Reports from the Basements: Citizens’ Complaints to the City About the FDDP

In 2012, the City sent out a Five-Year Post-Installation Survey Questionnaire to a group of homeowners who had FDDs under the FDDP. A lot of the Survey was a sort of customer satisfaction survey concerning how satisfied or dissatisfied the homeowner was with the FDDP contractor, with the actual construction and installation for the FDD, etc.

At the end of the Survey, however, there was a garden-variety open-ended question just asking for any remarks people wanted to add about their experiences as homeowners with involuntary FDDs. The overall Survey response rate was so poor that the Survey was not deemed statistically valid.

On the other hand, 92 people responded to the Survey, which is a lot of people with FDD’s. Many of them also answered the “open-ended” question with now-increasingly familiar complaints about their FDDs, including complaints about flooding and the expense of operation and maintenance of the FDD installations.

We are just going to start posting these complaints from the 2012 survey (which were all anonymous) in a numbered series. We think these comments are among the most important data we have about the last 12 years of the FDDP because they are collectively a report on how well many of the people with FDDs were reacting to them, as homeowners and human beings, as of 2012. In truth, they weren’t reacting very well, which resulted in exactly NO CHANGE in the City’s pursuit of the FDDP. That is hard for us to understand. 

With your permission, we’ll also post comments you send us at

The comments of these owners (and others to come, I am sure) frame quite clearly a big-picture question that we’ve wondered about for a while, namely, whether the problem of the FDDP (and perhaps FDDs in general), as an engineering idea (effective or not effective), is that it can’t be implemented in practice inside people’s homes. You have to violate the law at a very fundamental level to do it, in the first instance, and it also imposes an unfair, unyielding and unacceptable allocation of known risks and burdens (including, it has to be said, of physical labor) onto a small percentage of the City’s homeowners, specifically for the benefit of other residents.

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