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Sidewalks of Shame Nominee – First Seventh Day Adventist Church

by Prince Of Petworth March 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm 35 Comments

a few days after the snow/ice

Almost made it the whole season…

“Dear PoPville,

I live around the corner from First Seventh Day Adventist Church at 810 Shepherd Street NW. The church’s bordering streets of Shepherd and 8th are literally never shoveled after it snows.

I’ve noticed this is fairly common with churches — no one actually lives there and the congregants don’t live nearby, so no one actually takes responsibility for keeping the sidewalk clean. The church has many visitors every Sunday, parking all over the neighborhood. But when it snows, not one person comes to shovel.

Yesterday, we had freezing temperatures after it snowed, and the sidewalks at Shepherd and 8th are now lined with ice because no one from the church maintained them. This is not only dangerous for the church’s congregants, but for the neighborhood in general. I also find it inconsiderate and disrespectful to the families who live here (everyone else in the neighborhood keeps their sidewalks clean and safe for their neighbors).

Is there anything that can be done? Anyone in the city who can convince them to take responsibility of their property?”

  • textdoc

    Is this on the radar of your ANC Single Member District (SMD) rep?

  • wdc

    I went and spoke to the pastor at the church down the block from me. It was a Sunday morning before services, and I asked that he ask his parishioners to help out. I think he did, because it got better. Not perfect, but better.

  • kd21

    I reported a few scofflaw households through the DC 311 app. I can’t confirm if they actually did so, of course, but they closed my ticket and wrote in the note that they issued snow removal citations to the homeowners.
    I have zero sympathy for able-bodied homeowners, businesses, and places of worship that do not shovel their snow. It creates a serious hazard for everyone.

  • anonymous

    I’ve emailed DDOT twice about the Hopscotch Bridge as the sidewalk (at least the one on the south side) is a hazardous ice rink and people were walking in the street rather than risk falling. No response on who is responsible for clearing.

  • Grumble

    I would not be up for taking on something this big, but as for my immediate neighbors who don’t shovel, I just do their portion of the sidewalk. It’s not a ton of space and I have to walk over it daily, so I benefit from it in the end. I’d rather just have it done than sitting around pissed off that they won’t (which I used to do) or to take a spill on it. Still irritates me, though. On the other hand, my elderly neighbor salts his section of sidewalk and a few houses down on either side of him before every storm, and is out there shoveling as soon as snow stops falling.

  • LoveEmerson

    Seventh Day Adventists have service on Saturdays.

    • |What does that have to do with their responsibility to shovel their sidewalks regardless of what day it snows?

  • Churches are notoriously bad about clearing their sidewalks. They simply don’t care – (most of their subscribers live outside DC) and are never held accountable.

    • saf

      My church pays a service to come out right after the snow – and we pay plenty, as we are on a corner. Both our sidewalks and our lot are shoveled, and I am sure we are not the only ones.
      We are a small church with a small budget. If we can do it, other churches should be able to do so too!

    • HaileUnlikely

      I suppose it’s a different scenario when several people actually live at the church, but the staff, volunteers, and sometimes even the priests themselves get out and shovel all of the sidewalks around my church within a few hours of any major snowfall. They even had them clear the morning after the brunt of snowmageddon. I remember that well because I showed up at about 9 AM to help them shovel but they were already done!

  • OP

    I’m the OP.

    1. ^The commenter above is correct. Their services are indeed on Saturdays (I hadn’t realized that until thinking back to all of the Saturdays I’ve heard their music and seen there parked cars everywhere as I headed to my Saturday gym class).
    2. My ANC commissioner is batshit nuts. I am unlikely to bring this up to him — he is very defensive of anything church-related. He was vehemently against bicycle lanes that would take away from churchgoers’ parking. I encourage someone to run against him in the next election. Please — like, anyone.
    3. I’m not anti-church, but they do seem to get away with lots of minute infractions such as this (though this could arguably be very dangerous, and not a minute issue at all).
    4. I’m also not opposed to shoveling for others at all — I’m young and can do it. It’s just that I don’t understand why they don’t have one single congregant who will volunteer to do it, and it irks me that this is even an issue. The other thing is that I already have a good deal of shoveling that I do for others, in the vicinity of my apartment, and taking on two additional large blocks would be a big haul for me physically.
    5. I’d really like for them to step up and be good neighbors. I think this is possible. I have faith in them. Everyone else does it. They can too. Plus, all these years of seeing their congregants slip and slide on ice in their church outfits — I’m like, aren’t they sick of this already?

    • Mark

      Not trying to be rude here, but is there a reason you haven’t called them or knocked on the door to talk to the person in charge to politely ask that they remove the snow and ice?

      • Seriously? Is there any reason why anyone would not know/expect they have a basic duty to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their property? Why should any neighbor have to call or knock on the door?

    • jonah

      OP realistically there is not much that will be done with the property. The District would need to send someone out to inspect and document that it isn’t shoveled in order to ticket them. If the church ever comes before the ANC for a zoning request we can ask them to do a better job at keeping the sidewalks clean and passable.

      As far as your Commissioner goes, if you feel they are not representing you I would first let them know your thoughts on all the issues you mention. After that, if you feel they are not representing you, you could always contact the full Commission and share your thoughts. Finally, run for the position or find someone to run if your views aren’t represented. Note I am an ANC Commissioner on ANC 4C where your Commissioner serves. I am not advocating for or against them, only that if you feel you aren’t being properly represented by your Commissioner that you have options.

    • saf

      Plenty of people have run against Tim Jones in the past. They never win.

  • andy2

    The Divine Science Church Healing is the worst – 2025 35th St NW.
    I used to call every storm, sometimes in advance to warn them. Divine intervention or inspiration never stuck and its a hazard still.

  • PJ at MtP

    My lovely neighbors did mine. I live on the corner so it’s a span of more than half a block. I’m 78 years old and my husband is 87, both with health issues. Thank goodness for neighbors!

    • Anon

      Neither you, nor your husband should be shoveling! I’m glad you have good neighbors. That’s what neighbors are for.

      But churches should have some parishioners volunteer to shovel their sidewalks.

      • Marty

        I’d guess that they have a contractor to mow/landscape. Certainly the parishioners *could* shovel, but seems like getting your landscape company to come over and shovel with each storm makes more sense.

  • wpk_dc

    Churches get away with so much that other organizations or individuals wouldn’t: No taxes, double parking, as well as not removing snow.

    • Anonymous

      Lots of other organizations and people get away with not removing snow. If you want to shake your fist at churches at least do it right.

      • More Anonymous

        Nothing (s)he said was wrong, so I don’t understand how they didn’t “do it right.”

        • Anonymous

          (s)he said that churches get away with “so much that other organizations or individuals wouldn’t”, but as I pointed out, not removing snow is not one of those things. Pretty much everyone who doesn’t remove snow gets away with it, it’s not like churches get special treatment.

  • Caitlin

    I’m just going to throw this out there – it is consequence of gentrification and the lack of affordable housing that has driven most congregants far away from their churches. All these churches used to be neighborhood churches. It is not their fault that now they are surrounded by young transplants (of which I am one, I admit). I’m not saying it’s right to leave swaths of sidewalk un-shoveled. I’m just saying maybe get off your high horses.

    • OP

      Okay, Caitlin — I have no high horse here. I get what you’re saying, but the congregants of this church, as well as the long-time residents of this neighborhood deserve to walk on sidewalks that aren’t iced over due to negligence. Do you want to come shovel it for them? I didn’t think so.
      Neighborhoods change, but shoveling your portion is a responsibility of any owner of anything.

    • Anon X

      That’s total bullshit on a number of levels. Most notably, that churchmembers got “pushed out” by gentrificationz. They went and settled PG county because they thought that was a better quality of life.

      • anon anacostia

        While some people may have been pushed out, I’d agree that it’s probably not the majority. I looked for a house for a year and I was exclusively finding that the owners were black and had owned the house for a long time (I looked at real estate records). Sometimes the owner had died or was elderly and moved out. Regardless, the remaining family members didn’t want to live in the houses I was looking at and they were ALL accepting market offers. Those families are better off (through building wealth), but their decisions have an adverse affect on renters.

        Let’s also remember that some people (like me) don’t go to church so the “neighborhood” church may die out because it no longer has a relation to a community. That’s perfectly fine by me in the same way it’s perfectly fine by me when a new church/mosque/etc. opens up in a neighborhood. If that’s what people want to do/support, go ahead. Just don’t blame me when those people, for whatever reason, don’t support it anymore.

      • James W.

        Anon X, it’s disturbing how aggressive you are in presenting your opinion. You can’t possibly know the motivation of every churchgoer who’s left the District.

        • No one needs to know the motivation of every (or any!) “churchgoer who’s left the District ” Completely irrelevant. Just clear your sidewalks. This is simple. SHOVEL the damn snow! Any property owner knows this. Snow is never unexpected. Shut up and just do it. People in wheelchairs, elderly people who need walkers, parents with kids in strollers besides able bodied people who just don’t want to fall – this has nothing to do with anything besides basic responsibility.

          • FridayGirl

            +1 to victoria and Anon X.

  • anonJohn

    My other annoyance with this church is that their roof drains through a buried pipe onto the sidewalk. Where it refreezes into a sheet of ice.

    • Marty

      that’s worth checking/reporting to DCRA to see if that drainage is within code. i suspect not.

  • RF

    “And on the seventh day they cleared their sidewalks of snow”

  • dc

    The Israeli embassy has always been god awful. Would go weeks without shoveling it, and it was always very icy since snow would leak down from the trees and onto the sidewalks.

  • stacksp

    Maybe they thought it was so insignificant that foot traffic alone would eventually get rid of the snow or someone forgot the shovel and ice melt.


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