This is a red-light alert.
Shortly before noon Wednesday, more than a half-dozen young women were strolling up New York Avenue Northeast toward Bladensburg Road in Ward 5, and they were dressed to impress — but not in the front pew of the nearest houses of worship.
These scantily clad, long-haired women could easily have led you to roll the word “hooker” off your tongue — and that’s not a good sign.
Concerned stakeholders of Ward 5 have been raising red-light issues for a couple of years now, mostly in response to a proliferation of strip and adult-entertainment establishments, shelters for homeless and wayward young adults in motels along the corridor and marijuana shops.
At-large D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange, who lives in the ward, heard those concerns and urged his colleagues to approve his legislation that proposed a moratorium on gentlemen’s clubs and the like, saying, “I definitely do not want to see New York Avenue or that area become the new red-light district.”
Well, it’s time for him and the chairman of the council’s Judiciary Committee, Democrat Phil Mendelson, to take a look-see on their own and hold a hearing that asks Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier a couple of loaded questions.
“What’s up with streetwalkers along New York Avenue?”
“What are you doing about it?”
Mr. Mendelson is scheduled to hold several Judiciary Committee hearings in the coming days and weeks, and at least one of them should zero in on prostitution and sex trafficking.
He needs to have a powwow with other members of the committee — Democrats Marion Barry, Muriel Bowser, Mary M. Cheh and Jack Evans — and rally a consensus.
To be sure, it was not a coincidence that on late Saturday mornings in recent weeks I’ve spotted several other similarly clad young women pour out of a motel a spit and a holler from the Stadium Club off Bladensburg Road and start walking down New York Avenue — the gateway to the nation’s capital.
Mr. Mendelson needs to make sure the red lights are turned off before the woe-is-them advocates beg to have the social services spigot turned on.
The block is hot — too hot.