Last night I attended the ANC 4D Meeting, and here are my notes. As always, anything misquoted or opinionated is my fault, anything you dislike is the ANC’s fault. TL;DR (the short version): MPD talked about recent March 12th homicide (arrest made), gang-related activities and 8th & Jefferson issues. The upcoming Kennedy Street Improvements took up much of the meeting time, as did some odd commissioner / resident debate on moving the ANC office to a more affordable location. Georgia Line Convenience store took some heat (again) about an upcoming ABRA renewal, and the community decided they want a separate meeting to discuss the issue (March 24).
Longer version for your reading pleasure (emphasis on longer):
After the initial meeting needs (roll call, minutes, etc) the ANC did the treasurer’s report. Cash on hand for ANC 4D is $6,520.94, with $3,176.01 spent in February (telecom, rent, a beautification project and a small banking charge). Interestingly, ANC 4D’s budget is much less than 4C, a product of the number of residents in the ANC. ANCs get money from DC based on population (basically, a dollar a person annually).
MPD then kicked off the meeting with 4D Commander Wilfredo Manlapaz, Inspector Vendette Parker and PSA 403 Lieutenant Shane Lamond, who spoke about the March 12 homicide at 8th & Jefferson. There was an arrest of an adult male in the 3/12 shooting, who was the only suspect MPD had. Case is now closed and is going to trial.
This then turned into a rather long session of questions and answers, and clearly residents need to consider attending their local PSA meetings in order to meet their MPD leadership as well as ask questions. I think it’s also a good idea for big crime events like a homicide that MPD to hold a separate community meeting as an “after action report” to discuss the event (what they *can* discuss), and respond to valid resident concerns. Open communication is always a benefit.
The first question asked by a resident was about gang-related crime: is the local rise in crime related to gangs, and what role / what actions is MPD taking? Commander Manlapaz responded that “We have some intervention. There really is no law about being in a gang, but if they commit a crime in a gang, we can go after them." Cmdr Manlapaz continued that in most ways, it starts out not as a police issue, but as a societal issue. "It goes to the social issue of why did they join the gang in the first place?” he said. “It's a number of issues. It's a tough thing to tackle, especially by the police. It has be intervention before the police get involved."
Commissioner Quirk asked if MPD has any numbers on current gang members. Lt. Lamond said they don’t have that information. DC doesn’t call them gangs, but “crews.” The distinction, he said, is in how they think about larger, more organized gangs like the Crips and the Bloods, etc. DC doesn’t have those type of gangs, but smaller, more familial groups, with membership passed down with generations.
Lt. Lamond, who is the PSA 403 manager, said that more resources have been allocated for the 8th & Jefferson area, including more mountain bike patrols concentrated into the area. MPD’s Intel unit is gathering information as well on the gangs / crews. Lt Lamond went on to say that being in a gang isn't illegal so they can’t stop you or arrest you for being in a gang. Lt Lamond mentioned that MPD once tried to get a camera for the area, going back during Commander Missouri's time, but the camera was denied as the crime stats back then didn't support it. Now Cmdr Manlapaz has asked for one again, hoping to hear back.
A resident asked about the crime stats were low and that's why we can't have a camera? One person said, “So there is a number of crimes that have to happen to get a camera?” Someone else added, "How many people have to die to get a camera?" Cmdr Manlapaz said they're looking at moving existing cameras, as they can't buy a new one. It's take one, move it over. If Chief Groomes and Chief Lanier approve the transfer, it can take 15-30 days to move, he said.
Another resident raised issue about drinking / smoking weed at playground with children around. “Can't you stop and talk to adults hanging out at a playground,” he said. Lt Lamond replied that MPD gives “special attention to parks and playgrounds, like Emery Rec is a big one, young adults hang out on the playground and basketball courts at night. It's illegal to hang out there after dark." He said “if you see adults at night, call the police. We’ll identify them and send them on their way.” Another resident mentioned that he never sees police cars stop at the park (he lives across the street). Lt Lamond said that “Loitering isn't illegal, though it would make our job easier if it was.” So MPD can’t just stop a citizen standing on the corner, looking shady. There has to be a call into MPD, and to frisk the suspect there has to be probable cause. And smelling marijuana is not probable cause anymore. While it’s illegal to smoke in public, it’s not illegal to possess less than an ounce in public, or to smell like it.
Then Commissioner Nancy Roth raised her hand to ask a question (love that she raised her hand, so polite). She said that the recent “incidents are scary, and people are concerned.” She spoke about seeing a person with a mask over his face, just standing on the corner on a warm day. While suspicious to her, how can she know if it’s really a potential criminal or someone hanging out trying to be warm? Lt Lamond responded that “if you point it out, if you think it's suspicious, call 911. We’ll come by, talk to them and go on our way if we find everything is fine.”
Another resident mentioned that there was an open air drug market at 8th & Jefferson, "Why not watch it?" He said he sees people hanging out, selling drugs, and so on. Lt. Lamond responded that MPD needs to see criminal activity to take action, but they do drive bys. Tips are great, but MPD needs to see it.
An older resident asked for crime statistics for the area, as he wants to know what areas to avoid. Got a laugh from the public. Lt. Lamond mentioned the 4D listserv email that goes out daily, and Cmdr Manlapaz mentioned that residents can go to mpd.dc.gov and pull a report for local or Ward-wide information.
After that, the meeting went back on the agenda.
Lydia Vanderbilt, Development Associate from Byte Back, Training for Successful Futures, was postponed until April's meeting.
Paul Hoffman, the Program Manager for DDOT’s Infrastructure Management Administration, presented on the Kennedy Street Improvements (see pics of the PowerPoint. You can get a copy by emailing Mr Hoffman at email@example.com). This topic has been presented at the last several meetings, but now DDOT is set on a final proposal for improving safety, street design and the streetscape on Kennedy from Georgia to North Capitol Street (about a 1mile). Michelle Pourciau presented the plans, and said they’re in the final design phase, construction to begin Aug 2015, one year construction, completed by Fall 2016. Improvements will include new turning lanes to accommodate traffic backups, brick sidewalks, trees, good pedestrian crossings. On 5th Street will be a special area for “Playable Art,” a separate initiative from Dept of Parks & Recreation and DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities). They are adding a separate, protected left turn lane on Missiour onto 2nd Street. There was a lots of concern about left turn lane, traffic backups to Georgia Avenue. Lots of community questions.
Construction will done block by block, there will be parking restrictions but they will maintain open access for pedestrian traffic. All businesses will be able to remain open, and DDOT is keeping 2 lanes each way on Missouri as they do their off-peak, daytime construction. Ms. Pourciau said some short-term cross street closures and detours were possible (meaning that’ll be happening). 4th & 5th Street retaining walls will be moved back (owners compensated?) to accommodate larger sidewalks and trees.
There were concerns that widening Missouri Ave will make it seem like a highway, which may be good for PG County, but not for local residents. Some agreement in the crowd, but DDOT didn’t really agree. They felt it was already used for that purpose, and these enhancements created better safety for cars and pedestrians.
Next up was Douglas Stallworth (WMATA project manager, from their Office of Bus Planning) discussing the study going on for local bus routes. The rumor of the proposed elimination of 60 & 64 routes to Ft Totten, not happening, no route changes. WMATA did survey on Feb 12 and then followed up with a focus group studying 60, 62, 63 & 64 routes (the comprehensive study on service, traffic, equipment, facilities, bus stops, etc. runs from Jan - July, 7 month study). Similiar to other corridor studies they've done. Express bus? Will determine after the study is completed. WMATA will host 2 public meetings on the topic: Wed 4/15 at the Petworth Library; Sat 4/18 Takoma Comm Center.
Time was tight, so the ANC tried to zip through Old Business:
ANC office: Office is at 143 Kennedy St NW, rent is $550 a month for a space they don’t use much. Instead, they’re moving to Colony House at 939 Farragut St (GA & Farragut), where the rent will be $75 a month. The ANC plans on conducting executive meeting there once-a-month. A few people thought the ANC needs a real office with a phone line, copiers, for emergencies, etc. (It's really a place for storage and a exec meeting.) As pointed out by Chair Colbert, the ANC has a $14,000 budget, and spending $6,600 for rent doesn't make sense. Colony House would cost $900 instead. There was a ton of back and forth discussion on this topic with residents. I think residents may feel no office means lack of access (which by itself isn’t true). Chair Colbert took a vote by show of hands of the audience about their opinion. No one voted to keep the old space, most voted to move to Colony House, and a few undecided (with all due respect to 4D residents, why does this vote matter? This is clearly an ANC matter, doesn't impact the public, only that they need an office. Saving thousands dollars on what amounts to being a storage unit is a smart move.) Interestingly, Renee Bowser was the only commissioner to abstain and not vote on the move.
Then Commissioner David Sheon spoke about the Georgia Line Convenience Store ABRA protest hearing. Sheon made a motion to represent ANC4D at the March 25th at ABRA. As background, the 10-year old settlement agreement is out of date. In 2012, ANC 4D requested that the settlement agreement & liquor license be removed. GA Line kept their license but was fined $500 for various “fraudulent” activities. Now GA line wanted to renew their license but remove the agreement (again), saying that community members but won't meet with them; however, Sheon and other community members have been active. "Be honest with us," Sheon says to businesses, "we'll work with you and find solutions. But don't lie to us." There was a lot of community feedback and questions. Resident Ann Wallace spoke, speaking in favor of having Sheon represent the ANC and against GA Line. "We are concerned about this matter. We're not looking to put anyone out of business, but to work with the community” she said. Others were concerned that broad statements were being made.
A special ANC meeting will be held to discuss Georgia Line Convenience Store on Tuesday night, March 24th, from 6pm to 8pm, at Truesdell Elementary School, 800 Ingraham Street. The ANC voted unanimously to have Sheon represent the ANC at the ABRA hearing. (Note to ANC 4D: Robert’s Rules of Order, which ANCs are supposed to follow according to their by-laws, states that once a motion has been made and seconded, there needs to be a vote… last night, I think Robert would have been aggravated. At least ANC 1C05 Commissioner Alan Gambrell wasn’t there to yell at you, like he did ANC 4C last week!)
The Ward 4 liaison for the Mayor, Khalil Thompson, spoke on a few topics. The State of the District address is coming up at the Lincoln Theater on March 31, 5:30-7:30pm. Tickets are available for free at Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/1GXZXbz. There is also going to be a local litter clean up, starting at the Petworth Library, moving along Iowa Ave, details to come via listserv. Mr. Thompson will also offer Ward 4 Liaison office hours (Fri 1-3, Sat 10-12), starting dates to be announced.
This guy: (I think his name is Michael) got up and announced that "power corrupts absolutely." (He used to show up at ANC 4C meetings constantly and rant on and on about his condo fees, veterans’ needs, other personal financial issues, then continue his ranting from the back of the room, yelling at the commissioners. Exhausting to experience and disrespectful for the rest of the community.) His next comment after the power one was that he wants food at the ANC 4D meeting. Then he spoke about Veteran's Corp, jumped to wanting to get rid of the DC streetcar, and handed out copies of the Washington Post. Then he complained about the Northwest Current newspaper, “What gives with not covering 4D? They say it's an issue with generating revenue? What gives? I'm sure there's businesses that would ante up to make this worthwhile.” (As a person in the newspaper industry, I can commiserate with the NW Current, print is a hard industry right now and advertising revenue, subscriptions and pick-up rates are abysmal.) Then Michael complained about his condo. Lastly, he mentioned he wants food at the ANC meeting. I’ll spare you the rants in the future, and won’t be taking notes on his issues again unless they’re important to the community.
Turns out, it was Chair Lisa Colbert's birthday, and Commissioner Sheon brought cupcakes. Happy birthday!
Then, as the clock ticked down the last few minutes to the required 9pm end, Secretary Nancy Roth made a motion to have the ANC cover some funding needs: Funding of supplies, a table cloth with ANC logo for special events, post box, moving services, monthly for rent, security lock. Then they asked for community comment after a motion and 2nd was made, then a commissioner asked a question. Then they voted to approve. Robert would definitely tsk.
Then last minute updates on S&G Wines & Liquors coming up for an ABRA renewal (5421 GA Ave, between Jefferson & Kennedy & GA Ave). Will discuss at next meeting, April 21.
Commissioner Roth mentioned that ANC 4D was partnering with DC Water and Sewer (WASA) for a April 23rd townhall meeting at 744 Jefferson St NW, Brightwood Park United Methodist Church 6:30-8:30pm flyers coming soon.
Also coming up is Taste of Brightwood. Emery Beacon of Light is organizing, event at Emery Community Center. Restaurants & businesses gathered with residents (a la Celebrate Petworth?) is Sat May 9th, 10-3pm. More info to come on it. Oh, and "4D Day" coming on September 19th. More to come on that as well.
No motion to adjourn and we all got out of there just past 9.
from Petworth News at http://on.fb.me/1BVZwus