Georgetown Current

Georgetown Debating 'One-Side-Of-The-Street' Parking Rule

December 7, 2017

By Grace Bird

Current Staff Writer

As Georgetown grapples with ongoing parking pressures, the area’s residential and business communities are squaring off over the idea of reserving more spaces for locals.

Several members of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E (Georgetown, Burleith) want to ask the city for Enhanced Residential Permit Parking, an arrangement that reserves one side of each residential street for vehicles with Zone 2 parking permits during certain hours. The other side of the street would continue to allow vehicles without that pass to park for up to two hours, but the change would add fresh restrictions to about 2,000 parking spaces.

Proponents said such a change would make it easier for residents to find spaces near their homes. But at ANC 2E’s meeting on Monday, droves of business owners voiced outrage at the idea — which they said would devastate the shops and restaurants that rely on customers who drive to the neighborhood.

Billy Martin, owner of Martin’s Tavern at 1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW, said Georgetown’s limited transit access makes street parking essential for local businesses.

“We all need to work together,” Martin said. “I have people tell me they won’t come to Georgetown because of parking.”

The D.C. Department of Transportation has worked with Georgetown for years on the idea of addressing its parking pressures, where meetings aired a host of possible solutions. These include the “Enhanced RPP” restrictions that ANC 2E discussed Monday — which would mirror the system employed in various neighborhoods with high parking demand, including Logan Circle and Sheridan-Kalorama.

However, the process for making any change remains in its infancy. Bowing to public requests for more time to consider the issue after initially scheduling a vote for this week, ANC 2E hasn’t even taken a position on whether to petition the D.C. Transportation Department for new parking rules. Even at that point, the agency would need to study the issue, put out a recommendation and then solicit further public comment.

Monday’s meeting also aired a lack of consensus among the ANC 2E members. Commissioner Ed Solomon — a Burleith resident who owns a business in Georgetown — reiterated his long-standing objections and said ANC 2E previously voted against such a scheme. However, the commission saw significant turnover after last year’s elections, and the latest proposal came from two newly elected members: Jim Wilcox and chair Joe Gibbons.

Wilcox cited a Department of Transportation study finding that only 1 to 2 percent of residents can regularly park on their own block in Georgetown.

“We felt that it was an important objective for the residential community to be able to park somewhere near where you live,” Wilcox said. “I’m not saying this is perfect, and we are going to consider alternatives.”

The Georgetown Business Improvement District, which strongly opposes Enhanced Residential Permit Parking restrictions, endorsed other options.

BID president Joe Sternlieb said a clear solution would be to allow only vehicles registered within ANC 2E to receive special parking privileges in Georgetown. Currently, anyone eligible for a Zone 2 permit is treated equally as a “resident” under the neighborhood’s parking restrictions. (The same would apply under Enhanced RPP.) However, the Transportation Department declined to shrink parking zones while recently overhauling its Residential Parking Permit regulations.

The BID also suggests increased parking enforcement; extending the hours of existing two-hour parking limits; and using the ParkMobile app to collect parking fees from vehicles without Zone 2 permits.

However, a statement by the BID’s board states that the one-side-the-street restrictions would drive out businesses, in turn hurting property values and diminishing Georgetown’s “social health.”

The Citizens Association of Georgetown also has concerns, saying that parking restrictions should reflect the widely varying needs of different local streets.

ANC 2E is scheduled to continue its parking debate early next year.

This article appears in the Dec. 6 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

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Georgetown to Light Up For the Holiday Season

November 30, 2017

By Grace Bird
Current Staff Writer

Georgetown is set to showcase nine illuminated art installations in the neighborhood this holiday season starting Dec. 8. The annual monthlong light festival, called Georgetown GLOW, is organized by the neighborhood’s business improvement district.

“Public art is just something that’s increasing in every neighborhood. People want to make art accessible,” Georgetown BID vice president Nancy Miyahira told The Current. “While there are things in the world right now that feel somewhat divisive, we still have things that connect us.”

Since its conception in 2014, the yearly GLOW light festival has grown from a few days to nearly a month. The event is partly funded by a $150,000 grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Miyahira said.  

The BID is slated to host several holiday events around the neighborhood during Georgetown GLOW. A silent disco is planned for Dec. 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Washington Harbour, near an art installation dubbed “Horizontal Interference”; an “all-night” shopping event is set for Dec. 14, for which many retailers plan to stay open until 10 p.m.; and a “winter wonderland” day with music, food drinks and children’s activities is slated for Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Art installations from all corners of the globe will be in place across a broad swath of Georgetown. At Washington Harbour, “Horizontal Interference” by Polish artists Joachim Slugocki and Katarzyna Malejka will depict a collection of colorful cords connecting trees and light poles.

At Georgetown Waterfront Park near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and K Street NW, Brooklyn-based artist Jen Lewin’s “Aqueous” is set to feature 62 illuminated platforms. Lewin told The Current she hopes her work will encourage onlookers to participate and interact with one another.

“Each person is playing with the sculpture and you look up and start to connect,” Lewin said. “I would never make a piece where people line up.”

In the heart of Georgetown’s commercial district, LSM Architects at 3333 M St. NW plans to project three works through the office atrium: “Strata” by London-based Quayola; “Still Life” by Casey Reas of Los Angeles; and “Rainbow Glass” by California-based Sara Ludy.

Above the former Georgetown Theater at 1351 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Robin Bell has designed a 15-minute video to depict elements of the historic neighborhood’s past. Farther up Wisconsin, between P Street and Reservoir Road, a set of sculptures titled “The Neighbors” is slated to present four figures made of LED bent wires. The sculptures are intended to represent ambiguous community members, for residents to project their own neighbors onto.

An art installation depicting a family of refugees is slated for Georgetown’s Grace Episcopal Church at 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW. The artist, Alaa Minawi, said he was inspired by his work as a translator for refugees in Lebanon between 2011 and 2014.  

The art installation, called “My Light Is Your Light,” depicts illuminated outlines of six refugees, all but one crouched over to symbolize their immense suffering. The youngest family member, however, stands upright to represent the optimism that comes with youth.

“I started knowing … what forced them to leave their homes, what things they’ve been going through, and what are their dreams and aspirations in the new place they want to go to,” Minawi told The Current. “Somehow, this triggered something in me. … I wanted to talk about this.”

Georgetown GLOW will be presented nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. starting Dec. 8 and continuing through Jan. 7.

This article appears in the Nov. 29 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

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Local Shops to Celebrate ‘Small Business Saturday’

November 23, 2017

By Grace Bird
Current Staff Writer

Stores and restaurants across D.C. are set to celebrate “Small Business Saturday” this week with discounts and giveaways, part of an annual event to encourage residents to shop locally.

Held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving every year across the country, the event is overseen by American Express as a way to promote the local retailers that bolster communities.

More than 70,000 small businesses currently operate in D.C., equating to 98.2 percent of the city’s total companies, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 2014, that translated to 240,441 jobs in the District.

Several Northwest business groups are participating in Saturday’s event, including organizations based in Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Tenleytown, Van Ness and Shaw.

The Georgetown Business Improvement District plans to distribute 10 American Express gift cards worth $100 each for participating small businesses to provide as extra giveaways for lucky shoppers, according to Georgetown BID communications director Lauren Boston.

“Each small business has its own unique story,” Boston told The Current. “They’re the heart of Georgetown at the end of the day.”

Nearly 30 small businesses in Georgetown have signed up to participate Saturday, offering discounts and freebies to shoppers. District Doughnut, located at 3327 Cady’s Alley NW, plans to give away “funfetti” doughnut bites; Pizza Paradiso at 3282 M St. NW is set to sell $4 draft beers, $6 glasses of wine and various discounted food items; farm-to-taco restaurant Chaia, located at 3207 Grace St. NW, is offering a complimentary side dish with every Taco Trio purchase; and secondhand retailer Christ Child Opportunity Shop, 1427 Wisconsin Ave. NW, will offer 10 percent discounts and host a jewelry trunk show. “Anything we can do to help provide a little bit more coverage, we just like to participate,” Christ Child’s Kelly Gotthardt said.

The consignment store provides another reason to “shop local,” as its proceeds go toward programs supporting District children in need, Gotthardt said. “We hope to improve the lives of kids who need attention, who need help,” she said.

Many local retailers in Adams Morgan are also partaking in Saturday’s event. For instance, Idle Time Books, which has operated at 2467 18th St. NW since 1981, is offering patrons who spend $25 or more a canvas gift bag.

“Adams Morgan is a wonderful place for shoppers to find the unique items on their list,” Rachel Davis of Adams Morgan’s BID told The Current. “We have hundreds of small businesses that offer things that you cannot find anywhere else.”

Susan Lihn — co-chair of the Cleveland Park Business Association and longtime owner of gift shop Wake Up Little Suzie, 3409 Connecticut Ave. NW — said in an interview that running a small business can be difficult but that Small Business Saturday has helped.

“It’s just a fun day in the store — people like it, they come because they want to support their local businesses,” said Lihn. “I think it’s fantastic.”

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