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HomeGovernmentDC creates new Department of Buildings in regulatory split

DC creates new Department of Buildings in regulatory split

Effective Oct. 1, DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has been into two agencies. The Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP) and the Department of Buildings (DOB).

DLCP will crack down on unlawful businesses and issue licenses, while DOB will focus on building inspections, zoning administration and code compliance.

While the agencies have been separated, Washington Mayor Muriel Bower says that she wants the leaders of the former DCRA to remain in charge of the new agencies. She appointed former DCRA director Ernest Chrappah as acting director of Department of Buildings, WUSA-TV reported.

“An experienced government executive as well as a successful entrepreneur with a reputation for finding innovative solutions to complex challenges, Director Chrappah has led DCRA since 2018,” Bowser wrote in an email. During his tenure, DCRA focused on technological and customer experience innovation.”

She also wrote that former DCRA Deputy Director Shirley Kwan-Hui is appointed Interim Director of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.

DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson released a statement expressing his disappointment in the picks.  While he thanked Chrappah for his service, he said moving him to the new agency is a missed opportunity for change.

“While I’ve known few people more committed to public service than Ernest, and Ernest has gone out of his way to work with the Council, I am disappointed,” Mendelson said in the statement.

“The new Department of Buildings is a chance to be transformative. It’s an opportunity to bring in or promote a change agent. Simply moving over the head of the Department’s dysfunctional predecessor-agency misses that chance.

“The Mayor has been neither supportive nor collaborative in this process. She vetoed the legislation to create a Department of Buildings. Then she underfunded the new agency. Indeed, the Council had to add 41 inspectors to the agency’s budget. Now, without any collaboration, she’s announced keeping the old leadership.

“Why does this matter? Because every tenant is harmed by the poor quality of housing code enforcement. Every homeowner is harmed by the illegal construction rampant in our city. And every developer, including non-profit affordable housing providers, is harmed by the cost of permit delays and mistakes.

“This agency is key to protecting quality of life and promoting economic activity. It needs transformation. I am disappointed.”

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.

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