A loading zone for Haydee's Restaurant; or, no good deed goes unpunished

Some time ago, Haydee's Restaurant said that they really needed a loading zone in front of their restaurant, for trash collection as well as deliveries. Well, we're sympathetic to such requests, given that this area has no alleys for access in the rear, so we set about finding a way to accomplish that. The ANC began, in February, with a resolution calling on DDOT to undertake a thorough evaluation of the existing loading zones on Mount Pleasant Street, given that the current arrangement came about decades ago, using who-know-what criteria.

haydees corner Our first thought was to move the bus stop in front of Haydee's, and put a loading zone there. The bus stop could be moved to the far side of the Irving Street intersection, which may make more sense anyway. That was clearly going to be a bit difficult, because there's a shelter built at the present location, so moving the bus stop across Irving Street was not going to be a simple matter of moving some signposts. Well, I noted that there's already a loading zone right around the corner, on Irving Street, and perhaps that would be more effectively located on Mount Pleasant Street. So I wrote up an ANC resolution, introduced by Commissioner Castillo-Romero, summarizing the arguments in favor of swapping the Irving Street loading zone to Mount Pleasant Street, and calling on DDOT to "explore the feasibility" of the move.

Well, you would think that was pretty responsive to Haydee's request. Of course, there are consequences to any such change, and it's necessary to make sure that no one is going to suddenly appear, with loud complaints, after the change is made. Not only would the existing loading zone on Irving Street disappear, but two or three metered-parking spots on Mount Pleasant Street would vanish. Hence, my resolution called for the investigation of the matter, not yet its implementation. The Mount Pleasant Business Association agreed with this cautious approach.

The restaurant, however, did not, insisting on having its loading zone now, not after some "study". They came up with a "petition" calling for "a loading zone right in front of Haydee's Restaurant" (there's a Metrobus stop there now, and that's not going away, so "right in front" seems to be out of the question). This petition, we were told, included signatures from all the owners of businesses nearby. ("Owners" was explicit.)

Okay, but the petition makes no mention of eliminating the loading zone on Irving Street, nor does it note that two or three of the five parking spots adjacent to the Metrobus stop would be eliminated. Were the business owners aware of those consequences? This isn't clear, and we need that to be explicit. Many of the petition signatures are illegible -- the signers ignored the "Name" column -- and the correlation with affected businesses is uncertain. Another problem cropped up as I queried Alex Kramer, owner of Dos Gringos, about the "Dos Gringos" signature on the sheet. "That is not my signature. I never saw this petition", she wrote. The signature was put there by someone at Dos Gringos, but without the owner's knowledge or permission. So, how many of these signatures are actual business owners, and how many were put there by somebody with just some association with the business? We don't know.

Indeed, let's be careful about proceeding with this. But Haydee's isn't interested in being careful, and demanded immediate action. Commissioner Gregg Edwards responded to their demand by introducing another resolution, this one advising DDOT "to expedite the moving of the loading zone". I objected to that imprudent rush, and I was able to have the phrase "after assuring feasibility" inserted, moderating its demand for immediate action.

My questioning of the petition, and insistence on a cautious approach to this measure, displeased Mario Alas, co-owner of Haydee's. In an e-mail on April 26, he complained about "the way some member of this ANC is acting regarding our petition for a loading zone", and defended the Dos Gringos signature as being "legally binding" even if the owner didn't know anything about it. "Some member" means, of course, no one but me. No other ANC commissioner has questioned the petition. Mario continues with a weird threat: "we will get this loading zone even if we have to suit people in mount pleasant people that are interfering with due process by abusing their position in government office". (For "suit", read "sue".)

Well. Recall that I was the one who proposed moving the Irving Street loading zone to Mount Pleasant Street, and I wrote the resolution initiating DDOT effort to that end. But because I'm insistent that everyone concerned know the details of the proposal, and be heard from before a final decision is made, I'm "interfering with due process", and I'm "abusing" my ANC position.

Would it be rude of me to point out that this ANC has won Haydee's the right to offer live music and dancing, and supported Haydee's request for a sidewalk cafe, and endorsed Haydee's hotly controversial filing for a nightclub license? And that in February I brought about the dismissal of a thousand-dollar parking ticket issued to Haydee's truck-driving brother? How quickly they have forgotten.

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