Monday, March 10, 2008

Street Cleaning

Heads up! All those "No Parking - Street Cleaning" signs you've been ignoring all winter are about to come back into effect. In two weeks, the city will begin ticketing cars in street cleaning zones.

Weekly residential street cleaning operations resume Monday, March 24, 2008. Alternate-side parking restrictions during street sweeping hours will be in effect once again. Parking citations will be issued to vehicles parked during street sweeping hours in areas posted with “No Parking/Street Cleaning” signs.

For more information, you can check out the online DPW calendar. And thanks to Commissioner Benardo for the heads up!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Theft From Auto in PSA 307

One of the biggest problems in Logan Circle is the ubiquitous Theft From Auto. According to the DC Crime Map, in the last two months, 84 out of 148 property crimes in our neighborhood were car break-ins. Over half of the thefts in our neighborhood are of valuables from cars. And the problem is getting worse. The statistics show a 15% increase in these crimes over last year. With the summer months fast approaching, I'm guessing we'll see an even larger increase over last year.

The solution to the problem requires a two-prong approach. First, residents and visitors must not leave valuables in their vehicles. Theft from Auto is a crime of opportunity. Unattended items in a car present an easy chance to grab-and-run, and the quiet residential nature of so much of Logan Circle makes for a low risk of getting caught. Look at the crime map above: You don't see many break-ins on 14th Street or in front of Whole Foods! We need a campaign to educate the residents and visitors in our neighborhood to be smart about what they leave in their automobiles.

The other piece of the puzzle is police enforcement. The quick nature of a Theft from Auto means that police don't usually catch the thief red-handed. We only get that lucky once in a while. There are other techniques, though, besides patrolling the streets. The MPD has successfully used bait cars to catch smash-and-grab thieves quite recently on Capitol Hill. Logan Circle is a perfect candidate for bait cars, and if they're not already in use here, let's hope they can be brought to bare soon.

In theory, it only takes a few arrests from a bait car to dramatically bring down the crime rate. The idea is similar to the idea of the LoJack:

The thief's challenge is that it's impossible to determine which vehicle has a LoJack (there's no decal). So stealing any car becomes significantly more risky, and one academic study found that the introduction of LoJack in Boston reduced car theft there by 50 percent.

In this case, though, the thief has to decide whether or not the car is actually an MPD bait car. Even though the number of bait cars is very small, if the thief happens to "win" that lottery, he's absolutely guaranteed to be caught. Making a living stealing from cars becomes much, much riskier. So instead of spending millions of dollars on crime cameras that don't work, perhaps we should consider spending money on more bait cars and officers (or auxiliaries!) to monitor them.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

March Newsletter Available

The March 2008 edition of the Logan Circular is available for download (direct link).

Features include:

  • House Tour Wrap-Up

  • 2008 Vision and Values Statement

  • Details on Upcoming Meetings

  • 14th Street Study Recommendations

  • And much more!

On a related note, some people who are on our mailing list are reporting errors when attempting to download the newsletter. If you happen to be one of them, please try the links above, or contact me. Also, it would be of great help to me to know your browser version and PDF reader version.

Orange Hat Patrol in the Robotic Age

In the old days, many of the trail-blazing residents of Logan Circle would resort to drastic and dramatic measures to combat the crime, drugs, and prostitution that ran rampant in our neighborhood prior to its revitalization. I love hearing stories from them about blocking the streets to keep johns from circling the block, or donning brightly-colored hats and sneaking up on cars with johns and hookers in flagrante and blasting them with air horns.

The modern Neighborhood Watch, though, has some more sophisticated tools under its belt. Like this armoured robot armed with a water canon!

He flashes the robot's spotlight and grabs a walkie-talkie, which he uses to boom his disembodied voice over the robot's sound system.

"I tell them they are trespassing, it's private property, and they have to leave," he said. "They throw bottles and cans at it. That's when I shoot the water cannon. They just scatter like roaches."

I'm not really sure we need another crime-fighting robot in PSA 307, though. After all, we already have Lt. Smith.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

ANC 2F Wrap-Up

I missed last months ANC meeting, but the wrap-up is back! Enjoy!

Update: Mark Bjorge informed me that I incorrectly had him listed as no longer serving in Ward 2. Fix made. Sorry about that!


  • Lima Restaurant, located around 14th and K, has offered a free meal to members of the community.

  • The Vegas Lounge liquer license, which the ANC protested, is up at the roll call hearing on March 12th.

  • The DC Council is holding oversight hearings. ANC 2F is up on March 11th. Chariman Reed is looking for suggestions or comments regarding the ANC structure, duties, and operations. Do you like the ANCs? Hate them? Here's your chance to say so!

  • A SmartBike kiosk will be installed on Rhode Island Avenue, just west of 14th Street.

  • The Source Theater renovations are on-going. The black-box theater will remain, and they are also adding a rehearsal space and arts studio. They are trying to raise money for the work, and have currently raised $2.1 million of their $3.5 million goal. They will be holding the Source Festival this June, with various theater-related activities. Every Monday in April, they will be doing hard-hate tours.

  • The Logan Circle Community Association March meeting will be held next Wednesday, March 12th, at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

Crime Report

Lt. Smith was on-hand to report.

  • Overall 13% drop in crime for the year. Rough start of the year, but things got much better as the year progressed.

  • Lower crime rate means fewer personelle. PSA 307 was down to only 13 officers, where we were supposed to have 28-29.

  • Derek Green was sentenced. Charged as an adult. Convicted of armed robbery at 916 N Street.

  • Sex offender notification: 1425 N Street. Sex with a minor.

  • GPS units are getting stolen left and right. DON'T LEAVE THEM IN YOUR CAR!

  • PSA 307 has lowest number of robberies.

  • Church parking: The department is ticketing public safety hazards (fire hydrants, crosswalks, etc.), and for complaints from residents who are parked in. Sixteen tickets were issued on March 2nd.

  • An illegal fetish club has opened at 916 Blagden Alley. Lt. Smith wrote $15,000 worth of traffic tickets, and has contacted DCRA for license investigation. Google "dxs rapture" for more information.

  • Charles has informed Mike that the residents of the housing at 1400 R Street are complaining of break-ins and vandalism. The ANC supported the takeover of that housing, and Charles thinks that the developer may need to get some better security in there.

Executive Officer of the Mayor

Abbey Peterson has replaced Joe Martin and Mark Bjorge, who is now serving in his own ward. She lives in the neighborhood, specifically in ANC 2F03.

DDOT Report

Chris Zeeman was absent.

  • Charles reports that he has been told that paving may start on Q Street tomorrow.

DDOT Matters

  • AYT Auto Service, 1630 14th Street - The auto service is looking to open an auto service training center above their store. They are currently waiting for approval of their education license. There is no request for action, but Charles suggests asking for a recommendation from the ANC to the appropriate authority to approve their license. It's turned down, since the process is almost complete.

  • Street Closures - Approval letters from last month have not yet been sent. Various street closures were all approved.

Crime and Public Safety Committee

No report. There is a meeting of the committee on March 12th. However, Lt. Smith and Chariman Reed are concerned about the lack of cooperation between the US Attorney's office in regard to prosecuting cases.

ABRA Matters

  • Lima, Public Space Application for a Sidewalk Cafe - Already have a sidewalk cafe, but there was a technical problem with the old license. The ANC approved the old version two years ago, but they are here looking for a do-over to correct the problem. There is no voluntary agreement, but since it's not in a residental area, and there have been no significant other issues. Approved unanimously.

  • Izalco, Application for an Entertainment Endorsement - No representative from Izalco is present. However, Chariman Reed circulated a re-draft of the Voluntary Agreement originally proposed in February. No action was taken tonight, but the new agreement requires a beefed-up security presence, a log of complaints, and provides for a stop-clause to their entertainment license if there are three or more complaints in a three-month period. The Chairman believes this is one of the strongest Voluntary Agreements ever proposed by the ANC, since there are consistently so many problems and complaints about the establishment.

  • Olley's Trolley - I'm not sure what the deal is here. But it was unanimously approved.

  • HR-57, Liquor License Renewal - Negotiations are complete. This is another fairly strong agreement. However, Chairman Reed solicted input from the community, but received no complaints from any direct neighbors of the establishment. One clause, however, is that they cannot serve liquor at their sidewalk cafe without food present. Unanimously approved.

  • Veranda, Complaints - Resident David Berger (1400 block of 11th Street) spoke: On October 4th, a large exhaust fan was installed next to his patio, and when on produces a lot of noise and awful restaurant smell into his home. He asked for help from the ANC for relief. The Voluntary Agreement with Veranda clearly prohibits that odor and noise from exhaust fans, including on patio areas. The Pegasus Condominium Association (where Mr. Berger lives) is also a party to the Voluntary Agreement. Commissioner Dyer moves that the ANC writes a letter to Veranda, informing them that they are in violation of their Voluntary Agreement, and demanding response within 10 days, or steps to begin a Show Cause hearing will be taken. Passed unanimously.

Other Business

  • Chariman Reed motions to send a letter to Mayor Fenty expressing the ANC's gratitude for the service of Joe Martin and Mark Bjorge for their excellent service.