“Does anyone know if this is legal?”

junk

“Dear PoPville,

We moved to Kenilworth a year ago, which has been wonderful, except for one thing. Our lovely neighbor is collecting old cars in the backyard. Does anyone know if this is legal? Is there anyway to get her to remove them?”

59 Comment

  • Did you try asking your neighbor about the cars? Or did you just jump to what legal action could be taken? I may be jumping to conclusions but you did say in your post that your neighbor was a female. Perhaps she is an older lady, maybe a widow? And maybe the cars were left by her husband and or have the resources to dispose of them? Again, I am making a lot of assumptions but to me it sounds like the OP wants to take legal action against the little old lady neighbor without having a conversation about the cars first.

    • Perhaps OP was asking if it was legal, as in “if it is legal, then the neighbor is doing nothing wrong.”

    • I think this is the OP’s way of “talking” with the neighbor. Funny how 99% of the time, the “is this legal” question can be answered with a quick search of the DC government website. Proof being the post below with the citation to the applicable DC DPW regs. Hard to believe the OP could not or did not figure this out for his or her self. I suspect the original inquiry is just a passive-aggressive way of getting word to the neighbor that someone objects to the cars in her backyard.

      • “I suspect the original inquiry is just a passive-aggressive way of getting word to the neighbor that someone objects to the cars in her backyard.” Given the neighborhood in question, I doubt this is the case.
        .
        I think the tricky part of starting a “conversation” with a neighbor about something like this is… how do you bring up something your neighbor is doing that you think is flat-out unacceptable (and/or illegal, and/or obnoxious) when your neighbor clearly doesn’t?
        .
        I have a neighbor along my alley who likes to hang out in his backyard and play really loud music through his semi-busted car stereo. I’ve thought about asking him to turn it down… but I figure someone playing music at that volume pretty clearly doesn’t give a f*** what anyone else thinks, so there’s no point.

  • You moved to Kenilworth, hon. That’s like moving near a runway and complaining about the planes.

    It’ll change, but probably not as fast as you’d like.

    • Amazingly, people can actually work to change/improve their neighborhoods in ways which they see as positive. The change that will come happens because people like OP put in the leg work to actually have the laws enforced.

      • I wouldn’t try to stir things up too much. Otherwise you’ll become a target.

      • Fair point. But some would argue that a better way to change the neighborhood in a positive way in this case would be to have a conversation with the neighbor about the eyesore before jumping to a legal remedy.

      • They can. But they can also create bad blood if they move into a neighborhood and start trying to take on a well-liked long-time resident. That’s why the “lovely” meaning is important I think.

    • And when it does change, I imagine an OP this concerned with something off his/her property isn’t going to be especially happy with the results either.

  • I assume that when you call your neighbor “lovely”, you’re being sarcastic?

    I ask because we have a next-door-neighbor who keeps several cars in his back yard, parked on top of a large pile of bricks (the remains of a long-lost garage). When we moved in, we planned to report the mess to the city–but after a few months living next to him realized that the cars didn’t seem to be harboring rats (he drives them out each weekend to work on them), and more to the point he’s an awesome neighbor, a nice person who keeps an eye out for folks and works to make the block a safer place. Now when visitors ask about the cars, I just explain: “That’s J’s yard. He’s a really great neighbor.”

    • It’s private property, who will enforce it? It’s my understanding that parking enforcement can’t touch anything on private property. If they are harboring rats, perhaps you can get DCRA involved, but that might be difficult. My guess is, the cars have been there a long time, and they aren’t going anywhere.

    • You are an excellent person! Love your attitude. People are so easily put off by stuff nowadays not realizing, of course, that they be equally annoying to their neighbors too, for different reasons and their neighbirs put up with them.

    • He drives the rats out each weekend to work on them??? Sorry, I know we’re not supposed to notice grammer, but that was genuinely (warmheartedly!) funny.

    • Amazing results can come out when one takes time to meet neighbors with the assumption that we are equals. Thank you ZetteZelle

  • I live in Deanwood and see this on the regular. It doesn’t present any safety concerns, it’s just not pretty to look at. I always figured that if it’s private property, you can collect as many cars as you have space for.

  • http://dpw.dc.gov/service/removal-abandoned-and-dangerous-vehicles

    An “Abandoned vehicle” is any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer that is left, parked or stored on public space for more than 48 hours or on private property for more than 30 days, and to which at least two (2) of the following apply:

    (A) The vehicle is extensively damaged, including fire damage
    (B) The vehicle is apparently inoperable, including a vehicle missing its transmission, motor, or one or more tires, and which is not undergoing emergency repair;
    (C) The vehicle serves as harborage for rats, vermin, and other pests; or
    (D) The vehicle does not display valid tags or a valid registration sticker.
    A “Dangerous vehicle” is any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer that, as a result of the presence of rats, vermin, or other pests, exposed glass or metal shards, or other dangerous condition poses an imminent hazard to the public health, safety, or welfare. Any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer that is in a wrecked, dismantled, or irreparable condition, or destroyed by fire, is per se a dangerous vehicle.

  • “We moved next to this person and now we want THEM to live by OUR rules!”

    • Not “our rules” just “the rules”

      • ah

        Indeed, by this logic if someone violates rules so much they drive off their current neighbors, no one buying the house would have a right to complain, and so on to infinity.

        • True. But I’ve found that in moving into a new neighborhood, I’m much better off picking my battles very carefully. I’ve chosen not to report an eyesore that isn’t a hazard, because the cost in goodwill would be sky-high.

    • That’s kind of what it sounds like isn’t it. OP, have you asked the neighbor about the cars? Do you dislike this neighbor for other reasons (I’m having a really hard time getting a read on whether “lovely” is meant in a genuine or a sarcastic way)?

    • THE rules allow homeowners to park their cars in their driveway. I’m sorry to hear that you seem to be offended that these cars aren’t late-model imports.

  • I would see this more as an environmental hazard than an eyesore. Fluid leaks from these cars would not be good for the grass/soil. .

  • What’s the problem with the cars? Unless there’s a health or safety concern, it’s really not your business what your neighbor has in her backyard. If it’s a sight thing, put up a fence or some bushes in your yard. Doesn’t seem very neighborly to move into a place and look for ways to threaten your neighbor with legal action so they amend their yard to your tastes.

    • I think that’s fair. It looks like the neighbor’s yard is fenced on at least one side, and complaining about (reporting) something that doesn’t really directly affect you can lead to ongoing unpleasantness that you really don’t want to start if you plan to be a part of the neighborhood in the long term.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    A reminder that we are still, and always will be, south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

  • Do you know her name yet? I always make a point of learning my neighbors’ names.

  • 1. Welcome to the area. We live just up Nannie Helen Burroughs. Kenilworth and Eastland Gardens have some lovely homes. 2 years ago we looked at several houses over there.

    2. Our neighbor also has a collection of cars behind his house. 1 car he is actively working on and the other is a parts car. I’m originally from rural northern NY state and backyards full of junky old parts cars is a pretty common thing so it never bothered me. My husband on the other hand hated it. So we ended up putting up a large privacy fence along that property line. and planted some bushes.

    3. This is probably a pick your battles thing. You can probably call SWEEP and report it as illegal dumping but it might not be worth the fight because the neighbor will probably assume the new neighbors are the ones who turned him in. And all SWEEP will do is ticket the neighbors resulting in you still having junk cars next door and a ticked off neighbor.

    • I like this response. The OP probably has grounds to report the neighbor, but it’s possible that 1) nothing will happen as a result and 2) the neighbor will suspect it was the OP and get pissed off at him/her.
      .
      IF a privacy fence and/or hedges would be sufficient to block the unsightly view, maybe that’s the best solution.

    • Societies are like — archeology.
      Layers and layers. Old, and new.
      Coexisting and — different points of view!

  • Compared with my neighbor, this looks pretty good. Sorry, there’s probably nothing to be done. Even if illegal, it’s unlikely anyone in the city will do anything about it.

  • call A&E! Hoarders!

  • 1. Talk to your neighbor about anything other than the cars. Learn their names, listen to their stories, trade information and look out for each other.
    2. After one or two months of good relations, ask about the cars. They may just not have the money to tow them elsewhere and dispose of them. Maybe you can be the awesome, new neighbor who helps them out with that? If the cars are actually being worked on, perhaps you can help them with gardening or make it look nicer?
    Welcome to East of the River! It’s going to take a lot of work.

  • andy

    Decaying cars in the backyard are part of what make America great! It’s processed meats, cutoff jean shorts and rotting nonfunctional cars (in that order).

    I’m more interested in whether it’s possible to bounce via trampoline over the first car and onto the hood of the second car in your neighbor’s yard. Please advise.

  • why don’t you go ahead and start peepin too!

  • My God, this post really brought out the criticism today. Apparently I’m not the only one who woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
    .
    However, I actually didn’t read the OP’s question with cynicism or make a thousand assumptions about what actions the OP has and hasn’t done. Perhaps it’s because if I were in his/her shoes, I would want to check whether I have any legal ground to stand on when discussing with the neighbor (or when deciding to do so). And perhaps, in addition to Googling, get some feedback from others who may have been in similar situations (i.e., posting here). Too bad OP didn’t get much.
    .
    Also, since when do PoPville commenters demean someone for challenging the status quo?
    .
    Better luck tomorrow, PoPville.

  • I’m very much on the side of “mind your own business” or “didn’t you see the car when you bought the house in the first place?” but if you want to do something constructive, maybe verify that the owner leaves the doors locked on the cars.
    A couple years ago an autistic child was found dead in an unused vehicle in Trinidad that he was able to enter: http://newsone.com/2628598/find-our-missing-michael-kingsbury/

  • hammers

    I’d love to have that view. Are those trees? And is that….dare I venture a guess?…. GRASS?

  • I really don’t get why someone would care. It sure seems like the OP is bringing a suburban mindset into urban life; I think you’ll find that approach exhausting.

    • Maybe you never look out the window. It’s not “suburban” to want to see nice things (or at least an absence of un-nice things) when you look outside.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I think you do get it. You may not agree that it’s a big deal – but I think intellectually you understand why this might not be pleasant to live next to and look at. Maybe not for you. But you can surely understand how others may feel different. If not – I don’t know who you are anymore Mr. Mad Monk Twenty Eight. In mind I always give you credit for being an intelligent guy – don’t ruin that for me God Damn it!!

  • Our next door neighbor had two cars parked in the back, but I use the term “neighbor” loosely because they live in Maryland and we never see them so the house is vacant. One of the cars was full of cardboard and, you guess it, rats. You could literally see them moving in the car and our backyard was like the rat runway. Since we couldn’t get in touch with the neighbors, we called the city. After a citation, they removed one of the cars and erected a large yellow tent over the other because if you can’t see the car, it’s not there. Two years later, we still have a large yellow tent nextdoor but I guess the rats found a new place to live.

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