L Street Shooting Dominates Discussions at April ANC 8F Meeting

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8F (ANC 8F) met on April 25. Commissioners Nic Wilson (8F01), Rick Murphree (8F02, treasurer), Brian Strege (8F03, secretary) and Edward Daniels (8F04, chair) were in attendance. Clayton Rosenberg (8F05, vice chair) was absent.

L Street Shooting Dominates Discussions
Capitol Quarter residents turned out for the meeting. Outraged by a recent shooting at their courtyard on the 300 block of L Street SE, they demanded action by both Councilmember Charles Allen (D) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) captain Elias Danho, both of whom were in attendance.

For the last several years, the block  has been the locus of summer parties that can number upwards to 300 attendees. Residents complained that the parties go into the wee hours and feature loud music, with public consumption of alcohol and marijuana. Illegally parked cars, many with paper tags, often block driveways. Most of the partygoers are not local but have ties to the area that predate its redevelopment.

“It’s like an open-air drug market,” stated Daniels, who said he had worked on this issue for many years, even holding meetings in the private courtyard of the Capitol Quarter Home Owners Association (CQHOA) in the middle of the block. Strege and Wilson, who represent the area, concurred in his assessment.

“When the shooting happened, no one was surprised,” stated one resident.

Commissioners, the DC Councilmember and the MPD captain discussed approaches to solving the issue. Commissioners considered authoring a letter demanding the adoption of new anti-loitering legislation. Allen spoke against the move, cautioning that such laws are unconstitutional and have been used racially in the past.

Allen suggested using the incommoding law. Danho proposed working with the DC Housing Authority, which is responsible for the affordable units in Capitol Quarter, and the CQHOA to gather names of partygoers for barring orders that would give the police a lever to remove them. Allen doubted that the US Attorney, responsible for District prosecutions, would charge such arrests, citing recent reporting on the office’s 67% declination rate. He cited this as one reason officers are reluctant to make such arrests.

Danho promised to raise the issue with his superiors. The location receives “special attention,” he stated. Questioned by residents about the details, he said the area is one where police are encouraged to park between calls for service, but that MPD resources are constrained by staffing shortages.

The difficulties of police staffing, Allen observed, are not a budgetary issue, because even large signing bonuses and significant other financial incentives have not resolved the matter. The solution, he believes, lies in the new police cadet academy.

Commissioners decided to table consideration of their letter.

Charles Allen Visits
Councilmember Allen discussed the coming District budget. DC’s financial situation is difficult for three reasons, he stated: the decline in value of downtown commercial properties, which has reduced tax revenues, rising inflation and 12 labor agreements recently signed with city workers.

Allen is concerned about the slashes in funds that Mayor Bowser’s proposed budget makes for emergency housing assistance and legal assistance for housing court. He vowed to restore funds for the SW Circulator.

As head of the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment, Allen spoke about plans for his new assignment. He wants to craft legislation and hold hearings on building out the infrastructure for electric vehicles. He also promised a “brainstorming” hearing on traffic enforcement, citing the increase in reckless driving and decreasing pedestrian safety.

The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) are not using technology effectively to catch ticket scofflaws, Allen stated. The Council has funded an increase in DPW traffic-enforcement staff responsible for such offenders, but Allen was unable to move legislation for withholding driving license renewals from scofflaws.

Allen wants to change the city’s strategy of reducing the use of natural gas from one relying on tax credits to a direct subsidy system friendlier to low-income earners.

Other Matters
Neighborhood carjackings are up while car theft is down, stated Danho in his public safety briefing. Many carjackings involve firearms and target idling cars. Residents should remain vigilant when unloading vehicles or waiting for passengers.

Murphree asked why MPD does not chase carjackers. The issue is an operational rather than legal bar, Allen observed, but, according to Danho, MPD does chase those involved in incidents involving weapons.

The commissioners voted unanimously to petition DDOT to restrict its traffic control officers from using official vehicles to travel to their posts, noting the high incidence of illegal parking by such cars.

Representatives of Brookfield, the owner of The Yards Development, said the owner is working with other stakeholders to repair broken lighting in Yards Park and adjacent streets.

The Zoning Commission (ZC) followed the commission’s lead in opposing the design of the One K Street development in SE, reported Daniels. The ZC asked the developer to return with a proposal that added affordable units.

Daniels informed the commission about DDOT’s plans to replace parking at 20 M St. SE with a taxi zone. He wants to encourage the broadening of the pickup/dropoff zone’s use to include other for-hire-vehicles.

The commission has established a bank account and is procuring an audio system, stated treasurer Murphree.

ANC 8F meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for May 23 at the DDOT headquarters, 250 M St. SE. For more information and links to the meetings, visit www.ANC8F.org.