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Councilmember Vincent B. Orange, Sr. proposes Emergency Moratorium on Building Permits.

From an email:

“The DC Council is voting on emergency legislation this Tuesday, April 14th (see below) to place a moratorium on ALL permits and additions until the Zoning Commission finalizes the text amendment process. This Emergency legislation would GO INTO EFFECT IMMEDIATELY.”

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Greater Greater Washington notes:

“Of course, the bill probably won’t pass. Even if nine councilmembers believed this constituted an “emergency,” Orange’s bill very likely illegal. DC’s Home Rule Act creates a Zoning Commission with three representatives appointed by the mayor and two from the federal government. That body, it says, “shall exercise all the powers and perform all the duties with respect to zoning in the District as provided by law.” (§492(a)(1)(e))

That means that the DC Council can’t make zoning policy. And telling DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which issues building permits, that it’s illegal to give a building permit for a project that’s legal under zoning but not under Orange Alternate Zoning would be overstepping the council’s authority.”

and concludes with pretty strong language:

“But Orange got to make a statement. If you’re a young person who doesn’t own or can’t afford a whole rowhouse, Orange doesn’t want you. If you’re a poor resident, Orange doesn’t care about you. If you want your neighborhood to never change at all, Orange wants your vote, and he’ll propose illegal legislation that will harm the District to get it.”

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Big pop up update from the Washington Post:

“The D.C. Zoning Commission took its first action on Monday night against developers building the city’s growing number of pop-up homes, voting to reduce the maximum by-right height of single-family rowhouses to 35 feet, down from 40, in some of the city’s gentrifying neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Shaw and Columbia Heights.”

The Post does note that the vote, “also allowed residents or developers to pursue a special exception if they want a 40-foot tall building.”

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“Dear PoPville,

Saw the post about the unusual Spring Road pop up.

Additional information about this construction – they took down about 6 trees lining the alley in order to build the addition. And there was a really nice backyard before, which has been converted into what I think will be patios for the first level and parking spaces.

And a historical fact: the alley to the left of the addition was once a road called Cedar Road. If you look at google maps satellite view, you can see the gap running from Spring to about Upshur that used to be the road, which is now mostly empty space between row houses and parking areas. My deed actually describes two parcels – the one where my house sits and a portion of land that was called “Cedar Road – Closed”.

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Last time we looked from the front – 1300 block Spring Road, NW

In the blue corner:

“Concerned District residents are petitioning Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials for a moratorium on building permits for rowhouse “pop-up” conversions that are changing the character of D.C. neighborhoods. The petition asks the Mayor and other city officials to place a moratorium on building permits for rowhouse conversions to apartment buildings until D.C.’s Zoning Commission has completed its rewrite of the zoning rules. This request builds on a similar request from then-Councilmember Muriel Bowser in July 2014 to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“DCRA”) when then-Councilmember Bowser asked for a “hold” on any building permit requests until the Zoning Commission settled the issue of pop-ups. “Pop-up construction could have adverse, long-term effects on properties and neighborhoods that have not been fully considered,” then-Councilmember Bowser stated (See Attached Letter).

Letter (PDF)

With no movement from DCRA on the Mayor’s request for a hold on permits for pop-ups, District residents are appealing directly to the Mayor and the Zoning Commission for a moratorium on pop- up permits until the Zoning Commission has completed its rewrite of the zoning rules. District residents may sign the petition by accessing this link: http://tinyurl.com/stopthepopdc. StopthePopDC, a grassroots community group, is encouraging concerned District residents to sign the petition.

“We have heard from many seniors and other residents whose homes have been damaged from pop- up conversions,” says long-time D.C. resident and StopthePopDC member, Tracy Hart. “We need an immediate moratorium to protect homes from irreparable damage and to protect the character of our rowhouse communities.”

“Pop-up” is the term used to describe single-family rowhouses that have been converted to apartment/condominium buildings. Developers typically add one or more stories to an existing rowhouse and build large rear additions to gain square footage for each condominium. The resulting pop-up apartment buildings have been criticized as dwarfing nearby rowhouses and blocking air and natural light. Each condominium unit typically lists for $500,000 to $900,000.
StopthePopDC is a community group working to curb the practice of developers converting single- family rowhouses into multifamily apartment buildings (“pop-ups”).”

In the red corner:

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Full release in PDF below:

JAN 2015 Letter (PDF)