Dear PoPville – Verizon – Property Invasion!

“Dear PoPville,

Verizon came down the alleyway between 16th St and Hertford Place NW this morning. Without getting any permission from any of the homeowners, Verizon’s crew proceeded to invade people’s property and erected a series of poles, saying that they will eventually string FiOS lines along them. (Eventually, as in 6-9 months from now, because of the strike.) Don’t know how readily you can tell from the pix I took and attached, but in some cases their poles straddle the property line between the alley and the private property. In a couple of cases, they actually installed the poles completely within the private property.

For the first pole, Verizon’s crew dumped the concrete they tore up into the man’s yard! The last pole is actually blocking the paved parking space for the home they invaded. And one property owner came out and shooed the Verizon crew away — but not before they had started drilling perilously close to his foundation. And the hole is still there, with torn-up concrete piled up. (Maybe it’s an art installation.)

Is this kind of thing happening elsewhere in the District? I can’t imagine Verizon would possibly try to get away with blatant trespass in Georgetown or even Crestwood, just up the block from us. And if it’s happening elsewhere, where? Verizon clearly needs to be sued for this, and the homeowners must be compensated and made whole.”

Another writes on a Columbia Heights listserv:

“Supposedly they are for Verizon Fios fiber optic lines. Supposedly they can’t run them under the porches like the current phone and cable lines because its a fire hazard, or because someone demanded rent to put a box on their house. Not sure which. Supposedly because of the strike actual wires won’t go up for months.

They were put on people’s property (including mine) without permission, which is bad, but it would be bad if they were blocking the ally too. They should be run underground, but that would involve tearing up our newly paved alley.

That’s the sum total of the gossip I’ve collected so far. Anyone with real info, please chime in and correct or clarify.”

95 Comment

  • On the flipside, anything that chips away at Comcast/Xfinity is ok by me.

    • Believe it or not, Comcast is a lot better. I recently moved from Northern Virginia, where we had FIOS, and the service was terrible. The channels were unavailable or scrambled more often than not. I’d call customer service to complain, and they’d console me by offering three months of free movie channels. The irony of that was that the movie channels were always down, so we could never watch them anyway!

      • I hate satellite however. RCN isn’t in our neighborhood unfortunately. Hasn’t FIOS gotten it’s act together yet?

  • If its on your property you can, and should, demand rent.

    • ah

      Or demand removal first, unless they have an easement or were allowed to take it through eminent domain.

      • No way they get it through eminent domain. That takes years. The landowner would know, and have been paid for it, if Verizon has an easement as well.

      • My guess is there’s an easement. If it’s in a public alley, that’s my very strong guess.

        • I guarantee there is an easement. Utilities have them all over the place. Check your title work when you buy, people.

          • +1 – The outrage here could have been avoided with a bit of community information on Verizon’s part and some basic knowledge on the property-owners’ part. I like how the thread immediately devolves into a Comcast v. FIOS argument which does nothing to answer the basic question asked.

          • ah

            I wouldn’t make such a guarantee. When I moved into my house, the (overhead) electric service for both our house and our neighbor’s crossed my front yard. Now, for me that’s understandable, but I called Pepco about my neighbor’s and they immediately acknowledged it shouldn’t be that way because they only get an easement as part of their service contract with you to provide a wire to your house.

            They came out and moved the service cable down the mains on the street so it didn’t cross our yard within a few days.

  • or just take them down, preferably with a chainsaw, tipping the pole onto any nearby Verizon vans.

  • I’ve had the opposite experience, FIOS was nothing but pure awesome in Maryland where I used to live.

    • What is so awesome about FIOS? Their customer service is relatively good, I’ll give them that, but the cable is unreliable as hell.

      • It was rock solid for me for a couple years… YMMV

      • Really? Do you have FIOS? I’ve had it for almost 3 years. As much as I want to based on general disdain for cable companies, I can’t knock the product — super-fast internet (confirmed by my tech-geek friends), great HD on the cable, lots of extras, never any outages … in my estimation, it definitely is the best product out there, and I’ve had Comcast, Directv, and RCN over the years as a personal point of comparison.

        • Yes, I had it from 2008 until I moved to DC in early 2011. It was much worse than DirecTV and Comcast, which I’ve also had before.

          • And I should add that I’m no fan of DirecTV or Comcast either. I lost hundreds to DirecTV over a billing discrepncy, and Comcast has terrible customer service in general, but I can’t deny that Verizon FIOS provides an inferior product.

          • Huh. I guess at the very least, you can’t credit Verizon with consistently pleasing its customers.

            (I’ll never go Directv again, though … so many billing errors over 7 years with them. My favorite is the auto-enroll in any high $ add-on you had previously, no matter how clearly I said I did not want that. NFL Sunday Ticket was a complete rip in that regard. And that stupid satellite would blow out of alignment and then the rain/snow storms would block the signal.)

        • I’m fortunate enough that I live in a part of DC with FIOS and I will say it blows away Comcast. Not only in picture quality, but in internet – a solid 20up and down all the time. Also the tech they use for the set top boxes blows away Comcast. And price is much cheaper too!

          • I feel lucky that I do not have cable or satellite, just an antenna on the roof that picks up the HD signals of the local nets and a few other oddball stations. (of course, now that football season is beginning, I do hate missing the ESPN game.) I just got FIOS, though, for my phone and internet and like it. Plus, it was cheaper than my previous “bundle” of phone and internet.

  • Shouldn’t they be underground?

  • I would suggest they may be striking union members looking to cause trouble for Verizon.

    • So they went on strike, crossed the proverbial picket line to get the into Verizon facilities, took (read: stole) a truck for a short period of time, installed a bunch of poles, all the while barely containing their glee: “Ha! This’ll show management!”

      Seems likely.

    • You know what? When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not unicorns.

    • I actually support the strike and am generally pro-union/pro-cwa, but yes, I do suggest exactly that. This is why Lanier sent out the warning about striking workers tampering with stuff. Things have gotten a little wild in NJ too.

      The workers who do this work are unionized and I doubt the scabs have the knowledge to do it and i suspect the management wouldnt direct them to work on projects like this when they’re understaffed and overworked due to the strike.

      • I’m not following. What, exactly, are suggesting that the striking workers are doing?

        • I’m suggesting there have been allegations of the workers doing stuff to damage and undermine verizon, albeit not this extreme. Unless Cathy Lanier and local news affiliates in nj and dc are all part of a conspiracy to level false allegations, then there’s probably some merit to what they’re saying.

        • Alternatively they are scabs that made a mistake.

          All of this is assuming that the folks know where their own property lines are… I know where mine are… It’s not that hard. It’s annoying that for everything pop posts, it always turns into the question asked being attacked.

          • It’s also annoying that so many PoP question askers are enraged and accusatory. Their language suggests that they lack any empathy or ability to understand a situation from another’s perspective. That is not a viable approach to city life.

            Some of the OP’s complaints will likely be resolved if they give Verizon more than a few hours to complete the task. I’m sure all “art installations” will be cleaned up shortly when the follow-up crew comes along. Others may be cleared up by checking for easements and determining if the parking pad is possibly not legal. Lastly, it’s not terribly likely that a hole would endanger an adjacent foundation, assuming that the workers don’t hit the house with their equipment.

  • From the picture above, I have a hard time believing that pole in that triangular concrete area is on private property. Hell, most people who own standard federal or victorian rowhomes in DC don’t know that the Districts ROW goes right up to their front stoop and that their front lawn is technically city property.

    From this photo…from the curb to the back of sidewalk is definitely not private property. The alley are not private property. I have a hard time believing that little spike strip in between is.

    Now if Verizon is hanging stuff on your house without permission, that is obviously a no-no but this seems much ado about nothing

    • When will this myth die? It is true that in parts of the original L’Enfant plan the city owns the front yards, but it is not true in most of the city, including the areas where Verizon planted these poles.

      I would contact your council member.

      • people like myths.

        and joker likes trying to teach people things.

      • Not a myth according to my property plats in petworth. I almost didnt buy my house last year when I found out at closing, but my plat clearly shows my property starting at the front door.

    • Have as hard a time as you want. I live in that area. That triangular spit was grassy, owned by the homeowner on a lot where an angled alley meets an angled street, and he paved it for his parking space.

      In fact, several homeowners back there have paved their back yards, what little back yard area they have, to the alley in order to have parking. The difference between public alley and private property is very clear — there are concrete seams where private property ends and public property begins.

      • You’ve had these seams surveyed and know they match up to the plat maps?

        • Let’s ask Verizon. Surely they did that, right?

        • Exactly. Just because there’s a “seam” and someone has claimed that patch by paving it, doesn’t mean he owns it.

          • By all means, blame the victim. How could a corporation do something so wrong? That would never happen in Amurrika.

          • Who’s blaming the victim? I’m saying it’s foolish to make assumptions about the legality of your property line based on whether or not there are little lines in the concrete.

            Check the property plats, then decide.

            Believe me, I couldn’t give half a flying rat’s ass less about corporations who try to trample on the “little guy”, but if you plan to go toe to toe, you damn well better have some better proof about your property line than “Well, I planted flowers there, so it belongs to me!” or somesuch.

          • Hahaha…


            And for the “myth” folks, I would simply look at the Deed and Plat that came along with your property. Columbia Heights has a hughe number of homes where the city ROW goes right up to the front steps. Irving, Kenyon, Lamont etc…take.

      • Verizon almost certainly is using an easement, which runs across private property and probably was created long ago. The OP should read his deed before moving forward with any actions. All of the “corporations v. the little guy” ranting is immaterial here. If Verizon put the poles on an easement, the property can’t do anything about it and they shouldn’t have paved the area over in the first place.

        From the webs:

        What is a utility easement?
        Utility easements are strips of land used by utility companies to construct and maintain overhead electric, telephone and cable television lines and underground electric, water, and sewer, telephone, and cable television lines.

        Who owns the utility easement?
        The property owner owns all of the land including the utility easements. However, utilities have a right to access that portion of land which has been designated a utility easement.

        How are utility easements created?
        Utility easements are usually created at the time a plat for a new development is designed. Utility easements almost always exist along streets and along rear lot lines, and sometimes exist between two lots.

        What if I build on an existing easement?
        Infrastructure construction is subject to Building Setback Lines, and therefore cannot be built within the easement. Setback lines are shown on your subdivision plat.

        • What if something was built before the easement was granted? Is that grandfathered in?

          • If you grant an easement on your land, you can’t “grandfather” yourself back out of it because something was built when the grant took place.

        • I rarely see setback lines on plats. One often has to look up the rules and determine which ones apply to their particular lot type (corner, end, interior, wedge, etc.)

  • Often what appears to be private property in front yards in DC is in fact public space. This is why the Dupont “Chardonnay Lady” was famously arrested back in the 90s for drinking in public because she was having a glass of wine on her front porch.

    • Front yards aren’t an issue here. This happened in people’s back yards. The tiny amount of space they have in the back, which they paved for parking.

    • well then I suppose DC needs to shovel my steps leading to the house during the next snow storm? I’m sure that would go over really well. If the city owns my sidewalk and front yard, then why pratelle am I resposible for the treebox on the street? and why do i shovel my sidewalk for fear someone slips, falls and sues? I need to check this out a bit further, because if my front yard is public property, then DC can feel free to come landscape…

      • DC owns the front yard but the homeowner (or tenant, which I’m guessing you are) is reponsible for maintaining it. Strange but true. I actually didn’t know this until I was closing on my house!

        • lol, my settlement company didn’t bother to mention…

          • Mine didn’t either, but I caught it when they gave me the survey drawing. The settlement company was, in fact, so terrible they didn’t know anything about it when I asked, but my realtor and the selling agent were able to explain it.

      • Its the same principle as you not owning the sidewalk in front o fyour house, but you being responsbile to shovel it in the winter.

        Take a look at the Plat you got along with your Deed. Do you people even bother to look at the documents you are getting at settlement when you buy a place?

        • darling, at the settlement table, one is so jarred at the fact that they just signed their life away, the details of a sidewalk are of no interest…

      • It’s not your yard unless the lead waterline btwn the sidewalk and your house needs replacing. Then it is all yours.

        • Ha! Tell me about it. At least you can get the subsidized rate when they do the street side.


  • First, I heard FiOS was never coming to DC so this is surprising.

    Next, ALL of cable companies are criminally bad. We once lost electricity in a five block radius when RCN “technicians” hooked a ladder onto power lines in our alley. Not the pole, the actual lines. I keep hoping for a mass uprising or boycott because otherwise they have absolutely no incentive to improve service. Regulatory affairs is no help.

    • cut the cord, I’m sick of giving them money every month when I can get everything they offer that I want from other places, legally.

      • I believe DC was listed as one of the regions they had already begun doing FIOS in so they would continue to add it to the market.

    • FIOS isn’t coming to most of DC until 2014-15. There are a couple articles on GGW and DCist.

  • Its funny that this thread turned into what I thought it was going to be. Either relief or anger about Fios. I just left Comcast who I’ve had in two different states and they couldn’t suck more. Also, I had internet and cable for $125 a month. RCN gets me the same deal for $100 and Showtime and The Movie Channel.

    I’m waiting to check out Fios, but there are no cable companies that people like. It’s just a fact of life. Well, maybe Direct TV, because once the dish is installed, that’s really the last time you see those goons.

    • Unless you have to move and DirecTV can’t install the dish in your new place. Then they hit you with a hefty “cancellation fee”.

      • Yeah – they also refuse to remove the dish that they install on your property. They improperly installed one on my roof and when I brought this to their attention and demanded action, they said it was the contractor’s fault, not theirs. On top of that, they are the worst in hidden contract renewals. What a shame that a company this big is so pathetic and greedy. If it was a different point in my life, I would have sued them for the damages they caused to my roof!


  • I’m guessing that the OP should contact their council member and the Mayor’s Office (I would assume the Mayor’s office has someone monitoring the implementation of Fios in the District?)

    • I’m guessing the OP should do some research before writing a semi-hysterical post to a neighborhood blog, throwing around suggestions to sue and using words like “invasion” to describe what is probably an entirely legal activity on the part of Verizon. If something illegal is going on, then it would be appropriate to contact public officials. After all, the DC Council has important things to attend to, like graft.

  • This sure is a crazy situation, but I’m disappointed at this:

    “Verizon clearly needs to be sued for this…”

    It’s too bad that the instant kneejerk reaction is to sue.

    Yes, property owners do need to be made whole where property damage has occurred, but has anyone even contacted Verizon or their CM to see what the heck is going on before running to the (proverbial) gun cabinet?

    • Why is that “too bad”? That’s how people get justice against corporations. They understand nothing but money.

      And “get sued” is usually a short hand for a variety of activities under the shadow of litigation — like demanding answers from their corporate offices, sending a demand letter calling for remedies without the need of filing suit, etc. But they’re really all tied to litigation — including ponying up before litigation has to be launched.

      • It’s “too bad” because the first step should be to contact Verizon or the city to get some answers there. Sure, it might not yield much, but it’s better than immediately involving the courts before you even have all the info (which, based on what the OP wrote, is the case).

        • There’s no reference above to any lawsuit having been filed. Courts have not been involved. Before any lawsuit could be filed, people would HAVE to get “all the info” anyway. And people in that area will definitely be contacting the city, their representative on the city council, and even Verizon itself. You just seem to have some bias against the very concept of people turning to the courts for justice.

          Which makes no sense to me, because that’s what the courts are there for. That’s why we have the rule of law, and courts to enforce it. How else can isolated individuals fight back against corporations, if not by turning to institutions with some actual power?

          • “You just seem to have some bias against the very concept of people turning to the courts for justice.”

            Wrong. I have a bias against people whose VERY FIRST reaction is to sue or to suggest suing, as the OP has done (the latter, by stating that Verizon “clearly NEEDS TO GET SUED for this”). No mention of “we need to get to the bottom of this” or anything like that.

            If you need to sue to get justice, then sue. But there are reasonable steps to be taken before that.

            That’s it. Period. Please don’t put words in my mouth.
            Thank you.

          • For what it’s worth… I am generally skeptical of corporations (and pro-“the little guy”), but the OP did seem a bit over-the-top in the original post.

            I share the suspicion of Verizon, but I’d be thinking more along lines of “We need to investigate this, and depending on what we find out, we might need to sue.”

      • Congratulations. Based on your above multiple comments, you are the most defensive, anti-fact commentator on this thread!

      • Verizon should be arrested, though I don’t know how you arrest a corporation, so I guess you have to sue.. If I did what Verizon did, I would be arrested.

    • +1

  • Even if it turns out Verizon is entirely within their rights to tear up private property (and it would not surprise me), this is definitely a time for pitchforks and torches. I cannot figure out how these companies keep getting away with overcharging for shitty, unreliable service.

    This type of behavior is insult to injury. And if there’s a council member out there who can actually do something about it, then they should have been made aware of the action beforehand so they could give owners notice.

    • If you think shitty service is a reason for pitchforks and torches, what do you think about Verizon paying $0 in federal taxes in 2009-2010, yet claiming a refund of $1.3 BILLION?

      I’m not even so pissed at Verizon for that. I’m more pissed at all of us for allowing our system to become so bought and broken that this can happen.

      But yeah, a questionable utility pole is a lot more tangible. Whatever it takes to put people over the edge.

  • +10000. Anonymous has his/her facts 100% correct.

  • If you have it check you property survey, a copy is normally provided to you at closing when you purchase your home. If you don’t have one you can always go down to DCRA and request a plat of you property. Have your Lot and Square numbers, which you can find in you property tax bill. Here the link to getting Plat
    You maybe surprised what you find. A couple of years ago I needed a permit so I requested my plat and in my plat it clearly showed a ‘no build line’ or 30ft easement in my front yard. When I matched it up to my survey it lined up to the front of my house. Which means no one on our block would be allowed to extend their properties into the front yard.

  • I live in the house on the other side of the Alley from where this happened. He does use it for parking, and from my understanding is separate from the alley. In fact most every resident of this Alley wrote Jim Graham to have our Alley repaved last year. They stated that they would only repave what constituted the alley way. The leftovers were our own personal driveway space. If they tore it up too much by accident they’d repave it, otherwise it was our responsibility to pave it.

    Perhaps it’s true that there is an easement like our front yards, and while the man needs to maintain that bit of land himself, the city still has rights to install utility work there. But as a result it has destroyed the use of his parking space. They also did start to dig up a hole that was amazingly close to his foundation and house farther down the alley.

    The other 3 poles they installed don’t seem to block parking too much except maybe the last one on the other end. The poles also don’t appear to match each other with line of sight (ie the houses are kind of in the way of each pole) so I don’t know how they plan on stringing the cables.

    • “But as a result it has destroyed the use of his parking space”

      Thats the point. It wasn’t his parking space to begin with.

      I could start parking my car on the sidewalk, and just because I get away with it for awhile doesn’t make it mine.

      From the sounds of it, most people here don’t know what a “plat” is, let alone hwo to read one, so I’d be really suspicious of anyone who said they outright owned a strip of land like this.

      • No, you’re missing the point. He’s not parking on the sidewalk. He’s parking on his property.

        Unless you know more about his plat than he does.

        • Yeah, I would say that I do, and you too considering your consistantly wrong but hilarious screed above.

          Let us know when Verizon removes the pole because its on “private” property or they aren’t in an easement.

          I won’t be holding my breath.

        • If Verizon has an easement, it would run on private property. The private/public distinction is meaningless here.

          • Dunno if whatever easement Verizon has would allow that level of tresspass (i.e. destroy his ability to enjoy his property/use it for parking).

            I’d check, then I’d sue.

            Of course, I’d probably settle for movement of the offending pole and free Fios.

          • No, they could have a public space easement that has nothing to do with private property whatsoever.

            You folks should really first understand what it is you are railing against before you set out to make bigger fools of yourself than you already are.

            Like I said…let us know when Verizon removes the pole because they are their illegally. I won’t hold my breath.

  • PoP I’d be highly suspicious of any information you receive about Verizon during the strike, good or bad. It’s very likely to be at least biased if not outright invented propaganda.

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