36 thoughts

  1. lamar,

    you think you could take a few minutes to let us know what the city has done or looked into regarding the halfway house that is operating at the corner of maureen and lee street. and could you also tell me why the were given an exception as a group home, but operates as halfway house and has parolees living there?

    1. Dan, please feel free to contact me at the Mayor’s Office, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and concerns.

      I assume you’re referring to Maureen and Jackson Streets, not Maureen and Lee.

      All the best,

      Lamar

  2. yes you’re right, thanks for correcting me. i did mean jackson street. i figured since no one from this administration returns calls i would try and contact you hear.

  3. Ditto on concern for that house and it’s current use. There was a police car there yesterday afternoon when I passed by it.
    Seems it has gone from a quiet mentally challegned home to a crowded halfway house with no notice.
    Alex.

  4. no, lamar you are right i have never called you personally, but i have called other members of the administration and they havent returned the calls. i know you called someone (who lives next door) in regards to phone calls made to the mayor in regards to this. what’s the hold up on this?

  5. no thanks, lamar, i dont have the time nor the inclination. besides, being a “progressive” i doubt this situation really concerns you as long as its not located in your neighborhood. the city’s handling of this property (from zoning, to the city council and the mayor’s office)has in no way reflected the concerns of the citizens living in the neighborhood.

    1. Dan that’s actually really close to where Lamar lives…meaning that is his neighborhood too. You took the time to ask him on here and he’s trying to offer you a compassionate hear through his office. Why not call him?

    2. Dan, of course this situation concerns me, and it has nothing to do with me being a progressive. If you’re ever up for it, I remain more than willing to discuss the process and the details. I understand you dropped off some documentation to the Mayor’s Office today.

      That said, I do not believe for a moment that anyone in the administration has been negligent or has ignored anyone’s concerns. I asked around today, and no one in the Planning Division or the Mayor’s Office has a record of receiving any prior communication from you. I understand you referenced your brother-in-law, claiming no one had contacted him, but I spoke with him personally, as did several other people.

      By the way, one of my grandfathers lives right down the street, and my other grandfather works (almost) directly across the street.

      1. If you read Dan’s earlier post, he mentions that you spoke with someone (who lives next door) in regards to this matter. When he said no one in the administration returns phone calls, he never said who was making those calls. You inferred that he was the one calling when in fact, it was me. I have a record of phone calls that Wade and I have been making to the mayor’s office and of return calls. You are more than welcome to take a look at this and I think you will find that we have not heard from anyone since September 2. “Several other people” have spoken with Wade… Mayor Roy on August 31 and Kay Michiels on September 2. This was the administration returning a phone call we made on August 31, which was our second attempt to talk to someone in the mayor’s office. Our original phone call was on August 24.
        I have also been in contact with my city councilman and the city attorney. They are also looking in to this situation. By the way, both of which, returned my phone call within hours, not days. If the administration is willing to give an update on this situation, please contact me. I am sure that someone there has my contact information on one of the many messages I have left.

  6. no, lamar, i DID NOT REFERENCE MY BROTHER IN LAW, Mrs. Boddy, stated that Mrs. Michiels had been in contact w/ betty and wade, and asked me if i knew them. i said that was my sister and brother in law. i did not broach that subject, SHE DID!!

  7. I would like to take a moment to thank the Mayor’s office for the resolution of this matter. I have not posted a comment prior to this, and was not intending to do so, because I didn’t feel this was an appropriate forum to ask for attention to this matter. However, it is apparent that the issue was important, and personal, enough to make citizens get involved and ask the administration for help.

    I stick by Betty Jo’s post from earlier, and I will admit that I was also irritated at not receiving phone calls updating us on the status of the matter. Without updates, we let ourselves think–erroneously, in hindsight–that the matter was being ignored. Based on the events of today, however, I am pleased by the administration’s action in the matter, and am satisfied at the outcome.

    It happens too often–and we are all guilty of this–that we loudly and vigorously attack others for what we perceive are their faults or mistakes, and we quietly and sheepishly laud those same people when they do a good job. I am not going to sit quietly, then, and not give credit where it is due.

    Thank you to Mayor Roy, to Kay Michiels, and to you, Lamar, for your attention in this matter, and for your efforts in bringing it to its resolution. Thank you to Dan and Alex for your attention as well, and for your concern for this neighborhood. Stop by the house some time and I’ll buy you a beer.

    Thank you also to my wife, Betty Jo, who spent hours researching the matter and contacting various persons in the City administration. Love you.

  8. I read this blog everyday but never post………….I could not pass this up. It seems to me that ‘Betty Jo’ or ‘Wade” just want a response from someone in the Mayor’s office. A resolution or an answer to the original question – how was this allowed by the city in a neighborhood? How about everyone geting over the ‘who is to blame issue’ and correcting the oversight? How about solving the issue? Get over it………..fix the problem without pointing fingers………PROTECT THE KIDS AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD………..

  9. Better yet, let’s get back to the original question – how was this allowed to occur in the first place? (1) When a business applies for utility connections, does the City run a check on that business? Does it check to see if it is in good standing with the Secretary of State? If so, then here’s the first failure. The Recovery Mission is currently not in good standing for failure to submit an annual report. That should have been red flag #1.

    (2) If the landlord had ran a background check on the persons listed as agents of The Recovery Mission, more red flags would have popped up.

    (3) These same directors operated in the City previously under Arise Restoration Center at a home on Skye Street. Were there problems there?

    (4) Did they produce documentation stating they held proper certificates and business licenses before the utilities were turned on and a certificate of occupancy for their use was granted? I realize a group home had previously operated at this location, but shouldn’t the home been subject to new inspections with the adoption of the latest codes in the past few sessions of the Legislature and with changes in the City’s own ordinances in relation to group homes and other codes?

    While ultimately the problem has been resolved, it took citizens’s action and constant calling in order to do so. Alex will note, code enforcement has yet to deal with the other issue in Good Earth which is located much closer to his personal home.

    1. Rhonda, the City doesn’t perform criminal background checks for people to pay for electricity or have running water (and Not In Good Standing on the Secretary of State’s website is not code for Criminal Enterprise). It’s a landlord’s prerogative to decide whether or not they want to perform background checks on prospective tenants.

      For better or worse, we don’t have a law that states “People of ill repute shall not be awarded electrical or occupancy privileges.”

      The City also doesn’t have the same regulatory authority as DSS.

      A person can always turn on the lights and open an illegal business. People who decide to manufacture or grow illegal drugs in homes, for example, don’t tell the City or their landlords of the intended use. It takes responsible neighbors and a careful investigation before the City can issue a Cease and Desist order. Such an action cannot be based on speculation or simple presumptions.

      1. Lamar –
        Did I say anywhere the City should have ran a criminal background check? I don’t believe so. I stated the City should have checked to see if they were chartered and in good standing with the Secretary od State. Given the status there, the business should have first been made to bring this issue into good standing before being granted utilities.

        I do believe I said it was the responsibility of the Landlord to run the background check.

        Lamar if any entity enters into a contract with the State or the City for that matter that business whether operating as a for profit or not for profit must state they hold all proper licenses and are current in taxes. I am quite certain it was the City’s own planning director who stated Landlords needed to be licensed and charged for a permit. Why not make part of the process for zoning compliance proof that any business leasing space or wanting to move into space show they hold all proper licenses?

        1. Lamar –

          I also have to wonder if this organization was properly licensed by the City? We know they basically committed fraud in completing the information for the Zoning Compliance Certificate, but did they have an Occupational License? Perhaps here is where checks and balances can take place to make certain all permits and licenses required by the State to operate whatever form of business they are applying for a license can take place.

          I do not expect planning to be the police. Nor to I expect the persons working utility hookup to be the police. What I do expect is for the City to make certain that businesses operating in the City are doing so legally and that credit checks are ran in order for utilities to be turned on.

          I also expect for ordinances within the development code to be enforced. It was explained to those who showed up to oppose the location of a group home in Good Earth that if the current operator vacated the property, before a new group home could be located in that same home, a new notice would have be given and a hearing held. This did not occur at Jackson and Maureen. Now granted the Zoning Commission may have mispoken.

          As far as this specific instance, it could be perceived this particular business has committed fraud. They fraudulantly completed a compliance form for the City. I have not seen their utility application so I don’t know what was stated there.

          More concerning to me is the fact the Landlord permitted this particular use on the property with a day care operating next door. Even more so, knowing the group home was in fact a drug rehab halfway house, I would question whether or not it should even be next to a day care and whether it should be within 1000 feet of a school.

      2. Rhonda,

        I understand your perspective; however, I don’t think the City can deny someone utilities simply because the Secretary of State’s website indicates they haven’t filed an annual report, nor do I believe the City can (or should) check someone’s credit score prior to turning on electricity. (I can imagine a whole host of issues if the City were to ever institute such a policy).

        As I understand it, currently, the City DOES check to determine whether or not someone has a past due account, and past due accounts must be resolved before a new one can be established.

        I believe that if, as you imply, fraud occurred here, then it should be investigated thoroughly.

        With all of that said, I think permitting landlords could be an effective way of ensuring, on a regular basis, compliance.

        1. Permitting landlords would not have prevented the problem here nor in Alex’s situation. Property management firms already are required to have occupational licenses to operate in the City. They are “permitted” to function as a landlord. Is the City seriously considering forcing legitimate business owners, such as property management firms to pay twice to operate their business?

          1. Quoting Rhonda Reap-Curiel:

            “I am quite certain it was the City’s own planning director who stated Landlords needed to be licensed and charged for a permit. Why not make part of the process for zoning compliance proof that any business leasing space or wanting to move into space show they hold all proper licenses?”

            No, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that property management firms pay TWICE to operate their businesses.

            But requiring a landlord permit so that the City can get a better handle on issues related to zoning and code compliance (which is often related to criminal activity) should be open for discussion. It’s a practice that has been successfully implemented in other cities, and to be honest, there aren’t a heck of a lot of property management firms in Alexandria, though there are dozens of landlords.

            It would create a master list of single-family and multi-family rental properties, allowing the public to have a better understanding of where to target home ownership programs, for example, and it could create a mechanism by which the City monitored “slum lords” with multiple violations.

            Some would argue that crime in the inner-city is reason enough to create such a mechanism; whenever I’ve heard the idea floated at community meetings, it’s always been received with applause and support.

  10. the original phone call was august 24th. by my calculations thats 3.5 weeks. until shown otherwise, i dont believe it took 3.5 weeks to resolve this problem.

    all the best,

    dan

  11. My problem is like BEATING a dead Pelican ..NO one cares about operating a MOTEL in a residential neighborhood. The half way house next to a day care, thankfully came first on the list. The Zoning
    Office is inept and a bunch of leaches on the public payroll. PERIOD.
    Alex

    1. Alex, I am certain that if the good folks in Planning were furnished with the proper documentation and evidence, they would immediately act against a single-family home being used as a motel.

      They aren’t the police; they aren’t deputized. They’re not a private investigation firm either. For the most part, they’re engineers and planning professionals.

      And just like in most of the country, when you allege that someone is violating zoning ordinances, it’s not the same as reporting a violent crime. It’s fielded by a different agency with its own unique regulatory and bureaucratic controls, for better or worse.

      My advice: Send in a formal written complaint (with documentation, if possible) ASAP and ask that it be entered into the public record.

      If this is a serious violation, then I have no doubt it will be treated seriously.

  12. A petition and hand written complaints by 5 of the home owners were sent by email to the Office three months ago. I can do no more. I did what was asked and have heard nothing. Also folllowed up, no return. I stand by my statements. Incompetency. Rod Noles was visited by the next door neighbor, he did no see her of course, but she talked to one of his staff.
    The eagerness to please is forgotton soon after the request.

  13. P.S.
    At the moment it appears the population is down to four or five. from the eight I counted. But then the work at Sams Club is about finished. Wonder when the next group will show up?

    1. Alex,

      Let me know to whom the petition and complaints were addressed. Please give me a phone call at your earliest convenience on Monday. (I will be at a funeral in the morning). Or, I’ll call you.

  14. If you want a good start on the “slum lord” list why not simply request from AHA a complete list of all houses currently approved to receive housing assistance? In order for rent houses to be placed on “Section 8” these “slum lords” have to meet certain criteria and register with AHA.

    Another way is to take any given neighborhood, spend some time at the tax assessor’s office and copy a few plats – you’ll quickly see what persons or companies own the majority of the neighborhoods. From there you can see if those companies have occupational licenses. If not, then you can send them letters suggesting they are required to do so in order to operate a business in the City. The same can be done for the owners.

    The information is there, you just have to know where to look.

    1. Rhonda, the problems you and others have expressed concerning the Good Earth neighborhood would not have been solved if someone had mined the AHA rolls or Section 8 rolls. Plus, it is important to remember that in order to qualify for Section 8, all housing units must ALREADY pass inspection. The real problem isn’t Section 8; it’s with landlords who undercut Section 8 to avoid inspection. Instead of renting for the proscribed amount– let’s say it’s $425/month– some landlords would rather not deal with the inspections (which, I can tell you based on personal experience, ARE extensive) and rent out homes for $325/month.

      The City already has ready access to tax assessor plats. What does that prove? Simply that people own property. Some people own property in clusters, no doubt. Sure, it has value, but merely cross-referencing plats cannot solve the overall problem.

      Setting aside likely Constitutional and legal barriers, in your perfect world, how would you propose the City reorganize the Planning Division to accomplish such a feat?

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