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Friday 01 July 2005

Cause And Effect

The Washington Post says:

The District’s skyrocketing real estate prices have fueled an increase in illegal construction as property owners across the city are building and renovating homes without obtaining the required permits, according to D.C. officials and a review of city records.

But it occurs to me that in fact real estate prices in D.C. may be ‘skyrocketing’ because it’s so damned hard to build anything there. They’re arresting people who are building without permits — or without the city’s bureaucracy being properly aware that permits have been obtained.

Cyrus C. Blackmon and his wife, Katarina Varani, were arrested at their Capitol Hill home in April and charged with building without a permit, removing stop-work orders and entering a property in violation of a stop-work order.

In the past 17 months, D.C. has issued over 1,400 stop-work orders, according to the Post. Fairfax and Montgomery counties — each of which is larger than D.C. — each issue fewer than fifty a year.

One report of illegal construction activity can quickly lead to other violators being cited.

Alerted by a neighbor, the agency’s inspection unit recently discovered that Oladele had been constructing a four-story, multiunit building at 723 Morton St. NW since 2003 without a building permit. Inspectors immediately posted a stop-work order.

Then they noticed that a homeowner across the street was renovating his house without permits. They halted that work, too. D.C. police officer Kevin E. Brittingham, the property owner, has received $10,000 in fines and penalties. He said he is appealing the fines because he didn’t know he needed a permit to remodel his kitchen and replace windows.

“I know now,” he said.

He knows to move out of D.C., and to a place that doesn’t see targets on all of its residents’ backs, if he has any sense.

Posted by tino at 19:06 1.07.05
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They are only doing this for the safety of the citizens of the District. It isn’t about any revenue they might realize from issuing the permits. Nope, it is all about safety.

Posted by: Paul at July 1, 2005 10:21 PM

From the article-

“But some residents and contractors complain of lengthy waits for officials to review plans, issue permits and respond to requests for inspections. Some people hire “expeditors” who can help speed the process.”

You wouldn’t have seen this coming from a town that has only one official, government run automobile inspection station for the whole city.

It’s also curious to note that there seems to be people who make their living greasing the palms of the inspectors to let your permit “jump the line”. Who would have guessed that in a city where some police own tow truck companies that (surprise) have contacts with the city?

My favorite part-

John Frye, a community activist, frequently cruises Deanwood, looking for illegal construction. “They’re disrespecting the law,” Frye said of some builders. “They’re working with the stop-work orders posted where you can see them.”

John, the law is an ass. You’re a brown shirt. Maggots like you want us to amend the Constitution so you can elect one of your own a congress-critter. You are not making a good first impression.

Posted by: steel at July 2, 2005 01:35 AM

I believe that DC has two car inspection stations now, and that they are no longer open bankers’ hours.

And the job of ‘permit expeditor’ exists everywhere. I have never been able to figure out how much of the job is genuinely knowing the particulars of the local system, and how much is bribery.

Posted by: Tino at July 2, 2005 09:27 AM