In response to a letter submitted last week by Elizabeth A. Noel, I would like to take the opportunity to respond to her statement that the People’s Council of the District of Columbia was responsible for the removal of 459 public pay phones between 1992 and 1995. Big deal! That was years ago, and in a city of 500,000, that’s only one phone per 1,000 residents! I suspect your statistics include those banks of office-lobby phones downtown that used to be so prevalent but now are so hard to find. Wake up; it’s 1996, and it’s the phones in the residential areas that are the problem.
My intersection of 11th, Vermont, and S Streets has five phones attached to various
abandoned buildings, now covered in graffiti. These phones have popped up literally overnight over the past year. And if those are all busy, I can go one block in any direction
and find another one. I would like Noel to give us the statistic she chose to leave out of her letter: Just how many new phones have gone in the District in the past year or two? And just how many residents in the District don’t have phone service?
In my immediate block, we all do, yet D.C. still allowed five phones at our intersection. And Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) and Public Service Commission (PSC) revised complaint procedures are not exactly user-
friendly today, requiring signatures, formal complaints, investigative measures, maps, two business days off work, and plenty of time; I would have hated to deal with them before all this streamlining. We spent the first hour of our hearing informing the two groups just where our five phones were.
Through a formal hearing before PSC, we found out one phone was completely illegal, owned by a woman in Hong Kong who had placed an address two blocks away on her pay phone application. All applications are forwarded to your ANC commissioner to satisfy the public notification period. Not exactly the best way to inform the masses, and the private pay phone owners know it.
Vermont Avenue Neighborhood Watch
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