What Neighbors Say Is an Event/Party House Near Capitol Comes Under City Scrutiny
By Larry Janezich
Some houses in residential areas near the Capitol Building are being used as event/party houses, and neighbors are complaining. Such commercial use of residences not occupied by owners is not permitted under city regulations.
Neighbors of 145 D Street, SE, say that the otherwise unoccupied two bedroom house owned by Jennifer Tye – who has an Alexandria address and who also owns the catering company DCTaste – is being used several times a week as a venue for catered events – some of which appear to be fundraisers for politicians.
Apparently, in an effort to comply with city regulations regarding vacant properties, the owner has posted a “For Rent” sign on the property. Neighbors say the house is listed at $6000 a month.
DCRA recently shut down another nearby event/party house in the same block at 125-127 D Street, after complaints by neighbors, who worry if fines are not levied against the owner of 145 D Street, the operation at 125-127 will start up again. The difference between the two cases is the owner of 125-127 D was quite open about the business being conducted there, and the owner of 145 D, according to neighbors, is not.
ANC6B Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk contacted the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) regarding 145 D Street last November 15. The resulting investigation seemed dismissive; according to Samolyk, the response was, in essence, “people can have parties.”
As the activities at the house continued, a second inquiry on December 9, this one involving an expression of interest from the office of Councilmember Charles Allen, prompted DCRA to reopen the investigation.
On February 7, DCRA Investigator Deborah Britt told Samolyk that the re-opened investigation had been finalized and would be submitted shortly for enforcement action and that the Office of Zoning Administration would be notified of the case findings. Britt offered Samolyk an opportunity to submit additional information.
Yesterday, Samolyk submitted additional evidence: the presence of aproned waiters on the nights of parties, a timeline of parties recorded by neighbors, photos neighbors say show attendees arriving for an event, a laundry truck picking up linens from the address, no evidence of an occupancy permit, a lack of evidence that anyone is living in the house, and a Facebook page for DC Taste showing the company’s location at 145 D Street, SE. (See here: http://bit.ly/2lgDqoT)
Neighbors say that several houses on nearby New Jersey Avenue are well known for their use as event/party houses, and D Street residents are resisting the same thing happening to the 100 block of D Street. “We don’t want to see D Street turn into New Jersey, one told CHC, “it changes nature of the neighborhood. It’s cheating, not to mention being an annoyance to the neighbors.”
For another case of a townhouse near the Capitol being used for commercial purposes, see CHC post here: http://bit.ly/2m8CCki