Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MPD to start issuing $75 tickets for littering

Littering is bad -- I think most people will agree on that. It's also illegal, and WJLA reports that MPD will start issuing $75 tickets for pedestrians and $100 for drivers they catch littering.

Someone could argue "doesn't MPD have better things to do?" but I assume this will be more in the usual course of their day rather than special littering stings or something.

And littering is sometimes a problem in our area, especially around the 7-Eleven and the Civic Plaza where people tend to congregate. That said, there are tons of trash cans around and folks generally seem to use them.

So, don't litter! You might get a ticket.

Friday, August 29, 2014

85% of ANC1A commissioners go to their meetings, but a few miss most meetings

Yesterday I wrote about commissioners in ANC1B, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for southern Columbia Heights and U Street: turns out some of them rarely go to their own meetings. One commissioner, Deborah Thomas, only went to 1/3, while a couple others only made 57%. ANC1B as a whole attended only 71% of their own meetings, meaning they aren't representing the constituents who elected them almost 30% of the time, and also meaning a few times the meetings didn't reach a quorum, so no votes could be taken.

I decided to do the same thing for ANC1A, which covers northern Columbia Heights (roughly north of Girard, see the map below.) Turns out, ANC1A does a much better job of making their meetings, with a total attendance of 85%. There were a few bad apples: commissioner Thomas Boisvert of 1A07 only made 7 our of 16 meetings, or 44%, and 1A04's Morgan Corr only went to 6 of the 11 meetings while he's been on the commission. Boisvert and Corr have also missed the last 6 and 4 meetings, respectively. Neither are running for reelection, which seems like a good thing. (Of course, there may be some good reason for them missing so many meetings. I reached out to both, will let you know what they say. Update: Corr responded, see below.) Daniel Kornfield of 1A01 also only attended 63% of his meetings.

However, some members did a great job: chair Kent Boese (1A08), Rosalind Gilliam (1A12) and Vickey Wright-Smith (1A02) made every meeting, while Patrick Flynn (1A06) only missed one while Anthony Cimino (1A10), Kevin Holmes (1A05) and Dottie Love Wade (1A11) only missed two. Others who served shorter terms also made all their meetings.

So it looks like, as representation goes, ANC1A members take their jobs seriously. Glad to see it.

Here's all the data below, gathered from the minutes posted on ANC1A's website, and from chair Kent Boese. They don't meet in August.

Update: Got an email back from Morgan Corr:  "Unfortunately, I now have a standing professional obligation which prevents my attendance at full ANC meetings, and I'm not running for re-election because of that conflict. However, since the time these obligations started preventing my attendance the time had passed when a new commissioner could legally be appointed to fill the seat had I resigned. I resolved to hold the seat and do my best to address constituent concerns until the end of the term when a new commissioner could be elected. 

I remain dedicated to Columbia Heights and the further growth & improvement of our neighborhood, and look forward to supporting the new Commissioner in my SMD when he or she is elected."

Great article on the history of Wonderland

Oktoberfest at Wonderland Wonderland, our beloved local watering hole, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary -- 10 years of trivia, dancing, hanging out and the like. Eater DC has a great retrospective on the place, an interview with owners Matt McGovern and Rose Donna.

There's a lot of good stuff in there, like how they celebrated a 6-month anniversary of the bar because they weren't sure it would make it to one year. Donna and McGovern, who are married, met while McGovern was bartending at Madam's Organ. They moved to Columbia Heights and talked about opening a bar. Looking through the city's tax records, they found the address of the owner of Nob Hill, the longtime African-American gay bar that was located where Wonderland is now, dropped a note under his door that they'd like to buy the place, and he got right back to them. (Here's more about Nob Hill, which opened in 1957, or maybe in the 1940s.)

It was also one of the first establishments on 11th, along with Columbia Heights Coffee, which was since replaced by Maple. Matt and Rose also talk about how taxis started to come by without anybody else calling, hoping to take home bargoers, and they knew they made it when group houses in the area started to mention their proximity to the bar.

The article also talks about the vibe and crowd -- pretty diverse and friendly. Matt recounts one story where police officers, who came in for a while, would recognize people they busted also hanging out at the bar.

That reminds me of my favorite story about the bar from its early days: one day, some guys in ski masks came in and they were robbing the place. The crowd of regulars all laughed, assuming it was some other regular playing a joke, and went back to drinking and chatting. Then when folks realized it wasn't a joke, they cleaned out the register and left in about three minutes, after which everybody went back to drinking and talking like it was no big deal. Another time, a guy showed up with an inflatable penis costume for no reason.

Obviously I'm a big fan of the place, and do yourself a favor and read the article.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some ANC commissioners don't go to their own meetings

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) is an elected body in the city that serves to advise the city council and government agencies about local issues -- things like alcohol licenses, development and construction, and quality of life issues. However, it looks like some members from ANC1B, which serves southern Columbia Heights and U Street, are not going to many meetings.

Short Articles about Long Meetings, a blog that covers ANC meetings, has data from ANC1B volunteer Nick Baumann, who reports that some members failed to show up for even half the meetings -- one commissioner, Deborah Thomas, who represents 1B04, came to only 33% of meetings -- 7 out of 21. In fact, with that record, saying she represents the district would be a stretch. Other members didn't fare so well either: Jeremy Leffler from 1B02 and Sedrick Muhammad from 1B03 both only made 12 out of 21 meetings, for 57%. (SALM also suggests that the data may be too generous, as E. Gail Anderson Holness was counted as present for several meetings that she was very late for, missing votes.)

So, why is this important? Aside from not being able to represent their district's interests at the meetings, the ANC must have a quorum to have votes, and were not able to reach a quorum on July 10 and 17. SALM reports this meant they were unable to protest the Signature Lounge or New Town Kitchen's liquor licenses -- apparently New Town has not complied with noise guidelines they agreed to.

It would be interesting to see if anybody else has done this for ANC1A, which serves the rest of Columbia Heights. Below is a map of all the ANCs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gap Factory Store coming to DCUSA!

Some good news for DCUSA -- the long vacant space between Staples and Children's Place is getting a tenant: The Gap Factory Store.

The Washington Business Journal reports that the company filed for a construction permit for space 116 in DCUSA, on the lower level fronting on 14th Street (marked "Rainbow" in the original DCUSA plans.)

This sounds like a good fit: the Gap has some good stuff, and a factory store presumably means it'll be less expensive. Can't beat that.

Looks like they're also soliciting for jobs, so if you're interested, check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Weekday breakfast deal at Room 11: pastry & coffee or tea for $5, 8-11am

I'm always looking for coffee deals, and the other day I spotted this in the window of Room 11, the wine bar/cafe/restaurant/cocktail spot at 11th and Lamont.

It's called Quick Start, and it's a pastry and drip coffee or tea for $5. Seems like a pretty good deal for a lazy weekday or telework day.

The pastries are from Paisley Fig, a local one-woman bakery, and are pretty tasty. Here's Room 11's full bakery menu.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Independent bookstore planned for Upshur Street from Room 11, Petworth Citizen folks

For as long as I've run this blog, people have been talking about wanting an independent bookstore in the area -- and it looks like one may be coming to Upshur Street NW!

Paul Ruppert, the man behind Room 11, Petworth Citizen and the new Crane & Turtle, wants to launch Upshur Street Books, an independent bookstore at 827 Upshur Street NW. Calling it the first new independent bookstore to open in DC to open in 20 years, it would be next to the Petworth Citizen, and separate from their Reading Room, which is more of an event space/free library (and also quite cool.)

Aside from books, they'll stock indie publications and gifts and will host events like readings or book clubs. "We want Upshur Street Books to become a central gathering place for the community and we need your help to do it."

Ruppert and team launched a Kickstarter to help with the build-out and acquiring books to stock. There are 25 days and about $10,000 left on their goal of $17,000. He's joined by Kristina Bilonick from the Pleasant Plains Workshop art space, who will be managing the project, and Nick Pimentel, a co-owner and designer of Room 11 and other spots, will be the creative director.

Check out the full details on the Kickstarter (and the stuff you can get if you donate.) They also launched a website for the store.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why is there a big sign with the address of the Columbia Heights Metro?

I've walked past this sign many times but never really noticed it: it's a big, brown Metro sign with the address of the Columbia Heights Metro outside the eastern station entrance. And that's it. It's sort of beat up and doesn't look like the rest of the canopy, which is quite nice.

Seems strange -- who sends mail to the Metro, other than Metro? Why not just put some plaque on the canopy itself, or the concrete wall there?

The mysteries of our neighborhood.