Monthly Archives: June 2016

Hill East Residents Vent About Open Air Drug Market & Gunfight at 17th and Independence

Chief Cathy Lanier addresses the Hill East community last night at St. Coletta's

Chief Cathy Lanier addresses the Hill East community last night at St. Coletta’s

As does Council Member Charles Allen

As does Council Member Charles Allen

Some 50 community members turn out to talk about crime in Hill East

Some 50 community members turn out to talk about crime in Hill East.  Organizer ANC6B commissioner Denise Krepp and Chief Lanier are standing, far right.

Hill East Residents Vent About Open Air Drug Market & Gunfight at 17th and Independence

MPD Chief Lanier Promises Action

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, some 50 Hill East residents, called together by ANC6B Commissioner Denise Krepp, met yet again at St. Coletta of Greater Washington to talk about crime.  Present last night were MPD Chief of Police Cathy Lanier, top brass from MPD District 1, Doug Klein from the US Attorney’s office, Santha Sonenberg from the DC Attorney General’s office, Council Member Charles Allen, and ANC Commissioners Krepp, Kirsten Oldenburg, Chander Jayaraman, Daniel Chao, Daniel Ridge, Nick Burger, and Calvin Ward.

The overwhelming concern of those attending was what residents called an open air drug market at 17th and Independence, the scene of a semi-automatic gunfight early last Sunday morning between a group of young men hanging out at the intersection and another group of young males in a car which stopped at the scene.  A witness’s verbal description indicated that as many as 20 to 30 shots could have been exchanged.  One minor injury to a female bystander was reported along with considerable property damage.

Residents living nearby related their on-going experiences with those who they say are selling drugs on the corner but who live outside the District.  It is these visitors residents blame for the series of violent incidents that have occurred at the intersection and they want to know why police can’t prevent people from hanging out on the block.  One resident said the police are taking the problem too lightly.

Chief Lanier denied police are taking the issue lightly, and says that MPD faces a Constitutional rights hurdle prohibiting police from requiring those who loiter at the intersection to move elsewhere.  She said that some individuals had been arrested multiple times and that efforts of plain clothes officers against the alleged drug dealers would continue.  “I will make sure our team takes action,” Lanier said, “we know who the players are.”

Lanier believes that that we need to take a look at the criminal justice system.  She told residents that 50 of the most violent repeat offenders who are on the street today in DC have a total of 857 arrests among them.  Some 35 of the 50 are out serving part of their sentences in the community.

Krepp asked, “Why aren’t they in jail?’

Lanier responded, “You’re asking the wrong person.  My cops ask me that every day and I’ve got to get them out and on the streets.”

Residents near the intersection expressed their frustration.  One property owner who said she had lived in the neighborhood for forty years criticized the police for the way they “engage” the drug dealers, alleging that on the night of the recent shooting, police spent two hours talking to those hanging out at the corner “like they were friends” before being called away to another incident.  The shooting last weekend, she said, happened after police left.

The same longtime resident added, “They don’t respect your officers.  People are out there drinking alcohol.  I’m sorry [the police] are not doing their jobs.  I believe the officers are scared of them because they have bigger guns than the police.  None of them live on the block.  I lived there 40 years.  I grew up there and I know them.”

Another resident told police that the drug market used to be low-key and tolerable.  “Now, there are shots fired every six months.  The only thing preventing a homicide is peoples’ bad aim.  We need to focus on a long term strategy that will make clear that drugs can’t be sold with impunity on the corner.”

A third resident said that there were “so many shots [Saturday night] that I can’t believe it wasn’t a semi-automatic weapon.  It’s terrifying being awakened by gunshots – is scared the shit out of me.”

Krepp asked officials, “How do we get kids who don’t live there out?’  It turns out that there is not only no easy answer, there is no answer at all.

First District Commander Contee: “That’s the challenge.”

Chief Lanier:  We can’t tell people they can’t hang out on the block.”

Klein – “Unfortunately, there are no anti-loitering laws – they’re unconstitutional.  Police can make arrests, but they have to be there when a crime is committed.”

Krepp suggested a crime summit to bring together all city agencies to consider ways to address the problem and asked CM Allen what he thought.  Allen said that a community meeting would not solve the problem, that much of the problem was caused by the courts, and the courts had no accountability.  He suggested exploring ways to empower the community to be proactive in addressing crime issues.

Lanier says that the justice system is broken, and that before being proactive an analysis is needed to identify problems so they can be fixed.  She suggested that the first steps have been taken in the collection of data by the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Coordination Council.

Lanier’s first priority seems to be guns and getting them off the streets.  She talks about having to tell her officers who have taken guns off the streets to go back and “do it again, and do it again, and do it again” from the same people who are on the streets with new guns.  “There were 23 homicides last year by people with previous convictions for homicides who were out on the street,” she added.

Deputy US Attorney Doug Klein said that despite questions being raised about prosecution rates, the Department of Justice is processing the 350 cases it gets on a weekly basis “month after month,” and prosecuting those cases it thinks are winnable.

It may well be that the imminent opening of a 24 hour 7-11 convenience store at 15th and Independence – two blocks west – will solve the problem for the residents at 17th and Independence.  The outlet will offer food and drink 24/7, a natural hangout location, and a drive-through alley behind the store.  If not solved, the problem may be displaced, creating problems for a different set of neighbors.

 

To Lanier’s larger point, nothing illustrates more clearly that the criminal justice system is broken than the incarceration rate for the United States compared with other countries. According to the BBC half of the world’s prison population of about nine million is held in the US, China or Russia.

According to the Institute for Prison Policy Research, prison rates in the US are the world’s highest, at 724 people per 100,000.  In Russia the rate is 581.  Stats for the top ten incarcerating countries are as follows:

1             United States of America               2 217 947

2             China                                                  1 649 804

3             Russian Federation                          651 360

4             Brazil                                                  622 202

5             India                                                   418 536

6             Thailand                                             319 883

7             Mexico                                               255 138

8             Iran                                                     225 624

9             Turkey                                                187 609

10           Indonesia                                          180 347

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Phase 1 – Barracks Row’s Iconic Lesbian Bar and Nightclub Looks Closed for Good

Phase 1 on Barracks Row Look Closed for Good

Phase 1 on Barracks Row Look Closed for Good…

And Last New Year's Eve Look Like the Last New Year's Eve photo from Phase 1's FB page

And Last New Year’s Eve Look Like the Last New Year’s Eve (photo credit Phase 1’s FB page)

Phase 1 – Barracks Row’s Iconic Lesbian Bar and Nightclub Looks Closed for Good

by Larry Janezich

From Phase 1’s Facebook page, dated February 5:  “Phase is closed until further notice.  Please check back with us for further updates. Thank you for all your patronage and support.”

On May 11, Phase 1, in response to a question posed on its Facebook page, said, “We are permanently closed.”  The LGBT press reported in February that the entire staff had been let go, and now a “For Sale or Lease” banner has appeared on the building.

Phase 1, the iconic lesbian bar and nightclub at 525 8th Street, SE, laid claim to the distinction of being the oldest continually operating lesbian bar in the United States and the oldest operating LGBT bar in Washington, according to Wikipedia.  The bar was founded by Allen Carroll and Chris Jansen in 1970.

CHC contacted Carroll and asked him about the status of Phase 1.  Allen said, “I’m not open right now – I’m taking a break.  I don’t know what I want to do.  I’ll be 75 in November – I’ve been open 46 years.  I’ve got it up for sale or lease.”

Martin Smith, Executive Director of Barracks Row Main Street said he understood that the bar had closed some time ago and called it “Truly a disappointing loss both to the local lesbian community and to Barracks Row and the Hill overall – Phase 1 was one of the oldest businesses on 8th Street.”

Barrack’s Row formerly hosted several bars serving the gay community – most have fallen away or moved.  Bachelor’s Mill remains on lower Barracks Row near the Navy Yard.  Remington’s – a gay bar at 637-639 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, closed on April 14, 2014, after more than 30 years in business.  The adjacent buildings which were formerly Remington’s now house a Sprint outlet and a 7-11 convenience store.  See here:  http://bit.ly/294KmhF and here http://bit.ly/29b4Ze1

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Former Long-time Frager’s Co-owner Ed Copenhaver Dies

Former Long-time Frager’s Co-owner Ed Copenhaver Dies

by Larry Janezich

Ed Copenhaver, who along with business partner John Weintraub bought Frager’s Hardware in 1975, died early yesterday morning at NOVA hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, after a long illness.  He was 73.

Copenhaver was a familiar face in Frager’s until his retirement in 2012.  Frager’s employees remember him as a “pure gentleman.”  A Capitol Hill resident who knew Copenhaver told CHC, “John Weintraub has always been seen as the guiding force of Frager’s, and he certainly is the business side of it, but Ed was its heart and soul.  In addition to being the floor manager customers saw and loved, he employed Hill kids who were otherwise troubled or flailing (typical teen stuff) and they loved working for him.  He was an amazingly unpretentious guy.”

Asked for comment, Weintraub recalled, “We met in college at University of Virginia in 1961, re-connected in the early seventies in Washington, DC,  and were co-owners of Frager’s since 1975. No plans have been made yet for a service. He was great to work with and a giving person. Customers and staff loved him.”

There will be no formal funeral, but a memorial service will be held in a couple of weeks, according to sources.  Details will be forthcoming.

For the 2012 Hill Rag’s story on Copenhaver’s 2012 retirement and photos, go here:   http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/PDF/64-65_RAG_0312.pdf

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Want your alley paved? It’s easy. Write a letter. Be nice.

Tuesday, June 21, circa 10:00am, an alley feeding into Kings Court

Tuesday, June 21, circa 10:00am, an alley feeding into Kings Court. The building in the background featuring the blue tarp is the pop-up condo, the developer of which requested paving of the alley.

About half done

About half done.

Later that day.  Nice job, DDOT.

Later that day.  Nice job, DDOT.

Want Your Alley Paved?  It’s Easy.  Write a letter.  Be nice.

(And employ a full time person who stays at the District Building to take care of things.)

by Larry Janezich

Neighbors of the contentious pop-up at 242 14th Street, SE, (See here: http://bit.ly/1Suk9Gg) were surprised at the appearance of DC Department of Transportation paving equipment in their alley last week.  Some months ago, long-time Capitol Hill developer Bob Hess floated the idea to neighbors of petitioning to have the dirt alley behind his new two-unit condo pop-up paved.  The project features an unusual main entrance for one condo fronting on an alley feeding into Kings Court and this is the alley Hess wanted paved.  Neighbors were not inclined to cooperate, being upset at the height and mass of the project, which – even though within legal limits at the time permits were issued – is out of character with the roof line on the block.

So when the city’s paving equipment showed up on Monday evening last week, irate neighbors demanded to know through their ANC commissioner if the imminent paving had received the appropriate sanctions.  Apparently they had, as a visit to the site in mid-morning on Tuesday, June 21, showed the paving well underway.

There are many alleys on Capitol Hill that need paving, and a timeline for paving them reportedly exists, but one which is dependent on the funding available for those projects. Naturally, neighbors were curious to know how the paving of the alley just off Kings Court had been achieved so expeditiously.

When CHC asked a worker on site how CHC could get its alley paved, he replied, “Work through your ANC.”  But the ANC commissioner for the neighborhood was not involved nor was he aware of the paving.

CHC reached out to DDOT Associate Director of Public Space Regulation, Matthew Marcou and asked:

“Can you give me some background about how today’s paving of the side alley emptying onto Kings Court, SE, came about?  I was there this morning and I saw that a DDOT crew has paving well underway.

The aspect of the job that I’m curious about is that it seems to have been undertaken primarily for the benefit of a private developer – Bob Hess – who has built a two unit pop up on 14th  Street, SE, with an unusual arrangement whereby the main entrance to one of the units is on the alley which feeds into Kings Court.  It is this alley that is being paved.

So, can you walk me through what transpired to make this work possible?  There are many residents who have alleys that are in much worse condition than the one that is being worked on this morning.”

Pending a reply, CHC also went directly to developer Bob Hess and asked how he managed to get the alley paved.

Hess said, “I wrote a letter to the mayor and included photos.  I made it technical and talked about erosion, puddling, water run-off – silt build up.  I employ a person full time who stays down at the District building and takes care of things for me.  That’s why I don’t have any problems.”

CHC said it had an alley that needed paving.  Hess said, “Write a letter to the Mayor.  You have to be nice.”

Later that day, CHC received a terse reply from Director Marcou:

Dear Mr. Janezich:

I am looping in DDOT’s PIO Terry Owens.

A week later, on Monday, June 27, CHC replied to Marcou that no word had been received from Owens, and that CHC was asking if the developer had received preferential treatment, and if so, what the basis was.

As of close of business today, Monday June 27, there has been no reply.  If one should come, CHC will update this post.

Bob Hess is a crusty, likeable, old time, hands-on, small developer – probably in his late 60’s.  He wears Levis and a work shirt, drives a battered pickup truck, and personally oversees the work on his projects.  He continues building, probably not because he needs to, but because he loves it.  He knows how the system works and, he likes to say, “I know what I’m doing.”  He’s cut from a different bolt of cloth than some of the of the larger developers on Capitol Hill, e.g., the Hine developers.  But what he shares with them is an unawareness that continuing the methods used to develop properties in an undervalued section of the city seems today like exploitation – and that an insensitivity to the fact that working within the letter of the law – or receiving the benefit of doubt (if not preferential treatment) from the city’s oversight agencies – is no longer in the best interests of the community.

Hess offered to send me the letter he sent to the Mayor.  But he didn’t.

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The Week Ahead….

Eastern Market Metro Plaza, Friday, June 24, circa 7:00pm

Eastern Market Metro Plaza, Friday, June 24, circa 7:00pm

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, June 28

  1. ANC6B’s Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center to set the agenda for the next meeting of the full ANC6B scheduled for July 12, also at Hill Center.

Wednesday, June 29

  1. MPD District 1 officials meet with residents at 7:00pm at St. Coletta’s (19th and Independence Avenue, SE) to address concerns about the gun fight that took place Saturday night at 17th and Independence.

 

  1. The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) will convene for a special meeting at 7:00pm in the North Hall of Eastern Market.

Agenda:

Final Review of the Report of the Market Operations Committee Regarding the Proposal to Create a Business Plan for Eastern Market.

Thursday, June 30

  1. SGA Architects will hold a community meeting at 7:00pm in the Harriet Jacobs Room in Hill Center to introduce their concepts for the shotgun house at 1229 E Street, SE, and a multi-family residence at 1230 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  For examples on some of SGA’s multi- family projects, go here:  http://www.sgacos.com/multifamily/

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Shotgun House and Frager’s Garden Center Sold – 120 Apartments Coming to 1200 Block of PA Ave SE

The Shotgun House at 1229 E Street, SE, slated for development

The Shotgun House at 1229 E Street, SE, slated for development – finally.

The current site of Frager's Garden Center - formerly owned by Capitol Hill real estate investor Larry Quillian - will become a 120 unit apartment house

The current site of Frager’s Garden Center – formerly owned by Capitol Hill real estate investor Larry Quillian – will become a 120 unit apartment house

SGA Architects designed and developed Butterfield House at 1020 Pennaylvania Avenue, SE

SGA Architects designed and developed Butterfield House at 1020 Pennaylvania Avenue, SE

Shotgun House and Frager’s Garden Center Sold

120 Apartment Complex Coming to 1200 Block of Pennsylvania Ave SE

by Larry Janezich

Sassan Gharai, founder of SGA Architects, is the new owner (ed. see comments below) of both the famous Shotgun House* and the attached Frager’s Garden Center in the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  The firm designed and developed Butterfield House at 1020 Pennsylvania diagonally across from the old Frager’s Hardware store, which is being developed by Perseus Realty.  The new SGA project is within the Capitol Hill Historic District and subject to design approval by the Historic Preservation Review Board.

SGA plans to build a 50 foot, 120 unit apartment building by right, on the site that is now Frager’s Garden Center.  The Shotgun House will be pushed back on the lot, preserved and restored, and a three story addition will be built on the rear of the building. Sources indicated the building would not contain a retail component (ed. but see comments below).  The town house at 1230 Pennsylvania which is part of the parcel would remain a residence and be incorporated into the project.   SGA architects have been reaching out to neighbors in the past few weeks to explain their intentions for the site.

The controversy over preservation of the historic Shotgun House has been an impediment to the development of the parcel, but Capitol Hill historic preservationists and early signals from the Historic Preservation Board seem to favor this development.

SGA Architects hope to take the design before HRPB in July, which would put it on the agenda of ANC6B earlier in the month.  That may be the only time it comes before the ANC if the plan to build by right stays in place, and no zoning changes are sought that would require a Planned Unit Development (PUD) procedure.  It could be a year before construction can start, leaving time for Frager’s to relocate their garden center.  No word yet on where that might be.

Asked for comment, ANC6B Commissioner Nick Burger, in whose single member district the project lies, said, “This has been a contentious site for many years.  I’m cautiously optimistic that this is a plan viable for the developer and one the neighbors would be willing to support.”  Burger said he had urged the developer to hold a community meeting to introduce the plan to the neighbors, and said the developer seemed amenable.

Butterfield House, the design of which pays homage to the Victorian era, has 28 condos and was finished in 2008.  The new project – so far unnamed – will be apartments, in contrast to the 30-40 condo units planned for the Frager’s site across the street.  No word on how much parking is planned for the new SAS development.

For a CHC post on the last time then-owner Larry Quillian tried to get rid of the Shotgun House, go here: http://bit.ly/28U4JPg  The result was that the Historic Preservation Review Board refused to permit its demolition.

*From Wikipedia:  “A “shotgun house” is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than about 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War (1861–65) through the 1920s. Alternate names include “shotgun shack”, “shotgun hut”, “shotgun cottage”, and in the case of a multihome dwelling, “shotgun apartment”. A railroad apartment is somewhat similar, but instead of each room opening onto the next room, it has a side hallway from which rooms are entered (by analogy to compartments in passenger rail cars).

A longstanding theory is that the style can be traced from Africa to Haitian influences on house design in New Orleans,[1] but the houses can be found as far away as Chicago, Key West, Florida, Ybor City,[2] and Texas. Though initially as popular with the middle class as with the poor, the shotgun house became a symbol of poverty in the mid-20th century. Some of these houses are being bulldozed as part of urban renewal, while others are being saved for historic preservation. Others are saved and renovated in areas that undergo gentrification.”  Read more of this article here:  http://bit.ly/28MjWBr

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The Week Ahead….Mayor Bowser Walks Hill East on Tuesday

Congressional Cemetery, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, circa 7:00pm

Congressional Cemetery, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, circa 7:00pm

The Week Ahead….Mayor Bowser Walks Hill East on Tuesday

by Larry Janezich

Monday, June 20

  1. ANC6A Transportation & Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Petition for Residential Parking Permits by residents on 400 Block of 17th Street, NE (17Solar)

Request for traffic calming measures for 200 Block of 10th Street, NE

Request for traffic study at intersection of 10th Street, NE, and Massachusetts Avenue, NE

Bicycle and vehicle traffic on 1500 Block of C Street, NE

Letter of support for providing dedicated lanes for future western section of DC Streetcar

  1. ANC6B01 and Tortilla Coast will host a re rat abatement at 6:00pm at Tortilla Coast, focusing on the rodent problem along 1st Street, SE, and D Streets, SE and the alley off 1st Street behind Bull Feathers, Subway, and Talay Thai.

Agenda:

The discussion will center around best practices for rat abatement.

Tuesday, June 21

  1. Mayor Bowser’s Neighborhood Walk in Hill East starts at 3:00pm from Stadium Armory Metro Stop. The proposed future home of Andromeda Recovery Clinic at 15th  and Massachusetts is scheduled to be part of the walk.  One of the Mayor’s Ward 6 reps has requested DC’s Director of Behavioral Health to participate. See CHC post on this issue here: http://bit.ly/1UPmiAi
  1. ANC6A ABC Committee meets at 7:00pm at Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE

Among items on the agenda:

Discussion of request by H Street Country Club at 1335 H Street, NE, for a change to its hours of live entertainment (requesting addition of entertainment Sunday through Thursday 6:00pm to 1:00am, no change to Friday/Saturday entertainment hours)

Discussion of neighborhood issues related to Master Liquors at 1806 D Street NE.

Discussion of ANC’s protest of expansion of seating and entertainment hours by Sol Mexican Grill at 1251 H Street, NE

  1. The EMCAC Subcommittee for Market Promotions meets at 7:00pm at the Eastern Market Manager’s Office.

Agenda:

The Department of General Services proposal to engage an outside contractor to make recommendations for a five-year plan for Eastern Market.

  1. CHRS Board of Directors meets at 6:30pm, Capitol Hill Townhomes, 750 6th Street, SE, second floor.

Wednesday, June 22

  1. The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) will meet at 7:00pm in Eastern Market’s North Hall.

Among items on the agenda:

Report of the Vice Chair on Marketing /promotions committee

Report from the Market Operations Committee meeting to review the plan to undertake a study for a 5 year plan for Eastern Market

Editor’s Note:

Daniel Chao

ANC 6B07 Daniel Chao has sent out the following notice asking the community to donate items to support the Potomac Gardens Summer Camp Programs:

“Total Family Care Coalition at Potomac Gardens is once again starting their Summer Camp Program for children ages 6 to 13.

They are in need of some supplies and are asking for assistance in donations.  If you are able to and wish to donate any of the items below please contact Benita Blaine at bblainetfcc@gmail.com or call 202-758-3281.

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DC Department of Behavioral Health Oblivious to Perfect Storm Brewing in Hill East

New CAG Headquarters and possible substance abuse recovery clinic at 201 15th Street, SE.  Projecet is scheduled for completion by the end of June.  Occupancy is anticipated in mid-September.

New CAG Headquarters and possible substance abuse recovery clinic at 201 15th Street, SE. Projecet is scheduled for completion by the end of June. Occupancy is anticipated in mid-September. Click to enlarge.

View of new 7-11 scheduled to open within weeks.  The new CAG building can be seen adjacent to and just beyond the "Liquor Market Building"

View looking north on 15th Street of new 7-11 scheduled to open within weeks. The new CAG building can be seen adjacent to and just beyond the “Liquor Market Building”

View of the new proposed Andromeda clinic from the front of the 7-11, looking south

View looking south of the new proposed Andromeda clinic from the front of the 7-11

Map showing location of proposed clinic (red), 7-11 (blue), CAG (purple) and Payne School (green)

Map showing location of proposed clinic (red), 7-11 (blue), CAG (purple) and Payne School (green)

DC Department of Behavioral Health Oblivious to Perfect Storm Brewing in Hill East

by Larry Janezich

DC’s Department of Behavioral Services’ (DBH) faulty assumption contributes to a perfect storm brewing in Hill East at the intersection of 15th Street and Independence Avenue, SE.

Monday night, Hill East residents and ANC6B Commissioners Jayaraman and Krepp learned for the first time that the newly constructed Community Action Group (CAG) headquarters at 201 15th Street, SE, which has been publicized as administrative offices, will seek to be certified to provide substance abuse and other counseling services for up to 50 clients a day at the location.  Jayaraman had questioned the Department of Behavioral Services (DBH) regarding their understanding of whether the CAG was going to apply for a certification as a substance abuse recovery clinic, and was told “we do not expect CAG to seek certification” for the 15th  Street location.

CAG is already certified to operate as a clinic for space it leases at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, and Monday night, CAG President Janice Gordon commented that she was looking forward to a moving into the new building because of the expense of leasing the Pennsylvania Avenue location.  Gordon said that the CAG headquarters aimed to serve the community and would perform spiritual, social, recreation and health and wellness functions but would not provide details on what these functions entailed.  She said, “Once we get into the building the space that we have will determine specifically how far we’ll go in any direction.”  She said CAG had not yet had any conversations with DBH.

According to the CAG website for the 12th and Pennsylvania location, “The treatment center provides outpatient care. There are special groups and programs for persons with co-occuring mental and substance abuse disorders, persons with HIV and AIDS, gays and lesbians, seniors and older adults, pregnant and postpartum women, women, men, and criminal justice groups.”

The ANC Commissioners and nearby neighbors are concerned because another substance abuse recovery clinic is seeking to open a block away.  Andromeda Transcultural Health Services expects 35 – 40 up to 100 visits a day from its clients.  See CHC posting here: http://bit.ly/1XprQ7W

Between the two facilities there is a 7-11 – weeks from opening –  which will sell fast food, soft drinks, and cigarettes.  Also between them is a mom and pop market selling alcohol.  The intersection of Independence, Massachusetts, and 15th Street provides considerable greenspace and an alley behind the 7-11 that has been a hangout spot for public drinking for years, if not decades.  Payne school, City Center Charter School, and the Early Childhood Education Center are within 1000 feet of at least one of the proposed clinics.  DC General is four blocks away – from which (according to Jayaraman) some of the Andromeda’s clients will be drawn.

All of this surrounded by a diverse residential area of Hill East.

The two ANC commissioners have been trying to alleviate the impact on the community.  They pushed hard and apparently successfully to prevent sale of alcohol by the 7-11.  Jayaraman is appealing the Certificate of Occupancy for Andromeda with the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) based on its mis-classification of itself as a general business office when it is actually a medical treatment facility.  Yesterday, Krepp emailed DBH to ask for a sit-down with CAG, Andromeda, and ANC Commissioners.  As of last night she had not received a reply.

Asked for reaction to the meeting Monday night, Krepp said her take away was she was concerned about the lack of transparency and the lack of communication between DBH, CAG, and Andromeda.  She said she was surprised to learn that CAG would be seeing up to 50 clients recovering from substance abuse each day.  Jayaraman said that CAG was being “very vague about what it’s going to do on 15th Street.”  He said he is “extremely concerned about what rational DBH has for locating two facilities providing recovery counseling services within one block of each other.”

Gary Peterson, Chair of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) Zoning Committee, told CHC that the committee had taken a position opposing Andromeda on the grounds that it has been mis-classified as a business office when it is actually a treatment facility and that zoning regulations restrict whatever is done on the site to “neighborhood serving commercial” enterprises.  Petersen said that Andromeda had not made the case that their clients were from the neighborhood and it was his understanding that many of the clients are referred by the courts and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA).  CHRS will file a letter of opposition with the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment on that basis.

It is not clear whether the same claims will or could be raised against CAG when it applies for certification as a medical facility at it’s new location.

The Board of Zoning Adjustment will hold a hearing on the Jayaraman’s appeal on July 28th.

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The Week Ahead….

Eastern Market, Saturday, June 11, 2016

Eastern Market, Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, June 13

  1. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D meets at 7:00pm, 1100 4th Street SW, 2nd Floor.

Among items on the agenda:

Public Safety Report- First District MPD (PSA 105 & PSA 106) – Sgt. Strassman, Sgt. Ritchie, Lt. Beslow

Status of the SW Duck Pond and Amidon Park, Peter Nohrden, DC DPR

Resolution opposing Bureau of Prison’s 300 bed halfway house on School Street, SW

Due South (Cooperative Agreement Amendment)

Salt Line (Cooperative Agreement for a new CR license)

100 Montaditos new CR license and change from DR to CR license (adding spirits)

Cordial Fine Wines & Spirits.  Protest of Class A liquor store

The Wharf – Update on Pier 4

Spy Museum updates and public space request

  1. Community Action Group (CAG). Representatives from the CAG will host a community meeting at 6:00pm, to talk with neighbors regarding issues associated with the construction of the new CAG facility at 15th and Independence.  The meeting will be held at Holy Comforter Saint Cyprian Catholic Church, 1357 East Capitol Street, SE.

Tuesday, June 14

  1. Primary Election Day
  1. ANC6B meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

La Lomita Dos, 308 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Renewal of Class C Restaurant license.

National Democratic Club, 30 Ivy Street SE, Renewal of Class C Club license.

120 6th Street SE, raze of 2-story carriage house and construction of 2-story carriage house.

624 North Carolina Avenue, SE, partial in-fill of dogleg and 3rd floor addition.

Mr. Henry’s, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, substantial change in hours.

Ambar, 523 8th Street, SE, Renewal of Class C Restaurant license.

Tortilla Coast, 400 First Street SE, renewal of Class C Restaurant License.

Ted’s Bulletin, 505 8th Street, SE, Renewal of Class C Restaurant license.

Matchbox, 517 8th Street, SE, Renewal of Class C Restaurant license.

1237 (Rear) C Street SE, conversion of alley warehouse into residential housing: Sean Ruppert, Blackrock Holdings, LLC.

328 D Street, SE. Application for a special exception not meeting the lot occupancy requirements, the side yard requirements, and the court requirements, to construct a rear addition to an existing one-family dwelling in the CAP/R-4 District.

Bullfrog Bagels, 317 7th Street, SE, sidewalk café.

Insight E Street LLC PUD.  Signature/Bowie redevelopment.

Letter on unresolved issues regarding 7/11 store at 1501 Independence Avenue, SE.

  1. PSA 104 meets at 7:00pm, J O Wilson Elementary School, 660 K Street, NE (7th and K Streets, NE.)

Among items on the agenda:

Introduction of new PSA 104 Manager, Lt. Seth Anderson

Crime Report

Assessment of PSA Problem-Solving in the last 30 days.

MPD PSA 104 Crime Report and Statistics.

DC Attorney General’s report, Rashee Kumar, and US Attorney report, Doug Klein

US CSOSA Report, Michael Bonds

Office of Unified Communications. Questions, and why it’s critical what you say when dialing 911.

Wednesday, June 15

  1. ANC6A Economic Development & Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Sherwood Recreation Center 640 10th Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

1111 H Street, NE.  Application for variances from the rear yard requirements, the court requirements, the off-street parking requirements, and the HS overlay design requirements, and a special exception from the single-enclosure penthouse requirements, to renovate an existing structure into an apartment building containing up to eight dwelling units with ground-floor retail in the HS-R/C- 2-C District.

1701 H Street, NE.  Update from the developer.  The PUD seeks a land use designation change from the existing C-2-A to C-2-B in order to develop the Property. The property is currently unimproved and the Applicant proposes to construct a mixed-use building with approximately 14,342 square feet of ground-floor retail uses and 180 residential units on nine floors above.  The applicant will also use the PUD process to obtain relief from other requirements of the Zoning Regulations, including the parking, loading and roof structure requirements.

814 H Street, NE.  Application for a special exception from the fast food establishments requirements, to allow the operation of a new fast food establishment in the C-2-A District.

  1. History of Congressional Cemetery. Paul K. Williams, President, Historic Congressional Cemetery, will provide a brief history of Congressional Cemetery and speak about the people who are buried there. The talk will address the challenges of operating and maintaining such a large, historically significant, yet also active cemetery – including the continual challenge of raising the funds necessary to cover the Congressional Cemetery’s annual costs.  7:00pm, Congressional Cemetery Chapel.  (From the Cemetery’s main entrance at 1801 E Street, SE, walk along the drive past the gatehouse; the Chapel will be straight ahead.)  The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Thursday, June 16

  1. PSA 108 meets at 7:00pm at Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE.
  1. CHRS Zoning Committee meets at 7:30pm at Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

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Off Duty U.S. Capitol Police Officer Allegedly Threatens Elderly Critic of We, The Pizza Restaurant

Spike Mendelsohn's We, The Pizza at 305 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Spike Mendelsohn’s We, The Pizza at 305 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

In the midst of a license renewal and a dispute with ANC and neighbors over trash management, a walk down the alley behind the Mendelsohn restaurants  today at 2:00pm revealed an open dumpster.

In the midst of a license renewal and a dispute with ANC and neighbors over trash management, a walk down the alley behind the Mendelsohn restaurants today at 2:00pm revealed an open dumpster.

Off Duty U.S. Capitol Police Officer Allegedly Threatens Elderly Critic of We, The Pizza Restaurant

Chef Spike Mendelsohn – Who Bowser Appointed to Promote Entrepreneurs– Sets Bad Example

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk told the members of ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee that one of her constituents had called her on May 9th and alleged that his 87 year old uncle had been threatened by an off duty police officer outside of celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn’s We, The Pizza restaurant.  Both the nephew and alleged victim are well known to Samolyk as neighbors and critics of the Mendelsohn’s family’s operating procedures for three restaurants on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

According to the account given by Samolyk, the off-duty officer was coming out of We The Pizza and accosted the elderly man.  The nephew asserted that his uncle, who had never met this officer, felt that he was approached by him in a threatening manner.  According to Samolyk, the officer said, “I’m with the police” and told the man that he knew who he was, and gave his correct name and address and told the man – again, according to Samolyk – that “he made too many calls to 911 and ordered him to stop calling 911.”  Samolyk said that the man felt threatened and was “very upset.”  CHC was unable to reach the either of the complainants, though subsequent developments add credence to the complaint.

Samolyk told the committee that on the day following the call from her constituent, she reached out to the First District MPD for an explanation.  She said, “They were on it, and got back to me saying that they had investigated the incident and that it did not involve MPD but that it was an off duty U.S. Capitol Police Officer – a frequent customer of We, The Pizza.”  She said that she had been assured that the matter had been reported and was being investigated.

Mendelsohn has been in a long running dispute with nearby neighbors over what they say are poor operating conditions in three nearly adjacent restaurants on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  The man who claims he was accosted  is a long time nearby resident who has seen his quality of life suffer and his property values fall as his yard and the yards of his neighbors who back up to the restaurants have been overrun by rats.  The Mendelsohn family – who is currently seeking liquor license renewals for the three restaurants – Good Stuff Eatery, We, The Pizza, and Béarnaise – refuse to sign an  Settlement Agreement with ANC6B which would commit them to on-going efforts to ameliorate the rodent infestation.  The Mendelsohns have hired attorney Andrew Kline to appeal to the DC Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABRA) to give them licenses without having to sign such a Settlement Agreement.  Kline argues that the restrictions the ANC want have nothing to do with serving alcohol, but   restaurants routinely sign Settlement Agreements with the ANC, which limit hours of operation and noise levels and require adherence to best operating practices.

Samolyk, in whose ANC single member district the three restaurants lie, said of Mendelsohn operations, “They’re not nice to their neighbors. I’m upset that the Mayor heralds Spike and appointed him to chair the District’s Food Policy Council. He feels invulnerable and entitled to do what he wants to do.”  One of Mendelsohn’s goals as chair of the council is to “promote the food economy and entrepreneurship”.

ABC Committee Chair Chander Jayaraman, who with Samolyk, has been working to bring the Mendelsohns to the bargaining table, gives credit to the restaurants for the steps they have taken to address trash management and rodent issues, but said that his goal is to put good operating practices into a written agreement and have the restaurateurs commit to maintaining them.  He said their response was, “We’re not going to do it.”

The Mendelsohn’s attorney, Kline, has made a practice of encouraging restauranteurs to retain him to go over the head of the ANC to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABRA) to seek relief from restrictions the local community seeks to place on restaurant operations. See here:  http://bit.ly/1WPEDPy  More often than not, ABRA – like many of its sister city agencies – gives commercial entities the benefit of the doubt in the interests of the greater revenue they bring to city coffers – even if it’s at the expense of the city’s residents.

Regarding the investigation into the US Capitol Police officer’s accosting a private citizen – apparently on behalf of the Mendelsohn family – odds are it will remain a “matter under investigation” indefinitely.  And officials can’t comment on a matter that’s under investigation – or on personnel matters.

As for Kline – who, in addition to the Mendelsohns is also representing Barracks Row’s Ambar, Tortilla Coast on First Street, SE, and Hank’s Oyster Bar on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, in their applications for liquor license renewals – Mike Debonis reported in the City Paper’s Loose Lips column in 2008:

“But LL’s  got some bad news for the District’s food-and-drink-purveyors: You will likely soon be deprived of Kline’s services.

That’s because he’s gotten himself into some deep legal troubles of his own. Late last month, a hearing panel convened by the D.C. Court of Appeals’ Board of Professional Responsibility—the body charged with adjudicating matters of legal discipline in the District—issued a report finding that Kline violated nearly a dozen rules of professional conduct, including committing criminal forgery and engaging in behavior “involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.”

The board recommends that Kline be suspended from the practice of law for 18 months.”Read the full article here:  http://bit.ly/1TYB712

Kline was subsequently suspended for nine months on March 30, 2010.  On January 13, 2011, the DC Court of Appeals suspended Kline again for three years for negligently misappropriating and commingling  entrusted funds and “committed a significant number of serious ethical violations” representing a client in a litigation matter.

 

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