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Photo by PoPville flickr user Jim Havard

From a press release:

“The District of Columbia’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA) released the Initial District of Columbia Report on the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station Incident on January 12, 2015. Click below to view the report.”

HSEMA Initial Reporton WMATA Incident (PDF)

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Photo by PoPville flickr user BrennaLM

“Dear PoPville,

DC Parking Enforcement — Two citations, same infraction, less than 1 hour?

I’m curious if someone can enlighten me as to the law/policy on this; I parked at a meter (which, admittedly, I read the fine print incorrectly and did not feed it–not denying that I’m at fault for one of the citations), and I received two citations for the expired meter within a less than one hour period.

The kicker is that I only found one citation on my windshield, and I didn’t learn about the second ticket until I logged online to pay the first one.. I’ve contested the second ticket, but anyone have any experience as to whether or not I’ll be on the hook for it? The meter maid incorrectly recorded my location as well (first ticket, on the 1200 block; second on the 1300 block–my car didn’t move).

Any input appreciated.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

Council Member Vincent Orange ‏tweeted:

“The time has come for DC voters 2 decide whether DC Councilmembers should be banned, like Congress members, from holding outside employment”

“Council should pass legislation immediately requiring Councilmembers to report monthly income & hours worked from outside employment to BEGA”

Agree or disagree?


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“Dear PoPville,

My husband and I now live in Athens, OH, where we’ve been battling the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. After my latest round on the phone, I thought I should share with you a potential problem for many who move into the District:

If you move into the District of Columbia between Jan. 1 and before April 15, make sure you save documentation that proves you did NOT live in DC the previous year. If you don’t do that, you could be fighting with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, which will do its best to extort money from you. They’ll ruin your credit, put liens against your property.

My husband and I moved to DC in January of 2011. The DC Office of Tax and Revenue says we owe taxes for 2010. We’ve been arguing with them for months! The only evidence they have, which they confirmed with me, is that we filed our 2010 federal income taxes from our then-DC home in April 2011. When I pointed out to the agent that means anyone who moves to DC between Jan. 1 and April 15 will have that problem, she replied, “Yes, you’re right.” What the f—?!?!?
When you ask them how to set the record straight, they ask you to send your previous state’s ID — you know, the same one you must turn in when you get a DC license. Again, what the f–?!?! Or some official tax-acceptable paperwork that proves you weren’t in DC the prior year. I’m now digging through our storage files to prove something we shouldn’t have to.

Oh, and if you have a tax accountant, they’ll just ignore her. Won’t even answer her emails.

Above is a screenshot of the threatening language from the DC Tax Office.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

A reader shares this letter he wrote to the District of Columbia Zoning Commission:

“As a DC citizen and homeowner I am writing to comment on the Zoning Commission’s proposal to revise the rules on pop-ups, ZC Case No. 14-11. While I am sympathetic to the concerns that have prompted this proposal, there is an unintended effect in the proposal that will have a negative impact on me personally and is one that I do not think any of the proposal supporters would like to see happen.

I live in the Capitol Hill historic district and that should mean I am not affected since pop-ups are not allowed here anyway, but this rule change would have a major detrimental effect on me as a homeowner with a two-flat C of O in an R-4 zone. Currently I have two legal flats in my R-4 row house and I plan to make the basement legal in a few years. If I am to do that it would not take away any family housing in DC since the basement is not even connected to any of the other two flats. There would be no loss to families in DC and it would be a gain for people wanting more affordable housing because it would bring a lower-cost basement unit onto the market, increase density, and help ease the rental crunch in this city. It would also benefit me as a homeowner and a landlord and would be a win for the city which would collect more tax revenue. It would be a win for the city, a win for renters, and a win for me as a landlord. There are no losers in this.

However, the new regulations appear as though they will inadvertently prevent people like me from doing this. The fourth part of the proposal is to only give permission to convert buildings to multi-family use if the building was non-residential. This would mean that I could not legally make my unused basement legal.

That part of the proposal was supposed to keep row houses from being split up into spaces in order to preserve housing for larger families. In my case, however, the effect would be very different. It would not result in preservation of family housing since the basement is not being used as part of a larger family-sized unit. Instead it would merely prevent me from making that space available as a legal rental. This was not the intent of those who advocated this change and it would punish me unfairly when I have the money to renovate the basement.
I do not oppose the other parts of the proposal, but this part must be changed or scrapped in order to allow two-flat row houses with no legal living space in the basement to be converted into three-unit dwellings with a legal C of O for basement units.

I implore you to make this change not only for my own benefit but also for the benefit of more affordable housing in DC and more density that conforms to historic preservation and does not detract from family-sized dwelling in R-4 zones.

Sincerely,
Ward 6 homeowner”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

“Dear PoPville,

I have several friends who have recently received tickets from the city that strike me as utterly onerous. The gist of it is that the city has observed their cars parked in DC frequently during non-work hours, and they suspect them of being residents of the district while keeping their cars registered elsewhere. The ticketed person’s only recourse to avoid repeated ticketing and ultimately a boot is to report to DC DMV during business hours to prove that they our residents of another state! There are soooo many legitimate reasons why out-of-state residents are in the district regularly off hours. One of them was my boyfriend. Yeah, he slept over. Pretty regularly. Others are pals of mine with a healthy social life who come visit all the time. Sometimes they crash, because hey, it’s better than driving drunk, right? One of them works all the way out in Warrenton during the day, and taking time off to come all the way to DC to “prove” he doesn’t live here was no small burden. Worse yet? The DMV didn’t even accept his first attempt. Apparently, a current electric bill and lease were not adequate???

It just seems like a shakedown, and they’ve got folks over a barrel. It’s practically mafia behavior. Any thoughts on this? Ways to get the city to stop harassing my friends and visitors? The city should be happy that these folks are spending their hard-earned money here in the district without consuming any of our services!”

garbage

“Dear PoPville,

Why didn’t DPW pick up trash at all last week? I get Tuesday but what about the other days? Is this what we can expect all winter?”

DPW issued the following statement:

“The Department of Public Works is collecting trash and recycling, where possible; however, the Tuesday, January 6 snowfall, followed by sub-freezing temperatures Wednesday and Thursday have created conditions in some neighborhoods that are too dangerous for collection crews to work. Therefore, DPW is asking residents whose trash and/or recycling collections are not made this week to hold these items until their next collection day.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

“Dear PoPville,

I want to share my recent experience with securing a certificate of occupancy to legally rent out a basement townhouse unit.

Simply put, the process is oppressive and miserable. You start by trying to navigate the DCRA website, which lumps a simple 2-unit house application in with every construction and zoning application, meaning that it’s basically as complex to get this done as to get permission to build a 12 unit apartment building. Without any clear instructions, the homeowner has to fill out as many forms with as much information as possible, hoping it’s all correct and complete. Then you go to DCRA in person. This will take an entire work day, so don’t think you can do it on your lunch hour. You then wait for several hours for you number to get called, at which time the most likely scenario is they’ll tell you that you’re missing necessary paperwork. You may be able to fill out the missing forms onsite if you’re lucky although this means getting a new ticket and going back to the end of the line. If you’re unlucky, you’ll have to redo all your paperwork and come back another day, starting the process all over.

Once you finally have the process completed (and wait on line at several different DCRA windows in the same building, with each line stretching more at least an hour), you can get a code to call an automated number to have an inspector come to your house. You can choose the day of the inspection but you’re not given a window of time, so you’ll have to take another day off from work to wait for the inspector.

The actual inspection is a crapshoot. You might get lucky, but chances are they’ll find something they don’t like. Hopefully it’s an easy fix, like not having enough fire extinguishers. You’ll fail the inspection but have the opportunity to fix the problem and reschedule it. You’ll now be taking your third day off from work for the second inspection.

If you’ve made it this far and actually get an approved inspection, you’re not done. You now need to take your original application back to DCRA and get additional approvals from two different offices. This will be your fourth full day off from work. Then and only then will you have an official CofO, making your apartment legal to rent.

At one time in the past, it seemed like DCRA was making an effort to be more consumer-friendly, including a special blog explaining and streamlining this process for homeowners. That’s all been removed and canceled, so far as I can tell.

This insane process makes it virtually impossible to follow the law, no matter how hard you try. It’s truly DC government at its worst.”

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“Dear PoPville,

I was walking down New Hampshire Ave in Petworth this morning to go to the metro, and noticed that all the sidewalks were salted with the same ice melt. I noticed at first because my sidewalk was salted, and I didn’t salt it (but yes, I did clear it of snow with a shovel), and the salt extended to the stairs up to my house. Later down the street, I noticed that the salt also reached peoples’ front yards in the grass. Does DC go around with a truck and salt some sidewalks? I had never seen/noticed this before.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user betterthaneverfine

From the Mayor’s office:

“Mayor Muriel Bowser released the following statement in response to the United States Olympic Committees’ announcement that Boston won the United States’ bid for the 2024 Olympics:

“Despite today’s outcome, I am proud of how the District and the region presented. I want to thank the talented and hardworking Washingtonians whose efforts got us to the short list of American cities.

“I also want to congratulate Mayor Marty Walsh and the City of Boston for winning the right to represent our great nation to compete on the world stage for the 2024 Olympic Games. They have my full support, and I will be cheering them on to bring the games to America.

“All was not lost, however. We must build on the tremendous regional and federal cooperation embodied in the DC 2024 Olympic bid, in focusing on the big issues facing our region—transportation, affordable housing and expanding job opportunities for residents in the District of Columbia.”