Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8F (ANC 6D) met on April 25. Commissioners Nic Wilson (8FO1), Rick Murphree (8F02, treasurer), Brian Strege (8F03, secretary) and Edward Daniels (8F04, chair) were in attendance. Clayton Rosenberg (8F05, vice chair) was absent.
Capitol Quarter residents turned out for the April ANC 8F meeting. Outraged by the recent shooting at their courtyard on the 300 block of L Street SE, they demanded action by both Councilmember Charles Allen (D) and MPD Captain Elias Danho, both of whom were in attendance. The shooting took place just after midnight on Friday, April 14.
For the last several years, the 300 block of L Street SE has been the locus of summer block parties that can number upwards to 200 to 300 attendees. The parties go to the wee hours and feature loud music. Seated attendees block the sidewalks. The area reeks of weed and there is public consumption of alcohol. Residents often find their driveways blocked by illegally parked cars, many of whom display temporary paper tags.
Most of the partiers are no longer local, but have longstanding ties to the area that predate its redevelopment.
Chair Daniels has worked personally on this issue for many years. He has even held meetings in the private courtyard owned by the Capitol Quarter Home Owners Association (CQHOA) that occupies the middle of the block. He has met frequently with residents, prior MPD commanders and the councilmember regarding the issue. Commissioners Strege and Wilson, who represent the area concurred in his assessment.
“It’s like an open-air drug market,” stated Chair Daniels.
“When the shooting happened, no one was surprised,” stated one resident.
Commissioners, the councilmember and the captain discussed approaches to solving the issue. While cognizant of the equity issues involved, commissioners considered authoring a letter demanding the adoption of new anti-loitering legislation.
Allen spoke against the move, cautioning against their racially use in the past and their unconstitutionality.
Allen suggested utilizing the incommoding law already on the books to move people on. Danho alternatively proposed working with the DC Housing Authority, which is responsible for the affordable units Capitol Quarter and the CQHOA to gather names of partiers to have them subject to barring orders, which would give the police a lever to remove them.
It was highly likely the US Attorney, responsible for District prosecutions, would decline to charge such arrests, Councilmember Allen observed, citing the recent reporting on the office’s 67 percent declination rate. That is one of the reasons officers are reluctant to make such arrests, he said.
Captain Danho promised to raise the issue with his superiors. The location is receiving “special attention,” he stated. Questioned by residents about the details, the area, Danho stated, is where police were encouraged to park between calls for service. Unfortunately, MPD resources to combat the situation are extremely constrained by longstanding manpower shortages.
The difficulties of police staffing, Allen observed, are not a budgetary issue. Even large signing bonuses and significant other financial incentives had not not resolved matters, he said. The solution, he believes, lies in the new police cadet academy.
Danho promised to return with his superiors to discuss the situation at the next commission meeting. Commissioners decided to table consideration of their letter.
Charles Allen Visits
Councilmember Allen discussed the coming District budget. DC’s financial situation is difficult for three reasons: the decline in value of downtown commercial properties which has reduced tax revenues; inflation and the 12 new labor agreements recently signed with city workers, he stated.
Allen is very concerned about the slashes in funds for emergency housing assistance and legal assistance for housing court made in Mayor’s proposed budget. He also vowed to restore funds for the SW Circulator.
Allen has just taken over the helm of the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment. He spoke at length about his plans for his new assignment. Firstly, he wants to craft legislation and hold hearings on building out the infrastructure for electric vehicles. He also promised a “brainstorming” hearing on traffic enforcement, citing the increase in reckless driving and decreasing pedestrian safety.
DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) and the DC Dept. of Public Works (DPW) are not using technology effectively to catch ticket scofflaws, Allen stated. The Council has funded an increase in DPW traffic enforcement staff responsible for booting such offenders, Allen stated. Allen was unsuccessfully in moving legislation to withhold driving license renewals from scofflaws last Council term.
Allen wants to change the city’s climate strategy of reducing the use of natural gas from one that relies on tax credits to a direct subsidy system easier for low-income earners to utilize.
Neighborhood carjackings are up while car theft is down, stated Captain Danho in his public safety briefing. He discussed individual cases at length. Many involve firearms and target idling cars. Residents should remain vigilant, when unloading their vehicles or waiting to pick up passengers.
Why does MPD not chase carjackers, asked Commissioner Murphre? The issue was an operational prohibition rather than a legal bar, Councilmember Allen observed. MPD, however, does chase those involved in incidents involving weapons, Danho stated.
The Commission voted unanimously to petition DDOT to restrict its Traffic Control Officers (TCOs) from utilizing official vehicles to travel to their posts due to the high incident of illegal parking of such cars.
Brookfield, the owner of the Yards Development, are working with other stakeholders to repair broken lighting in Yards Park and adjacent streets, representatives told the commission.
The DC Zoning Commission (DCZC) followed the commission leading in opposing the design of One K Street SE development, reported Chair Daniels. The DCZC has asked the developer to return with a proposal that added affordable units.
Chair Daniels informed the commission about DDOT’s plans to replace parking at 20 M Street SE with a taxi zone. The chair wants to encourage the broadening the pick-up drop-off zone’s use to include other For-Hire-Vehicles.
The commission has established a bank account and is in the process of procuring an audio system, stated Treasurer Murphree.
ANC 8F generally meets on the fourth Tuesday on the month. The next meeting is scheduled for May 23 at DC Dept. of Transportation Headquarters, 250 M Street SE. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit www.ANC8F.org.