Friday, July 06, 2007

Drinking at Glebe and Pershing

Code Enforcement Meeting Positive, People Say

This story was first posted at about 10:30, and was clarified and corrected at about 1:30. Sorry for the confusion. --ST.

People are on the same page. That is the message coming from the code enforcement meeting regarding littering, loitering, and public drinking in the Buckingham neighborhood, especially in the area surrounding the Glebe Market, CVS and Ravi Kabob at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive. The meeting was held June 27 at the Gates of Ballston offices.

“It was very good that property management and some business was represented,” said James Vandeputte, an Arlington Oaks resident (4300 block of N. Pershing) who has been vocal on this matter since his backyard, he has said, turns into a “beer party.” From his window he has seen people urinate and vomit while sitting on the red benches in his backyard, he said.

James Vandeputte attended last week's code enforcement meeting. He said his backyard becomes a "beer party" and that he has seen people urinate and vomit from benches like these in his backyard.

Marlene Terreros-Oronao, a historic preservation code inspector for 29 historic districts in Arlington, convened the meeting of about 15 area residents, business mangers, property managers, county staff and police.

“I was satisfied with being able to make sure that these people were communicating with each other,” she said in an interview.

One point of the meeting was to make sure everyone knew the roles they played, Ms. Terreros-Oronao said. The police don’t worry about litter, but they do worry about public drinking.

Officer Joseph Lutz said he was happy with the meeting, as well, but wanted people to know that stopping public drinking was a community affair. We need to "fire on all cylanders," he said in an interview.

Officers cannot arrest anyone for public drinking unless the officer sees the person drinking the alcohol, or the person is obviously drunk. Therefore, people must call the police when they see public drinking.

This applies to any location considered "public": sidewalks, space around the businesses, and even the common areas around and behind apartment and condominium buildings, Ofr. Lutz said.

The police do not have "power of attorney" for the business property in the area, meaning that they cannot re-arrest repeat offenders for trespassing.

"We have no authority to say 'You can't come back here.'," Ofr. Lutz said.

Arlington Oaks Condominium and the apartment complexes in Buckingham have granted police the power of attorney.

Ms. Terreros-Oronao said she is very concerned about littering.
Progress on these issues will require a lot of work and community input, she said. “It just has to be worked intensely," she said.

People can call her office (703-228-3818). If business owners do not respond to individuals, “They do respond to us,” she said.

Businesses are responsible for the garbage in and around their trash containers even if other people are throwing the trash there. If the area is not kept clean, she can site the property manager or owner, she said.

However, she said, that she makes allowances and works with the property manager when there are extenuating circumstances. A few months ago she worked with Ravi Kabob and the Gates of Ballston to clean up the trash behind the Ravi Kabob and CVS. People from The Gates were using the trash and Ravi Kabob could not keep up, she said. The Gates stepped in, and put out more trash recepticles, Ms. Terreros-Oronao said.

Noticeably absent from the meeting was Mr. Chon who owns the Glebe Market. Ms. Terreros-Oronao said he has never been too responsive to loitering and drinking on his property for fear that rousting the men who stand along the side of his building will push other customers away.

CRIME-Buckingham Intersection of N. Glebe Rd & N. Pershing Dr

As an aware and concerned resident of the Buckingham area, I'd like to take this opportunity to address a small potion of the antisocial behavior that allegedly continues to occur on a daily basis regarding the aforementioned neighborhood.

Alleged littering, loitering, public urinating, public drinking of alcohol, public drunkenness, and other crimes continue to plague our neighborhood. It's difficult to ignore what goes on at, around, and near the aforementioned "four corners" area of Arlington. In fact, it's a social disgrace…or at least ought to be!

Let’s start with challenges for the pharmacy. Previously, other customers and myself begged cashiers to tell their manager when we saw guys running out of the store with beer. To my dismay, they only pointed to him. Though he was right there at a register, managers on duty did absolutely nothing about it. Do I did a little digging and then I learned why. I was informed that an employee in another state had been killed in a robbery attempt. In an effort to avoid the same thing from happening in any of their other stores around the county, they decided not to take matters in their own hands. They did not want anyone to get hurt. Unfortunately though, the fact that nothing was being done about the blatant stealing perhaps sent the wrong message to the brazen absconders.

Additionally, the parade of young ladies with all their babies in strollers, covered up with blankets in 95 degree weather, have a difficult time getting out of the store with merchandise they've attempted to shoplift. I'd say that we're slowly learning their tricks. Meanwhile, what kind of examples are they setting for their kids?

Over the years, I’ve seen pharmacy personnel actively trying to control the situation and scare away wrongdoers. In fact, the interior layout of their store (aisles, shelves, cameras, and front door) has been renovated. As a result, it appears to be more difficult for them to steal merchandise now.

While the subculture’s "MO" (modus operandi) changes from time to time when we catch up with them, the culprits are clearly successful in reaching their goals and breaking our laws. They're always steps ahead of us. To my dismay, I’ve come to believe that these allegedly uneducated and uncivilized punks are far more cunning than we are intelligent.

Since the renovation, I've personally witnessed store management trying to convince the arrogant thugs to go away. However, a few minutes later they're unfortunately right backs there.

Recently, as I was about to enter the pharmacy, I overheard a youngster, who had just been chased away by store management, ask another approaching female customer to buy cerveza (beer) for him. She was carrying her baby. She agreed and then he gave her some cash money. I entered the store behind her. While waiting in line to cash out, the punk kept coming into the store apparently looking for the woman. I was right behind her when she left the store. With my own eyes, I saw her give that kid a 12-pack box of beer. He finally went away. These people sure are resourceful.

From what I've seen, not only do these people stick together; they allegedly seem to be willing to do whatever it takes to get cash money for themselves (that's a whole other blog), as well as profit from helping others to break laws. To me, the aforesaid multitudes of thieves resemble the behavior of a pack of hyena diligently trying to kill and devour their prey.
During recent times when I’ve been in that pharmacy, the alarm hasn’t seemed to be triggered very much. Things are safer, more quiet, organized and professional now. In fact, since the renovation, it seems much harder for delinquents and other potential thieves to go running out of the store with beer under their arm, or females lifting makeup, over-the-counter medications, or baby supplies in strollers or under baby blankets. Even their kids don’t seem to get away with stealing candy, gum and toys like they used to. In addition, I haven’t seen any mothers tearing through the parking lot only to let children out to urinate on the wall of the building. Incidentally, to my dismay, I have witnessed many babies, toddlers, and older children riding in cars or trucks without a car seat, booster, or even a seat belt, thus putting these younger children in danger.
Are we headed for a whole generation of antisocial, immoral lawbreakers? I believe we ought to be worried about the inevitable if this keeps up. Rather than looking at these questionable people as cheap-labor, we need to start looking at them (and the employers and landlords who profit from them) as potential threats to our democracy, reputation, and enviable quality of life and laws in the United States of America.
If you ask me, a study needs to be conducted to discern whether people who enter our country illegally and are allowed to live, work, drive, and shop commit crimes. If they get away sneaking in and disrespecting the USA from the beginning, is it realistic for us to believe they will gain any respect ever for our laws and way of life?
Below are some more questions I wish could and would be pondered and answered:
1. Why allow their anchor-babies to secure their stay here and milk our systems at the taxpayers' expense?

2. Is any of this looking-the-other-way in the best interest of the American people?

3. How long can we continue to be the best Country in the world if we continue to lower our standards, ignore our laws, and allow human greed to slowly erode our commendable values and quality of life, which has taken us more than 200 years to build?

I think I'm beginning to know how the American Indians felt.

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