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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Just in...

From my friend Treebox Vodka:

Here's the report. Ray was also there and can supply additional details.

I went at about 11 - after being told by the DCRA, they would be reviewing this case at 11:30. Well, apparently, Michael Neibauer from the Examiner was there earlier and they went ahead and heard the case around 10ish. So all public/neighbor participants missed the actual hearing with Shiloh and the DCRA.

However, Alfred Ajebon from DCRA met with all interested neighbors in a conference room at DCRA (there were 5 of us including Alex Padro)

The basics:

DCRA has declared the houses "Insanitary". This gives the DCRA the right to fix the properties. If DCRA fixes the properties they have to go through all the channels of competitive bidding, reviews, etc... And then DCRA would place a lien against the properties to cover the taxpayer costs. Probably six months before starting work.

The other, more likely, option is that Shiloh will beat DCRA to the punch and do the repairs themselves. DCRA has met with a contractor that Shiloh has hired to do the anticipated work. And DCRA apparently will be tracking this on a weekly basis with Shiloh.

All Shiloh is required to do is bring them up to "vacancy" code. New roof, properly boarded window, first floor work, proper masonry, etc... They don't have to be habitable.

Shiloh was also given condemnation notices for two 8th street properties as well. DCRA said it will follow the same processes as they did on the 9th street properties.


Jason said...

Here is Michael Neibauer's piece from the Examiner.


Drew said...

In case anyone else had problems with the previous link...

Jon said...

The reporting in that article is accurate but a bit lazy. You shouldn't just repeat the church's assertion that it wants to turn the buildings into senior housing without reporting that the church has been saying the same thing for 15 years. And while the formal order to DCRA may use the word "raze," it should be noted that razing these buildings would likely violate applicable historic preservation rules.

Mr Ray said...

Treebox's account jives with my 11:30 arrival account with Mr. Ajebon. I would only add Mr. Ajebon's experience that churches have some sort of city Council umbrella that protects them from the full weight of prosecution. Furthermore, I would like to stress the cited buildings will still look like run-down, vacant, boarded-up tenements after they are made "sanitary." It is not mysterious that the Condemnation Board pushed the actual hearing out of earshot of residents.

Mr Ray said...

I should also like to add that Mr. Ajebon said: 1) the city has no jurisdiction over the Park Service's Woodson eyesores on Ninth but can only encourage the Federal Government to be responsible; 2) vacant property owners are not obliged to fix up their properties and make them habitable.

Negligent owners can only be discouraged by 1) making them pay accumulating higher taxes (Class 3 is not high enough, or 2) resorting to such humiliation tactics as NYC that went so far as to hang banners with photos, names, and telephone numbers of negligent property owners. But since the shielded churches are the number two culprit after the city for vacant properties, DC will remain Third World.

Anonymous said...

On July 2, Councilwoman Mary Cheh will hold a public hearing if legislative suggestions want to be made to further incentivize vacant property owners to fix up their properties and make them habitable. . . why not shame Shiloh in a public setting to be replayed on channel 13 repeatedly . . . ?
Vacant and Nuisance Property Administration and Enforcement
Monday, July 2, 2007
10:00 A.M.
Council Chamber

ed said...

What is Mr. Ajebon's title? I believe what he told you is not entirely correct. The Vacant Building Maintenance Standard can be enforced. But if the Vacant Property Office was doing its job, these properties wouldn't have to go before the Condemnation Board.

Secondly, as you all know, it is very easy to get an exception for the class 3 tax.

Thirdly, vacant buildings are often underassessed. So even at the 5% rate, the owners pay little tax.