Town Topics Nov. 22, 2017

By Peggy Sands and Elizabeth Pankova

One-Side Resident Parking Mulled

It’s an old new idea: restricting parking on one side of certain D.C. streets to area residents only. The so-called “50-percent plan” has come up again recently at meetings of the Georgetown Parking Working Group and may be considered at the Dec. 4 Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting. Commissioners and others are already lining up on the pro and con sides , although there are no details, no plans and no proposal — as yet.

“There’s really no there there at this time,” said Georgetown – Burleith ANC Chairman Joe Gibbons.

But parking is a perennial and growing problem in Georgetown, and throughout D.C. for that matter.

Though, ideally, Georgetown residents should be able to park in front of or at least near their homes, parking for nonresidents — who come from Virginia, Maryland and farther afield to shop and dine — need parking as well. Balancing the demands is the challenge.
Here are the numbers. In the ANC 2E area, there are 6,042 registered vehicles and some 3,471 permit holders for 5,689 public curbside parking places. The number available to holders of resident permit parking stickers (allowing unlimited resident parking and guest parking for up to two hours) is 4,096. The number regulated by must-pay meters (good for two hours between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in most cases) is 1,593.
“About 15 percent of spaces are free in Georgetown for nonresident parking,” according to the Georgetown Business Improvement District.
Next year, some 50 curbside parking spaces may be re moved due to bike-station and bike-lane implementation on K and Water Streets. Plus , some 63 spaces on M Street between Potomac Street and Wisconsin Avenue may become inaccessible — not only during normal rush hours on weekdays, but also on weekends — if an experimental nine-month sidewalk-expansion program becomes permanent from spring through the holiday season.
But the biggest problem is that Zone 2/Ward 2 comprises not only all of Georgetown, but also Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, parts of Shaw (by the convention center) and much of downtown, including the White House, the Capitol and the National Mall.
“Some 25 percent of the vehicles with RPP unlimited time Zone 2 stickers that park daily in Georgetown, do not come from the ANC2E area,” according to the BID. “This is especially true near the Metro stops. The RPP has in effect made many parking places in residential areas near the Dupont and Foggy Bottom Metros a kind of ‘park and ride’ area. Many residents may have to walk blocks to park their cars and carry their groceries into their homes as a result.”
But reserving one side of the street for residents will not alleviate the imbalance between Georgetown-area and Zone 2-area parking availability, according to BID transportation director Will Handsfield and economic development director Jamie Scott. The working group, made up of representatives from various Georgetown community groups and the Department of Transportation , is hoping to come up with other ideas . One may be to break up Zone 2, perhaps into its ANC components — an idea that other area ANCs support.
“It’s a trade-off between being able to park near your home or being able to drive and park for unlimited time anywhere in Zone 2, including near the Metros,” said Handsfield.
If the 50-percent plan is proposed at the ANC meeting , opponents are preparing a counter proposal. “But we’re not sure the item will even come up at this point,” said Gibbons.

Ex-Resident Sues Georgetown Retirement Home

Construction is underway at the former Georgetown retirement residences at 2512 Q St. NW. Photo by Richard Selden.

Charging misleading practices amounting to a violation of tenant and consumer rights, as well as financial injury, Beatrice Alexander, a former resident of the Georgetown, a retirement residence at 2612 Q St. NW that closed last year, has filed a lawsuit against the Holladay Corporation, according to a letter released to the press Nov. 16. Holladay was the facility’s owner and operator.

The 96-unit complex was closed in 2016 for what residents had been told by letter would be a “$12 million overhaul and renovation … to bring it up to date and restore it to a first-class facility.” The letter informed them that the building would have to be closed for approximately one year and that the company would incur the costs for local residents to move back. The current rent was to be honored, with no more than a three-percent annual escalation.

But just a few months later, the more than 100 senior residents who had moved out were informed by letter that the Georgetown would be converted into luxury apartments and cease to operate as a senior living facility. The letter “subsequently implied that re-admittance of former residents would not be permitted as originally promised,” according to a spokesperson for the plaintiff.

At press time, it was not known if other former residents were expected to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

Bill Returns to Hilltop

Bill Clinton at Gaston Hall Nov. 6. Courtesy Georgetown University.

Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States and Georgetown University alumnus, came back to his alma mater Nov. 6 to give a talk to mark the 25th anniversary of his election in 1992. Clinton reflected on his time at Georgetown and on his experience as the country’s leader, offering remarks on his vision for the future of American politics.

Clinton highlighted the role Georgetown played in his career. “I’ve often said that I don’t think I could have become president if I hadn’t studied there,” he stated. With regard to today’s political climate, Clinton urged the audience to abandon the “us versus them” mentality to which many Americans have resorted and to make an effort to create an environment that fosters understanding, dialogue and cooperation.
Hospital Construction to Begin in January

Rendering of planned Medstar GU Hospital surgical pavillion. Courtesy MedStar.

Medstar Georgetown University Hospital has announced plans to build a new 477,000-square-foot surgical pavilion, the construction of which will start in January. The pavilion will hold 156 private rooms as well as additional operating rooms and a helicopter pad. The project also aims to improve the traffic situation at the Reservoir Road entry to the university by moving parking underground and restructuring the entrance. However, during construction much of the road will be blocked off, temporarily worsening the traffic on Reservoir Road and surrounding streets.

Hillary Honored by Democratic Women

Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and former presidential candidate. Courtesy State Department.

Four days before her husband’s visit to Georgetown University, on Nov. 2, Hillary Clinton received a Democratic Woman of the Year Award at the Wo man’s National Democratic Club near Dupont Circle. To a packed room of at times tearful supporters, Clinton was interviewed by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California .

Nuchhi Currier, president of the WNDC , choked up when she said the outcome of the election — 358 days earlier — was “very different from what had been anticipated.”
“I got more votes than anybody except Barack Obama in 2008,” Clinton reminded her rapt crowd. For almost an hour, she criticized the Trump administration’s policies over the past year.
Record Numbers of International Students in U.S., D.C.

International student enrollment at U.S. universities has increased.

A record 1,078,822 international students — an overall rise of 3.4 percent — were registered at accredited universities and colleges in the United States in 2016 – 2017, the International Institute of Education announced at the Nov. 13 release of its annual Open Doors report. Half came from two countries, China and India, the latter up by 12.3 percent over the prior year.

D.C. ’s proportion of international students, at 13 percent, is the highest of any state in the country. The number at George Washington University has increased by more than 250 percent since 2011-12, from 2,087 to 5,477. Georgetown University enrolled 73 fewer international students than in 2011-12: 2,985 versus 3,058.
The number of students studying on nonimmigrant student visas in the United States surpassed one million for the first time in 2015-2016. That year, the number of international students in the United States increased by 7.1 percent; in 2014-15, the growth percentage was a record 10 percent.

The number of “new” students — that is, international students arriving for the first time — declined an average of 7 percent. “It’s caused by a mix of factors,” said IIE research experts Peggy Blumenthal, Christine Farrugia and Rajika Bhandari, including increased competition from other English-speaking countries like the U.K. and Australia, which offer exchange programs at much less cost. “We’re also hearing more concerns about personal safety and the Trump administration policies such as the travel ban.”

Much of the growth was driven by increased participation in the expanded Optional Practical Training program to which graduating international students can apply, allowing them to obtain work permits and stay in the country for, in some cases, up to 36 months.
Congress Mandates Anti-Harassment Training
Revelations of pervasive incidents of sexual harassment and assault on Capitol Hill involving lawmakers have filled the news the past few weeks. As a result, Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan announced Nov. 14 that House members and their staffs will be required to take mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training. Two days later, the Senate approved a similar bipartisan resolution.

Reforms that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota ), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York ), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Virginia) are pushing, however, deal mainly with reforming the process of harassment com plaints and the treatment of accusers. They would eliminate a current req uirement that the accuser submit to mediation and counseling before filing a complaint, even as the accuser continues to work for the alleged harasser.

It turns out that unspoken rules of warning about harassment have been circulating among female staffers and elected officials for years. According to CNN, they include:
  • Be extra careful of the male lawmakers who sleep in their offices — they can be trouble.
  • Avoid finding yourself alone with a congressman or senator in elevators, late-night meetings or events where alcohol is flowing.
  • Think twice before speaking out about sexual harassment from a boss — it could cost you your career.
  • Contribute to the “creep list. ” (This is an informal roster, passed along by word-of-mouth, consisting of the male members most notorious for inappropriate behavior, ranging from making sexually suggestive comments or gestures to seeking physical relations with younger employees and interns.)

WHO Designates D.C. as ‘Age Friendly’ City

On Nov. 17, officials from the World Health Organization in Geneva and from the AARP’s international programs division recognized Washington, D.C., as a member of the Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities — only the third city in the United States to be so recognized.

“D.C. has really become a global leader in international efforts to make communities livable for all people of all ages,” said John Beard, WHO director of aging and life course development, as he presented Mayor Muriel Bowser with a plaque. “It is one of the first cities to commit fully to and implement a five-year plan to make their communities easier, safer and more accessible to aging people. ”

“We want D.C. to be a place where people never want to leave,” said HyeSook Chung, deputy mayor for health and human services and chair of D.C. ’s task force on age-friendly D .C. To that end, volunteer-led teams conducted block-by-block “livability” surveys of adults about their experience growing older in the District. They came up with 10 focus areas for projects, according to Laura Newland, executive director of D.C.’s Office on Aging.

The projects include the construction of 724 curb ramps and 37,000 square feet of sidewalk improvement, plus 10,903 new sign placements to make walking safer in the District, according to the newly issued Age-Friendly DC five-year progress report. These actions have contributed to a decrease in pedestrian deaths from 15 in 2015 to 8 in 2016.

Other age-friendly factors: Ninety-seven percent of D.C. residents live within a ten-minute walk of a park. Over the past five years, 14,147 trees have been planted, 38 percent of which provide canopy cover. Three hundred police detectives and 200 judges have been trained in elder abuse. And D.C. has been ranked the second-fittest city in America, with 2,900 older residents attending wellness centers.

“We want everyone not only to grow older well in D.C. , but also to live and enjoy a high-quality life,” concluded Bowser.


Heating Plant Condo Design on Hold — Again

“In case you haven’t heard already, the Historic Preservation Review Board decided to designate the West Heating Plant as a landmark,” ANC 2E Commissioner Jim Wilcox wrote Nov. 4. “ The Board continued its hearing until Nov. 16 to take further statements, before addressing design and demolition of the building.”

The developers of the proposed Four Seasons Residences, which would replace the 29th Street building and surrounding property, had been all but ready for formal approvals when the building was suddenly designated a probable historic landmark. That meant the plans for the building’s almost complete demolition and conversion to luxury condos could be blocked . At press time, it was not clear what options were being considered.

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