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 (I should note that the claim about pedestrian safety is at least out of date; the two intersections aren’t among the 20 most dangerous in the city according to recent data, and speeds along Connecticut through Porter Street have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.