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.

.

 

Advertisements

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

October 27, 2016 – Beginning of request for on site meeting

In regards to the September 28 thread about new permit issued while under a Stop Work Order I followed up after DCRA stopped responding:
From: Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2016 12:32 PM
To: Washington, Jason (DCRA)
Subject: RE: 414 Shepherd St NW
 
Are there any new updates here? Assuming there is no current abatement work scheduled can we set up an in person meeting to discuss next steps and deadlines? We can combine this with the 430 Upshur request I sent earlier. I believe both neighbors on either side of 414 Shepherd would like to be present. We may also want to do this on site at the property.
 
Jonah Goodman
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***
On Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 12:57 PM -0400, “Washington, Jason (DCRA)”<Jason.Washington@dc.gov> wrote:

I can get the DCRA folks that would need to be present at the site to discuss with the neighbors. Whenever your schedule allows for it.
 
Jason Washington
Special Assistant
Office of the Director
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
District of Columbia Government
1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20024
202.442.8942 office
***
Nov 3, 2016 (sent from mobile app, thus formatting changes)
Do you have any availability next Thursday or Friday?
Jonah
***
To:

Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
You replied on 11/4/2016 9:34 AM.
 I do. Trying to check with the flexibility for some of the other participants. I will try and have more information this afternoon. Can confirm no later than Monday COB.
 
Jason Washington
Special Assistant
Office of the Director
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
District of Columbia Government
1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20024
202.442.8942 office
***
Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Fri 11/4/2016 9:34 AM
Sent Items
To: Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Thank you.
Jonah Goodman 
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***
Washington, Jason (DCRA)
Tue 11/8/2016 10:09 AM
Inbox
To: Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
You replied on 11/11/2016 10:22 AM.
Commissioner,
 
Friday looks to be out. You mentioned Thursday or Friday. Is it possible to do early next week? Are the neighbors available then? Thanks,
 
Jason Washington
Special Assistant
Office of the Director
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
District of Columbia Government
1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20024
202.442.8942 office
***
Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Fri 11/11/2016 10:22 AM
Sent Items
To: Washington, Jason (DCRA);
You replied on 11/17/2016 10:29 AM.
Mr. Washington,
I could do these times:
Tuesday until noon
Wednesday all day
Thursday before 2pm
The [neighbor] (416 Shepherd) and [neighbor] (412 Shepherd) should likely be able to make those times. I realize the office is likely closed today for Veterans Day and look forward to talking Monday.
Jonah Goodman
 
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***
Thu 11/17/2016 10:29 AM
Sent Items
To: Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Mr. Washington,
Since it appears we are not going to meet this week can you give me times next week that you will be available to be on site. Please provide enough time so that we don’t have to cancel and push this past the holiday. We are now three months out from our last in person meeting and there have been no action from DCRA on the promises stated in that meeting. For reference those next steps are documented here https://414shepherd.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/august-11-2016-2/
Jonah Goodman
 
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***
Thu 11/17/2016 12:29 PM
Inbox
To:Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10);
Cc:Stewart, Craigs (DCRA);

Burnett, Susan (DCRA);
Commissioner,
 
I never received the below email about the dates for this week. I apologize as I was trying to make this happen.  I am including Craig Stewart, program manager for Vacant Building Enforcement, and Susan Burnett, the Enforcement Administrator, on this email. They were waiting for me to make a date since the request was for a meeting in the community with the residents. Can we get on the phone at some point today and schedule? Thanks,
 
Jason Washington
Special Assistant
Office of the Director
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
District of Columbia Government
1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20024
202.442.8942 office
***
This thread moved to a phone call the afternoon of 11/17/2016. I requested the on-site meeting happen before Thanksgiving so as to not incur any further delays due to the holiday. Monday morning was offered with a promise to follow up and set that meeting. No follow up has been received yet.

November 18, 2016 – DCRA confirms it will only commit resources to concerns that ‘pose life safety’ issues

Note: Emphasis below is from me, not the Director.
Bolling, Melinda (DCRA)
Fri 11/18/2016 11:46 AM
 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

October 13, 2016

After no response from the Department of Health Ward 4 liaison I called DOH directly to ask about the standing water abatement notice posted on August 11, 2016. I was unable to find anyone in DOH who handles property abatement cases. I reached one unit where a very honest DOH employee shared this:

  • The unit who posted the abatement notice is likely from the Zika containment unit
  • That unit is mostly made up of seasonal contractors
  • Ms. Paige Lipscome, the investigator who posted the abatement notice appears to no longer work for DOH
  • The number for Ms. Lipscome, posted on the abatement notice, goes to another former employee’s voicemail.
  • Because the unit was closed for the season DOH likely will not come back to the property to enforce the abatement notice

While the abatement notice states “please abate the above notice(s) not later than 10 days from the Date of Service to avoid being assessed fines in the amount of $500 or more. Failure to abate the above violation(s) shall constitute a violation of the Act, with each day of the violation constituting a separate offense.

 

 

 

 

September 28, 2016 – New Permits Granted under SWO

From: Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 3:39 PM
To: Washington, Jason (DCRA)
Subject: RE: 414 Shepherd St NW
 
I see there was a new permit approved for interior renovation and rear addition on 9/7/2016. Are they going to be required to abate these issues before they can begin other work or are they able to do these simultaneously to non-abatement work?
 
Jonah Goodman
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***

From: Washington, Jason (DCRA)
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 2:47 PM
To: Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Subject: RE: 414 Shepherd St NW
 
I don’t see a new permit issued on 9/7/16 for 414 Shepherd St NW. I see that the SWO is still intact. Nothing would affect them doing the Abatement. Separate entities so they can be done simultaneously.
 
Jason Washington
Special Assistant
Office of the Director
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
District of Columbia Government
1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20024
202.442.8942 office
***

From: Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 2:59 PM
To: Washington, Jason (DCRA)
Subject: RE: 414 Shepherd St NW
 
ANC Commissioners get a monthly city wide permit report from Jonathan Williams (DCRA) and it shows ID #B1600701 issued for 414 Shepherd in September.
 
Jonah Goodman
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***
From: Washington, Jason (DCRA)
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 3:09 PM
To: Goodman, Jonah (SMD 4C10)
Subject: RE: 414 Shepherd St NW
 
Thanks for the building permit number. I looked that up and that permit was issued in October of last year.  I am checking with my permit center now and it looks like they were doing a test. The comments for the permit issued on 9/7/16 : PERMIT WAS PREVIOUSLY ISSUED – A TEST WAS PERFORMED TO FIND OUT IF A PERMIT COULD BE GENERATED WHILE A HOLD WAS PRESENT.
 
Let me find out if that was in fact a test and why that would have gone to Commissioners if it wasn’t actually a permit. This is concerning because no one talked to anyone.
 
Jason Washington
Special Assistant
Office of the Director
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
District of Columbia Government
1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington DC 20024
202.442.8942 office
***
No answer has been provided to date about the permit’s accuracy. 

September 28, 2016

To: Torres, Ivan (DOH); Washington, Jason (DCRA);
Cc: Benab, Jasmin (EOM); Turner, Dolly (Council) <dturner@DCCOUNCIL.US>;

Carnes, Jackson (Council) <jcarnes@DCCOUNCIL.US>;
Mr. Torres,
I am following up on this request in hopes of getting an answer. DOH issued a notice of failure to abate standing water. The owner had until August 21, 2016 to fix this and has not. If you don’t have an answer to this can you reply and acknowledge that you have received this and when we might be able to get a response. I appreciate your help on informing neighbors on this long standing issue.
Jonah Goodman
Commissioner, Single Member District 4C10
Advisory Neighborhood Commission Ward 4
Twitter: @ANCJonah
***
To date Mr. Torres has not responded.