On Friday, Mayor Adrian Fenty and other city leaders debuted these new steel barriers at 1515 Rhode Island Ave NE, an old apartment building that has been secured four times in the last four months, due to break-ins from squatters and neighborhood ne’re-do-wells, according to Mike Rupert, spokesperson for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).
The announcement calls the unveiling a “60-day pilot project,” but it’s more of a demonstration. The mayor has already asked DCRA to draft legislation with criteria determining which buildings would be good candidates for this type of system.
Not every empty house is going to get the treatment—-just ones that have needed to be resealed repeatedly, or witnessed a certain amount of illegal activity, or whatever specifications are ultimately decided. “If [the owners] refuse, DCRA will install the panels and place on a lien on the properties for all installation and removal costs,” according to a city press release.
Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark and Baltimore already use the guards. The District currently buys roughly 1,500 pieces of plywood a year to board up old properties.
“At the base of it, it secures the building. It makes it virtually impenetrable. But, it also looks a lot better. It’s just plywood isn’t very pretty,” says Rupert.
You can e-mail DCRA at email@example.com with questions or comments.