CM Orange walks through Petworth with residents

Councilmember Vincent Orange is working to prohibit pop-up conversions in R-4 zoned areas around the city (with his proposed Prohibition on Single Family Dwelling Conversions Emergency Amendment Act).

CM Orange went on a neighborhood walk-through with several residents and ANC 4C Commissioners Joe Martin (SMD 4C09) and Kathleen Crowley (SMD 4C10) to look at alleged permit violations at recent or ongoing construction of conversions, pop-up and complete redevelopments of existing properties.

“Councilmember Vincent Orange, chair of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, walked with me and Kathleen for about 90 minutes in our SMDs,” said Commissioner Martin.

Martin explained that Orange's position as chair of the committee provides the councilmember with oversight of DCRA, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the construction and development permitting agency.

“I think Vincent Orange is primarily fact-gathering at this point,” continued Commissioner Martin. “Some developers have been less than honest in their dealings with neighbors living in homes attached to buildings undergoing renovation. Seems they have been engaged in work for which they don't always have permits. DCRA has also not made it easy for people to find out what is going on.”

According to one of the residents who attended, they looked at several properties where neighbors complained of construction issues. One example was a house on Quincy where the developer supposedly only received permits for electric and plumbing work, but ended up tearing down the house and building a new structure entirely.

There’s some disagreement with Orange’s direction on this topic (see Greater Greater Washington’s article: bit.ly/1z3xDWp), but the loud clamor around DC, including Petworth, is to “Stop the Pop.” In fact, some Petworth residents recently managed to get Grant Circle designated with Historic Landmark status, protecting the structures on the Circle. (It doesn’t protect 16 Grant Circle, which did receive raze permits and a plan to create a large, multi-domicile condo.)

ANC 4C Commissioner Kathleen Crowley said, “I think the walk-through was very important, not only because CM Orange is chair of the committee that oversees DCRA, but also it showed to our 4C residents that their concerns are legitimate and serious.”

She added that “the walk-through featured a number of egregious examples of how the oversight is non-existent at DCRA. The residents did a wonderful job highlighting the problems we are having in this area. I personally think it is long overdue that the Council begin to address the issue of oversight, particularly with regard to illegal construction.”

Commissioner Martin was kind enough to share some of his photos from the walk-through. Councilmember Orange posted a ton of pictures (and a lot of opinions) on his Twitter account (http://bit.ly/1HRkS48).

Also joining the councilmember and the ANC commissioners were several residents, including Mary Walker, Dr. Otesia Barr, Ben Temchine, Steve Wright and Tom Woodruff. Martin Austermuhle from WAMU also joined the neighborhood walk-through.

What do you think about the pop-ups and CM Orange's legislation?

Related: WAMU 3-Part Series on Toxic Renovations & DCRA

Enlarge the photos to read descriptions (if any):

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.



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