What to do about a partially blocked driveway?


“Dear PoPville,

I just bought a house in Takoma with a very nice driveway- but literally since the day I closed, there has been an issue with many, MANY different cars parking so they are about 1-2 feet into my driveway. It baffles me that so many people either think this is OK or are just that careless with their parking. The space between mine and my neighbor’s driveway is just enough that 2 small cars parked very close together can fit, but not really anything more than that. When cars are a foot or two in front of my driveway I can still get out, because my driveway is connected to my neighbor’s on the other side, so I can just go over into their side but:

1- this is still really annoying! This driveway is mine and I want full use of it!

2- I’m having a lot of repair work done on the house and it is definitely difficult for repair trucks and vans to get in and out

3- If my neighbors ever decide to use their entire driveway, or a 3rd car parks in there, I might NOT be able to get in and out.

I’ve considered calling the city to see if they can add one of those no parking signs starting just before my driveway, or paint the curb or something, and I have left 1 very nice note (I just moved in and I have no idea whose cars these are- haven’t caught anyone in the act yet) but it seems to have been removed from the windshield and the huge van was kept parked there.

What does everyone suggest? I am reluctant to tick off my neighbors before even meeting most of them…”

31 Comment

  • I’ll tell you what you do: call 311 or 911 (if on a weekend). My driveway used to be partially blocked all the time. I reacted by launching a zero-tolerance reporting policy. If you are 1 inch over the line I am calling to get you ticketed. I then wait for the police to arrive and issue the ticket. The moment it hits your windshield, I call 311 to get the car towed. I have had very good success with this tactic. One thing you’ll notice is that neighbors watch and notice. The number of cars partially blocking my driveway has steadily fallen over the years, despite increased density on my street. I attribute this to my vigilance in reporting, ticketing, and towing every chance possible.

    • Given the level of concern over neighborly relations the writer has expressed, I don’t think this is a good idea at all. This activity is annoying and frustrating but not actually preventing use of his/her driveway. If it were me, I would leave a note on each different car you see parked there — in all likelihood, it is various different neighbors who have parked like this for years. I would say something like — Hi, I’m the new owner of [address]. I don’t think we’ve met yet, but we moved in [a few weeks ago]. The way you’ve parked your car is blocking part of my driveway and makes it difficult for cars and trucks to get in and out of my driveway. I just wanted to give you a heads up that I am going to start requesting that cars blocking my driveway get ticketed, so please try not to block the driveway in the future. Thanks for understanding. [Name] and [Number].

      Write down the car/license each time you leave a note. If you experience the same issue with the same car more than once or twice, then I would start calling for ticketing/towing.

      • this is a good response – i’d try it for a week or so, but if you notice the same car repeating the offense, have them ticketed. You might also mention that you’re having work done and the contractors have trouble getting out of the driveway, and you fear their car is going to be damaged if they park there.

    • Yipes! Hope you never have an emergency where you need help from a neighbor. Sounds like you’ll be out of luck.

  • Call 311 as you have tried to be civil but obviously no one cares. I am sorry that you have to deal with this

  • Found last line amusing as they were less concerned about “ticking you” off. Good luck – but I’d call MPD to ticket and then tow. And make sure a no parking sign is up.

  • MD or DC?

  • gotryit

    Call 911, not 311 – don’t worry, they won’t treat it as an emergency, but 911 is the number for MPD response, which is what is done.
    They’re actually not allowed to park within 5′ of your driveway, and can be ticketed for that.
    I recommend a zero tolerance policy.

    • no, do not call 911 for parking issues. 311. it’s no where close to an emergency, and parking enforcement does tickets, not MPD.

      • MPD can and does issue parking tickets.

      • Ai yai yai! I feel like this misconception keeps cropping up on PoPville, though it’s been YEARS now since D.C. changed 311 from being the police non-emergency number to being the city-services number.
        911 is now for ALL police calls. If you have a non-emergency police call, just specify when the dispatcher answers: “Police non-emergency, please.”

      • Also, DPW handles parking enforcement as far as most ticketing is concerned (lack of a zone sticker, violation of street-sweeping restrictions, expired meters, etc.), BUT the police handle parking enforcement for more emergency-type violations (parking in front of fire hydrant, parking blocking an alley, parking in tow-away zones, etc.).
        My guess is that parking that partially blocks a driveway would be considered in the same class as parking that blocks an alley.
        Probably best for this OP to start by calling 911 and (contrary to my earlier +1) to call 311 only if the police say that this would be a DPW ticketing issue rather than an MPD one.

      • gotryit

        Yes, do call 911. Here’s how it works in DC.
        911: for ALL police / fire / ambulance response
        311: for other city services.
        It has nothing to do with emergency.

        If you call 311 for non-emergency police, they will transfer you to 911. And by the way, MPD does write parking tickets. I’ve seen them do this multiple times.

        • And this is why I am not surprised when I have called 911 and gotten a busy signal. 911 should NOT be for non-emergencies.

          • Take it up with the city and with the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), the dispatchers who answer 911 and 311 phone calls. If I remember correctly, OUC has had more than its fair share of screwups, incompetence, etc.

  • Why are you worried about ticking off your neighbors? They clearly don’t care about upsetting you.

    I would make sure you put a sign up. Without a sign, people think that it is okay to park there even if common sense would dictate otherwise. Have them ticketed and towed. It is your only solution because going the nice route isn’t working.

    • ah

      Are these even your neighbors parking there? If it’s someone you can identify, start by speaking with them. Meanwhile, call 311 to get signs installed. Keep calling. I got them to do it for the alley I live on (or use for access). If they’re not neighbors use the zero tolerance policy.

  • Annoying, but you live here now and do not want poor neighbor relations. Very hard to change an initial impression! I’d start by introducing yourself to your neighbors and getting to know a few (a good idea regardless of this issue). Find you if there is a block list serve or anything. If you meet some friendly people, mention in passing that you are having this issue and ask if they’ve had similar problems/ask their advice.
    Ultimately, though, I’d ask the city for one of those signs. People will still ignore it, though.
    Also, since you are new, try not to get too hung up on the “wrongness” of this. If you can let it slide a little while feeling out the situation (who is doing it; who’s a potential ally) that’s probably for the best even if they are violating your rights.
    Bad neighbor situation are bad and hard to remedy.

    • “[Y]ou live here now and do not want poor neighbor relations. Very hard to change an initial impression!” Valid point, but the same could be said of the neighbors — if in fact they are neighbors — who are blocking the OP’s driveway.

      • On the other hand, it could well be that whoever lived there before didn’t care if people partially blocked the driveway (perhaps they didn’t use it or didn’t even have a car). IMO it’s worth the inconvenience of taking the more diplomatic approach. You can probably weed out most offenders this way within a reasonable span of time, and if there are a few people left after that who clearly don’t care–you can still take the zero tolerance approach. Plus you will have learned a great deal about the dispositions of your neighbors.

  • Paint the curb yourself and see if that helps.

  • I’d have them towed – I’d also paint the curb bright yellow, including the required number of feet on each side that is NOT allowed to be parked in near a driveway (whatever that is here), that seems to be allowed (you can look up the regs, or maybe the city paints it for you), and, if allowed, paint a yellow “no Parking” in the driveway near the street, or further up if only allowed on your property, AND get a red and white official looking (printed on metal) NO parking sign that states those blocking the driveway will be towed and screw that securely on your garage door. This is just unacceptable behavior.

  • If they have DC plates and the registration on the windshield indicates that they have an RPP for your ward they may be your neighbor. If not, they don’t live nearby and I would call 311 during the day and 911 after hours, and have them ticketed. But I would definitely let that fabulous Imperial stay forever.

  • In DC I have seen barriers/markers that seek to limit the ability of people to park vehicles in the driveway right of way. The example I am thinking of is just off Park Road NW in Mt. Pleasant next to the little park plaza. Maybe the city will do that for you or maybe you can do it yourself after consulting with it.

  • This is having a material effect on your ability to use your driveway. You’ve done enough to accommodate people. Forget about ticking neighbors off. Forget about waiting until you can’t drive over your neighbor’s driveway. Report any car parked in your driveway. When they get ticketed, they won’t return.

  • God this is annoying. I had the same problem for the first 6 months I lived in my house, but I only had the width for one space instead of two, and I drive a pickup and the grade/configuration of my driveway and sidewalk, retaining wall meant that a few times I physically couldn’t get out of the driveway. I tried the neighborly route by leaving polite notes on the cars (there were 3 or 4 that were regular offender) but after 2 months and probably 15 notes, I just started being “that” neighbor.

    By that I mean, just backing into the car that was blocking my driveway. My truck was old, what did I care. After leaving some serious rear fender dents on a couple cars, the problem vanished overnight.

    I was expecting someone to call the cops but they never did.

    My recommendation, buy a beat up pickup truck

  • Perhaps think of it this way?
    You have a curb cut which takes away from a public resource (street parking spaces) that benefits you, alone.

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