Subject: Issues regarding Janneys Lane traffic calming

To: Joe Fischer, Joe Gerard, Frank Putzu, and Bill Robinson

From: Ginny Hines Parry, 703-212-0982, ghparry@fortebrio.com

Re: Issues regarding Janneys Lane traffic calming

Date: November 5, 2003

I want to share with you my concerns about the Janneys Lane traffic calming project funded by City Council in April, 2003 for $150,000. I am particularly concerned about different representations made by city staff about how the Janneys Lane initiative will proceed, especially based on how the city has stated the program should work in its Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program Guide (NTCPG) as well as Clover-College Park Civic Association¹s (CCPCA) past and recent experiences.

CCPCA finalized its traffic calming plan in June, 2002. The last segment of the CCPCA plan, at the intersection of Janneys Lane and West Taylor Run Parkway, has not yet been installed. City staff have proposed several alternatives that have been rejected either by Fire and EMS or residents over the past year. Another proposal is still under consideration.

It is my hope that because Janneys Lane passes through 3 neighborhoods (Seminary Hill, Clover-College Park, and Taylor Run), the 3 strong civic associations affiliated with these neighborhoods will be able to work proactively together to develop a process and plan that benefits all of Janneys Lane and does not cause harm to the adjacent streets. The process dictated by city staff at the October 22nd Janneys Lane traffic calming meeting is too staff-driven and exclusionary.

And finally, the observations and comments provided in this memorandum are my own personal opinions and not the official position of the Clover-College Park Civic Association board of directors.

  1. Signature collection for petitions

    Staff statements at October 22, 2003 SHA meeting -- Paul DeMaio of the city¹s Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) Department said that 65% of those who must use Janneys Lane (i.e., those residing on Janneys Lane and on cul-de-sacs off of Janneys Lane) need to sign petitions. He did not mention that every homeowner (100%) whose property abutted a traffic calming measure needed to sign a petition.

    CCPCA traffic calming experience -- The signatures of all (100%) 5 property owners in the 700 block of Janneys Lane (between West Taylor Run Parkway and Skyhill Road), where city staff wanted to install an experimental asphalt chicane speed cushion described at the October 22nd meeting, were required before the chicane could be installed. At least one of those 5 homeowners refused to sign the petition, so this chicane proposal did not proceed. Although 65% of residents on Janneys from King Street to Yale Drive also needed to sign the petition, staff did not require nearby cul-de-sac residents to approve.

    Additionally, nearly every resident of Skyhill Road, which intersects between the 700 and 800 blocks of Janneys Lane and just before West Taylor Run Parkway, objected to the placement of the chicane in that block, even though the signatures of Skyhill residents were not required. Skyhill residents were concerned that the chicane in that location would cause traffic to cut-through on Skyhill, a through street (the street that I live on), to avoid the chicane, as well as the 3 speed cushions already on West Taylor Run Parkway. Staff eventually acknowledged that cut-through traffic on Skyhill Road would be a consequence if the chicane were placed there, yet there was no requirement that residents of Skyhill be included in the approval process set forth by city staff.

    Three bulbouts (also known as sidewalk extensions) are now under consideration for the intersection of Janneys Lane and West Taylor Run Parkway. Rich Baier, Director of T&ES, told several of the CCPCA board of directors and representatives from Taylor Run and Seminary Hill civic associations at an October 7, 2003 meeting that no residents¹ signatures were required for bulbouts because they did not remove any parking spaces and were merely extensions of the sidewalk. Nonetheless, Baier did need the approval of the CCPCA board of directors. Baier also expected the CCPCA board to communicate to its residents that the bulbouts would be installed. A full discussion about this new bulbout proposal has not yet been conducted with the Clover-College Park community, and no newsletter about this has gone out yet.

    NTCPG Policy Statements -- Page 11 of this document states that ³65% of households² is the minimum community support needed for bulbouts. The NTCPG does not provide guidance on how the 65% of households is determined.

    By removing the 100% approval requirement for directly affected residents, staff appears to be relaxing the previous policy regarding the number of signatures required for installing traffic calming measures. While citizens are obviously frustrated when one citizen has veto power over a traffic calming measure, one has to question the wisdom and fairness of a policy that theoretically would allow the installation of a traffic calming device in front of a residence without the property owner¹s permission, particularly one which could eliminate parking spaces and could create adverse traffic impacts on adjacent through streets, where residents have no say in the process.

  2. Composition of Workgroup

    Staff statements at October 22, 2003 SHA meeting -- DeMaio emphasized that only those persons residing on Janneys Lane and those who live on cul-de-sacs off of Janneys Lane could participate in the workgroup. He also stated that no board members from the Seminary Hill Association could be on the workgroup.

    The rationale for including only those who reside on Janneys Lane or the cul-de-sacs off of Janneys Lane is that they have no choice but to travel on Janneys and thus, presumably, have more at stake than other residents. This policy deliberately excludes residents from other streets who may see an increase in cut-through traffic from those drivers avoiding a traffic
    calming measure on another street. For example, if traffic calming measures are installed on Janneys Lane near its intersection with Quaker Lane, drivers traveling on Quaker from Duke Street may choose to turn east onto Trinity Drive to avoid Janneys.

    DeMaio also said traffic calming should not hurt other streets. However, the remedy he proposed for resolving any disputes between streets is the Traffic and Parking Board. It is my understanding that the TPB avoids mediating any disputes between neighbors, and will instead retain the status quo.

    CCPCA traffic calming experience -- Baier first told several of our civic association¹s board members that he did not have time to staff a traffic calming committee comprised of representatives of the 3 Janneys Lane neighborhoods and that the Clover-College Park civic association board of directors could sign off on Janneys Lane traffic calming near West Taylor
    Run Parkway. He later said that the CCPCA board could choose to do whatever it wanted regarding the planning process.

    Also, when CCPCA's traffic committee was active, there was a representative on the committee from Taylor Run, MacArthur Elementary School PTA and the CCPCA board of directors. This was very helpful because both Taylor Run and MacArthur School were then starting their own traffic calming projects. Because of the interrelatedness of each segment of Janneys, each of the 3 neighborhoods should participate, as well as MacArthur Elementary. And, of course, civic association board involvement is essential in traffic calming planning to ensure effective communication and coordination with the entire neighborhood.

  3. Approval process

    Staff statements at October 22, 2003 SHA meeting -- DeMaio did not mention that the civic association had to review and approve any traffic calming recommendations from the workgroup. DeMaio also did not discuss the role of the Traffic and Parking Board in the approval process.

    CCPCA traffic calming experience -- City staff told the CCPCA board that their approval was required. The CCPCA board of directors formally approved the 2002 Clover-College Park traffic calming plan and fully expects to approve any traffic calming measures installed along the Clover-College Park portion of Janneys Lane (700 through 1100 blocks).

    NTCPG Policy Statements -- Page 7 of the June 2003 NTCPG states that usually 65% of affected households need to sign petitions and a letter of support from the civic association needs to be presented to the Traffic and Parking Board for approval of traffic calming plans. No definition of ³affected households² is provided in the document.

    Page 8 of the guide also states that all projects will be presented to the Traffic and Parking Board for review prior to implementation. It has been the practice of this board to hear comments from the public about each
    traffic calming proposal.

  4. Geographic Boundaries of the Workgroup

    Staff statements at October 22, 2003 SHA meeting -- DeMaio stated that the boundaries for this traffic calming workgroup would be Janneys Lane from Yale Drive to Quaker Lane. He must be assuming that this entire area is part of Seminary Hill Association. However, the 1100 block of Janneys Lane, which begins at Yale Drive, is part of the Clover-College Park Civic
    Association. Hence, there should be coordination with the CCPCA board of directors and residents.

  5. Other issues

    Fire and EMS approvals -- CCPCA has found several times that Fire and EMS have veto power over traffic calming measures on primary response routes, such as Janneys Lane, Yale Drive, Cambridge Road and West Taylor Run Parkway. Often the concerns of Fire and EMS were not made known until well after committee members had agreed to a specific traffic calming measure. Many committee members felt frustrated and antagonistic toward city staff at the end of the experience because of the lack of timely disclosure.

    Public notice -- Notification to the public about Traffic and Parking Board meetings when neighborhood traffic calming plans will be discussed is inconsistent at best. For example, there does not seem to be any specific amount of time mandated for posting public notices on the street, and, other than civic association newsletters, no other notice is provided to residents.

  6. Recommendations

    Instead of acquiescing to staff¹s plan for directing this process, SHA, TRCA and CCPCA may wish to actively participate in the Janneys Lane traffic calming process. The CCPCA experience makes clear that a standardized planning model for traffic calming does not exist and that staff proposes different approaches at different times. As a starting point, a process to
    consider might be one that:

    • Encourages participation by Janneys Lane residents, residents of cul-de-sacs off of Janneys, residents of ³through² streets off of Janneys, other residents of Seminary Hill, Taylor Run, and Clover-College Park and representatives from MacArthur Elementary School;
    • Allows for participation by Board members of the Seminary Hill, Taylor Run and Clover-College Park civic associations;
    • Provides for proactive outreach to residents on Janneys Lane to ensure support by these residents well before a design is finalized;
    • Provides for regular communication via newsletters to all Seminary Hill, Taylor Run and Clover-College Park residents;
    • Explicitly acknowledges and studies both the volume and the speed impact on Janneys, adjacent ³through² streets, and nearby arterials;
    • Invites representatives from the TPB and Fire/EMS staff to attend a meeting of the workgroup and discuss their respective processes for reviewing and approving traffic calming plans; and
    • Encourages city staff to serve in a consultative, advisory capacity, rather than a leadership role.

Again, this memo expresses my personal opinions and not the official positions of the CCPCA board of directors. I would be happy to meet with you to further discuss these concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 703-212-0982 or ghparry@fortebrio.com.


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