News and Analysis


Foggy Bottom

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Florence Harmon, center, said the light from an illuminated Hilton Garden Inn sign shines into neighbors' homes. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Florence Harmon, center, said the light from an illuminated Hilton Garden Inn sign shines into neighbors’ homes. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by reporter Marisa Sinatra.

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously voted to oppose a modification that would allow the Hilton Garden Inn in Georgetown to have an illuminated sign on their property.

Community members said they have been arguing against the sign at the hotel since 2008 when the hostel was first established at the corner of 22nd and M streets. Commissioner Florence Harmon said residents opposed the sign during the original hearing for the sign because they did not want to have a bright light shining into their homes.

Harmon referenced a zoning commission order from Nov. 28, 2008, where it agrees with the ANC that the sign cannot be illuminated in order to respect the residents in the community.

At the monthly meeting Wednesday night, Harmon argued on behalf of the residents of the neighborhood, emphasizing that the light from the hotel sign was intruding on their homes and that the decisions made by Hilton Garden and its team were damaging to the community.

In front of representatives from the hotel and the hotel’s layers, the firm of Holland and Knight, Harmon said the legal tactics made by the Holland and Knight team were “very questionable” in getting the zoning commission to agree to the sign.

Harmon said the hotel’s counsel went behind the ANC to the zoning administrator and got an order saying that a sign on the exhibit from the zoning commission allowed them to install the sign anyway.

“The sign was illegally installed,” Harmon said. “It was installed in violation of the express terms of the zoning commission.”

Harmon added that the Holland and Knight’s actions would not facilitate trust and community engagement for the business.

“It is really important for any business owner in this community to build goodwill and build good trust,” she said. “Some of the tactics that have been done by Holland and Knight are not the kid of tactics that would build goodwill and build good trust with the community, because a lot of your business will be community-based.”

Jessica Bloomfield, a representative from Holland and Knight, said the sign in question is located at the top of the hotel’s facade facing east. It is horizontally mounted, backlit, shows the name and logo of the hotel, and is about 3.5 by 12 feet in size, she said.

Bloomfield said she believes the sign is smaller and less intrusive than other signs in the neighborhood and that it is consistent with designs approved by D.C.’s zoning commission.

“Having that sign is essential to the success of the hotel,” Bloomfield argued. “It was designed specifically for that building.”

Shaun Burchard, who was at the meeting representing the hotel, said he did not have much to do with the sign because he just came into ownership of the hotel this year, when the sign was already in place.

“We’ve partnered with Hilton and obviously, the identity package that goes with being a branded hotel is significant to our customers to feel comfortable with what they are buying,” he said.

A resident from the community, Sarah Maddux, said she was at the meeting in which the signage was initially discussed.

“I would like for you to know that I was in the room with the architects when it was designed and discussed,” she said, “From the very first day, we were emphatic about not having that sign there.”

She also argued that the hotel did not accommodate the residents in other ways in which they requested. She said the neighbors requested to use one of the meeting rooms in the hotel for free, a chance they did not get.

“If you want to be a part of this neighborhood, take that sign down,” she added.

Patrick Kennedy, the chair of the ANC, said the community put a lot of time and money to enforce not having an illuminated sign in that Georgetown hotel.

“I have never had an ordeal like this for any other project that has come across our desk, and that’s where my frustration comes from, a lot of it,” he said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 8:09 p.m.

University 57 students from enrollment cap

This post was written by Hatchet staff writers Sera Royal and Catherine Moran.

GW is close to capacity.

Provost Forrest Maltzman said at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday that the University has almost hit its enrollment cap on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

He said that 99.66 percent of the available spots for undergraduate and graduate students on Foggy Bottom are filled. With only 57 slots to spare, Maltzman said that GW “effectively landed a 747 on the curb.”

The enrollment cap is part of a 20-year agreement with D.C. that limits GW to 16,553 on-campus students. Officials must be creative about where they house new programs to avoid hitting the cap, Maltzman said.

In March, Maltzman said he would work with officials to expand off-campus and online opportunities to prevent GW from hitting its enrollment cap.

How the University counts students toward the enrollment numbers depends on how many credits the students earn on the Foggy Bottom Campus compared to how many they earn on other campuses or online, Maltzman said during the meeting. Undergraduate students who live on the Mount Vernon Campus do not count toward the limit.

Officials must be creative about where they house new programs to avoid hitting the cap, Maltzman said.

“The enrollment growth that’s occurring is largely online and off-campus and it’s clearly helping us manage towards the cap,” he said. “So it’s important as schools contemplate big new programs and stuff like that we think a lot about where it’s located.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Police arrested two men in connection to a shooting in Foggy Bottom early Monday morning, a Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman said Friday.

Police arrested Michael Ansara Ferebee, 23, and Julius Bowens, 24, for carrying a pistol without a license, MPD spokeswoman Rachel Schaerr said. Assault with a dangerous weapon and destruction of property were also listed as offenses associated with the case on a MPD report.

The U.S. Secret Service responded to a call reporting gunshot sounds on the 1000 block of 22nd Street around 3 a.m. Monday, according to the report. Police stopped a Nissan Sentra with gunshot marks in front of 403 17th St. – the Red Cross Museum – and searched the vehicle.

“Upon searching the vehicle a silver revolver was located in the glovebox,” according to the report.

Officers located a victim with a gunshot wound to his right hand on New Hampshire Ave. and Dupont Circle, and the victim was transported to GW Hospital, according to the report.

Police also found two vehicles, a Honda Accord and a Subaru, with gunshot damage on 22nd Street. There were gunshots in windows and walls on buildings near the location, adding up to total damages between $2,300 and $3,600, according to the report.

The crime was “club related,” according to the report.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
The SA voted unanimously Monday to show student support for increased community engagement. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

Sen. Nate Pasko, ESIA-U, sponsored a resolution for increased community engagement. The bill passed unanimously at a Student Association Senate meeting Monday night. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution urging GW to engage more in the D.C. community Monday night.

The senate voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, which calls for officials to purchase locally sourced products, hire employees from the area, expand community education programs and invest in community development funds. The resolution also encourages student organizations to find ways to work with D.C. groups.

Sen. Nate Pasko, ESIA-U, said the bill will make GW stand out nationally as an institution that supports community engagement and service.

“I support this because it is an opportunity for real progress in the University,” Pasko said.

Pasko added that he sponsored the bill because it sets a precedent for students and officials to get involved around D.C.


Members of the GW chapter of the Roosevelt Institute worked with SA senators to draft the resolution.

Noah Wexler, the economic development director for GW’s Roosevelt Institute chapter, said during the meeting that the bill demonstrates students’ passion for the D.C. community.

He added that there is a perception that students and administrators don’t engage with people and organizations outside of GW in Foggy Bottom and other parts of the District.

“The main reason for the bill is that often times students and administration think there is a gap between Rice Hall and everywhere else,” Wexler said.

During the meeting, SA Executive Vice President Thomas Falcigno announced that Sen. Miriam Karim, CCAS-G, resigned from her position due conflicts with schoolwork.

Sen. Zachary Graybill, SEAS-G, said the senate currently has 11 unfilled seats. Applications for those positions will close Oct. 28, he said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Police blocked traffic near Funger Hall for about two hours because of a car crash Monday afternoon. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Police blocked traffic near Funger Hall for about two hours because of a car crash Monday afternoon. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Police blocked traffic at the intersection of 22nd and G streets for about two hours Monday after a bus hit a moving car.

The Martz bus and a black Audi sedan were both turning on 22nd Street toward G Street when the accident happened around 3:30 p.m., Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Rachel Schaerr said. MPD and University Police Department officers responded to the scene and closed vehicular traffic on G Street in front of Funger Hall.

The accident caused property damage, but there were no injuries, Schaerr said.

UPD officers directed traffic toward 22nd Street until about 5:30 p.m., when the car was towed.

The woman driving the car declined to give her name or a comment on the accident, citing insurance reasons.

Ryan Lasker contributed reporting.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Geoff Bosworht, the general manager for 51st State Tavern, presented a change to the bar's liquor license at the ANC meeting Wednesday. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Geoff Bosworht, the general manager for 51st State Tavern, presented a change to the bar’s liquor license at the ANC meeting Wednesday. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Meredith Matthews.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission discussed a pair of liquor licenses Wednesday night, voting unanimously to support one and protest the other.

The group protested changes to 51st State Tavern’s liquor license that would allow live acoustic guitar music and a DJ, citing noise concerns.

Geoff Bosworth, the bar’s general manager, said at the meeting that he is most interested in singer-songwriters performing in the tavern, which he said only has space for one or two musicians. He said he has not yet discussed potential noise issues with neighbors.

“We have a pretty good relationship with the neighborhood and didn’t envision any type of entertainment that would disrupt it,” Bosworth said.

Commissioner William Kennedy Smith pointed out the differences in potential disturbance levels between the two kinds of new offerings.

“There is a huge difference between acoustic music and DJ,” Smith said. “The former rarely generates issues, the latter frequently generates issues.”

Bosworth said his bar does not have soundproof windows after commissioners asked about the bar’s features. Commissioner Florence Harmon said noise complaints with the Bayou, a restaurant across the street from 51st State, were resolved once the Bayou had the special windows installed and made sure their back entrance was closed.

“He really worked with the bands to tell them not to leave the back door open and as far as I’ve heard nobody has had an issue now,” Harmon said of the owner of the Bayou.

The ANC also voted to unanimously grant Watergate Liquors LLC a retailer’s liquor license at the meeting. Community members said they discussed most of the license details at the ANC’s meeting last month and were happy to have businesses back in the Watergate.

The commissioners could approve the license now that Smith, who covers the district that includes the Watergate, was present at the meeting. He did not attend last months’ meeting.

“This is a big positive for the neighborhood,” Smith said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 4:24 p.m.

Burglaries dropped 70 percent last year

The number of burglaries on the Foggy Bottom campus dropped 70 percent between 2014 and 2013, according to new crime data.

Disciplinary action for drug and alcohol violations also decreased in the time frame, according to the data released in GW’s annual security report. The data, which the University Police Department releases each fall for the previous year, gives a comprehensive look at crime across GW’s three campuses.

Eleven on-campus burglaries in Foggy Bottom were reported to UPD in 2014, down from 37 burglaries the year before. On-campus burglaries doubled between 2012 and 2013. No burglaries have been reported on the Mount Vernon Campus since 2012, according to the report.

The data in the security report does not necessarily reflect every incident included in GW’s crime log, since GW must meet different criteria for including an incident in the annual report.

Five on-campus rapes were reported to UPD in 2014, the highest total in the last three years, according to the data. Twelve rapes in residence halls were reported to non-police, which could include the University’s Sexual Assault Response Consultative Team, a group of trained administrators and staff who work with survivors.

GW defines rape as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

One rape was reported directly to the Metropolitan Police Department for the first time since 2012. Sexual assault is one of the only crimes where survivors can decide whether or not to report their attacks to police. All incidents reported to GW must be included in its crime log, under the Clery Act, a federal law that standardizes the process for colleges to report crime.

There were 15 reports of fondling on-campus or on public property in 2014, almost triple the number from 2013, according to the report. Six incidents of fondling – touching another person’s private body parts for sexual gratification without their consent – were reported in residence halls last year, with two incidents reported to non-police.

UPD Chief RaShall Brackney said in a University release that the report also updates the number of sexual assaults in 2013 from 21 to 25, the same number reported in 2014, to reflect incidents that happened between a boyfriend and girlfriend in 2011.

There was also a drop in the number of times the University took disciplinary action against students for alcohol and drug violations. About 200 students were referred to Student Rights and Responsibilities for a drug violation last year, down about 24 percent from 2013.

About 150 students were referred for an alcohol violation, a 64 percent drop from the 2013. Last fall, Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said UPD officers were actively seeking out students who had been drinking, which led to an increase in violations that year. Alcohol violations dropped by half for the first two weekends of this school year.

“We would like to think it’s a combination of proactive efforts—that there’s messaging around alcohol and our low tolerance for underage drinking,” Brackney said in the release. “Between public service announcements and awareness campaigns and Colonial Inauguration, we are very proactive at discouraging those types of behaviors.”

There were stalking incidents on the Mount Vernon Campus last year, with no reported incidents there in 2013, according to the data. Ten cases of on-campus stalking on Foggy Bottom were reported to UPD.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The number of violent crimes and homicides in D.C. has decreased and then flatlined recently compared to the numbers from 20 years ago, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute.

Violent crime peaked in the city in the 1990s, and homicides totaled 397 in 1996, the study found. Homicides hit a record low 88 in 2012, though that number has increased since then to about 100 homicides per year.

“D.C. stands out as particularly successful at extending that crime decline over time,” the report reads. “That success is largely the result of a renewed emphasis on community-oriented policing and evidence-based tactics, as well as changing demographics and economic growth.”

The study credits the decline in violent crime to policies and practices from the Metropolitan Police Department including foot patrols, a tip line, engagement on social media, gunfire detection sensors and improved crime data.

Since Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier became the head of the department in 2007, she has also rejected policies that alienate residents like “hot spot” and zero-tolerance policing where officers crack down on minor offenses and swarm high-crime areas – that shift has also helped the crime rate because more residents are willing to help police, the report found.

Economic growth, demographic changes and faster response times from D.C. Fire and EMS has also helped crime drop over time, according to the study.

Of the 39 neighborhood clusters in the city studied, most of the areas showed a slight decrease in the incidents of violent crime between 2000 to 2014. The area including GW, Foggy Bottom and West End had four fewer violent crimes per 1,000 residents in that time period.

“Much of DC’s reduction in violent crime is the result of big declines in a few neighborhoods that previously had high levels of violence,” the report reads.

Gun crime is up 20 percent this year, and Lanier has recently been in meetings and press conferences to condemn the spike in violence this summer.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 5:32 p.m.

Gun crimes up 20 percent so far this year

Gun crimes in D.C. have increased nearly 20 percent so far this year compared to 2014, according to new data.

There have been 1,183 gun crimes so far in 2015, according to a new report from the District Office of Revenue Analysis. About 430 of those crimes have occurred this summer, according to data collected through July.

Last summer, there were 333 gun crimes across the city. And with a total of 78 murders, homicides are also up about 18 percent this year, WTOP reported.

The Foggy Bottom neighborhood is one of 17 to see either a decrease or little change in gun crimes over the last year, according to the report. The Metropolitan Police Department has tallied two gun crimes in the neighborhood so far this year, down from four last year.

The biggest decrease in gun crimes occurred in the Deanwood, Burrville, Grant Park and Lincoln Heights neighborhoods, which is a mostly residential area in Northeast D.C.

The Dupont Circle and Georgetown neighborhoods both saw increases in gun crimes over the past year, with increases of two and four crimes, respectively. The largest increase in gun violence occurred in the area surrounding Union Station, with a total of 69 gun crimes so far this year – an increase from 32 in 2014, according to the data.

The area around Capitol Hill reported 41 gun crimes in 2015, more than double the total in 2014.

The Cathedral Heights area, which surrounds the National Cathedral, is the only neighborhood on the list that reported no crimes involving guns over the past two years.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Firefighters waited on the platform of the Foggy Bottom Metro station. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Firefighters waited on the platform of the Foggy Bottom Metro station. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Metro services have been stalled between the Clarendon and Foggy Bottom stations on the track heading towards Rossyln Monday morning due to smoke between the Foggy Bottom and Rossyln stations, Washington Metro Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Morgan Dye said.

A Metropolitan Police Department officer on the scene said an insulator on the third rail “blew” between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom, which caused smoke in the tunnel. MPD officers also closed 23rd Street between H Street and Washington Circle Monday morning.

Dye also said ambulances are at the scene as a precautionary measure. Buses were picking up commuters at the station. Commuters also reported paying about $34 for an Uber ride to Rosslyn after the incident due to surge pricing, the Washington Post reported.

Trains heading toward New Carrolton and Largo Town Center from Foggy Bottom were still running.

  • Permalink
  • Comments