What’s the Latest on Streateries and Sidewalks? 

As the warmth of spring returns, many Georgetowners are emerging from hibernation to window shop along bustling sidewalks and enjoy outdoor dining. So, what’s the latest news on the streateries and expanded sidewalks?

The Georgetowner asked Joe Sternlieb, CEO and President of the Georgetown Business Improvement District to explain. “People in the community are continuing to talk about the future of the streateries,” he said. And right now, “It all depends on what the mayor and [D.C.’s Department of Transportation] DDOT decide about the program and concerns about aesthetics and appropriateness by some, while others are lobbying hard with the BID to keep [the program] in place. Nothing will be decided or proposed until after a stakeholders’ group meets to decide whether there can be a community consensus reached to continue with the program. Otherwise, they will all disappear at the end of the year.”

A draft DDOT regulation suggests the city might return Wisconsin Avenue and M Street to rush hour traffic patterns by discontinuing Georgetown’s sidewalk programs on those corridors when permitting expires, Sternlieb said. As the BID awaits DDOT’s final recommendations and works with the stakeholders’ group, it’s conducting follow-up surveys with residents and retailers for feedback. Results are expected in the “next 6 to 8 weeks.”

Also in the works, a massive transportation study involving several agencies, budgeted for close to $500,000, Sternlieb said. The analysis is “getting underway right now between DDOT, the ANC [Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission], the CAG [Citizens Association of Georgetown] and the BID, and it will be a community planning process with both a technical advisor and community facilitation to talk about street design, parking, mobility access — looking at all the issues, including curbside management, bus movements, safe spaces for bikes and scooters, intersections, making things safe and more functional and better for people on the street, as well as parking issues.” 

While many businesses and retailers have praised the streateries and expanded sidewalks for bringing vibrancy and foot traffic to Georgetown’s commercial areas, many residents have criticized the expanded sidewalk program for taking away parking and the poor aesthetic quality of streateries’ concrete barriers, decking, safety concerns and other aspects.

Sternlieb emphasized that he’s interested in reducing tensions around the program – perhaps the most complex the BID’s ever undertaken — and that he and BID staff will be consulting with “a working group of residents, business owners, architects, planners, [and] maybe some artists or designers to have a conversation and see if there is something that everyone can agree upon.”  


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