Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, November 16, 2006

 

 

1.         Agenda Item 1. Roll call for officers.  The meeting was called to order by BDCA President Tim Triplett at 8pm.  Also present were officers and board members Jerry Anzulovich, Liesl Koch, Al Cutino, Debbie Mimms, and Bob Baca.

 

2.         Agenda Item 2.  Minutes from last meeting.  Minutes from the October 2006 meeting were accepted into the permanent record.

 

3.         Agenda Item 3.  Code and Parking Enforcement presentation.  Bob Ryan, Director of Code and Parking Enforcement for College Park, gave an overview of the Department’s mission.

 

§         The Department is in charge of animal control, parking enforcement, code enforcement, and serves as liaison for the noise board.

§         Abigal _____ is the animal control officer and is doing a good job.  She works in coordination with the County control program.

§         The newest program is the Rent stabilization program.

§         The Department also runs the City Recreation Board.

§         The Board has been organizing the International Fall Festival for several years.  This past year, 650–700 people attended.

§         There are six full-time inspectors for Code Enforcement. They inspect all permanent rental properties, and also all commercial properties. They can enforce Prince George’s County zoning regulations as well. The six employees work a variety of flexible shifts.  They work evenings while school is in session. There is also a weekend shift for code enforcement employees.

§         Code enforcement officers can be backed up by contract police officers.  This means that when code enforcement observes a code violation, the police can knock on the door that same night and write up a ticket. To appeal a ticket, the resident must now go to District Court.

§         The code enforcement officers respond to complaints, and at the same time, while driving around, look for other violations.  We should call them whenever we see or suspect a violation—they depend on us to notify them of suspected violations.

§         The Department has started to list all known current rental properties on the City’s website.  The new city URL is www.collegeparkmd.gov.  We should let them know if we know of a property being rented that is not on the list. All rental properties in College Park are required to have a rental occupancy permit.  First they must be inspected.  If they pass inspection, they may purchase a permit for $110.  Bob Ryan was asked if the City could post problems they have found with rental properties on the website.  Currently they are not able to do that.  A 20-page handout is given to all landlords.  Landlords are required to give this information to their tenants.  The handout can be found on the City’s website.

§         One attendee remarked that some people feel inspections aren’t being done – we never know whether tickets are effective or not.  Bob Ryan responded that Code Enforcement follows up every complaint.

 

 

        Jim Miller, in charge of parking enforcement for the City, spoke next.

 

§         Parking Enforcement has six full-time officers.  They work from 6:30am to 12am.  One works a foot beat in Old Town.

§         There are 600+ parking meters in College Park.  Seventy-two percent of all tickets are for meter violations.  Most tickets are issued to students.  Parking Enforcement writes 40,000–45,000 thousand tickets a year, which earns $1.2 million in revenue.  The objective is to get compliance.  Most are state law violations. There has been greater parking compliance outside of Old Town recently.

§         Berwyn is one of the more quiet neighborhoods in the City.  There were more problems once the University View apartment building opened because some of its tenants were parking on Pontiac Street and a few others.  Most violations in Berwyn are for invalid tags or for parking in a no-parking zone.

§         It was emphasized that we should call Parking Enforcement especially if an illegally parked car poses a safety hazard.

§         A lot of cars in College Park are from out of state.  The law requires that if you are here for more than 60 days, you must either get a non-resident sticker or switch to Maryland tags.  A Parking Enforcement officer puts a warning notice on a car that may be in violation – this warning notice lets the car owner know that his or her car is being tracked, and includes information on what they must do next.  Since non-residents can’t get a parking permit, it’s easy to snag their cars in Old Town this way, as Old Town uses parking permits.  That’s an advantage of the residential parking permit program.

§         Single family dwellings can obtain up to five permits.

§         Two complaint-driven violations are (i) blocking driveways and (ii) the 48-hour ordinance.  The 48-hour ordinance mans that cars can be tagged if they are parked on the street for more than 48 hours and either have no tags, have a flat tire, or have major body damage.  Parking Enforcement relies heavily on residents to call and let them know of suspected violations of this ordinance.  Parking Enforcement chalks the tires of such vehicles and checks again 48 hours later to see if the car has been moved.  If a car is registered, there is a lengthy process of paperwork before Parking Enforcement can have the car towed.

§         If College Park residents go on vacation and have to leave their car parked on the street while they’re gone, they should notify Parking Enforcement.

§         Every residential area has different enforcement needs.  A neighborhood can’t enact regulations that are more restrictive than state law.

§         For commercial vehicle parking there is a three-quarter ton limitation.  No trailer of any type may be parked on the street after 8pm.  No “oversized” (more than 6 feet wide or 21 feet long) vehicles can be parked on residential streets at any time.

§         Yellow curbs indicate no parking, regardless of whether there is signage as well.  You cannot park against the flow of traffic.  Red curbs denote fire lanes.  Curbs don’t have to be painted at all if there is signage forbidding parking in that area.

 

4.         Agenda Item 4.  Halloween activity and recent police shooting report.  There are eight current positions for block captains.  Neighborhood Watch materials were distributed.  We were asked to call police first to report a crime or suspicious activity, and then Gina Tomko, Neighborhood Watch Director.

 

§         Kim Lugo, Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for the Prince George’s County Police, District I, discussed recent activity.  There were three assailants in the shooting that recently took place on Quebec and Potomac Streets.  Of the three assailants, one was shot and killed, one was injured, and the other got away.  The police know who he is and where he lives – they’re waiting to ID him.  The police are not giving out information about the robbers for the moment.  One of the first officers at the scene was a contract police officer.  All the police who shot the one assailant are currently on administrative leave but will probably be back on the job soon.  Gina notified us that the students who live in that house are being evicted and that the University is expelling them.  One of the students was an Anne Arundel College student.  Since the incident, ten new students living in the neighborhood have signed up to the Neighborhood Watch list.  The crime wasn’t random: the assailants were allegedly looking for marijuana and a rifle.

§         Kim suggested that when a car passes by us, wave, even if we don’t know the person.  If they’re law-abiding citizens, they’ll think you’re being friendly, which reflects well on the neighborhood.  If they’re people up to no good, they’ll think you’re nosey and will think twice before “setting up shop” in our neighborhood.

§         Security cameras were discussed.  It is legal to have them, but they can cover only your property – it is illegal to point them at neighbors’ windows, for example.  One resident added that the law is that if you’re on public property you don’t have the right to expect privacy.

§         The child predator website has 4,400+ registered sex offenders in the state of Maryland.  The location of over 400 of these individuals is unknown.  Sex offenders are required to register within three days after leaving prison.

§         A self-defense class is being offered to College Park residents on November 29th at 9811 Rhode Island Avenue.  The class is free.  Mace and pepper spray are legal in Maryland, but Kim recommended “Three-in-One” spray, which consists of jalapeño peppers, mace, and dye.  She recommends this because 14 percent of people are not affected by mace.  You are not allowed to use such sprays unless you feel endangered and you consider it your last option.

§         The recent Halloween activity was discussed.  One resident noted that at least on Ruatan and north of that street there didn’t seem to be any problems, simply more kids than in recent years.  Several individuals were disturbed by a large crowd of unruly teenage boys.  In one case, a resident’s hand was injured by a plastic knife that had been sharpened that one of the teenagers was carrying.  This group of teenagers surrounded residents handing out candy, grabbing all the candy out of the bowl without permission, and in some cases surrounding the resident who felt intimidated and that the situation was out of control.  Gina’s portable phone was stolen from one of the teenagers in the group, even though he later returned it to her.  One attendee said that she followed the group in her car to tell them that such activity wasn’t allowed in our neighborhood.

§         We discussed possible strategies to avoid a similar experience next Halloween.  One option suggested was to post several men at the end of the path leading up from Lakeland, where the boys had come from, “welcoming” them to the neighborhood, with the idea that the group would know that their behavior was going to be closely observed.  One attendee didn’t like that idea because he thought it sounded like a “bunker mentality.”  The possibility of neighbors communicating with each use using walkie-talkies, to keep each other informed of the whereabouts of troublemakers, was discussed.  The idea of limiting trick-or-treating to a two-hour window was also discussed.

 

5.         Agenda Item 5.  Treasurer update.  BDCA Treasurer Al Cutino made his report.  We’re having a good year.  Donations are up, the picnic did well, and dues have been good.  The idea was that the newsletter would break even with the revenue from the ads.  However, printing costs are slightly higher than ad revenue.  It costs $240-250 a month to put out the newsletter.  Our ad rates are currently very reasonable—we may have to increase them slightly to close the gap.  The President thinks that providing hard copies of the newsletter is more effective than e-mail distribution, since people are less likely to read the latter.  The Treasurer’s report was accepted.

 

6.         Agenda Item 6.  Civic Association updates.

 

§         Jerry Anzulovic made a motion that BDCA become a party of record for the upcoming redevelopment of Raymond Towers.  This means that BDCA would be informed of all developments associated with this project.  The motion was passed.

§         There will be no BDCA meeting in December, but neighbors are encouraged to attend the holiday party on December 16th, from noon to 3pm, in Fealy Hall.  Santa Claus will stop by.  Seven Seas restaurant is going to donate some food but baked goods are welcome.

 

7.         Agenda Item 7.  College Park reports from our Council representatives. 

 

§         Councilman Bob Catlin announced that the City was being sued for $40 million by landlords over the rent stabilization program.

§         Councilman Jack Perry said that while delivering the newsletter, he came across the owner of a rental property who was repairing damage to some stairs and said that he would never rent to students again.  Jack also said that rumor was that the new apartment complex near PG Plaza has been plagued by the same problems of residents trashing it that University View has experienced.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10pm.

 

 

 

Meeting Attendees:

 


Jerry Anzulovic

Bob Baca

Robert Catlin

Al Cutino

Christy Dollymore

John Dollymore

Marina Dullnig

Valerie Durrat

Elvin Fortun

Lily Fountain

Marge Himmelfarb

Maria Huffer

Chuck Ireton

Necole Lindsay

Kim Lugo

Debbie Mims

Jack Perry

Harry Pitt

Mark Seaton

Gina Tomko

Forrest Tyler

Sandy Tyler

Larry Wenzel


 

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA