"We're going to take the city back from them one block at a time," said Gerard Brown, Program Manager at DC's Department of Health (DOH).
|ANC Commissioners Linn and Fanning, plus media coverage|
Residents of the 1300 block of Rhode Island Avenue showed up to lobby to be the first block.
"Are there inspectors for rivers of sludge?" one of the residents asked DC officials. The questioner then reported a particular river of sludge, flowing out behind Barrellhouse Liquors (1341 14th Street) onto Rhode Island Avenue.
After the meeting, I looked at the alley in question. The river of sludge exists. It does NOT originate at Barrellhouse Liquors. It flows underneath a dumpster further up the alley, but it is not clear where it comes from.
The food-related establishments on this block of 14th Street, moving from Rhode Island Avenue south to N Street, are: Birch and Barley, W. Millar and Company (a caterer), Teak Wood, La Villa, and Popeye's.
ANC Commissioner John Fanning (district 04) said he would work together with DOH's Gerard Brown and other officials to get the businesses in the same room with the residents. Brown asked the residents to help the process by remaining polite at all times.
"When we get together, can we be cool?" he asked.
Another speaker, Pamela Washington of DC's Department of Public Works, cautioned there were limits to what officials could force a business owner to do.
"It is up to the restaurant owner to decide that it is better to take meaningful steps than getting citations," Washington said. "I can't make that restaurant comply with the law."
Reporting rat-attracting conditions
At the beginning of the meeting, Brown talked about what citizens can do if they see conditions likely to attract rats. If the possible offender is a commercial property, defined as having four units or more (residential, commercial, or mixed), you can call Brown's office. The main number is 202-536-2636. Brown's office is 202-535-1954.
For smaller properties, residents are advised to call 311 or DC's Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program (SWEEP) at 202-645-7190.
ANC2F residents who wish their blocks to be on the list for a rat summit with businesses and DC government officials may contact Commissioner Fanning through the ANC2F web site.
No food-related local businesses identified themselves or spoke at the meeting. However, Fanning reported that representatives of Eat Well DC (operator of nearby restaurants The Pig, Logan Tavern, and Commissary) and Whole Foods had attended.
The meeting attracted mainstream media coverage, including a reporter from WTOP.
ANC2F Commissioner Chris Linn also attended the meeting, which was held at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle).