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The “flower man,” as he is known in Dupont Circle, has quietly worked the 17th Street strip for years, meandering through the crowds selling long-stem roses. “He’s so polite and so nice. We don’t really let other flower people in,” says Michael Askarinam, owner of Dupont Italian Kitchen. But last Sunday night, Asdollah Rahmatellahi’s rounds were cut short when police handcuffed him and hauled him away for operating without a vending license. Rahmatellahi, 68, doesn’t speak English and didn’t know he needed a license, Askarinam says. “There are lots of problems on 17th Street,” Askarinam says, describing how homeless men regularly harass his customers. “For the police to spend time and energy arresting an old man who doesn’t bother anybody seems like overkill.” Rick Rosendall, president of D.C.’s Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, complained to Police Chief Larry Soulsby, calling the arrest reflective of the department’s “reckless and obnoxious ‘zero tolerance’ campaign.”
Rahmatellahi expects to receive his license later this week and get back to the blossom business, Askarinam says.
For years, elementary-school students at Marie Reed Community Learning Center have had to hold their noses every spring as warmer temperatures funk up two dumpsters prominently located between the school’s main buildings. Now, pupils at the Adams Morgan school are dodging debris that neighbors are apparently leaving near the dumpsters. A beat-up motorcycle sat on a school sidewalk for months this winter before vandals tore it apart. Just last week, three large mattresses appeared on the same sidewalk, where they still lie. And a small vacant lot on school property that was cleared last year is now strewn with lumber and trash. Principal John Sparrow says he has complained to the police, but “they just can’t watch [the school] all the time,” he says. “I’ve been trying to get my people here early to pick up [trash] before the children arrive.” An explanation for the dumping may lie with the Department of Public Works, which discontinued its bulk-trash pickups in 1994. A department spokesperson says the pickups will resume “later this spring.” Until then, the Reed school may continue to double as a trash-transfer station.
To Georgetown residents, the end of the school year means no more wild parties, no more visiting parentsand no more students to interfere with legislation. Last summer, Georgetown’s advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) passed a resolution to bar nonresident students from qualifying for parking stickers. Outraged students complained that the action had occurred when they were out of town. This summer, the neighborhood is tackling new zoning overlay regulations, which would restrict the number of unrelated students living in a Georgetown house to three, down from the current maximum of six. The regulations are supposedly meant to discourage absentee landlords and messy properties, but students think the locals are trying to drive up off-campus rental costs and force one-fourth of the student body back inside the university’s Healy Gates. If the ANC endorses the regulation this summer, a public hearing would likely be held in the fall. “We could pack the hearing,” says Rebecca Sinderbrand, an ANC commissioner and Georgetown junior. Otherwise, she says, “students could move to Dupont Circle,” far from their pals at ANC 2E.