ANC 6B Report - January 2016

Commission’s Stance on Vision Zero

In December, DC announced its proposed plans for Vision Zero, an effort to completely eliminate traffic deaths by 2024.

Among the plans are lower speed limits (down to 25 mph on some major arterials) and more speed cameras, new bike lanes and crosswalks, and an Urban Design Unit to help the Office of Planning redesign dangerous public spaces. The plan also envisages revising the manual traffic engineers use to make sure it mandates safe designs for everyone, not just cars.

The possibility getting the most attention, however, has been higher fines for speeding. Specifically, they include a jump from $300 to $1000 for driving more than 25 mph over.

ANC 6B sent a letter to DDOT supporting the fine increase. In an email to residents, 6B Chair Kirsten Oldenburg explained that driving fast enough to get such a fine would mean a driver was really disregarding people’s safety: “On a residential street,” she wrote, “that works out to 50 mph. A pedestrian hit at that speed has only a 10 percent chance of survival.”

6B’s letter did voice a few concerns with the Vision Zero proposal. The commission was concerned that the fines could disproportionately hurt low income residents, and that there might not be enough resources to enforce the rules frequently and quickly. The letter also asked whether DDOT's plan for Vision Zero was backed by evidence that it would make residents safer rather than simply generate revenue for the city.

New development on Pennsylvania Avenue

6B voted in support of developers CAS Riegler moving forward on a building at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue SE that will have retail on the bottom with 174 residential units over six levels above and 58 parking spaces.

The building will be taller and denser than usual because of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement CAS Riegler worked out with 6B. PUDs give developers rezone a parcel to increase its density in return for public amenities.

In this case, according to Capitol Hill Corner, CAS Riegler has agreed to put money toward efforts that make it easier for residents not to own cars. One-year memberships to Capital Bikeshare and Car2Go and a SmarTrip card will be included in the building’s leases. There will be a substantial amount of bike parking. A screen will be placed in the lobby displaying transit options in real time.

CAS Riegler will also contribute to improving the green space and safety infrastructure at the Potomac Avenue Metro station, fixing up playgrounds at Friendship Chamberlain Elementary and Hopkins Apartments and planting trees around Ward 6.

Commission Brian Flahaven Departs

Brian Falahaven, who has served on 6B for five years, including as chair, has stepped down. He and his wife are expecting a second child in the spring.

“I’m proud of working with you to keep our neighborhood united in Ward 6, pressuring the city to move forward with development plans for Reservation 13, advocating for a road diet and traffic calming along 17th Street SE, and pushing for a neighborhood-centric vision for Barney Circle and the Southeast Boulevard,” he wrote on his website.

“I’ve also done my best to keep you updated and informed of ANC 6B meetings and neighborhood developments on my website. While I’m going to miss being a commissioner, I plan to continue being active on neighborhood issues, particularly Reservation 13 and the future of the RFK Stadium site,” he wrote.

The DC Board of Elections is now accepting petitions to replace Flahaven. Once the board validates the petitions, a special election will be held if there is more than one candidate.

Progress on the Southeast Boulevard

DDOT has been working to decide on what to do with the Southeast Freeway since 2013. In early January, DDOT presented 6B’s Transportation Committee with draft results of a feasibility study. This is the latest in the litany of studies the agency has conducted. The study concluded that itis possible to build an underground bus garage for WMATA and tour buses with entrances and exits at both 11th Street and Barney Circle. However, itis likely to be at least another decade before construction is complete.

At its Feb. 3 meeting, 6B’s Transportation Committee will make a recommendation to the ANC regarding what kinds of feedback it should give and next steps it should suggest.

“This is a huge project with a lot of components,” said 6B Chair Kirsten Oldenburg, noting that long-time 6B commissioner Brian Flahaven departure leaves her as the only person on the commission with extensive background on the project.

ANC 6B’s next full meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.