Thank you for your recent article about the problems associated with pay phones in our neighborhood (“Phone Zone,” 8/23). A point of clarification: On the petition mentioned for removing phones at 11th and M—including the one outside Irene’s house—I collected 51 signatures. The 31 signatures cited were actually from an earlier effort to stop installation of yet another pay phone at this intersection. (We lost.)
The 51-signature petition was a formal complaint to the Public Service Commission (PSC) and was copied to the mayor’s office (Kelly) and to our councilmember. The law requires D.C. agencies to respond to any ANC communications within 30 days. No response was ever received from PSC, the mayor, or the councilmember’s office.
Finally, I wish the author had further explored the real problem here: the public accountability of PSC. Why do their “hearing officers” seem almost hostile to community concerns? In a city often characterized as anti-business, why is PSC the sole government exception to the rule, acting as cheerleader for these Maryland-based independent phone companies? And why is it PSC, legally required to notify each ANC before approving any outdoor pay-phone installation, so often fails to do so, and does not seem to respond to requests to rectify illegally installed phones. (We have two such phones in the 1200 block of 11th Street alone.)
Commissioner, ANC 2F05