Friday, March 31, 2006

Community Allocution Program

An update from ANC2F's Committee on Crime and Public Safety -

One of our goals this year has been to develop a process to maximize community input in the sentencing of criminal offenders in the neighborhood. As part of these efforts, we've been working closely with MPD's Third District, the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and its Community Prosecution Division for the 3rd District.

As part of our efforts, we recently provided input (by way of letters from the community and in-person testimony) on two key cases that were up for sentencing last week. In one of the cases, the judge sentenced the defendant, who had multiple drug and property arrests, to 230 days.

We were told that without our letters and support, it was quite possible that the defendant would have received probation. Thanks to statistics provided by Sgt. Emerman, we were able to show the dramatic decrease in thefts from auto (from nearly 100 between January and the time the defendant was locked up pending sentencing to 3 in the nearly a month since his lock-up). We believe this was enormously helpful to the prosecution.

In the second case involving possession of cocaine, we submitted five community letters. The judge postponed sentencing to give the defendant's counsel additional time to review the letters, but we are hopeful for a similar success.

We are currently looking for condo buildings, businesses, and individuals who may be interested in participating in the community allocution process by way of letter writing or in-person testimony from time to time. If you or someone you know may be interested, please email the Committee on Crime and Public Safety at

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Opinions Wanted on Parking Variance Request for 1446 Church Street

One of our Church Street residents brought the following issue to our attention, and we'd like to get your views and encourage you to attend the ANC2F meeting on April 5, 2006 to voice your opinions. If you are unable to attend, you may also wish to contact your SMD commissioner directly.

A parking variance has been requested by DC Hampton LLC for a property it intends to develop at 1446 Church Street. The proposed 28 unit building would have 7 parking spaces, which is 7 fewer than required by DC regulation. The building incorporates an historic structure, which may faciliate the variance. For information on zoning and parking variances, please visit the District's Board of Zoning Adjudication ("BZA") and the Office of Zoning.

The ANC will consider the variance at its April 5 meeting, after which it will make a recommendation to the BZA. The BZA will decide whether to issue the variance at its May 2 hearing.

Spring is Here!!!! New Volunteer Opportunities


8:30 AM -12:30 PM
Meet at National City Christian Church
5 Thomas Circle, NW

Help spruce up Logan Circle! We need volunteers to help sweep the sidewalks, inventory the number and condition of the tree boxes with "LCCA" signage, and plant new flowers in the tree boxes.

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Scott Montgomery Elementary School
421 P Street, NW

Help plant LCCA's gift of a trio of cherry trees from the National Cherry Blossom Festival® at Scott Montgomery Elementary School as part of our community building efforts with East Central Civic Association. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. To volunteer, please e-mail

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Washington Plaza Hotel
10 Thomas Circle NW

Attend a reception in honor of the magnificent cherry blossom trees. Invited guests are DC Council, the Embassy of Japan; National Cherry Blossom Festival®; and DC Greenworks. Chisato Morohashi will perform popular Japanese cherry blossom songs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Reminder: Keep Things Out Of Sight!

A friendly reminder from the MPD.

One of the most common types of theft is theft of valuables from your automobile. Theft from auto is strictly a crime of opportunity that can be prevented if you take away the opportunity. Thieves generally won't waste their time breaking into autos that don't have valuables in plain sight.

Recently, the Metropolitan Police Department has recorded an increase in thefts from autos, particularly in the downtown area around the Verizon Center during sporting and other events. If you plan on parking your car in this area, be sure to secure your property. Please take the precautions listed below to help ensure your auto is not targeted by theives:

  • Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight

    The best way to prevent theft from your auto is to always keep valuables out of sight. Never leave cell phones, briefcases, suitcases, or electronic devices (walkmans, palm pilots, laptop computers, etc.) in your car in plain view. Take these items with you, or secure them-all the time, every time.

  • Use Your Trunk

    If your car has a trunk, use it. Put valuables in there or in a locked glove compartment. Hiding items under seats is better than leaving them in plain view, but securing them inside the glove compartment or trunk is a far better deterrent.

  • Don't Tempt Theives with New Purchases

    During the holiday season especially, or any time you're shopping, place packages in the trunk, not on the passenger seats or floors.

  • Remove Your Radio Faceplate

    If you can unfasten your sound system and take it with you, or lock it in your trunk, do so. And don't forget to do the same with your CDs and tapes.

  • Lock It Up

    Also, keep your car doors and windows locked-all the time!

  • Remember: "Outta sight, outta mind"-if theives can't see your valuables, they're less likely to waste their time targeting your auto. Take the time to secure your valuables; it makes a difference.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

DDOT Seeking Public Comments on Church Parking

The District Department of Transportation has published a press release asking all interested parties for comments on their new proposals to ease the Sunday parking crunch. In brief, the proposal includes:

  • Review of parking availability in the neighborhood, leading to traffic changes and parking spot re-arrangement

  • Provide public space permits to the appropriate churches to allow double parking on Sundays and other certain church events

  • Encourage private lot owners to open up on Sunday

  • Look into shuttle and transit service from larger parking lots

  • Provide valet service for moving double parked vehicles hat have blocked in another vehicle

This looks to me to be the same parking recommendations that were discussed at the March 3rd ANC Meeting. At that meeting, our commissioners voted to recommend approval of the proposals, except for the public space permits. (The minutes from that meeting are still not available on the ANC's web site.)

Additionally, enforcement of violations will be increased starting (estimated) April 23rd. For three weeks prior, DDOT plans to work with other agencies to distribute warning leaflets explaining the increased enforcement to those it would affect.

Ann Simpson-Mason of the DDOT Policy and Planning Administration will be collecting the comments, and can be reached at +1 202.671.2740 or at

Biker Swarmed by Miscreants

Jason wrote to inform us all of a very disturbing incident that took place this past Monday night. From his message:

I wanted to inform you all of an incident that occurred last night around 8:30 p.m. near the intersection of Vermont and R street. At this time a young man was riding his bike and was attacked by a group of 10 - 15 kids. I personally saw the kids after the incident around the corner without knowing that anything had happened. These kids stopped a man riding his bike and threw him [onto] a car. They damaged two cars, stole the bike and injured the man riding the bike. Luckily, my neighbors saw the event and helped the man and we all waited for the police.

The police arrived on the scene very quickly, for which everybody involved expresses their gratitude. The actual preliminary report from MPD numbers the children at four or five, so perhaps some of the children were lookouts? Also, this is not the first time a group of teenagers have worked en masse on a crime. In late December, we reported on an incident in which a group of five juveniles robbed two citizens. In that case, two of the offenders were caught and arrested, although the details of what happened afterward are not known.

Jason continues:

I think the most troubling aspect of this is that these were just kids. I was pulling up to my house and saw the group of kids walking across the street. At this time I had no idea anything had occurred. The kids were just walking down the street yelling to each other about what a great job they had done. They looked to be no older than 13 to 14 years old. It made me wonder… first, why are kids this age wandering the streets at almost 9 pm? Second, there was no fear whatsoever in them. They were no running away scared, or even hiding. They continued to walk down the street as a man lay injured behind them.

I mention this so that you can all be aware that it is not just adults that we need to be careful around. Watch yourself at night… and if you do have children in the neighborhood, please make sure you know where they are at all times.

Juvenile crime seems to be a theme in our neighborhood. From Juveniles Cruising the 'Hood last October, to various arrests over the past six months, it seems pretty clear that less vinegar isn't doing the trick.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Vote on Rent Control Scheduled for Thursday

This came across the MPD-3D Yahoo! group from Alan Heymann, the Director of Constituent Services for Jim Graham.

The Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, chaired by Councilmember
Graham, will vote on the most significant strengthening of rent control in
20 years -- along with four other bills on tenant rights. The bills are
16-457, 458, 48, 51, and 109.

Thursday, March 16, 2006, 3:30 p.m.
John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 123

The focus is so often on the new mid-rise condominium buildings that it is easy to forget how many of our neighbors rent their homes. Regardless of your opinion on rent control, this is an important event.

Police Stories

The Post has an interesting article about the new head of the MPD Police Union. His name is Kristopher Baumann, and according to him, the department is in a serious crisis.

During his campaign, Baumann toured the city's seven police districts and said he often heard the same refrain: Officers felt beaten down by what they viewed as an unfair discipline system and a lack of leadership at the top. Police officials were not coming up with strategies to curb crime. Beat officers felt overworked and underappreciated. They felt that Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who has headed the department since 1998, offered nice sound bites for TV but didn't follow through, Baumann said.

It might all just be sound and fury, though. Police Chief Ramsey counters that crime has dropped dramatically in the District since he took over in 1998, and the statistics back him up. Further, Baurmann seems like he might just be trying to rattle some cages:

Others seemed a bit put off by Baumann's rhetoric. During the council hearing Feb. 23, Baumann made sweeping allegations about subjects such as staffing in the 7th District.
Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said he thought the department's top commanders easily refuted Baumann's claims.

Also, WTOP has a really brief story about some pushes to require DC police to live in the neighborhoods they serve. I know that several of our PSA officers live in the neighborhood, and it is appreciated by everyone, but given the difficulty in finding good officers, is narrowing the pool of candidates really the right way to go?

What do the residents of Logan Circle think?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

DC Government to Offer Internet Service

Many cities have been jumping on the wireless Internet bandwagon, often providing free service to residents in public areas such as parks or municipal buildings. Oftentimes such service is provided by a friendly company or a business improvement association, such as the Dupont Circle WiFi that is provided by TechAssist LLC, but many municipalities are getting into the game as well. Our across-the-Potomac friends in Arlington, VA offer free Internet access at Courthouse Plaza, just outside of the Arlington municipal complex at the Courthouse Metro station.

In that vein, Mayor Williams has proposed to offer free wireless Internet access throughout the city, but with a twist. In an attempt to help bridge the so-called digital divide, the mayor would like to focus the service on low-income residents of the District.

Williams said he was not worried that some areas might get left out. "I think there is sufficient market incentive to serve the other areas of the city. The problem is there isn't sufficient market incentive to serve the lowest-income parts of our city, and that's what I am trying to do here."

The government has stated that the solution need not be WiFi, although the sheer quantity of cheap hardware in that area should make it a no-brainer. Also, in a smart move, the service will run over the DC government's internal fiber network to a backbone, thus helping keep the build-out costs down.

Personally, I think this is a fantastic idea. While a neighborhood as thriving as ours might not get service right away, the chances are good that we already have the means at our disposal to get our digital fix.

Friday, March 10, 2006

ANC 2F Wrap-Up Correction

Mike Sheaffer, chairman of the ANC's Crime and Public Safety Committee, sent me a note with a couple of corrections to our coverage:

Two points of clarification, while I did some initial coordination, any credit for the actual work done regarding the bus stop on the south east corner of 11th and M. St's NW belongs to Christie Billinglsey, a member of the ANC2F Committee on Crime and Public Safety (CCPS). Also, we are currently working with the Metro Transit Police and will expand to the MPD as required. The Metro Transit Police have been very supportive.

Thanks for keeping me in line!

MPD Watch Your Car Program

The MPD has created a program to help catch car thieves. It's called Watch Your Car, and is sort of like a low-tech LoJack.

Watch Your Car is a national vehicle theft prevention program funded by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. It is a voluntary vehicle registration program designed to deter auto theft and assist in the apprehension of auto thieves. Participating vehicle owners sign an agreement stating their vehicle is not normally used between the hours of 1 am and 5 am.

Vehicle owners receive decals that they apply to their windshields. If a police officer observes the vehicle being driven anywhere in the United States during these hours, they may stop the vehicle and verify the vehicle owner or a person designated by the owner is operating it, and that the vehicle is not stolen.

Given that the 3rd District seems to be leading in car thefts, this is definitely a good idea. Unfortunately, it doesn't help with the even bigger Theft From Auto problem.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Reminder: LCCA Meeting - March 8th @ 7pm

The Logan Circle Community Association is holding a meeting on March 8 at 19:00. From the announcement:
Community Services: Celebrating Volunteers and Civic Participation
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
7:00 PM
N Street Village, Multi-purpose Room
1333 N Street NW (enter through the courtyard)

The Logan Circle Community Association cordially invites you to attend our upcoming membership meeting to celebrate volunteerism. Network with your neighbors and find out how you can get involved in the community through volunteer opportunities with government agencies and non-profit organizations, including LCCA.

Featured Organizations include:
  • For the Love of Children
  • Union Mission
  • Whitman-Walker Clinic
  • YMCA
  • Shaw Ecovillage
  • Pediatric AIDS/HIV
  • Sierra Club
  • MPD
  • DCRA
  • Our Neighborhood Services Coordinator

Attendees are being asked to bring a donation item. The full list can be found on the N Street Villiage website, but some things they're looking for are:
  • Food items - bottled water, cereal, coffee
  • Office supplies - envelopes (#10/business), legal pads, manila file folders
  • Toileteries - dental floss, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • New/Unopened household items - bath towels, ktichen towels, blankets
  • Cleaning solutions - diswashing liquid, laundry detergent
Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 03, 2006

ANC 2F Wrap-Up

Of course, I attended the ANC 2F meeting on Wednesday. Here are some of the more interesting items to come up:

  • Chairman Charles Reed received a letter from MPD Chief Ramsey officially notifying the AND of the installation and use of closed-circuit cameras placed in portions of 2F. The cameras are for monitoring of large protests and ralleys, presumably for the sections of our ANC that stretch all the way down to the Mall. The possibility of cameras in high-crime areas is interesting, especially given the major work done on this in Chicago, but the civil libertarian in me cringes at the thought. This is sure to be a major issue in the coming years.
  • There is a new Executive Director. The dervish Chris Kohatsu stepped down after the last meeting, and has been replaced by Renan Snowden, which I probably spelled wrong. Hopefully the ANC's ED page will be udpated soon so I can correct the spelling.
  • Lt. Smith reported some arrests made in the area, one of which is at trial. A resident asked about the drug house problem on 9th Street, to which Lt. Smith suggested sending email to Cmdr. McCoy in order to raise the priority of the issue. He also stressed the importance of leaving your name and callback number when dialing 911 or 311. Since information sometimes gets garbled and lost when moving from dispatchers to the officers, it can be extremely helpful if the reporting citizen is available to provide more information to the responding officers. If the operators don't ask you for your information, give it to them anyway!
  • The ANC's Crime & Public Saftey Committee has posted all of the correspondance and work done so far on their new web page. Michael Sheaffer has been doing a bang-up job as the chairman of the committee, including working with MPD to roust the drunks from the bus stop at 11th and M, as well as cataloging and requesting city service for various broken-window-type items throughout the neighborhood.
  • The ANC adopted a resolution supporting most of the parking modifications proposed by DDOT, including some aimed directly at the church parking issue. The net result is to add some 77 new unrestricted parking spaces around the area, as well as 78 spaces restricted only to 8:00 - 15:00 on Sundays.
The next ANC 2F meeting is scheduled for April 5th.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Citizens and MPD Working Together Make Arrests

I love posting stuff like this. Sergeant Emerman writes,
Officers made an arrest on Saturday, 2/25, or a suspect in regards to a Robbery (Force and Violence) that occurred that night in the 1200 block of N Street NW. Witnesses and the complainant were able to positively identify the suspect, who had approached and pushed a female complainant to the ground before threatening her and making off with U.S. Currency. The detectives are looking at him to see if he matches any other robberies that have occurred in the area. This was a good example of community and police co-operation that helped apprehend this suspect. I will note that our robberies have seemed to have dropped noticeably since this arrest. Officers also made an arrest for Theft From Auto that same night that occurred in the 1300 block of Corcoran Street. Witnesses again were critical here, and they came through for us. After a short canvass of the area, the officers located a suspect matching the lookout given by the witness, and engaged in a foot pursuit that ended in Logan Circle. This suspect was ordered detained by the judge, due to the fact that he has 2 pending Theft From Auto cases from the 900 block of M Street that occurred less than 2 months ago. Keep up the good work, and let's keep working together!

If you or somebody you know was involved in any of the recent robberies, please follow up with MPD to see if the individual detained had a part in yours. Hopefully we can put this guy away for a long time.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Reminder: ANC 2F Meeting Tonight

Tonight beginning at 19:00 is the regularly scheduled ANC 2F meeting, held at the Washington Plaza Hotel on Thomas Circle. The agenda seems pretty low-key, including a regular update from the Crime & Public Safety committee (co-chaired by the LCCA President Jennifer Trock), as well as an update from the parking committee.

Hope to see you there!