Ivy City bus lot plans halted by judge

December 10, 2012

(Illustration by The Washington Post)

The activists fighting to keep a tour bus parking lot out of Ivy City won a significant victory Monday when a judge ordered the city to hold off on its plans.

Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso found that city officials broke the law by not seeking input from the area’s advisory neighborhood commission and by circumventing a mandated environmental assessment.

While the city can finish construction on the lot, next to the Crummell School at Kendall and Gallaudet streets NE, it cannot use the area to stage buses until it seeks approval from the local ANC and seeks a more comprehensive environmental review. That process could take several months.

During court hearings, a former city official said plans were presented to the Ivy City Civic Association rather than the ANC because the ICCA had been “more vocal” about the project, which involves repaving the lot and erecting a new fence and landscaping. 

“To reason that the ANC need not be consulted because it was less vocal and therefore less interested than the ICCA is simply not permitted under District law,” Macaluso wrote.

Jose Sousa, a spokesman for the District’s economic development office, said officials are “examining the decision and evaluating for immediate appeal.”

The city pressed the Crummell School parking plan after the creation of an intercity bus terminal at Union Station in September meant evicting tour buses from parking spaces there. In court, the former city official said a proposal to park the tour buses at the old Greyhound terminal just north of Union Station was eliminated because ANC members there “didn’t want buses there period.”

Johnny Barnes, a civil rights attorney who represented neighborhood residents, called the ruling “a resounding victory, not just for Ivy City but the entire city.”

“The court recognized the role of ANCs in the city,” he said. “The District has not been respectful of that role. This could mean a turning point in the role that ANCs play and were intended to play.”

Barnes acknowledged “some concern” that the city will cross the T’s identified in Macaluso’s ruling, then move ahead with the bus lot plans. “But I have more hope than concern,” he said. “My hope is that the mayor and those in positions of power will recognize that you can’t run roughshod over the right of participation at the grass-roots level.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · December 10, 2012