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Gray vents about options for dealing with his problematic fence

Council Chairman and mayoral hopeful Vincent C. Gray expressed frustration Thursday with his limited options for dealing with the non-regulation fence that surrounds his Hillcrest home.

Gray learned last month from an obscure but powerful city committee that he must lower or relocate the fence because it exceeds the District's 42-inch height limit for fences built in a public right of way.

"I can't cut it down," he said Thursday, "and if I move it back it will be in my living room."

"Short of any appellate process," he added, "I will take it down and lose $12,600."

In a letter to Gray dated June 9, the head of the Public Space Committee said Gray has 30 days to comply with the panel's decision. John Lisle, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, explained that the fence will be inspected 30 business days from the date of the letter, giving Gray until July 22, if you include the July 4 holiday.

"If the homeowner does not comply, then we can remove the fence and bill him for the costs," Lisle said in an e-mail.

Gray put up the fence two years ago, but it became an issue in December when the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs began asking questions after articles in the Washington Times described the fence. It determined that there was no permit on file.

Decisions by the committee, which is technically overseen by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, are final. But Gray joked Thursday, "Maybe I will appeal to the mayor and see what he says."

By Ann Marimow  |  July 1, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Ann E. Marimow , D.C. Council , Vincent C. Gray  
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Take it down, Mr. Gray. Don't give Fenty and his millions of campaign contribution dollars an issue to target you on. Right now, it looks like you're going to be Mayor.

Posted by: smartheart | July 1, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

You're not above the rules, Gray. Should have done your due diligence.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 1, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I have been complaining to the Dept of consumer and regulatory affaiars about an illegal rooming house on my block for 8 years and nothing has been done about it. Somehow, DCRA has the resources to check building permits and measure a fence that no one complained about and ensure that the fence is either taken down or put into compliance with codes. I will definitely not be voting for Adrian Fenty with this obvious abuse of city power and resources.

Posted by: blk-ml | July 1, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gray should take it down. Then the funny part is that when he is Mayor the City will have to pay to put it back for security reasons and we the tax payers will be footing the bill. We will be able to thank Fenty for that.

Posted by: peterdc | July 1, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Gray needs to keep his mouth shut and take it down. He's really hurting his image here.

Posted by: krickey7 | July 1, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse


I’m anxiety anticipating Sept 14, 2010 when I can utter the words: "The Former Mayor Adrian Fenty!!"

Posted by: GoldCoast | July 1, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Vincent - just suck it up and take it like a man. You should not have built that fence in the first place. You still have my vote for mayor, but your whining isn't helping.

Posted by: ashafer_usa | July 1, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Vincent - suck it up and take it like a man. You should not have built that fence in the first place. You still have my vote for mayor but all of your whining isn't helping.

Posted by: ashafer_usa | July 1, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Dear Vince Gray,

You are likely to be mayor very soon. And I support you wholeheartedly but you must learn reporters are not your friends. You may wax poetic and show your sense of humor with your staff, friends and colleagues and they give you a chuckle to do so but talk to reporters in this manner and it will become a story. And be put on record as whining--when right now you have very few stories written about you...and people are starting to get to know you.

But otherwise---it was very well written.

Posted by: 411Tibby | July 2, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Even I know the fence height rule in the District, and I've only lived here a few years. Maybe he should have researched before he put up the fence. This whining just highlights his own mistake.

Posted by: Tunafish2 | July 2, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

As the former Public Space Manager, Committee decision were appealble as of two year ago. For years they were appeals to the office of administrative appeals within DCRA. Only a few ever went there. After that they were to be appealed to the current adjudication office, which refused to hear the cases without payment from DDOT. It was then opined, I believe either from DDOT general counsel or the Office of Attorney General that the next appellate level is the Court of appeals.

To my knowlege Mr. Nickles has only personally been involved in one other case and that was to over turn a strong committee decision and allow a structure to be built in public space that had no building code or public space rule that allowed it.

The Committee, since its inception and during the seven years I was Manager approved many fences after the fact. They Committee also took into consideration when the fence was within private propery but inside the building restriction line.

Posted by: DeniseW | July 3, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Working on a renovation of my own house I find DCRA an agency that is merely an obstacle. I had a project going with my house with permits and got cited for something with a stop work order (the day after a Vince Gray for Mayor went up in my yard). Talking with people downtown we were able to straighten out in a day that it was wrong. Trying to get clear on whether there were any other permits we might need we couldn't get a straight answer. We wanted to do the right thing, but the very people who were supposed to help us couldn't. We got another permit, not because we thought we needed it but because we thought it would reduce the chance we were cited for something incorrect again. I don't mind doing things legally, but DCRA is not clear itself what is legal. You can get a permit and then later, (thousands of dollars later) be told you did something illegal. I'm sorry Mr. Gray has to take this fence down and it is clear abuse of power by the mayor, but just accept that he is not immune to the kind of abuse of power that Mr. Fenty is fond of. That is why I and most of my neighbors will be voting Mr. Gray to take Mr. Fenty's place as Mayor.

Posted by: Mulch5 | July 3, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Take it down.. as well as all the signs you have posted on public property.

talk about arrogant.. you invented the word.. and how dare you put integrity on your tee shirts... you have none.(and neither does your campaign staff)

Posted by: pdv1 | July 5, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I am wondering. Is claiming that Gray has this election in the bag a campaign strategy or something? I hear it all the time from Gray supporters.

But, every poll has been within the margin of error with 18-25% undecided. That means that no one knows what will happen.

Over confidence is a killer. And, Gray doesn't have a very strong message, name recognition, finances, or work history. Why would undecided voters go for him? I don't get it.

Posted by: politicalrealist | July 6, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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