ANC Question Plan Behind Speed Bumps

ANC 6C Report

432

All six commissioners: Christine Healey (6C01), Karen Wirt (6C02), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Joel Kelty (6C05) and Drew Courtney (6C06) were in attendance.

At their January 12th meeting, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C unanimously supported a letter expressing concern with the process by which speed bumps are installed on District streets. The unity around the motion came after a disagreement amongst commissioners about the installation of a speed bump on the 700 block of Fifth Street NE. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) issued a notice of intent (NOI) Jan. 10 informing the ANC of installation ten days later, though the agency did not indicate precisely where or why, Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler (6C04) said.

Eckenwiler and Joel Kelty (6C05) opposed installation primarily on the basis of process, arguing that there was no way of assessing the data and reasoning behind the decision.

“The whole process seems arbitrary and capricious, and certainly lacks transparency which is supposedly a value of our government,” Kelty said. He referenced a single resident of Sixth Street NE. That resident had previously requested a speed bump to the consternation, Kelty said, of neighbors who opposed the noise of traveling vehicles.

Residents had also requested the speed bump on Fifth Street. Several appeared at the meeting to support the measure, arguing that drivers approach 45 mph on the block, breezing through the stop sign at Fifth and G Street NE to make the light on H Street NE.

Resident Jason Rosebaum said aggressive drivers are one of the most pressing concerns in the neighborhoods. “This is a real safety concern,” he said. “There are at least a dozen kids on our block.”

However, Eckenwiler said that what appeared to be a one-off installation of speed bumps by request did not speak to an overall plan or process on the part of the District. Without a plan, he said, traffic problems could just be displaced onto another block. Eckenwiler said that many residents did not support the installation, but were not present to speak due to the lack of notice.

Prior to October 2021, District residents requesting traffic calming measures had to first get support from neighbors via a petition, then go to the ANC for broader support. After several highly publicized traffic accidents, Bowser and DDOT announced the acceleration of pedestrian and roadway safety projects, including shortening the community engagement process, including a reduction in the role of ANCs and the notice period to the ANC.

While Eckenwiler had planned to introduce a motion in opposition to the installation, the commission instead passed a letter to DDOT Director Everett Lott pointing out the problems with the process, including the short 10-day notice and the lack of supporting details such as precise location and an explanation for the basis of the decision.

“We’re not shooting anything down,” Eckenwiler said. “We’re shooting in the dark. And that’s problematic.”

Charles Allen Presentation
Redistricting
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen spoke to the continuing process of redistricting. New Ward boundaries came into effect Jan. 1; those did not impact 6C, Allen said. However, the next part of the process, redrawing the ANCs and their Single Member Districts (SMDs), or the areas represented by each commissioner, will affect the ANC.

Allen said Ward 6 lost 20,000 residents, the single largest population ward shift in the history of DC in a process that was traumatic for many and painful on many levels for him.

Allen will appoint a task force to redraw ANC lines, then SMDs. That task force will meet from the end of January through to the end of March. The recommendations go to the Redistricting Subcommittee, Allen said, then on to DC Council, which will have two votes on the new boundaries.

Task force membership will, Allen said, follow the same plan as utilized 10 years ago, when he worked for then Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. Anyone who serves on the task force will not be a sitting commissioner and should make a commitment not to run for ANC in November 2022. Task Force meetings will be open, probably virtual.

The process must be complete by about the end of April to allow DC Board of Elections (DC BOE) time to create new maps so candidates running for ANC in November 2022 can pull petitions in June.

ANCs stay the same through 2022, Allen said. Therefore, someone might have become a resident of Ward 7 or 8 as of Jan 1, but remain resident of an ANC starting with ‘6’ until Jan. 2, 2023, when new commissioners are sworn in.

Allen did not rule out the possibility of cross-ward ANCs. However, he noted that both ward council members would have to support the idea, adding that he hasn’t heard his colleagues explicitly say they would do so.

There are a lot of issues to wrestle with, Allen said, pointing to 6C06, where Drew Courtney represents between 4,000-5,000 voters, far more than the ideal 2,000. ANC 6C should probably grow to include 7 or 8 SMDs, Allen said.

Virtual ANC Meetings
Last summer, Allen moved legislation to extend the authority for ANCs to meet virtually, rather than in person as required by DC Code, until January 2022. He said that on Tuesday, Jan. 18 DC Council will move legislation granting ANCs authority to continue to meet virtually to the end of the calendar year. That’s a long extension, Allen acknowledged, but said Council should probably have a conversation about permanent legislation to this effect.

Consent
ANC supported the following motions on their consent calendar:

  • A DDOT public space application (PSA) at First Street and New York Avenue NE for a temporary curb cut to facilitate parking/loading access on the west side of First Street NE (near McDonald’s). If the two buildings planned for the site cannot be completed simultaneously, the building closer to New York Avenue requires an access point for vehicles. The application was supported by the ANCs on the condition that the curb cut only be installed if construction is not simultaneous and that the curb cut should be closed as soon as possible, earlier than the one year permitted, if possible.
  • A Historic Preservation Application (HPA) concept approval for second-story and attic additions to an existing one-story rear portion of a main row dwelling (two stories plus attic) at 327 Constitution Avenue NE, noting a lack of neighbor opposition.
  • A Board of Zoning Application (BZA) for a special exception from lot occupancy requirements to construct a three-story rear addition to an existing attached four-story principal dwelling unit at 638 E Capitol St. NE.
  • Comments about Zoning Code rule-making on parking and loading. ANC testimony provided in October 2021 flagged three items for DC Council that the ANC felt should be struck at initial proposal. The Office of Zoning agreed on two of these, but was split on the third which dealt with requirements for a DDOT construction loading plan. The ANC letter proposes revised language to clarify these rules and includes previous testimony on consequences of non-compliance with a loading plan during construction.

Officer Elections
ANC 6C unanimously re-elected all executive officers to their current positions as a slate.  Karen Wirt (6C02), Chair; Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Vice-Chair; Joel Kelty (6C05), Treasurer; Christine Healey (6C01), Secretary.

ANC 6C welcomes a new Transportation Public Space (TPS) Committee Chair as outgoing Chairperson Christy Kwan steps down. New to the role as of February 2022 will be Michael Upright, a former Commissioner for ANC 2B04 and a former member of that ANC’s Transportation and Zoning Committees.

ANC 6C generally meets on the second Wednesday of the month. The next meeting of ANC 6C is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 p.m. Feb. 9. Get the latest information on how to attend at anc6c.org/hot-topics/.