GRANOLAPARK: Residents see red over yellow

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Trump and his looming fist of fascism is nothing compared to yellow curbs!

One resident turned out Wednesday, February 15 to urge the city council support the progressive, anti-Trump Takoma Park Mobilization.

But a half-dozen were there to rant about yellow curbs. Councilmember Fred Schultz said that emails on the subject filled his in-box this week, more than on most subjects.

A curb painted bright yellow means “no parking.” Yellow curbs are the most effective “no parking” marker, say many residents who don’t want vehicles parked too close to their narrow driveways on their narrow streets.

Yeah, but yellow curbs are SO UGLY, say other residents, significantly the Residential Streetscape Task Force. In 2015 the task force reported that yellow curbs were unsightly and created potential confusion. The confusion, they said, could be caused by the lack of consistency in how no-parking areas were marked throughout the city.

As a result, the city pulled back the paint brush, only using it on curbs near fire hydrants and school zones, telling residents who complained of vehicles too close to their driveways to call the police. There is a four-foot no-parking area to either side of a driveway – whether marked or not.

The former task force chair supported the report’s view to the council at the February 15 meeting, but the other five residents there to speak on the matter, several of them from Sherman Avenue, said safety trumps aesthetics, calling for a return to the paint brush. They described potential dangers they faced backing out of their driveways with little to and little visibility on a steep hill.

So, it was a face-off between potential confusion and potential danger, a face-off with potential pitfalls. Potentially.

The city council said they could appreciate both points of view and would the Department of Public Works please bail them out? Which it did.

Curb paint fades and peels quickly, said Daryl Braithwaite, Public Works director. She suggested an alternative – white thermoplastic lines on the road surface. These would last a lot longer and wouldn’t be as garish as yellow curbs.

Some of the attending residents were skeptical that non-garish markings would be noticed by drivers.

The council and Public Works were leaning toward a thermoplastic roadway-line pilot program by the end of the discussion. Since it was a work-session discussion, there was no vote on the matter.

Issues before the council begin with a work-session discussion, out of which come draft proposals. That’s when the council begins a series of votes.

Freestanding feasibility

The mayor noted that she and the council have been contacted by constituents pushing them to push for a freestanding emergency room to take the place of the current Washington Adventist Hospital emergency room, when that hospital closes down sometime in the next few years.

The constituents were urged on by a very few people who have the view that the council somehow let the hospital go and are lackluster in their current efforts. They post to local email lists and get people who don’t have the full story riled up.

Yours Truly has observed nearly every city council meeting since before WAH announced their intended move. The truth is that the council and city staff did all they could to stop WAH from moving. Unfortunately, they do not have a lot of influence over this decision and they don’t have a magic wand, so they were unsuccessful. 

Washington Adventist Hospital entrance, March 2013. Photo by Bill Brown.

They have done everything they can to get WAH to create a standalone emergency care center to replace the existing emergency room. At nearly every public meeting with the city lobbyist it is discussed – because WAH will not build a freestanding emergency center without friendly state regulations, which have not yet been finalized and voted into law.

WAH, which, yes, tends to be slippery about its commitments, said it will seriously consider putting in the standalone emergency center once the regulations are passed – especially the part that sets the rate they can charge.

In other words, they want to know if the state regs will allow them enough profit to make it worth their while.

The council’s critics are urging constituents to demand the city contract an independent feasibility study for a standalone emergency center.

But they are doing exactly that. As we reported last week about the Feb 9 city council meeting, “Mayor Stewart announced that the city has requested a feasibility study for a freestanding emergency health care facility to replace the emergency room at Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) when the hospital moves a few years from now. WAH, she said, has hired a firm to do a feasibility study also.”

Metro future bleak

The future of WMATA is “in question,” Councilmember Jarrett Smith warned the council and the public. He attended a Transportation Planning Board meeting earlier that day to hear local public transportation agency WMATA present its 2018 $3.1 billion budget.

It has a $290 million gap, which WMATA proposes to fill by staff layoffs, service cut-backs, fare increases and privatized parking. Who knows, said Smith, whether federal financial support will continue at its current level – which is already insufficient.

Lotsa bills

The council took a long (very long) look at pending state legislation of interest.

Councilmember Smith is vice chair of the Maryland Municipal League’s Legislative Committee and he gave a brief review of the legislation of interest to the Maryland Municipal League. such as: police body cams (for), personal property tax exemptions (against), making foreclosures easier (for) and outlawing toilet disposal of wipes (for).

Then, the mayor mentioned some of the 200 pending bills she and other councilmembers reviewed the previous Monday night to see which ones the city might voice support of or opposition to. Among them was a polystyrene ban. The city already has one, but this state bill would supercede it – unless it is amended. An amendment has been proposed but may not be adopted. So, she asked the council, if the amendment doesn’t pass, would they still support the bill? Five of six councilmembers and mayor (Councilmember Tim Male was absent) voted to support it without the amendment if necessary.

She took similar straw votes on a fracking prohibition, clean car rebates and antibiotic restrictions. The council favored all. No need to vote on the freestanding emergency room bill, they know they favor it.

Free food

Celebrate District 20 Night in Annapolis, MD is a long way to go for free refreshments, Monday, February 20, 6:30 – 8 p.m. There’s no booze, yet you are expected to sit through an update on the 2017 Maryland General Assembly session presented Senator Will Smith, Delegate Sheila Hixson, Delegate David Moon, and Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins.

– Gilbert

 

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About the Author

Gilbert

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog.

Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park’s mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

2 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: Residents see red over yellow"

  1. Gilbert! We have to ask ourselves what would have Sam Abbott done if our only emergency room — the only ER within five miles — threatened to leave Takoma Park? This is a city that prides itself of its advocacy (I don’t need to tell you that?).

    Abbott’s legacy continues through to today and we all should appreciate that… when we see a chance to improve living conditions for our fellow citizens we must take action. These are bottom-of-the-pyramid basic services that government can help provide.

    I hope you never need to take an elderly parent for help to a packed emergency room or call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance…

    The Takoma Park firehouse is one of the last in the county still not to have a paramedic. Unacceptable! Why are you not as outraged about that as you are about Trump? We all need to fight for basics for all our citizens.

    If you continue to blame Trump, that’s the easy way out.

  2. Why do the pro-freestanding ER folks act like the city council are enemies instead of allies? You all seem to be furious with them for not having accomplished the impossible. If I were on the council, I’d find this annoying, since the council has actually been on top of the issue all along and doing everything it could.

    Sam Abbott’s greatest achievements were not during his mayorship. He did them while a citizen activist. Organizing an Abbott-style protest campaign against the hospital leaving is more of a job for community activists than the city council. YOU are the community activists. So, I turn your question “what would have Sam Abbott done” back on you.

    If you continue to blame the city council, that’s the easy way out.

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