Piney Branch Road Traffic Safety Debate Dominates ANC 4B May 2021 Meeting

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B held its May 2021 public meeting on Monday evening. The commission serves the neighborhoods of Takoma, Manor Park, and Lamond-Riggs.  This blog post will highlight some of the top stories from this most recent meeting. I have also tagged the story with links to the meeting’s YouTube video.

You can view a recording of the live stream here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndh4Pt9mPi8

Presentations

Piney Branch Road NW Traffic Safety

The major focus of this month’s meeting was the debate surrounding proposed traffic safety improvements for the corridor of Piney Branch Road NW from Butternut Street NW to Eastern Avenue.  Piney Branch Road has been a major source of safety concern for area residents for as long as anyone can remember.  The alignment of the CSX railroad tracks through the community funnels large amounts of commuters onto a select few roadways.

Although many neighbors have been advocating with the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) for improvements for years, efforts gained new urgency with the tragic death of a pedestrian at the intersection of Piney Branch and Dahlia Street just a few months ago.  In April, DDOT gave the community notice of its intent to implement the Piney Branch Traffic Calming Improvements Project which will include the installation of bicycle lanes on Piney Branch Road, NW between Butternut Street and Eastern Avenue; the conversion of 6th Street between Cedar Street and Piney Branch Road to one-way northbound, and the closure of the Blair Road connection at Dahlia Street and 5th Street.

Piney Branch Road Traffic Safety Debate Dominates ANC 4B May 2021 Meeting
Cross section of road improvement at Dahlia and Piney Branch Road

Commissioner Evan Yeats provided a brief overview of the recent community meeting on the Piney Branch Road project.  From there, a long list of residents and community advocates testified about their thoughts on the project.  People generally fell into three camps on the issue:

  • Those who are supportive of the current plan and wish to see it move forward ASAP
  • People who insist on having a traffic light installed at Dahlia and Piney Branch Road
  • Congregants of the Trinity Episcopal Church are wary about losing valuable parking spaces to the planned improvements.

You can view the comments on this project here and here. Takoma Education Campus parent Jenna Cevasco summarized the emotions on the issue with the following comment:

While my husband and I take the train to work, we also own a vehicle and do our best to avoid crossing Piney Branch at Dahlia Street in the car in both directions because of the unpredictable behavior of drivers coming in and out of the District on Piney Branch.  The angling of the road makes it really difficult to see, so as a driver, I fear both getting hit and hitting another car or pedestrian.  Not to mention there is almost always someone blocking the intersection on Piney Branch during rush hour.

The fears that I’m talking about as a pedestrian and a driver are based in reality – we know from the debris we see there regularly that there have been numerous car accidents and a tragic death.

The Commission voted to approve the resolution Supporting Piney Branch Road Traffic Calming Improvements Project.

DC Office of the Tenant Advocate

(video) Nicole McEntee, a Program Analyst for Education and Outreach, offered resources for DC tenants who may need assistance as the public health emergency comes to an end in July.  Tenants can receive legal advice by telephone at 202-719-6560 or learn more about the services offered by the office on their website at www.ota.dc.gov

Important facts for renters to know this year include:

  • Landlords are required to provide a copy of the Tenant’s Bill of Rights Amendment Act of 2014
  • Landlords cannot inquire about criminal history  until a conditional offer of housing is made
  • No evictions are allowed until 21 days after the public health emergency ends
  • No rent increases are allowed until 30 days after the public health emergency

The office is in the process of creating a publicly available database of all rent-controlled housing in the District.

Theodore Roosevelt High School NAF Academies

(video) Julian Hipkins, director of the NAF Academies at Roosevelt High school stopped by to promote some of the school’s latest offerings. NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future-ready. Roosevelt currently offers programs in two areas: Culinary Arts and Global Service and Diplomacy.

Piney Branch Road Traffic Safety Debate Dominates ANC 4B May 2021 Meeting
Roosevelt High School Global Service and Diplomacy students.

If you’re interested in volunteering with NAF, please visit this link.  If your student might have an interest, please visit this link.

 DC Office of Human Rights

(video) Ajan Brown, a Community Engagement Specialist for the DC Office of Human Rights gave a detailed presentation on many of the services that his office provides to city residents. Their mission is to:

  • Eradicate discrimination
  • Increase equal opportunity
  • Protect civil rights through enforcement

The office protects citizens through the enforcement of the DC Human Rights Act of 1977 in addition to other local and federal laws.

You can learn more about the services that they offer on their website.

Reports

Report from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services

(Video) Mr. Anthony Mitchell from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services presented this month’s report for the administration. He presented the following updates:

  • The city’s economic base continues to come back to life. On June 11th, nightclubs and other large entertainment venues will be able to operate at full capacity without any restrictions.
  • People are still required to wear facemasks on public transportation, taxis, Uber & Lyft, schools, healthcare settings, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities.
  • Additionally, city services that will reopen soon include:
    • June 1st – Parking enforcement, street sweeping, towing, vehicles without tags/registration, minor moving violations, residential parking, and parking photo violations will be enforced.
    • July 1st – Booting, DC drivers must display valid credentialing (registration), renewal of application for professional licenses, etc. will begin.
  • Ticket amnesty – Any penalties on outstanding tickets will be waived as long as they are paid before September 30, 2021.

Report from Office of Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George

(Video) Ms. Tamira Benitez, Councilmember George’s Constituent Services director, shared this month’s update from her office.

CM George has unveiled a new interactive website for constituent use. You can visit the site at www.janeeeseward4.com

  • The Council gave final approval to the city’s update to its Comprehensive Plan. Councilmember Lewis George secured amendments that support additional deeply affordable housing and displacement prevention.
  • CM Lewis George will have Office hours at Culture Coffee Too from 10 am – 1 pm this Thursday, May 27th.

About Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 4B represents the Ward 4 neighborhoods of Takoma, Manor Park, and Lamond-Riggs. An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. The Commissioners are elected to two-year terms and serve without pay.

The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government. Although they do not have to follow the ANCs’ advice, District agencies are required to give the ANCs’ recommendations “great weight.”

These are the members of ANC 4B:

Single Member District Name Email
4B01 Evan Yeats 4B01@anc.dc.gov
4B02 Erin Palmer 4B02@anc.dc.gov
4B03 Jocelynn Johnson 4B03@anc.dc.gov
4B04 Brenda Parks 4B04@anc.dc.gov
4B05 Vacant 4B05@anc.dc.gov
4B06 Tiffani Nichole Johnson 4B06@anc.dc.gov
4B07 Geoff Bromaghim 4B07@anc.dc.gov
4B08 Alison Brooks 4B08@anc.dc.gov
4B09 LaRoya A. Huff 4B09@anc.dc.gov

Find your ANC here.

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