DOB News | February 2024 External Newsletter

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February 2024 Edition

A Message From The Director

Brian Hanlon

Dear Customers,

Our agency is in the thick of performance oversight and budget season. Earlier this month, I appeared before the Council of the District of Columbia to report on DOB's performance and progress during the previous fiscal year and sought to provide insight on where we are headed. The link to the hearing recording can be found in the hearing section later in this newsletter.

Today, I also wanted to share a quick reminder that the first round of property tax bills for 2024 should be arriving shortly to property owners if they have not already; these payments are due March 31, 2024. It is important that you ensure that your property is being taxed appropriately, which is why below you will find a deeper discussion about how to approach updating your tax rate if your property was previously classified as vacant.

As you know, February 2024 is Black History Month, and our agency wanted to mark the occasion by shedding some light on the work of skilled Black architects and how it has enhanced the fabric of our city. Read on to learn more about how some of your favorite aspects of DC's built environment were spearheaded by Black architects!

Lastly, in our recurring Building For Tomorrow Today series, learn more about how electrification of homes can go a long way towards reducing your carbon footprint and investing in more sustainable futures for all.

Thank you for your continued accountability as we seek to grow to be an even better DOB for you. We are not finished, and we will continue to seek to improve the way we deliver services to the District.


Director Hanlon Signature

Brian J. Hanlon, AIA LEED AP®

ICYMI: Director Brian Hanlon Testifies Before Council For DOB's Oversight Hearing


Director Brian Hanlon, Chief Building Official Nicole Rogers, and Strategic Enforcement Administrator Keith Parsons appear before Council

On February 22, 2024, DOB Director Brian Hanlon appeared before the Council of the District of Columbia for DOB's FY23 Performance Oversight Hearing. He was accompanied by Chief Building Official Nicole Rogers and Strategic Enforcement Administrator Keith Parsons. Following public witness testimony, he answered questions regarding DOB's current posture and direction moving forward.

If you are interested in watching the hearing recording, please click the below link. You may also access the Director's written testimony here.

Watch Hearing

Media Corner: DOB Addresses Illegal Construction In Adams Morgan

NBC4 Interview

DOB Director Brian Hanlon discusses the importance of properly permitted construction in the District

This past week, DOB responded to community complaints of illegal construction on a vacant property on Champlain Street NW in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. DOB issued a stop work order (SWO) due to issues with the foundation, and evacuated residents of an adjacent condo building due to structural concerns.

Unexpectedly, an NBC Washington film crew arrived to check out reports of activity at the site. Director Hanlon spoke with them to emphasize the importance of developers working safely and collaboratively with DOB in the District. Click to below to view the news report:

NBC4 Spot

It is vital that all owners, third-party contractors and developers operate in accordance with District regulations, and DOB will continue to hold bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law.  

Residents may report illegal construction in their neighborhood to DOB by contacting 311 or by using DOB's online web-forms located at The specific web-form link to report illegal construction can be found here.

Property Tax Bills Will Soon Be Issued | Ensure That Your Occupancy Status Is Correct

Vacant Properties

DOB's Role In Vacant Property Classification | What Triggers An Inspection?

One of DOB's roles in enforcement is to determine the classification and registration of vacant and blighted properties in the District. We also maintain a complete inventory of such properties. This inventory is published on the DOB Public Dashboard, on the Vacant Building Map and is updated daily.

We recently processed an update that reflected a reduced volume of vacant properties in the District and have implemented a more user-friendly interface for property information.

How Are Vacant Properties Identified?

Once a complaint is received regarding a property, an inspection is conducted that allows us to determine the occupancy status of property.  If a property is determined to be vacant or blighted, notification is provided to the property owner using the address on file with the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR). If an owner disputes the vacant determination, the owner may file an appeal and provide evidence to establish occupancy. If a response and proper evidence is not received, OTR will be notified of the vacant or vacant-blighted status, and in turn will increase the tax rate to either a class 3 or 4 rate for residential and commercial properties respectively, in accordance with law.

The law is intended to encourage property owners to maintain their properties and ensure that they are in or have been returned to productive use.

How To Confirm The Occupancy Status Of Your Property

If you have recently purchased a new property in the District, have had a vacant status previously that no longer applies, or are just curious about your property's occupancy classification status, you may visit the Vacant Properties section on Public Dashboard, enter your address, and see your property's status. You may also want to search to confirm that tax rate for your property. This is especially important if you just purchased a home that was recently renovated, where a developer may have obtained an exemption that has expired.

Search For Your Property

What To Do If Your Property Has A Vacant Status And It Is Now Occupied

After checking the Vacant Building Map, if you find that your property has a vacant status and it is now occupied, please request a vacant property inspection online. After submitting the request, you will receive an confirmation email, a scheduled inspection date and a link through which you view the status of the inspection until completed.

Inspect Your Property

Applying For A Vacant Property Exemption

In certain circumstances, such as when a vacant property is under active construction, actively listed for rent or sale, or involved in probate proceedings, property owners may apply for a vacant property exemption that may prevent the tax rate from increasing. Exemptions, if granted, are for a limited time.

Exemption Eligibility

Call 311 To Report Vacant Properties To DOB


The Office of Unified Communications’ (OUC) 311 Call Center Operation provides a one-stop service experience for constituents, residents, and visitors searching for DC government services, numbers, and information. The operation was designed to make the public's interaction with the city government more accessible and efficient.

We wanted to share a quick note that reporting any vacant properties to 311 is a great way to ensure we can address your complaint as quickly as possible. You can make these complaints at any time, and it is simple for us to track these inquiries.

You can reach 311 through the following ways:

  • Call DC 311 at 311 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Text "NEW" or "MENU" to 32311 (DC311)
  • Tweet the Office of Unified Communications at @311DCGov
  • Visit the Online Portal at
  • Download the DC 311 Mobile App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store
  • Live Chat with a 311 Customer Service Representative via the 311 Online Portal
    • Live Chat is available from 8AM - 5:15PM

Acknowledging The Accomplishments Of Black Architects During Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we want to shine a spotlight on the remarkable contributions of Black architects. These individuals have left an indelible mark on the District's architectural landscape, shaping not only the physical environment but also the cultural fabric of the nation's capital.

John Lankford

Among these luminaries is the renowned architect, John A. Lankford, whose innovative designs defied racial barriers in the early 20th century. Lankford's work encompassed a wide range of projects, from grand institutional buildings to private residences, leaving a lasting legacy of creativity and excellence. Lankford has been referred to by many as the "dean of black architecture," underscoring his influence on the discipline and the many who would follow in his footsteps.

He designed and constructed True Reformers Hall in Washington, DC, a building designed for community conversations, conferences, and reform as part of the True Reformers organization. The True Reformer Building was the first building in the United States to be designed, financed, built, and owned by the African American community following the Civil War, during the Reconstruction period.

True Reformer Hall

Recent photo of the True Reformer Building. Credit:

Marshall Purnell

Another architecture luminary is Marshall Purnell, whose prowess has garnered widespread acclaim. Purnell's visionary designs, ranging from civic structures to educational institutions, reflect his deep commitment to community engagement and social justice.

As the design principal for his architecture firm, Purnell helped design several key touchstones in the District, including but not limited to:

  • Nationals Park
  • Capital One Arena
  • The Washington Convention Center
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
MLK Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Image courtesy of VisitDC

David Adjaye

David Adjaye is a British architect of Ghanaian descent, known for his innovative and dynamic approach to architecture.  He established his own architecture firm, Adjaye Associates, in 2000, and has since become one of the most celebrated architects of his generation. Some of his most notable works include the National Museum of African American History and Culture here in the District, the Stephen Lawrence Centre in London, and the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

As we commemorate Black History Month, DOB wants to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary achievements of Black architects. Their creativity, resilience, and unwavering commitment to excellence continue to inspire and empower us all.

Building For Tomorrow Today | Electrifying Homes

Building For Tomorrow Today

Electrifying Homes: A Sustainable Step Forward

In a world increasingly focused on sustainability, the electrification of homes emerges as a beacon of progress. Transitioning from traditional fossil fuel-based systems to electricity-powered alternatives not only offers immediate benefits but also paves the way for a greener, more sustainable future.

Why Electrify?

Electricity is versatile, efficient, and can be generated from renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro power. By electrifying our homes, we reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources, mitigating environmental impacts such as air and water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability at its Core

The electrification of homes aligns perfectly with sustainability goals on multiple fronts:

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Traditional heating systems, such as gas or oil furnaces, contribute significantly to carbon emissions. Electrifying heating through heat pumps, radiant heating, or electric furnaces cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, aiding in the fight against climate change.

  • Efficiency: Electric appliances are often more energy-efficient than their fossil fuel counterparts. From induction cooktops to electric water heaters, these appliances not only consume less energy but also offer improved performance and longevity.

  • Renewable Integration: As we shift towards renewable energy sources, electrifying homes creates opportunities for homeowners to directly benefit from clean energy technologies like rooftop solar panels. Excess energy can be stored or fed back into the grid, enhancing overall energy resilience and sustainability.

  • Healthier Living Environments: Electric appliances produce fewer indoor pollutants compared to gas-powered alternatives, leading to improved indoor air quality and healthier living environments for occupants.

The electrification of homes isn't just about embracing new technology; it's about embracing a more sustainable way of living. Whether it's investing in energy-efficient appliances, switching to electric heating and cooling systems, or incorporating renewable energy sources, every step towards electrification contributes to a brighter, cleaner future for generations to come.

Join Us At The Healthy Homes Fair On April 6, 2024 At The DC Armory

Healthy Homes Fair

DOB is excited to bring you the Healthy Homes Fair, a free, full-day expo and interactive experience for homeowners, renters, home renovation professionals, and career seekers to learn how to upgrade buildings to improve health, increase comfort, and reduce emissions from the homes of the DC metro area.

RSVP here to attend the Healthy Homes Fair on Saturday, April 6 at the DC Armory, where you will be able to explore interactive demonstrations and hands-on training by more than 50 exhibitors. State-of-the-art technologies and products to be showcased include air heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, induction cooktops, heat pump dryers, solar and geothermal applications, battery storage, electric vehicle chargers, electric mobility, insulation, landscaping tools, and much more. Service providers with a proven track record of helping homeowners and renters reduce emissions from homes will be available to answer your questions on electric panel upgrades, solar installations, net zero energy construction, renewable energy credits, rebates at point of sales, tax credits, energy audits, measurements of emissions inside your homes, and so much more.

This is also an excellent opportunity for professionals to discover new technologies, network and enhance their skills, and for career seekers to learn about the jobs of the future, connecting with training, certifications, and future employers.

Watch this space for a full program of activities for all ages and budgets, including induction cooking demonstrations, an appliance “petting zoo,” caulking workshops, and a chance to win cutting-edge appliances.

The fair is being organized by Electrify DC, a District nonprofit working to make it easier, faster and more affordable to decarbonize the District's homes. It is presented in partnership with the Department of Energy and Environment, DOB, and several neighboring jurisdictions. To learn more, sponsor or exhibit, visit or email

Contacting Our Agency

Contact DOB via email at, through our online inquiry form or during normal business hours using the live chat available on or by phone at 202.671.3500, and we will get back to you in three business days or less.