Dogs, Circle, D.O.A.

Dear Readers,
Councilmember Josh Wright requested at the Sept. 28 council meeting that a discussion about dog parks (designated places and/or time where dogs can be allowed off-leash) on an upcoming work session agenda. Councilmember Dan Robinson supported that request. This issue has been brought up repeatedly by councilmembers and citizens since the beginning of the fall council session.
Despite last week’s critical citizen comments, the council unanimously voted to approve the installation of New Hampshire Gardens area traffic-calming measure, including three traffic circles.
Councilmember Josh Wright noted several e-mails from residents saying that building a sidewalk should be the priority in that neighborhood. He asked whether such a sidewalk is in the city’s plan.
City staff said it was and it is conceivable that it could be included in the spring installations.
The city’s lobbyists didn’t have a lot of good news. They say the state legislature is so focused on the revenue disaster that any proposed legislation with “a glimmer of extra cost is dead on arrival.” So, if any of the city’s pet projects, such as the tenants-rights “Just Cause Eviction” bill involves any expenditures, even a task force or study group, they are likely doomed.

– Gilbert

About the Author

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.

7 Comments on "Dogs, Circle, D.O.A."

  1. Tom Gagliardo | October 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm |

    Really? Who are the city’s lobbyists?

  2. You don’t know who the city’s lobbyists are?
    From granolapark posting “Ban the Blower,” dated October 16, 2008:
    “The city has a new lobbyist, Anne Ciekot, of Ciekot and Elliot. She was introduced to the council prior to the vote approving her appointment.”
    The council voted recently to extend the contract. At the first meeting of the fall session Councilmember Snipper objected to including the extension and another item in a consent agenda on the grounds that they each involved a big chunk of money.
    From granolapark posting “They’re Baaaack!,” Sept. 12, 2009:
    “One [item] was the lobbyist contract (which amounted to $100,000 over a five year period).”
    We ALMOST get the impression, Tom, that you are not reading granolapark as religiously as you should!
    – Gilbert

  3. Steve Davies | October 2, 2009 at 9:51 pm |

    There were two people at the meeting — Ann Ciekot and Michele Douglass of Public Policy Partners that’s the link to the 1-pager prepared for the council on their appearance. Shouldn’t take too long to read

  4. Barrie Howard | October 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm |

    I appreciate that you’ve drawn attention to the fact citizens were/are critical of the New Hampshire Gardens traffic calming ordinance. It was very upsetting to hear all our concerns dismissed by the Council. It definitely tarnished the City’s image in my eyes. My impression is that we’re being governed by an oligarchy which is insensitive to the concerns of citizens, like so many other places in the world. Maybe election time will shake things up a bit so we can get a little closer than we are now to a responsive representative government that is led by the democratic process. Keep fighting the good fight, Gilbert.
    – Barrie Lee

  5. When a neighborhood traffic calming or speed bump issue comes before the council, it has already been vetted by the neighborhood association in the affected area. There will likely been some folks who disagree with the decision. Unless the disagreement involves some greater issue such as a civil rights issue ( for example, the majority of the neighbors supported pushing all of the traffic onto the street with the most Latino residents even though that street is the least able to support it) or the solution has an inordinate negative affect on another neighborhood, then the council will not reject the proposal. It is possible they could object for cost or environmental considerations. Lacking such issues, the council voted its support.
    In this case, as I understand it, the issue was that a minority of residents wanted a different solution, and were unable to convince a majority of their neighbors of this. Since the circles can not be installed until Spring, why don’t you see if you could get agreement to have public works paint stop bars and install stop signs to try your solution first to see if it solves your problem? Stop bars and signs are relatively inexpensive.

  6. Councilmember Clay:
    I have a better idea; why don’t you see if you can get Public Works to paint stop bars and install stop signs to try the solution. You have more political clout than I do. Or better yet, take that money and spend it on a comprehensive neighborhood study to see what a true majority thinks about traffic circles.
    Many neighbors have pleaded with the City to consider stop signs–which are expotentially cheaper than traffic circles–and Councilmember Victoria and NHG Citizens Association have opposed it. Keep in mind that the Citizens Association is represented by Victoria’s husband. This is hardly a fair representation of the neighborhood, which has ca. 390 single family homes and 91 registered apartment units.
    There are many people who never knew about the traffic-calming debate because much of the information about it was distributed via a Yahoo! group e-mail list or the Takoma Park website. Only some of it was addressed in the Newsletter. There was never a comprehensive, door-to-door survey conducted to see what people really thought. Maybe there is a civil rights issue here: the right to be informed. Don’t take my word for it, though. Ilona Blanchard, City Planner, will tell you the difference between sending out notifications whether online or in-print, and conducting a full-scale survey of every household in the area.
    NHG is a fragmented community; people are divided by class, culture, language, roadways. 61 subscribers to a Yahoo! group, or close neighbors along a few contiguous blocks in NO way makes a majority. The City should be ashamed of itself approving $90,00 for traffic circles with the $577,523 lost from the State revenue stream, especially when there’s been public concern or outright opposition about the solution.
    Since there’s time between now and spring before any installations can be done, it’s a perfect opportunity for the City to do the right thing and allocate some resources to find out what’s really on people’s minds. That accounts for the large number of people off-line or out of the loop, too.
    – Barrie Lee

  7. As I do not live in or represent Ward 6, it is not my place to execute such activites. It must come from the people of that community. Imagine the backlash that would occur if council members starting having stop signs and such installed in other wards, after the community had selected another course of action.
    I was not at the council meeting where this was first discussed as my father had just passed away and I was out of state, however, I understood the issue to be one of a desire for stop signs and police enforcement on the part of some residents. I was mearly trying to point out that there is a time window due to the winter, that might allow you to try out your solution. If you choose not to make use of the suggestion, that is your right.
    In my ward, when the neighborhood association has a meeting to review a request for traffic calming or other issues, they flyer every residence. When my ward had a traffic calming meeting, the affected residents were flyered. List serves were not the only communication mechanism. While many people ignored the initial meetings, they certainly were made aware of some changes being considered when the traffic patterns were tested. At that point, it would not have been credible to claim that one didn’t know something was afoot.
    The money for the traffic calming is restricted, and has no relationship to the $577,523. It can not be used to replace any of those lost dollars.
    And I have less political clout than you have in your own ward. I don’t vote for your representative. Staff look to the local representative in that area. I suggest you call your candidates.

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