Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thieves eye Asian-food delivery drivers -

"Robbers call the Chinese-carryout restaurants and order the food to be delivered to the wrong address or to a vacant home, police said. When the driver arrives, the robbers take the food, as well as the driver’s money and cell phone. In one case, they stole the car, too. Several drivers have told officers that they’ve been robbed several times....
Police have boarded up a vacant home in 5100 block of 13th Street Northwest that was used at least twice by robbers"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

1316 9th Street, NW

This former barbershop was bought by a developer on 09/13/2007 for $300,000. The developer's presentation at the ANC2f meeting on 1/9/2008 was very encouraging and I wish them luck.

It should be noted that the building is in horrible condition due to the negligence of the previous owners and the city government's inaction. Remarkably, it is not listed as vacant by OTR or DCRA. The current owner is entitled to an exemption though.

Monday, January 7, 2008 - Death of Main Street, One Local Zoning Law at a Time - Opinion

"Local officials who simultaneously decry big box stores and national chains while doling out burdensome regulatory structures and complicated permit processes should understand that regulatory burdens hit the smaller, independent places hardest, because they're the places that have the smallest amount of discretionary cash to hire legal aid (or, if you're really cynical, to make the appropriate campaign contributions). They're on a tighter budget and, therefore, have a smaller margin of error when it comes to hassles like delaying an opening because some bureaucrat determined their signage is a couple of inches out of compliance."
by Radley Balko

Thursday, January 3, 2008

No teeth in D.C. tax on vacant land - Washington Business Journal:

"The District is not enforcing its controversial Class 5 tax rate on much of the city's vacant land, even though the D.C. Council imposed the higher rate to stimulate development.

Developers have criticized the higher rate, saying it discourages investment in real estate in the District. But not all owners of vacant or undeveloped properties are paying the higher Class 5 rate of $5 per $100 assessed value, compared with the $2.15 per $100 rate paid by owners of other commercial property.

'They pay $5 if we can identify them,' said Natwar Gandhi, director of the Office of Tax and Revenue. 'Unfortunately, there are many properties that should be in Class 5 but are not.'

Only 2,979 properties, less than 2 percent of the District's 154,582 taxable parcels, are classified as vacant or unoccupied. City officials have no estimate of how many more properties should be in that classification."
by Thomas C. Hall
Washington Business Journal
June 26, 1998
[Note: This was published in 1998.--Ed.]

Signs on vacant property

3107.6.5 Signs on vacant property. Display of any sign, poster, or other advertising medium on or in any part of a vacant building, store, or premises, visible from the street or public way, other than real estate signs, complying with Section 3107.16 and authorized billboards or poster panels, is prohibited.

Exception: One sign not more than 6 square feet (0.557 m²) in area giving the name, business, and new address of the former occupant is permitted to be displayed for not more than 60 days on the vacated premises.

District of Columbia Building Code Supplement of 2003
See page 173.

ANC2C02 Forum - Vacant Props

"With more and more ex-offenders, some without housing, being released and returning to their old stomping grounds, these vacant and sometimes unsecured properties present even more of a problem for vacant property owners and neighboring residents.
So when an undisclosable source told me that a rifle was found in a property, like the one pictured, about 10 doors from my home and only a few hundred yards from Scott Montgomery Elementary a few weeks ago. I thought it was worth informing the community publicly. The City and our Councilmember have dropped the ball on this issue and we need more ammunition like this to hold them accountable for keeping our communities unsafe."

[I don't know how I missed this posting.--Ed.]

DC Government Data Feeds

From the mail bag:

"I work with the Citywide Data Warehouse group in DC Government. I noticed your site links to our webpage under Government links; however, it is listed as CapStat. Our group has been renamed to Citywide Data Warehouse since you first posted this. There is a new CapStat page at

Although we are not currently receiving data from the DCRA Vacant Property group, our Office of Tax & Revenue Registered Vacant Property dataset may assist you when reporting on properties throughout the District. The data catalog is available at

If we can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at

Julia Williams
Program Outreach and Training Coordinator
Office of the Chief Technology Officer
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite C-01
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-727-0078
Fax: 202-727-9767

925 5th Street, NW

From the mail bag:

"Love your vacant property blog. I have a question about 925 5th Street NW. Tony Cheng (the owner of the property) has removed the roof (it had a tree growing out of it anyway). The back of the property is secured by plywood. Drug users and homeless are using the building by pulling off the plywood and/or climbing over the plywood. This is clearly a violation. The building is not secure and I'm not sure that you can have a vacant building without a roof. What do I need to do to get this property properly reported as a nuisance, condemned, fixed, etc..."