So many bad parents in Takoma Park! And despite serious misgivings, the council is aiding and abetting them!
Using the time they should have been teaching their children not to walk in the street, the neglectful parents of Sherman and Grant Avenues petitioned the council to install speed bumps.
The speed bumps, they say, are urgently needed to protect the kiddies from the other bad parents – the ones who race their cars up and down residential streets clogged with children, delivering their own offspring to school or soccer games.
As happens too often, citizen-driven issues before the city council become a matter of “if you don’t do what we ask OUR BABIES WILL DIE,” at which point all reason flees the building, and the council is left with no choice but to go along or face The Mommies’ Curse.
The city council scheduled hearings and discussions on these proposed speed bumps Sept. 20, even though after an hour they admitted that the outcome was preordained. Mayor Bruce Williams observed, “the council has never said ‘no’ to a speed bump.” That remark braked the discussion of alternative traffic calming methods and street slope incline to a screeching halt.
Councilmember Terry Seamens proposed, a touch sarcastically, that future speed-bump votes be put on a consent agenda (which automatically passes).
Approval came even though many councilmembers have misgivings about speed bumps – the wear and tear they inflict on cars, the danger they present to bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles, the higher fuel consumption and emission rates they cause. Councilmember Colleen Clay, for instance, said she is “really opposed to speed bumps.”
Clay prefers other traffic calming methods: chicanes (using curb “bump outs” and alternating parking patterns to create a serpentine traffic path), traffic circles, “flash lighting” intersections (traffic light cameras), and drastically reduced 15 MPH residential street speed limits.
Councilmember Reuben Snipper also advocated chicanes, suggesting that neighborhoods could informally set up their own by agreeing to an alternating parking pattern.
A big concern was the steep incline on Sherman Avenue where a hump would be installed. Public Works director Daryl Braithewaite informed the council that the incline is 18%. City guidelines say that speed humps should not be installed on steep inclines. Advocates of this particular hump waved aside these concerns, citing other humps that have been installed on inclines with no reported problems.
Councilmember Fred Schultz, who test-drove the location, however, objected that the street is “extraordinarily steep.” Not only did he worry that a driver could lose control in bad weather conditions, he said “I don’t see how a speed hump is going to solve any problems” at that location. He said there was “no way” to mount that incline at 50 to 60 MPH, as the petitioners claim happens.
Resident Erwin Mack, who served on a county commission dealing with speed humps and bumps, suggested the city install “speed lumps.” Speed lumps are speed humps with gaps allowing free passage of large emergency vehicles – which have a wider wheelbase than automobiles. The gaps also allow the unimpeded passage of bicycles and other two-wheeled vehicles.
But, the bottom line is, as Clay said of regular speed humps, “citizens like them” and as Mayor Williams admitted, “speed humps work the best.”
The first reading of the two speed hump ordinances was scheduled for the Sept. 26 city council meeting.
The empty juggernaut that is the Coming of Beer and Wine Off-Sales must be on that 18% incline – with no speed humps in sight. It continues to roll forward, despite a lack of strong citizen interest in the matter one way or the other.
The council, amenable to requests from a few constituents and some in the business community, obligingly set the thing in motion – a series of public hearings, staff research, drafting a set of options, and soon a resolution to ask the state for a change to the local liquor laws.
At the Sept. 20 meeting the council discussed what exactly to ask of the state. The five councilmembers in favor are leaning toward asking for Class B off-sale licenses* and probably Class D licenses,** too. They also want to ask for veto power in case the county grants licenses to a business the city doesn’t like. Councilmember Fred Schultz gave the veto request “a snowball’s chance in heck.”
Councilmember Terry Seamens said he was “absolutely against this.” He said it was “a direction we don’t need to go” that was of “no benefit to the city.”
Councilmember Snipper said he had “wrestled” with the issue, but in the end he saw “not much benefit” as well. So, he said he would oppose the request.
Your Gilbert, whose opposition to this is legendary, notes that none of the proponents have given an answer to the charge that the city will have no (monetary) benefit from beer and wine sales. liquor sales tax revenue will go to the county and state. The city will collect the same property taxes regardless of what business resides there.
The nearest answer we’ve heard is what Mayor Williams said after he expressed a few doubts. The fact that there were so few citizen supporters for either side made him wonder if the issue was worth pursuing. [We give the mayor credit for airing and considering second thoughts]
He decided to make the effort, however because it would expand “possibilities” for local businesses.
*Beer & Light Wine, Class B, On-Sale, Hotels and Restaurants, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. for On Sale. Off-Sale, every day from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
\ON AND OFF SALE PRIVILEGES – REQUIRES BATHROOMS FOR BOTH SEXES AND MINIMUM SEATING FOR 30 PATRONS.
**Beer & Light Wine, Class D, On-Sale Generally,, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. for On-Sale. Off-sale, every day from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
\ON AND OFF-SALE PRIVILEGES – REQUIRES BATHROOMS FOR BOTH SEXES, NO MINIMUM SEATING REQUIREMENTS.