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Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

After 5 months of a terrible experience with a contractor for our 6 week kitchen reno and historic house rehab, we’ve gotten the help of a lawyer to terminate our contract and start the process of getting our money (and cabinetry held hostage!) back. (And no, we’re not holding our breath).

It seems that everytime I ask for recommendations for a new contractor, I get the “I know someone NOT to use” response. Anyone out there actually have some glowing reviews to offer for a general contractor? A big plus if they have experience in maintaining and rehabbing original character elements of a historic home.

Thanks — Displaced Petworth Peeps”

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“Dear PoPville,

I live on Capitol Hill. I was recently mailed a $75 citation for littering. Enclosed were an abundance of photos of my recycling bin, which someone had emptied of cardboard boxes (my empty mail with my address) and taken for their use, leaving my labeled cardboard beside another bin. I see people wedging oversized recycling between bins daily, and have been taking pictures of it, along with overstuffed recycling, broken furniture, boxes of political books no one takes, and every other sort of recyclable junk sitting around.

In this instance, when someone took the second bin, they placed the only remaining bin on top of the boxes they have moved. We normally have three bins, but as soon as they are emptied, people move them into their yards. The cause of the issue in my case is so blatant, someone wanting a used bin for their residence, that it infuriates me to know DC has the gonads to send someone such an expensive citation for it.

It seems I either pay the citation or take off work to schedule a hearing, either way throwing away money. Between my girlfriend and I, we have had both our vehicles broken into, a bike stolen, and mail stolen from our porch. This is generally a safe neighborhood, but I find it ridiculous that this is what the police spend their time doing rather than keeping people and property safe. Generating revenue is so obvious in our neighborhood.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user J LaBerge

“Dear PoPville,

My wife and I just bought a rowhouse that still has an older service pipe made of lead. We want to replace it before we move in. We know that there are options — contracting with DDOE’s approved list of contractors or finding our own contractor — and that we could coordinate with DC Water to do simultaneous public-side pipe replacement for either option. And, of course, there’s the option to do some advance digging ourselves to save money: our pipe is in the front and would require some excavation about 7 feet down and 15 feet long.

Might PoPville have any recommendations for which option to pursue or process suggestions in general? Fishing for lessons learned here.”

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via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to give a head’s up to those who live in the Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, and neighboring communities. At about 5:20 pm (or so) Wednesday, this man assaulted me at 16th and Spring NW. I was crossing 16th from east to west in the southbound crosswalk. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him jog ahead as if he were running for the bus stop at the Woodner. I was headed in that direction myself, but because I was using a trolley cart, I stayed in the crosswalk to use the cut. Right after I made my turn to head south, I realized this guy was in front of me and he just stopped, keeping his back to me. I thought, “okay…whatever”, and made to move around him to his left. He then moved and purposefully blocked me again, still keeping his back to me. I said “Dude, move out of the way.” His yelled response essentially was “Don’t call me dude. Why should I move out of yourway, bitch?”

All I remember clearly was him being offended about me calling him dude and him calling me bitch. At this point, I pulled out my phone to call the cops and while I was trying to navigate to the emergency call screen, he grabbed my hand around my phone and squeezed hard. It’s over five hours later and I can still feel the pressure on my index finger and thumb joints. Luckily, someone who had crossed the street with us realized something not right was going down and asked if I needed assistance. I requested he call the cops, which he did.

The man holding me must have realized I was in no way going to be an easy target for whatever this was. He released me and started walking south on 16th. Since he had actually touched me, which I knew might qualify for some level of assault, there was no way I was letting him leave without getting his picture taken. I ran up beside him and snapped a few photos. The attached photo was the best I could get. I told him I was going to file charges and he said something like “You do that.” I fell back because I had a picture of him and I was in no way looking to engage with him further. He turned down the garage entrance driveway of the Woodner and that was the last I saw of him. I’m not sure if he lives in the Woodner, in a neighboring building, or if he was just using the cut-through I’ve been told is at the back of the Woodner parking lot.

The police responded very quickly and I filed a report with them. The primary thing at this point is that this man needs to be identified. If you recognize him and know his name or where he can be found, please contact MPD and give them that information. My case number is 15-124-907. The cops do have copies of the pictures I took. I showed his picture to the security guards at my building so they were aware of the incident and one recognized him from another incident. The security guard was also looking for this guy’s identity for that issue. This is obviously someone with issues and is causing problems in the neighborhood. Thanks for listening, and stay safe. If you don’t know who this guy is, but you see him on the street, stay as far away from him as you can. I have absolutely no idea what set him off, but he was very much the aggressor in this situation as I had no interaction with him at all prior to his stepping into my path and blocking my way.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

“Dear PoPville,

These folks from a company calling themselves “Elite” have come by our house twice this week asking to speak to the homeowner. We rent, and when we said so they left without leaving a card or any contact info. The first time they came by they said it was about our ADT alarm and that they were interviewing all households with the ADT sign outside, the second time about “an audit.” I think this is probably a scam as per http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0195-some-home-security-systems-may-be-scams

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“Dear PoPville,

My boyfriend and I live in Shaw, and because we live in a building that has a parking garage (at a price tag of over $200 a month) we are not eligible for a DC street parking permit. We pay DC taxes, we have DC plates on our car, but we cannot park on the streets of the city where we live.

Because we cannot park on the street, we have to deal with the parking companies. The company that runs the lot in our building is U Street Parking. They own a significant amount of the parking garages and lots in DC (between U Street Parking and Laz, they seem to own almost all the garages). In this particular garage, they seem to make most of their money off of valet parking and those who park in the garage for work.

The company and the garage have the worst service of any company I have ever experienced (maybe save for Comcast). The parking fob that we use to get in and out of the garage almost never works. We have frequently been stuck in the garage unable to get out or outside of the garage unable to get in because the fob does not work. This is especially infuriating on a weekend when there is no one in the office. They will assign us a new fob, and the new fob is also non functional. When we call, staff is unapologetic about the recurring issues. I have left endless unreturned voicemails with the “manager,” but I’m sure my calls are going to some unanswered line. I know this is a very first world problem, but because we cannot park on the street, we have no other choice in where to park our car (and U Street Parking knows this). They get away with poor service and I feel like we are flushing money down the drain every month. Our building accepts our complaints, but claims they cannot do anything because the parking lot is owned and managed by U Street Parking and is not within their domain.

I wish we could get rid of the car, but my boyfriend needed the car to get to work in a non-metro accessible area of Virginia. And with all the track work and general metro dysfunction, without the car, we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere outside of the District on the weekends. I know others in our building are frustrated too, but other than moving, we don’t seem to have any options. Have others had similar experiences and/or dealt more effectively with this company?”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Robin Hayes

“Dear PoPville,

I know it seems crazy to be thinking about this in 100 degree heat, but our small condo building is trying to plan ahead and identify a reputable and reliable snow removal company for our building/corner/driveway area. The last time this was posted about was back in 2010, so I’m wondering if you could ask the readers for recommendations again?”

Ed. Note: I find it rather refreshing to think about snow removal recs in this heat!

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Victoria Pickering

“Dear PoPville:

Saturday evening just before dark, something scared the bejeesus out of my cat, and he came barreling in from the walled garden behind our townhouse. I looked out and noticed two 20-something men looking down from the roof of my neighbor’s house. One of them spotted me and motioned for for me to be quiet. Hinkey.

I dialed my neighbor first (no answer) and then called 911 while my partner went to check out the situation. He saw a couple guys who looked similar to the ones on the roof (buzz cuts, really dirty hands) and followed them as they circled the block and then went down the alley that runs behind our houses. When he confronted them (brave) and asked what they were doing, they replied that they were “freerunning” which I later learned was a form of Parkour. Apparently, they play a game of hide-and-seek on rooftops and in alleys.

Such a bad idea. I live just a few houses from Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson, who has a 24-hour security detail. Of course, there are dozens of agents on similar details all around the neighborhood. In this case, the group got a minor lecture from a 50-something couple, but I shudder to think what the outcome would have been had they decided to climb up onto the secretary’s roof. My hunch is that an arrest or beat-down by the agents would have been the best possible outcome.

The police who responded (after the kids had bolted) said that freerunning is a thing. If you know someone who is taking part, they would be well advised to keep it at street level and off of private property.”

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“Dear PoPville,

I’m hoping my fellow readers could weigh in on something I’m curious about. I walk past a house on 10th St. NW between M and N almost every day while walking my dog. I’ve watched this total gut rehab since just after it started. I know you’ve covered this house on the site previously, but I’d like to go into further detail about why they’re building it the way they are. When they first started work the entire structure was knocked down except the facade. There was little-to-no historic value and certainly no aesthetic value in the facade, so I’m wondering if they just kept it because they were required to by historic district rules (if there are any) or because they got tax breaks for doing so. If the builder is getting tax breaks for keeping it I have a serious issue with that. As you can see from my photos below, they completely removed a series of layers and are now putting up brand new siding. Coupled with the new windows there is literally not one single remaining item from the original facade except the shape of it. Obviously all this worked needed to be done, and I’m 100% in favor of new developments, I’m just wondering why anyone would do this. Would love some input, and also curious if there’s a way to find out what tax breaks the developer is getting, if anything, out of this deal. Thanks!”