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Welcome to 414 Shepherd St

This is the story of what happens when development goes wrong and the District of Columbia is unable to respond. This is all happening right now at 414Shepherd Street, NW, Washington DC. Compass Solutions, managed by Anthony Onyewuchi, is the owner of this property.

View the full Property Information Verification System Report (PIVS).

The current significant issues are:

Previous issues:

  • Large hole / hazard in the front yard (abated in December 2016)
  • Open property in front and backyard used to dump trash (DCRA added a front and rear fence on May 5, 2016, removed December 2016)
  • Front porch footings eroded and risk collapse (abated in December 2016)

Compass Solutions LLC’s history of tax liens

Compass Solutions LLC, the owner of this property, has a bit of a history of tax liens being placed on several properties they own (or previously owned) in the District. All information was found on the DC Recorder of Deeds site.

These are the liens placed on 414 Shepherd:

May 3, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St $480.20

March 5, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St $480.20 (paid)

January 6, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $5,760.60 (unclear if paid)

November 21, 2016
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $680.16 (unclear if paid)

November 18, 2016
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $408.20 (unclear if paid)

May 4, 2016
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 414 Shepherd St, $480.20 (unclear if paid)

Total: $8,217.56 [updated June 8, 2017]


Compass Solutions LLC also owns 2256 High St, SE and these are the current liens placed on that property:

May 26, 2017
DC Water and Sewer Authority at 2256 High St, SE, $1,606.23 (unclear if paid)

May 3, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 2256 High Street, SE, $680.16 (unclear if paid)

February 13, 2017
DC Water and Sewer Authority at 2256 High St, SE, $4,596.66  (unclear if paid)

February 9, 2017
Litter Control Administration Act Lient at 2256 High St, SE, $2,000.00 (unclear if paid)

January 23, 2017
Tax lien for correction of wrongful conditions against 2256 High Street, SE, $8,350.00 (unclear if paid)

Total: $17,233.05 [updated June 8, 2017]

Rear wall collapses

After the ground was excavated in the rear for the extension and left for several weeks, a portion of the rear wall collapsed. DC Fire was called to determine the safety of the structure and notified DCRA. DCRA came out and placed a ‘Danger’ sign on the front door. After speaking with DCRA it was determined that the rear wall is not load bearing and will not be required to be secured or repaired.

March Meeting – Additional next steps agreement

On March 2, 2017 Mr. Onyewuchi and Mr. Gabriel Sobande of Compass LLC met with the neighbors and ANC Commissioner as a follow up to their January 2017 due to agreements from the January meeting not being fulfilled.

Blueprints say the property will be 61’ 7” in length. Neighbors believe this is further back than the adjoining neighbor’s rear wall. Mr. Onyewuchi previously promised it wouldn’t be further so this needs to be checked.

One of the workers on the property was observed opening the DC Water access by the street and hitting the transmitter. DC Water will be contacted.

Rear foundation of the adjoining neighbor’s house has been exposed due to rear excavation at 414 Shepherd. Contractors promised that it would be fixed quickly and it has now been several weeks. At the meeting Mr. Gabriel Sobande called Pablo and they agree that it would be fixed quickly.

Workers told the adjoining neighbor that the underpinning on the house was done incorrectly and was being fixed. DCRA is expected to inspect the final underpinning the week of March 6-10. DCRA will evaluate if underpinning was done correctly.

Mr. Onyewuchi asked neighbors to call him if they don’t get answers they want from his workers.

Mr. Onyewuchi stated that it is his responsibility to ensure that any damage to neighboring houses caused by his work on the house must be repaired at his cost.

Mr. Onyewuchi stated that it is normal for projects to have stop work orders, that the duration of the house being vacant is normal, and that he is not harming neighbors nor the neighborhood. Mr. Onyewuchi is unhappy with the tone of Commissioner Goodman’s email to him requesting answers about his numerous violations.

Mr. Onyewuchi stated the house is expected to be finished by the end of April.

700 Days

Today marks the 700th day since DCRA first declared this property vacant. It is still vacant, has had numerous stop work orders placed on the property, and continues to pose health risks to the neighbors. Compass Solutions LLC continues to do minimal, if any legal work at the property.

Nothing is being done by DCRA or those with oversight of DCRA, including the Mayor or DC Council.

January 30, 2017 – Next steps agreement

Agreement between 416 Shepherd, 412 Shepherd, and Anthony Onyewuchi of Compass Solutions

1) Mr. Onyewuchi will find out if Carlos will be on-site as the neighbors have had a good experience with him before

2) All agreed Gabriel will be our main point of contact but Mr. Onyewuchi will remind him to treat us respectfully and to be responsive.

3) Mr. Onyewuchi will have Pablo or Gabriel arrange a meeting as soon as possible where neighbors can review the following

– blueprints

– permits

paperwork on crew to confirm they are employees

– proof that any independent contractors working on the project are covered by insurance

4) Mr. Onyewuchi has updated neighbors on the scope of the project including:

– Compass Solutions will not sell the property as condos

– there will be two units with separate entrances but it will be sold to 1 buyer (the buyer can always go through process to convert and re-sell as condos)

– back of house will be bumped out to same length as 412 and a deck will be added

– there will be no “bump-up”

– front yard will be excavated to add front entrance to lower unit

– porch will remain

– work to start this coming week and be completed by early April

5) Neighbors raised the likelihood of water intrusion given experience of several properties on the street. Neighbors suggested Mr. Onyewuchi design the backyard to slope away from the property, to ensure original yard drains remain connected and to install a french drain in the basement.

6) Mr. Onyewuchi kindly agreed to the following requests:

– allow neighbors to walk through when the framing is done but before walls are closed up in order to determine whether there has been any damage to our shared walls.

– repair any cracks in both neighboring properties walls

– repair the seam between the front porch stairs between 414 and 416

– remove dirt along backyard fence and re-install erosion barriers

– replace our front yard grass which has been invaded by weeds from his property

– regular clearing of weeds along the fence lines (front and back)

– consult with neighbors on aesthetics of any fencing in the front yard

– ensure snow is removed from sidewalks promptly to avoid any safety hazards

7) If problems arise we agreed to contact Mr. Onyewuchi by email before contacting DCRA. If we do not hear from Mr. Onyewuchi within 1-2 days we will follow up by phone. If we don’t hear back from Mr. Onyewuchi at that point Mr. Onyewuchi understood we would reach out to DCRA.

 

16 months later DCRA addresses excavated basement

Sometime in late December 2016 DCRA regraded the property to fill in the hole in the front  and rear of the house where the basement concrete slab was removed and floor lowered. Additionally, they removed, or reused, the excavated dirt from the rear of the year. The trash that was left in the rear has been removed. The rear wall that was demoed without a permit has now been boarded up.

While this similar abatement was done at 430 Shepherd, DCRA attempted to not enforce this abatement requirement here due to limited resources and it not posing an immediate harm to life. It is unclear why this happened as DCRA did not reach out to myself or neighbors to let them know this was being fixed.

While none of these are fixes to the actual problems with the house, nor enforcement of numerous violations or fines to the owner, they do provide some basic quality of life improvements for the neighbors. This will likely be the last work DCRA enforces on the house until the owner restarts renovations or until a new safety hazard emerges.

.

 

November 17, 2016 – CM Todd’s office requests DCRA to address outstanding issues

Turner, Dolly (Council) <dturner@DCCOUNCIL.US>
Thu 11/17/2016 1:29 PM
Inbox

To:
Bolling, Melinda (DCRA);
Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
Todd, Brandon (COUNCIL);
Rummel, Jordan (Council) <jrummel@DCCOUNCIL.US>;
Benab, Jasmin (EOM);
Cc:
Avant, Malcolm A. (DCRA);
Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Whitescarver, Clarence (DCRA);
Williamson, Zayd (DOH-Contractor);
Brown, Gerard (DOH);
Info, Mosquito (DOH);

You replied on 11/17/2016 3:15 PM.

Good afternoon Director Bolling,

We’d like to enlist your help with a problematic property that dates back to before April of 2016 and appears to stem from illegal construction. It is a hazard to the neighbors, threatens neighboring property damage, and presents a safety issue for children in the neighborhood.  The property owner has not been responsive and we’d like to request that DCRA step in to close out the outstanding issues.

Below is the initial email chain (there have been many since then) that summarizes the key problems.

I have copied Mrs. and Mrs. [neighbor] here who lives next to the property.

Thank you in advance for your assistance,

Dolly

Dolly Turner
Deputy Chief of Staff
Councilman Brandon T. Todd
(202) 654-6406

***

Thu 11/17/2016 4:32 PM
Inbox
To:
Turner, Dolly (Council) <dturner@dccouncil.us>;
Cc:
Bolling, Melinda (DCRA);
Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
Todd, Brandon (COUNCIL);
Rummel, Jordan (Council) <jrummel@dccouncil.us>;
Benab, Jasmin (EOM);
Avant, Malcolm A. (DCRA);
Washington, Jason (DCRA);

1 attachment

Good afternoon Ms. Turner I’m [neighbor], my wife and I live on the other side of 414 Shepherd ST NW.  WE have a long standing list of unanswered emails from DCRA dating back as far as March of 2015; this project is almost 2 years old. I have attached the last 2 unanswered emails, the first email was sent on the Sept 15, 2016; and after not getting an answer was hand delivered to Ms. Parris on Sept 21, 2016 who assured me I would get answer. The second email was sent on Sept 23, 2016 after not getting answer, which to this day has not been answered.  We’ve talked to so many DCRA representatives/staffers either by phone or face-to-face since March 2015 and action has been almost null especially since the last incident (September 15, 2016).   Ms. Turner thank you advance for your support and action regarding this matter.

***

Thu 11/17/2016 5:58 PM
Inbox
To:
Turner, Dolly (Council) <dturner@dccouncil.us>;
Cc:
Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
Todd, Brandon (COUNCIL);
Rummel, Jordan (Council) <jrummel@dccouncil.us>;
Benab, Jasmin (EOM);
Avant, Malcolm A. (DCRA);
Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Whitescarver, Clarence (DCRA);

You replied on 11/18/2016 10:58 AM

Mr. [neighbor],

Good evening.  I apologize for the lack of response to your inquiries.  From my hasty review just now to give you some response, I see that DCRA issued a Correction Order that had not been completed by the due date of 9/21/16.  Accordingly, I am assigning this matter to DCRA’s Enforcement Division to:  1) develop a statement of work to procure a contractor to abate the nuisance; 2) issue the statement of work; 3) select a contractor to complete the work; and 4) have the nuisance abated by the selected contractor.  Staff will start on this process tomorrow.  Again, I apologize for the delay.

Regards,
Melinda Bolling
Director

***

Fri 11/18/2016 10:58 AM

To:
Bolling, Melinda (DCRA);
Turner, Dolly (Council) <dturner@dccouncil.us>;
Cc:
Todd, Brandon (COUNCIL);
Rummel, Jordan (Council) <jrummel@dccouncil.us>;
Benab, Jasmin (EOM);
Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Whitescarver, Clarence (DCRA);
Williamson, Zayd (DOH-Contractor);
Brown, Gerard (DOH);

Dir. Bolling,

Thank you for this response. I am the ANC Commissioner in this area. While it is good that we are enforcing the 9/21/2016 Correction Order, two months later, I hope we can all acknowledge that your Department has known of all of the SWO’s (I believe we are on four) and failure on the owner and DCRA’s end to abate the nuisance issues for honestly a year and half at this point. We have tremendous challenges getting responses from you and your team. Case in point if you scroll down on this email thread you can see an email you wrote me saying “Good morning.  Thank you so much for bringing this matter to our attention.  DCRA will inspect the property and determine next steps.” Your office never followed up on that communication nor was any abatement work ever started at the property. Forgive the frustration but my confidence in your promises and your Department’s work was dashed about two or three conversations back when we talked about the same issues and the same plan to correct them. For reference see: https://414shepherd.wordpress.com/

Can you commit to making sure at a minimum these items are addressed in the abatement plan:
– unsecured gas line tied to the porch railing
– regrade/fill the foundation and large eroding holes in the front and rear of the property
– secure the porch footing before collapse
– address the partial rear wall removal

It would help to see this in writing for the statement of work and if these cannot be included it would help to get an explanation.

Additionally can we see a timeline for completion of the statement or work, procuring the contractor, and timeline for that completion. Also a plan for how we should escalate the issue if and when deadlines once again come and go?

Lastly I think it would be wise to somehow address the constant problem these neighbors have with communication not being returned. It doesn’t seem right from a process point of view that we have to get the Councilmember’s office and MOCR to force DCRA to return emails, calls, and schedule meetings. What makes this a significant concern to me is that this is one of four properties (431 Quincy, 430 Upshur, 313 Varnum, 414 Shepherd) just within my SMD that other neighbors have the same exact problems.

Adding CM Silverman and Petworth News to this chain.

Jonah Goodman

Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
FB: http://www.facebook.com/ancjonah/

***

To:
Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
Turner, Dolly (Council) <dturner@dccouncil.us>;
Cc:
Todd, Brandon (COUNCIL);
Rummel, Jordan (Council) <jrummel@dccouncil.us>;
Benab, Jasmin (EOM);
Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Whitescarver, Clarence (DCRA);
Williamson, Zayd (DOH-Contractor);
Brown, Gerard (DOH);

Commissioner Goodman,

Good morning.  Please accept my apologies for DCRA’S tardiness.  Although DCRA’S staff determined that there was no imminent life safety issue at the site that required immediate abatement before the last quarter of this calendar year, we should have communicated this decision to you and the neighbors before today.

I will confer with my team on what is required  for the agency to abate for life safety reasons at the site.  Often times neighbors want DCRA to resolve all property maintenance issues at a site.  However, the agency must dedictate limited resources to the nuisances that pose life safety issues.  Therefore, after we determine what is required to resolve life safety issues at this property,  we will provide a timeline for abatement.

Thank you for your patience.

Regards,
Melinda Bolling
Director