Housing Complex

Does Cleveland Park Need More Sidewalk Space?

The Cleveland Park listserv has gotten more riled up than I've seen it in a long while over the the most time-honored topic of all listserv discussion: Parking. Specifically, whether it's worth getting rid of some parking spaces on the service lane on the east side of Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Ordway Streets in order to create a more pedestrian-friendly experience.

As things stand, especially during busy times of day, walkers have to hop on and off the curb to get around each other, there's no space for sidewalk cafes, and forget bikes–you'll be lucky to find a street sign to hitch up to. But it does provide parking for about 60 cars*, according to a 2005 count from the Department of Transportation.

That's enough to have a local blog and 300 residents sign on to a petition for an end to the service lane, which they call "a mistake that can be fixed." (I should note that the claim about pedestrian safety is at least out of date; the two intersections aren't among the 20 most dangerous in the city according to recent data, and speeds along Connecticut through Porter Street have actually decreased.)

Predictably, businesses aren't so jazzed about the idea of getting rid of convenient parking for customers. Susan Linh, owner of a gift shop and president of the Cleveland Park Business Association—though she's speaking only on her own behalf—says such a change would be "devastating."

"It just seems odd to me if people want more cafes and all of this, everybody here doesn't want more bars, and yet they want to close the service road to have more cafes?" she says. "You want a small town feel? You do this, you're going to have a lot of people that are going to be gone."

The question is a real one, because DDOT has already allocated $250,000 for a study to create a master plan for the commercial strip, and could come up with some real recommendations for a redesign. Based on the divergent views of whether cars or pedestrians should take priority, consensus looks like a hard place to reach.

* The 60-car figure applies to cars on both the inside and outside of the lane.

  • Frazier

    Point # 1. Parking for 60 cars? Those businesses only wish. The parkable length of that service road is 600'. The average length of the average sedan is 15' "technically fitting 40 vehicles who are all literally touching (bumper-to-bumper) leaving no room between or to park. Then of course, you have the SUV's etc that are much larger.

    I have never seen more than 22-25 cars parked there, with every space taken, so lets not be ridiculously hyperbolic.

    Point#2. In looking through those petition signatures, easily 1/3rd of them are not even District residents. We even have people from Oregon etc signing. Who the heck cares what non-DC residents think? Non-Distric residents get zero say in the matter so stop wasting your time.

    Having said that, I imagine future "signers" will just pretend they are residents.

  • Greg

    Including a parking garage in the plan for the new commercial strip would solve a lot of the problem. Such a structure can be constructed in an aesthetically neutral manner.

    Even with that service lane, parking in the Cleveland Park area is incredibly difficult to find. A bunch of cars idling around the side streets looking for parking does not help the pedestrian environment either.

  • DC Guy

    The neighborhood already screwed that idea by landmarking the Park and Shop - the obviously place where a parking facility could have been located.

  • SW

    The People's Republic of CP...at it again.

  • http://influentialdc.com Justin

    I think a great option would be to have the area refurbished and renovated to have more of a community feel that provides options for outdoor seating/cafes, as well as parking for the businesses.

    * Install brick pavers on Connecticut Avenue from the bridge at Macomb street to Quebec, reducing the speed limit to 25.
    * Convert the current parallel parking on Connecticut to angled front-in metered parking.
    * Make the lot at Sam's Park & Shop metered not operating by a private parking company.
    * Using new signage, lights, trees, benches, etc. transform the sidewalk areas into something more than a place to dodge traffic.
    * Radical Idea: Make Connecticut & Quebec a traffic circle providing the option for through traffic to pass underneath the area before Quebec and re-emerge just before the bridge.

  • John M

    That service lane is such a waste of space. Not only does it not even provide a lot of parking, but it also makes crossing Connecticut very dangerous.

    Replace the service lane parking with on-street parking in the main travel lanes (rush hour exceptions, of course).

    Make the service lane into a wide sidewalk, capable of supporting cafes, and other sidewalk space, just like across the street by Uptown Theatre.

  • Eric

    Two words: underground parking.

  • Johnny

    I support this plan for many reasons but mostly because it would be really awesome if Vaces got some outdoor seating. Even more awesome if they get a couple beers on draft to go along with it.

  • Sally

    Justin - YOu're an idiot. Please go post on Greater Greater Washington where they condone such idiocy.

  • http://www.iwishthiswasasidewalk.org Herb Caudill

    The 60 parking spots figure must include the metered parking along Connecticut Avenue *outside* the service lane, on the other side of the little median. Those spots would be unaffected by this proposal. Inside the service lane there are 26 spots - you can count them easily enough on Google Maps.

    @Frazier: There are a few non-DC signatures, which will be discarded (we can't remove them from Change.org or we would). At this point they represent just under 10% of the public signatures.

  • Johnny

    Stay classy Sally.

  • Mary

    The parking is needed to run in and use these businesses, get back to your car and move on with your day. Some groceries and items are heavy and you need your car nearby to use the business. This area has plenty of restaurants and sidewalk restaurants so more are not needed and that is a poor reason to close the service lane. Cleveland Park has too little parking and they need all the parking they have plus the SERVICE LANE to serve the community.