Category Archives: ANC

ANC Round Up: Sewage Overflow Edition

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

Last night the ANC met for its June session. And as predicted by GM, the most interesting topic was overflowing sewage.

To Tunnel or Not to Tunnel

David McLaughlin, Director of Engineering and Technical Services for DC Water, presented on behalf of the sewer authority. As a bit of background: in 2004, the DC water and sewer authority (WASA, which it still is technically called, although it uses the trade name DC Water these days) entered a consent decree with the federal government to address the fact that in the older parts of the city, the household sewers and the storm drains are combined.

When storm drains get overwhelmed (like, say during Sunday’s squall) the combined system overflows into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and Rock Creek. Thus what you flushed down the toilet Sunday night might now be drifting down the Potomac. Completely untreated.

As part of the decree, WASA/DC Water has agreed to build giant tunnels along the rivers. These tunnels will act a massive subterranean reservoirs to capture the overflow and hold it until the Blue Plains water treatment plant is ready to process it.

The Georgetown waterfront has about half a dozen sewage overflow spots. According to McLaughlin, at the location of each of these overflows a housing will need to be constructed to captured the overflow before it goes into the river. Then the water will be sent down massive access drains (McLaughlin said they could be as wide as 50 feet across) down to the tunnel. The tunnel itself will be 100 feet deep and over 100 feet wide. (They’re already digging a similar tunnel from the Blue Plains treatment facility to the southeast waterfront). Continue reading

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ANC Preview: Boring Edition

Next Monday the ANC will meet for its June meeting. The agenda is a long one, possibly reflecting the rush to get projects approved before the summer hits. Here are some of the highlights:

To Bore or Not

Way back in 2009, CAG held a meeting on the topic of the water authority, WASA, and its big plans for the future. To address the fact that our sewers overflow after big rainstorms, WASA began formulating plans to increase the system’s capacity. The biggest tool to address this would be the digging of a massive tunnel along the Potomac that would serve as a giant underground reservoir to receive sewer overflows.

This would, needless to say, be really expensive. And disruptive. The city is exploring whether alternative measures couldn’t address the issue without taking such a dramatic step like massive tunneling.

The ANC is scheduled to hear a WASA rep come and discuss its sewage overflow remediation efforts. GM suspects the issues above will be discussed. Continue reading

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ANC Roundup: Keep That Yogaing Down Edition

Photo by Go Interactive Wellness.

Last night the ANC met for its May session (GM forgot to give you a preview; sorry about that). Here’s what GM could stick around long enough to catch:

Non-Conforming Yoga

The lawyer representing the landlord of the space that was once occupied by Govinda Gallery (the corner of 34th and Prospect) was there requesting a change to zoning. The block in question (the Govinda space, as well as the other shops on the corner) is zoned residential. All the commercial uses in that space exist simply because they were grandfathered in since the 1950s. But non-conforming uses (as such grandfathering is called) can only be what it always was. Thus if a building has housed a market, new markets may open in that space, but a barber wouldn’t be permitted without zoning relief.

The owner of this block would like to sign up a yoga studio to take over the old gallery space and some of the other vacant space. Since there wasn’t a yoga store there already, they need zoning approval.

The ANC recognized that all things considered, yoga studios are pretty low impact. Most customers walk to the studio and they don’t create much noise. But as originally drafted, the applicant was seeking approval to conduct instructional classes. This would cover yoga, but it would also cover karate and spin classes. Both much louder uses.

The ANC negotiated with the attorney that the request would be limited to just yoga and a small retail store selling yoga clothes and equipment.

They then negotiated over hours, finally settling on a 9:30 pm closing time. Continue reading

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ANC Round Up: Stay in Your Lane Edition

Photo by me and the syop.

Last night the ANC met for its April session. While GM had to leave after little more than an hour, most of the interesting stuff is up front, so here’s what he caught:

Close Lanes Not Roads

During two items last night, the ANC touched on an underused solution to a frequent problem. The problem: street closures for special events. The solution: close just a lane instead.

The two items were the annual French Market fair on Book Hill and the Thai Festival on lower Wisconsin.

The BID will hold the French Market April 19th and 20th. One problem with the success of this event is that the narrow sidewalks of Wisconsin Ave. get overcrowded with the crowds and the booths. The ANC posed the reasonable solution that the BID ought to seek to spread the event over to the parking lane. John Weibenson of the BID responded that he was working with the city to arrange for just that.

As for the Thai Embassy, they would like to shut down Wisconsin from South St. to Grace for their annual festival June 29th. The ANC objected to the request, but proposed a similar solution to the French Market problem: why not just take over the parking lane?

The problem is that the city has shown a strong aversion to allowing, essentially, pedestrian and automobile traffic to share the road like that. Even when proposing appropriate barriers, groups seeking permits like this have been rejected. Thus if these requests are granted, they would represent a great possible solution to the problem of too many street closings in Georgetown. Continue reading

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ANC Preview: Next Bus Edition

Next week ANC2E will meet for its April session. By comparison to last month’s brawl over another neighborhood’s traffic changes, this meeting should be downright serene.

One item caught GM’s attention: “Electronic Bus arrival signage in the Georgetown commercial area”

Going back to the Gabe Klein era, DDOT has been floating proposals to install screens at some bus stops that would inform riders of the nearby transportation options and include predicted bus arrival times based upon NextBus. Only a few locations have seen them installed yet, though.

GM doesn’t know why this is on the ANC agenda. It seems unlikely that Georgetown would get one of these screens, given the restrictive signage rules we have. (Don’t get GM wrong, he’s love to see them here, but it’s unlikely). Continue reading

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ANC Preview: The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data

Photo by randomduck.

The ANC meets next week for its March session. And it will be a star-studded affair. Well…not really “star-studded”, more like “public servant-studded”.

You see, not one, but two councilmembers will be in attendance to discuss a topic that has created a significant degree of whining recently: the Glover Park lane reconfiguration. Ward Three’s Mary Cheh and our own Jack Evans will be there to go through the ritualistic act of listening to angry people stand up and complain about how a few extra seconds of travel time via car through Glover Park is the absolute worst thing to happen to them in their entire lifetime.

The ANC has been incredulous of the changes ever since they were first implemented. Recently, they have been soliciting residents to complain about how the changes have affected them (ostensibly they asked for positive comments too, but who is going to write their commissioner and say “got through a couple blocks in a reasonable amount of time!”?).

To be fair, some have been complaining about the changes before the ANC asked them to complain. But now it appears that the ANC might request the changes be undone simply based upon these anecdotal complaints (to the tune of millions of dollars wasted). The old saying goes, the plural of anecdote isn’t data. Particularly in this case where we can actually gather real data!

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ANC Round Up: Race Fatigue Edition

Photo by Thetejon.

Last night the ANC met for its February session. And like many sessions, a good deal of it was spent complaining about race-generated street closures. And despite the fact that the closures in question were down to a single block, the resistance was strong as ever. Of course, that’s not all they talked about:

Race Fatigue

Starting back a couple years ago, the ANC decided to start pushing back more against all the requests to close roads for races. The argument was that too many organizations were trying to use Georgetown for their races and it was creating too much of a burden on the neighborhood.

In order to start making distinctions between “good” races and “bad”, the ANC starte insisting that all races be predominantly charitable in purpose. This led to an epic showdown with the controversial Charles Brodsky (a Fenty crony) over several of his DC Triathlon events.

Since then-and perhaps in response to the ANC’s efforts–most organizers of events calling for street closures in Georgetown have presented their case about how charitable their cause is. Moreover, organizers (with help from the city, no doubt) have learned to minimize the amount of street closures necessary in Georgetown.

But last night there were three such requests on the agenda. And that sort of concentration is bound to raise their hackles. The first request came from the Nike half marathon scheduled for April. The thing is, though, that the race won’t even take place in Georgetown. But the organizers will be staging most of their activities either at the Washington Harbour or the Nike store. Thus they’d like to close Thomas Jefferson for the day of the race.

It didn’t take long for the ANC to cut to the chase: while the overall race meets the charitable element, this particular closure had nothing to do with the race. It seems solely designed to draw runners and spectators into the store. The organizers tried to spin the closure as charitable since the street would be (supposedly) turned into a street fair. The commissioners weren’t buying it.

In the end, though, the commissioners told the organizers to come back next month after some more rounds of discussion. Essentially, the ANC challenged them to make this particular closure more explicitly charitable.

A second road closure request then came up. It was from WABA and called for Rock Creek Parkway to be closed early one Sunday for BikeDC. This request met no objection.

Continue reading

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