ANC 6D Discusses I Street Transportation Woes

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Pickup and drop off curbside access to Westminster Churches front entrance’s handicap ramp blocked by a protected bike lane. Photo: Andrew Lightman

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D (ANC 6D) met on Feb. 13 via Zoom. Commissioners Bob Link (6DO1, vice chair), Gail Fast (6D03), Ashton Rohmer (6D05), Bruce Levine (6D06, secretary) and Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D07, chair) were in attendance. Single Member District 6D04 remains vacant. Rhonda Hamilton (6D08) and Ronald Collins (6D02, treasurer) were absent.

“I don’t think that there should be an expectation that everyone in Southwest has cheap and affordable and accessible parking,” stated Commissioner Rohmer.

Rohmer’s comment came in the context of an extended discussion among commissioners about a proposed letter to the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) asking for information on
the redesign of South Capitol and a change in N Street SW traffic patterns. It included mention of the impact the newly installed I Street SW Protected Bike Lanes (I Street PBL) have had on pickups and drop offs at both Westminster Presbyterian Church and Amidon-Bowen Elementary.

The I Street PBL blocks curbside access to the Westminster’s handicapped entrance ramp. Elderly and handicapped attendees arriving via Metro Access, personal vehicles or For Hire Vehicles (FHV) must walk a half block from Makemie Place or Fourth Street SW. Those opting to get out next to the ramp must traverse the protected bike lane while their vehicle blocks eastbound traffic.

The protected bike lane limits pickup and drop off spots at Amidon Bowen Elementary to six cars. There are no signs warning cyclists to slow down for the children as they approach the school. Photo: Andrew Lightman

Similarly, the I Street PBL reduced the pickup drop-off (PUDO) space available to Amidon-Bowen parents to six spots. Parental traffic is likely to increase with the opening of the new early childhood center on the school’s campus next fall.

The fraught situation at Amidon-Bowen was cited as a concern both by Commissioner Fast and Chair Kramer. Fast, who is working with the parents, the school and DDOT, asked her colleagues to remove the reference to the school to give her time gather input from Amidon-Bowen parents.

Commissioner Rohmer took issue with the entire letter. “I appreciate the extreme danger that children might be facing,” said Commissioner Rohmer. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t call to folks’ attention that in years past, cyclists have also been in a lot of dangerous situations because of the lack of protected bike lanes,” she continued. DDOT has recorded only four pedestrian and five cyclist accidents on I Street SW since 2017. None resulted in fatalities or major injuries.

One K Street as seen from South Capitol Street. Photo: WC Smith.

“It would have been nice to see in the letter some thanks for implementing the bike lane, and some reflection of some of the comments that we heard from the public on the fact that they do feel safer riding,” pressed Commissioner Rohmer.

Despite the Fast and Rohmer opposition, the final letter retained references to Amidon-Bowen Elementary. The bulk of the communication focused on the commission’s concerns relating to DDOT’s plan to redesign South Capitol, bringing it to grade and to allow northbound traffic to make left turns on to N Street SW. The commission demanded the department brief them fully on both plans. Fast chose to abstain and Rohmer voted against the motion.

Again, with Rohmer in opposition and Fast abstaining, the commission voted to object to DDOT’s proposal to extend the northbound travel lane on Fourth Street SW by removing 300 feet or five additional parking spaces.

With Rohmer again in opposition, commissioners voted to send a third letter to DDOT requesting a meeting with DDOT and other stakeholders to review the implementation of the Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) that governs traffic on stadium event days. In addition, they requested DDOT conduct a complete agency review of curbside parking in Buzzard Point.

One K Street as seen from Half Street SW. Photo: WC Smith.

One K Street SW

WC Smith project. D5 Zone. Design Review application. 13-story residential building with 352 units and 179 below grade parking spots in 2.5 levels. 1-1 setback required because of height. No loading on South Capitol Street. Within 130 ft height. The development is a matter of right with no requirement for provisioning affordable housing. However, it is subject to design review under the terms of the Capitol Gateway Overlay District.

Commissioner Fast questioned the project’s lack of affordable housing and retail components. Neither is contemplated. Commissioner Rohmer asked for details of the unit mix. The monies spent on underground parking, she suggested, would be better off contributed to a local land trust. Both she, Chair Kramer and Fast requested shadow studies citing the impact on the neighboring Skyline Hotels’ pool deck.

WC Smith’s attorney pushed back on both commissioners. The commission’s role, she opined, is limited to the building’s design.

No vote was taken.

Miscellaneous Development Matters

The commission voted unanimously to request the DC Zoning Commission to reconsider the Planned Unit Developments for both 807 and 899 Maine Avenue. Both projects violate the tenets of the Southwest Small Area Plan and provide inadequate community benefits, commissioners argued. There was an utter disregard for our concerns, stated Chair Kramer.

The commission also voted unanimously to ask the Zoning Commission to reconsider 1301 South Capitol Street. They objected to the project’s on-street PUDO and loading zone, which had been approved by DDOT’s Committee for Public Space (CPS). The commission argued it was not properly notified of the CPS meeting and therefore was unable to testify. Commissioners raised concerns that the on-street loading for the project’s first floor liquor store would lead to significant traffic tie-ups.

Other Matters

The commission also voted unanimously to send a letter to the DC Housing Authority (DHA) requesting an explanation of how its reduced and reformulated board would maintain resident representation. The letter also requested the DHA provide its plans for Greenleaf residents right of return, details on the unit sizes in site’s proposed redevelopment and current status of the complex’s 16,000 open work orders.

The commission reappointed Gottlieb Simon as the ANC 6D Senior Advisor/.

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. Their next meeting is March 13, 2023. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit www.anc6d.org.