Notes from Ward 1 Town Hall Meeting and Its Focus on DCRA

Orange Nadeau Town Hall(Councilmembers Orange and Nadeau conferring before the meeting began)

On Thursday, February 26, Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Vincent Orange hosted a Ward 1 town hall meeting for community members to ask questions related to their oversight role on the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The agencies present at the town hall were Employment Services, the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the Public Service Commission, The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), and the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). There were roughly 60 people in attendance at the start of the meeting, including Councilmember staff and ANC commissioners.

After opening remarks, Councilmember Nadeau brought the meeting to order. Questions had to be submitted in writing, allowing like questions to be grouped together. No questions were submitted for Employment Services, the Public Service Committee, or the Department of Small and Local Business Development. Residents were primarily interested in DCRA and ABRA.

The questions for DCRA were first — and none of them were positive. Repeatedly residents and ANC Commissioners spoke about DCRA’s unresponsiveness and failure to address issues. ANC 1A06 Commissioner Patrick Flynn stated that he had never had a positive experience with DCRA, whether dealing with them as a resident, small business owner, or Commissioner. He continued by sharing an experience with a problem property in his community which had squatters living in it and frequent calls for service — a situation that in the end resulted in MPD taking charge after the property was set on fire. ANC 1C05 Commissioner Alan Gambrell asked for clarification on how building permits were issued for additions larger than allowed based on square footage requirements, and more importantly for justification on how the square footage was measured and formerly measured areas became areas not measured when calculating additions.

In every instance, DCRA’s response to the community was wanting. Whether responding to the resident who’s house was damaged by the development next door, or the gentlemen wanting to know what protections and assistance exist for residents when their building contractors don’t deliver on the project they’ve been hired to do, DCRA was unable to satisfactorily respond to a single question without redirecting to a phone number or asking the person to stay after the meeting for a personal conversation.

After questions were finished for DCRA, easily half of those in attendance left the meeting. Much less time was devoted to ABRA, and the questions that were asked were more of the type of residents seeking to know more about a process. Unlike the experience with DCRA, ABRA Director Fred Moosally answered questions well and was clearly knowledgeable of his agency and its operations. One of the more interesting questions that was asked of ABRA was why citizens returning to the community after serving a sentence were banned  from applying for a liquor license for 10 years. The concern was that 10 years was excessive, which Director Moosally stated could be revisited to see if the duration was still deemed appropriate to the original concern. Another interesting question was asked by Denis James of the Kalorama Citizens’ Association. James questioned the appropriateness of MPD officers serving on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and how that association may bias the ABRA Board  during a hearing.

Overall, the general impression from the meeting is that DCRA has lost the community’s confidence. I also doubt that there will be any concrete improvements that come out of the meeting … but then again, only time will tell.

Explore posts in the same categories: ABRA, Community Meetings, DCRA

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One Comment on “Notes from Ward 1 Town Hall Meeting and Its Focus on DCRA”

  1. K Says:

    I was unable to attend but really disappointing to hear DCRA’s complete deflection of every question. Though I am not surprised one bit given my experiences with them. Only Government leadership will fix that and given what we’ve seen so far, I would not hold my breath


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