Prolem is, not everyone pays attention to the rules. They claim ignorance of its existence (despite that fact being made clear whenever property is purchased), financial hardship, or just recklessly make improvements hoping nobody will notice. (I'll admit, even I used the wrong windows the first time ... still wood, but wrong historic period in the windowpane design)
2024 14th Street SE, with illegal new windows that now must be replaced
So when someone tries to pull a fast one and does all the wrong things, people notice. 2024 14th Street SE is a great example. Owner lets the house go to rot. Doesn't care that his tenants are living in terrible conditions as long as he is getting paid. House catches on fire. Tenants safe, but now house is officially unlivable. Owner starts renovation, but uses standard size vinyl windows and doors. Owner has illegally done this before, too. I call up historic preservation (on speed-dial at this point) and make a report. Stop work order issued.
new windows carelessly fit into old trim and framing
With the stop work order came a letter from the DC Office of Historic Preservation. Excerpts:
...you are required by the DC Preservation Law to replace the pre existing (illegally installed) vinyl windows on your home damaged by your recent fire with 1 over 1 wood windows that are sized to fit the original historic openings. Vinyl replacements are not acceptable or allowable. No reduction in overall size to use standard catalogue windows is acceptable. The windows need to be sized according to the original historic fabric.Historic districts exist for a reason. They are like little jewel-boxes of neighborhood and architectural history. The rules are there to make sure that the neighborhood is preserved with integrity, and that the neighbors who do it right aren't brought down by the ones who do it wrong. If you suspect that someone within the district has disregarded the rules, please email me or our Historic Preservation Office representative Michael Beidler (firstname.lastname@example.org).
...Finally please remember that ANY work done on the exterior of the building MUST be approved by our office as part of your required permits and prior to your implementing the work. Any work implemented on the exterior of the building with-out permits may result in additional fines and penalties. ...
I know it can seem cruel, especially in less-rich areas, to enforce these things. But most of the time it's the out-of-town landlords that don't follow the rules. For Anacostia to really become a nice place, everyone needs to value the way it looks and the way it is improved.