From the Forum – Curb Cut Takes Public Parking Space


Curb Cut Takes Public Parking Space

“I was surprised to see that the house at 1331 Park Road is beginning construction on a driveway which takes at least one of the all important neighborhood street parking spaces. I’ve written our ANC 1A chair Kent Boese and Council member Brianne Nadeau about intervening before it’s not too late.

I encourage others to do so as well since turning a yard into a parking lot at the expense of shared public space is a terrible president to set.

The curb cut itself is next to 3317 Holmead Place, an existing driveway into a parking lot.”

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66 Comment

  • I wonder why they’re forking over the money to do this. The residents already park in the back yard – they just drive over the sidewalk from the adjacent driveway. I’ve seen it happen.

  • Good luck.

    My neighbor tried to install a curb cut without getting building permits, permission from the ANC or permission to remove an old growth tree and it was barely stopped. All the neighbors made repeated calls to report illegal construction, but it took the local ANC representative calling the Ward 5 councilmember to stop the process.

  • DC1

    gutsy! no permits issued for that construction.

  • From the picture, it looks like you are also getting two fewer cars competing for the space, so I don’t see how this is a net loss in terms of parking spaces relative to cars.
    You seem mainly to object to the fact that you do not have assigned parking and now this person does. And if indeed your motivation is some kind of egalitarian utopia in which everyone wastes an equal amount of time looking for parking, I’d encourage you to abandon that fantasy. There will always be private parking.

    • I am the same anonymous, replying to myself. I had assumed this was permitted, and it if it is not, that is another story entirely. I assumed that the city would allow this if the construction has no impact on net parking spaces. But I am just an internet person, and I actually know nothing but instead make great assumptions based on the way I think the world should work.

    • Agree. Not sure how this justifies any level of outrage.

      • Have you tried to park (as a resident) in Columbia Heights? This new driveway permanently takes away a street spot that was previously open to all residents and makes it so that only THIS resident can use it.

        • Oh, you must have missed the second half of the original comment. “You seem mainly to object to the fact that you do not have assigned parking and now this person does. And if indeed your motivation is some kind of egalitarian utopia in which everyone wastes an equal amount of time looking for parking, I’d encourage you to abandon that fantasy. There will always be private parking.”
          Life isn’t fair. Some people can afford private parking.

          • There will always be private parking, sure. But not all private parking relies on the subtraction of existing public parking spaces.
            And as I noted below, there is no indication as to whether the OP him/herself is relying on street parking or whether he/she is just offended by the principle.

        • You knowingly live in a neighborhood where street parking is really hard, you can’t reasonably expect people to take your needs into consideration before theirs.

    • “You seem mainly to object to the fact that you do not have assigned parking and now this person does.” I don’t see any indication that the OP is relying on street parking — quite possibly he/she is, but maybe the OP is bothered by the principle of the thing rather than how it affects him/her personally.
      For what it’s worth, most off-street parking in Ward 1 is accessed via alleys rather than via curb cuts.

    • Anonymous, I appreciate your rationalism and the typing you have saved me and others. At the heart of it is that the OP seems to think that parking on public land is a greater right than using that land to provide access to property (property rights), when if anything, historically, it is the other way around. And if the property gains value, the city benefits from the extra assessed tax revenues. The outrage about the value gains reminds me of the famous Gore Vidal quote: “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.”

  • They have no building permit via PIVS site at DCRA but do have a “paving, driveway; new residential” DDOT public space permit. I would have thought they needed a building permit too — which would have included going through zoning. Email Bowser’s Ward 1 outreach specialist Ben Case.

  • The above commenters indicating there are no permits are wrong. PIVS shows only permits from DCRA. A curb cut requires a permit from DDOT. DDOT shows a permit (permit number PA91094, tracking number 91094) was issued and is currently active.
    I’m not sure if this needs further approval, although looking at documents the DDOT permit seems to be all that is necessary. The permit says it is for “installing a new curb apron” or “Paving; Driveway(s) New -Residential” depending on where you look. As far as I can tell everything is in order.
    That said, I’m a little surprised. This is a super high demand parking area. On the other hand you are taking two cars off the street despite losing one public space, so maybe it makes sense? I’m not sure what the obligation of the city is here. Quite an interesting problem in any case.

    • read before you pontificate please: but do have a “paving, driveway; new residential” DDOT public space permit

  • What’s your issue here exactly? Saying that they are “turning a yard into a parking lot” is disingenuous at best. The parking spot was here already.

    Their property directly abuts a public street and clearly has space for parking — why shouldn’t they be able to get a curb cut?

    Don’t like it? Rent a spot, buy/rent a house with a spot, or buy a house adjacent to a public street and get your own curb cut.

  • “…turning a yard into a parking lot at the expense of shared public space is a terrible president to set.”

    Anyone that lives near the Park/Holmead intersection knows that the people in that house have gone to considerable lengths to beautify the “shared public space.” Beyond their own garden inside the fence, they maintain the plants in the public space closer to Park and tend to the trees on their side of Holmead and across the street by Giant.

    I park on the street, so it sucks to lose a potential spot, but anything suggesting that house is hurting the neighborhood aesthetically could not be more wrong.

  • If there was a permit issued then they are well within their rights to build the curb cut; the time to object has passed.

  • Agreed with most of the above that if permitted and properly vetted with the city, this makes total sense if it allows another car to come off the streets. The city should be more motivated to help a homeowner park another car at his/her house than leave a spot open that is either taken by that homeowner if the curb cut is not allowed or by someone who may not even live on that street, in that neighborhood, or in the District.

    Homeowners should come first when it comes to distribution of parking in any neighborhood. Period.

    • A curb cut effectively privatizes a shared public resource. It’s a giveaway to this specific homeowner at the expense of the other homeowners in the neighborhood. For the cost of a $75 permit this guy adds $50K in value to his house, while all of his neighbors have to work a little harder to find off-street parking. How is that good public policy?

      • Bah. I was going to let this go until someone agreed.
        First, they are not “adding $50k”. They are forgoing the value of whatever else they might do with that land. Not that this should matter, since it affects you not at all.
        Second: please explain what about this argument is incorrect in your mind: This parking pad houses 2 cars. Those 2 cars would have been on the street, if not for this parking pad. This parking pad cost 1 public parking space. The net effect on total parking is: +1 parking space.
        I suspect your answer is: “Well, those two cars might not always have been on MY street”, because presumably proximity of parking is what you care about. But think about the other person 3 blocks over who is making the same complaint about some neighbor of theirs, and who is therefore hoping that neighbor parks in YOUR neighborhood instead of in whatever spot is closer to their house. In other words, what you want is a shot at a close space, not more spaces overall. On the other hand, it is better for the public (who are supplying the free parking, btw) if there are more spaces. The city represents the public.

        • I don’t think it does create space for 2 cars. Just the one.

        • Scrillin

          If whatever they do with the land increases its value $50k, then yes, they’re adding $50k in value.

          You’re confused as to how opportunity costs work. Close, but no cigar.

          • OK, if we are going to be pedantic, then there is no way parking “adds $50k”. There’s garaged parking nearby for sale $35k right now, and if we’re going to include opportunity costs, then that $35k should net out whatever other useful purpose that land could be put to.
            I interpreted the comment in the most sensible way, which is that a parking spot can be worth maybe up to $50k when your house is appraised, because appraisers itemize things like that. In any case, the calculation is entirely beside the point, so I hope you enjoy your internet points, or whatever you think you got out of that.

        • I’m pretty ambivalent about the curb cut itself, but I do have to push back on your logic. The street space is available for any car that happens to need parking at any given time; the driveway space (or maybe two spaces?) is reserved for the homeowner at all times, whether or not they have their car there. So it’s a massive gain for the homeowner and a minor loss for every other individual who needs to park there.
          But street parking is super-cheap compared to the land and construction costs this guy is paying, so I’m not sure anyone’s more entitled than anyone else to the public handout of the curb space? I dunno. I find it really hard to care about this issue.

          • I agree with this, actually, especially if there’s only one space. You lose a space for the time that car would be absent. It looks like there are two spaces, but who knows. So it kind of comes down to whether this car tends to be absent during times when it’s difficult to find parking (in which case their absence creates additional parking) or during times when it’s not difficult to find parking (in which case it doesn’t really matter).

        • The problem with your argument is that it’s bases on a false premise. You are assuming that this house will always be owned by someone with at least two cars which are left parked on the street in the neighborhood 24 hours a day. This is extraordinarily unlikely.
          It’s much more likely that those two cars spend much of their time somewhere other than that driveway. The street parking space is gone, though, whether or not there’s any cars parked in the driveway.
          In my last house we had two off street parking spaces, but we only owned one car, and it was only home for maybe 10-20 hours a week. If there had been a curb cut to serve my parking spaces the net effect wouldn’t have been +1 parking space. It would have been more like -9 parking space.

      • Agreed with jcm — “A curb cut effectively privatizes a shared public resource.”

        • Its only a shared public resource because the owners (and previous ones) haven’t used the access to their property that their frontage affords them. Now they are. Be thankful for the time that the space was available. Its not right to attempt to infringe on the owner’s right to access and utilize their property.

        • Eh, this person pays property taxes. It’s not exactly a handout.

  • a terrible president to set

    … Thanks Obama!!

  • Actually, having fewer parking spaces is good.

  • Leave the owners alone. Their yard is the nicest in all of Columbia Heights.
    Side note (and vastly more important)… where is that crosswalk?

  • What I find a little sad is that it looks like the most efficient design would have been for the two adjacent parking areas (from both houses) to share a common driveway and curb cut.

  • Seems like this is a net plus on the parking situation for all involved. A car parked adjacent to the curb needs about 20 feet. Looks like this curb cut is taking about that many feet or maybe less to get 2, maybe 3 cars out of the parking competition pool for the neighborhood.

  • I thought there was a DDOT or City moratorium on removing public parking/curb space for private drives or garage use? Doe anybody recall such a history?

    • I don’t remember a moratorium per se, but I had the impression that it was very difficult to be granted a new curb cut. Doesn’t sound like that was the case here.
      The only other recent-ish curb cut I can think of was for a multi-unit building, rather than a single-family home.

    • DDOT will give you a curb cut if that is the only way you can access your yard/parking spots. Many corner houses without alley access have a curb cut. I am surprised this house didnt build this 40 years ago.

  • If we’re going to be outraged about this, should we also advocate for rescinding other driveway easements to restore street parking? How common are street-accessible driveways in DC, anyway? Alley driveways are more common, right? Let’s just ban them all and force homeowners who employ them to restore their yards.

  • If you want to do something about parking, focus on the housing developers and pop-up construction companies who are seeking variances to avoid putting in the required numbers of parking spots for multi-family dwellings. This is one family looking to improve their property.
    I think it is rude and cowardly of the original poster to take to the internet to try and vilify this family. Building permits have to be visible from the street, if you are really concerned and can’t find their permits, be a good neighbor and go speak to them privately. Otherwise, call the building department and try to get something done. Better to lose a single parking space then create animus in the neighborhood.

  • As someone who lives in DC, I don’t see the problem here either, as long as it is done legally and with permits. We Struggle to find parking in my neighborhood daily and hope to do something similar. Currently I live on a corner lot without access to the alley like all of my neighbors. So I am planning to request that I be allowed to remove a metered parking spot so that we can use our back yard as parking just like this person is doing, We would be taking one parking space away, but be able to park 2 cars in the yard so the net parking on street would gain. I think it is a little small minded and ironic that you begrudge this person for being selfish and trying to make the best of his home while simultaneously being selfish yourself for his taking away your parking spot.

  • Too bad for whatever tree or grass grew in the way! And the Potomac can just absorb more run-off, right? Pedestrians can just look out for themselves. And anything that encourages more private car ownership, that’s great!
    This is 100% illegal, yet happens far too often in Washington DC. Just this week, the person who manages curb cut applications for DDoT cannot be reached; “is out with a sick child.” Should never have happened without ANC approval. Seek fines and remediation.

  • Buy a bike, save us a headache.

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