From the Forum – Parking an airstream on my own property?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

Parking an airstream on my own property?

“I’ve looked all over the DC gov websites and can’t find the answer to this:

I’ve been offered a 25′ vintage airstream trailer by a relative. I have plenty of room to park this in my rowhouse’s back yard (zoned R-4). Is there any DC law/zoning requirement that would prevent this? Nobody would live in it, I would use it for vacations and maybe some extra storage space.

If the trailer is stationary, does it need to be tagged and insured? I want to be sure this is all covered before accepting the trailer. I don’t know what would prevent me from parking this on my own property but knowing DC I would be worried somebody would show up at my door with a fine and a red sticker.”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here.   If you are having trouble uploading your question to the forum please try clearing your cache. If it still doesn’t work please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail

33 Comment

  • If it fits, it sits? I don’t see a problem with parking something you own on property you own. It’s not a permanent structure so you don’t need permits. You might need to get a tag for it.

  • Interesting question. I’m not sure about any of this, but here are some thoughts: If it’s still on wheels it’s a vehicle (not a motor vehicle, but still subject to registration). You should check to see if parking a vehicle in a yard is allowed in your zone — it may or may not be. If you take the wheels off and put it on blocks, it might be considered a structure (similar to a shed) and then you have an auxiliary building issue. Either way, be prepared for nosy neighbors to complain….

  • Is this a sneak preview for next week’s Ask Popville? “My inconsiderate neighbor parked a giant trailer home practically behind my house. Do I have any legal recourse?”

  • I’m super jealous you’re getting a free airstream. In my opinion, it’d be worth it even if you have to hire a lawyer or get some sort of exception.

  • So glad I’m not your neighbor!

  • Ive seen others – there is one near 18/Bay SE or thereabouts – between Indp and CC. And Ive def seen a larger one in Carver. A few – just from biking around. You definitely would not be the first person in DC with an RV in their backyard.

  • Row houses have narrow back yards. I would be really really unhappy if my neighborhoor parked an RV in the narrow yard next to mine, and I had to look at the thing every time I went out my back door.

    • Really? This isn’t an “RV”, it’s a vintage airstream trailer, which one might argue is far more attractive. Anyway, what business is it of yours what your neighbor has in their yard as long as it’s perfectly legal? It seems like there are far more objectionable things a neighbor could be doing…

      • It’s all relative, though. To most people, an RV is an RV is an RV.

      • Someone dragging junk and clutter into the backyard I have to look at everyday is pretty objectionable in my opinion. Lowers property values – not just aesthetics. And it’s not that person wants to use it really – for extra storage. Oof. Would not want that next to me.

  • I posted this on the forum, but…one of my neighbors has something of similar size, and every time he gets it out (fortunately only a few time a year) he has to back into my lot (and my other neighbor’s) and nearly crushes my car and/or knocks over our fence. So while I’m sure you CAN park it if it can fit, it’s going to be a pain in the butt to move it and your neighbors may not be very happy. Plus I really don’t see the appeal – how often would you really use something like this? For what it will cost to maintain, fuel, and possibly insure, you can go away and rent a cabin in the Shenandoah a few times a year. Which won’t make your yard look trashy.

    • Is that nearly crushes your car and nearly knocks your fence down? Hitting your car and fence is a problem. Nearly hitting them isn’t really a thing.

      • Please. If your use of your property will require intrusion onto and risk of damage to a neighboring property, you ought to at least speak with the neighbor first – this is common courtesy. And we put all kinds of rules in place to guard against behaviors that pose an increased risk of harm to people or to property. So yeah, increased risk IS a “thing.” In this case there’s no law that I know of to keep this person from reenacting the Beverly Hillbillies in his/her yard – but the fact that you CAN do something does not mean that it’s especially safe or advisable.

        • No, increased risk isn’t a thing — your indignation notwithstanding. De minimus incursions onto your property don’t constitute trespassing, so best of luck there. If he does damage, make him pay for it. Otherwise, your choices are as follows: put a gate up to prevent him from backing up into your property, or spare everyone else from your complaining.

          • I should clarify that this type of increased risk isn’t a thing. Call DCRA, call the DMV, call the police, call a lawyer, and you’ll get the same answer each time: you’re within your rights to put up a barrier to keep people from backing onto your property, but in the absence of any damage a neighbor backing onto your property a couple times a year is not a redressable injury.

          • You must be a wonderful person to live near.

          • Thanks. I get along great with my neighbors, actually. And this includes cutting my neighbors a little slack every now and then and getting some slack in return when I need it. And the ad hominem attack exposes you for what you are.

      • Also, this is a 25′ rig we’re talking about here. Even a modestly-sized towing vehicle is going to add another 15 or so feet. I don’t see how someone could possibly move what is basically a small semi in a D.C. alley – safely or not.

        • You are very over dramatic. Don’t let your neighbor on your property with his RV if you are so worried about your house being knocked over, cars crumbling, and your friends and family all dying.

      • Anon @3:14, you said it. I also hate all the “almost” hysteria in the comments. If people would stick to the facts, they’d get taken a lot more seriously.

        • 1) What, specifically, did I say that was not “factual. 2) I’m not sure where you’re getting “hysteria” from. I don’t think it’s hysterical to object to rude behavior. For what it’s worth, I’ve never mentioned the issue to my neighbor because I have insurance, it’s not the most important issue in my life and TBH if he would just ask me I would happily move my car for him. All I did was note that while this person CAN keep this thing in his yard, it’s pretty impractical and his neighbors (like me) might think he’s a little bit of an oddball at best, and an A-hole at worst. There are plenty of people out there who don’t care about being good neighbors – but in case airstream isn’t one of those people, I took the chance that s/he might not have thought of these things and might actually care.

          • I don’t think you understand how you’re coming across. Best to let it lie, since you’re not convincing anyone that you’re anything other than an overly dramatic pill.

          • Anon at 5:55: I’m not sure you understand how you’re coming across either. Re-read the comments from start to finish. You’re the one who’s more unpleasant. There was no reason to jump on shortstack’s original and unhysterical comment.

          • why would having an airstream in his/her backyard make him a bad neighbor? What business is it of yours if he has an impractical vehicle in his backyard? Would you be concerned if he had an $80,000 car when a $20,000 car would suit your neighbor’s needs just as much?

            If I kept something legal in my backyard that didn’t encroach on anyone else’s rights and that made other people think I was “a bit of an oddball” and they treated me differently because of it, I’d think they were the A-holes, not me.

    • I don’t think that’s what the OP was asking.

  • That’s awesome! You should fix it up real nice-like and put it on Airbnb like these:

  • Oh my god @ these comments. You people need to lighten up! You live in a city, not a planned Stepford community.

    IDK anything about the legality of it but I can’t believe people are complaining about “looking at it”. LOL.

  • My mom wants to park one here to use when she visits. I called DC about it. Yes you can certainly park on your property, it should be registered. You can’t “live” in it apparently.

  • It depends on the condition of the vehicle, if it starts to get run down. IE not sealed to elements, critters living under it. The city can and will ticket/remove it as a health hazard. Usually this only happens if the neighbors complain that your rusting heap is the source of rate. Technically you need to get it registered, from the DC DMV website: “DC law requires that all vehicles housed and operated in the District be registered in the District unless the owner displays a reciprocity sticker issued by DMV. “. In reality, if its kept up well and you’re not running through your neighbors yard nobody’s gonna care.

  • austindc

    It’s a lawn ornament. Done.

  • My mom has a vintage trailer on her property in DC, no tags no nothing. If you take it on the street you’ll obviously need tags.

  • I expect that this would be considered an “accessory structure”, and would be allowed if it meets this criterion:
    “Other accessory uses, buildings, or structures customarily incidental to the uses permitted in R-4 Districts under the provisions of this chapter,”
    I’m afraid that this particular approach would not meet the “customarily incidental” requirement, because few R-4 homes have storage buildings in their back yards. Furthermore, as an “accessory structure”, there’s the question of the lot coverage limit (60% for row houses).

Comments are closed.