“New signs warning loiterers of ‘carnivorous plants’ outside of The Heights.”

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3115 14th Street, NW

Thanks to all who email the new signs in front of The Heights:

“You gotta admire them for trying.

New signs warning loiterers of “carnivorous plants” outside of The Heights. They just put up a new fence but apparently it isn’t much of a deterrent.”

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68 Comment

  • Welcome to Night Vale

  • Dumb. I know I’ll catch shit for saying this but seems passive aggressive. How about “No Sitting Please”. Although I think the railing is a sufficient deterrent for people wanting to sit there.

  • That just makes me want to water them via bladder relief even more than on a typical Wednesday night.

  • Tom

    We’ll build a fence, a beautiful fence, and make the loiterers pay for it

  • Pretty sure this is also public space and putting up the fence was illegal.

    • I don’t know if it’s illegal, but it’s kind of a shame it has come to this. I think this was my family’s favorite spot to sit and eat our fro-yo when we lived in Columbia Heights. Bummer. Wonder what kind of problems they had the necessitated the fence?

      • dcd, the problems were people they didn’t want loitering sitting there, and not-infrequently passed out in the morning.

    • Who needs public spaces when you have a build your own bloody mary bar?

    • it is public space but fences are permitted in public space.

      • It is not a public space. It’s private property. I believe all the way out to the street, with an easement to the city.

    • Nope. Private property.

      • That’s right. It is private property. And, by the way, shouldn’t you be known as the DMG?

    • justinbc

      Instead of being pretty sure about something why not go the full distance and find out if something is illegal or not before making the claim?

    • It is private property. 100% certain. Check the public records.

  • they just lay on the ground now below the fence so it hasn’t changed much of anything.

    • +1. I had brunch on the patio at the Heights last weekend. We watch these 4 men who were obviously impaired. I think they were drunk because at point one of them opened a bottle of sparkling wine and passed it around. Then someone dropped it and it spilled. At first they were sitting on the slab benches that can bee seen in the distance in the photo above. But 2 of the guys eventually passed out on ground. Some DC cops came by to roust them but they were SO impaired they couldnt even get up. Eventually the cops gave up and left them where they were. They probably figured hauling them into jail or to an ER was not really the solution (they just needed to sleep it off). It was an odd and sad thing to watch.

      Anyway, I dont think this fence does anything to stop loiterers. Its too bad there isnt more seating for all the folks who frequent that area of Columbia heights.

      • More seating is DEFINITELY not the solution. Training for the cops. Better addition services in the District, and better response from agencies charged with looking after itinerant people with addiction problems.

      • Sounds like a typical ____________ (insert any day of the week), ______________ (insert morning, afternoon, evening, or night).

      • Thanks for sharing your brunch observation. As an aside, Brianne Nadeau and Commander Emerman offer zero assistance with these challenges. When pressed, they deflect and explain how it is that they can do nothing. I’ve attended 4 meetings now where they deliver this exact same message every time. Disappointing at best. Incompetent, at worst.

        • OOPS…I forgot to mention that the one piece of advice Nadeau and Emerman give for this public substance abuse problem is to call 911. That’s what they advise the public to do when there are passed-out people on the sidewalks or private property. Call 911. Personally, I don’t think calling 911 is the highest and best use of scarce emergency resources, but that’s all Nadeau and Emerman have to offer.

      • I had a similar experience there last year (before the fence went up). Was sitting out on the patio having dinner and a firetruck and ambulance were called for one male who was passed out. The loitering in general of that whole stretch is terrible.

  • I live on the same block and this area has literally turned into a outdoor free hotel. People are sleeping and hanging out 24-7. These are not homeless people, but people that come and drink alcohol all day and heckle passerby. This is a perfect example where if the city had programs to help them and engage them. I saw the police there yesterday moving them away. I don’t think this is the answer cause they will just move to another spot. The city needs to come up with a plan to help vagrants.

    • Kudos to the business owner for doing what Brianne Nadeau failed to accomplish – dealing with drunk loitering and vagrancy in Columbia Heights.
      To be truly effective, the signs will need to be bilingual: plantas carnívoras

    • This is true. I don’t blame them they are trying to run a business. The only beef I have with The Heights is not extending happy hour on their patio, a real crappy deal!

      • For places that are more restaurant than bar, happy hour on the patio is a bad deal. You lose prime dinner seating taken up by people drinking on the cheap.

      • Actually, recently they have extended happy hour to the patio. 3-6p.m. (3-7 at the bar & bar tables)

    • Local public safety groups and some who work with the areas ANC have approached businesses on those blocks to assist with keeping this public space clean and safe for everyone to try to cut down on the amount of drunkeness, harassment, and crime that has been happening. The police actually said their “hands are tied”, whatever that means. No one really knows what the best solution is, but any effort on the part of businesses and/or members of the community is far better than nothing at all. It would be great if the kids that play in the fountain and the people who enjoy outdoor dining around there could have a nice time without smelling urine or stepping over trash. Small steps lead to great change. Maybe instead of criticizing their efforts, some of you could chip in and do a small thing to make your neighborhood everything you’d like it to be.

  • “DANGER: Poisonous Snakes” might be more effective. Or maybe Irritable Bees.

    • 25 years ago my car was often broken into (14th & Columbia Rd.) I put a sign in the window say “Boa Constrictor loose in car.” (I did actually have a Boa Constrictor, and many in the hood knew this.) It worked wonders.

  • This solution seems dumb, but I feel their pain. I recall dinners at The Heights with homeless guys sprawled out in the shrubs next to the tables, people smoking cheap cigars on that ledge, and panhandlers harassing diners.

  • To be fair, what are the odds that the loiterers could actually mouth-out “ca-r-ni-vo-ro-you-s-ee”?

  • agree, signage is dumb, a cheap investment that will fall flat and sends a message that will be interpreted poorly by many. Actions speak louder than words — plant prickly/thorny bushes that will stick through the fence if you want to deter loiters; let nature speak for you and you won’t have a sign that states “how you really feel” about the neighborhood. Go for the win-win, not the lose-lose. Poor management decision here…

    • There is also this sticky substance you can put on ledges and gates. Our condo did it to stop people from sleeping on the ledges in the parking lot.

  • I think the signs are funny in a tongue and cheek way, but I don’t think they’ll be taken as such.
    I noticed the other day that the grass in the tiered planter beds facing the fountain has been replaced with shrubs. So, now you can only sit on the bottom edge, which is low and you have your back in some shrubs, or you can sit on the top, but then you’re facing away from the fountain.
    It seems strange to remove sitting areas in a public space.

    • It seems strange until you see who is sitting there. I walk by this patio on my way home and get harassed daily by drunks that sit on this wall all day. They’re either awake and rude or passed out, I don’t know which is worse. It really made much of the Heights’ patio undesirable, so I understand why they did this.

    • I’m pretty sure that’s private property, but even if it wasn’t, it doesn’t seem strange to not want drunks scaring off your customers.

      • I was talking about the planters in the area of the fountain/splash pad.
        I completely understand the Heights not wanting people to sit on their wall and be annoying to paying customers. But people don’t disappear when you remove their seating, they just move. They probably moved from the planters by the fountain to the Heights wall (though obviously there were plenty of people there before too), now they can’t sit on the wall, so we’ll see where they go.
        It’s okay for private businesses to use the short sighted, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ option because they’re not in a position to address homelessness, loitering law and enforcement, public drunkenness, etc. on a city-wide scale. But I don’t like the idea that the city is taking the short sighted approach.

        • +1

        • The plaza “planters” (ridiculous filthy uncomfortable, awkward little patches of grass that suit no human beings ever) were always a ridiculous idea. Whoever “designed” them should be banished to working forever in the returns department of Montgomery Ward. But don’t call out private businesses as “short sighted” for objecting to puking wastrels passed by their patios. They in fact contribute tons of tax money to the DC govt. who are actually supposed to be in the business of addressing homelessness etc.

  • Does anyone know what the story is with the hoards of drunken sleeping guys? I feel like there are a lot more of them recently – including some that are definitely homeless and sleep in our alley. Does anyone know why there would be a recent uptick? Is there some city service for them? They seem to be mostly harmless, but it would be nice not to see a passed out man every block on every single day.

    • Ashy Oldlady

      Could be that there’s a shelter nearby, and they often kick everyone out during the daytime.

    • There are a lot of “semi-homeless” men, in this area, particularly alcoholic, disconnected, Hispanics. Many have family or friends to stay with occasionally, but generally stay outside the shelter system. There are lots of city & non-profit services, but many obstacles. If you are really concerned, I suggest donating money to Miriam’s Kitchen which works at every level from “soup kitchen” to supported housing and psychiatric care.

  • They should have just put those dull spikes down, can’t see that being too inviting. Places have done that and been successful in deterring the drunken loitering

  • Someone show me a neighborhood anywhere in the USA with higher housing prices AND more quality of life+crime issues than Columbia Heights, DC. You can’t because it doesn’t exist

  • I called the building’s property management and the owner of the commercial retail space. It seems that they got punked!

    No one knows who hung up the signs, and they’ve been removed apparently.

    Reading through the other comments, where are Brianne Nadeau and Commander Emerman? There are so many public safety challenges within 500′ of that restaurant – problems by which you can set your watch because they are so open and routine. It strikes me that Nadeau and Amerman are either unable or unwilling to do their jobs.

  • Anyone who has ever walked by that place in the morning or afternoon understands exactly why they put those fences in. In the morning, you would have 8-10 completely trashed guys passed out in the bushes, or drinking, selling drugs, urinating, vomiting etc. And the trash was pretty bad. The Heights people would go out every day and clean it up, pick all the discarded trash out of the bushes etc and there would be 20-30 pieces of new trash there the next day.

    I would be furious if I was paying top commercial rents to have to deal with that crap on a daily basis.

    • justinbc

      I don’t know enough about Columbia Heights history, so this is a genuine question, but were all those people around in that area before they signed a lease there? If so, they can’t expect them just to all shoo off just because they want to open a restaurant (even if realistically they shouldn’t “be there” anyway).

      • I’ve only noticed it in recent months.

      • I’ve lived in Columbia Height since 1987 – bought a condo at 14th & Columbia. This was when everything was just open empty trashy lots, so there were enormous homeless camps where Metro, Kenyon Square, Target are now. The fact is, for 20+ years, no one, no church, no civic group, no community organization, came in to revitalize the area. This was cheap cheap land. (My 3 bedroom 2 bath condo was $57,000.) I wound up owning 5 condos in my building and beating my head against a wall for 10 years with a dozen groups to make them available for low-income purchase.

  • I’ve been forming this response for a few weeks, knowing that eventually an opportunity to share it would come up. Dan – this might be worthy of it’s own post.
    For months we’ve been discussing the growing challenges in Columbia Heights that effect our quality of life, and the inability of Brianna Nadeau to address these challenges.
    But stepping back from that, I think the elephant in the room is that in the past 1-3 years Columbia Heights has seen the massive addition to easily thousands of Central American economic and violence refugees. Personally, I support this migration, and the thought of turning these refugees away is unimaginable.
    That being said, the reality is that they are settling in an existing community that is not prepared for the massive influx, and a council member who just seems over her head. Yes – I am aware that a large community of Central Americans has existed for easily 30+ years in Columbia Heights, but data shows the influx in the past 7 months alone already surpasses all of 2015.
    Of course, with any group, there will be vagrants and drunks – and that seems to be the group passed out each day in the plaza.
    What is the solution? I suppose massive government support to help all of these groups integrate and find work. I’m sure Brianne Nadeau is on that. But at the same time I don’t know if the mass concentration of refugees in Columbia Heights is doing anybody (including the refugees) any favors (in fact, studies show that it does not). And quality of life (dare I say it – for those of us that were here first) should not deteriorate because a Councilmember is too distracted to hold the line.

    • “Yes – I am aware that a large community of Central Americans has existed for easily 30+ years in Columbia Heights,”

      This is true for Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant in general. So knowing this, isn’t it natural for Central Americans that do come to DC, to migrate to areas where they may have familial or relational ties to?

    • I think we need to see that data. There was indeed a long history of Central American refugees in Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights from around 1960 to maybe late 1990s, but rising rents since then pushed many out to the VA & Md suburbs, or at least to more distant corners of DC.

  • This was in my planter when I got back to my desk after being away for a bit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nevermindtheend/27978058354/in/photostream/

  • From what I understand, an “unnamed artist” put the signs up.
    .
    I live close by and have frequently had to navigate thru drunks, harassment, or sleepers on the benches and the sidewalks around The Heights as well as the plaza. A few months back, a hostess from The Heights had to ask a few 20ish year olds to stop smoking the enormous joint on one of the surrounding benches as young kids were eating in the patio area.
    .
    Before the fence went up, I brought up the situation to Councilwoman Nadeau and she said she would send social services up there, but I don’t know how often they come up to the area or if they have ever come. Also, the police can’t do much but call the EMTs who in turn can only take them to the ER as there is no loitering law in DC. And then they sober up and come right back.
    .
    There was a center/shelter of some sort on Irving, but then the Highland Park apartment building expanded and took its place. So now the men (and the occasional woman) have no place to “hang.”
    .
    Frankly, until the Mayor and city council step up their game, I don’t think much is going to change for the residents, commuters or the business community nearby.

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