Council Notebook

Council Notebook

On the Leash

City Council members have taken a bite out of crime.

After receiving a number of complaints about canines gone wild, council members took action earlier this year to stipulate that electronic dog collars do not meet the city code requiring restraint of Man’s Best Friend. But then the elected leaders were hounded by businesses that used the devices for training as well as a pack of electronic collar enthusiasts. So they buried the bone and rescinded the ordinance.

Now, City Council members are barking up the same tree again — passing an ordinance that restricts the use of electronic collars to those engaged in a supervised, formal obedience training class or during formally sanctioned field trials. It also allows use of the collars in dog parks. Council members say the ordinance is a matter of public safety, one that also exists in Arlington County,

“Have you ever seen a man gone mad?” asked Councilwoman Alicia Hughes. “It’s the same thing with an animal and you’re shocking them.”

In the last 18 months, city officials have received 853 complaints of dogs running at large, 823 complaints of dog bites and 17 dangerous dog cases. Almost as if on cue, another attack happened the night before the public hearing. As a result, council members decided to take action before entering the dog days of summer.

“Having confidence that every dog is exceptionally well trained is just not a good standard,” said Councilman Rob Krupicka. “It puts too many people at risk.”

Council members approved the revised ordinance, although it won’t go into effect until September — giving users of electronic collars an opportunity to learn of the new restrictions.

An App for Everything

These days, it seems like smart phones are invading every aspect of life. From finding out where the latest car thefts have happened on your block to locating the nearest cup of coffee, mobile computing seems to be remaking the world one pixel at a time — even for children.

This week, members of the Alexandria City Council considered a special-use permit for Teeter Toddlers, which city documents refer to the operation as an “entertainment enterprise.” As the elected leaders were considering the application, which offers mothers an opportunity to enjoy games and music with their children, chief of operations Roscoe Chambers explained that the operation even has an app.

“Wait a minute,” interjected Vice Mayor Kerry Donley. “You mean there’s an app for that?”

Donley, a former mayor, paused for a moment to marvel at modern technology.

“I’m feeling sort of left out,” said Donley. “I don’t have an app for anything.”

Rowdy in Rosemont?

Rosemont is not really known for its raucous all-night parties. That’s why some neighbors are concerned about specialty shop Grape + Bean adding a restaurant to its establishment at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street.

“It’ll totally ruin my lifestyle because I go to bed early,” said Mary Ruth Calhoun, who lives nearby. “It’s gone from a small market where people who owned it used to live above it to a restaurant with outdoor seating serving alcohol, and we’re having huge parking battles on Walnut now.”

The two-story commercial building has existed at the site since 1945, and has been occupied by a retail market for about 65 years. In March, Old Town retailer Grape + Bean opened a new location at the market in Rosemont. Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, who also lives nearby, says he doesn’t expect parking to be a challenge because he feels most customers will be neighborhood residents who will walk to the establishment.

“I think the type of product and the type of service is not going to lend itself to a rowdy crowd by any stretch,” said Councilman Paul Smedberg. “And I personally think that this will really be something that will be a real enhancement for this area.”