ANC Report: Crime, Budget, Redistricting
By March 3, 2022 0 658•
First on the agenda at this month’s ANC meeting, a public safety briefing from Lt. John Merzig of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Regarding last month’s fatal shooting at 33rd and M Streets NW, MPD has identified a “person of interest” and has ascertained the shooting was not likely random. “There was some sort of correlation between the two individuals,” said Merzig. MPD is still on the search for the shooter and has increased patrols.
In conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service, MPD has also increased its presence in Georgetown in anticipation of the truckers’ convoys as well as protests near the Ukrainian and Russian embassies. On the positive side of the report, property crime, theft from auto, and stolen auto are down significantly by 50 percent. “Cold weather usually plays a factor,” said Lt. Merzig, “but continue to lock your car and keep your valuables out of sight.”
A Word from Council Member Brooke Pinto
Appearing live from her office in the Zoom meeting, Ward 2 Council Member Pinto stated she sent a budget request letter outlining Ward 2 projects and priorities to Mayor Bowser on Feb. 3. Mayor Bowser will send the mayor’s budget letter to the D.C. Council for consideration by March 16 in preparation for July Council hearings and final budget approval by the new fiscal year, starting Oct. 1. Ella Hanson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for budget-related questions. Public safety continues to be one of Pinto’s top priorities with Council Member Pinto sharing residents’ frustrations. “The violence we have to endure is unacceptable,” she said. She’s joined neighbors and MPD for public safety walks and ride-alongs and has put her support behind the MPD cadet training program that trains officers to serve the communities in which they grew up. She also continues to support violence interruption programs.
Focusing on schools will assist in improving Ward 2 neighborhoods, Pinto believes. She therefore supports expansion for “out of school time” programs that ensure kids are supervised in meaningful extracurricular activities. In-person school time is critical to young people’s development and she supports adequate funding to eliminate staffing cuts and to improve and modernize school infrastructure.
Affordable housing and addressing homelessness in another top priority. Pinto is working to ensure that the unhoused will be able to move into safe and stable housing. Fortunately, tens of millions of dollars in housing vouchers are available, though deploying the vouchers will take time because the “infrastructure needs to be in place” (including “wrap-around” social services to help the unhoused transition to public housing.) Pinto highlighted the success of the city’s pilot program helping to provide expedited housing and assistance to homeless encampment residents in four locations. Of the four sights, 84 percent of the residents who were living there are now in stable housing. “This is a great model I hope will expand into other sites in the city,” Pinto said.
Pinto has also introduced the Recovery Act to convert vacant office space to affordable housing, retail, hotels, greenspace and other uses. Since the pandemic, retail space is underutilized and the jobs and construction generated from the initiative will benefit residents as well. Other priorities include funding for small businesses to help fill vacant ground floor retail space along Georgetown’s business corridors and streamlining the business licensing process for business owners and entrepreneurs. Senior citizens who have been affected by isolation due to the pandemic are a priority as well. Ward 2 doesn’t have a dedicated senior center and Pinto would like to provide one. Pinto has also requested $1 million to fund the renovation of the Hardy Recreation Center located at 4500 Q Street NW.
Update from the ANC Redistricting Task Force
The task force’s two representatives, former ANC 2E Commissioner Monica Roache and Burleith Citizens Association President Eric Lagenbacher, provided an update on the redistricting process discussing a plan to redraw Georgetown ANC districting lines. Fortunately, Ward 2 has fewer complications than other city wards. Among a few of the challenges however, each single member district (SMD) is required to contain between 1,900 and 2,100 residents and currently three SMDs are below that threshold. The difficulty of drawing clear lines through the Georgetown University campus is also an issue, since the school’s population is treated as a single data point in the redistricting software. Applying for variances, however, should not be difficult, the task force stated.
ANC 2E Quick Hits
Washington Gas: In response to constituent concerns over higher gas bills, representatives of Washington Gas cited a global rise in natural gas demand and to expect a 22 percent billing increase. Customer payment plans are being offered however. Residents concerned about anomalies in their bills should contact (844) 927-4427 for more information. A multi-year effort to replace aging pipe infrastructure is also underway, so work is being done along Massachusetts and Pennsylvania Avenues, and 14th Street NW.
Rose Park Farmers Market: The ANC commended the Friends of Rose Park for successfully demonstrating social distancing outdoors and providing a great farmers market atmosphere last year, so the commissioners voted to allow the group to stage their market at 2609 Dumbarton St. NW this season.
Addressing Homelessness: The commission passed a resolution to urge the city to discuss programs to address the needs of people living outside. A tragic rise in homelessness occurred during the pandemic forcing people to take residence in parks and the commercial district. Neighbors are avoiding these areas and the community is not equipped to serve the needs of those with behavioral health issues. The commission is asking for scheduled joint meetings with relevant communities to discuss these issues and to request they attend future ANC 2E meetings with updates.
Regulation Encouraged for Distribution Facilities: The commission passed a motion to urge the D.C. Council to establish regulations for Last-Mile warehouses and distribution facilities that operate in mixed-use neighborhoods. The drivers for these operations are loud, have disruptive routes, and block driveways the resolution contends. The commission wants to see meaningful enforcement so Last-Mile will take more responsibility for their employees’ conduct and satisfy zoning requirements.
Hardy Middle School Playing Field: The school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) says the sports programs are growing but they will not have a quality playing field until Duke Ellington Field is completely renovated. One solution during the interim is to have them play at Georgetown Day School. The commission supported the PTO’s idea and will communicate it in writing to the DC Park Service.
Sports Betting? Two Applications Protested: The commission voted to protest two Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board applications until a settlement agreement is reached. The first was for a Class C Restaurant License for Beirut Nights, located at 1027 31st St. NW, which serves shawarma snacks and coffee. The second is a change in the current license for M Street Entertainment located at 3123-3125 M Street NW. They would like to add 10 sports wager kiosks and will come back to the ANC 2E April meeting with more clarity. The commission noted they will drop the protests once the applicants sign the settlement agreements.