Saturday, January 10, 2009

The January ANC Meeting: Inauguration Madness!

It was a dark and stormy night, but that didn't stop a standing-room-only crowd from attending the first ANC2f meeting of 2009, and with good reason: with the inauguration now less than 2 weeks away, and a multitude of questions surrounding issues related to parking, business operating hours and security the community has a lot of interest in the discussion and decisions that will be coming down this evening.

We've already written about the decision by the ANC not to protest the applications of businesses in good standing with the ANC who wish to partake in the extra hours for the inauguration, so I'll cover some of the other issues that came up at Wednesday night's meeting.

People Who Live Near the Convention Center Are $%#@ed

Sorry to be Debbie Downer here, but that was really my only take-away from the information we were getting this evening. It seems that, due to the 400-or-so inaugural balls that will be held at the Convention Center, the Secret Service will be setting up security checkpoints around the Convention Center and areas where Obama will be showing up (such as Union Station); residents in these areas must provide proof that they live in area: a driver's license, utility bill, mail, etc. will suffice. If you have people from out of town staying with you, you will need to stay with them, otherwise they won't be allowed into the secure area. Mike Bernardo mentioned that during past inaugurations there have been problems with residents getting to their own homes without IDs. In other words, don't expect the Secret Service to follow you back to your house and watch you try your house key.

The official line from the city is that they are now anticipating 2 million people coming into District--better than the 4 million we had been hearing earlier, but about four times the number of people that typically show up for the 4th of July celebration. The District will be closing several bridges and making one all bridges pedestrian- and bicycle-only into and out of Virginia.

Also, if you live in Logan Circle--or pretty much any place in the central city--parking is likely going to be a nightmare for you. In case you've been living in your cave (or poorly lit English basement) for the last three months, you've probably heard that the parking restrictions in the central city will run north to P Street, which is bad news for the people who live south of P and will need to relocate their cars, and for those of us who live north of P who will likely be the recipient of said cars. Our suggestion: park your car by next Wednesday, and don't touch it. Otherwise, you may end up having to park in Deanwood or something. And nobody wants that.

Believe it nor not, there were other topics addressed other than inaugural/end-of-life-as-we-know-it issues, including

Dustin Cole's Vendetta Against Whole Foods

OK, we'll admit that "vendetta" might be a tad strong, but really--the oddest point in the night had to be when Commissioner Cole interrupted the otherwise-routine approval of the agenda to request that an item be added to discuss Whole Foods' "violation of the District's single-sales ban." Visibly perplexed, ANC Chairman Charles Reed inquired with Commissioner Cole how he knew tht Whole Foods was violating the single-sales ban.

"Because I've seen them." came the response.

At this point, two things were noted by Reed and Commissioner Matt Raymond: that the ANC and Whole Food were parties to an agreement that allowed Whole Foods an exemption to enforcement of the single-sales ban, and that ABRA was respecting that agreement.

It's unclear whether or not Cole was aware of the agreement before moving to have the item added to the agenda, but at this point it should have been obvious that a discussion on the matter that evening would serve no real purpose. Undeterred, Cole pressed on, asking for the item to remain because we wanted a "discussion" followed by "possible action" against Whole Foods. Reed inquired as to whether a representative from Whole Foods had been notified that Cole was planning on raising the issue this evening; Cole responded that he had spoken with the store manager, but had not specifically notified them that a potential for action against the store would arise at the ANC meeting.

More back-and-forth continued, with Raymond reminding the Commission of the importance of "due process" and of having a representative from Whole Foods at the meeting to answer any charges that may be leveled. Reed reiterated that he wasn't sure why there needed to be a discussion to begin with. Still, the discussion pressed on, eating up nearly 15 minutes of time at the meeting.

Ultimately, the issue was tabled until the February meeting. It was truly one of the odder events I've seen transpire at an ANC meeting--and I've seen a number of them. Maybe Cole had a similar experience at Whole Foods as we did, getting a "fresh" turkey for Thanksgiving that ended up being frozen?

"The Space" Is Not a Good Neighbor

"Imagine coming home on Thursday evening and knowing that you won't sleep again until Sunday."

That was testimony from one of the many neighbors of Shaw nightclub "The Space" who came to protest the club owner's behavior--and ABRA's lack of enforcement against it.

It seems that the "private" club operating at 9th and and N streets isn't quite so private. The club is over-capacity most evenings, ignores noise regulations and, perhaps most annoyingly, operates an illegal outdoor deck the resides mere feet from the bedroom windows of its neighbors. The owner of the club is an Australian with a bad temper (he has been arrested for assaulting one of the neighbors whom he thought called the police against him) who doesn't--or doesn't care to--have a good grasp of the protocol necessary for keeping his club operational. (For instance, he failed to show at an ABRA hearing on the aforementioned deck, leading to a dismissal of the application.)

Even more infuriating was the fact that an ABRA inspector visited the property over the summer, took pictures, admitted that there appeared to be violations, then...nothing.

Unfortunately, problems arose when the discussion turned to potential actions that the ANC could take against the club. The voluntary agreement that the residents brought with them was between their building's landlord and the club owner--the ANC was not party to it. It could not be determined whether or not the ANC had an agreement with the Space.

Everyone agreed that the current situation was untenable, and the ANC agreed to move forward to find out if they did have a VA with the club, and also to explore possibilities for filing an emergency protest to get the club's liquor license pulled immediately. Chairman Reed however was not optimistic about this line of action, and wanted the ANC first to determine the existence of a VA with the club and to follow all proper channels so that ABRA "wouldn't have a reason NOT to follow through on a protest."

This matter will certainly be raised again, likely at the February meeting. In the meantime, The Space's neighbors are looking at a minimum of several ore weeks of obnoxious and antagonistic behavior from the club. We'll be following up with a later post on this issue as things develop.

There were other matters addressed at the meeting, but by this point Mr. 14thandyou--who hadn't yet had dinner--needed to excuse himself from the proceedings. It was certainly a fun night for all involved...


Lauren said...

I will be in attendance at the February meeting, to support sanctions against The Space.

I support local businesses, but only those that respect their neighbors, and the neighborhood they are in.

Evelyn said...

Is this why they seem to not be open lately? For instance, I past it last Friday and no one was there. I figured since they made it a private club no one wanted to be there and it shut down.

Anonymous said...


FURTHERMORE, IF YOU ARE SOME WHITE GENTRIFYING, OUT OF TOWN LATE 20s To Early 30s Moving into a Historically African-American neighborhood, that has been up 2 recently, & still is, occupied by crime on a regular basis, r u SERIOUSLY COMPLAINING ABOUT LIVING NEXT 2 A CLUB?!


mishamishap said...

Thanks for posting the minutes! This synopsis makes me want to go to the Feb meeting. I've never been to the Space. When I saw that they planned on charging membership dues...for real? I didn’t pay to have friends in college (frats/sororities) I'm definitely not going to do it post-college.

Paul said...

This article is absolutely false and malicious. I live a block away from The Space and I find it pretty comical the neighbors have the audacity to protest against a nightclub when there's a known crack house directly across the street. I also attended the Jan Shaw ANC meeting and the neighbors mentioned above all live in the same house next to The Space, but sat in different sections of the room to make the board think they were all seperate complaints. Go out and enjoy your life instead of staying in every Friday and Saturday calling the police for bogus noise complaints and taking pictures of people having a good time.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. 14th & You said...


There's nothing "false" or "malicious" about the post. Nothing I wrote or reported on wasn't addressed at the meeting. Otherwise, I would assume you would have taken issue with something I wrote. Since you claim to have been in attendance at the meeting though, it's apparent that you already knew that.

And the existence of a crack house has absolutely nothing to do with complaints against a business that appears, by all rights, to be completely intolerant of its neighbors. Do residents somehow lose the right to complain about an irresponsible business simply because a criminal element exists in the neighborhood? I should think not.

Mr. 14th & You said...


With all due respect, your comments are all over the map. Race and affluency have nothing to do with the issue at hand, it has to do with respect for one's neighbors.

As to the remark that Shaw is a commercial zone...that would be incorrect. Shaw is a mixed-zoned neighborhood, with businesses along 7th, 9th and P streets intermingling with residences on many of the other streets. The *space" that the club is occupying is zoned commercially, but it happens to reside next to a residential block. There is no such thing as a commercially zoned neighborhood.

I find it comical whenever these situations arise that someone always resorts to the "in NYC" argument. People who reside in New York are no more tolerant of abusive and disruptive neighbors than people here. (And as I understand it, the individuals who live in the adjoining residence were there before the Space entered the neighborhood...not that it matters.)

If you feel that the Space is being unfairly maligned in this situation, then I would encourage you to attend the February ANC meeting, where there is a very high likelihood that a vote will take place to protest (and suspend) the Space's liquor license, effectively shuttering the business.

Mikey said...

First to Annon,

I fail to see how you think a house of 20-30 year olds disrupts the neighborhood more than a night club. For the record though we lived here before the night club and when they opened they said they would be a quiet lounge.

Further more members of our house are active in our community. One has two little brothers in the big brother program. Others are active in local churches. Two even volunteer at the "Sunday Suppers", a program that feeds the homeless every Sunday down the street.

I agree is someone moves into Adams Morgan they shouldn't really complain about bar noise, but when a club opens under fictitious pretenses and then becomes a loud night club that isn't fair to anyone in the community.


People are probably taking pictures of activities they know are not legal. For example the space is not licensed to have people on the back deck and yet they do it. I don't know what you are talking about at the meeting as we all sat around or stood near the same table. If others were speaking up they were also unhappy with the space and were voicing their opinions. I will say I heard no one speak on its behalf.

EdTheRed said...

If Dustin Cole messes with my singles of Ommegang, Ima be seriously ticked off.

Anonymous said...

FYI the australian was a rugby player in his youth. If he tries to fight, just walk away.