Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Do You Solve A Problem Like DTSS?

As you may have noticed, a recent post elicited a high volume of comments about an increase in the amount of indecorous behavior taking place on The Promenade. Simultaneously, there was a discussion thread on my neighborhood listserv addressing the very same issue. This leads me to believe that something there has recently changed for the worse, or it could be that pent up frustrations are finally coming to a head.

It's clear that this is a subject that everyone has an opinion on. The main gist of the discussion is that people are feeling that there is an inordinate amount of rowdy behavior occurring in the DTSS area and that the situation has recently deteriorated. Some are put off by the raw language that they regularly overhear on Ellsworth St. and many have shared specific examples of intimidation, sexual harassment and abuse that they or acquaintances have suffered. These negative experiences are not imaginary and based on some sort of age, gender or race bias, and apologists who claim that this is so are unfairly blaming the victims.

The behavior in question primarily occurs on Friday and Saturday nights during the summer months, but one bad experience is enough to drive people away from DTSS year-round. Not to mention the number of people to whom the victims will relate their experiences. Remember, Bethesda ain't that far away.

Photo by Flickr user moworld.

No one's ever messed with me personally, but I can definitely say that on many occasions I've heard some pretty bad language when there were scores of young children around. Not that I don't use the same language myself, but I do so a bit more discreetly (such as yelling at the TV during a Redskins game). The threat of violence is always there, though, even in the residential neighborhoods adjacent to DTSS that my wife and myself walk through to get home. On April 23rd of this year, a man on his way home was attacked by a group of ten youths at the corner of Springvale & Pershing. There's been reports of muggings on nearby blocks, as well.

(What really bothers me, of course, is the behavior in the theater, but I won't go into that again in this post. I drove to Cleveland Park to see The Dark Knight at the Uptown this past weekend because I couldn't deal with the Majestic crowd for 2 1/2 hours.)

Fairly or unfairly, a lot of blame has been placed on outsiders, mostly teens that come into Silver Spring for the movie theater. Granted, I have no concrete figures on how many people are from outside MoCo, but I have definitely seen plenty of kids rolling up in cars with D.C. plates. I don't begrudge kids from D.C. and P.G. county the right to come to Silver Spring for the movies. If they won't build a theater near you, what else are you supposed to do? Back in the day I had to hop the 8, 9 and 14 Ride-On shame trains over to Wheaton to go to the movies there because we didn't have squat in the way of movie theaters in Silver Spring, at least before the City Place 10. Ironically, all the Wheaton theaters are now closed and Wheatonites have to come to Silver Spring for movies.

The good news here is that in this case Peterson Management (unlike the management of the Majestic) seems to be responsive to resident concerns. The property manager of DTSS sent out a letter to neighborhood groups acknowledging their concerns and detailing Peterson's efforts to improve the situation. Some highlights:

- We, at Downtown Silver Spring, take these types of comments from the community extremely seriously. We immediately brought in a new Director of Security (who most recently served in this role at Union Station and the Shops at Georgetown Park in DC – both properties with similar types of issues). (Of course they would - they need people with photographer-harassment experience.)

- [W]e implemented an “Action Team” consisting of Downtown Silver Spring, City Place Mall, Silver Spring Regional Center, Montgomery County Police and Council member representatives with the goal of providing a safe environment for all visitors to the Silver Spring downtown area.

- [W]e hold informal meetings and planned activities with local teens to obtain social and demographic information and feedback. Our next event will be held on July 31st and will include a free movie for teenagers wherein they will be asked to fill out a survey. The effort is to obtain feedback from the teens regarding their thoughts and opinions regarding the Downtown Silver Spring development.
(I'd definitely like to see the results of this survey.)
My only issue with their response was the repeated use of the word "perception", which seems to imply that there isn't really a problem, you just think there is.

The bad news is that the police have cut back the number of cops on patrol in this area. That, and unbeknownst to me, the Majestic no longer hires off-duty cops to work in the theater as security because if the cops shoot someone they're liable. What if a customer shoots someone??? Maybe the reduction in the presence of law enforcement, both on and off-duty, has emboldened those at whom the recent complaints are aimed.

Anyway, if The Man is listening, here are my suggestions:
- Install plenty of surveillance cameras around the area. There’s probably a lot already there. Yeah, it’s a bit Big Brothery, but if you aren’t doing anything wrong, then there’s no reason to sweat it.

- Don’t park half a dozen police cruisers at the corner of Fenton and Ellsworth (see above photo). While this may be more convenient for the coppers, the mere presence of these vehicles gives the impression to law-abiding citizens that some sort of violence could pop off at any moment. Retain the same number – or more – uniformed police to provide security, but leave the cruisers in one of the many garages – or at the police station around the corner. Have more bike or Segway cops patrolling the area. Really, you can never have too many Segways. Mounted officers would be good, too, especially if they could drive the miscreants into giant nets à la Planet of the Apes.

- By far the #1 solution in my book - install one of these Mosquito jobs near the entrance to the Majestic.
The Mosquito™ ultrasonic teenage deterrent is the solution to the eternal problem of unwanted gatherings of youths and teenagers in shopping malls, around shops and anywhere else they are causing problems. The presence of these teenagers discourages genuine shoppers and customers’ from coming into your shop, affecting your turnover and profits....[T]he Mosquito ultrasonic teenage deterrent has been described as “the most effective tool in our fight against anti social behaviour”.
- Pipe in Baroque music through the PA. Perhaps this could replace the endlessly-looping drum music they play in the hallway between the Wayne parking garage and Ellsworth. I hear those drums in my nightmares.

- UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that Virginia Beach has "Courtesty Rules" which outlaw profanity. Violation of these rules can result in a fine for the offender.

Photo by flickr user Tuaussi.

Of course, Silver Spring isn't its own jurisdiction, so we couldn't get a no-profanity law passed, but perhaps there are county laws already on the books that can be interpreted in a way that would allow the cops to do something similar. If nothing else, I like the signs.

I'm certainly not advocating anything extreme like instituting a saggy pants law or setting up checkpoints, only that the authorities do a little bit better job maintaining a more welcoming atmosphere in that area. Optimally we'd have Robocop, Judge Dredd or Batman - or all 3 - patrolling Ellsworth, but unfortunately they don't actually exist, so we'll have to rely on Peterson's security and MoCo's finest. (Unless, of course, one of you wants to take it upon yourself to become Batman.)

No one wants to see Silver Spring go back to how it used to be. Well, almost no one. Pretending there isn't an issue and creating a permissive environment by denying a problem exists will only lead to things getting worse. It's not about prejudice against any race, income or locality, no matter how much some people will try to make it out to be. It's about common decency and the responsibility of authorities, both public and private to create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone. As has been mentioned before, a high-profile violent incident could be the tipping point that reverses the upward climb downtown Silver Spring had been enjoying over the past five-plus years. I'm not saying that I necessarily expect that to happen, but it very easily could.

That's all I have to say about that. What are your suggestions for improving the situation? No flame wars this time, por favor.


Anonymous said...

Well said! All the way. SS could be at a turning point. We just need to make it a POSITIVE turning point -- not the negative one that will be created when (not if, if we leave things as they are) somebody gets killed on Ellsworth.

Thayer Avenue said...

I wonder if the fact that the turf is going to get blocked off/ripped up starting this Friday will have any impact on things. Everyone loved the green space, but has it been a magnet for groups of teens that cause trouble? And let me emphasize that I've seen plenty of well-behaved kids out there, but doesn't take many to cause problems.

Perhaps, finally, the needs of the many will outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

silver spring penguin said...

A wise man (Penguin photog Ron Pace) once said, "Perception is reality." Whether the bad vibes on Ellworth are real or imagined doesn't matter. If people think there is a threat, then there's a threat.

Then there was this other wise man (FDR) who said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." If we let the thugs (real or imagined) get the best of us, they win.

So how do we assuage our fears? I say, "More uniformed officers on Ellsworth to keep the imagined thugs in line, and to keep the real thugs out of Silver Spring."

Vagrarian said...

I bet the fencing-off of the turf will help, and I'm strongly in favor of more uniformed officers. But there's only so much one can do. The other day, I walked out of my office building in DTSS, and I could clearly hear a man on the other side of Georgia Avenue screaming obscenities into his cell phone. Some people just never got the message about proper behavior in public.

Sligo said...


Maybe they could fire a Genesis Project torpedo at downtown Silver Spring. Then no one could complain about lack of green space.

The Dad Report said...

We ate in DTSS tonight, we were there mere seconds before we heard our first f-bomb. In contrast, last weekend we ate in the new DT Rockville. We had a great dinner at Bobby's Crabcakes, strolled around after dinner. Had ice cream from Giffords (how ironic) and heard absolutely no trash talk. Had no groups of teens to wade thru. Our solution is simple, we're moving.

Dan Reed said...

The Mosquito IS NOT an answer. That stupid thing isn't just going to drive away the kids who are going to make trouble - it'll drive away even the kids who are just there to hang out. Downtown Silver Spring does not exist solely for people to spend their money; it is a public gathering space, and should be treated as such. NO turning anyone away.

I'm not entirely sure that people don't bring a little bit of prejudice into their complaints about Downtown Silver Spring. I've worked in Rockville Town Square for over a year now (at Gifford's, ironically) and I've seen some of the same behavior there, if not to the same extent. The only difference is that Rockville is more affluent.

I'm frustrated by the behavior on Ellsworth, and I want to see something done about it . . . but at the same time, I just don't understand what the big deal is. Perception IS reality.

Sligo said...

Well for one, Dan, you aren't a woman subjected to sexual harassment nor do you have have kids. (Not that either applies to me.) That might change your perspective slightly on what's a big deal.

As far as the Mosquito goes, I should have clarified that it was to be used selectively - not be on 24/7.

Anonymous said...

In Virginia Beach, they instituted a "no cussing" rule, complete with signage. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tuaussi/1836350075/ Signs like these are posted on the streets, the beach and on store windows. I know it seems silly, but it seemed to be working. I visited with my son a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised. I overheard very little cussing. There were tons of people, young, old and teenaged out on the street...but I don't think I heard any "f-bombs" during our vacation.

Perhaps DTSS may benefit from a similar campaign!

Erika said...

Perhaps they should install a "cursing booth" - a regular telephone booth, but empty. The sign could read, "If you just have to &%*$#, please do it in here". Because, you know, sometimes you just have to &%$#. And as the mother of two little ones who are nevetheless old enough to repeat anything I say, I would love such a booth, especially whenever they once again drop a pointy toy on my foot.

Anonymous said...

The Mosquito works because it emits a high frequency that people lose the ability to hear as they age. Innocent children will hear it just fine, and be as annoyed as you would be if someone were screaming in your ear. I would much rather my kid hear the occasional fbomb than be harassed by a constant high frequency assault.

A stronger police presence, with police who aren't afraid to say "watch your language" is all that is needed here. Security guards aren't cutting it because the kids know they have no authority.

And for the record, I don't think the situation is that bad, and I think that the biggest complaints come from people who are generally uncomfortable seeing large groups of young African Americans.

Anonymous said...

That's because large groups of young African Americans = muggings and mayhem.

Sligo said...

OK, like I said in the original post, let's avoid the flame wars.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing is so strange to me. I have spent at least one if not two nights (one of them on the weekend) in DTSS for the past 4 years, with my small child, and have never EVER had a problem. I'm at the Majestic at least a few times a month, with a similar record. I love it there, I'm going to miss the Green so much--we've spent many a happy evening running back and forth along it and eating ice cream...it's so hard for me to believe you (and all the others) are talking about the same place. I just haven't had any bad experiences, and quite the contrary, have always been so pleased at the mix of people (age, race, etc.) walking around, with seemingly something for everyone. I guess I have nothing to add--just, anecdotally, know that not everybody has a problem with DTSS, either through perception or reality. I love it there and so does my whole family.

Springvale Roader said...

I am fairly certain that a lot of the kids who come to DTSS on Friday and Saturday nights are from D.C. and P.G. The reason I say this is that when I commute home via metro and get off at our station, from Monday-Thursday it's usually the same group of droopy faced workers (with me the droopiest). But on Friday night, I get off with crowds of young people. They are coming to DTSS, most likely because they lack similar amenities in their own neighborhoods.

As for off-duty cops working at the Majestic. I sympathize with the theater management's concerns about liability from gunshots (crowded theaters and discharging weapons are an awful mix). But if that's their main concern, then why not just arm the cops with billy clubs and pepper spray? Even without a sidearm, a big stern cop in a uniform with a nasty black stick by his/her side sends a clear and intimidating message.

Oh, and I definitely second the Mosquitos idea!

Springvale Roader said...

Having read through some comments by Thayer and Sligo, it might also help if the cops set their tasers on stun...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else seen the bumper stickers that say "Choose Civility in Howard County"? (http://www.choosecivility.org/). Sounds like we need a similar program here, although I fear it would be preaching to the upper-middle-class choir.

Sligo said...

I assume you mean "Phasers".

LOL "Don't phase me, bro!"

Do tasers have a "kill" setting? Not that anyone will know what I'm talking about but in the old PlayStation game Syphon Filter, you could use the taser on someone until they caught on fire. Endless fun.

Easley Does It said...

I *think* cops are always required to carry their guns, even off-duty. But then I learned that detail from watching TJ Hooker, so I could be wrong.

I'm totally with Anonymous 8:54 in not experiencing these problems in DTSS. And in my opinion, the Green is definitely NOT a problem. It's the best part of DTSS. Last Saturday night my kid and I sat out there eating our Italian ice, guys break-dancing to our right, a soccer game to our left. One guy was laying down beats with buckets and cans, and the Hare Krishnas were there too, also banging drums. It was lively, and diverse,and everyone was having fun. I'll miss it terribly when it's gone.

Springvale Roader said...

Sligo, I meant "Tasers." It was a wry comment (hey, we just watched "The Man Trap" on Sunday night, so I'm hip, dude). But, I do think you hit gold with "Don't phase me, bro!" Maybe you can send J.J. Abrams an email and get that slipped into the next movie.

Sligo said...

What's funny is that I did make that up just now, but unsurprisingly I'm not the first one.

Anonymous said...

The problem kids are in fact mostly from DC and PG. Whenever I come back late at night from the Metro, the gaggle of kids screaming, swearing, being ghetto, etc. almost invariably moves in a straight line - it starts at the Metro, then moves diagonally into the Panera shopping plaza in order to cut through the shortcut to Ellsworth. Sometimes you get some punks on the corner of Colesville & Fenton, in front of the Moroccan place, waiting for the bus east to PG, too.

Thayer Avenue said...

I can just imagine Wesley Crusher saying "Don't tase me, bro!" I, for one, would have ignored his pleas.

A lot of these solutions come down to vigilance, awareness and community motivation. And while some haven't seen this type of behavior, it reiterates the fact that it's the few (or the one) causing problems for the many.

I also can't help but think that we're talking about symptoms of a greater sociological problem. Maybe we should quadruple the education budget and turn our schools into palaces of knowledge, and work to ensure parents are deeply involved with their children's education and upbringing.

Idealistic, to be sure, and a much larger conversation for another time.

Anonymous said...

I love DTSS, but there are times that I avoid it as much as possible. I agree with Easley Does It in that I love the Green. I've sat out there with friends, eating lunch and enjoying the people around. The bucket/can drummer is great fun to watch! But at the same time, as a 20-something female, I hate being in the area on a weekend evening. I have been shoved into the road trying to cross the street at the Majestic and had someone's hands "accidentally" brush my chest more than once (followed by lots of snickering from the friends who issued the dare).

At the same time, there are a bunch of teens just hanging out and not causing any trouble. I don't mind if they're loud. But I don't want to be harassed as I'm walking through.

I agree about going to Majestic. I'll hit them up for a matinee occasionally, but you will never find me there on a Friday or Saturday night.

Simon Burke said...

I agree on the Green. Its disgusting, cigarette buts, trash, God knows what is on there. I came out of whole foods 2 weeks ago and went down the steps and some drunk teen was throwing up on it - this at 4pm on a weekday.

Also I had the pleasure of a Saturday night bus from S.S. to Wheaton. I live up in the PLyers Mill corridor which is a really great area but my wife and I had bags from vacation and didnt think it prudent to walk home from the metro late Saturday so got off the metro at Silver Spring. At this point we should have cabbed it but we chanced the Q2 bus to Wheaton and unfortunately a hoard of scum got on that bus and we were mortified at the language, the behavior and the fact that a girl , 'accidentally' put her hand in my coat pocket. These were substandard underclass teens who a curfew law would be best designed for. We wont do that again, cab from hereon. These were gang style teens who all need to go away.

Am excited for the Brew and View at Wheaton assuming we can keep this sort of scum out. These people with alcohol would be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Late last Saturday night (7/19), I left the Quarry House Tavern to head home (home being about 2 miles away in Takoma Park, where I moved from Pittsburgh about a year ago). My girlfriend had left to catch a cab at the Silver Spring Metro Station, and I wanted to see if I could catch up with her.

By the time I got there, she was gone. Waiting for me instead was a young kid who displayed a gun to me and told me to hand over my wallet. I did so without a word. After he and his friends spent some time sizing me up, they left. Another kid nearby informed me that if I talked to the cops, he "didn't see anything". Some other kids who'd witnessed what happened came by and told me to watch myself at that time of night.

I went to the Metro Station, where I told the Station Manager that I'd been mugged. He asked me if I wanted to call the cops; I was shocked and disoriented and tipsy and wanted to get back to my girlfriend, so I told him that I just wanted to go home. He let me go. I don't know what else I expected him to do -- and maybe the trauma just skewed my perceptions -- but he just seemed so callous. I just wanted someone to ask me, "Are you okay?"

When I finally got home and did call the cops, one of them took it upon himself to berate me for not calling them immediately, and asked such brilliant questions as, "What kind of gun did he have?" (How should I know?) and "So are you just a volunteer, or do you have a real job?" (I'm a fulltime AmeriCorps volunteer.)

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Since it occurred, it's been hard for me to think about anything else for a prolonged period of time.

Anonymous said...

I can offer a police perspective on a few of the preceding comments.

First, as a general rule, I don't tell people to do things that I can't enforce. People have a lot of freedom to be jerks and act like fools when they're on public space. So unless I can follow up, "Sir please don't do that." with "Sir, put your hands behind your back, you're under arrest" - or at least issue the person a citation, I'm probably not going to instruct them to stop their annoying but legal behavior in the first place. So society can either make it illegal to be a jerk or act like a fool on public space and empower the police to enforce that, or society can produce citizens who know how to behave without it being legislated to them. (Of course that second solution is pretty long term. If we start today, we might have something to show for it in 30 years.)

Second, the idea of working off duty and unarmed is absurd. Being armed with less lethal weapons is only slightly less absurd. I would never work security in that type of venue under those conditions. While I certainly can't speak for every officer, I don't personally know any who would.

Brent said...

I was just downtown and talked to some business people. Apparently, the Fuddrucker's staff found people shooting up in their restroom last week. Does that sound like teenagers just doing what they do, as some people have defined the situation? And the restaurant people on the Fuddrucker's block told me of kids throwing objects from atop the parking garage -- apparently, the garage is not under police jurisdiction, so it doesn't get patrolled.

Anonymous said...
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silver spring penguin said...

Anon 10:19 AM makes very good points.

Mouthing off and being obnoxious are not against the law (or else I'd be out of a job). However, I'd like to think that people would keep themselves in check if they saw a uniformed officer walking around. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but there it is.

But if illegal stuff is happening -- groping (sexual assault), shoving (assault), littering, jaywalking -- then victims and witnesses should alert the police immediately. It will send the message that some forms of horse play are really crimes, and that they won't be tolerated in this neighborhood.

Springvale Roader said...

Anonymous 10:19, I'm sorry you went through that frightening situation. That cab area by the metro is an especially dangerous place late at night.

Speaking as someone who had a violent encounter with a large group of teens two years ago, and who on another occasion was within seconds of being beheaded by a flying sheet of metal (!), I can tell you that your anxiety will lessen over time. The most important thing is that you got home safely.

You're probably much more alert now when you walk around, especially at night. That's good. Fear can be potentially crippling, but fear is also a key survival mechanism. Listen to the little man in your stomach: if he's nervous, then something is wrong (if not, no loss). For an excellent book on all of this, you might want to read, "The Gift of Fear," by Gavin de Becker.

Anonymous said...

I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch. I have stumbled home drunk from McGinty's, Quarry House, Jackie's during the dead of night many times and not once have I been robbed or threatened. I have walked up and down Georgia Ave. at 2:00 a.m. a gazillion times and nothing has happened to me. I have been walking and doing business at night in downtown Silver Spring for at least 7 years. I will admit that I dress like a slob and I have a disheveled look overall. Maybe criminals look at me with pity and think, "Maybe we should give this sorry motherfucker some of our money, instead of taking it away from him".

I have walked by the Metro and bus station on dark nights and nothing. I head over to the Tastee Diner from the Metro station and it's smooth sailing.

I don't know why or how people become victims of crime. It's a roll of the dice. That and don't look like a Yuppie!


Anonymous said...

Ah, but neither do I (I'm the one who got mugged on Saturday). I'm a guy with long, unkempt hair and wear nothing but cheap T-shirts, jeans and sneakers. So I suspect the kid was just trying to make himself look and feel tough.

Silver Springer said...

To Anon 11:41 AM , are trying to say he had mistaken you to be a woman?

Anonymous said...

No -- trying to say I don't look like someone with money, which is what I thought -IHateYuppies- might be implying.

Woodsider said...

I think I've lived in SS too long. I hardly hear the language.

What I'm more attuned to is the "tone" of the voice. Loud youthful voices with bad language float past me. Angry aggressive voices cause me to move away. I find that helps sort out subway kids as well.

That said, muggers usually aren't all that loud. They're busy evaluating whether you look like a good person to stick up.

My line in the sand is the parking lot on Wayne. If I think I'm gonna get mugged there then the whole area is history for me. That is where I want a lot of presence.

Tina & Drew said...

Singular - love your blog. I remember Syphon Filter. Based on getting to know your personality from your blog, off topic, you might like Team Fortress 2. Love it.

Anyhow, general observation, isn't there a curfew in Montgomery County? In which case can't police enforce curfew and send children after hours on their way? I've also thought of a blog called "Do you know where your children are" where you take photos - blur out the faces - of kids in DTSS in compromising situations. I'm in my late 20s but some of the crap that goes on, in public spaces, amazes me. If I was a parent I would be absolutely furious at some of the going ons.

Ann 8:45 - I think you've found the entrance to the twilight zone, that or I need some of your meds - "skipping on the green with ice cream?" sounds like a very SPECIAL way to spend your time.

Sligo said...

Tina & Drew-

I had TF2 for awhile, it being on the Orange Box and all. I beat all the Half Life games on there plus Portal (of course), but never really played TF2. Maybe that's because I don't have any (online) friends.

Simon Burke said...

I love TF2 and CS:S - great fun! If i catch you online, i will shoot you :)

Vagrarian said...

Silver Spring Penguin's remark about reporting jaywalking had me thinking. Simply having officers enforcing jaywalking laws might help send a message that laws are being enforced and that folks should watch what they do. Of course, with budget cuts, that may not happen, but it's worth thinking about.

As for the language issue, perhaps the best thing would be a PR campaign directed at civil behavior in public. Sure, teens are a common target, but my story above about the man shouting obscenities into his cell phone in public is just one of many similar incidents I've encountered. More than once I've been on the Metro or walking down the sidewalk and have been treated to one side of a cell phone conversation liberally peppered with vulgar language and sexual references. I don't care if it's your phone, if you're having a conversation in a public place, watch what you say.

Tina & Drew said...

Oooohhh - what platform? I'm on PC and PS3 - Gamertag - Bawdess :D

Sligo said...

Xbox 360...

Anonymous said...

Tina and Drew:

""skipping on the green with ice cream?"

I think she was talking about her and her kids.

Also, if there isn't a curfew for teens in MoCo, there definitely should be. We should get on the County Council about it.

Finally, to the person who was mugged... that's really scary. I live in the Blairs and walk down East-West Hwy at night and sometimes get worried, though nothing has ever happened. What time were you mugged? Glad you got home safe.

Anonymous said...

Not sure exactly (I didn't have my cell phone or a watch on me), but I'm guessing 1:30 a.m. or thereabouts.

Anonymous said...
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wheezer said...

As a woman, I find all these reports very troubling. As a mother, I find it even more disturbing. As a 19 year resident of SS, I often find myself wondering "why am I staying here?" when I could just as easily move to the other side of the county and not deal with this type of crap anymore. I love my neighborhood, but as soon as I venture to dtss, I'm just cringing the entire time.

I've lived here so long in the hopes that things would improve, but I don't have much hope to hang on to. People shooting up in the bathroom? WTF? Muggings, assaults, robberies. If I wanted the crime associated with living in the city, I'd move downtown.

I am sick of it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Wheezer on this -- but I've also been reminded "there are other opinions, and they also have to be heard (the people who say they are NOT scared in downtown SS, and just expect this behavior in a crowded place).

Maybe we are all just "perceiving this the wrong way." Maybe those are just harmless kids, letting off steam they same way they do in downtown Bethesda, Rockville, Arlington, Old Town, Georgetown, and other places.

Sligo said...

Let off some steam!

Anonymous said...

Why did the babydaddy comment get deleted? More PC crap, I see.

One demographic group lies behind 99% of the trouble in DTSS, and anyone with at least three functioning brain cells knows it.

Sligo said...

If I allow stuff like that, all we end up is with a flame war that MR Use Of Lots of Caps will no doubt join in on, and then all hell will break loose.

Springvale Roader said...

With reference to Sligo's Youtube link: Maybe we should all be asking ourselves, WWAD?

I call dibs on, "Stick arrrouunnnd!"

Brent said...

Well, I must report this -- I just spoke with a young woman in Valerie Ervin's office. She was polite and listened to my concerns -- but then, she said she's been in downtown SS on weekend evenings and not seen or heard any of this kind of thing. It's crowded,yes, and there are people hanging around with nothing to do -- but she's not heard offensive language or seen fights or any of the other stuff that I and a lot of other people are complaining about. She didn't dismiss my concern, but it was clear she hasn't seen any evidence of this

Maybe it IS just a PERCEPTION among some of us that this is happening. Other people clearly are not seeing or hearing it, and they are there at the same time we are.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the category of people who visits DTSS regularly (2-3 times per week) and has never had a problem outside of the Majestic. Reading through the comments, it's surprising to me that there is so much fear and distrust out there. I sympathize with the person who was mugged--those taxi stands by the Metro are bad news--but personally, I haven't seen any of this.

What kills me about this conversation is that so many people have taken the easy path of blaming teens. I have no doubt that there are teenaged troublemakers in DTSS and plenty of them. But I teach high school, and I know that nearly all of those kids are capable of great behavior, too. To me, the problem isn't the teens per se, it's the parents who don't have a clue what their children are up to.

Almost all teens are basically good. Almost all teens also don't quite know how to handle themselves yet; that's why society considers them to be children. They make mistakes and screw up, and there needs to be accountability for both educational and social reasons. Generating positive behavior among teens in an unstructured environment is extremely difficult. So who can provide this?

1. Parents
2. Police
3. Community at large/bystanders
4. The teens themselves/their friends (best option, but will never work completely)
5. Mosquito (worst choice, will create incredible bad will, distrust, and is likely to be destroyed within days)

Anything I'm forgetting? To me, that's the list of choices. Personally, I believe that more uniformed police would be a good short-term step, but I think we're asking them to serve a similar social function to a parent, namely the disciplinarian/threat of consequences. As the officer mentioned, that isn't always workable because they can't take action when a kid is simply being stupid.

Long-term, a true solution will consider the role of parents and the community, too, and hopefully even ask questions like, "why are parents, especially in PG or DC, allowing their kids to do this stuff?" and realizing that half the time, the answer is that the parent is working two or three jobs to get by and isn't able to spend time with the teen. You want good behavior in DTSS? Offer living wages to the people in PG and DC and watch what happens over the next 5-10 years.

Regardless, simply saying "I'm sick of teens, I'm moving" doesn't address the root of the problem and isn't productive.


Springvale Roader said...

Anonymous, we all realize that the teens who curse loudly nonstop and harass people are probably all the result of crappy parenting, and we're all for long-term solutions such as better parenting, more jobs, clean energy, no more wars, and all that good stuff of which society is capable.

In the meantime we've got a problem to deal with in the here and now.

To Brent: it could be that the young woman you spoke to just isn't as sensitive to words like f**k, and variations thereof, and so when she hears them, they pass by her like so much background noise. However, the rest of us are either all suffering from mass delusion, or more likely, not as complacent about it as she is.

Sligo said...

Keeping with the Arnold Quotes: "You call this a delusion?!" (Holds out bloody hands.)

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one thinking of Mrs. Lovejoy from the Simpsons? "Won't somebody think of the children!"

Silver Spring is a prime example that there are definitely Two Americas. We have Mr. Bush to thank for the deepening class divide, but thats a different argument for a different day.

Anonymous said...

Oh please- it's rather a stretch to start blaming Bush for the conditions in DTSS. Maybe we need to start running those PSAs that used to run on TV at night, "It's 10pm- do you know where your children are?"

Thayer Avenue said...

Maybe we should pull the offending kids aside and ask them: "Who is your daddy, and what does he do?"

I'd have to say it's not just a perception, but it's smaller, isolated incidents that always get talked about and blown out of proportion. I've been to The Promenade (like how I used that?) on many occasions and not had one iota of a problem. Maybe 1 out of 5 or 6 late-night trips I notice something, but those few times stick with people more than the incident-free experiences, methinks.

Anonymous said...

Reading these Way off the left field comments is very Mind Disturbing. I have been to Silver Spring Several Times since 2001 and I have NEVER EVER Witness a Crime that any of you discribe except for a small fight that turned out that it was Play Boxing/Horse Playing. The way some of these people are telling their stories would make the issues of the Capital Blvd. Town Center in Largo, Md. and Adams Morgan/U Street Corridor look like Iraq. The only conclusssion that I got out of rading the comments is that the Bloggers don't like the fact that DT Silver Spring became a Magnent for Young African Americans and other Ethnic Groups instead of attracting Blue Collar Small Townish Caucassain Middle Americans and Mexican Immigrants.

I think the issue with most Bloggers on here is that when they successfully Defeated the Plans to Build a Super Entertainment Retail Center(rivaling Tysons Corner) they thaught that Building a Small Town Center that is present today would 100% Resemble the Enviroment of the Socialist/Communist Sanctuary Capital of Takoma Park with small Taverns and Independent Retail that only attracts people from nearby communities, but instead DT Silver Spring attracted Alot of Young African Americans and other Ethnic Groups alongside with attracting Upscale Chain Retail.....

Captain Snarky said...

To Anonymous 12:12 AM:

I have a feeling that the reason nobody has ever hassled you in DTSS is that people take one look at you and move away very quickly.

Sligo said...

My head hurts from trying to comprehend that last anonymous post.

Thayer Avenue said...

Perhaps you are Mind Disturbing?

Sligo said...

I think I've got it translated:

DTSS was designed to attract Mexicans and rednecks from Kansas or similar places with small crappy stores but despite our best efforts has high-end stores like Tyson's Corner and draws young African-Americans and people from unspecified "ethnic groups".

Springvale Roader said...

I think those of us who have lived in Silver Spring for years and travel through its downtown on a daily basis must recognize that compared to the Anonymous Troll, we have no idea what we're talking about. After all, he has, "been to Silver Spring Several Times since 2001.'

Several times in seven years! Who amongst us can compete with that kind of learned experience?!

Vagrarian said...

I'm in DTSS nearly every day, since I work at Georgia and Wayne. (And live near Flower and Piney Branch, so DTSS is convenient for weekends as well.) I'll be honest, I haven't had half the problems that some other people have had. I've never been mugged or harassed. I have been annoyed (esp. in the Majestic) and sometimes felt a little nervous or wary, and sometimes have groaned as I've watched people do things like just start walking across the street without even looking for traffic. Maybe it's just the luck of the draw. But I do see a potential for problems, and obviously some do exist.

I think I have a decent perspective on DTSS, and a better one than someone who's only been there "several times" since 2001.

And "small taverns" in downtown Takoma? I guess that person means restaurants, because as far as I know there are currently no places in downtown Takoma that serve alcohol.

Niko said...

To cut down on the unsupervised rowdy teen crowd they should put into effect the 7-17 rule thats worked really well in other cities. In outdoor shopping areas people that are under the age of 17 cant be there without a parent or guardian after 7pm on fridays and saturdays

Anonymous said...

I lived near Downtown Silver Spring for about 2 years (about a block behind Silver Spring Towers). I often walked home from the Metro late at night, walking underneath the bus garage and past Piratz Tavern & Safeway. Nothing ever happened to me. My guard was defintiely up. I LOVED IT when busses were parked under the parking garage - it made me feel safer. The area by the taxis at the Metro Station is definitely sketch. Sometimes I would walk up Colesville and make a right after AFI because it felt safer.

I think it hard to have this discussion without some consideration of race. Its not groups of white teens acting up in DTSS. There is a different value system on what is and what isnt appropriate in different cultures. I definitely don't want to start a flame war, but denying that there arent racial undertones to this problem (perceived or real) is simply wrong.

Anonymous said...

Illiterate Troll, you should give your "Caps Lock" button a break once in a while. But what do I know, I'm just an ignorant Caucassain.

Vagrarian said...

Legit point, Anonymous 10:11. There are racial undertones, but I don't think the sole issue is race, either, the way some may try to make it out to be. (Not saying you are, 10:11, not at all.)

I have a knee-jerk reaction to being wary when confronted with groups of rowdy teens, but that largely comes from growing up gay and an unpopular outcast in a small town. Redneck teens can be just as bad, if not worse, than urban thugs. My hometown also has problems with teen violence and vandalism (not to mention adult alcoholism, drug use, prostitution, arson, murder, and other criminal behavior...small towns can be hellholes). The only difference is the racial factor. I disliked having to deal with loud rowdy teens in that town, and while I've got less problems with it here, it's still not high on my list.

I dunno...someone may try to say this debate is all about race, and from my perspective, that's just a glib and simplistic accusation. There's a lot more, so much more, going on than mere racial tension.

Springvale Roader said...

I've said it before: race is not the underlying factor. Poverty and ignorance and bad parenting, combined with the prevailing demographic of who constitutes an area's poor, are what matters.

I grew up in the skivvy burbs of NY where the local hoods were Italian. I spent time in more rural places where the hoods were rednecks (scariest hoods I've encountered). In Manhattan and D.C., the hoods tend to be African American. I know that in other parts of this country the hoods might be Asian or Hispanic. My late uncle was muscle for his fellow Jewish gangsters in da Bronx. We are the world!

But there's no denying that when you mix differences in between the hoods and the non-hoods, those differences are exacerbated. There's no getting around that race plays a factor in tensions in DTSS, unfortunately.

Thayer Ave., too said...

I know that some places have had good luck with the 7-17 rule or something similar, but I really don't like the idea for DTSS.

I grew up in one of those car-centric suburbs, and there was really no place to "see and be seen" as a kid. We spent all our time driving around looking for other people (yes, I know, showing my age-- high school was decidedly pre-cell phones!). One of the things I first liked about DTSS was the fact that it was a public place that kids could hang with their friends and not be hassled by business owners who, for good reason, don't want non-paying customers loitering around. It reminded me on an old-fashioned downtown, where EVERYBODY went on Friday night, kids and parents and families alike.

It's tough to be a kid. You don't want to hang out under your parents' noses, and nobody else wants you to hang out their property. We used to hang out on secluded dead-end streets in the new subdivisions that weren't completely finished yet, and I guarantee we got up to more trouble at the dead ends than most of the kids on The Turf.

Most of the groups of kids I've seen downtown were just hanging with their friends, waiting for a movie to start or checking out the opposite sex. On a good night, teenagers and families and adults can coexist in the Ellsworth-Turf area peacefully.

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer good nights lately, but I don't think the answer is to drive kids away entirely. For one thing, although I might spend more money at the Majestic if it were teen-free, I don't think my occasional $10 would make up for the revenue loss if everyone under 17 were banned from the area on weekend nights. And, again, I like the idea of kids having a place to hang, as long as they can obey the law and conduct themselves in a reasonable manner.

Easley Does It said...

My teen hangout was on the side of a 7-11, next to a trash dumpster. Good times.

Anonymous said...

I continue to be really just floored by this conversation. I keep coming back here to just see if I'm making it up. I'm anon. 8:45 with the skipping and the ice cream (no, not at the same time) and the kids and literally I've been in DTSS with my family every friday night for the past 4 years, maybe with a handfull of exceptions. We have never had a problem. Now I'm getting worried!!

Actually I kind of agree this is a hard conversation to have w/o talking about race. We were in Bethesda in their new "alley" area the other week and I was really surprised how different it felt--to say it was whiter and richer doesn't really cover it. The cardigan draped over the shoulders, maybe gives you an idea of what I mean. Just a totally different crowd. And I missed DTSS! I have never lived anywhere with that kind of diversity and I find it amazing. I also guess I find it so disheartening that it is perhaps not the utopia I find it to be. I find this whole discussion profoundly sad.

I'm often only there until 8pm but I have never felt any danger. I have been there well past then getting out of movies, etc., but probably not much past midnight, ever. But, that said, everybody here seems to be saying it's dangerous/disgusting during the day. And that, I don't even know what to say to that. It's like I'm reading about a different place. I've been there every week! at least one night! with friends, family, extended family, out of town visitors. I've just never, ever had a problem. I can't say how sad I find this conversation.

I hope I continue to be as oblivious...is I guess all I can say.

(oh, and I also saw Dark Knight there this past weekend, and thought the crowd was fantastic--that is, only movie-related noise, clapping, etc., not disturbing at all but quite the contrary. Am I living in some kind of virtual reality? Are you?)

Sligo said...

Dude, I hung out in the parking lot of the 7-11 at Fenton & Sligo. Needless to say, there's a hell of a lot better places to hang out in Silver Spring now.

adelphi_sky said...

Let me first say that I am an African American living in Adelphi in PG county. I do enjoy visiting DTSS and would like to see what Rockville Town Center is like. I also enjoy the new developments in the works for my area. What is hard for me to understand is this tone of disrespect for neighboring communities from some Montgomery County blog comments. Specifically disrespect regarding PG and DC. While I love what's going on in the entire region and applaud improvements in the area as a whole, I don't bash or disrespect people or places that I don't live in but are close to me.

I must say I've been offended more than once in just this last few series of comments. For one, there are plenty of available jobs in PG and DC. It's in the news. The DC area is experiencing huge job growth. Also, to say that different cultures have different values pertaining to decency is just not true. My family and the friends, who live in PG and DC, teach their children about respect and honor.

In ALL cultures and races there is a subculture that involves a serious lack of parenting skills. I've seen this culture on both sides of the racial fence. Go to the midwest. I've been there. In Indiana. I've seen areas in the rust belt where there were obnoxious loud teens gathered in groups at the mall. That's a parenting issue, not a demographic issue. I've been poor and in SE, but I knew better. My mother taught me better. I would say that was the case with most of my friends and neighbors as well. I've also seen affluent children act out many times. Don't blame a whole county based off of a few misguided individuals. Sure, I'll admit that a majority of the ruckus is caused by African American teens. But the last time I checked, they live in Montgomery and Alexandria counties as well.

I embrace Silver Spring as home just as I do Adelphi and College Park. Being so close to many borders, I experience many jurisdictions every day of my life. Can we please stick to root of the problem? We create all these places for adults and expect teens to figure out where to go to release their energy. Where do you expect teens to go? Teens need structured activities. Skating rinks (not that I'm pushing for one in Silver Spring), Parks, Gyms, Bolling Alleys, Soccer fields and basketball courts, etc. So, while adults can shop and eat in peace, the kids are off burning the excess energy doing constructive things. Other ideas are welcome. We've gotten condo and town center happy. Movie theaters alone cannot keep energized teens from using their energy in other ways.

Vagrarian said...

Well said, adelphi_sky. You make some excellent points that never occurred to me. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting conversation. (I'm the person who got mugged over the weekend.)

I've bee going over census data and police reports for from 1/08-6/08, and have come up with the following:

Silver Spring is likely about 35% white, 27% Black, and 22% Hispanic (making adjustments for Hispanics counted as white or Black based on nat'l figures). So far this year, whites have been responsible for about 5% of crime, Blacks for 70%, and Hispanics for 25%.

Thus, all things being equal, Hispanic crime is about what we'd expect, while Black crime is about 2.6 times more than we would expect and white crime seven times less than we would expect.

There have been about 30 incidents of street crime in Silver Spring every day throughout these six months, with the exception of Friday, on which have occurred about 50. By and large, street crime has not been committed by school-aged people, but by men in the 18-25 range.

This latter fact, as well as the observation that crime peaks on Fridays *but not on Saturdays*, suggests to me that we can't, in fact, attribute crime to hordes of rampaging teenagers from DC and PG County on the weekends. (Also, criminologists have found that youths tend to commit property crimes on the weekend but crimes against persons just after school hours. This doesn't seem to be reflected in the SS crime reports.)

The racial disparity in crime is worth investigating further; I suspect it has a lot to do with economic inequality, atomization and alienation, and gangs. I may post more on this topic later.

And I have to say that I'm mostly in agreement with Anonymous 1:34. Cultural differences do exist, but as any cognitive psychologist will tell you, we often notice them selectively and remember them in exaggerated form.

It should also be said that just because a Black kid dresses like a "thug" doesn't mean he really is one, anymore than white kids with Black trenchcoats are really going to shoot up their schools or drunken white college girls wearing next to nothing really want to be in porn. It's a way of posing, of feeling out an identity; and a (somewhat stupid) fashion statement. Not always, but often.

At the end of the day, they're just adolescents: kids learning to live as adults. Learning means making mistakes. It also means community support, and that we therefore shouldn't be afraid to assert the "public" side of the public-private Downtown Silver Spring -- maybe, for example, through a youth center, or a library, or designated areas for parents with children.

Sligo said...

I don't like the sound of "designated areas for parents with children"... it sounds like giving up on the rest of the area. Kind of like the Green Zone in Baghdad.

wheezer said...

All "perceptions" aside here, when I can't even take my daughters out for ice cream without having to shuffle them out while they had to watch some drunk/drugged guy get hauled out of Ben & Jerry's by the security guards. Then, answering the questions afterward about "what's wrong with that man?".

I shouldn't have to be subjected to that.

Anonymous said...

Wheezer -- we should talk. But I'm afraid for either of us to exchange phone or e-mail info on here for fear of getting jumped!

Sligo said...

If you want to exchange email, you can both email me and I can send each the other's email address.

Anonymous said...

"There have been about 30 incidents of street crime in Silver Spring every day throughout these six months."

How did you arrive at thie figure?

Anonymous said...

"In ALL cultures and races there is a subculture that involves a serious lack of parenting skills. I've seen this culture on both sides of the racial fence. Go to the midwest. I've been there. In Indiana. I've seen areas in the rust belt where there were obnoxious loud teens gathered in groups at the mall.

Adelphi_sky, you're absolutely correct, I agree. However we're not talking about the Midwest, we're talking about the problems in Silver Spring. So while rural white kids in Oklahoma may be out of control and disrespectful, that doesn't matter in the current situation, namely what is happening with teens and young African Americans being out of control in Silver Spring Maryland.

Springvale Roader said...

I think I can help defuse any inter-racial tension going on here:

In the D.C. area, there is a lot of crime and antisocial behavior. The bulk of that is committed by young black males.

In the D.C. area, there is a lot of masterminding of crimes such as illegal wars leading to the deaths and mutilations of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, torture, and the ripping off of the U.S. Treasury and American public by a small handful of greedy fat cats. The bulk of that is committed by old white males.

We are the world!

Man_o_Color said...

Last Saturday night I was in DTSS and around 11pm (can't remember exact time) a crowd of 30-40 teenagers turned into a running stampede which miraculously didn't harm anyone. I was 2 feet away from being completely trampled. I think there was some altercation and one kid started running, soon after the stampede started.

The security did absolutely nothing (and I don't blame them - what would you do when faced with this).

After seeing this stampede I would gladly take profanity and occasional acting out over violence and physical harm.

I am not exaggerating at all about the crowd turning into a very dangerous stampede. Had one person been knocked over, it would have been mayhem - go talk to security at DTSS and ask them what happened.

I have never seen anything like this before (and I used to work security and have faced a large crowd before of 50-60 drunk college brats). This is what concerns me - there seem to be worsening conditions with inadequate enforcement.

To the people who say they have NEVER seen anything bad happen in the area is not evidence that nothing happens or that the situation hasn't gotten worse (or better).

There is something about the context/environment in that area that indicates to certain people that these behaviors are ok. The fact that an almost mob scene occurred is a really bad sign.

I applause your efforts to try to focus on the positive - something has to be done to create a win win for all as much as possible.

Brent said...

Man o Color:

Quite a story. Your experience is the kind of thing that many of us are worried about -- but again, a lot of people say it's not happening. And it's hard to put a stop to something that supposedly is not happening.

Mortis Olaf said...

I question how DTSS became such a draw, the Ellsworth part anyway. There's really nothing to do but eat and watch a movie. Don't teens, especially ones from out of the area have better places to loiter? It's not like there are no theaters or restaurants in PG and DC.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Last night my son and I went to DTSS to have dinner, close to 9 p.m. We wound up outside at Austin Grill - and almost as soon as we sat down, a group of girls standing outside Eggspectation began screaming profanities at one another. Heads swiveled around and people sitting nearby with small children looked unhappy. The girls continued, off and on, and then decided to walk up and down the sidewalk just outside the Austin Grill seating area screaming at one another. After they finally departed, a group of young men, several smoking cigarettes, then settled down just outside the Austin Grill seating area and stared at the patrons, their smoke drifting over on to us. My son wondered why security couldn't just ask people to stop screaming, if they feel they can ask them to stop taking photos. Isn't it private property?

wombat said...

Well, I saw plenty of cops patrolling downtown during the concert last night - at least five different officers, on foot and Segway. I guess they figured the Bach Sinfonia might attract an undesirable element?

Anonymous said...

Whatever anon 7:21 says he/she saw didn't happen. just "perception"

whoa! look what's happening on the penguin blog. the people griping about all this are being not so subtally called out as racists. maybe we need to stop this discussion right now

Anonymous said...

Last summer's debate about the picture taking settled the issue about security, far as anybody knows. the street is a public way and folks can exercise their 1st amen rights. If that offends people toobad

Anonymous said...

"folks can exercise their 1st amen rights. If that offends people toobad"

Nah, You're absolutely wrong Anon 8:47. That's not free speech. Stand on the side walk next to the Capitol and scream swears like in Silver Spring, I give you 5 min before you're hauled away. There are standards in public, just like you are not allowed to walk around naked. Does that infinge on your "free speech." Ummm nope, it doesn't, the same should apply to screaming swears in public.

Springvale Roader said...

No Anon 8:47, offending people is not just a matter of "too bad." If someone goes around cursing loudly, or maybe remarking that people they pass -- say, you -- are ugly and stupid looking and maybe calling you a choice slur --it's all within their First Amendment rights, but it's rude and inconsiderate and should not be tolerated.

Springvale Roader said...

Regarding that scene at the Austin Grill described above: the outside seating area is most likely under the control of Austin Grill, so they can enforce standards of behavior there. As for the rest, I wouldn't be surprised if the police or even private security have to authority to prevent public disturbances, or whatever the catch-all phrase might be.

Debbie Cook said...

I remember another Flame that went on here in May of 2007 It seems like it has gotten worse since then!http://www.thesilverbee.com/2007/05/31/silver-spring-md-my-solution-for-brawl-control-outside-the-magestic/

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is my "perception" that expletive-screaming teens do not make for a pleasant dining experience and it is "too bad" if I don't like it. It is also my "perception" that I won't be dropping $40 at Austin Grill again in that kind of atmosphere. Too bad.

Sligo said...

It sounds like they were outside the seating area, which would put it in the jurisdiction of DTSS. Why they can't have security guards asking people to be respectful of others and threatening them with being expelled from DTSS I don't know.

Anonymous said...

To Anon Austin Grill customer:

Have you let the AG people know you won't be back and why? Would not hurt to make the same point to Eggspectation, McGinty's and everybody else on that strip who -- you would assume, based on the rent they're paying -- might have clout with the authorities.

But remember, too, that for everyone here saying there is a probleem there are 2 who PERCEIVE a tolerable environment. As in the past in silve spring,they will lobby against "harsh" police actions and what they consider infringements on the rights of people to be "different," in whatever way they choose. A lot of those folks believe the complaints are coming from newcomers who just don't understand urban social dynamics and probably have never been around young black people. I'm not sure you can win.

Anonymous said...

this and this must have been done with CGI

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: the rowdy and profane behavior from teens is killing business along Ellsworth. I am not joking. You ask the managers at Borders, McGinty's, the Majestic theater, Fuddruckers, Austin Grill etc. They will tell you that sales are down. This not just because of the economic downturn.

People are avoiding that part of Silver Spring when it comes to shopping and dining. The Ellsworth project could be jeopardy if people with disposable income continue to avoid this area.


Anonymous said...

Contacts at Peterson Companies:

Retail Development
Tom Maskey - tmaskey@petersoncos.com

Retail Leasing
Marc Menick - mmenick@petersoncos.com

Retail Property Management
Faith Procario - fprocario@petersoncos.com

Retail Property Management Marketing
Kathy Smith - ksmith@petersoncos.com


Anonymous said...

More contacts:

Downtown Silver Spring Management Office:
916 Ellsworth Drive
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
301-587-5439 – Fax

Jennifer Nettles
Property Manager

Alisa Woods
Property Assistant

Laurie Yankowski
Marketing Manager


Springvale Roader said...

Sligo, in addition to us emailing those contacts (thanks, Anon!), would you mind if we referred them to your blog so that they can read for themselves all of our sound and fury?

No Doubting Thomas said...



Sligo said...

Re: Providing contact info.

That's a good idea. I meant to include similar information initially but never got around to it.

Brent said...

Incredible video! That really captures the essence of Silver Spring, I think. Provide a welcoming feel and shows people that this is not your run-of-the-mill neighborhood.

I was surprised to both were shot before dark. I've heard that boisterous behavior -- IF it occurs -- is very late at night. Also, keep in mind that people are arrested in all kinds of places -- this is not unique to Silver Spring. And lastly -- the rappers were doing nothing illegal, so what's the point of this?

Uh huh.

This should be circulated and shown at all neighborhood civic meetings We need to educate our citizenry so they know what to expect, assuring that they won't be offended or surprised when they head out to dinner and a movie.

silver spring penguin said...

No offense, Sligo, but this conversation has truly gone tragic. (Ditto for a similar thread on my site.) Half the people on either site say Ellsworth is going to hell in a hand basket. The other half hasn't had the same experience. How can there be such disparate perceptions of the same place?

Easley Does It said...

I agree with the Penguin, it has gotten ridiculous. I think those videos really serve as a Rorschach test for this whole discussion. After I read Brent's message above, I checked them out, expecting to see gang brawls with switchblades and uzis. What I saw was a couple of knuckleheads rapping to a camera and making a few catcalls, and a dude getting taken down by the cops. That's it!? That's the Zapruder film of the decay of Silver Spring? Sorry, I don't see it.

So there you have it, some are appalled, others are not. We could go back and forth about it all day long, but there's no resolution. We might get a few more bullshit one-man market studies from IHateYuppies telling us that business is down and it's not the economy it's the rowdy teens (PUH-leeze), but that's about it.

I think those that are unhappy should complain, it's your right. I think that most of you wisely understand that you're probably not going to force a change unless you can foment some sort of popular support. That's really what this whole thread has been about. I don't see it happening, but I could be wrong.

Tonight I'm heading down there to check out this "Farwell to the Green." Maybe I'll see you there.

Anonymous said...

One thing we can probably all agree is that nothing will happen -- and that's as it should be.

The whiners really don't have a leg to stand on. Let them take their business elsewhere. The rest of us will have McGinty's and the other great things about this area. Mainly our diversity and the freedom to be and do whatever we want without having to be dictated to by a bunch of pinheads!!!!

Anonymous said...

"freedom to be and do whatever we want without having to be dictated to by a bunch of pinheads!!!!"

While I don't wish harm on you at all, I wonder if you will change your tune if you get mugged walking back from McGinty's one night. I bet you'll have a different idea of the teens running rampant and their "freedom" then.

goldilocks said...

I for one feel much safer in DTSS - in Bethesda they have bears assaulting women.
(it's so horrific they've disabled embedding)

Anonymous said...

Easley: "We might get a few more bullshit one-man market studies from IHateYuppies telling us that business is down and it's not the economy it's the rowdy teens (PUH-leeze), but that's about it".

Yeah man. When I read the local Silver Spring blogs about how people AVOID the Majestic theater because of the teenage clientele...I am making this shit up, right? Go check the messages archives with the keyword "Majestic" on this blog site. You will see a consensus with the responses.

Most of the teens are well-behaved but you have groups of troublemakers who do inappropriate things in public. Grown adults with kids steer clear of that shit.


Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous 2:02, do you think the woman who was being screamed at and threatened by young men because she asked them not to sexually harass her young daughter was a "whiner"?

Personally, I don't like ghetto culture, and I don't want to be surrounded by it. Ellsworth to me is the equivalent of flyover country, but I still do not want to see my hometown turned into a ghetto every night. And for those of you who are screaming "racist" at me, grow up. I wouldn't want to see Silver Spring become redneck either.

The businesses will suffer, and the county will probably respond accordingly with more cops. Let's hope so. In the meantime I'll go to the civilized businesses beyond Ellsworth, or I'll go to Bethesda like I've been doing ever since I moved here, when Silver Spring truly was ghetto; let's hope that past doesn't become our future.

Anonymous said...

I live a 5-minute walk from Ellsworth, and I won't go there on weekend nights. I rarely go there any other times (and when I say rarely, I mean maybe a few times per month, and usually just to go to a specific store by myself -- not going out socially). I make no apologies for it. Either DTSS can choose to make the environment more friendly for well-behaved citizens, or it can let the misbehaving idiots ruin the place. I know that the former group has a lot more money to spend than the latter, so if DTSS continues in its current ways, it is making a bad choice.

Mortis Olaf said...

I was there twice today, first around 5, then again to see The Dark Knight 10:20 showing. Nothing bad happened. You guys are just too damn old.

Anonymous said...

Mortis Olaf, either you're a teenager, in which case your comments are age-appropriate, or you're a grown man who thinks like a teenager, in which case, there's nothing more pathetic.

Just don't try to hang with the kiddies, Mortis, because they won't buy it, and if you piss them off you're liable to get beaten.

Anonymous said...

I was there, too, on Friday night. No disturbances. But there were some stoned/drunk people hanging around and a small knot of guys outside Moby Dick saying loudlly enough for all to hear, "hey, motherfucker let's get some pussy!" THIS is the small group of people that we're all talking about. THEY are the ones who -- if you were to antagonize them -- could be a physical threat. Get them out of there and a lot of people will be much more comfortable (and the Ellsworth businesses will be no worse off, since they were just hanging and not spending money anyway). BTW -- there was an increased "security" presence much of the evening over what it has been in recent months, but with MoCO cops dwindling away as the night went on.

Mortis Olaf said...

"Mortis Olaf, either you're a teenager, in which case your comments are age-appropriate, or you're a grown man who thinks like a teenager, in which case, there's nothing more pathetic."

I guess you didn't sense my sarcasm.

You guys can't let every little disturbance get to you. Some dude shouts a few profanities, suddenly it's the end of the world. If you said something to the guy, he'd probably make fun of you more than fight you.

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Clouseau said...

Here's an interesting message from Captain Donald Johnson, Commander, 3rd District
Montgomery County Police:

Here is a breakdown of the crime statistics year to date when compared the same time frame in 2007.

2007 2008
Robberies 35 44
Aggravated Assaults 12 9
Residential Burglaries 35 28
Commercial Burglaries 45 26
Vehicle related theft 108 156
Auto theft 106 45
Drug arrests 102 117

In reviewing these numbers you can see that there are some increases and decreases as well. While I am not suggesting that we should
tolerate any level of crime, overall there has not been a drastic increase. Of these trends, the most disturbing trend that we have seen
in the increase in robberies. This is a crime where a victim is accosted and their property is removed by force or threat of force.
The other significant increase is the vehicle related thefts. This is part of a station, county and regional trend. There have been
significant decreases in residential burglaries, commercial burglaries, and auto thefts.

I know there is a high level of concern that police patrols in the area have decreased. Let me assure you that they have not. When the
budget cuts were announced we did have to cancel the "Ellsworth detail". This detail was designed to put two extra officers in the
Ellsworth area on Friday and Saturday nights. When the detail was canceled we developed a plan to use officers from other sectors to
provide extra patrol and use officers that were assigned to other duties at that time. In addition, we have been able to utilize the
Police Community Action Team. This is a group of approximately six to eight officers who will go into an area and make an impact. These
officers have been given specific instruction to be visible in the Ellsworth area and while they are not exclusively assigned there, they
have made an impact. Last week members of this team made an arrest of two suspects in a stolen car who were armed with a handgun. In
addition, the Third District Special Assignment Team has dedicated the majority of their time to the CBD. This team is a group of officers
that patrol in undercover cars and plain clothes. You will not notice them as police officers, but they are out there. This team
specifically looks for street crimes and robbery is on the top of their list. On Monday of this week the team arrested six subjects for
robbery. The subjects were observed by the team in the CBD. Since the arrests, the suspects have admitted to numerous other robberies in the CBD and it is believed that they were a significant part of the robbery increase. We will continue to have both teams focus in the
CBD, and in addition we will be restarting the Ellsworth overtime detail next week.

The other major increase in crimes is vehicle related thefts. As I stated earlier, this increase has been seen throughout the district
and is prevalent both county and region wide. District wide we have experienced a 36% increase year to date compared to 2007. In the CBD, there are literally thousands of cars parked at any given time.

Suspects have a wide variety to choose from and for the most part they will target unlocked cars and where valuables are left in plain view. This is why we strongly encourage everyone to make it difficult on these criminals by securing valuables and locking cars. I am by no means indicating that these criminals are not responsible for their own actions; I am simply stating that when there is an abundance of easy targets-criminal activity will remain active. Here again, we have
made significant arrests. The midnight shifts will routinely patrol target rich areas to capture these offenders. In addition, we really
need your help to report all crimes and suspicious activities.

In closing I would like to convey to you that I am committed to making the entire Third District as safe as possible. While we will never be rid of crime, I will also never be willing to accept any level of criminal activity. I am most definitely aware of the efforts that have been made in the CBD and completely support all that has been done to
revitalize the area. I know what the condition of the CBD has been in the past and will not allow all the efforts that have been put forth
to go to waste. I have to constantly juggle my resources throughout the district and priorities where to devote personnel. I can tell you that the CBD has the highest concentration patrol officers in the
district and probably in the county. Lieutenant Eric Burnett shares my same concerns as well. Recently, he has been devoting a tremendous
amount of effort into investigating a commercial establishment that has been problematic. Again, his efforts are being done to keep you safe and improve the image of the CBD.

It is my pleasure to serve as the district commander for Silver Spring and I take this responsibility very seriously. I know we share the same concerns and have to continue to work together. Please contact myself or Lt. Burnett at any time on this or any related matter. We
can both be reached at 301-565-7740.

Thank you for your commitment to the community.

Captain Donald Johnson
Commander, 3rd District
Montgomery County Police

rickyr1983 said...

I've been to DTSS several times, I'm black, and I too haven't had any bad experiences.

The issue of rude and rowdy teens is NOTHING NEW. I grew up in the Gaithersburg/Germantown area and guess what? At the Rio movie theaters we had the same issue: Groups of kids congregating and getting rowdy. ESPECIALLY when the Rio Sportland game center was there. Wow.

Movie theaters always, always attract groups of kids. Who else spends all their time at the movies but teens?

While I don't particularly enjoy the rowdiness, you can't legislate common sense, courtesy and home training. I wish we could, but we can't.

As for black teens being the root of the problem, I don't doubt that there probably are more black teens acting rowdy in DTSS, but the idea that black teens are more rowdy, rude and law-breaking than white teens is hilarious and racist. I hung out with loads of white teens in the Rockville area. Do you know how many of those fools were addicted to Aderrall, cutting their wrists or giving oral sex in public places? Or how about the numerous white teens who would call their mothers "BITCH" to her face?

Rudeness among adolescents is not a race thing, it's a generational thing.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

I've lived in DTSS since 1999(grew up in Oxon Hill). I'm a middle aged white woman, I guess you could say I look "middle class" whatever that is. Not rich, not poor. Since moving here, I've walked around DTSS at all sorts of hours and have never had a problem. My biggest complaints have been the ever changing pedestrian patterns and when folks decide to relieve themselves where I end up smelling it.

DTSS is not Bethesda, and I count that as a GOOD thing. There are plenty of upscale Disney-like areas. DTSS is diverse, a bit earthy on the edges, but overall a friendly and nice place to live. It's also (still) a lot more affordable than Bethesda. The crowds of kids don't bother me. Boys dressed like gangstas are more likely doing that to annoy adults than any real inclination to be gangstas.

The current issues (perceived and/or real) could be solved by a few weeks of aggressive coverage of the area by police, the SS bike patrols, and any Peterson security. Put a blitz on, show the skittish folks a presence, and show the kids that this may not be the place they thought it was.

But in the long run, keep DTSS funky, fun, and affordable. That's why I'm here.

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