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CONGRESS

No.

REMOVAL OF OBSTRUCTIONS FROM PAVED SIDEWALKS

AND ALLEYS.

JANUARY 25, 1907.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state

of the Union and ordered to be printed.

Mr. SAMUEL W. Smith, from the Committee on the District of

Columbia, submitted the following

REPORT.

[To accompany H. R. 20067.]

The Committee on the District of Columbia, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 20067) to remove dirt, gravel, sand, and other obstructions from the paved sidewalks and alleys in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes, report the same back to the House with the recommendation that it do pass.

This measure was drafted by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, whose communication on the subject is as follows:

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 6, 1906. DEAR SIR: The Commissioners of the District of Columbia have the honor to transmit herewith a draft of "A bill to remove dirt, gravel, sand, and other obstructions from the paved sidewalks and alleys in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes,” and recommend favorable action thereon. Very respectfully,

HENRY B. F. MACFARLAND,

President Board of Commissioners, District of Columbia. Hon. J. W. BABCOCK,

Chairman Committee on District of Columbia, House of Representatives. Your committee called upon the Commissioners for further information as to the necessity for this legislation, and also requested the views of the Commissioners as to whether it would not be more equitable to provide for assessing the actual cost of removing the obstructions from the sidewalks and alleys instead of fixing a flat rate per linear foot, as provided in the bill. The Commissioners' response, giving this information, is as follows:

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 13, 1906. DEAR SIR: Replying to your request made through the clerk of your committee as to the necessity for the legislation suggested in H. R. 20067, to remove dirt, gravel, sand, and other obstructions from paved sidewalks and alleys in the District of Columbia, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia have the honor to state that legislation previously existing upon this subject was nullified by a decision of the court of appeals and that the bill now before your committee has been drafted by the corporation counsel with the view of overcoming the objections to the previous law set forth in the decision of said court. Numerous instances occur, especially in the surburban sections of the District where dirt, gravel, etc., either falls or is washed upon a pavement from the abutting vacant lot. There is at present no law under which property owners, either resident or nonresident, can be compelled to clean away this débris, nor is there any appropriation whereby the municipality can undertake the work.

In regard to the suggestion that it would be more equitable to charge the actual cost of removing such débris against the property, the Commissioners have the honor to state that experience in the past has proven that this method is not satisfactory. In the matter of laying sewers and water mains, the law directs that the cost shall be assessed at a fixed amount per linear foot. It would be very difficult to estimate the exact cost of removing débris, in addition to which occasions might frequently arise where a nuisance to be abated might be within a short distance from the headquarters of the horses, carts, and men necessary for the work, in which case the cost would be comparatively small; while in other instances a nuisance might be located at a considerable distance-a fact which would increase the cost. It would seem unfair to make one property owner bear heavier burdens than another simply because his property might be less accessible than others. The charge per linear foot is a fixed rate easily ascertainable by a measurement of the property as shown upon the plat books and no opportunity for dispute could ever arise.

The amount of $1 per linear foot was fixed in the hope that it would induce property owners to undertake this work rather than have the legal cost thereof assessed against their properties. Further consideration of this matter, however, leads the Commissioners to suggest that the rate could be reduced to 50 cents per linear foot, which would cover the expense incurred in abating the nuisance. Very truly, yours,

HENRY B. F. MACFARLAND,

President Board of Commissioners District of Columbia. Hon. SAMUEL W. SMITH, Chairman Subcommittee, etc., Committee on the District of Columbia,

House of Representatives. Your committee concluded not to reduce the rate per linear foot, as suggested by the Commissioners in the last paragraph in the above letter, for the reason that it is believed that the larger amount would tend to induce property owners to remove these obstructions rather than have it done by the District and the cost assessed against their property

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59TH CONGRESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. I REPORT 2d Session.

AMENDING SECTION 491G OF THE CODE OF LAW FOR

THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

JANUARY 25, 1907.-Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed.

Mr. Olcott, from the Committee on the District of Columbia, sub

mitted the following

REPORT.

[To accompany H. R. 23384.]

The Committee on the District of Columbia, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 23384) to amend an act entitled “An act to amend an act entitled 'An act to establish a code of law for the District of Columbia,' regulating proceedings for condemnation of land for streets,” report the same back to the House with the recommendation

that it do pass.

The proposed amendment merely adds to section 491g of the Code the following

And where a part of any lot, piece, parcel, or tract of land has been dedicated for the opening, extension, widening, or straightening of the street, avenue, road, or highway, the jury, in determining whether the remainder of said lot, piece, parcel, or tract is to be assessed for benetits and the amount of benefits, if any, to be assessed thereon, shall also take into consideration the fact of such dedication and the value of the land so dedicated.

The object of this amendment is merely to allow the jury making the award in condemnation proceedings for the opening, extension, widening, or straightening of streets, avenues, roads, or highways to take into consideration, when assessing benefits, the value of the land dedicated by individuals for public uses. Your committee is of the opinion that this amendment is fair and equitable and that it should be enacted into law.

This measure was referred to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, who have reported favorably upon the same in the following communication: EXECUTIVE OFFICE, COMMISSIONERS DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,

Washington, January 17, 1907. DEAR SIR: The Commissioners have the honor to submit the following on House bill 23384, Fifty-ninth Congress, second session, “To amend an act entitled 'An act bia,)

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to amend an act entitled "An act to establish a code of law for the District of Colum

regulating proceedings for condemnation of land for streets," which you referred to them for examination and report:

The object of this bill is to have the juries in street-extension cases take into consideration the fact of any dedications made for streets in assessing benefits to surrounding property by reason of the opening of such streets. While a jury may now take such evidence into consideration, upon the presentation of such facts to it, existing law does not require that they do so.

The Commissioners believe that the jury should be given authority to take such facts into consideration. They believe that the dedication of streets by property owners should be encouraged in every possible way, and if the property owner who dedicates receives no more consideration than one who does not very few property owners would make dedications, and it is by means of dedications that a good many streets in the District of Columbia have been laid out. The Commissioners do not believe that it should be mandatory on the jury, however, to take these facts into consideration, and they therefore recommend that the word "shall,” in line 19, page 2 of the bill, be changed to “may.” With this change they recommend favorable action on the bill. Very respectfully,

HENRY B. F. MACFARLAND,

President Board of Commissioners District of Columbia. Hon. J. W. BABCOCK,

Chairman Committee on District of Columbia, House of Representatives. Section 491 g, when amended as proposed in the legislation herewith reported, will read as follows:

SEC. 491 g; That of the amount found to be due and awarded as damages for and in respect of the land to be condemned for said opening, extension, widening, or straightening, plus the cost and expenses of the proceeding, such amount shall be assessed by the jury as benefits, and to the extent of such benefits against the lots, pieces, or parcels of land on each side of the street, avenue, road, or highway to be opened, extended, widened, or straightened, and against any and all other lots, pieces, or parcels of land which the jury may find will be benefited by the opening, extension, widening, or straightening, as the jury may find said lots, pieces, or parcels of land will be benefited; and in determining the amounts to be assessed against said lots, pieces, or parcels of land the jury shall take into consideration the respective situations and topographical conditions of said lots, pieces, or parcels of land, and the benefits and advantages they may severally receive from the opening, extension, widening, or straightening of the street, avenue, road, or highway.

And where part of any lot, piece, parcel, or tract of land has been dedicated for the opening, extention, widening, or straightening of the street, avenue, road, or highway, the jury, in determining whether the remainder of said lot, piece, parcel, or tract is to be assessed for benefits, and the amount of benefits, if any, to be assessed thereon, shall also take into consideration the fact of such dedication and the value of the land so dedicated. If the total amount of the damages awarded by the jury and the costs and expenses of the proceeding be in excess of the total amount of the assessments for benefits, such excess shall be borne and paid by the District of Columbia.

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