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Cleaning Up Its Act

H Street Area Considers ‘Clean and Safe Program’

Residents and business owners along the H Street Northeast corridor are looking to jump-start a program to increase the cleanliness and safety of the area.

The proposed Clean and Safe Program, which received unanimous support from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A at last month’s meeting, is just getting off the ground. The program will resemble a business improvement district in that it will accomplish many of the same goals, such as keeping streets clean, providing information to pedestrians and working with the Metropolitan Police Department. However, the program is not as structured as a BID, as it will not require 50 percent of

the street businesses to participate and the District will not be involved. [IMGCAP(1)]

“In a perfect world, we’d have a BID,” said Joseph Fengler, ANC 6A chairman. “Five or 10 stores get together [for the Clean and Safe Program] and pool money together based on what people can contribute and they go get the services. [The ANC is] trying to convince store owners to participate as they can.”

ANC 6A has sent letters to H Street business owners encouraging them to participate in the program. So far, participants include the Atlas Performing Arts Center, H Street Playhouse and the seven establishments that will be opened by Joe Englert, who owns a handful of businesses throughout the District and said he has experience with this kind of program.

“Clean it, take pride in it and crime will drop and there will be more foot traffic,” Englert said. “It benefits everybody, not just my businesses.”

Englert said he chose to set up shop along H Street because of “the opportunity to have a new area of town where there’d be a shopping and dining district.” And since “clean, well-maintained businesses attract more customers,” according to the letter from ANC 6A, that’s where the Clean and Safe Program comes in.

The flier that accompanied the letters from ANC 6A outlines what business owners can do to promote a “clean” and “green” community, such as picking up trash in front of the stores, removing gum from the sidewalks, keeping trash dumpsters closed and creating a recycling plan. And “the safe part of [the Clean and Safe Program] comes because there will always be visible, identifiable people on the streets all the time,” Fengler said.

While the details have not yet been ironed out, Fengler said he hopes the program will be in place this fall, “but it’s easy for me to hope that because it’s not my money.” Each business that participates will determine how much money it will give toward the program.

“When you go to Dupont Circle or Capitol Hill or Barracks Row and you see these guys out there always cleaning and answering questions, the perception is what you see and it’s a clean, safe environment,” Fengler said. “We believe H Street is ready for that kind of environment, that kind of approach.”