“A utility pole was placed in the center of my parking spot, making it useless”


“Dear PoPville,

A utility pole was placed in the center of my parking spot, making it useless. How do I go about getting it moved? There’s been no clear guidance and DC government/utility companies do not seem to care…”

Ed. Note: We spoke a bit about this back in 2009 and 2012.

35 Comment

  • Basically the city ddot will come out do a survey and say the pole is in public space. They will provide you 3 contractors that they work with. I got quotes from 3k to 10k. They require you to have a new pole installed, and you have to pay to moved electrical as well. Im gping through this as we speak. Sucks.

    • Was the pole there when you moved in or did it randomly appear one day?
      If the latter, it seems that the city should have placed it on the property line. I’d be pissed if I came home one day and found a utility pole randomly placed that blocked access to my property. I’m sure it’s a Kafka’esque nightmare.

      • It was there when i bought place..still during the install just doesnt make sense as to why they wouldnt do it on the party property line vs smack dead middle of my back yard.

        • Not to be a scrooge but I kind of feel like maybe you shouldn’t have bought the place and expected a parking spot since the pole was already there. Alternatively, I would have researched this before I bought. Common sense.

          • +1. It’s certainly an annoying placement, and it’s worth looking into whether the pole can be moved… but unless there was a functioning parking spot when you bought (which apparently there wasn’t), it doesn’t seem accurate to describe the backyard as a parking spot.
            I think wooden utility poles have a stated lifespan. If the pole in the OP’s case is a wooden one (rather than a metal streetlight pole), it’s worth checking to see if there’s any labeling indicating that it’s slated for replacement. If the pole is slated to be replaced within the next couple of years, the OP might be able to successfully lobby for it to be placed a few feet away next time.
            A wooden utility pole that’s at the edge of my property and a neighbor’s property was replaced recently. Pepco put up a new, taller pole right next to the old one (flush with it, or very close to flush). I think they’ve been lopping off bits of the old pole at intervals… but IIRC they haven’t done any lopping recently, and it’s still about 2-3 stories tall.

          • Oh lord….where did I mention parking? I mention having thr pole moved so I can use my backyard can be fully accessible to do what I want with it. Im paying for it to move, my point was thr city shoulf do a better job of placement and this would be avoided. My gosh you 2 i swear turns me off from making comments sometimes.

          • Anonymous – are you not OP who said “A utility pole was placed in the center of my parking spot, making it useless”? You used the word “parking” exactly. People don’t usually park in back yards in my experience. They’re generally two different things.

          • Tsar of Truxton

            Pretty clearly not the OP as he or she tried to help by answering the question.

          • The OP discussed the parking spot. Anonymous told the OP what to expect based on the experience with his or her back yard. Clearly two different people.

          • No thorough reading of the original post and Anonymous’s response (which was relating his/her own, different but similar, experience) would suggest these were the same people.

          • To clarify, when I asked if “Anonymous” was OP I was referring to Anonymous 3:01pm (not the prior 2 anonymous people — I was talking about the one who said “it was there when I bought the place”). That OP did not answer the question but answered the questions the other Anonymous’ asked.

          • Nevermind — Sorry, re-reading now I didn’t catch that two of those anonymous’ were the same people (one issue with having a million anonymous folks). I guess I assumed they weren’t because the typing/speaking style seemed to have changed, so I assumed it was a different person chiming in.

          • It’s awfully hard to distinguish who’s who when different people post under the same Anonymous username, when OPs often chime in under their regular usernames (or regular anon-style usernames) during the course of a thread, and when Anonymous 3:00 pm appeared (as far as I could tell) to be responding to the OP, not to Anonymous 2:09 pm.
            It wasn’t clear to FridayGirl and it wasn’t clear to me either. I thought Anonymous 3:01 pm was the OP, but apparently he/she was actually the same person as Anonymous 2:09 pm.

          • While I followed the anonymous sequence here, of course I can see how it could be confusing. But realizing that one might get something wrong might lead to less certainty, judgment, and tone in responding to other people.

          • Anonymous (a new one) – you may expect less judgement or tone, but whether OP/anonymous/etc wanted a backyard or a parking spot my comment *still* stands that it is something obvious and big enough of a deal that it should have been thought of before purchase, not complained about after.

          • Fridaygirl–Neither the OP nor the Anonymous has taken the position you attack. OP is unhappy because a new pole has been installed behind the house he/she already owns, making the parking unusable and is asking advise (without too much complaint) and the Anonymous responded explaining the process for dealing with it, commiserating, and commenting that it doesn’t make a lot of sense that poles would be placed in the middle of a lot versus at the property line. Literally neither of them is complaining “something obvious and big enough of a deal that it should have been thought of before purchase, not complained about after.” Dude 1=pole installed after purchase. Dude 2=dealing with/paying to have it moved, and lamenting that the city is more considerate in placement.
            I was thinking the mistake about who was whom might be a good reason to step back and consider what you were attacking and how that might turn off other posters, rather than digging in further. This type of stuff makes this site less enjoyable.

          • *isn’t more considerate

          • Also, how on earth does buying a property with a poorly placed pole and figuring out and paying for the process of having it move *possibly* rob you of the right the say or complain that it doesn’t make sense to put pulls in the middle of a property versus a property line.
            It doesn’t make sense, particularly since it *can* be moved, as Anonymous discovered. And a person paying to deal with it is pretty well situated to point that out, regardless of whether he/she voluntarily bought the house knowing he had to deal with it.
            That’s why I don’t get the judgment, etc.

          • Woooo, Anonymous (a new one) – might I suggest if you’re so personally offended by people’s opinions (when it appears you don’t have a horse in the race) that perhaps it would be better if you not read the comments? Good grief.

          • You actually offended me as well. As i mentioned i refrain from commenting because of a certain few. What horse did you have in this race- none. You’re a renter who constantly complain about affordability etc yet want to scold someone on what they should or shouldn’t have done. Please!

          • Wow. Ass.
            Have a great Friday!

          • Mostly, I enjoy reading the comments. But thank you for your input.

          • “OP is unhappy because a new pole has been installed behind the house he/she already owns” — That is not at all clear from the original, very brief wording from the OP, which was: “A utility pole was placed in the center of my parking spot, making it useless. How do I go about getting it moved? There’s been no clear guidance and DC government/utility companies do not seem to care…”
            To be fair, Anonymous (A New One) has a point that maybe FridayGirl’s comment wasn’t the kindest, and I admit that maybe it wasn’t very kind of me to chime in with a +1 either. (She did say what I was thinking.)
            But it was not very kind of Anonymous to make a personal dig at FridayGirl, either — two wrongs don’t make a right.

          • “OP is unhappy because a new pole has been installed behind the house he/she already owns” — that is both the more reasonable, and more importantly more *generous* interpretation of OP. Other people chose a less generous (and I think incorrect) interpretation, and attacked OP and the Anon that was providing helpful advise. Pointing out ambiguity here is not and should not be a defense to people who went on the attack in the first instance.
            Also, I’m also not sure I see a “personal dig” here, or at least not an unfair one. A person going on here aggressively stating what people “should” have bought or not bought, expected or not expected, or what is or isn’t “common sense” with an incorrect understanding (or at least an ambiguous understanding) of the facts, is not “digged” by pushback. Nor is it particularly fair for an aggressive commentor who was in fact criticize others to cry foul that some pushed back.
            I get it that some feelings were burnt, see e.g. today’s rant and/or revel. But that maybe should be a moment of reflection about how we comment, rather than a moment to defending aggressive (and perhaps incorrect) commenting from no more aggressive comments.
            Finally, just because some of us may not want to engage in the emotional investment of personas on this website, does not mean we shouldn’t be able to push back against regulars who maybe are pretty aggressive in criticizing others.

  • The utility pole in the alley behind my apartment has been knocked down 2x in the last year by trucks backing into it. Both times, they couldn’t ID the truck that did it. Just an observation.

  • Graham King

    Buy a junker truck on craigslist for $500. Cash only. No receipt.
    Drive into the pole.
    Wait for DDOT to replace it.

  • Aw, come on Prince, give us the real photo. This isn’t the OP’s pole, nor his parking space.

  • I can’t tell from the pic; is that cable, light or power? If Pepco, you might be out of luck but I’ve had at least fruitful if not fun interactions with the DC PSC staff on cable infrastructure. Cable/Verizon/Comcast is still a utility subject to [some] DC siting regs. DC PSC staff helped my hubs and me get a nest of cable company wires and boxes off of our house–they had decided to heck with utility poles that they would instead DRILL ANCHORS into our back all-brick wall and string wires to the neighborhood from there. DCPSC was suitably miffed that Comcast hadn’t asked permission about placing infrastructure. If the pole is on your property, you might have a case as well.
    DCPSC consumer complaints: (202) 626-5120

  • Does anyone know the exact number to call? I have the same problem. A light pole is not on the property line, and an anchor for a utility pole on the property line also blocks access to my back yard from the alley.

  • A few years ago a house near me was being flipped, and there was a utility pole located off to the side in the alley. Just before they put the house on the market (with a new parking space and garage door), a crew came along and spent an entire day installing a guy wire from the top of the utility pole down to a newly-poured concrete anchor directly in front of the garage door. So, the new parking space suddenly became inaccessible to a car. The next day, after the concrete dried, a handyman (who I assume was hired by the realtor) spent about 10 minutes with a hacksaw chopping through the new guy wire. I suppose even when it’s plainly obvious that the yard is no longer a yard but is intended for a vehicle, the city (or its contractors) can decide to put something in front of it. Hopefully the pole doesn’t fall over.

  • ah

    Another thought . . . check your title insurance policy. Those typically include insurance of a right of access, including by vehicle. This pole could prevent access, and thus title insurance might be obligated to pay for moving it, or at least help you address any legal issues.

    I forget exactly how the policy provision is written, but I access my garage via a recorded easement that a neighbor was claiming didn’t exist (he was a bit detached from reality). I asked the title insurer about this, and while not committing to take action they told me that if he affirmatively blocked me they might take the case. (he ultimately backed off, so didn’t test this).

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