs Road school is located on the Ward 5 side of the border, Ms. Anello and Commissioner Brooks have developed a good working relationship for mitigating traffic and other issues. Last evening she shared some facts about her school, stating that it has achieved “Tier 1” status among charter schools, which is the highest level of assessment. It serves 400 students, 68% of which live in either Ward 4 or Ward 5. Interestingly, the school offers language classes for adults who want to learn Spanish as well as native Spanish speaking adults who cannot read or write.
Please visit the school web site to learn more.
About Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4B represents the Ward 4 neighborhoods of Takoma, Manor Park and Lamond-Riggs. An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected to two-year terms and serve without pay.
The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government. Although they do not have to follow the ANCs’ advice, District agencies are required to give the ANCs’ recommendations “great weight.”
These are the members of ANC 4B:
|Single Member District||Name|
|4B06||Tiffani Nichole Johnson||4B06@anc.dc.gov|
|4B09||LaRoya A. Huff||4B09@anc.dc.gov|