Monday, August 25, 2008

So What's Up With All the Stolen Cars?

We all know that there are certain crime statistics that seem to attract more attentions than others. Homicides, for instance. Or armed muggings, rapes and arsons. In other words, violent crime or significantly destructive property crimes. The other types of crimes--thefts, burglaries, car break-ins and so on tend to get lumped into the general category called "property crimes" and tend to be viewed only in terms of the sum of all the parts, rather than individually. Thus, some interesting trends or spikes in particular property crimes may go unnoticed.

Such is the case with what I can only call a serious uptick in the number of cars reported stolen in the neighborhood. I discovered this little tidbit entirely incidentally, as I was looking up some general crime statistics for various periods of time, and comparing them with other neighborhoods in the District. Because, you know, that's just how I like to spend my time.

Using the very helpful DC Crime Map statistics supplied by the the MPD, I learned that for the period June 25 - August 24, there were 24 autos reported stolen within 1500 feet of a Logan intersection I arbitrarily selected, 13th and R St. (Moving a couple of blocks south, to the Circle itself, the number "drops" to 22.) For the same time period during 2007, the total number of reported stolen autos was three. For the previous two months of 2008, the number reported was 12.

Now, I'm no criminologist, or statistical analyst (for that matter), so I'm not arguing anything other than the fact that 24 autos were reported stolen in Logan during the last two months. Still, it does beg the question: what's going on here?

All other property-related crime seems to be holding right around where it's been, perhaps a bit high. Stolen autos are the only category that has shown an appreciable increase. Is this simply a fluke, and the car thieves just happen to be hitting Logan more than they have in the past? Are there a handful of ne'er-do-wells wrecking havoc and going joyriding in our neighborhood? Did Logan residents suddenly start leaving their doors unlocked and their keys in the ignition?

Regardless, it's always a good idea to follow the MPDs tips on preventing auto theft, and taking common sense actions like leaving nothing in sight in your car or otherwise increasing your car's likelihood of being targeted by thieves. Or, you could simply take my approach: drive a cheap, PoS American sedan that no one in their right mind would care to take the trouble to steal. Remember: suckiness is always a good theft-deterrent.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jack Evans: Undecided on "Undecideds"?

This morning, I received a call from someone from the Jack Evans campaign. After picking up the phone and saying "hello?", I was met with a barrage of information about Jack's tireless work ethic on behalf of Citizens Like Me. Of course, I had nary the opportunity to get a word in edgewise throughout the spiel.

After finishing, the woman at the other end of the line, apparently satisfied with her rhetorical acumen, asked if we would be voting for Mr. Evans in the upcoming primary.

I hedged. Although the 14thandYous have pretty much made up our minds regarding who we're going to support in the Ward 2 council race, we aren't inclined to share that information with campaign workers and pollsters. So, I made the decision to classify our voting status in that Great American Way: undecided.

"Actually, we haven't given a lot of thought to who we're supporting," I said.

"So you're undecided then?" the Evans pollster responded.

"Um, sure, I guess we are." I replied, prepared to be hit with an endless stream of Jack Evans accomplishments in an attempt to woo my vote over to the good side of the force. As it was, however, my fears were all for nought.

"Oh, so you're undecided then," the woman replied, with all of the charisma one might expect from a sports announcer of two cellar-dwelling cricket teams involved in a meaningless preseason match. "Thank you."


So I'm really not sure what to make of this. True, I saved a few minutes of my time by not having Evans' CV recited to me over the phone by a campaign worker not particularly interested in conversation. On the other hand, it seems as though Mr. Evans' campaign isn't particularly concerned about making any efforts to converse with undecided voters, for reasons on which I can only speculate. Are they looking to pick fights only with Cary Silverman supporters? Do they only want to engage in spirited debate with those who agree with them?

Who knew that being undecided could get you off the hook so easily?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ben's Turns 50

Whatever your feelings on their greasy half smokes, soupy chili, or scary-good milkshakes, one thing everyone can agree on is that any business that manages to stick around in the same location for 50 years (particularly when that location is the volatile U St. corridor) deserves some accolades. Today is your chance to share some love with that venerable DC institution, Ben's Chili Bowl, as they turn 50 years old.

U St. between 12th and 13th Sts. is closed to traffic all morning and afternoon in order to make way for the festivities, which outspoken Ben's patron Bill Cosby (the only person who eats free at Ben's) will be MCing. When I walked by this morning on my way to the Metro, it looked like they had a couple of moon bounces set up, seating for a couple hundred or so, and a live broadcast from local radio station 93.9.

So, if today's travels brings you around to Ben's neighborhood, stop by for the festivities. If not, Ben's is open late for your daily craving of saturated fat and grease. Mmmmmmmm....grease...

For more details about Ben's 50th anniversary festivities, you can visit their website.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

1200 Block of U St. to be Closed Tomorrow

Apparently, some greasy spoon that serves chili dogs is having some sort of celebration for being around for 50 years. This event is expected to attract a fair number of people, and as such DDOT is taking the (unusual?) step of closing a block of U St. to traffic throughout the day on Friday.

Fortunately, the street will only be closed during the daytime, reopening at 4 PM. So all you Virginia and Maryland U St. party-types can still drive into the city on Friday night, become confused at the DC street layout, and end up parking in front of our building and blocking a fire hydrant. Hooray!

(If you decide to hit up Ben's to celebrate their 50th, make sure you bring your Rolaids.)

The full release is below.


U Street Closure for 50th Anniversary of Ben’s Chili Bowl

One Block will be Shutdown for August 22 Celebration

Media Contact: John Lisle at (202) 671-2004

WASHINGTON, DC — One block of U Street, NW, between 12th and 13th Streets, will be closed on Friday, August 22nd, for the 50th anniversary celebration of Ben’s Chili Bowl.

The roadway is scheduled to be blocked off beginning at 7am and reopened to traffic at 4pm. Parking restrictions will be in effect 1200 block of U Street and the 1200 block of Florida Avenue.

Ben’s Chili Bowl, located at 1213 U Street, NW, opened on August 22, 1958.

Delays For New Restaurant Set to Fill Viridian Space

As originally reported on Metrocurean and elsewhere, the former Viridian space on 14th St. between Q and P St. is set to become Italian tratorria Posto. Unfortunately, an anticipated August opening date is going to have to be postponed due to a "combination of factors", according to Posto owner Paolo Sacco.

Sacco, owner of downtown Italian eatery Tosca, cited delays in obtaining the necessary construction permits as one of the reasons why Logan Circle residents will have to wait a bit longer to try chef Massimo Fabbri's take on Italian cuisine. Sacco, who also happens to be a neighborhood resident, expressed hope that the delays would be overcome quickly and is looking towards a launch in mid-October.

The 14thandYous enjoyed one lovely meal at Viridian--on New Year's Eve, ironically the restaurant's last day in operation--and have lamented its passing ever since. Hopefully, Posto will live up to the standards of both its predecessor and the lovely building in which it will reside. We do have one question, though: does this mean Posto will also utilize the large, vinyl banner to advertise $10 parking in the gravel lot next door?

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's Happening on the 1300 Block of 14th St.?

Back in May, we received word--via that month's ANC meeting--of a project ongoing on the rather dilapidated south west side of the 1300 block of 14th St. The owner of several buildings on that block, all unoccupied and badly in need of renovation, was moving forward with plans to stabilize and renovate the the structure. The work was to begin on the interior of the structures and then move outdoors. A "temporary" fence was set up along with a large dumpster, ostensibly to handle the removal of all of the junk that was going to be hauled out of the structures during the renovation process.

That was over three months ago. Today, the fencing and dumpster still sit there, taking up space on the street and creating an eyesore, while no visible work has been done on the structures. No evidence of work crews, no detritus filling up the dumpster, and no evidence that anything is moving forward with regards to the rehabilitation of these buildings.

As the main commercial corridor through Logan, the rehabilitation of the 1300 block of 14th St.--particularly the south side--is important in order to bridge the gap (real or perceived) between Thomas Circle and downtown, and Logan to the north.

It was welcome news when we received word that the property owner of those structures was moving forward with a plan to stabilize them and, eventually, redevelop them. However, as we have become all too familiar with, inevitably permitting issues come up, or an unexpected discovery is made while excavating a structure (witness the discovery of an unmapped waterway located beneath the condo building going up at 15th and P that delayed construction for nearly a year). So--does anyone have any idea as to what may be holding up the work on these buildings? Is it procedural, structural...or did the owner simply decide to hold off for now? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reminder: Voter Registration Deadline is TODAY

Over here at 14thandYou, we've consciously avoided getting too political with our posts or offering up endorsements of DC elected officials. However, one aspect of DC politics that we believe is important enough to post here is that today is the deadline for voter registration in order to vote in the upcoming primaries and fall election.

In case you missed it, DC Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans and challenger Cary Silverman faced off in their first (and, as far as I can determine, only) public debate prior to the September 9 primary this past Thursday at the Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle. The 14thandYous were unable to attend the proceedings, but several area blogs did a fine job of providing a detailed wrap-up of the debate.

If you're at all concerned about the ongoing growth, development and direction of our neighborhood (and, if you're reading this post, it's a safe bet that you are) the election of our City Council representative is one of the most important decisions the neighborhood will have to make. If you've not already done so, head over to the DC Board of Elections and Ethics website and complete their online voter registration (it takes about five minutes). Then, more importantly, spend some time educating yourself about the candidates, the issues they stand for (or oppose), their differences and their similarities. Send them an email, give them a phone call, or speak to them personally at any one of the numerous community meetings that each one attends. Then, on September 9, vote for the one you believe is best suited to represent our neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for everyone living here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Tenant for Dakota Cowgirl Space; Fall Opening for Bang & Olufsen

Here's a couple of tidbits of 14th St.-related business news to pass along.

It seems the revamped restaurant/bar in the works for the old Dakota Cowgirl space will actually be two restaurants--not simply one--and that it will be opening sometime around October, or so reports the Post's Tom Sietsema in this week's WaPo magazine. Some of you may remember that the original plans for the space centered around a Brickskeller-type beer establishment, with over 500 beers--and air conditioning--available. Fortunately, those plans are still in the works, but it seems the new establishment(s) will also be food-focused, with the menus for each designed by the chef at Rustico.

The new restaurants--called Birch & Barley and ChurchKey--will also feature a rooftop deck, something not offered during the site's Cowgirl days.

The inevitable "permitting issues" were cited as the reason why the new ventures have taken so long to get off the ground.


We're not certain that our neighbors would appreciate us buying what Bang & Olufsen are selling, but the high-end audio components retailer is set to open up their 14th St. location, at 14th and Q, this fall. Within the past couple of weeks, banners have gone up in front of their storefront, indicating that within a few months you'll have the opportunity to fill your swanky condo with an assortment of audio systems and speakers that look like lightsabers.

How do we know Bang & Olufsen are quality? They don't list prices on their website. (If you have to ask, you won't appreciate the quality...)

BTW, for those who are into this type of thing, you can visit their website and sign up to be on the guest list for their fall opening. Be sure to bring your earplugs.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Public Safety Meeting

Crime is always a concern in any urban neighborhood and has been of particular concern in Logan due to a recent spate of violent acts. Here's a chance to learn more, urge public officials to act, and see what you can do to make neighborhood life better: Go to the public safety meeting on Wednesday, August 6th at 6 p.m. Councilmember Jack Evans, Assistant Chief of Police Diane Grooms, and Third District Commander George Kucik will all be at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church (15th and R Streets, NW). This meeting will specifically address Borderstan crime issues in the area between 14th and 16 Streets from P to S Streets.

I've noticed that area crime has been a popular topic on this blog and on other online forums related to local life. We also devote a lot of our ANC meeting time to crime given that we have a report from Officer Smith and the Crime and Public Safety Committee nearly every month. As well, I know also that the Borderstan crime alert email list is becoming increasingly popular. Since you all clearly love this neighborhood so much and care enough to be part of these existing forums on crime, please consider coming out on Wednesday night. There just might be some new information on planned enforcement and prevention actions. Resident comments can also generate new crime abatement ideas, and this meeting is also a great time to hold your public officials accountable. Even if you can't hang out for the entire meeting, come for whatever period you can; every little bit of resident involvement helps our neighborhood to improve.