D.C. Ticketing Homeowners for Parking in Their Own Driveways

Fresh from a proposal to charge residents extra fees for street lights, D.C.’s latest effort to generate revenue is to ticket residents for parking in their own driveways.

No, that isn’t an exaggeration:

Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway.

That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways.

“This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners,” Anderson tells WTOP.

Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she’s not alone.

It turns out that D.C. has an odd, obscure law stating that the land between the front of your house and the street, otherwise known as your driveway and front yard, falls under a bizarre classification known as “private property set aside for public use.” Essentially, though owners have to pay for its maintenance and upkeep (they can be fined if they don’t), it’s considered public property. Which apparently means that, technically, you can’t park your car on it. The city recently dusted off the law, and began writing parking tickets if any part of a resident’s car is parked between the front facade of their house and the street, even if it’s parked in the driveway.

When Anderson complained, one D.C. official told her that if she wanted, she could pay the city to lease the land between the front of her house and the street, which would allow her to park her car there legally.

In November 2007, I wrote about how D.C. was phasing out due process rights for people who want to contest parking tickets in person.

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  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Can we start ticketing Congressmen for parking their asses in the public seats of the Capitol Building?

  • K.T.||

    Thank the lord I left that God-awful city.

  • Paul||

    "private property set aside for public use."



    In post-Kelo America, this is known as your house.

  • Paul||

    Do people in DC have fences around their front yards? What would happen if you fenced in your hard and driveway in such a way that the cops/ticketers physically couldn't get in?

  • xx||

    This is the gayest shit ever.

  • Kolohe||

    It turns out that D.C. has an odd, obscure law stating that the land between the front of your house and the street

    Before RTFA, I thought maybe she had the type of garage that's nearly on the street, so parking in front of it would block the sidewalk. In that case the city might have had a point.

    But looking at the pic, the car isn't even in front of the house, it's on the side of it.

  • hmm||

    This is where a 100 German Shepard, 10 feet of chain, and a large 5 foot stake come into play. Along with a sign stating, "You get the ticket on the windshield and I will pay double."

  • ||

    Essentially, though owners have to pay for its maintenance and upkeep (they can be fined if they don't), it's considered public property. Which apparently means that, technically, you can't park your car on it.

    How does this follow? Is there an ordinance that says prohibits parking on public property? Or failing that, does the District install parking meters or post No Parking signs next to every driveway?

  • dfd||

    This is where a 100 German Shepard, 10 feet of chain, and a large 5 foot stake come into play. Along with a sign stating, "You get the ticket on the windshield and I will pay double."

    They'd just have the Metro Police come shoot the dog and then ticket you for having both a car and a dog in a "public" space.

  • Love Crimes||

    "They'd just have the Metro Police come shoot the dog and then ticket you for having both a car and a dog in a "public" space."

    a car and a DEAD dog in a "public" space.

  • dfd||

    How does this follow? Is there an ordinance that says prohibits parking on public property?

    Yes, actually. You can't park in a "public space" that is not on the street. In essence they are treating it like parking on a sidewalk.

  • ||

    Whaaaaaa....?

    I think I need to go to home and pour myself a stiff drink.

  • dotdotdot||

    But these revenues benefit the children. What, do you hate children?

  • ||

    It's actually not that obscure of a law, although D.C.'s does have an over-reaching extent. Many cities that have a grass strip between the sidewalk and street consider it to be private property, but require you to keep it maintained. There are also quite a few cities (mostly in blue states) that will ticket you for parking (red state fashion) on your lawn.

  • ||

    Reason #56 why I have no desire to own any property any more. Of course, in this case they could ticket a renter's car too, but the point is: you don't actually own property, you just rent it from the government.

  • anon||

    Just keep nodding as they explain the law, the procedure, where to send the payment, where to appeal, how its not really your property, just keep them talking...

    don't let them see your hands in your pocket... checking the safety... off, good... keep talking...

  • Robert||

    OK, so your driveway's for public use. What use would that be? It's more depth than people need for help in making a turnaround (substitute for U turn). What is that space being kept clear for? Unless it's just an excuse to lease it back to you as in the example given. But even then, if they don't advertise it, how does anyone benefit?

    Also, I suggest the title be changed to "...on Their Own Driveways", because "in" suggests on the street parallel to the curb, blocking the driveway.

    Are you allowed to wash a car on the driveway if someone's sitting in it and the engine running?

  • Grandpa Withers||

    "OK, so your driveway's for public use. What use would that be? It's more depth than people need for help in making a turnaround (substitute for U turn). What is that space being kept clear for?"

    Emergency vehicles.

  • ||

    Throughout the history of civilization, tax-collectors have always been "creative."
    As a peaceful anarchist, I always wonder if "civilization" is worth it's cost.

  • MNG||

    Egregious and idiotic.

  • I give up. What would happen?||

    What would happen if you fenced in your hard

  • MJ||

    Yes, it is arrogant big left-liberal government at work, but exactly what one must expect when governments have no respect for private property rights.

  • Anonymous||

    From each as is his capacity, to each with the barbed cock of Satan.

  • ||

    Back when I lived in the DC suburbs, I never considered living within the district itself. This is one more reason why real estate in Maryland and Virginia is far more appealing.

    -jcr

  • K.T.||

    I have no where else to vent, so a wholly unrelated comment...

    If President Obushma cuts into Lost with his 10,000 day press conference, I'm switching my vote from (D) to (R) in the Virginia goober-natorial race.

  • ||

    one D.C. official told her that if she wanted, she could pay the city to lease the land between the front of her house and the street,

    Let's just say that if she had beaten the official to death for suggesting that, the prosecution might want to use one of their peremptory strikes to keep me off the jury.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Your home may be your castle, but the moat area around it -- well, that belongs to US in the government, along with the alligators with which we stock it. Watch your step!

  • IceTrey||

    "Any area between the property line and the building restriction line shall be considered as private property set aside and treated as public space under the care and maintenance of the property owner."

    In my opinion this would mean you can't park on the side or even in back of your house either. If your houses footprint covers the building restriction line on all four sides and the property line encloses all four sides. Technically this could mean that your entire yard, although private property is public space?! So I guess if you had a backyard pool anyone in the city could come and use it whenever they wanted.

  • perilisk||

    Urge... to... kill... rising...

    @JCR: Agreed. I might have to OJ that trial.

    I hope Radley moves west of the Rockies so I can pray for DC to be destroyed by an asteroid with a clear conscience. Not that I'm religious, but you never know what could happen.

  • ||

    I hope DC mayor Adrian Fenty isn't too local to be on Dickipedia. Cuz, dick move.

  • ||

    And these ass-holes think they deserve statehood?

  • Paul||

    "Any area between the property line and the building restriction line shall be considered as private property set aside and treated as public space under the care and maintenance of the property owner."

    Strangely, Seattle has almost the opposite situation. The sidewalk out to the street in front of your property... erh, I mean "your property"-- sorry, almost forgot what country I'm in-- is public space for which you're responsible. Sidewalk cracks because of the 100-year-old maple the city planted in the easement? It's on your dime to fix it.

  • ||

    Brandybuck, I'm in a 'red' state and these pinheads are banning parkin' on my yard right here...they already declare old cars that may have an expired tax stamp as nuisances and haul em off to the crusher then hand you a bill.

    We own nothing, can use nothing, w/o paying tribute. Join me in reminding these thieving pukes that they retain their sinecures only at our pleasure, right?

  • Texas Toast||

    I'm in a 'red' state and these pinheads are banning parkin' on my yard right here

    So am I, but local government is still Red (solid Democrat, 90% black).

  • Sick of this||

    "Join me in reminding these thieving pukes that they retain their sinecures only at our pleasure, right?"

    Forget sinecures, let's remind them that they retain their LIVES only at our pleasure.

    Those who survive the first round of attacks, I mean.

  • ||

    Wait... so can you park on the street in front of the house? If so, why do you get a ticket for one and not the other?

  • inDglass||

    In Indianapolis, you can't park a car on any public or private property with a for sale sign on it, or you can be fined by the city. Your only legal options are to sell by word of mouth, classified ads, or to a dealer.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    So... why does that fuckhead Chav think living in cities is so great?

  • Suki||

    Wow, just wow. I hope writer friend is catching this. Fits right in with his future vision of DC.

  • Brn||

    Someone might want to explain to these officials what happened to Charles I when he tried dusting off old laws and applying them in new and innovative ways to collect money.

  • ||

    Quickest solution- find out where the Mayor and Director of Public Works lives, and start using their yards like a park.

  • Come on up to NH||

    Move up to NH... the Free State.
    www.freestateproject.org

  • Xeones||

    My initial reaction was "Nuke DC from orbit, it's the only way to be sure." But then i remembered that the whole point of building the capital where and how it was built was to discourage people from living there. This is why Washington is not represented in Congress, why it was built in a fetid swamp: to make living in the seat of power and (thus) ruling this country as unpleasant and unattractive a task as it ought to be. So it's probably inadvertent on the city's part, but it's in keeping with, you know, how things are SUPPOSED to be in the damn place.

    I hope DC bans air conditioning next. Then we can REALLY party like it's 1899, as the bureaucrats flee in droves every summer.

    Fuck centralized power, yo.

  • ||

    "Quickest solution- find out where the Mayor and Director of Public Works lives, and start using their yards like a park."

    AWESOME Adam! I might fly to DC just for the opportunity to do that myself.

    CB

  • ||

    It sounds like essentially the same law we have in Toronto.

    I need to buy a permit to park in my driveway and if I don't, I can get a parking ticket.

    It seems like city officials like to pretend they're not raising property taxes and instead put in all sorts of new taxes on your property.

  • Eric S.||

    FYI--

    In University City, Missouri (crunchy inner-ring neighborhood of St. Louis) you cannot park a pickup truck on your driveway.

  • phalkor||

    When I found out the penalties for parking tickets I adopted a new policy; do not pay parking tickets. Apparently the only consequence is they can boot your car after the 3rd unpaid ticket or tow it after 3 days with boot or five tickets. The parking tickets are around 20 bucks and you get a bout at 5% chance to get one. A parking permit is $900, please tell me why it's a good idea to get one?

  • bubba||

    the whole point of building the capital where and how it was built was to discourage people from living there

    Bingo. Fck them.

  • Kilroy||

    "It turns out that D.C. has an odd, obscure law . . ."

    So let me get this straight: when you entered into an arrangement with the government (when you bought the house you agreed to any easement and obligations already in place), they had a bit of odd and obscure fine print already in place. Either you didn't read all the fine print and didn't take the time to understand what you were getting into; or you read it and thought that since it's stupid, odd or obscure that somehow it didn't apply to you; or you knew it would apply to you but didn't think you'd get caught.

    Is it a stupid law? ABSOLUTELY
    Are the police wrong for enforcing it? NO

    We can't legitimately expect freedom of contract and enforcement of agreements if we don't want the stupid and inconvenient parts to apply to us.
    Bad laws need to be enforced as a lesson to stop making bad laws, and as an incentive to have them fixed. Perhaps the police are doing the right thing by raising awareness of this bad law, which will lead to it being changed.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    ^That sounds like something that might not actually appear on a property deed. In other words something that people might not know about until they actually get fucked over by it. Just like almost any obscure law.

  • ||

    "Come on up to NH | April 30, 2009, 8:54am | #
    Move up to NH... the Free State.
    www.freestateproject.org"

    I live in NH, and from December to April, we can't park on the public streets overnight. I do think we're done with the snow now.

    In southeastern NH, we have a huge influx of MassHoles bringing their socialist crap with them, harassing conservatives. My original intent was to sell my house (after 25 years, which is closing in) for a profit (Hah!) to one of them, and leave. but where to go...

    I am thinking, houseboat...motor home for a change, alternate between the two... OR a houseboat on a trailer, floods be damned.

  • ChrisO||

    Merely one of many good reasons not to live in the District of Columbia.

  • Kilroy||

    It sounds like that strip of land in front of the house is considered an easement, which should show up on any property surveys and assessments. Even if it doesn't, you're still bound by the law and ignorance is not a legitimate defense.

    I'm certainly not defending the law itself, just its enforcement. We should never make exceptions to laws, because that won't fix the underlying problem. Instead we should enforce them so literally and thoroughly that it forces lawmakers to really think about the laws they create. When we cut corners and do "what's right" we help hide the consequences of bad decisions, and the lawmakers and leaders face no accountability.

    Sometimes the most subversive thing you can do to an organization or government is to follow orders and do what you're told. It's amazing how much they actually hate that. No joke.

  • Mr. X||

    In Indianapolis, you can't park a car on any public or private property with a for sale sign on it, or you can be fined by the city. Your only legal options are to sell by word of mouth, classified ads, or to a dealer.

    This law is probably unconstitutional. The Institute for Justice won a case in the 6th Circuit striking down a similar law. 6th Circuit doesn't cover Indiana, but if you were to put a for sale sign on your car and get ticketed for it, I'd be willing to bet that IJ would hook you up with pro bono representation.

  • ||

    Kilroy,

    "...We should never make exceptions to laws..."

    I guaranty you broke a few laws today. Maybe you hit the jackpot and committed an obscure felony.

    Have you read all of the laws in your city, county, and state?

  • Kilroy||

    Although nothing specific comes to mind, I suppose it's very possible that I did break a law of some sort today; and if I got in trouble for it then the first thing I'd do is verify that the law does exist and applies in that situation. If not, then I'd appeal. If so, then I'd accept the punishment.
    The second thing I'd do is decide whether it's a law that should stay, go, or be changed (based on risk assessment). If it needs to go, or be changed, then I'd go out of my way to see that happen.

    What I wouldn't do is say: Yes it's a law, and yes I've agreed to live according to the laws of my community, but this one is dumb so I don't think it should apply to me.

  • Stagman||

    This factually indistinguishable from a protection racket:

    Mafia robs store. Mafia goes to store owner and offers protection from robberies they themselves commit.

    vs.

    Government writes ticket for parking on your property. Government then offers to "lease" the property back to the property's owner to avoid tickets the government writes.

    I take it back, what DC is doing is worse. At least the store owner still owns his store after buying protection.

  • ||

    Kilroy
    From your earlier post:

    "...Either you didn't read all the fine print and didn't take the time to understand what you were getting into..."

    My point is that it's an almost impossible task to figure out how every law will affect you. Especially if you're not a lawyer.

  • Kilroy||

    StupendousMan, you're exactly right, and that is part of the point I'm trying to make.

    If we just shrug our shoulders and do the best we can and bend/break the rules and make exceptions when they get in the way of progress, then nothing will change. If we stick to them 100% then either people will get angry enough to demand the problem gets fixed or things will grind to a halt, forcing a fix anyway.

    The fact that it's practically impossible to not break rules because not everyone is a lawyer is a problem that needs to be fixed. The only way that is going to happen is by not sweeping the problem under the rug and pulling out the duct tape to keep things functioning.

  • ||

    Kilroy,

    Ah... I see.

  • ||

    test

  • ||

    There's a simple solution to this. Just show up on the lawns of representatives, mayors, and cops. Hold a barbecue. When they ask you to leave, tell them this is public property and according to the law you have every right to be there. Make sure to do this in mass, not just as an individual as individuals don't have rights in America.

  • ||

    What a stupid and ill-informed article. Did the "journalist" attempt to do any research? DC doesn't have a front yard requirement, and therefore most houses are built up to the front property line. There is the "appearance" of a front yard or driveway because the actual paved streets are often narrower than the very generous 60-90 foot public right of way. Therefore there is the appearance of 10-20 feet of front yard that is actually owned and controlled by the city.

    (to be totally and technically accurate the federal government owns title to all public rights of way, but jurisdiction is transferred to the DC Government).

    Before you spout off, maybe you should do some damned research. Idiot.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Yes it's a law, and yes I've agreed to live according to the laws of my community

    Unless you specifically gave carte blanche to every law any legislator come up with, you didn't agree to that.

  • Russ 2000||

    I tend to agree with Dave if I can see that photo accurately. In Chicago we had a notorious cop who used a ruler to check how much of your rear bumper was hanging over the sidewalk to note the exact amount on the citation. If the woman complaining had a miniscule portion of the car hanging over the sidewalk, it would not have been a surprise to me.

    Of course, cops have no valid reason to complain that the public doesn't respect them when the PD treats the public like this.

  • Craig||

    And they laughed when we said gun control was a precursor to tyranny....

  • Really?||

    Yes it's a law, and yes I've agreed to live according to the laws of my community

    So if the lobbyists successfully bride the legislators to pass a law to round up and gas all the Jews, you'd be ok with that?

    It's pretty dangerous for people to have a "whatever the law says, and screw human and civil rights" attitude.

  • Robert||

    Can you park a boat on a driveway?

  • Kilroy||

    C'mon "Really?", stop looking for a fight that isn't there.

    In no way have I said that all laws are good, nor have I said that laws that are enacted illegally (via bribery, in violation of the constitution, etc.) are ok.

    My point is that we should change or remove bad laws rather than leave them in place and just ignore them when it's convenient.

    Do you really want the police to be in the position of picking and choosing which laws to enforce based on convenience and their personal opinion of what "makes sense"? I don't, I'd rather give them only good laws to enforce.

    FIX the problem, don't leave it there and then complain about it!

  • ||

    K.T.: your "thank the lord" comment was the exact same thought, word for word, that I had after reading the story. I, thankfully, only rented for the eight years that I lived there. I can only imagine the nightmare of being a homeowner there.

  • ||

    The answer to this is EASY -- if D.C. wants to take the position that it has some kind of interest in the front yards of private property, then make them take the good with the bad -- here's how:

    1.) Locate a dangerous condition on your driveway; i.e., pothole, uneven pavement, etc.
    2.) Trip/fall on the dangerous condition;
    3.) Sue D.C. for negligence -- after all, you were injured on D.C.'s property, so surely they are liable for your injuries.

    Really, the answer here is for the law to be nuked; it's old, wrong, and unnecessary. Get rid of it.

  • strat||

    Per Wikipedia on Charles I and the Ship Tax: "It will be seen, then, that the statement of Henry Hallam that in 1634 William Noy, the Attorney-General, unearthed in the Tower of London old records of ship money as a tax disused and forgotten for centuries has no real foundation."

    On that note, did we ever repeal the telegraph (now phone) tax passed to fund the Spanish-American War?

  • ||

    > Per Wikipedia...

    People who quote Wikipedia for anything sound like idiots. Go to a real source. With few exceptions, the more popular a resource on the Internet is, the more ret@rded it is. Google being one of the few exceptions.

    The fact is, ret@rd things attract masses of ret@rded people who think they are being smart by jumping on a bandwagon. But that doesn't make you look smart when everyone sees that all the people on the bandwagon are ret@rded. Think of Wikipedia as such a bandwagon of ret@rds, and don't associate yourself with it.

  • anonymous||

    lets all take a big fat shit in the driveways of D.C officials it is "public" property.

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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