ANC Roundup: Crime’s Up Edition

Crime Way Down in the First Quarter

Last night, the ANC met for its April session. Unfortunately, as has been the case for a while, GM could only attend the first half of the meeting. Nonetheless, that’s often where the juicier topics are discussed. So here’s what GM caught:

Crime Wave

As anyone who receives MPD email alerts could tell you, there’s seems to be a startling increase in robberies in Georgetown this year. Lieutenant Hedgecock of PSA 206 discussed the perceived spike in his monthly update at the beginning of the meeting.

He stated that there have been eight robberies reported in Georgetown so far this year. However, one of those reported robberies actually turned out to be fraudulently filed by an individual who apparently had money issues and wanted to file a false claim with the insurance company.

Nonetheless, seven seems like a lot for just three months right? Well not necessarily. GM used to track and report periodic crime totals, but stopped once he started to lose confidence in the reported stats. (It didn’t seem like conscious juking of the stats, but it was clear that some categories of crime were simply not captured in the public reports). But comparing this latest trend with the historic numbers he has, it doesn’t seem so unusual.

In the first half of 2010, there were 27 robberies. Or 4 1/2 a month. In 2011 it dropped to 18, or 3 a month. In the first half of 2012, it was 16, or 2 2/3. Last year it was 11, or 1 5/6. Seven robberies over three months is a rate of 2 1/3 a month. So while the frequency is higher than last year at this time, it’s in line with prior years, albeit against a clear trend-line.

The descriptions of the muggings have been alarming in that four of them have involved guns, and at least one involved a physical assault. And it is certainly the case that it is awful for the victim when this happens. But let’s keep things in perspective. MPD has done a fabulous job reducing the incidences of robbery in Georgetown over the last several years, and this flare up is all the more noticeable because of MPD’s success in recent years.

Either way, Lt. Hedgecock indicated that his team is taking the matter seriously, and is directing more resources to the problem (specifically he indicated that there appears to be a concentration of the incidents in the East Village, which implies that that is where they will focus their enforcement efforts).

You’ve Got a Friend in BID

During the community comment period, the ANC turned the podium over to the BID to describe several of their recent or upcoming projects.

The first is the application with the Old Georgetown Board to approve a new FlexiPave materials over tree boxes along the commercial corridor. You may have seen these at a couple locations already. It is a spongy material design to mimic a stone or brick surface. It can be applied to the tree box and allow pedestrians to walk over it. The spongy quality protects the roots from compression or damage, while it remains permeable to water and oxygen (or isn’t it carbon dioxide that they need? Well, air at least.) This hopefully protect trees, “widen” the sidewalks, and maintain a historic look. Win-win-win.

The BID also discussed efforts to install much need bike parking in Georgetown. Given the narrow sidewalks along M and Wisconsin, the strategy is to place bike parking right off the main streets. Will Handsfeld, the transportation director of the BID, explained that there will be a mix of on-street bike corrals (like the one at Prospect and Potomac) and on-sidewalk bike racks. GM can attest that Georgetown is seriously lacking in this amenity and as a result, sidewalks get blocked by bikes chained to lamp posts or (even worse) trees. Another win-win!

The BID also discussed their plans for the upcoming French Market. Like last year they will implement the popular temporary sidewalk widening. Between the eliminated parking spots and the increased popularity of the event, there was definitely a crunch on street parking around the neighborhood. To address the concerns of some of the neighbors (for the record GM lives in the affected area and thinks the minor inconvenience is well worth the value of the event) the BID arranged for free parking at Hardy School and free Circulator rides for this year’s event. More wins all around.

Finally, BID CEO Joe Sternlieb described the proposal to install a floating dock in the canal at 34th St. It would enable you to launch a canoe or kayak. The BID met with some of the neighbors this week and did not hear any major concerns, so hopefully the dock will be put in soon. As Sternlieb put it, if it works this year they’ll keep doing it, if not they’ll pass going forward.

What the Frack?

In the last minutes that GM could stay, the ANC brought up the issue of fracking in the George Washington National Forest. Apparently gas companies seeking permission to do so. The thing is that this includes a wide swath of the Potomac rivershed, i.e. our water supply. So it’s been controversial.

Huzzah to the ANC for bringing up this important issue. Sadly GM left too soon to see how it panned out. Nonetheless, GM couldn’t help but be reminded of Takoma Park’s famous ban on nuclear weapons. Will the EPA really care what ANC2E thinks of the proposal? Couldn’t hurt to find out, GM guesses….

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