Ten townhouses labeled problematic

Ten student-occupied townhouses have been placed on a University-maintained “problem property list” due to complaints regarding noise, trash or other nuisances.

A property must have had at least four complaints logged against it to make the list, said Michael Akin, executive director of the Office of Government, International and Community Relations. That office maintains the list, which was first compiled last year. Akin declined to list the properties that have been labeled as problem properties.

“Letters were sent to properties that have been the subject of repeated community concerns over the past academic year,” Akin said. “Four or more calls regarding a specific address triggered a letter to the landlord and the occupants, laying out our expectations of proper behavior.”

Akin said the decrease of townhouses on the list – down from 16 last year – is a good indication the program is working.

“This is the second year we have sent such letters. Many of the properties that received letters last year were not on this year’s list,” Akin said.

Akin did not provide locations of any of the townhouses, but the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, which encompasses the University, voted in June to revoke the license of the landlord of a townhouse on 22nd Street due to repeated complaints. The townhouse, located at 1016 22nd St., has been traditionally leased to students, and neighbors complained of loud parties and excessive trash.

According to an annual report from the Office of Off-Campus Student Affairs, 42 percent of community complaints from June 2007 to July 2008 concerned townhouses. No information is currently available concerning last academic year.

Under the University’s good neighbor policy, the University Police Department or Metropolitan Police Department will respond to any concerns reported by members of the Foggy Bottom and West End community. The University maintains a 24-hour community concern hotline, and Akin said calls to other administrators are relayed back to his office.

Any townhouse sanitation violations fall under the jurisdiction of the D.C.’s Department of Public Works. Five percent of complaints from 2007 to 2008 concerned trash, according to the Office of Off-Campus Student Affairs’ annual report.

DPW’s Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program strives to keep the city clean through a two-step process of informing citizens about waste management, and, when necessary, administering penalties.

“We will work with property owners, whether they are commercial property owners or residential property owners, to explain to them what are the regulations so that people can perform within the regulations,” said Linda Grant, a spokesperson for the department. “When that does not happen, then we will enforce the law.”

Fines for residential sanitation infractions range from $75 for the first violation within a 60-day period, to $1000 for the fourth violation. Infractions can include the use of improper storage containers for collection of solid waste, failure to maintain abutting public space, putting a solid waste container out at the wrong time or place and using a container without a tight-fitting lid.

“Trash complaints are a significant portion of the community concerns that get reported. The city has specific regulations regarding trash collection and off-campus students are expected to comply,” Akin said.

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