(My posting ability over the past week was halted due to computer issues, so please excuse the delay in this entry.)
Perhaps the most interesting and productive community meeting yet during my tenure as Commissioner took place last Saturday morning at Big Bear Cafe.
The residents of the unit block of Hanover Place N.W. (map), under the leadership of Fisseha Mekonnen, organized this meeting due to concerns about out-of-control children and crime generally. An amazing number of residents (12) from a single block attended the meeting, with great diversity in background. (Typically, my single-member-district meetings, which are open to the entire district, generally only a few people.)
The issues concerning children range from property damage to creating noise disturbances after midnight. The group consensus was that both the "carrot" and "stick" approaches to the issue of unruly children should be used.
First, the carrot. One problem is that the children causing issues in the neighborhood have nothing to do and no where to go. Local churches will be recruited to provide activities to children between the hours of 10 p.m and midnight on the weekends. And one resident, Kamina, pointed out that developing a friendly foundation (begin by saying "hi") will help pave the way to a more constructive response when concerns are raised.
On the other hand, no resident should have to endure a noise disturbance at 4 a.m. A collaborative effort will be employed to bring these issues to the attention of the police. The addresses of "problem" properties were listed. Much of the problem rests with parent(s) who are unwilling or unable to control their children. I informed the residents that although a mechanism exists within D.C. law whereby parents can be held responsible for the continued lawbreaking committed by their children, that law is not being enforced.