Burleith Citizens’ Association talks 61-Ds, GU policy, landlords and more
Last Thursday, the Burleith Citizens’ Association held its annual meeting. Yes, annual.
“One per year? I love it!” exclaimed guest of honor Mayor Adrian Fenty (D). “That’s unprecedented, at least in D.C.”
With only one meeting per year, the agenda was pretty packed, with Burleithers (Burleithians?) discussing everything from 61-D citations to the University’s ten-year plan, parking changes, D.C. Public Schools and cracking down on neglectful landlords.
MPD and 61-Ds: Lieutenant John Hedgecock, who has been in charge of West Georgetown and Burleith since early August, talked about the neighborhood’s crime stats and how the Metropolitan Police Department has been using 61-D citations.
When Hedgecock announced that issuing 61-Ds has been “very effective in quelling parties,” the crowd broke out in applause. According to Hedgecock, once MPD receives a call, they assume that there’s been a breach of the peace. If they observe a party and the noise “is too much for a residential area,” they will issue a 61-D citation to the person on the lease of the house or in charge of the party.
Hedgecock says while last year there were six “problem houses” in the area (four in West Georgetown and two in Burleith), this year there is only one.
“When we see a party starting, we put an end to it or advise them what will happen,” Hedgecock said.
One neighbor voiced concerns about the citations saddling students with a criminal record; Hedgecock replied that those who receive 61-Ds can contest them in court.
Hedgecock also reported general crime stats for Burleith the past year:
- There was one assault (down from two the previous year)
- There were nine burglaries (down from 12 the previous year)
- There were no street robberies (down from one the previous year)
- There were 18 thefts (down from 20 the previous year)
- There were 26 thefts from auto (up from 12 the previous year)
The University: Three representatives from the University attended the meeting: Associate Vice President for External Relations Linda Greenan, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Jeanne Lord and new Director of Off-Campus Life Anne Koester.
Koester began by giving a rundown of the University’s new trash policies (giving students laminated hand-outs with local ordinances and imposing stricter consequences for improper handling of trash) and said “students have expressed appreciation” for the new trash policy. She also touched on the Environmental Stewardship program she’s starting.
She also encouraged neighbors to use the University’s SNAP hotline to report student parties that are too loud.
“The benefit is that SNAP writes a report, which enables me to follow up with those students,” Koester said. “It’s helping us to educate our students.”
Greenan then took over to invite neighbors to attend the upcoming Campus Plan meetings. According to Greenan, the University now has a more solid draft of the plan than they did at the last community meeting in May.
Landlords: D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Linda Argo came to the meeting to discuss what her agency is doing to help renters deal with neglectful landlords.
Argo said DCRA really began focusing on landlords after the death of Daniel Rigby (MSB ’05). The agency has been using its new website, thisshouldbeillegal.com, and social media to connect with college students and inform them of their rights as renters. According to Argo, the website has had over 33,000 hits and “students are less resistant” to allowing DCRA to inspect their houses.
Parking: ANC Commissioner Ed Solomon briefed the group on possible parking changes. According to Solomon, the ANC is considering adopting a new parking system for certain streets whereby one side of the street would be reserved for Ward 2 residents only and the other side would offer paid parking for visitors.
The details of the plan haven’t been ironed out yet, but Solomon brought up 35th Street as an area that might benefit from such a scheme.
D.C. Public Schools: Both Fenty and Councilmember Jack Evans (D—Ward 2), who represents Burleith, spoke at length about the current state of DCPS.
Fenty praised Chancellor Michelle Rhee as a “brilliant, smart, tough-minded Chancellor who has made hard decisions” and Evans said that “the school system is one the right track.”
The BCA meeting was right after the Council’s lengthy hearing about teacher firings. Evans, a strong supporter of Rhee, was critical of the tensions that have arisen between the mayor and the Council.
“I’ve cautioned my colleagues that the acrimony has risen to an unacceptable level,” Evans said. “The city doesn’t prosper if you have the different branches of local government at each others’ throats.”