City Desk

Chatter: Welcome to the Fungal

cover-issue1800-lgWhat you said about what we said last week

When dwellings are afflicted by mold, there’s not much D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs can do about it. That loophole—and the health consequences that some residents have said they’ve suffered as a result—was the subject of last week’s Housing Complex column. Although a bill working its way through the D.C. Council would create more stringent mold standards, Libertarian Party mayoral candidate Bruce Majors offered a more expansive assessment of the problem in the comments: “The supply of housing is restricted both by the height limits...and by rent control and other regulations, which both left-liberals like Matt Yglesias and free marketeers argue have raised the cost of housing by as much as 40 percent. Investors won’t buy a small multiunit in D.C, they go to Virginia or even Maryland. Housing is either converted to condos and coops, or torn down and replaced with new luxury rentals reset to current market rents. Under this situation of an artificially reduced supply of housing, you can pass all the lead and mold regulations you’d like, and they will just drive up the price of housing more, and consumers will still have to accept what they can get, including moldy housing.”

Reader Joe wrote about his own experience with mold living in a building on Lamont Street NW. “In the spring of that year my girlfriend and I began experiencing headaches, coldlike symptoms, and constant fatigue. At first we pegged it up to pollen allergies. Then mold started appearing on an exterior facing wall and the ceiling.” After demanding for the third time that the property management company fix the problem, “I decided to work from home the day the workmen arrive,” Joe wrote. “The workmen cleaned the spots and then painted over the mold, that’s it.”

Currently, D.C. can’t cite landlords for mold, just for related problems that are easily fixed without removing mold. Reader mona agitated for harsher punishments: “I am a landlord and jump through hoops to fix things for tenants...What the city needs to do is get some sort of designation of ‘Slumlord’ that they can start fining these management companies with. I hate that myself and other decent landlords are lumped in with these losers.”

Over and Underwood

Netflix’s political soap opera House of Cards does most of its filming in Baltimore, but when it tried to shoot a motorcade scene in D.C. that had to be canceled, it became part of the sort of bureaucratic drama over which its screenwriters salivate. Some readers wondered: Should D.C. even bother accommodating Hollywood, especially when productions like House of Cards ask for millions in tax incentives? “Other than bragging rights or pride, what is the benefit to D.C. of this show, or any show, actually being shot in D.C.?” wrote Ben. “I like House of Cards and some other shows set in D.C., and laugh when I see these shows have some location they claim is D.C. but is clearly not. But $3.5 million in tax breaks? What could the benefit possibly be? If House of Cards shot at a D.C. restaurant, or a D.C. bar, etc., would those places see an increase in business?”

Department of Corrections

Due to a reporting error, last week’s cover story on D.C. punk group Priests misspelled the name of the band Et At It. Due to a reporting error, last week’s Loose Lips column incorrectly identified Joseph Martin as being involved in location planning for House of Cards. In fact, he offered to help the location team’s response to the District government after plans to film a motorcade were quashed. And due to a reporting error, a review of Freud’s Last Session incorrectly said the play is set in 1838. It takes place in 1938.

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