04/16/14 1:25pm

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1511 A Street, NE

“Dear PoPville,

A single-family home on our street of single-family homes in northeast Capitol Hill recently sold to a “developer” who it now appears is planning on putting in 18 apartments. The house, 1511 A Street NE, a lovely home built in 1923 with an oversized lot and wrap-around porch, was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Byrd for many years. This couple, who lived there until they passed away in their late 90s, maintained the property impeccably, and always had a beautiful garden. Now, this beautiful and historic house may be lost because of a zoning hold-over from the time that the Car Barn, the next block over, was an actual functioning street-car barn. Half of the Car Barn, which is now condos and a registered historic building, as well as half of the adjacent square 1070 (which is where this house sits), are zoned C-2-A, a much more permissive zoning than R-4, which is what the other half of 1070 is zoned. All but a handful of buildings in square 1070 are single-family homes, with a few businesses fronting East Capitol Street.

The company that purchased the house is 57th Street Mews of Mitchellville, Maryland. They have a history of finding areas of the city that are zoned C-2-A and constructing large and unsightly boxes while seeking variances and zoning relief. One of their colleagues, a real estate consultant who has been quietly obtaining permits for the developer, has this mission statement listed on his website — “This company is designed to consult on land use and development with particular focus to find nuances in DC regulations that govern land use, construction and occupancy of structures in the District.” He finds the overlooked zoning mistakes ignored by the city and gets paid to do so. Genius.

My neighbors and I are increasingly concerned, both with the lack of response from our government officials and the failure of our city to identify this zoning problem in the first place.

We have since received plans from the developer, which I’m attaching with this email. We’re shocked that something like this could be built in our neighborhood as a matter of right.”

1511 A Street_Front View n (2)

04/14/14 2:25pm

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“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you might have any advice on local banks and/or credit unions. I’ve banked with a large multinational bank for years now, and after growing very frustrated with their poor service, I’m considering switching to a local institution. I feel like I’d rather do business with a bank that didn’t bring down the US economy, rip people off, etc.

It seems like a lot of credit unions around DC require employment with the federal government, so trying to find one (or a smaller bank) that isn’t so exclusive is a bit tough. Thanks for any advice you can provide.”

04/14/14 1:25pm

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“Dear PoPville,

I don’t know if anyone else has asked about this, but today we just got some bad news on an apartment we paid $55 dollars each to apply for. The application asked for W2s, paystubs, current and previous jobs, 5 years rental history with landlords’ contact information, SSN, Driver’s License number, make and model of car. My god, everything but our first born. After obtaining all of this info, paying the fee, and even writing a cover letter for this apartment, we were informed there were two other applications in and that the realtor would present them to the landlord, and he/she would decide who was the “best fit.” I later received a text message informing us, and I quote, “Hello. Thank you for taking the time to submit an offer. Owner received very aggressive offers. Unfortunately owner has accepted another application at this time. I will definitely let you know should property come back on the market. Many regards.”

I was curious why two young professional women with very good incomes (one of whom is a landlord herself) got turned down. So I called the realtor. She explained to me that the others had offered her substantially more money and that we shouldn’t have put the application in the first place.

What??

If there had been a bidding war unbeknownst to us, wouldn’t it be best practice (maybe even the legal thing to do) to inform all your applicants of this before submitting an application, or at least before selecting, allow for all applications to make their best offers?

Now we are out $110 without even ever been seriously looked at – they didn’t even use this fee to run credit/background checks, or all any of our references.

Does anyone have any insight into this matter, legal or otherwise?”

04/11/14 2:25pm

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Photo by PoPville flickr user ken_1001

“Dear PoPville,

I’m looking at a rowhouse to rent at Sherman and Irving. It’s a crazy good deal so I don’t want to miss the opportunity. I don’t live in the neighborhood now but love it and go out with friends who are there regularly.

My question is this: the bedroom faces Sherman and I’m a super light sleeper. Do you think I’ll be kept up all night with noise from Sherman?

Any insights would be super helpful. Thank you so much!!”

04/08/14 2:30pm

“Dear PoPville,

This happens weekly behind my apartment building in Logan Circle. I have notified the landlords of our apartment building. I have called Bowie’s Trash Inc. twice, both times they said that they would take care of it and that it would not happen again, but there has been no change in the past ~6 months.

I read that DC has some of the most lenient laws in the country that allow collectors to mix a certain percentage of recycling with trash due to narrow alleyways. It’s true that our alleyway is narrow, however the other buildings in the same alley have collectors that haul away recycling separate from trash.

What, if any, are the next steps I can take to make this change? Thanks!”

04/04/14 2:30pm

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Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

“Dear PoPville,

I am planning a birthday party for my partner, and am looking for a fun venue where we can reserve a private area. I’ve done some research online, of course, but it seems like most of the places I am finding online are more traditional restaurants with private rooms, which isn’t quite the vibe we are going for. I was thinking more along the lines of the Garden District, or Dacha Beer Garden, but I realize those places are purely first-come, first-serve. Does anyone know of any relaxed, chill bars/restaurants that will do a reservation for a party? Outdoor space is a plus, but not necessary.”

04/02/14 2:30pm

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Photo by PoPville flickr user ARealSidler

“Dear PoPville,

Looking for the best Wifi lounges/places to work for those of us who are self-employed. I’m hoping to get away from the usual Coupe/Tryst routine.”

I vote for the courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery. Where are your favorite spots?

Side Note – Earlier this morning the NoMa BID announced:

“A brand-new, free outdoor WiFi network is also in the air and now available in many outdoor public spaces throughout the neighborhood. The first phase of this new service has been installed by the NoMa BID, and additional phases are planned. As the first neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to offer free outdoor WiFi, the NoMa BID is providing this interactive amenity to make NoMa even livelier.

To access the system, please select “NoMa Connected” from the list of wireless networks on your mobile device or laptop. Click the CLICK HERE box to agree to the Terms and Conditions. You’re connected!

Click here to view a map of existing WiFi service areas. Click here to view a map of proposed WiFi service areas. For more information and Frequently Asked Questions about the NoMa WiFi system, please visit www.nomabid.org/wifi.”