Adopted Minutes - June 28, 2010 Meeting

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B - Adopted on July 26, 2010


The meeting was held at about 7:15 p.m. at the MPD's 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Avenue, N.W., Chair Yvonne Jefferson (also ANC 4B08) presiding. Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B04 James Sydnor, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Idriys Abdullah, and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.



1.   Following a motion from Commissioner Green, the agenda, with one change, was adopted unanimously in a voice vote.  The El Tamarindo Restaurant item was removed from the agenda and the Restaurant's owners were asked to speak during Community Concerns.


2.   In a 6-0-1 roll-call vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission voted to oppose the application of Famous Pawn, Inc. for a pawnbroker license at 7301 Georgia Avenue, N.W.


Voting "yes" to the motion to oppose the license were Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Sydnor, Speaks, Jefferson and Sloan.  Commissioner Abdullah abstained.  He explained that he works for the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, an agency that might have a role in the license.


The adopted resolution:


“WHEREAS, Famous Pawn, Inc. (“Famous Pawn”) has applied to the District government for a pawnbroker license to operate a pawnshop at 7301 Georgia Ave, N.W. and


WHEREAS, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (“ANC 4B”) opposes the issuance of the pawnbroker license requested by Famous Pawn,




ANC 4B opposes the issuance of the pawnbroker license requested by Famous Pawn for the reasons that:


            1.         numerous residents and business owners and managers have expressed strong concerns regarding the negative impact Famous Pawn’s proposed pawnshop would have on their property values, business operations and quality of life;


            2.         actions of Famous Pawn reflect a character that has not commanded the            confidence of our community, e.g., its refusal to appear at public meetings until after the issuance of a related court order and passage of emergency legislation concerning pawnshops and its failure to post permits issued by the District at the proposed pawnshop site which would have revealed the type of business that was being located there;


            3.         we take strong offense to Famous Pawn’s efforts to place one of its

pawnshops in our community when it has expressly stated that the target market for the pawnshop is persons living in nearby Maryland, Virginia, and all of Washington, D.C.; and


            4.         according to the well-documented research paper of Dr. Charis Kubrin, Ph.D. and other colleagues, there is a link between the operation of pawnshops and an increase in the rate of property crime in the neighborhoods near the pawnshops; and


            5.         the income and demographic data compiled and published by the Gateway Georgia Avenue Revitalization Corporation show that Famous Pawn's proposed pawnshop is not needed at the proposed location; also the existence of Kiev Pawn at 6212A Georgia Avenue, N.W. shows that proposed pawnshop is not needed; and


           6.         the proposed pawnshop would likely cause a significant decrease in the nearby real property values and cause some businesses to leave and not come to the upper Georgia Avenue business district.


            ANC 4B designates its Chair, Yvonne Jefferson, with the assistance of ANC 4B01 Commissioner Sara Green and pro bono attorney Samuel S. Sharpe, to prepare, in an appropriate formal, detailed and documented manner, any necessary documents and letters, including statements of fact, proposed findings and recommendations consistent with this resolution and submit them to the appropriate District government agencies."


The vote followed a lengthy discussion. Rick Wessel, the President of Famous Pawn, an Arlington, Texas-based firm, along with another company executive, spoke. Sam Sharpe, of 9th Street, an attorney working with area residents, also spoke. .


Commissioners received packets with the draft resolution and background materials several days before the meeting. These materials included the application, information about the D.C. pawnshop licensing law, a report about the link between pawnshops and crime, and a statement about the negative economic impact of a pawnshop on Upper Georgia Avenue businesses, as well as letters, emails, and petitions signed by residents, businesses, and community groups opposing the application.


During the meeting, Mr. Wessel distributed information about Famous Pawn and its operations, along with photographs of the 7301 Georgia Avenue storefront.  Also during the meeting, Commissioner Green distributed photographs of the Famous Pawn store at 3228 Georgia Avenue that were taken several months earlier.


Mr. Sharpe explained the D.C. pawnshop licensing law.  He said that ANC 4B should have an attorney representing it and offered to do so on a pro bono basis.


Mr. Wessel responded to concerns that the 7301 Georgia Avenue store would primarily serve customers from outside the community. He said his existing stores are serving their communities' residents and that Takoma and Shepherd Park residents will patronize the 7301 Georgia Avenue store.


He disputed concerns about crime.  The 3228 Georgia Avenue and 1815 Wisconsin Avenue stores had less than ten items identified by police as stolen, he said.


Commissioner Abdullah said that Famous Pawn, a national firm, is similar to Safeway and McDonald's because all three attract customers who may not live in the communities where they are located. He also said that the pawnshops in Georgetown and on 14th Street do not contribute to crime.  He later noted that he is neither for or against the proposed license.


Jeff Koczela and Lance Marburger, both of Fern Place, Anne Whatley, a Fern Street resident who also operates a store on Georgia Avenue, Ruth Foster, of Piney Branch Road, Andre Carley, of 9th Street, Kelly Shuy, a Georgia Avenue businesswoman, and Mr. Colson, of Blair Road, N.W., spoke to oppose the application. Michael Sindram, of Georgia Avenue, spoke in support, stating that his experience with Famous Pawn was positive.


Ms. Whatley said she does not want a return to the crime and blight that plagued the blocks near the pawnshop site in the 1980's.  Famous Pawn does not have the confidence of the community and the store is not viewed as a community convenience, she said. Mr. Carley noted that the report given to Commissioners concluded that pawnshops do attract criminals. Mr. Marburger said he believes his property values will suffer if a pawnshop locates on his corner.


Commissioner Green asked those in support of the application to stand. One person stood.  She asked those opposed to stand.  About 40 people stood.


3. In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the Commission agreed to support the District Resident Employment and Trade Stimulus Amendment Act of 2010 (B18-650), legislation now before the D.C. City Council.


The adopted resolution:

"ANC 4B supports B18-650, the District Resident Employment and Trade Stimulus Amendment Act of 2010.  ANC 4B's support for this bill is based on our acknowledgement that our current system is not giving city residents a fair and equitable opportunity for employment and training. Our experience with the baseball stadium shows the city cannot manage and administer jobs and collect fines."


If adopted, the bill would require, among other things, that on D.C.-government sponsored construction project of $200,000 or more, D.C. residents must account for at least 25 percent of journeyman worker hours, 50 percent or more of apprenticeship hours, and 70 percent of unskilled laborer hours.


The vote followed a presentation from Stephen Courtien, of the Jobs Now Coalition. Mr. Courtien said the bill would help D.C. residents learn valuable building trade skills.  An employer could hire non D.C. residents if D.C. residents are not available to fill the slots, he added.


Commissioners Jefferson and Abdullah said they are concerned about enforcement.  Similar laws are already on the books, but employers sidestep them, Commissioner Abdullah said. 


Mr. Courtien said the city has seven investigators. Current law does not give the Department of Employment Services the ability to collect fines. However, the new bill does.


4. In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler, the Commission adopted the minutes from its April 26, 2010 public meeting.


5. In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sydnor, the Commission adopted the minutes from its May 24, 2010 public meeting.


Reports, Discussions and Presentations

1.  Lt. Mike Whiteside, of the MPD's 4th District, discussed recent public safety issues and answered questions, including several inquiries from residents concerned about MPD's supervision at a recent gathering at Nativity Catholic Church on Georgia Avenue.


2.  Wanda Oates, of ANC 4B05, who is also Commissioner Speaks' assistant, reported that D.C. City Council Chair Vincent Gray appointed Commissioner Speaks as the fifth alternate member of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority.


3.  Jeffrey and Stephanie Kahn, of Blair Road, N.W., discussed their proposal to establish a medical marijuana dispensary at 6925 4th Street, N.W.


Ken Anderson, of Whittier Street, Regina Page, of 4B01, Cheryl Smith, of 7th Street, and Michael Sindram, of Georgia Avenue, said they are opposed to the dispensary due to concerns about crime.


Wanda Oates, of 4B05, Eugene Quick, a Petworth resident, and Loretta Neumann, of Piney Branch Road, N.W., spoke in support of the proposal, explaining that medical marijuana eases the pain and suffering of those with cancer, HIV and other diseases and that security concerns have been addressed.


Commissioner Wheeler said much of the discussion is premature because the Congressional review period has not been concluded and no regulations have been written.  She also noted that although the dispensary is within Single Member District 4B07, it is across the street from the 4th Street business corridor, which is part her Single Member District, 4B02.


Commissioner Abdullah said the issue affects residents throughout Ward 4. Community meetings should be held throughout the entire Ward before any decision is made. He also said he is concerned about minority representation. More groups may want to apply, he added.


Community Concerns

1.  Ken Anderson, of Whittier Street, said he is concerned that his six-year-old son picked up a condom from a display at the Takoma Park Library on Cedar Street.  Commissioners Wheeler and Jefferson said they would learn the library's policy.


2.  William Page, of Blair Road, N.W., said the Safeway at Piney Branch and Georgia is not clean.


3.   Trudy Jones, of 8th Street, N.W., said the store is dark and should look more "upscale."


4.   Ruth Foster, of Piney Branch Road, N.W., said the store is treated like "an inner city store."


5.   Michael Sindram, of Georgia Avenue, N.W., said the store's manager is cooperative and should be approached. People litter outside the store, he added.


6.   New El Tamarindo Owner Alganesh Kidane, and her son, Sam Hailu, introduced themselves. They said they purchased the 7331 Georgia Avenue restaurant last week.  Mr. Hailu acknowledged that the previous owners were poor neighbors who disturbed the community, but noted that he plans to be a good neighbor who will fit into the community. 


Commissioner Green said that the restaurant's license is up for renewal and the deadline for ANC 4B comment is August 2. She asked that the item be placed on the July agenda. There will be a public meeting at the restaurant on Monday, July 12 at 7 p.m. to discuss the license, she said.


7.  ANC 4A Chair Stephen Whatley said he is investigating the City's pension plans.


Chair Jefferson closed the meeting at about 9:40 p.m.


She immediately reconvened the meeting.  A quorum was present.  Present were Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Speaks, Jefferson and Sloan.


In a unanimous voice vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the earlier motion on the employment bill, B18-650, was amended to exclude the last sentence.


The adopted resolution, as amended:

"ANC 4B supports Bill 18-650, the District Resident Employment and Trade Stimulus Amendment Act of 2010.  ANC 4B's support for this bill is based on our acknowledgement that our current system is not giving city residents a fair and equitable opportunity for employment and training."


There was a very brief discussion with Mr. Courtien. He said that the concluding sentence in the earlier motion, which noted the stadium project, is inaccurate.


The meeting concluded at about 9:45 p.m.


---- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary