Earlier this month, as part of a neighborhood clean up, I had my first experience with a lawnmower, clearing the two foot high grass along the 300 Block of New York Avenue NW, while pulling weeds and picking up at east three lawn-and-leaf-sized bags of soft drink and beer bottles, candy wrappers, and snack food bags, not to mention a half dozen crack bags. Our cleanup, however, had the effect of providing an even better view of the illegal billboard attached to the chain-link fence of what may be, not coincidentally, one of the 55 or so used cars lot shut down recently by the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (for not actually selling cars). This billboard does not appear on DCRA’s list of approved special signs.
The issue wasn't new to me. Residents just to my north had for months been pushing DCRA to investigate a group of billboards at the intersection of 4th Street, P Street, and New Jersey Avenue that also did not appear on the list, to no avail.
What's the big deal? The billboards contribute to the problem of vacant and nuisance properties by providing a financial incentive for properties to remain vacant for the foreseeable future rather than put into productive use that contributes to the safety and aesthetics of community.
After sending a letter to DCRA Director Linda Argo, I was pleased to receive a prompt response. Effective today, DCRA has established a special e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, which residents may use to report suspected illegal billboards. Residents are asked to provide information about any sign they believe may be unauthorized, including the location, a photograph (.jpg), and any detail from the sign that indicates the owner and owner contact information.
More information can be found on the MVSNA blog.