DNA meeting recap

Tuesday night’s DNA Meeting focused heavily on the Gallery Place issues surrounding teen loitering. The meeting was attended by Mayor Adrian Fenty, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelsohn, Police chief Cathy Lanier, MPD Commander David Kamperin and Chief Fire Marshall Gary Palmer.

Mayor Fenty said the issues of teen induced chaos in Gallery Place was unacceptable and would be addressed with vigilance from MPD immediately. Our mayor suggested that community policing and using regulatory agencies to shutdown businesses that contribute to the nuisance will be the focus. Changing the curfew for teens, which are currently 11pm Mon-Thurs and 12am Fri-Sat, was not part of any plan at the moment. Commander Kamperin explained that a zero tolerance rule is in place. Officers are instructed to make the arrest if there is a open container, curfew or other serious violation. In the past such violations might have been served with a warning such as asking the individual to discard the open container. It was also said that while small pockets of loitering unaccompanied by other law breaking may not be something that can be addressed that MPD will act to disperse large scale loitering that fully blocks sidewalks.

Many Penn Quarter residents spoke out on the issue. While their thoughts comprise an important part of the picture, a representative sample of the comments can already be found at the discussion at PQLiving. I’m going to focus my post on what I learned about Club Bounce because that’s information that hasn’t been covered from both angles.

Club Bounce currently runs an event every weekend at Platinum Nightclub. The name Bounce comes from having to bounce around from venues like Club Five, Washington Plaza hotel, Carnegie Library, etc before reaching an ongoing relationship with Platinum (which had losts it’s ABC license). Events at Bounce run from 6pm to 10:45pm and are run by the promotions company Teen Life Productions (TLP). Traci Allen is a downtown resident, mother of a 14 year old, and director of TLP. From their myspace:

Club Bounce and Teen Life Production’s mission is to provide fun and activities through music and dancing in a diverse and safe environment for all teens!

We do not allow teens to come and go. It is not a lock in, but they cannot leave and then re-enter. We do not allow any loitering in the parking area and all teens must be picked up by midnight to comply with curfew laws of the District of Columbia.

Club Bounce employs professional and experienced security officers to ensure the safety of all teens attending Club Bounce events.

Ages: Teens in Grades 9th through 12th!

All teens are searched and bags will be checked.

Club Rules:
-NO altercations of any kind – verbal or physical
-NO ins and outs
-NO hand signs
-NO loitering outside

Dress Code:
-NO excessively revealing clothing
-NO profanity or offensive logos
-NO gang related apparel

Any breaking of the rules will result in denied entry to the venue or being asked to leave the premises. Club Bounce is an alcohol and drug-free zone and the proper authorities will be notified in the event of possession or being caught under the influence.

We encourage you to contact us at TeenLifePro@aol.com should you have any questions!

-Teen Life Productions

Several teens spoke at the DNA meeting on behalf of Club Bounce. One high school senior, bound for a full ride to Hampton next year, spoke passionately about the club providing an alternative for kids to the unsupervised drinking and partying until the wee hours. Another spoke of how she is involved in designing the props for the Jet Set Saturdays parties which have themes like Hollywood, South Beach, Athens, Milan, and Jamaica. For the responsible teens that don’t engage in the shenanigans being seen at Gallery Place the club is a positive thing. Unfortunately you can’t slice the pie up that way – the bad is coming with the good.

Mayor Fenty did unequivocally state that MPD and the fire marshall have told him this club is contributing a negative influence to the community. Hundreds of kids loitering on the streets after Bounce creates problems that have manifested themselves into very ugly incidents. If Bounce wants to survive they’ll need to do more to ensure the kids behave not only inside their club but also outside in the community between close and curfew. Can that be accomplished at these volumes (1000 kids)? Maybe. Maybe not.

UPDATE (10/15/2008 10AM): It’s worth noting that a similar teen club at AVENUE has recently opened and is also contributing to the issues.

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  1. 1

    Anonymous says

    I had friends in from out of town, and it was embarrassing because I had hyped up that area of the city, and they were shocked by all the teens blocking up the sidewalks and making comments when we were trying to get through. I don’t remember it ever being like this before…

  2. 2

    Andrew Johnson says

    Teens create problems when they’re bored. I think we can all remember being teens and how quickly that boredom can set in.

    The central problem that Bounce is “contributing to” seems to be loitering on the street “between closing and curfew” and the numbers “1000+”. Allow more clubs like Avenue to open up and allow the clubs to be open until just before curfew. Sure, there may be a small perception of increase when the clubs first open, but gradually the crowds will thin themselves out across the available clubs.

    Remember, these teens will very soon be adult citizens. If we establish an adversarial relationship between them and society (especially the police) now, it will carry on through their adulthood.

  3. 3

    fourthandeye says

    Thanks for your comments. I see both sides of the coin. I lean towards the side that believes this is a serious problem that needs addressing. But I can also recall that I did some public shenanigans back in my teen years

    The stories in GP are escalated past anything we would have done as teens. Back in the day drive by moonings or startling pedestrians with fog horns were more the style than attempting to intimidate verbally or physically.

  4. 4

    Cozmot says

    First, kudos for an excellent recap of the meeting!

    I agree that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. This was the largest DNA ever, with standing room only. People living in the neighborhood don’t feel safe with this new development, many avoid 7th Street entirely (I do) and businesses are losing money. We’re all already having problems with property values and don’t need this.

    Fortunately, the mayor and our city councilmen get it. Fenty said more than once that this is unacceptable and would not be allowed to continue. I believe him; a lot is at stake.

    Finally, kudos to Miles Groves and the DNA. This is a community organization that got results. DNA got the mayor, three city councilmen, top police officials, the top fire official, DCRA and others together to address the community.

    Looking at the DNA web site (dcdna.org, then “About”), I see that only 13 condo buildings are members. If this doesn’t convince hold-outs to join, shame on them. They’re getting great benefits like this so should show their support.