Potomac St. Rats: From Burritos to Falafel

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Note circled rodent center stage.

They must be acquiring quite an international palate, those ravenous rats on Potomac Street. Now it seems they have moved on from Chipotle’s Tex-Mex cuisine to the new shop across the street called Falafel Inc, which cooks up its namesake Middle Eastern to-go meal of fried chickpea or fava bean patties in a pocket.

There are sometimes lines of people waiting at the falafel takeout kitchen at 2010 Potomac St. NW. The few tables and chairs outside, seemingly from a previous permit (as this is not an official sidewalk food establishment), are often occupied by happy eaters. The two garbage bins that initially sat on the sidewalk next to the store have multiplied on occasion to more than 10. Now they have been placed on a cement rim at the wide garage entrance of the Eton Court condos next door. Frequently filled to capacity, at night they are the scene of a rodent banquet.

In June, a Department of Public Works inspector wrote that she had found the trash cans to be overflowing onto the sidewalk and urged them to be relocated. “Falafel manager assured [me] that the property owner will allow them to remain in the garage space,” wrote Sonya B. Chance, lead solid waste inspector, Ward 2, with DPW’s Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program (SWEEP).

But the condo association president Peter Mallios saw it differently. On June 9, he wrote to Chance: “The Falafel shop does not rent space from us and has no right to put their trash cans in our driveway or garage. We have enough trash problems with our own tenants, we don’t need theirs too. Can you please let them know they are trespassing on our property and they need to store their trash inside their store?”

Now the rats have had a good month of feasting from numerous open bins in the garage. “Perhaps someone from the city can give them a fine for putting their trash cans on our property?” wrote Mallios on Aug. 2 in a general email that included neighbors, Chance and ANC Commissioner Lisa Palmer.

“Inspector Chance with DPW can complete solid waste education and enforcement,” wrote Richard Livingstone, Ward 2 liaison in the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services, on Aug 2. “She is however out of town. I will request her colleagues engage the property.”

At press time on Aug. 3, DPW could not supply an update.

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