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...