ANC 2E Report: Crime, Traffic, Trolley Trestle
By March 6, 2023 0 461•
Issues ranging from crime to restoring an historic trestle bridge caught the attention and some official resolutions of the Georgetown-Burleith-Hillandale Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2E) on Feb. 27 in a meeting that lasted from 6:30 p.m. to past 10 p.m., with all elected officials present and engaged – a good example of community democracy at work. The following are highlights from the meeting.
Some local topics reflected national issues – such as increasing gun violence (on Tuesday D.C. homicides were reported to be up 40 percent compared to last year, and car thefts up, but car jackings slightly fewer than in 2021). Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto, who is the chair of the city’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, reported one of the most consistent complaints she hears from Georgetowners is vehicular noise. Pinto also favors raising punishments for fentanyl possession — deaths by overdose are a rising (and heart-breaking) crime concern in the District and throughout the nation.
But Pinto does not favor Congressional moves to repeal a new overhaul bill passed by the D.C. Council last year. On Feb. 9, the Congress disapproved in a strong bipartisan vote (250-173) a new seemingly over-generous crime punishment overhaul bill passed by the D.C. Council last year over Mayor Bowser’s veto. Congress also disapproved (260-162) a new D.C. law allowing anyone who resides in the District for more than 30 days to vote in local elections. Permitted voters would include all eligible college students living on campuses, non-citizens — from green-card holders to those here without authorization (i.e., illegally) and diplomats with full immunity from U.S. laws. The Senate will take up the disapproval resolutions in March that could find both bills being repealed unless President Biden vetoes the Congressional votes. How can Congress be so involved? It’s allowed in the U.S. Constitution since D.C. is a federal district, not a state. Mayor Bowser and Pinto are requesting that Congress let the Council fix the controversial laws without congressional interference and fear it diminishes the District’s initiatives for statehood.
At the ANC meeting, consideration of new projects impacting Georgetown included new grant programs out of the mayor’s office from a one-year $75,000 allotment; A Georgetown Transportation Access and Circulation study on future street and sidewalk improvements — now being staffed — will hold a series of public workshops possibly in the spring; and representatives from D.C.’s new Department of Buildings (DOB) who fielded many questions from the public and commissioners on controversial residential short-term rental licensing, infractions, and enforcement.
To present a local business’s perspective, Commissioner Topher Matthews introduced one of his constituents, Wisconsin Avenue’s Gallery Article 15 founder and owner, Elizabeth Jaffee. She shared a lengthy story and Powerpoint odyssey about the almost two-year onerous and expensive process she had to undertake to obtain permitting from a head-spinning number of D.C. agencies. A simple change of her gallery’s exterior signage required seemingly endless letter writing to the Old Georgetown Board. Her straightforward interior décor and gallery conversion plans required she obtain new architectural and building design plans for the entire building, beyond her humble gallery. Chair Elizabeth Miller asked Jaffee to forward her presentation to commissioners to spread the word about cumbersome red tape businesses must face.
Burleith Commissioner Kishan Putta gave a shout-out for the 100th anniversary of his community on Friday, March 10. He also advocated for additional inputs into the D.C. budget for Hardy Middle School renovations and upkeep well-known to be necessary as its student population rises. He called for funding and solutions to the lack of transit plans to get students to and from the new McArthur High School (yet to be renamed) undergoing a $45-million remodel by DC Public Schools and scheduled to open September 2023.
Georgetown University student representatives similarly requested District and neighborhood help to clean up and repair the dangerously deteriorating C&O Canal tunnel and pathway leading from campus that is used by students and staff. Commissioner Joe Massaua announced a new initiative to repair and restore the historic Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle in Glover-Archbold Park. It is dangerous to walk nearby or under the 120-year-old trestle. Commissioner John DiPierri announced a new student/business “Georgetown Ambassadors’ program,” being developed with G.U. outreach and Georgetown Main Street.
Friends of Rose Park announced that the popular, 20-year-old outdoor farmer’s market will open for the season at the north end of the park on May 3, Wednesdays, 3 to 7 p.m. Friends of Volta Park announced a walk-through of the $700,000 baseball diamond restoration project expected to see construction begin in the spring.