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Mayor Bowser Announces Enhancements to Safety Reviews of Multifamily and Commercial Buildings

Friday, July 9, 2021

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) announced several new initiatives to enhance safety reviews of multifamily and commercial properties in the District. These initiatives include mandating proactive reporting of unsafe structural conditions, increasing the scrutiny of engineering, and implementing real-time reporting of required inspections. These actions are in response to the recent building collapses in Surfside, Florida and 916 Kennedy Street NW.

“The tragedy in Florida and the frightening collapse of a building here in DC have created a new sense of urgency to find these problems before they put people in danger,” said Mayor Bowser. “These initiatives will establish an early warning system to catch potentially unsafe building conditions and keep our community safe.”

DCRA is taking the following seven actions:

  • Reviewing all active construction projects by 10Square Development and Beck Vissat, the property owner of 916 Kennedy St NW, to ensure compliance with DC Code.
  • Drafting an administrative bulletin and/or legislation requiring all building owners and engineering firms to report and notify DCRA of unsafe structural conditions – proactively identifying buildings before they become unsafe sites.
  • Legally requiring multifamily residential building owners to file with DCRA structural assessment reports and remediation plans, drafted by a licensed engineer, for any repairs to unsafe structural conditions prior to permit application.
  • Digitizing special inspections conducted by private companies and engineers-of-record with real-time tracking of periodic and continuous inspections – ensuring potential safety issues are caught quickly.
  • Creating training for plan reviewers to refresh and instill knowledge on shear wall construction.
  • Retroactively reviewing for adequate shear wall designs in all new, multifamily, light-framed wood-construction buildings permitted within the District over the last three years starting with buildings certified by FMC & Associates.
  • Researching and procuring engineering software to model, perform advanced and complex structural analysis, and standardize structural reviews in critical building design elements.

These initiatives are in addition to any current scheduled DCRA inspections.

“Under the leadership of Mayor Bowser, DCRA is dedicated to the health and safety of District residents, businesses, and visitors,” said DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah. “These new actions are designed to identify potentially unsafe structures and proactively prevent similar tragic events from occurring.”

DCRA also has several tools the public can use to report illegal construction concerns at any time. These include Online Illegal Construction Request Form as well as an Online inquiry form.

Residents may also report concerns via email to [email protected]

During normal business hours illegal construction concerns may be reported using the live chat on dcra.dc.gov or by calling (202) 442-4400. The agency will respond to complaints using these methods in three business days or less. Concerns of imminent danger should always be reported through 911 for an immediate response.