The first time we saw Jameel Thrash’s name on a permit, we thought it must be a fake name. Who was this hero with the superpower of being able to grant zoning permission? After a thorough review of the rolls of city employers we concluded that this was indeed the coolest name of any public servant to ever serve the city of Lancaster — sorry, 19th-century Mayor Nathaniel Pierre Lightner (Natty Light for short), your reign is over.
We sat down to talk to Jameel in a first ever segment we’re calling, “Get to Know Your City Employees.”
Name: Jameel Barakat (Arabic for Beautiful Blessing) Thrash
What is your position? Zoning Officer/Sign Administrator
But no, really, what does that position do? As Zoning Officer I help to ensure that different types of uses (Residential, Commercial, Manufacturing, etc.) operate in areas that (we hope) will allow for an optimal quality of life for our residents.
I also have to inform you that you are not allowed to park on your grass. Yes, I understand it’s yours. Yes, I understand some of your neighbors are in violation as well. Because we want to be able to capture as much rain as possible. But we don’t want it in the gutter. I promise I am contacting your neighbors.
As Sign Administrator (which comes with a cape and dramatic narration when said), I review sign proposals to make sure the type and size are appropriate for that district.
How does your job relate to making Lancaster a better, safer, or more equitable community? By grouping complementary uses together and trying to isolate other uses that may generate noise, traffic, odor, etc., we hope that our residents and businesses can coexist in the most harmonious way possible. AND preserving grass (which will be mud if you keep parking there) will help reduce our pollution.
What are your hobbies outside of work? Trying to inspire and instill, within my kids, a sense of wonder about the world (crabbing, fishing, fossiling, hiking, sailing, snowboarding); imagination and finances are our only limitations. Additionally, I’m an avid traveler who believes that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, in that spirit I am constantly planning my next adventure (some of my recent trips include Cancun, Havana, Iceland and Disney World during Halloween, which has to be the best time of year to go).
Where do you like to visit in town (restaurants, bars, parks, etc.)? Flora’s, Callaloo, Roburrito’s, Caribbean Wave and Silantra are some of my favorites, but I was born & raised in the 7th ward so when I’m in the mood for a burger (and nostalgia), nothing beats Speeds. I like options and for late night entertainment we have them downtown. Usually, by the end of the night, I’m at Yorgos.
Do you have siblings? Kids? Pets? I have a twin brother (Alimayu [God’s gift]) and have mistakenly been on the receiving end of several affable greetings. I have two sons, Lennox (9) and Kingston (7) and we have 1 fish.
What was your job before coming to the City of Lancaster? Before I worked for the City, I worked for Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries as a counselor for at-risk youth.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your job? I have no ability to determine where your property lines lie, nor do I have the authority to make your neighbor trim the tree limbs that encroach onto your property.
What is your best, “Lancaster Moment?” I enjoy Celebrate Lancaster. It’s great to see the diversity of our community.
What’s your favorite song right now? I doubt I’ve ever had a singularly favorite song, but I do like, “Like That,” by Cardi B. Some of my all time favorites are, “Black Hole Sun,” by Soundgarden, “Iron Man,” by Black Sabbath, “Party,” by Biggie Smalls, and “Stan,” by Eminem.