“Dear PoPville,

We have a 1930 rowhome and have been experiencing issues with our basement rear entryway. Although we do not seem to have any moisture issues in the basement itself, the entryway always seems to collect moisture and the bricks on all sides of the entryway appear wet at all times at the very bottom.

Does anyone have any ideas as to why this occurs? Could it be a drainage issue? Or perhaps an issue with the pitch of the backyard?

If anyone has any experience with this issue and what solutions they were able to find to mitigate the problem, we would greatly appreciate it.”


“Dear PoPville,

Wanted to solicit advice on this situation, which has now occurred three times in three weeks. It seems our place has been listed on craigslist as a vacation rental. Three times now, there is a random ring on our doorbell, and we open the door to find families that are expecting to stay at our address for a week’s vacation. They explain that they have already paid money via wire transfer from their bank accounts. Two of the families were from St. Augustine, FL, and had driven the whole way. They showed us an official looking lease arrangement with our address shown. It’s heartbreaking to have to be the one to tell them they’ve been scammed- not to discount how the families must feel, of course.

I called the police, but they said that I was not being scammed, so I had nothing to report; that the families would have to report the crime. But this is bothersome. We emailed craigslist to report the scam, but who knows if that will work. I’ve become somewhat on edge, fearing that in the middle of the day, on any day, I may have to go break more bad news to people at my door. And what if they become angry? I don’t know what recourse we have. Apparently, this is a common scam. Has anyone else experienced this?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoPville,

My wife and I recently closed on a house in Woodridge. During each walkthrough, we saw a sheet of metal on the floor that we assumed covered the access to a crawl space under the house. After closing, we decided to move the metal and discovered a room approximately 200 sqft and 8 feet deep. There are no access stairs or ladder and the previous owners didn’t mention it during closing. It’s completely underground and seems to be completely dry. The walls look to be constructed of concrete block.

secret room

We were wondering if anyone else has heard of such a thing in DC and know what this space could have been used for. This may be irrelevant but we were told the house used to be owned by a Billy Stewart (a blues singer from the 60’s).”

mosquito bag

“Dear PoPville,

We are getting hit hard by mosquitos already. They seem to be concentrated around our front door, however, there are no visible pools of water or any other insect-attractors. Any thoughts from PoPville community on how to deal? Is anyone else experiencing unbearable mosquitos? It’s too early to have mosquitos inside and outside of the house!”

odd note

“Dear PoPville,

Starbucks napkin racist parking rant

The subject line and picture kind of says it all. I work downtown and park in your typical public garage with tight spaces and columns everywhere. I noticed that I had parked next to an enormous SUV that was only a couple inches off the dividing line (I was about six inches to my side in my Civic). The ginormous beast of a car was gone by the time I left. Halfway home, I noticed a Starbucks napkin flapping around on my windshield. I thought maybe they had dinged me and left a note with contact info. so imagine my surprise when I got home and saw this.

Odds that this is actually an “angry black man,” or actually a racist white person? I’m guessing the latter.”

renter response

A reader reports on Sunday:

“My girlfriend and I just toured a room in a house in Brightwood that we saw on Craigslist. The man was very cordial and professional and the tour was pretty routine. A few hours I got the below email from the owner of the house.

Obviously, we were pretty upset when we got this message. To us it was pretty clear that he didn’t like that we are an interracial couple (I’m white and my girlfriend is black). Luckily, we were not interested in renting the room.

I was hesitant to reach out, but I’m still upset. The whole thing is sad, especially since the man was an older African-American man.”


“Dear PoPville,

I walk down the 1400 block of R Street NW a few times a day. For the last 6-8 months I’ve noticed an older, dark conversion van parked just outside the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church. It is always in the exact same spot. I’ve suspected that people are actually living in the van because the windows are always covered and there are often cigarette butts, empty beer cans, charcoal ash, and garbage strewn about the sidewalk localized to the van.

On Sunday I walked by with my dog and saw three men sitting with the doors open in folding camping chairs. They had a small campfire grill on the sidewalk (which explains the ash) and were playing loud music and drinking. They clearly made it a semi-permanent home because they’d also set up a green open-air canopy tent and attached it to their van.

It raises a few questions in my mind, including: has anyone else noticed this? How has it been allowed to go on for so long? Are they affiliated with “Hope and a Home” just down the street? Any thoughts are appreciated.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

Update on the, uh, Nick’s/Emma C. situation:

“Dear PoPville,

I am a friend of Emma C. from the Yelp saga. I was with her the night of the poop accident at Nick’s Riverside Grill. I have been helping her since she has broken English and do not want her to get taken advantage of more than has happened already. We are in contact with the owner of Nick’s Riverside Grill and he has agreed to meet with us in person so we can prove that Emma. C from Yelp is not the girl that pooped at their restaurant. We were considering having a lawyer present in case he is not willing to publicly apologize and set the record straight. The false claim that Emma C is the girl that pooped is affecting her life personally so this needs to be resolved. Please email JusticeforEmmaC(at)gmail.com if you know a DC lawyer to work with Emma C. pro bono. Thank you.”

Update 12:55pm:

FYI The owner of Nick’s called Emma C. and admitted they were wrong and apologized for it over the phone. They are releasing a formal apology to Washington City Paper and confirmed it was not Emma C. because the girl who pooped had a tattoo on her shoulder and Emma C. does not. Feel free to use that information and look out for the apology email.

No need for a lawyer now.”

developer parking
Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

“Dear PoPville,

Your Vault or Mine?

I am part of a group of condo owners in a condominium developed in 2012 in DC. The developer of this new building sold us a parking space, with a separate deed, along with our condo unit. We have all been paying taxes on both the condo unit and the parking space since purchase.

In 2016, the condo developer finally got around to filing the “plat and plans” with the city government. It is at this time that the city found a discrepancy with the “plat and plans” given to us at closing and the actual survey of the land underground wherein the parking spots sit. The discrepancy suggested that the city actually owns the land under these parking spots and they lie in what is known as “vault space.” The city now wants to take away our deed to the parking space and, instead of taxing us, rent us the space. There is obvious loss of value to any condo owner who bought one of these parking spaces.

The city government has wanted to enforce its interest in these “vault spaces” after a law was passed in 2015 by the city counsel. This is an obvious money maker for the city who has hardly ever enforced the city ownership on these vault spaces in the past.

A claim letter mailed to our title company proved useless because there was a handy clause that excluded them from doing anything about this. The attorney general for the city is looking into whether criminal charges should be brought against the developer for selling parking spots with what appears to be inaccurate plat and plans. Our only recourse now left for the owners is to try and legally petition the city to help us right this wrong. We need a very good real estate attorney that knows how to work with the city government and preferably has experience with vault spaces. My suspicion is that this will fast become an important issue now that the city government knows that money can be generated renting these vault spaces to home owners across the city.

PoPville: have you been in a similar situation or do you know of a qualified attorney who can help us navigate this?””