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The Old Town Crier – Newsletter of the Old Town Civic Association | Newsletter | OTCA

NOTICE OF THE NEXT MEETING OF OTCA

DATE: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 LOCATION: The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street

TIME: 7:00 p.m. (Socializing with neighbors) PROGRAM: 7:30 PM


OTCA IS PLEASED TO PRESENT A PROGRAM ON “THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF OLD TOWN”

OTCA member Ed Spar and his colleague Cam Gibson are demographers, formerly with the US Census Bureau (Cam) and the Council of Professional Associations of Federal Statistics (Ed). Ed is a graduate of the City College of New York and Cam received a degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Demographics sounds intrinsically stuffy, at first blush. But, a closer look at some numbers and some dialogue on their meaning can produce fascinating facts and stories.

Just living in Old Town makes one conscious of what went on here before one’s birth or one’s arrival here. Just how has Old Town changed, in your view, during that period of time? Are there more children now than in years past, or do many families end up moving to other areas of the city when their children reach (perhaps) middle school age? How, if at all, has the educational level of Old Town residents changed over the past several years or since you moved here?

They already have an answer to the last one: an impressive 46% of Old Towners had a graduate degree or other higher degree in 2010. That is 13% more than in 1990.

Ed and Cam promise not to put you to sleep, and they will bring hand-outs for you to review while they outline what Old Town really looks like, by the numbers.


OTCA IS ALSO PLEASED TO PRESENT AN UPDATE ON THE OLD TOWN AREA PARKING STUDY (OTAPS)

OTCA members Bert Ely and Yvonne Weight Callahan are members of the newly reconvened OTAPS study group representing OTCA. The fourth meeting of the study group will have occurred before this newsletter will be completed. Suffice it to say that each meeting seems to become more contentious, of which more later.

It is of course a given that there is much to complain about with regards to parking. There isn’t enough of it. Residents want to be able to locate a parking place reasonably close to their residence within a reasonable amount of time. Existing businesses hope that their customers can park reasonably nearby to shop. Businesses also want their employee’s parking needs addressed as well-something that is frequently overlooked.

The deeper one gets into the weeds, the larger becomes the problem. Parking in Old Town requires both a holistic approach-you can’t really talk about parking on the streets without considering garage parking, and meter time and pricing, and the trolley, and how many cars Old Towners should own, of which more later as well.

One thing is clear since the last OTAPS study in 2012; the City has continued to eagerly approve new developments in Old Town, all of which grant the developer the right to build fewer, not more, parking places on site. Both Carr Hotel and the EYA development at South Robinson Terminal (SRT) have been granted reductions in parking for their commercial and retail enterprises. In the case of EYA, it is providing thirty three fewer spaces than required. The justification for this: the restaurant diners will either be sitting inside if it is bad weather or outside if it is good weather. Never mind that many restaurants in Old Town with outdoor dining find that there are folks who prefer to eat inside, where it is cooler and maybe quieter, and avoid car fumes, motorcycles noises, barking dogs, and sunburn.

The EYA request for the parking reduction also notes that there will be 21 parallel parking spaces on Wolfe Street.

Wow. What an assist to the neighborhood in exchange for stuffing additional 92- 96 units into the neighborhood. Besides, those spaces are already there.

Anyone walking along that unit block of Wolfe Street will note something that is hardly remarkable-many of those spaces are now taken up, both day and night, by employees of nearby shops and restaurants. That is part of the overall parking supply that is becoming scarcer almost by the day, but EYA proposes to count those spaces as a permissible place for the new vehicles that will come with the project as a whole.

The remarkable thing is that there is in fact considerable space for more parking to be built underground. As it is right now, there will be no parking constructed under the townhouse portion of the SRT project to the north side of the project. Think Backyard Boats, with all parking conveniently near to the resident’s basement entrances.

That is not happening here. The area where the townhouses will go will have no parking underneath them. The reason why has barely been explored. In spite of OTCA member Michael Jennings’ entreaties to Council, no questions were asked concerning this topic and none were volunteered.

Why no parking under the town houses? “Flood mitigation requirements” were noted, as was the “desire to restrict garage access and loading to private streets”. Furthermore the area will include “a public street, requiring emergency vehicle loads, runs through the middle of the site”.

Those factors all sound as if a creative engineer should be put to work. A glance at the map showing the parking arrangement on the staff report where EYA is seeking the parking reduction also demonstrates that all those folks buying very expensive waterfront residences may have to-heaven forbid-walk quite a distance to their residences, which of course is all the more reason they may be more motivated to park in front of your house or mine, if SRT residents are able to obtain District One parking stickers. And if they don’t, their teenagers or the nanny or the painting contractor will.

Being stingy with underground parking might be okay, except the expectation on the part of city staff is that the new residents will be permitted to obtain District One parking stickers, and will be able to obtain guest and visitor parking permits to stuff all of those cars onto the public streets around, but not in, the new EYA development.

So, here’s the deal. NO new on-street parking will be provided anywhere in the entire development. We won’t get to park there. But, the real possibility remains that new residents will be allowed to park on the existing grid of streets, while no more new parking will be provided on the EYA site. So they get to compete with the current owners for parking, while providing none for us.   Council has declared a moratorium of sorts, by barring the issuance of District One parking stickers to SRT residents but the end chapter is not yet here. Staff still contends it is “equitable to provide the new residents with residential parking permits. But, if parking is provided on site for the EYA residents-perhaps two spaces per unit-why do they need permits in the first place?

But, how is it equitable to build a new project, permit a reduction in parking, utterly fail to maximize what can be built, and then shove the extra cars out onto the streets that are already full?

How many of us can build a garage under our house and avoid parking on the streets? Zero.

City Council has at this point in time bucked the district parking permit issue to OTAPS, and it must be stressed that not all of Council is on board with handing out those permits. So, it is all the more important for OTCA members to make their views known to council on this point.

Back to the larger issues, it is heartening to note that some local businesses and Old Town residences are finding common ground on parking issues. The tendency of the City to reduce parking requirements virtually as a matter of course puts all the more pressure on the existing businesses which do not have the luxury of building any parking at all; hence, small businesses in Old Town often feel the same pain. However, when the uber developments are built, parking for all suffers.

Some issues being considered by OTAPS include;

  • The installation of multispace meters on residential blocks within acceptable walking distance of King Street, which would exempt District permit. So far, there has been little discussion on this point although a few residents have raised questions about the installation of such devices in the residential Old and Historic District. They look bad enough on the more commercial streets.
  • Increased valet parking requirements. That would require (probably) more input from the restaurants and lots of analyses as to how such a program would work and who would bear the There are of course restaurants which are doing this voluntarily, which is commendable. (Thank you, Geranios.)
  • Expansion of the trolley’s hours and frequency of This idea is frequently raised, but there has been no response to it from City staff. Now, the trolleys begin to run at 11:00 am, on a 15 minute cycle. Many have suggested a 9:30 or 10:00 start time, with the cycle being either continuous or every ten minutes. That would enhance the ability of west of Alfred store owners and employees use the trolley to get to work.
  • Increased use of the new parking app Pango to pay for on-street parking, which it seems one either loves or There has been a LOT of discussion about Pango. At the last OTAPS meeting, a representative from Pango was there to answer questions. He basically said that the city could request any form of parking assistance from Pango and it could be reconfigured to meet the city’s plan.

To use Pango, you must first have a smart phone and the Pango app. Then you park in a particular Pango zone, tell with your smart phone where you are, and you are charged for the time you park there. Since city meters have a 2 hour limit you cannot renew your parking time. However, if you leave early, you will be credited back with the unexpended time.

So far, so good. But, the suggestion that Pango be installed in residential zones, with again an exception to the use of Pango by the residents of that parking district has some concerned about its overall impact on the Old Town neighborhood as a whole.

If I live in District One and my good friends live in District Two, and we want to have a leisurely dinner at their house, I must either pay to park over there, or they must arrange for guest parking. Neither is particularly conducive to neighborly get togethers or the fabric of the community as a whole.

  • Higher charges for multiple vehicles. This is one of staff’s favorite We are told, several times over, that-gasp-some Old Town residents have as many as 6 vehicles eligible for District parking permits. There aren’t many-by one estimate only 6% of such households have now permits for more than two vehicles. And, it must be noted, that number has dropped over the past two years-from 8% to 6%. So, the trend is going the right way without draconian measures to do just that.

But, there does appear to be a non-so-subtle amount of pressure being put on the residents and small businesses in Old Town to bear the brunt of any measures being taken to reduce the pressures of parking in the Old Town area, especially around and near King Street. What is the purpose, not to mention the fairness, of approving new developments which do not provide enough parking, which permits overspilling of those 500 seat restaurants onto the street, when to provide for that parking Old Towners must pay to visit neighbors and are essentially fined for having more than one or two vehicles?

Enough for now. We hope you can come to the May meeting and hear more.


OTCA ELECTIONS:    JUNE 10, 2015

NOMINEES FOR OFFICERS FOR THE 2015-2016 OTCA BOARD NOMINEES FOR DIRECTORS FOR THE TWO YEAR TERMS 2015-2017.

Below is the official notice from Corresponding Secretary Katy Cannady of the slate of candidates for the 2015-2016 Officers and the 2015-2017 Directors:

In accordance with the by-laws of the Old Town Civic Association, this is the notice to the members thereof that the nominating committee presented its report to me by April 15, 2012. The committee has reported the following candidates for the offices indicated as its slate. The committee further advised me that it has received the acceptance of each such nominee. In addition, the committee will make its report to the members of the association at the May 13, 2015, meeting of the members of OTCA.

The Nominating Committee unanimously nominated the following slate of officers for election to the one year term 2015-2016 and directors to the two year terms 2015- 2017:

Officers: (These positions are for one-year terms, but incumbents may be re- elected for an additional one-year term)

President: Yvonne Weight Callahan Vice President: Bert Ely

Treasurer – Rick Metzer

Corresponding Secretary: Katy Canady Recording Secretary: Kappy Kapellas

Directors: (These positions are for two-year terms and may be filled by election to a second two-year term;

North of King – East of Washington: Philip Matyas Central: Hugh Van Horn

North of King – West of Washington: Bryan Kirkes All of the above have agreed to serve.

Bob Wood, Gail McCurry and Steve Milone are completing the first year of their two-year terms as At Large, South of Franklin and South of King – West of Washington Directors, respectively, so their offices are not up for nomination and election this year.

The members of the nominating Committee were: Kleber S. Masterson, Jr. – chairman

Christine Bernstein – member Hal Hardaway – member Diann Hicks – member

Boyd Walker – member


RECORD DATE SET FOR THE QUALIFICATION TO VOTE AT OTCA’S JUNE 2015 ANNUAL MEETING.

Corresponding Secretary Katy Cannady also wishes to make known that the OTCA board has set May 13, 2015 is the “record date” for eligibility to vote at the annual meeting to be held on June 10, 2015 to be held at the Lyceum on South Washington Street, at 7:30 p.m. This is, coincidentally, the date of the upcoming May members meeting, so members who enroll at that meeting will be eligible to vote at the annual meeting and may submit additional nominees at the May 13, 2015 meeting. Therefore, in order for your vote to count, you must have paid their OTCA membership dues by this May date. Nominations from the floor may be made only at the May meeting, not at the Annual Meeting in June; each nomination must secure five members’ support for the nominee and the nominee’s agreement for submission.

If you wish to submit nominations from the floor, please send the names and the names of the supporting members to Katy Cannady (Katy_Cannady20@Comcast.Net), prior to the May meeting, so that she may verify their eligibility.

The current membership dues are $ 25 per household. Please mail your checks to: Old Town Civic Association, P.O.Box 1213 , Alexandria, Virginia 22313, or go to our web site at OTCA.org.


Recently an OTCA member remarked that a lot of this newsletter was negative. Well, yes, true. A lot of us feel beleaguered a good bit of the time. But, the point is well taken. There is much we love about Old Town, so this is another in our periodic series about what we love and cherish in our neighborhood.

This is an eager guest at the Bone Box at the Enchanted Florist. Many Old Town dogs, were they to be let loose to go where they wished, could be found quite quickly at the corner of Prince and South Fairfax. Thank you, Enchanted Florist, for bringing so many smiles and so many happy dogs to your store.


The Old Town Civic Association (OTCA) lets Old Town Post re-publish their Old Town Crier Newsletter to our readership. If you are not already, please consider getting involved with the OTCA.  For more information about the Old Town Civic Association and membership opportunities click here: http://www.oldtowncivic.org/assets/docs/otcamembershipapplication20140924.pdf

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