You Don’t Own Your Driveway

Interesting article from WTOP:

Driveways in D.C. Now a No-Parking Zone
April 24, 2009 – 1:07am
anderson_2.jpg
Beverly Anderson stands in her driveway – the exact spot where she received a ticket from the city. (WTOP Photo/Mark Segraves)
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 seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.

“Not only has the Congresswoman been ticketed in her own driveway, she has received a towing ticket on her car parked in her driveway,” writes Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery, a spokesperson for Norton. “She did what any other Member would do -and any resident. She contacted her Council Member, Tommy Wells, who assured her the Council will take care of this problem even if it means passing a new law.”

D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) says he’s been getting lots of complaints.

“For the first time in anyone’s memory,” Wells says. “People are starting to get ticketed in their own driveways. This is ridiculous and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

To that end, Wells called the Director of the Department of Public Works, Bill Howland, to find out why his agency was issuing these tickets.

“I asked him what’s going on,” Wells said, “Is this some kind of revenue raising or policy change? He said he’d get back to me.”

Wells said he asked Howland if his department would start issuing warnings for first time offenders.

“He said “No, we don’t do that’,” Wells said. “If the government is going to be unreasonable about this then we’re going to have to look at changing the law.”

So what does the law say?

“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.”

Basically what that means is most property owners in the District don’t own the land between their front door and the sidewalk, but they are responsible for taking care of it. It’s why you can get a ticket for drinking beer on your front porch in the Nation’s Capital. You’re technically on public space. It’s also why the city can ticket you for parking in your own driveway if you don’t pull your car deep enough into the driveway beyond the façade of your house or building.

To be clear, we’re not talking about people who park in shallow driveways and let the rear of their cars block the sidewalk. The cars are off the road, off the sidewalk and in the driveway – just not far enough back for the city.

“This is ludicrous,” Anderson says, “We were three feet away from the sidewalk. People have parked here for thirty years.”

When Anderson complained to a supervisor at DPW she was told that she could lease the property from the District and avoid future tickets. Anderson, who uses the house as a place of business to see clients and regularly has several cars in her large three car driveway, scoffs at that idea. “The city is not going to extort money out of me,” she says.

Mike Carter, Deputy Director for DPW says nobody is extorting money from anyone.

“These regulations have been in effect for some time,” Carter says. “This is nothing new and we have been enforcing it city-wide.”

Carter says the enforcement of the no parking on public space regulation is done in a consistent manner and adds that “citizens know they cant park in public space.”

But does the average citizen know that the first half of their driveways are public space?

Carter said he would take a closer look at how the regulation is being enforced and get back to WTOP.

As for the offer to lease the public space back to the property owner, John Lisle with the District Department of Transportation says there is an application process for such a permit. Lisle says it could cost a property owner thousands of dollars per year, but very few applications have been submitted over the years.

Wells promises a legislative solution to the problem if the Fenty Administration doesn’t do something. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) who chairs the DPW oversight committee says he’s looking into it.

“We’re trying to work that out,” Graham said, “These are people who are in their driveways.”

In the meantime, Anderson isn’t sure if she’s going to pay her tickets and be done with them or fight city hall. And no word on whether Norton might invoke her congressional privilege and ask that her ticket be excused.

(Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)
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 seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.

“Not only has the Congresswoman been ticketed in her own driveway, she has received a towing ticket on her car parked in her driveway,” writes Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery, a spokesperson for Norton. “She did what any other Member would do -and any resident. She contacted her Council Member, Tommy Wells, who assured her the Council will take care of this problem even if it means passing a new law.”

D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) says he’s been getting lots of complaints.

“For the first time in anyone’s memory,” Wells says. “People are starting to get ticketed in their own driveways. This is ridiculous and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

To that end, Wells called the Director of the Department of Public Works, Bill Howland, to find out why his agency was issuing these tickets.

“I asked him what’s going on,” Wells said, “Is this some kind of revenue raising or policy change? He said he’d get back to me.”

Wells said he asked Howland if his department would start issuing warnings for first time offenders.

“He said “No, we don’t do that’,” Wells said. “If the government is going to be unreasonable about this then we’re going to have to look at changing the law.”

So what does the law say?

“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.”

Basically what that means is most property owners in the District don’t own the land between their front door and the sidewalk, but they are responsible for taking care of it. It’s why you can get a ticket for drinking beer on your front porch in the Nation’s Capital. You’re technically on public space. It’s also why the city can ticket you for parking in your own driveway if you don’t pull your car deep enough into the driveway beyond the façade of your house or building.

To be clear, we’re not talking about people who park in shallow driveways and let the rear of their cars block the sidewalk. The cars are off the road, off the sidewalk and in the driveway – just not far enough back for the city.

“This is ludicrous,” Anderson says, “We were three feet away from the sidewalk. People have parked here for thirty years.”

When Anderson complained to a supervisor at DPW she was told that she could lease the property from the District and avoid future tickets. Anderson, who uses the house as a place of business to see clients and regularly has several cars in her large three car driveway, scoffs at that idea. “The city is not going to extort money out of me,” she says.

Mike Carter, Deputy Director for DPW says nobody is extorting money from anyone.

“These regulations have been in effect for some time,” Carter says. “This is nothing new and we have been enforcing it city-wide.”

Carter says the enforcement of the no parking on public space regulation is done in a consistent manner and adds that “citizens know they cant park in public space.”

But does the average citizen know that the first half of their driveways are public space?

Carter said he would take a closer look at how the regulation is being enforced and get back to WTOP.

As for the offer to lease the public space back to the property owner, John Lisle with the District Department of Transportation says there is an application process for such a permit. Lisle says it could cost a property owner thousands of dollars per year, but very few applications have been submitted over the years.

Wells promises a legislative solution to the problem if the Fenty Administration doesn’t do something. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) who chairs the DPW oversight committee says he’s looking into it.

“We’re trying to work that out,” Graham said, “These are people who are in their driveways.”

In the meantime, Anderson isn’t sure if she’s going to pay her tickets and be done with them or fight city hall. And no word on whether Norton might invoke her congressional privilege and ask that her ticket be excused.

(Copyright 2009 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

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