by Mary Beth Ray
ANC 3F03 commissioner
For the past few months, those of us who live on Albemarle and 29th Streets have seen a sharp increase in cars parked between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. For the most part, these cars are parked legally, and they belong to construction workers who are employed by BF Saul or one of its contractors and subcontractors working on Park Van Ness.
Many neighbors who are at work on weekdays never even notice this influx of cars. Those who are retired or work from home might be annoyed that someone took a favorite spot out front, even though most of us have driveways. And some who want to encourage thoughtful development along Connecticut Avenue are torn between improving the vibrancy of our commercial corridor, which necessitates long-term construction projects, and the peace and quiet of clear residential streets and easy parking.
Most streets in ANC 3F require a residential parking permit for more than two hours of parking. For example, Albemarle Street from Connecticut Avenue to 29th Street is mostly empty during the day because anyone parking longer than two hours must prove residency and pay the District for a zoned parking permit. But several blocks of Albemarle Street east of 29th Street, and all of 29th Street and Linnean Avenue, lack zoned parking or meters.
This map marks in orange which blocks through ANC 3F are zoned and which are unzoned.
This presents construction crews, who often make $11/hour or less, with the appealing option of free parking.
Several neighbors feel frustrated that their usual parking spots are unavailable, and some worry about safety for young children with the increased traffic. So they have taken matters into their own hands. They have circulated petitions with neighbors, and asked the District to convert their block to zoned parking. I have spoken with those neighbors and encouraged them to think of all aspects of the issue, including the hourly-wage workers.
Also, along with Van Ness Vision Committee member Jane Solomon, I’ve met with a neighbor who is the president and chief operating officer at Clark Construction, the company building Park Van Ness. He expressed his strong desire to preserve strong relationships with the neighbors, and he expressed his willingness to work with them. My fellow ANC commissioner, Sally Gresham (ANC 3F04), and I have encouraged BF Saul and Clark to talk to UDC and the owner of the the Giant-CVS building and arrange for the workers to park in those garages. Additionally, I sent Clark a list of recommendations:
They’ve assured us that these recommendations would be embraced by Clark and communicated often to their contractors and subcontractors.
We could seek zoned parking for every block of Forest Hills. And if the construction companies fail to heed these recommendations, perhaps that’s the way forward. But while it may keep our streets clear and quiet, it hardly communicates our desire to make our Van Ness commercial corridor more beautiful and vibrant. Patience with our growing pains, compassion for hourly-wage employees, and cooperation with companies seeking to do business in our area will go a long way toward forwarding our goals of making Van Ness a more beautiful and vibrant corridor, and help us make this great neighborhood even greater.