Dear PoPville – Dumpsters Taking Over Street Parking Spots


Dear PoPville,

We have some flippers renovating houses on our block with dumpsters for the trash. I came home tonight to find a note on the windshield of my car parked about 10 feet in front of the car (attached), threatening me with towing if I didn’t stop “blocking” the dumpster.

I’ve also attached pictures of how my car is parked. Given that I’m parked at least 10 feet in front of it, I’m not too clear on how I’m “blocking” it. Note that the tree in between has no no-parking sign on it (it used to).

I’d be perfectly happy to move my car except they haven’t specified how far away it needs to be so I’m flummoxed as to where to put it. What exactly counts as “blocking” a dumpster? How am I supposed to know what counts as “blocking” a dumpster without emergency no parking signs up? Why should my car be towed when, as far as I can tell, it is parked perfectly legally?


50 Comment

  • They have no right to put that sign on your car. Call the police. They need to have a permit to have that dumpster placed there or will get a fine. I had to deal with this and they ended up having to post signs and pay to leave a dumpster on the street for more than two days at a time.

    • Call the cops. And move your car.

    • That is RIDICULOUS!!! Those dumpsters block like 3 parking slots on the Streets of DC that are already super congested – there is no space to park cars in the first place and these people make the neighborhood drivers suffer. URGH!!!! Because of these dumpsters local drivers keep getting parking tickets.

      • No, local drivers who park illegally cause local drivers to get tickets. These guys are just making an already scarce resource slightly more scarce.

  • Well, they need space to maneuver a large truck to pick up the full dumpster and put in a new one. That may be what they are complaining about. However, they should have to have the proper street permit and POST the signs where they need the space.

  • they are permitted and of course they need to be able to get the truck in and out to move the dumpster. relax. it’s temporary and the end result will be more friendly neighbors instead of a vacant property.

  • Yep, if they want to reserve that space, they gotta pay the man. “Handwritten Emergency No Parking signs are no longer permitted in public space.”

  • Forget being towed I’d be worried about being axe murdered.

  • You aren’t “blocking” the dumpster and the guy can’t tow your car. Period.

    Now, it certainly is convenient for the hauling company to be able to have 50+ feet of free and clear space in front of the dumpster to back the truck up to it perfectly evenly and offload a new empty dumpster and load the full one back on the truck, but I absolutely assure you, they can (and most certainly will) drag the edge of the dumpster out into the road to load and unload it.

    Think of it as similar to how it is more convenient to tow a car with nothing near it, but it is perfectly possible to tow a car that is parallel parked with a car in front of it and another behind it – they do it all the time when they impound booted cars off the street.

    And speaking of towing, again, he can’t tow you. There is no signage posted in the photo that he could use to ticket you, and without ticketing you first, the city will not tow you, and a private company would face auto theft charges if they towed you for him. Not gonna happen.

    • austindc

      You’re right. As a construction guy myself, I am amazed at how little space these guys need to move the dumpsters in and out. I mean, don’t park too close, but that’s plenty of space to drag the thing out and slide it up onto the truck.

      I wish I was the proud owner of a dumpster.

  • Of course the other plus is the contractor has parking for his vehicles. Bet a white van or pick up truck park all day long bumper right up on dumpster

  • i love how he doesn’t sign with his actual name (or phone number), but instead “owner of dumpster.” klassy.

    • My thought exactly – if the demand was legit, he would have included a phone number and his first name at the very least. This anonymous/vaguely threatening note is very sketchy, I would contact the authorities.

  • justinbc

    I wonder if he actually owns the dumpster. I bet he’s renting it.

  • Ask yourself this question: if you do park there and he does call the police, do you trust the police will do the right thing and not tow you, or will they believe the irate contractor and tow your car without proof of the permit and leave you to sort it out? How much of a hassle will that be?

    The contractor is clearly (CLEARLY!) in the wrong, but putting up with temporary crap like this seems to be the name of the game. The dumpster phase of a home reno is usually only a week or so long as they trash the place out. Report them to DCRA if they lack the permit, though. Let them handle it.

    • Allison

      I’d be less worried about him convincing an annoyed police officer to tow, and more worried about getting a brick through my window if I parked there again.

  • Ok, the people renting the dumpster need to be in possession of (and display) a Construction Staging Area Permit which indicates the space occupancy the permit has been approved for (e.g. a single address or a block). Since they are clearly doing other building work they can not use a “Roll-Off Debris Container” Permit.

  • I’m curious where you live. We live in Petworth and the house flipping is getting out of control. We have 3 houses on our single block in the process; thankfully one is on the market now and the dumpster is gone. Normally we have easy parking on our block, but not anymore.

    We were actually wondering if it’s possible to get the street cleaning parking restrictions temporarily waived on a block that has lost many parking spots to dumpsters. Any ideas? I guess probably not, but still wonder…

  • Note that the tree in between has no no-parking sign on it (it used to).

    “It used to.” So you know the no-parking extended that far yet one of your angry neighbors must have though it was too much huh?

    Move your car, stop fighting a good thing.

    Wait until the next big snow fall, fight for parking then.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      OP also wrote (but I took out for brevity):

      “By the way, there’s not that much parking on our block and I can’t park around the corner because I don’t have a residential parking permit yet (it is a brand-new car).”

      • Whoops!

        OP – When you received a temporary DC registration (you do have one, yes?), you had the option to receive a temporary parking permit:

        You need to actually be registered to PARK LEGALLY IN DC before you can start complaining about the lack of parking. Just saying.

        • I have a temporary DC registration. I wasn’t offered the option of getting a temporary parking permit; the dealership handled the registration. I wasn’t too worried about it since you don’t need a residential parking permit to park on our block, just if you park on the bigger streets nearby. I just pointed it out to explain why I felt a little constrained in terms of moving to a new space. Our block fills up and I had a perfectly legal space.

          • Just a heads up, if your block doesn’t have resident parking, you’re not going to be able to get a residential parking permit.

          • They don’t hand out the temporary RPPs automatically for every new car registration because not every car in DC gets an RPP. But if you are qualified for one based on where you live the only barrier to having a legal parking registration is to go to the DMV to get one.

            I guess I don’t understand people who complain so vocally about the lack of legal street parking for them when they have not done everything in their power to obtain a legal parking permit. Parking is tight in this city, and nobody owes you a free place to store your car.

          • At the very least, you can get yourself a “visitor” pass for 2 weeks at your local police station.

  • Honestly, the dumpster “owner” sounds like a douchebag. The least he could do is actually talk to the car owner, instead of writing a passive aggressive note. Weenie.

  • That is so obnoxious.

  • Hey! When did the Cookie Monster move to DC??

  • here is a tool to check if the permits have been issued

    • ah

      +1. Figure out who has the permit. Call DDOT to inquire what it allows (i.e., how much space they paid for), and who the owner/contact is. Then call the contact and tell them to step off.

  • OP here. I did move my car early this morning since there was a space down the street and I wasn’t interested in getting into a fight. But I sent it to PoP because I was kind of blown away by the arrogance of the note telling me to move. Hello? I’m parked legally in front of my own house.

    • What do expect from an entitled investor-flipper who sees the neighborhood as his personal piggy bank?

    • Um, but you just said you aren’t parked legally because you don’t have a residential parking permit. Move your car. You’ll be fine.

      • Uh, no, she said that no residential permit was required on her street. Any particular reason you are bashing the victim here?

  • Yikes. As a flipper, I’m now terrified of neighbors and guess I should find a new line of work. I’ve had this situation happen. It costs me personally about $125 for a trip charge for the dumpster company to come, only to have access blocked. But I realize how inconvenient it is, so I always try to move it when during street sweeping hours.

    • Rule #1, Don’t be a dick. I’ve flipped a few before and never had problems, talk to your neighbors, make sure you permit properly and Don’t be a dick. If you manage your timeline correct, you can always find a time to get the rolloff picked up when the street is empty. The neighbors are near that site more than you, and all it takes is one bad sub and a pissed neighbor to get the stop work red flowing.

    • Seems to me that if you choose to plop a big dumpster down on a street, you are accepting that you run the risk of having your access “blocked” (however you want to define that). Just because you want the world to think your renovations are more important than anything else, doesn’t mean the world does. Not that I would purposefully park near a dumpster, but come on, occupational hazard if things are too crowded. People will park their cars legally even if it isn’t terribly convenient for you. Get over it.

  • austindc

    I love when you can tell by someone’s handwriting that they are bat shit crazy.

  • Please, please post a follow-up and tell us how much the “dumpster owner” got fined.

  • Also, post the address and we can all come down and use the dumpster to get rid of household garbage and used furniture. I had planned to just curb my old couch but now I am feeling like it could be put to a higher purpose.

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