D.C. residents unhappy with 'pop-up' homes in their neighborhoods

"Pop-up" homes such as this one located at 1013 V St. NW in Washington, D.C. are angering some residents who say that the additional stories added to existing rowhouse takes away from the harmony of neighborhoods. Photo Credit: Joce Sterman

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Cranes and construction are not a new sight in D.C. - but something that has started popping up recently has many doing a double-take.

For example - when a five-story building in blue towers over a block full of historic rowhouses, it's hard to miss.

"To anyone, it sticks out," says resident Jerry Johnson.

"It's a lovely building; I just don't think it fits in that well," says Randy Kerr.

But so-called "pop-ups" are squeezing themselves into neighborhoods all over the district, from the infamous home at 1013 V Street NW to another in Lanier Heights, which seems to blend in a bit, until you see the back of the home.

"Essentially you have this large, rectangular box that just kind of popped up," says neighbor Doug Kingsbury.

Now, neighbors are standing up, putting out protest signs as they try to preserve the character of their neighborhood.

People, including Councilman Jim Graham, may be down on pop-ups, but for now, in the neighborhoods where they exist, they're perfectly legal.

"We're talking about massive increases in the height and density of these row houses, which really effects the historic street-scape and look of the neighborhood," Graham said. "To that extent [though], we are powerless. People can build, it's a matter of right, development - that the zoning accommodates, and we have to live with it."

But, zoning as it relates to these pop-ups could be coming to D.C. There's discussion about potential caps on how high homes like this could be built, and restrictions on how many units they could have."

"Where does it stop?" Graham added. "Because if you can do it, [others will say], why can't I do it?"

Right now, developers can keep going up - the zoning in these neighborhoods, as it currently stands, allows for these kinds of additions. But the city's Office of Zoning could put on the brakes. It's looking at creating potential conservation districts and revising regulations.

Some D.C. residents have ideas of their own.

"You can do pop-ups right if you set them back so it lets light in to the street," said Chris Otten. "it's basic planning."