Two Big Wins For Smart Growth

Last night’s ANC 3C meeting resulted in two big wins for smart growth supporters, and demonstrated the local appetite for progressive change in area.  The room was packed with supporters wearing CPSG stickers supporting bike lanes and redevelopment on Connecticut Ave.  While neither proposal would garner much attention elsewhere in the city, here in ANC 3C they are signs that the times are changing.

The first was an HPRB application for the redevelopment of 3432 Connecticut Avenue, which is seeking concept review to remove the six foot earth berm from in front of the small apartment building allowing it to lower the first floor by six feet and have sidewalk level entrance for is residents and retail.  It also adds a fourth story and penthouse, adding 6 units to the 12 unit building.  While the applicant was grilled on their plans for the buildings tenants and its communication with its adjacent neighbors, the design review encountered no resistance, and was recommended favorably to HPRB unanimously.  The design concept was also favorably recommended, with some suggestion on materials and facade design, by a 9-0 vote of the CPHS Architectural Review Committee.  This precedent setting case will be a wake-up call for local property owners: well designed change that adds density is possible in Cleveland Park’s commercial area.

The second, and more contentious, win was a DDOT proposal to add a contra-flow lane to Woodley Place, connecting lanes serving the rest of Ward 3 via Cathedral Ave with the lanes connecting Adams Morgan and the rest of Downtown via Calvert Street.  Leading the opposition to the lanes was Commissioner Lee Brian Reba, who advocated a ‘paralysis by analysis’ approach of studies.  His opposition was joined by new commissioner, Vicki Gersten, who actually campaigned for greater bike infrastructure, winning the endorsement from Greater Greater Washington.  Nancy MacWood also sided with Reba, despite her campaign rhetoric supporting bike lanes. The DDOT plan opponents were joined by Commissioner Maureen Boucher.

Leading the fight supporting the bike lanes was Woodley Park commissioner Jimmy Dubois, who was joined by Woodley Park’s Jason Fink, and Cleveland Park’s Beau Finley and Emma Hersh.  Commissioner Angela Bradbery of McLean Gardens recused herself after she learned a paying client of her partner had lobbied her to oppose the plan.  With a deadlocked 4-4 vote, ANC 3C could advance no position on the project, meaning DDOT will proceed with the lanes as planned.

When the floor was opened for public comment, a line of supporters wrapped around the room waiting to speak, while perhaps 4 or 5 opponents from Woodley Place rose to speak.  It was an impressive, if lopsided, display of civic engagement! Big thanks to Ward 3 Bike Advocates for leading on this issue, and getting their members engaged and in the room.


Here is the video of the bike lane discussion:


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