Laws, regulations, and rules

…Are completely useless and meaningless if not enforced.

Back at the BACA meeting (I think) someone asked someone (one of the candidates, really I’m not trying for accuracy, just credit) why ugly crap gets built in Shaw and our part of town and not places like Georgetown. I can’t remember the exact answer but it boiled down to enforcement.
There is something good gad ugly going up on the pepto bismol colored house on Rhode Island Ave (NE?). Is it legal? Dunno? Thing is if no one, who is really interested (as I am only slightly interested) in fighting the erection of the ugly addition of another level, then the ugly thing gets built. If no one calls DCRA questioning it, or checks with the Zoning board or challenges the legality of it, then it gets built. Now if the pepto colored house was in Georgetown where there is a vigilant populace with various DC agencies on their speed dial, they more than likely would be challenging it as soon as the first cinder block was spotted. Of course, the addition on the pepto house could be all perfectly legal, with the proper papers and plans filed, and despite what I think the addition could be beautiful. Yeah.
There are also laws against construction work not between 7am & 7pm. Yet for about a year the contractor at 1617 NJ Ave NW started after 7pm. I would call and occasionally the police would come out and enforce the rules. That is if I wasn’t challenged by the dispatcher who thought it was perfectly legal to hammer away at 9pm.
Rules, laws and regulations created by the city that were not enforced by the city are like as if no rule existed at all. I understand that the city needs citizens to call in, write or whatever to alert the city when its laws, regulations and what have you are being violated. Citizens also need to know that they have to hold the city accountable for the enforcement of those laws when they alert the city to such violations. The government, thankfully, is not an all knowing, and all seeing Big Brother that knows immediately when wrongdoing is occurring.

4 thoughts on “Laws, regulations, and rules”

  1. What do we expect in a town in which the mayor was quoted as saying “There Ain’t No Law That’s Hard and Fast”. (That is according to Gary Imhoff at

  2. I actually like the idea that as long as you aren’t breaking any rules on setbacks, safety, etc. you can build whatever you want on your property, regardless of what the neighbors think. As long as it’s up to code, I’d rather have a good neighbor in an ugly house than a bad neighbor in a house that looks exactly like mine.


  3. In the past Mari you have argued against historical neighborhood designation for Shaw. Well, guess what… what you get in return is ugly-a$$ architecture. The reason you don’t see it in Georgetown is that they are an historical neighborhood and everyone has to jump through hoops to shingle their roof or replace their windows.

    Can’t have it both ways I’m afraid (although maybe someone should argue for “historical lite” designation).


  4. I’m opposed to a historic designation because the spirit that I perceive behind some efforts have less to do with preserving a story or unique architecture and more to do with an extreme hatred of vinyl and modernism. And even then, if the populace of an area in one of the current 20some-43 (depending on which source you look at) DC historic districts does not rat out a contractor or neighbor remuddling a place (sometimes sans permits) then ugly gets built anyway. That was the part of the point of my posting, people need to be nosey neighbors challenging their neighbors to make sure zoning and other regulations and laws are followed and enforced. Historic districts aim for an authenticity that for the most part I think is uncessessary.
    Besides one can get butt ugly with paint. Hey if I tag my own house with spray paint is it vandalism? Is it legal to keep my spray painted tag?

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