Civil Liberties

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.