ANC Roundup: Yarrow Edition

Last night the ANC met for its July session. GM could only stay for a little over an hour, but he nonetheless caught some important discussions:

Short Term and Long Term Rentals

The acting director of the DC Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs, Melinda Bolling, was on hand to discuss an issue of great concern to Georgetowners: short and long term rentals.

The short end of that discussion primarily related to a topic that GM has covered previously: the rise of AirBNB in Georgetown. Commissioner Tom Birch spoke at length on the concerns that residents have with these properties. The two primary complaints relate to properties rented out as “party houses” and the increase in transience that comes regardless of whether the property is a party house or not.

Director Bolling was sympathetic to the complaints and cited some of the action that the city has taken recently against some of the party houses. But the unspoken message was this: even though this use is illegal under current law, DCRA will only bring enforcement action against troublemaking houses. The agency is considering new rules that would address this use (much like how the taxi commission dealt with Uber) but nothing is coming soon. So no wide sweeps will be forthcoming. If you don’t like your neighboring AirBNB, you’re going to need to complain that it’s a nuisance somehow. Mere illegality isn’t going to do it (GM inferred).

As to the long term issue, that concerns the legality and safety of properties leased out primarily to GU students. DCRA is working through a long list of rental properties identified to it by GU as housing students. DCRA wants these properties “in the system” so getting the landlord to acquire a license and an inspection is the paramount goal. DCRA is tackling this goal by showing up for surprise inspections throughout the summer. GM would like to note that multiple GU students were present and forcefully argued for more aggressive action by DCRA. There are always some impressive and engaged GU students around, but GM has been particularly impressed with the recent crop of student leaders that have stepped forward in the last year.

Yarrow Mamout

GM is happy to report that following the March meeting where the ANC called for the city to perform an archeological survey on 3324 Dent Place to recover artifacts of Yarrow Mamout, the city has done just that. Dr. Ruth Trocolli, City Archeologist, gave an update to the crowd stating that the DC Historical Preservation Office has been granted permission to conduct a dig on the property by the land owner. Here’s the project’s website.

Trocolli introduce Mia Carey, a graduate student working on her dissertation, who will be the field director for the project. There is hope that many artifacts remain, notwithstanding the in-ground pool that was installed sometime in the 20th century. Apparently the dirt that was dug up was simply relocated to the same property to regrade.

Researching Yarrow and salvaging as much as possible from his property is a critical step that the Georgetown community can undertake to work towards reconciling the current state of the neighborhood and its African American past, which has largely faded from view. Yarrow was a slave owned by one of the great Georgetown families. His story and his property are just as important as Tudor Place et al. And we must work as hard to preserve them as we do those grand estates.

If you’d like to do your part, you may donate to the DC Preservation League and note that you want it to support the project. They need to raise $7,000 to pay for a backhoe digger to dig deep enough to find Yarrow’s grave.

Die Ginkgo Die

The commission also took up the critical issue of cutting down ginkgo trees. GM is a lover of trees. It is a love that stretches around the world. And yet it comes up short at ginkgoes. And so he was happy to see the commission support the petition of the residents of Avon Lane to cut down a female ginkgo.

Anthony Lanier was in the crowd (presumably to present this project, which sadly GM had to miss) and flippantly asked if that’s the policy of the commission, why not cut all the trees down on Olive, or Potomac, or any other of the streets with so many gingkoes? The commission, obviously displaying as much love for the trees as GM, took Lanier seriously and suggested that if he wanted the trees down he’d have to work with the neighbors. A modest proposal, that.

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