pain sculpture

“Dear Former Neighbors,

As a favor to the folks who will simply stop reading and disregard whatever is written below based solely on race, let me save you the time and start by saying that my wife and I are black. I say this not to elicit snark or engender sympathy or because it should matter, but just as a basis of fact in a city where you can’t seem to have a conversation without taking race into consideration.

I moved here in late 2003 after college and a tour in the Marine Corps. Like so many other people, I moved to the region for work. I thought I’d be here for a short time but life happened, and I made the District my home.

Oddly enough, all of my positions and jobs were in MD or VA, but I was one of those who enjoyed urban living and made the reverse commute. I endured the embarrassing things our elected officials did and the backwater way our city operated because the urban-ish lifestyle seemed to be one that I should endure these things for.

We aren’t looking for a trophy or a gold star, but my wife (former Navy) and I (atleast on paper) are the kind of residents jurisdictions try to lure. Highly paid DINKS, we pay a lot in taxes but use relatively few public services as we’ve yet to have kids. We actively participated in and tried to improve our community. We both had spent years (5 and 7 respectively) tutoring DC middle and high school students in STEM courses. Kid-less, we still participated in the yearly DCPS summer “all hands on deck” to help clean, paint and landscape local schools before school started, occasionally volunteered at the local hospital, food banks etc.

I met my wife here. We started out buying a condo in Woodley Park, then made the jump and bought a row home in on Kenyon street in Columbia Heights in 2006. At the time, there were fewer people living or socializing in Columbia Heights. You were confronted by the occasional day-drunk and discarded used condoms on the sidewalk, but the neighborhood then was significantly different, and for the first few years we lived there and it was the picture of urban renewal. More than a billion dollars of private development in the neighborhood took form in a matter of a few years, and even more since. DC schools have always been atrocious but at the time we had decided to try to stay in DC regardless and simply “hope” that there would be significant short term educational gains, or resigned ourselves to pay for private school when the time came.

Then a few years ago the positive changes in Columbia Heights seemingly started to reverse. The streets of Columbia Heights filled with unbelievable quantities of trash. It was as though people from all over DC were coming to Columbia Heights specifically to throw trash on the street. The amount of crime skyrocketed. Robbery’s, assaults, burglary became a more frequent issue. Not a week went by in the last couple of years living there where at least one car on the short street I live on hadn’t gotten broken into. I had to get one of those roll down steel doors across the back of my lot because all of a sudden, out of nowhere 4 years after we moved in, people started breaking into homes via the alley. Nearly every house (15 in total over 6 months) on our block got hit, some twice and despite the cops taking prints and finding the criminals already had been in the system, there was seemingly no consequence to their actions. People also started defecating with some regularity in the alley and on the sidewalks. Constant pleas by the entire neighborhood to the ANC, the police the Council member go ignored for months and years. The only time someone from the ANC or Council gets involved is around election time, and the involvement stops immediately after.

At least 2 or 3 times a year I would walk out of my house in the morning to go to work and find some passed out / strung out guy on my lawn or adjacent neighbors lawn, covered in his own urine or vomit or actively hitting the crack pipe in the middle of the day. People started ripping out landscaping plants and bushes we (or my neighbors) had planted, apparently to take home and plant because they simply disappeared. Who does that?

A new and very visible drug trade has appeared in multiple places in the neighborhood. Unbelievably the most visible example is right at the Columbia Heights metro stop where it happens in full view of cops who sit there in their cars on their Facebook, or otherwise couldn’t care less. And I am not talking about weed here, but serious narcotics.

The straw that broke the camels back was when I apparently had the audacity to remind a young twenty something that my lawn wasn’t his trash can as he walked by and threw his discarded chicken wings on my lawn. I was standing less than 10 feet away when he did it and decided to ask him what he was doing.

Like all young thugs I’ve encountered, he “ran hot” which meant he went from zero to full-rage in about a millisecond. After ~20 seconds of screaming every four letter word and negative gentrification invective in the book at me (he and I are the same race but that seemed to elude him), he started towards me, pulled up his shirt to show me his gun and told me he was going to shoot me (I’ve actually cleaned that language up quite a bit, I will let your imagination run with what he really said). I grew up in rural VT, hunted in my childhood, spent time in the Corps and am extremely comfortable around firearms, but I had never had one pulled on me before, or the threat of it. I simply reacted out of fear, grabbed him by the neck with one hand, put my hand on his gun with the other so he couldn’t draw it and slammed his head into the retaining wall in front of my house while trying to disarm him. (more…)


Thanks to Josh for sending around 5:30pm:

“both cop and person pursued wreck badly, person chased runs off. Cop injured”

: Thanks to a reader for passing on the security footage:

1475 Girard Street Northwest

This house is located at 1475 Girard Street, Northwest. The listing says:

“FIRST OPEN HOUSE 6/26 2-4pm. Fabulous new renovation, Enormous home, open floor plan, sensational finishes, all the bells and whistles! Two master suites, copious closets, decks, garage plus off street parking. Check out photos to really see beauty of renovation. Total SF just under 3000. Buyer should measure if important.”


You can see more photos here.

This 4 bed/3.5 bath is going for $995,000.


Guilherme Almeida tweets us earlier this morning:

“4th 100 year old tree being removed on my formerly beautiful tree lined block. Why?!”

“this one is at lamont st between 11th and 13th. The other have been on 11th between lamont and park.”

“I was told the reason for removal by the crew was ‘tree’s dead’. I’m no arborist but it clearly looks alive to me!”

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 4.44.35 PM
via google maps

From MPD:

“Shooting at 1628 hrs: at 14th & Meridian Pl. NW. Lookout for: B/M wearing white shirt, brown shorts, white tennis shoes”


“Around 4:30 PM, MPD responded to the report of the sounds of gunshots in the 1400 block of Meridian Place NW. MPD units arrived on the scene and located an adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The victim is currently in stable condition and expected to survive the injuries. No other information is available at this time.

If you observed anything related to this offense, please call the MPD’s Command Information Center at 202-727-9099 or text anonymously at 50411.”

target checkout

“Dear PoPville,

Forget about seeing a cashier at the Columbia Heights Target.

Target in Columbia Heights has recently installed self-checkout. Now after the self-checkout addition 5 out of my last 6 visits I noticed the express checkout is closed even during the peak use of 5-6 PM during the week. I’ve had to self-checkout.

The express lane similar to the express lane at Whole Foods was extremely fast and successful. The self-checkout is slow and has the typical equipment error issues and slower lines. Some CVS stores recently got rid of their self-checkout for that reason and theft. Target had even expanded the express section of checkout over the last year because it was successful. So why the recent change?

Being a curious individual I asked a manger why this change happened. Her response was first this was a request form the customers. Well this customer requests a return to the old way.

Then after continuing the conversation she said “this allows us (Target) to keep less employees on the floor.” Directly decreasing the number of jobs needed on any given shift. In a community where jobs are needed and customer is always appreciated Target is directly decreasing the number of staff by their mangers admission. It is curious that this change also allows them to reduce the number of employees in advance of an increased minimum wage. Looks like Target found a way around that. Now only if they used that staff to keep their shelves stocked….”


“Dear PoPville,

Any word on whats going on at Meridian Hill Park. For weeks no landscaping was done, there was trash everywhere and the grass was overgrown. They have since mowed but there is still no water in the fountains? Will the fountains be turned on at all this summer?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Joseph Leonardo

From the National Park Service:

“Meridian Hill Park’s fountain is the longest cascading fountain in North America, and it has a specialized pump motor. When we de-winterized the fountain, we discovered that the pump motor needed repairing, and because it’s so specialized, it needed more work than anticipated. We just awarded a contract this week to complete the repair of the pump motor. We expect the work to be completed and the pump installed within the next 6 weeks. We know how much the community loves this fountain, and we’re working to get it up and running as soon as possible.”


A reader reports:

“Several law enforcement vehicles rushed sirens blazing to 14th and Irving around 3:50pm. According to someone at the scene, there was a fight between kids and the cops used Mace to break it up. Bad week on this stretch of 14th!”

Another reader reports:

“14th is basically closed again at the Columbia Heights metro for police response to a fight (?) from the high school. Traffic isn’t moving. Haven’t heard that any one was hurt.”

Updates when more is known, thanks to all who’ve emailed and tweeted.


Update from MPD:

“We have received several inquiries regarding police activity at 14th and Irving St NW. MPD units responded for a fight between several juveniles with a large crowd gathering. Officers intervened and two officers sustained minor injuries during the incident. Three subjects were placed under arrest and have been transported for processing. MPD has cleared the scene and traffic has reopened.”