From the Forum – Loitering Around 14th and Irving

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Loitering Around 14th and Irving:

“I’m sure this has been brought up a lot, but I have had a lot of issues this past month. I recently moved into Highland Park (1400 Irving) and live relatively close to the parking garage. For those unaware of the layout, there is a driveway between the Potbelly and the clinic that cars go under to get into the parking garage and for employees to quickly park that work at Lou’s/Pete’s/Acre. There are ALWAYS people just hanging out in that parking area, even inside. Numerous times I have seen people blatantly doing drugs, selling drugs, and drinking beer. My frustration has culminated this weekend in being woken up at 2:30AM on the 6th by fire works being set off right below my window (I live on the third floor). I have tried to contact the police numerous times, but it seems that they do not care whatsoever. Even if there is a cop around the area, he/she seems to not care about the blatant drug use and rowdiness.

I am basically questioning about the legality of people loitering within the confines of the parking driveway. Is this considered private parking or not? Has anyone had any issues with people loitering around there buildings at all hours of the day/night?”

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50 Comment

  • Water balloons.

  • loitering is not illegal in DC.

    • No loitering laws are unconstitutional. The police hands are tired. However, I do understand the frustrations of residents. Most times, crimes have been committed before a police officer arrive on the scene. All the mayoral candidates talk about is education. Education is very important, however, so is public safety. I wonder why Police Chief Lanier hasn’t implemented police foot patrols in some residential and commercial neighborhoods? I agree, fireworks were out of control on the 4th of July. People were placing fireworks in the middle of streets blocking off traffic. I tried calling 911 and I was put on hold for about 20 seconds before getting an operator. It’s my understanding, MPD has a shortage of manpower because many police officers 50 years old and 25 years on the department retired. I recently saw on the news, a MPD police officer was forced to retire at the age of 67 years old.

      • They talk about education, partly because it is the best way curb criminal behavior. It’s not a quick result, but it beats covering up crime with band-aid fixes.

      • The blanket statement that “loitering laws are unconstitutional” is not quite correct. Its just that D.C. doesn’t have one on the books. I don’t say this to nitpick, just to point out that people could try and get their elected representatives to pass one one that could be enforced. Most enforceable loitering laws have an additional element besides just being present that allows them to pass constitutional muster, such as gathering with the intent of doing something illegal. In your case, gathering for the purpose of setting off illegal fireworks (contrary to popular belief, most fireworks are in fact illegal in D.C.) could qualify. But D.C. has no such law. Lobby your council members. Although I doubt it would work. Jim Graham tried a few years ago.

        • Thank you Criminal Defense Atorney for the clarification. I did read the Supreme Court ruled that a Chicago anti-loitering law is unconstitutional because it violated one’s first Amendment right to assemble peaceably. This ruling indicates that the Supreme Court may eventually rule that curfews, which also indirectly restrict public gatherings, are also unconstitutional. I guess I shouldn’t always believe everything I read.

          • No, you can believe what you read. Many anti-loitering laws have been found to be unconstitutional. Like I said, they usually have to have an additional element besides just “hanging out” to be be enforceable.

  • i dont understand the cops, if you sit there for 5 min you’ll see drugs being dealt or smoked

  • so you probably got a good rate on that apartment. Anyone with half a brain would realize what a disaster of an area that is (especially only living on the 3rd floor). I mean use your brain dude…

    • justinbc

      It’s possible the OP has just moved to DC, is unfamiliar with the area, and someone told them how “up and coming” Columbia Heights is. If they haven’t looked extensively at apartments here they might be unfamiliar with the rates and just found the place to be affordable. (That’s ignoring the fact that not everyone can afford to live in Georgetown / Dupont / Logan / etc, and those that can’t should still be able to expect basic courtesies such as no crack pipes in the parking lot.)

      • Sorry dude but you moved in to the heart of one of the busiest and sh*tiest parts of the city and you’re looking for quiet and serene evenings? Especially on 4th of July weekend? Have you been to DC this past weekend? Maybe the other side of the bridge has something to offer you.

        • justinbc

          You clearly did not read his actual post. He never asked for “quiet and serene evenings”, but rather about the legalities of people loitering around who are openly using and selling drugs. Try actually reading next time before commenting.

        • “the heart of one of the busiest and sh*tiest parts of the city ”

          You don’t leave NW much do you?

        • I have lived in Columbia Heights for nearly two years and really enjoyed it. Mind you I am up a street from 14th and Irving but it has been great. The Highland Park side of the metro does always have a large number of shady characters but its kinda par for the course in this city. Anybody that still thinks Columbia Heights is still “up and coming” doesn’t get out much. Shaw, Noma, H Street, those neighborhoods are up and coming. Step out of Georgetown, or Dupont sometime.

          As for the OP, go to Bozzuto and tell them you are unhappy with your apartment and want to switch apartments. Mind you moving up in the building will be more expensive. You are paying to avoid the noise on the street.

  • You chose to move there.

    • Accountering

      This is a ridiculous comment. “You chose to move there – and as a result, should just accept that there is crime and vagrants running rampantly”
      Absolutely useless statement…

  • OP (When looking at tour of apartment): “This is great. Wow. It’s so…”URBAN!” I love it. Amazing. I can’t wait to post on FB talking about how awesome this is. Man, I’ve really made it. I mean I know people think it looks bad or whatever but I made it through finals week that tough Junior year when I got my 3.8 and thought to myself “This is impossible.” But I sucked it up and studied. I can do anything.

    OP (Now): F$!& this.

  • so many people are projecting…geez. Granted, yes these unsavory elements of the neighborhood are nothing knew and OP should have probably considered them before moving there. But no need to be rude!

    • +1.
      There’s also a difference between “people I don’t like the look of, hanging out near my building” and “people selling drugs, doing drugs, and violating open-container laws near my building.” The OP is complaining about the latter.

  • If the rank-and-file cops aren’t being responsive, try contacting the people in charge of your Police Service Area (PSA) (see — looks like it’s PSA #302), or if that fails, the Commander for the 3rd District (Jacob Kishter).

    • Accountering

      Absolutely agree. There is no excuse for this. If the police know about this corner, they should be patrolling it. Once they patrol it, when they see something happen, someone should go to jail.

    • “If”? Isn’t it a given that the majority of rank and file cops in DC couldn’t be bothered by something like this? I have lost count of the times I have seen a police cruiser roll slowly by illegal or unsafe activity without a pause. It seems like either (a) an actual 911 call or (b) a homicide in progress is required to get them out of their cruisers.
      (Cue resident MPD apologists . . . )

    • Commander Kishter has been VERY responsive. I’ve had a problem with homeless men drinking and smoking crack in the alley my apartment overlooks. He responds to emails immediately and even gave me his cell phone number to text him. He’s had cops respond to the alley for drug use/drinking within minutes, compared to 30 minutes from calling 911. I was told by the cops to keep calling 911 when there’s an issue. The more cops respond, the less likely the street toughs will use that area as their private hangout.

      • And, to add on to that, please don’t give me crap about “only calling 911 for emergencies.” The last time I called, in the 30 minutes it took for the cops to respond, 2 out of 3 of them men drank until they passed out. The police called for an ambulance and they were carted away on oxygen because they were not responsive.

        • I feel like a broken record, but… ever since the city decided to take over 311 (formerly for police non-emergency calls) and make it the number for city services, 911 has been for ALL police calls, emergency or otherwise. So no one should be hassling you for calling 911.

      • It’s great that the Commander is responsive, but the fact that you have to call him personally at all (rather that using 911), or that the police don’t remove themselves from their cruisers and actively confront these quality of life issues, especially when they often occur in the same places time and time again, is just further evidence of ineptitude.

  • Look, I sympathize but you moved to 14th and Irving. In only a few minutes hanging out there you should have known what you were getting into. It’s urban life, you take with the good: easy access to great places to hang out, with the bad: people causing some problems near your window.

    • +1 – I find the overall convenience of living in CH worth dealing with the unsavory aspects of the neighborhood, but that corner is pretty awful (the trash situation alone is out of control).

  • If they are actually on building property, then that seems like something you should ask your building manager to address. If they are on public property, then there is little you can do, unless they are actually breaking the law. And even then, good luck getting MPD to care about such “nuisance” crimes.

    • Thought I’d jump in here to say that I approve this comment.

      The property manager controls the space up to the property line and then it becomes The District. Also, there’s no laws against loitering, but they do exist for “blocking the passage” which means that people can’t block the sidewalk. The officer has to go over the air to get the time for the warning and then can return and arrest them for a misdemeanor.

      • Interesting, thank you for your comment. I did not know about the “blocking the passage” law. Good to know!

  • the driveway may be public property, but the garage isn’t. Why isn’t the property management taking this seriously? Why don’t they have a security guard patrolling their property? They could even hire an off-duty MPD officer. That’s what my condo does. You need to get some of your neighbors together with you and push the property management to do something about this. Keep calling the police, write about it on the MPD-3D listserv, etc., but they’re not going to care as much as the people who live in/own the building.

  • I’m the first to post passive aggressive or rude comments for people that deserve it, but some of you are going a little over the top here. You should know that there may be noise and people around when you move into a busy neighborhood, but you should not have to put up with illegal activity. On other note, if the cops aren’t doing anything about the drug use, I doubt they are going to come out for loitering.

  • That’s a very busy and noisy, high-traffic area and it is pretty surprising how many people accumulate near that particular entryway. It will probably get a little quieter when winter rolls around. If you like the neighborhood take an opportunity to look at apartments near by that aren’t as high-traffic for when your lease expires. There are definitely plenty of nice quiet places in Columbia heights/mt Pleasant to rent that probably cost less than Highland Park.

  • I previously lived in the 7th (??) floor of your building also on the alley-side. This is pretty common really. The worst I saw was a dude trying to jump the brick wall on one of those first level units to break in. I yelled at him and he ran off though. Overall the alley is pretty sketchy. Sorry dude.

  • I lived overlooking that alley 1987-2006 and it has always been like that. In fact, it used to be much bigger and rowdier, with around 50 guys basically living, drinking, playing cards & doing drugs on the lot that became Highland Park. When they sometimes got too loud & playing boom boxes – I would put my own speakers in the window and blast some opera.

  • Why not complain to your building’s management? Get the building manager on the phone (NOT the concierge – he/she isn’t going to confront these vagrants on their own), and tell them what’s going on. The DCPD may not care about you, but they’ll surely be more responsive to the complaints of one of the city’s largest real estate developers.

    • Its DC land… Bozzuto has no power over people sitting around. The building manager wants them gone more than you do, I can bet you that.

  • That’s kind of a bummer but honestly, its part of living in an area of the city that is marginally affordable. The police have violent crimes and parking tickets to deal with so I doubt they’ll do anything about kids hanging out. Also, in my experience usually the people around there are just smoking pot and cracking jokes – it could be a lot worse.

  • I’ve seen women and children being verbally harassed and intimisdted in hi his exact same area while cops sit in their car oblivious because they are on their damn cell phones. I even walked over to draw his attention to it and he acted like it was “too much effort” to even roll down his damn window. When I told him about the harassment, he shrugged and said nothing he can do. What?!! This is a problem in many areas. Cops just don’t get out of their car and actually “police” anymore. Columbia Heights has been a hotbed of criminal activity lately and the cops do nothing!

  • buy a noise cancelling device and maybe some noise cancelling headphones.

  • I could not agree more with this post. I have been noticing more and more illegal activity around the metro an on the block between Irving and Columbia. Loitering, drug dealing,littering, street harassment, dice playing, you name it. I just walked through there and there were 2 cops hanging near the metro entrance, which is great. But you turn the corner and the activity has simply moved to the driveway you’re referring to . Why does the medical center allow all of that loitering around it? There is a sign that says no loitering. There is just a general lack of enforcement in the area and it’s really turned into a real problem for folks who live in the neighborhood.

  • -I agree and have called the police about the area between Highland park and the clinic.
    -I’ve walked out of the apartment back door into a guy that was actively peeing on the door I’m walking through.
    -I’ve talked to the apartment management about putting in more security cameras and lights to brighten up the alley.
    -I’m also amazed at how much trash accumulates around the metro.
    -Wish there was a nicer place for everyone to ‘hang out.’
    -I’m scared of gunshots, fights, robberies.

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