Traffic Circles Only Speed Bump at Rapid Paced ANC-3E Meeting

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At last Thursday’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 3E meeting, the hottest issue wasn’t even one of the six items on the agenda. For the most part, the November 14 meeting proceeded uncharacteristically with little debate among residents or commissioners, and wrapped up close to 9:00 p.m., clocking in at a remarkable 90 minutes or so – a welcome respite from recent meetings that have stretched past midnight. The one hiccup, however, came during an open forum at the meeting outset when three community members who live near recently installed mini-circles on 42nd Street rose to air complaints about the traffic calming experiment. 

New mini-circles create “chaos”

Jerry Weiss, who owns a home on 42nd Street, applauded the collaboration among residents, local associations and the ANC in an effort to slow vehicles along the thoroughfare, but said that design flaws in the temporary traffic circles have become obvious, including a failure to abate traffic flows.  “It feels very chaotic right now,” said Weiss, citing “a number of near misses” for pedestrians.  A neighbor on Van Ness Street concurred, saying the mini-circles create a “chaotic, confusing scene,” especially at night. 

Joan Silver Lowe, who made an impassioned plea at the October ANC-3E meeting for additional assessments before installation of the circles, expressed her frustration that they were constructed without further consultation. Additionally, she complained that the current circle placement negatively impacts her ability to load and unload her vehicle in front of her home.

While emphasizing that slowing traffic on 42nd Street is a high priority, particularly as it flows into areas heavily traversed by children, commission chair Jon Bender acknowledged that the traffic circles may have been misplaced. He suggested that the next step might be to adjust their placement and assess whether the revised circles address both the need for traffic calming and concerns raised by residents.

Residents at the meeting proposed removing the circles altogether in favor of other measures, such as speed bumps or three-way stop signs at the intersections of 42nd and Warren Streets.  The District Department of Transportation has already nixed the idea of speed bumps, but stop signs might still be an option.  Other measures raised previously by ANC commissioners include the installation of a bike lane or parking spaces to narrow the roadway, forcing cars to slow.

Commissioners and neighbors did not reach a resolution at the meeting, but further discussion is anticipated.

Crime down overall, but burglaries creeping up

In his monthly report on crime in Police Service Area 202 (Tenleytown, AU Park, Friendship Heights), MPD Lieutenant Alan Hill highlighted a decline in property crimes in the last 30 days, including a notable 32 percent decrease in thefts from auto. There were three stolen autos, which appeared to be crimes of opportunity. Given the inherent difficulties in hot-wiring those late model cars, police surmise that the vehicle thefts started as car break-ins in which thieves discovered keys inside the car.

Lt. Hill warned that there has been a slow, but steady, increase in burglaries in and around PSA 202.  Eight burglaries were reported within the last 30 days. While most burglars will target homes with unlocked doors or windows, recently there has been a shift toward forced entry. Lt. Hill urged residents to make sure their homes are secure, and to report suspicious activity to the police by calling 9-1-1.

No violent crimes took place in the past month.  

Residents who are interested in learning more about recent crime trends in the area should plan to attend the Citizen’s Advisory Council 2D meeting on Wednesday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m. Second District Commander Michael E. Reese typically attends to discuss public safety issues with community members.  The hour-long meeting will take place at the Second District Headquarters, 3320 Idaho Avenue, NW.

DC HealthLink

In what was perhaps the most congenial discussion around the Affordable Care Act taking place these days, Kishan Putta provided a brief update on the District of Columbia’s health exchange DC HealthLink.  Putta, a Dupont Circle ANC commissioner and outreach consultant for DC HealthLink, said that while the DC website is not free of glitches, it is performing “pretty well” and much better in comparison to the national site.

According to Putta, approximately 15 percent of Americans are uninsured, but in DC the uninsured rate falls between four and five percent of residents.  However, he emphasized that DC HealthLink is not just for the uninsured – or low income individuals – but for anyone being under-served by the insurance market.

He encouraged those interested in learning more to attend one of the many information sessions held by the Tenley-Friendship Library, as well as the upcoming City-wide Information Day and Open Enrollment Fair on Saturday, November 23.  Trained experts will be on hand to answer questions and assist residents in the enrollment process. The fair will also feature health screenings, live music and activities for children. The all-day event starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW.

Commissioners in lockstep on WinterFest, accessory dwelling and revised plan for National Presbyterian School

In other ANC business, four commissioners (Sam Serebin was absent) approved unanimously a $1,500 grant to support the December 7 Tenley WinterFest and a resolution in support of a preexisting, but formerly unpermitted, accessory basement apartment at 4434 Tindall Street.  In addition, there was unanimous consent to take no action on a liquor license renewal for the Club Cinema of Mazza, Inc.

The commission also supported a minor revision to the National Presbyterian School’s expansion plan, which would add a small, two-story classroom stack to an existing building. The addition would not be visible from the street.  NPS plans to complete a 9,400 sq. ft. expansion, including the 1,800 sq. ft. classroom stack, next summer. 

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