Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Shoveling the sidewalk issue in DC

Based on the remarks of the Councilmembers initially present at today's hearing (Councilmembers Wells, Graham, and Cheh) and the testimony of DPW Director William Howland, there is no question that over the last two years, both the legislative and executive branches of DC Government have broadened their understanding that snow clearance and public safety is more than just clearing snow from the city's streets, that it is equally important to maintain "way" for pedestrians, transit users, and bicyclists.

DPW and DDOT have been meeting with various local and federal government agencies and continue to press the issue with federal agencies such as the National Park Service, which says that it isn't receiving appropriations to cover sidewalk snow clearance, only enough money to clear interior parcels.

So writings in this (I know DDOT must be reading because they are using an image in their snow removal poster that comes from an entry I ran in 2009) and other blogs, and of course citizen haranguing, is having some effect.

- 2009, Planning for complete places means planning for people, not just cars
- 2010, A maintenance of way agenda for the walking and transit city

I won't be able to post my testimony until tomorrow, but I was surprised while preparing my testimony, that reading the DC Code sections on snow and ice removal, that DC Government and the Federal Government is supposed to be responsible for clearing sidewalks adjacent to public buildings, parks, squares, and open spaces controlled by the respective governments. Furthermore, DC Government is supposed to clear curb ramps to the street and sidewalks across alleys, according to the Code.

There was a lot of discussion about how certain DC government agencies, in particular Schools and Parks and Recreation, haven't been carrying out their responsibilities.

There were two panels. The first was "pro" (Jason Broehm of the Pedestrian Advisory Council, ANC Commissioner Bob Summersgill, David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington, and myself), while the second panel was majority against (a Holland and Knight lawyer representing CVS, a mother-daughter team, the daughter an ANC commissioner in Ward 4, the aged mother a Capitol Hill resident, argued against the legislation, the ANC Commissioner stating that if people didn't have sidewalks it wasn't fair that they didn't have to share the burden, etc., and a person from Glover Park discussed their volunteer cadre of snow shovelers).

Councilmembers focused on the health and safety aspects of the proposed changes, while Councilmember Graham was concerned about difficulties in implementation, and whether or not the city should employ phalanxes of casual labor to assist in snow clearance.

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