January 31, 2011 · 9:36 pm
Committee of 100 Opposes 8th Street Streetcar Route
by Larry Janezich
The District’s chief historic preservation group – The Committee of 100 – has recommended against a streetcar line along the 8th Street corridor connecting M Street, SE, and H Street, NE. “This area is already commercially successful, has an established residential character and is served amply by N/S buses,” a report issued by the group this morning noted. “We urge the city to explore another N/S connection…perhaps connecting Reservation 13 with Benning Road.” The Committee urges giving priority to routes in areas underserved by mass transit and where large scale development has been approved.
This recommendation was only one part of a long-awaited 91 page report. The Committee will present hard copies to DC Councilmembers and ANCs this week.
In the report, the Committee expresses general support of the streetcar plan, but notes that it is being implemented without a financing and maintenance plan. The group also urges that the city do no rezoning to increase density; it opposes trading zoning incentives for private investment in the system, opposes overturning a federal law that bans overhead streetcar wires (with only a temporary exemption for H Street), and opposes purchase of any more streetcars that can’t be adapted to run on a wireless system.
The complete report can be viewed here: http://www.committeeof100.net/
December 26, 2010 · 2:11 pm
Restoration Board at Odds with Tommy Wells on Height of Union Station North Development
by Larry Janezich
The Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board of Directors will oppose the proposed height of the planned 14 acre Union Station North development in air space just north of Union Station. The proposal is to construct a 148 foot structure measured from the H Street Overpass – instead of from the railroad track level (or 1st or 2nd Street) as provided by current regulation. Councilmember Tommy Wells pushed an amendment through City Council to strike the requirement for measuring from track level in order to permit measuring from the H Street Overpass. This opened the door for a subsequent Zoning Commission decision that the measurement could be from the 30 foot higher Overpass. The Council-passed amendment will have to be approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and Congress. The NCPC will consider the Council-passed amendment on January 6. CHRS will urge NCPC not to approve the proposed change. The Zoning Commission will hear the Union Station North case later the same day.
December 8, 2010 · 11:59 am
By Larry Janezich
I watched some of the City Council debate last night on the DC Government channel (13), and I thought Councilmember Wells supplied thoughtful and heartfelt reasons why he cast a vote against the budget put together by Councilchair and Mayor-elect Vince Gray. Wells and Barry both seemed to feel that the city’s most vulnerable were being asked to make the greatest sacrifice; others agreed, but suggested a more equitable distribution of the burden will happen in the next round of budget discussions in the coming months.
The Council clearly signaled that the city can expect both more cuts and higher taxes by the time those discussions conclude. Yesterday’s exercise seemed to be a painful effort to demonstrate DC’s resolve to balance the books and avoid a Congress-imposed Control Board (something of a red herring, in my opinion).
An amendment offered to support higher taxes, supported by Wells and others, was defeated by a slim margin. It may nevertheless provide a blueprint for steps the Council will take in the near future.