“Dear PoPville,

There were sets of two young men (early-mid 20s) in suits and clipboards going door to door (at least two sets, more explained below) around 7:30pm Tuesday night. I live in the 1300 blocks in Petworth. The men represented themselves as being from PEPCO and asked my name and to see my utility bill. Their line was that “PEPCO send out an important notification on page 2 of your bill and we are here to make sure you are aware of it.”

Sounded a little fishy and I declined to show them my bill, but I thanked them for bringing it to my attention. I immediately called PEPCO and I was told that there wasn’t any general notification on their bills and that, in any case, they didn’t go door-to-door with that kind of information (much less to ask to see bills). Thinking this might be a scam I thought I should do something to report them, or at least discourage them somewhat.

I called the police, who later arrived and spoke with one pair of the gentlemen. As the police were on the way I received a call back from a dispatcher who said officers were speaking with the two men. I could still see the two men I spoke with working their way down the block and no officers in sight. Speaking to the dispatcher, it appeared there was another group of men going door-to-door.

After the confusion was resolved additional officers arrived and spoke with the two men on my street. The officers later came to me and told me the door-to-door men were “legit”. They may have been, but these men certainly lied to me about who they were and who they represented.

So are these gentlemen scammers or just really aggressive salesmen? I couldn’t know for sure, but I would hate for any of my elderly and perhaps more trusting neighbors to be caught up in some kind of scam.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Jim Havard

“Dear PoPville,

This will be my first Christmas in Columbia Heights and I was wondering if any of your readers knew where to purchase a live tree within a few blocks of 14th and Irving? I do not have a car so it will have to be walked to my apartment at 14th and Irving.”

Ed. Note: If you have a favorite spot and/or fundraiser sale you’d like to tell folks about in other neighborhoods please do so in the comments here. Thanks. And you can see last year’s recs here.

Dirt bike accident on H Street, NE in September

“Dear PoPville,

We live in D.C. and are familiar with the dirt bike issue (hear them occasionally, see them even less often) but the posts (and logic: people driving recklessly at times and the lack of any credible or effective deterrent capacity) make me think it’s not a safe situation (duh). This makes me wonder: has anyone, to your knowledge, suggested or even considered a buy-back program (coupled with a delay before possession becomes illegal), as some communities do with guns? (The buy-back part, that is.)

I can think of ways in which this might be somewhat tricky to set up: the buy-back payment would have to be relatively fair (not so low it constitutes a taking, though “Fine, go sell your dirt bike in a nearby state” would be a natural reply; not so high it encourages people to buy dirt bikes and sell them to the city), there would probably need to be a per-person cap (to avoid the “encourage people to buy lots of dirt bikes each and sell them straight to the city for a profit” problem), and you’d need to have enough of a delay to provide fair warning to dirt bike owners but not so much that people can stock up on them to make money from the city.

It just seems like there either need to be enforceable laws governing dirt-bike riding, or there can’t be dirt bikes on city streets. And I’m wondering if this kind of solution has occurred to anyone else (or if there are problems with it which I haven’t considered). Thoughts?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user available_photons

“Dear PoPville,

My small 30 person office wants to do something really great for a local DC charity over the holidays.

In the past, we’ve tried just raising money (and since our office is not big, we don’t tend to raise very much money) so this year, we’d like to try something different that might actually make a positive impact and brighten holidays, like, making a bunch of sandwiches and give them to a shelter? Would it be better if we did a blanket drive? Something for veterans or children? Looking online for local area charities can be extremely overwhelming with all of the various options. Is there anywhere you can think of that would appreciate something besides a check?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

Wonder if anyone in PoPville have experience with pressing the city for reimbursement for expenses incurred with private companies. Basically, my car was ticketed and towed at the behest of a contractor who was renovating a house across the street. I was headed out of town for a week and I parked outside the no parking signs he had erected for more than a year.
I documented that my car was legally parked and the ticket was dismissed.

I sought reimbursement for the $220 in towing and storage fees since the ticket that provided the basis for the towing was dismissed. Now DC says that they have no responsibility because the contractor called the towing firm. However, the ticket clearly is checked “towing requested.”

Even tough it was towed by a private entity, isn’t DC responsible for authorizing the tow?
And since the original ticket was dismissed is DC not responsible for the towing and storage fees?”


“Dear PoPville,

I’m looking to buy about a half cord of wood for the winter months in hopes of many lovely nights by a roaring fire.. Wondering if anyone had any experience purchasing a large amount of wood. When I was growing up, a pickup truck used to appear in the neighborhood and all the parents would buy from the country boys, but I haven’t seen any pick up trucks in Bloomingdale! Hoping PoPville will have some suggestions..”

Ed. Note: a few recs from last year here.

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

“Dear PoPville,

I’m trying to figure out why tap water in DC has been tasting so funny lately. About a month ago I was served water that tasted moldy to me at a restaurant in Columbia Heights. (My husband thinks it tastes like dirt, not mold). I figured they just had some unclean pitchers, even though our replacement waters still tasted bad. A week later my water at home (which we filter) in Sixteenth St Heights tasted moldy. Not constantly but for a while. And then today at work in NoMa our filtered water tastes moldy.

I grew up in DC drinking our tap water–I don’t recall it tasting like this in the past. My basic googling hasn’t uncovered any out of the ordinary stuff happening at WASA.

Has anyone else had the same problem? Does anyone have any idea what’s going on?”

Ed. Note: We’ve previously spoken about chlorine in the drinking water temporarily but that is usually around spring time.


“Dear PoPville,

I saw this Halloween display on Woodley Rd near the Marriott. It looked like a very cool Halloween decoration from the road (it’s a mummy scarecrow, there are crows but the lighting was terrible at night so it was hard to capture them).

The sign on it says “This is a most tasteless display and sign (note: “sign” has a strike through). 4500 people have died and countless are grappling with it. Please be compassionate.”

I’m guessing the 4500 is referring to Ebola victims, but why the need for the sign? Does anyone out there know if there was another sign on it before that said “Ebola victim” or something, and that’s why the word “sign” is crossed out? I regret not having flipped this one over while I had the chance to see if the other side said anything antagonistic or controversial.”


Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

“Dear PoPville,

I am moving in a few weeks and have some furniture that I need to get rid of. While some of it will sell on Craigslist, I am wondering what to do with whatever does not sell. I have looked into the Department of Public Works’ Bulk Trash Collection, and they only pick up at single family homes or apartment buildings with three or less units, so I am out of luck there. I have also looked into donating certain items to the Salvation Army, but they are very picky – rightfully so – about the condition of certain items and some of my stuff won’t make the cut. Any tips?”