(a) Whenever the Mayor determines that any vault is unsafe or is not in use, or the space occupied by such vault is required for street improvements, or the construction or extension of sewers, water mains, other public works, or public utility facilities, the Mayor is authorized to serve upon the owner of property abutting public space occupied by such vault an order requiring such owner to remove in whole or in part, reconstruct, repair, or close such vault by filling, sealing, or otherwise rendering unusable in a manner satisfactory to the Mayor. The failure or refusal of any such owner to comply with such order of the Mayor within the time specified in such order shall constitute a violation of this subchapter.
(b) In the event that any owner of property abutting an unused or unsafe vault fails to remove in whole or in part, reconstruct, repair, or close the same by filling, sealing, or otherwise rendering unusable in a manner satisfactory to the Mayor within the time specified by him, the Mayor is authorized to apply to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for, and the said Court is hereby authorized to issue, an order empowering the Mayor to enter upon the property of such owner for the purpose of performing such work as may be necessary in connection with the removal, reconstruction, repair, or closure of such vault, and the District and its officers and employees shall not be liable for any damage to real or personal property which may result from the performance of any such work, other than such damage as may be caused by the gross negligence of the District or of any of its officers or employees. Process in connection with the application for such order shall be served on the owner in accordance with the rules of said Court relating to the service of process in civil actions. In the event such owner is not to be found in the District after reasonable search and an affidavit to this effect is made on behalf of the District, such process may be served by publications for 1 day each week for 3 consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the District, and, if service of process is by publication, a copy of such process and publication shall be sent to such owner by certified mail at his last known address as recorded in the real estate assessment records of the District.
1981 Ed., § 7-1011.
1973 Ed., § 7-912.
Change in Government
This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.