Committee Interrupted

Dear Readers,

The council may euthanize the Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee (PSCAC). The mayor said that by his informal count a majority of councilmembers are leaning towards dissolving the committee, allowing the Police Chief’s Advisory Council to take on some of it’s mission.

As we reported last week, the Police Chief advised the city council of his intention to form this advisory group. The Chief’s Advisory Council would be appointed by the chief. He would ask the city council to make member recommendations. In his presentation Oct. 12, Chief Ronald Ricucci said his advisory council would provide a more “structured and defined approach to engaging the community than that offered by the PSCAC.”

At this week’s meeting on October 19, Mayor Bruce Williams said the council may discuss and vote on this next Monday.

Crime Minded

Nothing like blood to get people’s attention. Takoma Park Police Chief Ricucci addressed the council and the community this week about recent disturbing crimes: two violent robbery/assaults, and a string of theft-from-cars. The robbery/assaults, one with a “razor knife” (whatever that is) have generated a loud buzz on neighborhood lists and in the ears of the council and police chief.

More officers, including plains-clothes officers, are on duty in the dark hours, said Chief Ricucci. He accomplished that by moving shifts from daylight hours, so there is no overtime involved.

Bathing Beauties

Nothing like taking a dip after swearing an oath! Councilmember Terry Seamens told the council they are invited to a pool party following the post-election swearing-in ceremony Nov. 16. The Piney Branch Pool, just across the driveway from the municipal building, will open for the occasion.

Councilmember Dan Robinson, addressing Mayor Williams and councilmember Seamens – the only incumbents who have challengers this election – quipped “And if you guys are still with us, we’ll see you there!”
“And, if not, we’ll be at the bottom of the pool!” answered Mayor Williams.

Zone Home

Not only did the council look the gift horse in the mouth, they sent it back for a grooming. On the surface, the county’s proposed new CR Zone looks cute and fuzzy. It softens all the unyielding, un-environmental, pro-sprawl parts of the current zoning system, as Mayor Williams pointed out.

The CR Zone would welcome in high-density, mixed residential and commercial use near mass-transit. It reduces the number of parking spaces required the closer to mass transit the property is. It encourages pedestrian use and public amenities.

As good as it looked, the city staff and the council gazed deeper, and saw parts of the zoning code that encouraged, they felt, consolidation of small properties into large lots, big-box development, and gentrification. They suggested a number of changes to be sent to the county.

The proposed CR Zoning would first effect the Crossroads area, where the Purple Line is slated to be built. The effects of this construction and the development that will undoubtedly follow in its wake are of great concern to the Ward 6 areas of the city that are involved or adjacent. CR Zoning could eventually be applied to other areas in or near the city, including Old Town.

The tone of the discussion was pessimistic, even fatalistic. As Councilmember Colleen Clay observed, they could twiddle with the zoning codes all they want to encourage small business and affordable housing in the Crossroads area, but in the long run they would not stand off the forces of gentrification and change.

Schooling the County

Josh Wright noted that people are happy with the school boundary outcome. Previous proposed boundary changes that would have moved city children from city schools angered several parents. Their intense activist effort, and the council’s support, apparently changed some county school system minds.

This bodes well for the unsupervised school bus issue. The city is holding a forum about it and perhaps the county will heed it on this one, too.

Meter Made Easy

The council voted in an ordinance that loosens the previous parking meter law. Specifications such as precise locations of meters and parking hours are no longer spelled out. Staff can now make adjustments as needed. The immediate need is to make changes that Old Town merchants are calling for to deal with the loss of a parking lot due to construction.

Did You Notice?

The council struggled with a proposed code amendment requiring landlords to give notice before they entered a renter’s unit to make repairs. Several scenarios, different time-periods (24 and 48 hours), and possible unintended consequences were discussed. As it stands now, notice is not required, which the council considered a discourtesy and possible violation of tenant’s rights.

The council decided that 24 hours is sufficient notice, but that the requirement could be waived by tenants if they wanted and could get quicker service.

– Gilbert.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

1 Comment on "Committee Interrupted"

  1. Clarification. A landlord must give 48 hours notice to enter a property UNLESS — there is an emergency, the tenant has requested maintenance and that maintenance is being performed within two weeks of the request.
    The discussion was about the latter of those two. I suggested it is a courtesy that landlords should give 24 hours notice to a tenant before entering even if the tenant had requested the repair. I think that tenants have a right to be present when others are in their unit, and should be given the opportunity.

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