70 Comment

  • Good lord. I don’t like kids either, but that is an adorable tree house and could only serve to brighten a dreary day. What a bunch of miserable busy-bodies, I feel sorry for any reasonable neighbors!

    • Yea, no clue why somebody would spend a considerable chunk of their life to literally shit on some kid’s parade, unless that person was so utterly miserable. I -almost- sympathize with that old lady – her life must really really suck.

      • That’s the weirdest part. I thought the woman spending 20 hours of her week trying to get this thing removed was like 65, 70. But nope, found her on linkedin and FB. She’s about….30!

      • It would not take a considerable chunk of one’s life to s*** on one kid’s parade. It would only take a few brief moments. It would, however, involve some logistical problems, i.e., how does one get above the parade in a timely fashion, ensuring maximum coverage of those below? If the parade were to be held in an alley, for example, one option would be to perch in a tree, then project approximately 20 inches laterally over the alley, that way it would appear to be coming from private property, but the actual act would be occurring over public property. Then, after the act is completed, request a retroactive public space permit from DDOT.

    • Yeah, if I don’t see a homeless guy taking leak against my house when I go in the alley, or a rat eating another rat, I’m happy. I can’t imagine having the time or energy to care about a tree house.

    • Please stop with the name-calling and verbal attacks on someone who has done nothing wrong. You are making the situation worse.

  • SouthwestDC

    Archibald Walk is really neat. I’ve never noticed the treehouse, but I love all the potted plants that other residents have out in the summer.

  • $325K, granite counters, luxury view of unique DC neighborhood. GDoN?

  • I would consider it an asset to the neighborhood. It’s really nicely done.

    • I’ll translate some excerpts from the link:

      “Those angry neighbors are unanimous in claiming the structure has a negative impact on their quality of life.”

      (=Except for one lucky kid and his awesome parents, every human who lives along this alley is a horrible, cranky scrooge who has spurned the warmth loving embraces for decades.)

      “In 1897 the alley had 22 tiny dwellings sheltering well over 100 people. Today six remain….”

      (=This street used to be a depressing slum. Archaic cramped poverty was the last time any character rubbed off on the alley. It certainly hasn’t gotten any from knuckle-dragging trolls who live there now. One happy family is just trying to supplement that tired novelty with some legitimate charm.)

      “We were successful in getting DDOT’s Public Space Committee to hear this as a formal matter rather than just approve the requested permit administratively, which is why ANC6B will get to formally weigh in on the case when it is heard by DDOT.”

      (=We actually don’t care about whether this tree house is good or bad. We’re just so wrapped up with ourselves that we only care no one asked our opinion. We oppose any happiness that we grovel-seekers don’t initiate.)

  • This is a delightful treehouse. I’d be happy to have this on my block. I don’t understand some people.

  • Agreed – it’s adorable. Love your tags on this post, Dan!

  • My issue is DDOT and DCRA. They made a mistake, and now there’s nothing to be done. It’s fine for this treehouse. But DDOT and DCRA make tons of other mistakes that allow people to build into the sidewalk, onto another person’s property, create massive erosion, fence in public space, weaken neighbors’ walls, etc. And once they’ve made the mistake, and something has been built, they just ignore it and allow it to stand. And again, the treehouse is fine, but making a sidewalk too narrow for a wheel chair, or dumping tons of dirt into the sewers, causing someone’s wall to collapse…those things should be rectified. But DDOT and DCRA either don’t have the power to do anything, or just have old-school DC government contemptuous laziness. Which I thought Fenty had rooted out, but I guess old-schoolers Gray and Bowser have re-established.

  • I truly don’t understand people who want to berate the people who are merely trying to follow the law. The owners who built this treehouse skipped a few steps and built in a VERY NARROW walking-only alley. This is not a BACK alley. This is the front yard and provides access to their homes. Now some inconsiderate and selfish people decided to infringe upon a very narrow walkway and in doing so, blocked some much-needed light to their neighbors’ homes.

    No matter what your opinion, why on earth would anyone try to demonize someone who is doing NOTHING wrong. I really feel for the lady who put her name on the paperwork to try to get this thing removed. The other neighbors agree with her and she’s just the front-person and so many people are commenting who have never even been on that walkway.

    Why can’t the owners of the treehouse just follow the law like everyone else has to?

    • It looks like they tried to follow the law. If you’re mad, be mad at the DC bureaucracy.

      I feel really badly for the kid who has to grow up with such grouchy neighbors.

    • Sure, what this Snitch is doing is totally legal, and maybe DCRA did screw up and allow this structure to be built erroneously. but for real, does she have nothing better to do than SAVE HER COMMUNITY from a kid’s treehouse?
      Remind me to call the cops on this lady next time i see her jaywalking or double-parking. It’s a f&*^ing treehouse. Go get a hobby. that lady embodies EVERYTHING that is wrong with DC.

      • A little hyperbole, huh jdc? No, she doesn’t embody what’s wrong with DC. But you’re part of it for being so melodramatic. I’m sure she has plenty of things she’d rather do and I’m sure if this treehouse were in your front yard, you’d be grateful for her efforts. Honestly, is there anything different about your behavior? You’re sitting back reading the story and rather than minding your own business, you start calling her names (Snitch) and threatening harassment. See how these things escalate?

        I’d agree with Ted here and say that DCRA should really be stepping forward and trying to repair this problem somehow. First and foremost, they should do a root cause analysis to determine why they get it wrong so often, and how to fix their internal issues. Part of it will undoubtedly come down to training, but good lord, I hope someone gets fired for this. Then maybe the others will take their jobs a little more seriously. The problems have festered for years without any sense of responsibility on the agency or its employees.

        • You’re all over this thread chastising people for having an opinion about this and name-calling and then you advocate for someone being fired….FIRED OVER A TREEHOUSE!! You want someone to lose their livelihood over A TREEHOUSE! WOW.

          • Them’s the breaks, I’m afraid. The only honorable solution seems to be Seppuku at DCRA.

          • Formerly ParkView Res – I agree 100% – basically ruin someones life by taking away their job over this? Navyard wow just wow. That is a dangerous and malicious person right there.

          • Nah, I don’t want them to lose a job over a treehouse. I want them to lose their jobs when they are unable to perform their jobs. Everyone makes mistakes, and human error happens. But with DCRA, it seems to be not just common, but prevalent. Should the inspector who provided the bad info be fired? maybe not. Should the person who trains the inspectors be fired? quite possibly. We tend to want to blame the people closest to the job for faulty work product, when in actuality, it’s a broken process. So yeah, someone probably should lose their job because inspectors weren’t knowledgeable enough or trained well enough or didn’t have the proper information available to them. Somebody failed in this process, and it’s been a recurring problem. That’s what should be fixed.

        • The couple tried to do their due diligence, and they wrote letters to all the neighbors before they decided to build. It isn’t only until after it was already up that people started complaining. One of the stories mentions that other people put benches and plants in the alley. How is this any different? And no, unless this was blocking my window, I wouldn’t complain. It’s an inoffensive structure that adds character to the neighborhood and encourages kids to play outside versus being glued to their screens.

          • The benches and plants are for the enjoyment of everyone who come upon them since they are in the public realm. The tree house is clearly for only private use. That’s the difference.

          • I don’t see anywhere where the owner spoke with DDOT which would determine public space issues. Also, for public space issues, they would have had to go to the ANC for approval and notify their neighbors. They went to the wrong agency, that is their fault. Not needing building permits is independent and distinct from permission to build on public space. Sorry, you’re not entitled to public space. Again, if you take the children situation out of this and stop being emotional about it I think you may see it differently.

        • Ally

          Actually, if this tree house was in my front yard, I’d probably try to talk to the people who built it to see how I could build one of my own for my son. All this grief over 20″. I’m still just baffled. My neighbor asked me to cut down several beautiful trees on my property because the roots were messing up her driveway. We happily did it, even though I weeped a little for the trees. It was the neighborly thing to do.

          The tree-house builders tried to do everything right. The thing to do now is to be neighborly, recognize that it’s really not such a big deal, and try to bribe them profusely so you or your kids can get invited to their awesome tree house.

        • Snitch was the easiest label to apply, and perhaps was a bit abrasive so i apologize.
          Threatening harassment? I’m simply saying that if this person is so gung-ho about law and order, then that person (who probably jaywalks occasionally) needs to be held to the same standard. How is that standard ANY different than what the person is doing to the family with a treehouse in their yard? If threats to call one out for jaywalking constitute harassment, then, this person is also harassing their neighbor over the treehouse issue. plain and simple.
          Yeah, let someone lose their job over your quibble. That’ll really tip the scales of justice in your favor.
          Some people, man…

      • I don’t understand why you think it’s okay for these neighbors to build on public space. Take away the subjective feeling-evoking part that it’s a tree house and that there are kids that like the tree house and replace with, say, a private front porch overhang or even the owners deciding to bump their wall further in to the public space, would that be okay? Would it then be okay for the neighbor to protest? When you buy a property you are buying rights to your property which has property lines that are easily read on a Plat. These people chose to ignore where their property line ends. If we let everyone just build into public space for their own enjoyment, what’s the point of private property? Please take the “oh think of the children” argument out of it, because it’s not about that.

        • People think it’s ok because there doesn’t appear to be any way in which this structure is impeding anyone’s practical enjoyment of the public space. Any takers? Can’t jump rope underneath it? It would be tough already with that tree box taking up the space.

          • So if the built a deck with a 20″ overhang into public space because the kids wanted 20″ extra space to play on, and because it’s off the ground you would be ok with that and people shouldn’t care? Public space is public space. You don’t own it, can’t build on it so don’t do it.

        • I think a lot of people are taking the tree house builders side because a) it appears that they did try to do the right thing, but that the DC government might have made a mistake in giving them the permit (so there was no sense of entitlement on the builders part, they asked for permission and got it); b) it’s a tree house and not a permanent structure, the kids will outgrow it and it will be taken down; and c) there are many of us who have far, far more serious problems going on in our part of the city and a yuppie outragefest is pretty funny.

        • That’s a pretty disingenuous argument you have there.
          .
          1) a kid’s treehouse is by definition temporary, might be 10 or so years, but it is never going to be a permanent structure like the scenarios you laid out.
          2) the tree is where the tree is, they didn’t arbitrarily decide to build in public space because they wanted more space, they were compelled to because of the location of the tree
          3) we don’t have to play hypothetical, it is what it is. Your scenarios are completely different because those are all permanent modifications that would likely never be reversed which is why in those scenarios it would be right to protest, because you would never get that public space back, that is not the case here.
          4) everyone periodically breaks a rule or needs a little leeway. Being in a position of power and letting things slide often the right thing to do. Unless we’re talking about black teens, they should be put to death for bad grades and loud talking on the train. Amirite popville?
          5) but this is about the children and whether this douchenozzle is going to succeed in using government to deny them the classic childhood experience of having a treehouse, I had a treehouse and a fort growing up here in DC, both were at least partially on public space, I can’t imagine trying to deny a kid that unless I had a very good reason, “cuz rules” isn’t a good enough reason for me
          6) treehouseless empty shells of kids grow up to be the next criminals, let them have their treehouse or they will murder you in public space and make a treehouse out of your corpse (in public space of course, those kids are BADBADBAD!)

          • Funny, that structure looks pretty permanent to me. Do you have a special definition of “treehouse” and “permanent” that I don’t know about? It looks like there are supports securing it in to the tree. It’s no less permanent than a deck or any other of the other structures I’ve mentioned – because, really, anything can be taken down.

            Did you have a chance to speak with the owners? Is there, say, a 10 year limit on the existence of the structure that they’ve promised or did they promise once the kids “outgrow” it, they will take it down? @Dunning-kruger, ironically, you’re speaking in hypothetical terms while telling me not to. Hypothetically you’re assuming that the treehouse will at some point be taken down. There is no difference between the permanency of a deck and a treehouse, the only difference is what you’re calling it.

            It seems pretty clear that you would have an issue with the deck scenario because it would be a “deck” but this is okay because it is a “treehouse”. Both structures could equally improve the quality of a child’s life.

            @madmonk28, you say that the owners went to all the right agencies but there is no proof of that. DDOT public space and the ANC would have been the agencies to be contacted for public space use. Those don’t appear to have been consulted prior to the construction. And yes, there are big issues in the city like crime. However, the city and community doesn’t ignore other issues such as illegal use of public space simply because there is crime. In a growing city where people are fighting for every square foot, I don’t think its just “well let them be” for taking up say at a minimum 8 square feet. I own a home and pay taxes for my personal property and I am very aware that I cannot just build my deck out further into the alley whether it’s above my neighbors’ heads or not. Honestly, to me, the owners of the treehouse sound like the selfish entitled party in this situation.
            ***
            by the way, I love kids and have kids. If I wanted my kids to have a treehouse I would move out to the suburbs, buy a larger piece of property, or buy a second home.

          • “by the way, I love kids and have kids. If I wanted my kids to have a treehouse” …

  • Comment Artist

    I think it’s ugly as hell and somebody probably spent more building this than the value of some perfectly nice homes in small towns everywhere, but I have a hard time seeing a reason to tear it down.

  • Great little addition. I walk by here once a week. It does not impede the walkway. I am sorry that some others are apparently so lacking in imagination.

    Sonia

  • I was wondering why the owners of this property did not build the house a little bit higher, which would have enabled them to have the structure hover over their property instead of over the public space of the alley. Now I see from these pictures that they didn’t build it over their property because it would have covered a not insubstantial portion of their backyard – so better to take up public space.

    Characterizing the complaints about this structure as an assault against childhood misses the point. If this structure is allowed to extend 20 inches into the alley, every neighbor ought to be able to capture the same amount of public space with a similar structure of their choosing – as long as they elevate whatever structure they want to build. This privilege should not just be allowed for childrens’ treehouses.

    • SouthwestDC

      I wouldn’t assume that. It could have been designed that way for maximum stability, or to put the least amount of stress on the tree.

    • Now THAT’s an IDEA! Instead of spending God knows what replacing city alleys with hand-laid brick, Bowser could probably afford to build that many urban tree houses for each house lining the lucky alleys. 20 inches into the alley gives ample space for the garbage trucks and by blocking a nominal amount of natural light from the alley-dwelling hobos, it greatly improved the optics as well. Have you considered running for office?

    • I have to agree here. I’d say 90% of the tree house is over the public land, rather than the homeowners yard. It’s pretty obvious that they felt their own yard was off-limits to the tree house. Because space. I wouldn’t feel this way if the owner made a sacrifice of their own yard for their kids. But they blatantly expropriated public space for their own private usage. Not cool.

      • it’s 20 inches onto public land, which is definitely not 90% of the treehouse’s width. the fence must not be the line between public and private land.

  • No one has yet spoken for the tree, which is the real travesty here.

  • I think the treehouse is cute. I think the homeowners did their due diligence and DC government failed. I think that they chose to build over public land but if this treehouse has to be taken down it has to be taken down. I think the nature of this space does mean that this is like having their tree house in their neighbors front yard and that the neighbors do have a right though the tone is a bit over the top.

    This is not about whether the thing is cute. It is not about the neighbors being meanies. This is over public property and the failed regulatory process.

    I wouldn’t have built it because it seems clear it was not going to be on their land and their land only and most owners know you can’t just build on public property regardless of permits.

  • Regarding the comparison of the treehouse to plants and benches – plants and benches are temporary and not a structure.

    This is all very unfortunate. But the owners obviously knew that this structure was encroaching on public space, and not by a nominal amount. Given that this is a very basic issue that anyone sensible would know is wrong, what were they thinking? The real victims are their own children, who are being taught to take what you can get, and play dumb if you get caught. And some of you are criticizing their neighbor for merely asking that basic laws be enforced? Please take a look at yourselves too.

  • Well … the oddest part of the tale is that the carriage house adjoining the treehouse isn’t the residence of the owners. It’s a one bedroom investment property being used to take the DCPS lottery and get inbound preference for their two kids at a more desireable elementary school. The sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

    • If this is the case, they would absolutely not be the first, nor the last to buy or rent a one bedroom in a desirable location and live elsewhere in the city. People do this for schools WOTP all the time, and really, there’s nothing in the way the residency requirements for DCPS that make this specifically against the rules.
      However, why would someone build a tree house for their kids that they aren’t going to use? Is it just your assumption that a family of four can’t live in a one bedroom place? There are many, many families in this city who live in one bedroom apartments.

    • Ridiculous, if true. I hope they are not renting it out.

  • Wow. Our own trumpetts he in DC, and unfortunately, they’ve got plenty of company. Looks like they are classic narcissists – “The rules don’t apply to us”.

    And, by the way, why don’t they just cut the thing back by 20″ to make it legal? It would still be bigger than many 14th St apartments!

  • The crew in the alley behind my house would kill for a fort like this. J/k they’re actually really nice guys.

  • NIMBY~ism taken to the extreme.

    And this is why the rest of DC hates the Hill. You’re problems are made up. Get a life.

  • The woman leading the charge is an annoying Hill Staffer that makes my life miserable with her ridiculous personal vendetta against the mission of my agency. I’m rooting for the kids on this one.

  • Completely agree with the majority here. A tree-house in DC? Happy to see that there are parents here who still have their imagination in tact, or at least embraces their kids. What’s so terrible about having a safe-place for their kid (and friends) to play? Maybe I could understand if it was an eyesore. But, what-a-beaut! Way to rain on little Alice and her wonderland…

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