ANC 6B Questions DOH on Restaurants After Viral Popeye’s Video

ANC 6B Report

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Appearing were Commissioners Gerald Sroufe (6B02), Brian Ready (6B03), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06), Edward Ryder (6B07), Peter Wright (6B08) and Alison Horn (6B09), and Denise Krepp (6B10). Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) was unable to attend.

At the Dec. 14th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B, Chair Brian Ready (ANC6C03) asked Department of Health (DOH) Food Technologist Ivory G. Cooper about the frequency of food service inspections.

Citing viral video of rats apparently swarming the kitchen of an Eighth Street SE Popeye’s restaurant, Ready argued that the issue must have been developing for some time before the video went online. How, he asked, could this issue have gone on for so long and what is being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

“We can only cite what we see,” responded Cooper, a technologist with the DOH Food Safety and Hygiene Division. He said that inspectors were unable to do frequent site visits over the last 20 months, due to the pandemic.

“At the moment we go in—you may be clean today, and tomorrow you’re filthy—and DOH may not be back for a few months,” said Cooper. He went on to explain how staffing issues, priority shifts and restaurant closures have affected the frequency of inspections, which take place one to four times annually depending on the assessed level of risk.

“When we do see these permanent health hazards, these conditions, we’ve closed the establishments down,” Cooper said, adding that DOH works closely with the rodent control division responsible for the exterior of buildings.

Ready first invited DOH to appear at the November meeting to speak about inspection frequency and procedures after the video of rats at Popeye’s restaurant went viral, but no representative was in attendance. At the December meeting, Cooper presented on the broad food service inspection process. While Cooper described in detail the infractions and indicators of potential trouble that technicians look for, noting that their primary goal is to prevent food-borne illness, he did not comment specifically on the Popeyes case.

Lead Pipe Replacement in Hill East
Representatives from DC Water announced that the utility will do free lead pipe replacement on the 100 block of 14th St SE and the 900 block of 15th street SE early next year. According to the District legislation, DC Water can replace lead water service lines on private property with the consent of the owner whenever it is replacing lead water mains on public property.

This may provide an opportunity for residents to have the pipes on their property replaced for free, said DC Water representative Maureen Schmelling. Homeowners on those blocks will be notified about the work. Residents who are notified about an opportunity to replace lead service pipes can opt in. A copy of the agreement is available on the DC Water website dcwater.com.

While construction dates have not yet been finalized, work is anticipated to begin in late spring or early summer 2022.

DC has vowed to have all pipes replaced by 2030. But if there’s no work scheduled on the street, costs associated with the replacement of pipes on private property are the financial responsibility of the homeowner. DC Water says that on average, replacement on private property costs $720 to bore a hole for a pipe through a home’s basement wall, plus $120 per foot of new copper pipe from the home to the property line.

To help alleviate costs, DC Council passed a law creating financial assistance programs for pipe replacement on private property.

In cases where public and private pipes are lead but DC Water does not have plans to replace the water main, customers can enroll in the Voluntary Replacement Program. Through the program, if the property owner pays for replacement on private property, DC Water will replace the pipe on public property. There is also financial assistance to help residents replace pipes on private property, based on property owner’s income relative to the area’s median income.

Learn more about Lead Service Pipe Replacement at dcwater.com.

Joint Meeting on Office of the Attorney General
ANCs 6A, 6B, and 6C will hold a joint meeting of their Zoning Committees with representatives from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. No business will be voted on; it will be an informational presentation and discussion with OAG.

ANC 6B Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Corey Holman (6B06) said that as OAG is no longer the attorney of record for the Office of Zoning (OZ), the office has communicated that they are willing to intervene as a party to represent the District in cases of zoning.

They want to work with ANCs to identify cases. Those could include Planned Unit Developments (PUD) or other special cases. For instance, OAG could give expert testimony on whether community goals are being met in a PUD. This involvement can begin in the next fiscal year, which precludes their participation in pending cases, such as the challenge of the E Street SE Door Dash location, Holman said.

Challenge to Special Call Meeting Minutes
Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) asked to edit the notes from a Dec. 1 Special Call meeting of ANC 6B on redistricting. At the end of that rancorous four-hour meeting, ANC 6B narrowly passed a resolution asking DC Council to address issues in ANC 6B and the surrounding area in the final redistricting map.

Krepp said “the notes don’t encapsulate the extreme frustration and angst expressed by residents at the meeting.” She also asked that an accusation made by Commissioner Alison Horn (6B09) and her rebuttal be included in the record.

Commissioners generally took the stance that minutes should reflect the actions taken by the commission rather than opinions stated by individual commissioners or the public.

After Krepp cited a place where her opinion was noted, the commission voted unanimously to table approval of the minutes from the Special Call meeting to January, pending an edit that will strip them of narrative and commentary and restrict them to actions taken by the ANC.

ANC 6B will hold the next meeting of the full commission virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. As of December, legislation permitting ANCs to meet virtually had not been extended; ANCs are currently required to meet in-person as of February, 2022. Get up to date information on meetings at anc6b.org