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Updates: New Dragon Chinese and Carvel

Two updates on recent reporting:

1) Right here on the big blog last week, I passed along news that Carvel, the legendary New York soft ice cream, is gearing up to make its D.C. debut (it's had a presence in the suburbs for quite some time, currently in Arlington and a while back in Rockville and elsewhere). Now, a reader with a love for all things Tom Carvel provides this fabulous trip back into the bowels of broadcast history--vintage Carvel TV commercials. Willyapleasethankyou.

2) In the column back in October--full text on the jump--I wrote about a Capitol Hill neighborhood's fight against a Chinese carryout that has long been a gathering spot for drug dealers and other unsavory characters. The New Dragon has survived as a crew magnet despite some pretty creative efforts to chase away the bad guys. The cops tried pointing extremely powerful lights at the corner. The neighbors tried lovebombing the place, showing up en masse to order bad food. Nothing worked. So the neighbors sued the place. The owners of the property wouldn't talk to me back then, but it seems they've had a change of heart about owning a nuisance in a neighborhood where they don't choose to live.

The property has been sold to a developer and that new owner has now signed a settlement agreement with the neighbors who filed the suit. New Dragon's lease will not be renewed once it expires in July. Congratulations to the neighbors who kept up the fight, including Capitol Hill writer and activist Jim Myers and lawyer Corey Buffo, who helped to shape the responses that finally did the trick. Here's a case where both the new residents who have come in through gentrification and the longtime residents will benefit together in the battle to create a livable community.

October 11, 2005 Tuesday

Final Edition


Corner Carryout In a Crossfire on An Urban Frontier

The graffiti that fill the walls of the vestibule at the New Dragon Carryout tells the story: R.I.P. tributes to young people killed right outside, boastful tagging by the crews that sell drugs on the corner, and this evocation of an all-too-local address: "16th and Death Row."

The New Dragon is hard by that place, at 15th and C streets SE, on a block of Capitol Hill where house prices have shot up from $120,000 to $500,000 since 2001, without much of a decrease in the shots fired outside.

As the bass thuds from car stereos, young white people in vehicles with suburban tags exchange cash for tiny envelopes from young black guys on the corner. The Chinese immigrant family inside the New Dragon cowers behind bulletproof plastic while drug crews do business in their vestibule.

"It's shootings, fights, the throwing garbage around, blocking traffic -- it's loud and it's unsafe," says Corey Buffo, who lives down the block.

The other night, a dealer stopped a neighbor walking his dogs and warned, "Don't come here again, or it'll be target practice."

For many years, neighbors have sought to clean up the corner. The police added patrols, and the National Guard mounted stage lights to chase the bad guys away. Each night when the cops left, the drug trade resumed.

In 2000, Jim Myers, a dynamo of a local activist, and dozens of others argued to the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board that the New Dragon attracted drugs, violence and trash to the corner it shares with Payne Elementary School. The board stripped the shop of its beer and wine license.

But the crews were still in business.

So Myers, 64, this summer organized a dine-in: One evening a week, he and about 20 other neighbors bought dinner at the New Dragon (egg roll, $1.10; turkey sandwich, $2.30) and ate right there on the corner.

"We realized that through all these years, with all the blood and the shootings, somebody was inside the New Dragon chopping broccoli," Myers says. "It didn't compute with this whole cosmos of negativity." (Myers, a writer, was a consultant on the CBS crime drama "The District"; when producers asked what a bad block should look like, he created characters modeled on the New Dragon crowd.)

For a few hours each week, the bad guys ceded the corner back to the neighbors. But the beef-and-broccoli rebellion waned: The effect lasted only as long as dinner, and many older residents stayed home, feeling vulnerable to retribution by the crews.

New strategy: Buffo, Myers and six other neighbors have sued the New Dragon, demanding it be closed for violating the zoning code by running a fast-food place with no tables on a block zoned for sit-down restaurants.

"It's a long process, but if we win, I won't have to be picking up garbage and have all those people on the corner," says Buffo, 38, a D.C. government lawyer. "We'd love a little cafe instead."

The carryout's owner, Zhen Jian Lan, has no lawyer and no plans to get one. Lan, who lives upstairs with his wife and mother, came to this country 10 years ago, worked in restaurants and bought the New Dragon from another Chinese immigrant after the beer license was lost.

Lan, who stays open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every night, fears his customers and his neighbors. A man shouts, "Mama-san! Where my fries?" through the thick plastic. Lan flinches.

"It's all big trouble," says Lan, 40. "The people around here, they say too much people in here, too much drugs. I don't know how to say to people they can't come here. All the white people living here don't want the drugs people. But it's up to the police to do something, not me. What can I do?"

Lan rents from a family trust that includes Sylvia Levenson of Chevy Chase, who told me, "I don't want to discuss things like this," and hung up, and Norman Pisner of Silver Spring, who said, "I can't talk about that," and hung up.

So the homeowners fight the enemy they see, the shopkeeper, even as Myers notes that "it's an interesting moral dilemma, because you ought to be able to run a business on the corner."

Lan wants out, a better place to live. But he lacks the money to move.

The neighbors sympathize but see the New Dragon as a crime magnet. "It's 'do something, do anything,' even if it doesn't work," Myers says. "The fact that we are suing is a result of systematic failure on everybody's part."

By Marc Fisher |  January 25, 2006; 7:27 AM ET
Previous: Further Adventures of the Anti-School, Anti-Sports Brigade--Part 276 | Next: Escapes: Weekend in the Country


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I don't understand why "congratulations" are in order. Does shutting down the restaurant guarantee that the drug dealers will go away? Would a vacant building be repellent to them? The drug dealers won't disappear from the face of the earth when New Dragon closes. To quote the end of this article: "It's 'do something, do anything,' even if it doesn't work."

Posted by: reader | January 25, 2006 10:21 AM

Yes, but New Dragon was keeping the police from doing their jobs...

Without New Dragon, the drug dealers will not be able to hang out on the street corners...

At least the drug dealers aren't immigrants....

Any other dumb ideas?

I just feel sad for the Lans, who didn't know enough about the area to stay out from between the warring factions that had nothing to do with them. I hope they open up in a nicer neighborhood. (Not "better", but "nicer" as in kinder and more considerate.)

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | January 25, 2006 10:57 AM

I'm loss here as well.. how does a vacant building stop the dealers? No matter what store you put at the corner, dealers will show up unless the police do their job, which they apparently failed to do.

@Cosmic Avenger: How did the New Dragon prevent the police from doing their job? I don't understand that point.

Posted by: Wanax | January 25, 2006 11:10 AM

This seems like a very Republican idea, where the people have no concept of reality of the problem. I guess there are no other corners for which to peddle drugs? (sarcasm)

If those people were so "concerned" with the situation and the police werent doing anything about it, then why didnt they fix it themselves. Thats the whole problem with theis country.

"WE THE PEOPLE" arent doing anything to fix problems. We just call someone else to do it and complain when it doesnt get done.

Posted by: kme | January 25, 2006 11:27 AM

The restaurant is the unwitting location for crime, and the residents of the neighborhood sue the restaurant?

If anything, this Buffo needs to sue his law school for giving him such misguided understanding of the law. It's a restaurant, not a drug parlor! I don't understand what effect this will have, if at all, on the drug dealers. It sucks that these people have to live in this neighborhood, but honestly, go after the people who are actually at fault!

Posted by: bk07 | January 25, 2006 12:26 PM

Hey the wind just knocked over the trash cans in my front yard. I'm gonna sue public works for providing the cans, and if that doesn't work, I'll sue myself. One way or another, justice will previal.

Posted by: Barney(Fife)Circle | January 25, 2006 1:19 PM

Don't blame public works for the wind, blame the suburbanites who don't let public works do their job. One way or another, DC justice will revile.

Posted by: athea | January 25, 2006 1:48 PM

" seems they've had a change of heart about owning a nuisance in a neighborhood where they don't choose to live."

So this is the standard for whether one can own a D.C. business? Blaming the Lans as the cause of the problem is one thing (and bad enough); painting them as interlopers only heightens the stigma they already endure ("Mama-san?" Are you kidding me?) as, God forbid, immigrants. Shame on all involved for not simply placing two beat cops there all night. Hey, not a bad idea in Adams Morgan, either. It would be a revolution in urban policing around here!

Posted by: kw | January 25, 2006 1:49 PM

Now that the Lan's may be out of a job soon I wonder how they will go about making a living. Perhaps they could become drug dealers.

Posted by: lhlh | January 25, 2006 1:56 PM

Drug dealers like Chinese food? Good to know.
Perhaps a chicken place or a sub shop will keep them away.

Posted by: a perplexed reader | January 25, 2006 2:57 PM

Those suburbanites that were buying drugs on the corner won't have to travel so far for their fix anymore. They can just buy one of the - surprise, surprise - luxury condos that the developer plans to erect on the site. And before they go out into the neighborhood to get their crack fix, they can get their caffeine fix at the new coffee shop on the first floor.

Posted by: Stewart | January 25, 2006 3:42 PM

Being a hardened cynic after living here in DC for 10+ years, I'm just amazed at how far behind the power curve I am as of late. I guess no one has ever heard of a "sting" operation to clean things up by targeting the users and dealers, not the people who just happen to be making a living nearby. Anyone have some suggestions for emigrating?

Posted by: Dumbstruck | January 25, 2006 4:06 PM

Explain this to me: Carvel, good. Chinese, bad. What's the difference? Was Tom Carvel a more deserving businessman because (presumably) drug dealers didn't choose to hang out at his stores?

These open and notorious markets thrive only because the police allow them to. Residents should not have to take their lives into their hands to confront the dealers, nor should a legitimate business be forced out. How about we get a few cops out of their cars and arrest some people, and assuming a few of them are packing heat, let's use DC's famously tough (and equally useless) gun laws to put them in jail.

But dont hold your breath. Building a baseball stadium is more important.

Posted by: Meridian Hill | January 25, 2006 4:16 PM

They've already moved- just a block east on Independence.

Posted by: EX-Hillite | January 25, 2006 4:24 PM

"They" being the Lans or the dealers?

Posted by: Never a hillite | January 25, 2006 5:13 PM

I just want to say that I'm excited about Carvel bringing their delish soft-serve to my hood. All we need now is a Sonic and I'm all set....

Posted by: Sarah | January 25, 2006 7:50 PM

" seems they've had a change of heart about owning a nuisance in a neighborhood where they don't choose to live."

Right, so if an owner can't afford the $500k+ townhouse next door then they shouldn't run a business there?

Posted by: RL | January 26, 2006 9:14 AM

"...Here's a case where both the new residents who have come in through gentrification and the longtime residents will benefit together in the battle to create a livable community..."

Right, and to do this, all you need to do is sue people who haven't done anything wrong, even by the plaintiff's own admission...what an ingenious plan!

Posted by: bob | January 26, 2006 9:52 AM

i'm sorry, but a lot of the posts here don't understand the situation and are passing judgement when they live safetly somewhere else. i live a couple blocks away from this place, and residents have done almost everything you can think of to clean this up: talking with the owner, patrolling the neighborhood on their own, entreating the police to patrol more. what they get in return are threats from the drug dealers while the police say they can't arrest the drug dealers as long as they order food from the place.

well, now that excuse is gone. the fact is, the New Dragon was operating an illegal fast food operation and was a horrible neighbor to those that live in the community. they saw the drug dealing but rarely, if ever, called the police to report anything. Mr. Lan didn't speak much english, but other members of his family did- they could have easily called.

the truth is that drug areas are slowly being pushed out of this city, further to the edges. i think it's perfectly acceptable for them to be pushed all the way out to the suburbs where the drug buyers are. let them deal with the crime, death and intimidation that their addictions and habits breed.

Posted by: parker | January 26, 2006 12:02 PM

The city of Dallas has a "nuisance abatement" law designed to close down crack houses and other places where crime takes place. There have been accusations, though, the the police have been putting pressure on legitimate businesses (like restaurants) through this law to, more or less, get them to pay for police protection.

There's an investigation going on in Austin right now. (See Jim Schutze's columns in the Dallas Observer for the whole story.) I wonder if DC has ever thought about something like that.

Posted by: downtown | January 26, 2006 12:04 PM

Thanks, Parker, for stepping up and telling folks, mostly people who presumably live in the parts of town that don't have to worry about this being on their corner, that the issue is much more than closing down an "innocent owner" and pushing drug dealers "one block down." When all else fails, you do whjat you can, withing the means of the law, to make your neighborhood better. Don't we all deserve to live on a street where we can walk our dogs without fear of being harrassed or worse? Don't we deserve to live on a street where litter from an illegal fast food restaurant doesn't litter our streets? Don't we all deserve something a little bit better than a life that revolves around monitoring the drug activity on our corner and calling police when the need arises?

Plain and simple, the store was operating illegally. The owner was not prepared or didn't know how to deal with the offenders occpying his store. The police did everything they could. So did the community. The building will be revamped and is slated to house condos and retail. I welcome shutting down an eye-sore and public nuisance. I welcome an opportunity for community growth through housing (hopefully affordable) and reatil. I think long-time residents and new residents on the hill welcome the change.

Those not familiar should educate themselves on all sides of the story before making broad-based accusations.

And maybe they should spend a few nights hanging out outside of the New Dragon before they pass judgements.

Posted by: kb | January 26, 2006 12:42 PM

The ideal solution for most people in the neighborhood was not that the New Dragon go out of business. Generally, people wanted to be able to work with the owners to address the problems of people going so far as to deal drugs within the restaurant itself. But efforts to work with the owner of the property and the owners of the restaurant were rebuffed for years. Yes, the drugs will probably continue to be deal across the street (which by the way is a school yard). But a lot of tactics have been used to address this situation and a lot will have to continue to be used before that corner is safe. By which I mean people don't get shot there in spates like they did a while back, and have every so many years.

It's a small victory that's taken a lot of time and effort, but few people in the neighborhood are naive enough to think that this will fix the problems.

Posted by: kt | January 26, 2006 1:15 PM

I have lived within seven blocks of this corner for the last decade. For YEARS we have been trying to clean up the corner. To say that the lights, the added police, the discussions with the owners, and the community dinners sitting on the corner among other things is NOTHING is simply wrong, ignorant and rude. The was the last ditch effort by our community to rid us of a BAD NEIGHBOR.

The owners of the New Dragon time and time again have ignored the pleas of the community to stop the drug transactions that happen inside and out side of its location. The New Dragon chose to do nothing and ignore those pleas.

Even the police have tried to calm this corner. Unfortunately the funds for increased patrols do not exist in the First District. I did hear, though, that there are funds for stepped up patrols for weekends in Adams Morgan. Gods forbid that some kids coming out of a club get mugged. Don't bother with the residents of other non-wealthy 'hoods who have been harrassed by drug dealers for YEARS.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard through conversation or the Hill East listserv how many of the local residents have been threatened by drug dealer. They've even threatened residents property, cars, and even their dogs.

So get off your high suburban horses and stop passing judgement before you know all the facts. While Mr. Fishers blog was complementary to our neighborhood, becuase he has written on it before, he left out the myriad facts that surround this nightmare. It's not over yet, but recovery is hopefully beginning.

Posted by: PRN | January 26, 2006 1:26 PM

Many of the negative comments above are based implicitly on the following premise: Drug dealers will ply their trade wherever they see fit; thus, at any given location, the character of a business has no bearing on the activities of drug dealers.

It's just not true. Like bacteria, drug dealers thrive under certain conditions and dwindle under others. In an ideal world, the police would dictate that conditions remain inhospitable to drug dealers. Unfortunately, police efforts at 15th & C have, to date, been largely ineffective. What has happened to the New Dragon has nothing to do with immigrant status, or ethnic group membership. The New Dragon fostered drug dealing. Another business in its place might not (and, hopefully, will not). There are many other businesses in the area that don't have these problems. Why not? Because they didn't permit their waiting areas and patios to become petri dishes.

Some also express one of my favorite senseless notions: "These litigious fools, jumping into court at the first opportunity." My God, for YEARS, area residents have been trying to fix the situation without a lawsuit. Having followed and participated in that process for years, I'm hard-pressed to think of an option that wasn't explored.

Activism, by definition, rocks the boat, and some on the boat won't like it. In this case, I'm glad it rocked.

Posted by: MS | January 26, 2006 1:52 PM

The closing of the New Dragon is the best thing to happen to Hill East since... well, since a LONG time.

Posted by: gts | January 26, 2006 2:03 PM

Plaintiffs relied upon the Zoning Regulations' prohibition on fast food restaurants adjacent to residential districts (without a special exception). When the Zoning Commission put that regulation in place in 1986 they must have been responding to a littering epidemic, or perhaps a health craze prompted their action. I can't imagine the Commission ever considered any of the other impacts the New Dragon neighbors deal with on a daily basis.

Posted by: crb | January 26, 2006 2:21 PM

Wow, there's lots of negativity on here. I live 1 block away from the New Dragon and I, for one, am darn glad that they're leaving.

The place was (and still is) the picture perfect example of a "nuisance", as defined in the law. Regardless of their intentions, the manner in which the Lans run their business provides an environment for drug dealers to ply their trade. The outside is ill-lit and unkempt, the clientele are transient, the Lans have been cowed into accepting transgressive behavior in their store, and the police are legally incapable of running off loiterers. Together, these factors have made the New Dragon an excellent forum for drug dealers.

Over the years, good folks like Mr. Buffo, Mr. Myers and my other neighbors have tried many approaches to scaring off the dealers and nothing has worked. Ultimately, and as a method of last resort, they took on the property owners that provided those drug dealers with a safe haven. Perhaps this isn't ideal, perhaps it seems un-neighborly, but from the perspective of an actual neighbor, it seems to have been the only recourse. I, for one, applaud and thank Mr. Buffo, Mr. Myers and the rest of the plaintiffs for taking the initiative in this instance.

Posted by: Everett Volk | January 26, 2006 2:30 PM

For Stewart, bk07 and kw:
Have you ever tried to get a drug dealer arrested or moved out of your neighborhood? Every method imaginable was tried and nothing worked. The dealers used the restaurant as a cover for their loitering (which, by the way is a civil right). The closure of this business will not end drug dealing, but it will remove the excuse for hanging out where they are. Remember, Al Capone was not arrested for murder or any of the other heinous crimes for which he was known, but for tax evasion.
The battle is not over and I suggest you join us in demanding better police protection, business responsibility and community involvement or the drug dealers will set up camp in your neighborhood. Methamphetamine addiction hasn't hit this area very hard yet, but when it does (and it will) it will be like the crack epidemic all over again.

Posted by: Bill | January 26, 2006 3:48 PM

Actually, I'm curious to know why the building's actual owner(s) hasn't been held accountable. The Lans are just the leaseholders, correct? Doesn't the owner have a responsibility as well?

Posted by: jr | January 26, 2006 3:50 PM

Every single suggestion made by the ignorant people criticizing the actions of the neighbors in suing the New Dragon has been made - trying to increase police patrols (In response to the cooment, "Shame on all involved for not simply placing two beat cops there all night," what planet do you live on? With what financial resources?), arresting people (they were back out on the streets in a few days),"nuisance abatement" issues - the list would fill up pages.

Your arrogance in assuming you have easy solutions that we never thought of is astounding and offensive. DON'T pass judgement before you know the facts. Shame on you. Thanks to Mr. Fischer for getting this story out.

Posted by: reader2 | January 26, 2006 4:34 PM

The problem with the New Dragon was that drug transactions were taking place inside the property and the owners weren't addressing the problem. Yes, dealers will still be in the area, and yes it's a small victory, but if you have drug deals happening in plain sight in your establishment there are going to be ramifications.

I'm all for a full style assault on drug dealing in the neighborhood, but until our police force takes the issue head on, folks are going to have to go after these types of victories.

Posted by: snizzle | January 26, 2006 4:54 PM

A few points in response to the many excellent posts from people who live in the neighborhood of New Dragon:

1. In calling for more police involvement I wasnt suggesting the people in the neighborhood were wrong in doing whatever they could to solve the problem. But I do think that ultimately the police have to step up -- ordinary citizens cant be expected to risk their lives standing up to very violent drug dealers.

2. I dont live in the suburbs, I leave in the city, two blocks from the 14th st corridor where, despite considerable gentrification, we still have plenty of problems with drug dealing at fried chicken carryouts, etc., including a fair amount of street crime around Meridian Hill Park.

3. I completely agree with those who believe some neighborhoods get better protection. The police over-presence in Adams Morgan last night bordered in the comical, and must be coming at the expense of other parts of the city.

4. Pleasant as it may be to believe the drug buyers are all from the suburbs, it just isn't so. No jurisdiction has a monopoly on buyers or sellers.

5. I accept the statements of those from the neighborhood that the owners of New Dragon were part of the problem. They know better than the rest of us. I still think, though, that there is a double standard that is in part racial when we vilify those owners at the same time we celebrate the opening of a different kind of fast-food restaurant, one created by a Greek, rather than Chinese, immigrant.

Posted by: Meridian Hill | January 26, 2006 5:25 PM

As other posters have noted, neighbors--both long-time residents and newer arrivals--have been trying to find constructive means to address the problems posed by the New Dragon for YEARS. This is not a case of deciding on a law suit as the first, preferred approach.

Cosmic Avenger wishes Lan a "nicer, kinder" new location--nicer, kinder business owners don't rebuff requests to meet with neighbors. What is kind and nice about selling crack pipes? (At one point a popular item at the New Dragon, and this literally across the street from an elementary school). While Lan may well have been caught in a difficult situation, I don't think he's a poor innocent either.

Yes, of course, efforts were made to try to work with the buidling's owner as well as the business owner--but we couldn't even figure out who exactly the owners were, and those we could identify, told us in explicit language that is unprintable in the Post, just how unwilling they were to even try to speak to us. The original column covered just one aspect of one part of a very long battle--don't assume that if something wasn't mentioned in a short piece that never claimed to be comprehensive it wasn't tried. Chances are, you name it, it's been tried, and tried again, and tried again.....

Will closing the New Dragon solve everything? No, of course not, but it's a step in the right direction.

Posted by: RC | January 26, 2006 6:10 PM

My kids daycare is just opposite and I live 3 blocks away. The lawsuit was of last resort and those who did it are heroes of my nieghborhood. Plain and simple, folks.

Those who say otherwise really only need one thing - a reincarnation of the New Dragon at their front steps. And a healthy dose of reality. There is no logical "pro" argument for the its continued existence....that is, unless you are "pro" for crime, drugs, death and blight.

Posted by: dsc | January 26, 2006 11:50 PM

I am glad to see my neighbors telling the story behind the story. New Dragon is 3 blocks from my home. It does not serve an eating experience that you would find in a Washingtonian Magazine write-up. It's been a haven for all the ills drug dealing brings; loitering, trash, loud mouthing activities, intimidating looks & remarks and unfortunately shootings there have resulted in several deaths.
I proudly join my neighbors in saying good ridins to a longtime nuisance situation. Perhaps we'll plan a Bon Voyage Party in June, have Marc Fisher publicize it and welcome DC City leaders, TV News and warmley welcome the entire General Public to partake of the festivities. Those People that feel the ND business owner is getting the boot, can host a fund raiser to ease him into the next transition of his life.

Oh some asked about this. The previous property owner(s)had the property within their family since 1950s. The "family" representative lives out in Fairfax Station, VA. On several ocassions, he was contacted by the ANC and was uncooperative with effectively dealing with their problem property. The family also owned other property on that same block and sold to developers for building of a new condo. Why they held out on selling the ND building at the same time, we don't know why. They did sell to current owners in Oct '05. All in all the foremer owners made mega $$$, I hope they pay $$$ taxes on it. The ND lease conveyed over, but the current owners had no interest in renewing the lease that expires this year.

Thank Goodness this nightmare will be ending this year. Now if any of the Complainers would like to adopt a druggie, HURRY Right Away down to the corner of 15th & C Sts SE, so you can get the best picks NOW!


Posted by: Rog | January 27, 2006 2:06 AM

I'll keep this brief as my neighbors have done well in their posts above.Thanks Mr Fisher for writing about this, your column no doubt helped create some urgency among our elected leaders and local police. Sad but true, citizen letters dont work. Shockingly, the fact the an open air drug market was directly across from an overflowing ELEMENTARY SCHOOL didnt encourage municipal action. A column in the Post sure did.
But a special tip of the cap to my the Hill East neighbors who, despite the very real fear of violent reprisals, followed the law and exploited any means necessary to make life difficult for the criminals menacing the corner of 15th and C sts. Those career addicts and pistol packing peddlers may adjourn to another corner true. But the wont be at the New Dragon. And that's good for everyone.

Posted by: SG | January 27, 2006 9:31 AM

The Hill community has done a nice job of explaining the long and sordid history of the New Dragon problem, as well as all of the efforts to put a stop to the problem. I am all in favor of the resolution and only wish we did not have to wait until July for the establishment to shutter.

Two things also should be added to the comments of the Hill residents who have defended this outcome. One, the building will not be left vacant, as some opponents have suggested. Development plans for the location already are in the works, and history indicates that the drug dealers will be forced out of the neighborhood.

Second, don't "feel sad for the Lans," and don't hope they end up "in [a] kinder and more considerate" neighborhood. The facts the commenter does not know is that this problem had EVERYTHING to do with the Lans, whose top selling items in the past at the New Dragon, while supposedly a Chinese takeout, have included Phillies Blunts cigars, for use in marijuana smoking, and "toy" pipes used for smoking crack cocaine. The operators took for granted that they could service drug dealers' needs, be they cheap food or tools of the drug trade, while turning a blind eye (but for the bullet proof glass) to the dealings going on around, and sometimes IN their establishment. The Lans have done a nice job painting themselves as the victim, but they are not.

Posted by: SE Resident | January 27, 2006 9:58 AM

Anyone who doesn't understand how closing the New Dragon will improve the neighborhood, definately doesn't know the area or live in the neighborhood. You can't possibly understand the dynamics at play here, or understand why this victory was important. You ever heard of Shamon Moses? You ever even been to 15th and C. No? Keep your negativity and sarcasm to yourself, please, until you know a little more something about the situation.

Posted by: HillEast Resident | January 27, 2006 11:56 AM

I'm so glad to see so many Hill Easters have weighed in to address the ill-informed posts that lead off these comments. I drove past the ND tonight on my way home from Safeway (I wouldn't dare walk by it at night, as last summer when I did that I was threatened). I'm proud of my neighbors who lead the charge in ridding our neighborhood of this business, many of whom were carrying on the fight for years and years. Every effort was made to deal with the Lans. They were even invited to a local PSA meeting - which they attended - in an effort to work with them cooperatively. Last summer, many of our neighbors brought them business as they lead "dine-ins." The police did everything they could as well. Kudos to Marc Fisher for covering this story about our oft-neglected neighborhood, and shame on those who judge without the facts.

Posted by: Erin | January 28, 2006 10:55 PM

I have nothing but gratitude for those who have worked so hard for so long to clean up the New Dragon corner. Those who are posting comments calling this a racist effort are truly uninformed.

Thanks for the efforts folks.

Posted by: Julianne | January 29, 2006 6:47 PM

As a person who lives in D.C. and has for most of my life, it still amazes me what happens when "gentrification" takes place in a neighborhood. Gentrification usually results in the old being moved out and not a case where the old and new residents peacefully co-exist. While I totally agree that folks should be allowed to safely walk the streets of their neighborhoods, that right extends to all residents and not just those who are able to pay $500K for a condo/townhome/home in a newly gentrified area. It seems to me that the underlying motivation smacks of the elitism that is taking over a lot of "gentrified" D.C. neighborhoods.

Posted by: Kim | January 30, 2006 1:30 PM

Elitism, eh? I get the feeling that some commentators here have no idea what's gone on at the 15th & C SE corner in recent decades or what neighbors—that’s old-timers and newcomers, blacks and whites—got fed up about.

At what point, I'd ask, would it NOT have been "elitist" to want the parade of horrors at 15th & C to stop? Please tell us. Was it somehow elitist to be concerned when there were huge shootouts--30 and 40 shots fired, hitting nearby houses? How about when there were car chases and crashes? How about the nights when "Boo" Alexander, "Little Stink" Reed and Thaddeus Latta died in shootings at the corner? How about after all the other shootings, when the victims didn't die—including in 2005?

How many times would a non-elitist have to watch police put young guys on the ground to search for drugs? How many kids would the non-elitist be willing to see being carted off to jail from the same corner? Or how about the addict who used to take down his pants and shoot heroin in the New Dragon waiting room? He's still around, but what would the non-elitist do?

This elitism charge is puzzling to those who've witnessed a healthy dose of the reality around the New Dragon. Is it elitist to wish that drugs were not poisoning our community or that it wasn’t going on outside our neighborhood school? Really now. Even last summer and fall, there were occasions when “zip” bags of drugs were laid out on the windowsill in the waiting area of the New Dragon?
Only elitists would object, right?

Most of all, I wish that those making the elitism charge would explain the odd paternalism that seems to haunt their belief that everything was OK—idyllic and wonderful—until elitist newcomers recently showed up.

I’ve been in the community for about 20 years, and I can attest to the fact that it wasn’t idyllic and wonderful at 15th & C in the 1980s, either. In fact, I’ve wondered what those who now complain about elitism were doing when all the bullets were flying. We didn’t see or hear much from them back then.

Posted by: Jim Myers | January 31, 2006 2:31 PM

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