Petworth News

Hey 4D peeps, here are my notes from the February 24th ANC 4D Commission meeting. Sorry they're a day late -- last night after the meeting was PowerPoint night for upcoming work meetings. No rest for Petworth News, I tell ya! TL;DR: Lots of discussion about the problems with the Clubhouse on Georgia & Hamilton with Captain Brian Bray in attendance to explain the Jan 19th incident / huge fight. The ANC passed a resolution to ask ABRA to permanently suspend their liquor license. ABRA advisor talked about enforcement, Arcadia non-profit got a letter of support for a parking permit and there were some really tasty crepes from Aboil Cafe.

Longer notes:

It was a relatively straightforward meeting with some particularly interesting highlights. Commissioners Renee Bowser (4D02) and Bill Quirk (4D06) were not in attendance due to schedule conflicts (note that this meeting was rescheduled from a prior week due to snow). The ANC went over typical ANC items (agenda, meeting minutes, etc) and discussed the Treasury report ($9,696.95 available, and they haven’t yet received their quarterly allotment from DC gov).

Commissioner David Sheon (ANC 4D04) introduced MPD Captain Brian Bray, the 4D midnight shift commander, to speak about the January 19th fight at the Clubhouse (also known as the Trinidad & Tobago Association Club) at 5123 Georgia Avenue NW. Captain Bray went over the events of that night in good detail. An MPD call came in at 1:15am on the morning of Jan 19th for a “large fight with 300 people outside” the Clubhouse. “It was a huge fight,” Bray said. “ People bleeding… we had to close Georgia Avenue both ways, and had more than 30 officers on scene.” From MPD’s investigation, they found that the club had around 500-600 people inside, more than double their allowable occupancy. He said the club doesn’t have a security plan and not enough bouncers, and they were serving minors.

The fight began in the downstairs bar, with an argument over a girl (ain’t it always so?). Someone got hit with a bottle over the head (fracturing an eye socket, ouch). Seems the club’s security team started peppering spraying everyone downstairs and the crowd surged outside. 25 people ended up with injuries. The management did not cooperate with MPD. This club has had years of problems, with 7 incidents (assaults) in the last year alone. A private club (not a nightclub), they have about 2-3 events a month.

And oh boy, do the neighbors despise this place. Commissioner Nancy Roth (4D01) mentioned that in conversations with neighbors they talked about how unhappy they were with the place, “they’re quite concerned and upset, and feel it diminishes the quality of life.”

A neighbor at the meeting, Ms. Wallace, got up to talk about how the club “let’s out around 5am” as she’s getting up for church, and young people are outside “raisin’ hell and cursing” while they hang out front and in the back of the club. She’s concerned about people getting hurt and the significant amount of trash strewn around the area. “Yard looks like a trash heap!”

Another neighbor said that there’s “no place for young people to get together. Maybe we can work with the club?” To which Commissioner Sheon replied “You need a dance partner to do that,” saying that the owner has not responded to repeated requests to meet with residents and ANC commissioners.

Captain Bray discussed the noise statute (apparently it’s changed a few times). Currently, MPD can respond to noise complaints that occur after 11pm and can cite incidents that meet a standard of a “reasonable person” would consider too loud. MPD will issue a warning first, and if a second call is made, can then ticket the offenders.

Then Sarah Fashbaugh, the Community Resource Advisor for ABRA got up to speak, invited also by Commissioner Sheon. (By the way ABRA stands for Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. ABRA issues liquor licenses, holds regulator inspections and manages renewals of licenses.) Ms Fashbaugh described her role at ABRA as the “first line of defense for residents” when dealing with problem establishments. “I know the right people to annoy to help you,” she said.

She asked residents to call the ABRA Complaint Hotline if restaurants, bars, etc, are littering, being loud, etc. (The number is 202-329-6347.) There is someone manning the phones during the hours bars are open (so up to 3am Sunday - Thursday, and up to 4am on Friday - Saturday).

Ms. Fashbaugh said it’s not enough for residents to take pictures or video, an ABRA inspector has to witness the offending action, litter, etc. For example, if you call about noise, 2 ABRA inspectors will come to your home, close the windows and doors and if the sound is still noticeable, can then fine the establishment $1,000. They don’t check decibel levels.

Interestingly, all liquor licenses across the city are coming up for renewal starting March 31. There will be a 45-day period where residents and ANCs can file protests against establishments having their license renewed (must be a group of 5+ residents or ANCs located within 600 feet of an establishment).

ANC Chair Lisa Colbert (4D03) asked what kind of impact or influence does the ANC have with ABRA. Ms Fashbaugh said ANCs carry “great weight with ABRA regarding moratoriums, protests, rules, etc.” ABRA encourages ANCs to write and submit resolutions regarding support or protests, but points out that the ABRA Board does not have to follow the desires of the ANC commission (she gave the example that ABRA can’t force a “licensee” to attend ANC or community meetings” as part of the liquor license).

Then Juju Harris, the SNAP Outreach Coordinator and Culinary Educator from Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture was introduced by Nancy Roth. Ms Harris was at the meeting to request a letter of support for a parking permit in the Kennedy Street area. Arcadia uses vans and trucks to provide fresh produce and other foods to “neighborhoods that don’t have access to fresh veggies and bread.” Arcadia accepts WIC and doubles the value of food assistance vouchers. They’re currently focused on serving seniors in the area with shelf-stable food and fresh produce. Their farmer’s market is open Friday mornings in the Kennedy area (open later on Wednesday nights in Ladroit Park). The ANC voted to provide a letter of support. (Side humorous note, while the ANC was taking a vote on the letter, a resident called out “Is this a conversation you all are having among yourselves?” This confused the commissioners until Sheon explained that they were voting on the letter.)

Khalil Thompson, the mayor’s Ward 4 liaison, spoke quickly before heading out to his third community meeting of the night.

Nancy Roth introduced the proprietor of Lucky Corner Store, a gentleman by the name of Yousef. Nancy said that Yousef missed the liquor license hearing because he was “unfamiliar with the licensing process” so they were helping him get things straightened out.

Nancy also introduced Mr Zhi from Aboil Cafe, a new breakfast and lunch restaurant on the 5503 Georgia Ave NW. The cafe recently opened after receiving a Great Street Capitol Improvement grant in 2014. The place has great reviews so far (see Yelp, and Mr Zhi and his chef brought in some sample crepes for the ANC and residents. (Yeah, the nutella crepe was awesome people.)

David Sheon discussed the DDOT traffic study occurring on Illinois Ave between Jefferson and Sherman Circle. They’re trying to determine if there is a need for a better pedestrian crossing (and they’re looking into a lighted crosswalk by the Colony House at Farragut & Georgia Ave).

David Sheon also spoke about the Georgia Line store that people seem to be having problems with. (There’s allegations that they tried bribing someone not to testify against them at an upcoming ABRA hearing.)

I spoke about the Ward 4 Candidates Info website (you’ve been keeping up with the Resident / Candidate Q&As, right?)

The ANC voted to approve the resolution on the Clubhouse liquor license suspension. Then they adjourned! from Petworth News

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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