Elections, Collections and more: ANC 4D January meeting notes

Commissioners Branton, Colbert, Bowser, Roth and Quirk

Commissioners Branton, Colbert, Bowser, Roth and Quirk

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4D had its January meeting on Tuesday the 19th. Overall it was a pretty interesting meeting, with Khalil Thompson announcing an office change, DPW acting Director Christopher Shorter discussing snow, trash and ticketing, the FD/EMS Chief making an appearance and a rather quick election of officers. 

When the meeting opened, Commissioners Sheon and Quirk were not present (Sheon is on vacation and Quirk showed up after 10 minutes). But hey, four's a quorum for 4D so they were able to start.

Commissioner Krystal Branton gave the Treasurer’s Monthly and Fourth Quarter Report, with 11,882.60 total in checking (4D doesn't have a savings account). Brandon made a motion to allocate up to $600 for permit fees and other items for upcoming 4D health fair in May (needs to be paid before the next meeting). Approved without discussion.

Then they moved on to the election of officers. They handled this differently than ANC 4C. Apparently 4D discussed officer positions during their executive meeting and decided upon the roles (as opposed to ANC 4C, who didn’t discuss their officers’ election until the public meeting). After announcing who would take which role, they voted on the whole slate at one time for a unanimous approval. There is no change from last year.

  • Commissioner Lisa Colbert for Chair. 
  • Commissioner Bowser for Vice Chair.
  • Commissioner Branton for Treasurer. 
  • Commissioner Roth for Secretary. 

They unanimously approved participation in the ANC Security Fund (it's required). $25 fee for all ANCs -- it's like insurance for the ANC funds. 

Commissioner Nancy Roth provided an update on Castello Restaurant protest (Roth read on Sheon’s behalf). For details, see the prior Petworth News article on this topic, “Distrust and desire: When a neighborhood and a restaurant collide.” 

The future home of Castello Restaurant & Lounge, 931 Hamilton St NW

High level overview: At the January 6th ABRA protest hearing, more than a dozen neighbors came out to represent the community at the meeting, with three residents testifying about crime and impact of the proposed restaurants. Commissioner Sheon argued that the late night hours were inappropriate for a residential street, and crime in that area seems to spike wherever late night establishments stay open. Sheon suggested people email him with questions about the meeting. You can read the transcript on ABRA’s website when they become available — look for the January transcripts.

Commissioner Colbert mentioned that the ANC 4D Holiday Party and Coat Drive held in December at Sandovan Restaurant was successful, collecting 70 coats for students at Truesdell and Barnard. 

Coming up news… There are 13 businesses in ANC 4D that must renew their liquor licenses by March (it’s a three year cycle). ANC 4D wants to get a settlement agreement in place for each establishment that is up for renewal. The ANC is looking for residents to volunteer to work with the businesses and the ANC to get the agreements. If interested, please contact Commissioners Roth or Sheon. (Here's a list of the businesses in 4D up for renewal.)

Commissioner Colbert said the ANC and Howard University are looking for 25 families in Ward 4 and 5 willing to volunteer to have a vegetable garden. Contact Commissioner Colbert if interested in learning more.

Lastly, Commissioner Colbert said the ANC is also looking for volunteers to help with their upcoming health fair and 4D Day. Contact Commissioner Colbert if interested in learning more.

Commissioner Renee Bowser

Commissioner Renee Bowser announced that 4D is planning on giving out community grants this year (yay, go 4D!) They will have a grant application ready for review at the March meeting. Right now, the plan is to do a grant process once quarterly. All grants must be used in a 60 day period after being given the money by the ANC, and the grant activity has to substantially benefit ANC 4D residents. (Hey ANC 4C — lookit 4D out community-ing you.) More info to come.

Commissioner Roth said she is looking for volunteers to join a committee to volunteer to help work on nuisance properties. “Beyond vacant and blighted,” she said, “we’re looking to work on occupied building where the residents are behaving badly. It's a kettle of fish and difficult to solve. The situation can have detrimental effects on the community when households acts in ways that hurts their neighbor's around them.” She mentioned that she’s working with David Gottfried and wants others to work on this effort. “I’m looking to meet in early to mid-February." If interested, contact Commissioner Roth.

Commissioner Bowser said she is looking for people to work on affordable housing as an ANC project. “This folds into public safety, as have to have a community that has a home and respect for everyone in the community, not just some. Our community is rapidly becoming a community for higher income people and we wonder why lower income people may be offended. We need affordable housing.” Contact Commissioner Bowser to volunteer.

Dolly Turner and Jordan Bailey

Dolly Turner from Councilmember Brandon Todd’s office introduced Jordan Bailey, the new Constituent Services Coordinator (he reports to Jackson Carnes). Bailey said he’s originally from Philadelphia, went to Howard University where he recently graduated. Looking forward to getting to know the area. He mentioned the Councilmember conducted walkthroughs of Riggs Park, Lamond and Petworth; reports coming on those soon. Todd recently had anti-graffiti legislation passed, increased fine to $2,500. If you have constituent services needs, you can reach Jordan at 202-802-7622 or jbailey@dccouncil.us.

A resident wanted to know if there was a way hiring young people instead of fining them. “Get them to clean graffiti or find designated places for them to do graffiti murals as public artwork,” he said. (Great idea.) Ms. Turner said she would take that back to the councilmember.

Khalil Thompson came up and announced he’s leaving the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and taking a position at DDOT. He introduced Michael Lewis who will be taking over for Mr. Thompson. Jasmin Benab will still be a Ward 4 liaison for the Mayor. 

Michael Lewis, new Ward 4 liaison and Khalil Thompson, outgoing liaison.

Mr. Lewis has lived in and served the community for five years, and said he’s excited to work on this process. He just started and doesn’t have contact info to share yet, but will.

The first guest speaker was Christopher Shorter, Acting Director of DPW (DC Deptartment of Public Works. Mr. Shorter said his department is responsible for solid waste management, illegal dumping, parking enforcement and fleet management for DC. 

DPW Acting Director Christopher Shorter

He introduced DPW staff, who stood to introduce themselves. “We’re a proud family and team at DPW,” Mr. Shorter said. “When I come to these meetings I bring a group of staff who know more than me on many of these issues."

DPW staff at the ANC meeting.

One resident gave ROSA citations props for being effective, and asked for greater enforcement for people to get their trash cans after pickup, instead of leaving them in the street or out in the alley. Shorter said they do want to know, and to reach out.

He said, in reference to the resident who mentioned the idea of giving youth an opportunity to work on murals instead of fining them for graffiti, that DPW ha a Murals DC program, working with the Commission on Arts and Humanities, provide grants / stipends to paint murals across the district. He said they just finished one on 15th and U St NW. If there are artists are interested, look at website.

Regarding snow and trash collection, Mr. Shorter said that unlike in previous years, a multiple day event will not delay collection for a week (previously, DPW would skip the pickup until the next scheduled collection day). This year and moving forward, DPW will slide the schedule forward. So Friday and Saturday collection will move forward to the next available day, not next week. 

Commissioner Nancy Roth

Commissioner Roth asked about access by the trucks in the alleys with a lot snow. Shorter said that they have purchased equipment to spot treat alleys that are the most difficult to access (not to clear all alleys, but for the safety of the DPW staff collecting trash). They will be putting brine / or beet juice (which lasts 72 hours) to help keep alleys clear. He said they’ve recently purchased new cleats (shoe gear) for crews to make it safer, and have 60 foot hoses that can spray treat alleys. He said they are looking to avoid the challenges from the past. “We will do our very best to collect trash and recycling. The Mayor has been very clear with me that she doesn't want this to be an issue this season and we will certainly do our best to make sure it is not."

Commissioner Quirk asked about Christmas tree pickup. Mr. Shorter said that for the foreseeable future, residents should now put any trees out with the trash for DPW to collect, not in tree boxes.

Commissioner Bowser asked if DPW has signs prohibiting illegal dumping. She said there had been a problem with bus stop trash cans and they had put flyers up with local residents and it worked, but now illegal dumping has coming back.  Mr. Shorter said that DPW cites for illegal dumping, and would be willing to stake out an area if illegal dumping was happening regularly (the DPW SWEEP team reviews the number of complaints in a certain area).  

Commissioner Bowser mentioned a local apartment that has overflowing trash at the 5100 block of 2nd Street. “Can something be done to get them a larger trash bin?” Mr. Shorter said that they would look into it, but that apartment complexes need to have the right size bins from their third-party vendor. DPW will educate first, but if conditions aren't changed they will cite.

Mr. Shorter said there is a hardship program available for residents who cannot bring their trash out to public space, and trash crews will wheel their bins to their front door or garage door. Call 311 to register in the hardship program. 

Shovel or face a fine… Mr. Shorter talked about the new law applying this season for sidewalk and curb cut cleaning requirements. If you live on the corner or have a business on the corner, you're required to clean the sidewalk and the curb cut by 37 inches minimum width, (sidewalk must be 37 inch minimum path). The team that will be citing are part of the snow team (driving light plows), so once the weather ends, they will go into areas and begin warning first, then giving out citations.

It’s a $25 fine for residents, $150 for businesses. Sidewalks must be cleaned by the next day, 8 hours in after daylight. (So if the snow stops Saturday night, DPW won't start citing until 8 hours after sunrise on Sunday morning.)

He reiterated that DPW will give out warnings first. He said residents who are 65 and older who own their home, or residents with a disability can call 311 to sign up for an exemption. (Will need a signed doctor’s note signed that states the resident can't safely clear a sidewalk.

Mr. Shorter finished by saying that since August 1st, DPW has given out 3,936 citations for parking violations in ANC 4D.

DC FD/EMS Chief Gregory Dean

Gregory Dean, the Chief of DC FD/EMS spoke about third-party transport for emergency services. He said that FD/EMS is working with the city administrator and the Mayor's office to find a third-party in the next few weeks who will supplement city services. When you call 911, DC Fire will still show up. If non-life threatening, they'll call the third-party vendor (from 7-1am) to take a resident to a hospital, allowing the city units to go back into service. Chief Dean said this frees up his staff to attend more training, and making more vehicles available. 

Commissioner Bowser asked, “Why not just hire more? Why hire third party?”

Chief Dean said that even if they hired more, “We lose time with units at the hospital, but now third-party units will be the ones to stay at the hospital, while our units can respond to 911 calls.”

He also mentioned the FD/EMS is offering “hands-only CPR program / training” to groups that want the free training (no mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). They’ve trained 3,700 people so far with the 20 minute training. 

A resident mentioned the old fire station along the 5800 block of Georgia Ave, saying he wants to maintain the facade of that station for historic purposes. Chief Dean apparently has heard this request before, “Yes, the facade, the facade. We hear you.”

Commissioner Bowser said she was concerned about the cadet program, that it was an entry way for the community to get into FD. “Has the program been slowed down or displaced by national exam?” 

Chief Dean said the cadet programs remains in place, and they just graduated 18 cadets in December, with another 20 going into the program. (It's a one year program for high school graduates.)  He said that 3,700 people applied to the national exam, for only a class of 20. Dean said that they give extra preference for DC residents  and those with veteran status for entry.

Commissioner Colbert discussed the passing of Mr. Joseph Kelley (he was well-known in the neighborhood and helped with 4D Day). Commissioner Roth said he was a pillar of the community, often at meetings. She said she will miss him very much. Commissioner Bill Quirk said there has been a great outpouring of support for Mr. Kelly for his community work. 

Commissioner Bill Quirk

In February, the ANC has invited guest speakers:

  • Councilmembers Silverman and Grosso on 16-week family leave legislation
  • Howard Univ. doctor on heart disease (FEb is heart month).

Right at the end, a gentleman (didn’t quite catch the name, I think it was John Copozzi) from the DC Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) came up to talk about Connect DC. It’s a program that offers assistance with obtaining Internet access and computers for those who otherwise could not afford it.

Internet access is available for $10 a month, and desktop computer for only $25 (laptops run $60-$70) — one time purchase. If a person gets any type of public assistance, they can qualify to take advantage of this program, even if they already own a computer. Connect DC trains people on basic Internet understanding, Microsoft Office training and some programming as well. He said they will do free classes any where, as long as the ANC can get the space and people. 

He added that Connect DC hires 60 youth each summer, and suggested residents contact OCTO if someone knows young people interested in technology. More at connect.dc.gov.

Lastly, Councilmember Brandon Todd is having an ANC commissioner meeting on January 30 from 9-11am, so if residents have issues they want to raise, contact their SMD commissioners.

Next meeting of ANC 4D is February 16th.