HUD asked to probe ID program

March 23, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest has asked the federal government to intervene in a dispute between the tenants of Woodside Gardens apartments in Annapolis and the management, which is requiring tenants to carry a photo identification card while on the property.

In a letter written yesterday to Harold Young, state coordinator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Gilchrest asked the agency to step in before tomorrow, when residents are to begin having their pictures taken as a security measure at the 144-unit federally subsidized complex.

"Although crime, trespassing, security are significant problems which the residents must deal with on a daily basis, I believe that lack of resident input into this decision is a serious concern," wrote Mr. Gilchrest, a Maryland Republican who represents the Annapolis area.

He asked HUD to investigate whether the ID program violates federal regulations and requires formal changes in tenants' leases and to determine whether the ID plan could be delayed until residents and management discuss possible changes.

Management at the complex off Forest Drive announced Monday that adults and children older than 6 must carry identification cards at all times as part of a strategy to keep out trespassers and improve security.

Hal Murnane, a lawyer for the management company, said the ID requirement was designed to protect tenant safety and is being portrayed wrongly as a pernicious regulation.

"It really doesn't make any sense why management would do this other than to help tenants," said Mr. Murnane, a lawyer for the Dallas-based Alpha Property Management Inc., which oversees Woodside Gardens. "I would think everyone would be happy about this sensitivity to tenants' safety."

Mr. Murnane said yesterday that the managers had no plans to postpone the ID policy, but that they would be happy to meet with any concerned residents. Mr. Murnane could not be reached for comment on Mr. Gilchrest's letter.

BAt the bus stop, on the basketball courts, in the parking lots and along the brick hallways, tenants at Woodside Gardens condemned management, saying the policy threatens their privacy and allows security guards too much power.

They also said that this flare-up is not a first for residents and management at Woodside Gardens and that the ID policy is just one of several recent actions by management that violate their privacy.

In the past several months, the management company has hired between 15 and 20 "extra duty" police officers to patrol the complex in their off-duty hours. The company has issued parking permits to every resident and towed cars without visitors' passes. The management also installed a new fence behind several buildings to keep out trespassers.

"The rules have just gone overboard," said Valerie Davis, 25, who has lived at the development for five years. "We can't even have guests here because of the rules they have about people coming in from the outside."

But law enforcement officials call the measures important steps to curbing the violent crime and drug dealing that troubles Woodside Gardens and Newtowne 20, an adjacent public housing development.

"These are positive steps for Woodside Gardens," said Annapolis Police Sgt. Zora Lykken, who oversees the extra duty officers at the complex. "The biggest concerns right now are people from outside the community coming in and disrupting the lives of the residents who live there."

The tenants and others complain, however, that the new rules isolate Woodside Gardens from the rest of the community and punish law-abiding residents.

"I've seen a couple cars get towed, and this is just because it's somebody's friend or a cousin visiting and they don't have a parking pass," said Anita Jones, 26, who has lived at Woodside Gardens for five years.

"I don't think it's fair."

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