At the commission’s ANC 2D 6/18 meeting:
- Commissioner Ellen Goldstein reported the Federation of State Medical Boards will meet on June 28 with Sheridan-Kalorama officials and with neighbors about their plans for 2118 Leroy Place. They have permission to use the building which is a former embassy under stringent conditions, but there could be a lawsuit. She also announced she will not be running for re-election in November.Commission Chair David Bender announced the entrance to the Chinese Embassy’s apartment building will be off Belmont Road and the exit will be on Kalorama Road. Bender said he plans to run for re-election.
- City Council member Jack Evans discussed his five roles: 27 year member of the City Council, chair of the Council’s finance committee, Chair of the Board of Metro since 2015, District representative on the Democratic National Committee and as a widower father of triplets who have just turned 21. When Evans took over the city’s finance committee, a Congressionally appointed control board was in control of the city’s finances, as the District had verged on bankruptcy. Today the District has AA and AAA bond ratings, $3 billion in reserves and a $14.5 billion budget. He reported Metro has fixed its finances, but still has a long way to go.The District, he said, faces two major urban issues, education and homelessness. The District spends $2.4 billion annually to educate 80,000 children, half in the regular public school system and half in charter schools. As to results, he said, “We haven’ barely moved the needle in the past year.” A third of the pupils will not graduate from high school. The issue, he added, will not be solved by spending more money. About homelessness, people are still living in tents, particularly in Ward 2. There are now 2,000 shelter beds.
“Metro,” Evans said, “will get fixed” with $15 billion additional revenue from the District, Maryland and Virginia over the next 10 years. A major problem is the Red Line, “which leaks like a sieve.” It will cost about $3 billion to get fixed. The system now charges a higher fare the longer distance one travels and has higher fares during rush hour. Other major systems such as Paris and New York City, he said, have flat fares. Changing to a flat fare system with a $2 charge would cost $300 million if there were no increases in patronage. Evans said he thinks it would take about nine months with a flat fare to increase patronage enough to make up the difference. He expects he can get the Federal government to make a material contribution to the operating budget as most of its employees use the system.
Evans said he disagreed with the Department of Transportation’s plans to do a massive “fix-up” of parts of Massachusetts Avenue. “I just want them to repave it.”
When asked about possibly following New York’s lead and making bicycle riders walk their bikes when near pedestrians if they are riding on the sidewalk, Evans said “It’s a great idea, but I don’t see it happening as it would e impossible to enforce.”
- Metropolitan Police Dept. Lt. Jerome Merrill showed a film of a thief in just two seconds breaking a car window and taking some contents. To prevent such actions, it is essential he said not to leave anything visible in a parked car. During he past month there were three thefts from autos in the Sheridan-Kalorama area. Other than that, area crime was practically nonexistent.
- Jerry Chapin of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has to delay a planned agency official walk thru Sheridan-Kalorama as the two commissioners had a date for his selected time with the mayor to discuss embassy problems with State Department representatives. Both Commissioners David Bender and Ellen Goldstein complained that most city departments do not respond to e-mails the commissioners send them. A major exception is the Department o Public Works, which Bender described as having excellent responsiveness. Among the worst departments for responsiveness are the Departments of Transportation and Consumer & Regulatory Affairs.
- Sarah Fashbaugh of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulations Administration said all 2,800 of the system’s permits where people consume alcohol on premises will be renewed next year. She urged possible complainants to call the department’s hot line at 202-329-6347 if they have any problems with licensees.
- Celeste Duffie of the Department of Public Works discussed parking enforcement, trash pick-up, street sweeping and maintenance of pocket parks. She said members of the public often call the incorrect agency with problems and that the department are trying to get a system in place to solve the problem. When Commissioner Ellen Goldstein brought up the problem of some embassies which attract rats as they do not properly dispose of their trash, Duffie said she is unsure if her department can cite embassies, but will look not it.
- Commissioners discussed the possibility of a bike lane on Connecticut Avenue all the way to the Maryland border. A major problem is how to get over Rock Creek Park on the Taft Bridge, where Connecticut is narrower than it is elsewhere. Having the sidewalk on one side of the bridge for pedestrians and the other for bicycles would be difficult due to the need to cross the busy street where there are no lights.