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Dear PoPville – Parking Sign Painted on Mural at 14th and Randolph St, NW

by Prince Of Petworth January 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm 29 Comments

Dear PoPville,

I live pretty much across the street from the cardboard pizza-maker Washington Pizza, so I watched the progress of that somewhat controversial mural. But I noticed that I assume the owner of the pizza place took it upon himself to paint in some open space of the mural: Washington Pizza parking only! In addition to spray painting the area on the ground in front of the mural. I’ve only ever seen a cop park up on the sidewalk there. And I’ve never seen anyone purchase pizza from them.

What I wanna know is where the hell does this guy get off defacing a mural with a pointless message like that? How is this ok?

October 2012

  • NB

    I noticed this ‘update’ to the mural last week. Wasn’t there similar “Washington Pizza parking only” graffiti up there before the mural went up? Either way, whatever the meaning of the mural was prior to this latest update, that meaning has certainly changed. My wife keeps telling my that I’m that gentrifier on the left, and I keep telling her that I wish I was only that thin.

    • Anonymous

      I think Rib Pit might be closed for good. They haven’t been open in several weeks. There is no sign up with any information why they have been closed.

  • Maybe the person who did the mural wrote it? As a joke or to “add” to the mural? Aren’t you (the e-mailer) being a bit presumptuous there?

    Now if you’re right in your assumption, well yes, obviously that is messed up. Don’t think you’ll find many to disagree with you.

    I’m more curious about defaced “Washington”. What happened there?

  • anon

    So Washington Pizza is the building on the right side of the photo? It doesn’t seem like they’d have any right whatsoever to mess with the mural on the side of the Rib Pit building.

    I didn’t like what I perceived to be the message of the mural… but it’s a shame to see professionally done art marred by someone’s hand-lettered message.

    If that area is indeed Washington Pizza parking only (is it?? it looks like part of the sidewalk in the photo, but maybe not…), then the two building owners should come to some sort of agreement about Washington Pizza placing professionally done “Washington Pizza Parking Only” signage. This hand-spraypainted uneven lettering looks awful.

  • DF

    Is it me or does Washington Pizza’s mural look all messed up in the “update”?

  • Anonymous

    The Washington Pizza sign is painted on stucco over brick and part of the stucco fell off because it was in poor condition. I don’t think it was any sort of defacing. As far as the parking lot/sidewalk debate, it has always appeared to be more of a sidewalk to me. I’ve never seen anything but a cop car parked there.

  • Anonymous

    It doesn’t bother me, because it was a pretty hideous mural to begin with.

  • Hmmm

    I kind of like it. I think it is a nice touch and adds a simple, rough, aggressive and controversial dimension to an otherwise bad mural.

  • LW

    Original emailer, here. Yes, it is part of a sidewalk there. No street is visible in either picture. And Washington Pizza is the building behind the crumbling Washington Pizza mural, which, though I didn’t really care for it, is sadly falling apart.

    The idea that the muralist added in the message is interesting. But I neglected to add that my gf saw, as she was driving by one day, a guy on a ladder spray-painting the message, and another guy raced up in a pickup truck, got out and appeared to engage in a heated discussion/argument/conversation with the spray-painter. She said it seemed like it was one of the Wash Pizza guys spray painting, and the muralist in the pickup. Of course, we’re assuming so I guess we’re being presumptuous. But as Wash Pizza has had signs all over the place about how these areas are for their parking only and it’s “privet” property, it’s not a huge leap to make.

    I’d also like to add that whether or not you think a piece of art is hideous had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you do not get to deface it. Unless it is, of course, on your property. But this doesn’t seem like it would be on WP’s property. And if it is, then why would he allow a mural anyway if only to ruin it with shoddy, angry spray painting? And in general, why all the “no parking” signs?! Within the residential parking restrictions, anyone is allowed to park on the street, and presumably NO ONE (except cops) can park on a sidewalk anyway.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Agreed that whether you like a mural or not is no excuse for approving it being defaced.
    In addition to being “morally” wrong, the message is probably a waste of spray paint. Query whether a spray painted sign suffices to establish sufficient warning of a parking restriction such that a violator could be ticketed or towed.

  • Property

    The parking area is not ‘part of the sidewalk’; it is (vacant, paved) private property. The Washington Pizza building, and the Rib Pit building are also private property. Each of the three properties is owned by different people, though it’s possible that there is either a direct connection between owners (family?) or at least business agreements concerning the use of the parking area, the creation of the murals, and the spray-painted addition to the mural.

    • anon

      From a search of D.C. tax records, it looks like the owner of Washington Pizza *is* the owner of the vacant lot that’s at sidewalk level, but that’s no excuse for defacing the mural on the side of the Rib Pit building.

      (Is there even a curb cut to allow cars to get into that vacant lot?? From what others have said, it sounds like no one ever parks there except police cars.)

      The street address for Rib Pit is 3903 14th St. NW. The street address for Washington Pizza is 1353 Randolph St. NW. So this must be the northwest corner of the 14th-Randolph intersection.

      D.C. tax records show Vincent Brown as being the owner of 3903-3905 14th St. NW, and also as being the owner of 3907 14th St. NW. D.C. tax records show “HOLT FLORA E JALIL H MUTAKABBIE/ #313” as being the owner of 1353-1355 Randolph St. NW, and show “JALIL MUTAKABBIR TRUSTEE REVOCABLE TRUST JALIL H MUTAKABBIR/ #313” as being the owner of 3901 14th St. NW (presumably that vacant lot on the corner).

    • dat

      I’d bet dollars to donuts that the wall with the mural on it is a party wall shared by Washington Pizza’s vacant lot and Rib Pit. In that case, the Washington Pizza owners can basically do what they please.

      • anon

        Even if that’s the case, the spray-painting is still tacky, apparently unneeded, and makes Washington Pizza look bad.

  • I live on Randolph between 13th and 14th. The whole mess on the east side of 14th between Randolph and Shepherd needs to go, including Wash. Pizza.

    • I don’t know, the pupusas at Maria’s are pretty good.

    • Anonymous

      I agree. 13th street between randolph and shepherd is a mess. The food is gross, the sidewalk is covered in bird feed for the pigeons, garbage, and drunks who hassle women and normal people.

      • Anonymous

        You don’t like the Rib Pit for some reason? I cannot wait till they decide to open the Rib Pit Lounge up again someday.

  • Anonymous

    It would be a dream to see a business where I’d like to spend my money go in that stretch. It is a great block, with a nice wide sidewalk. A coffee shop or wine bar would do great!!

    • Anonymous

      You don’t like ribs or pizza? Un-American alert!

  • Anonymous

    I used to live on Shepherd and walked by there every day. I LOVED the rib pit, was amazed to find such good food and tasty prices in what looks like a hole in the wall. No complains there just sad knowing how much more it could be. Some people are happy with a lower level in life, I don’t hate on it.

    I tried out the Washington Pizza place too since it was so close by. Nothing special about the food but funny story was every time I ordered a pizza (same order every time) the guy behind the counter gave me a different price every time I would go to pick it up. It was laughable at first that he would size me up when I walked in to pick up my order and just come up with a price. The time I called him on it he said “How much do you think it should be” lol. I stopped after that. It is a third world mentality, you see that a lot in the city with so many business owners from other countries setting up shop.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve observed this, as well. I chalk it up to growing pains in regard to the western economic model. I don’t want to haggle over the price of a large pepperoni pizza or lend the owner my goat or my daughter for two hours in exchange.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with your description of their pizza as “cardboard.” Cardboard is rigid. Washington Pizza’s crust is doughy and lacks any crispness. Styrofoam might be a better comparison.

  • This should be your quarterly reminder that Washington Pizza is the worst food of any carryout in the city, and should be avoided like the plague.

    Also, the owner is a royal scammer.

  • petwurf

    check out Google Streetview to see a non-cop parked in the Washington Pizza parking area. The parking slab looks as thought it’s probably privately owned (blocks just don’t tend to end in cutout public rectangles at the corners in this city), perhaps by Washington Pizza, perhaps by someone else. It’s not clear to me from the pic whether there’s legal vehicular access (i.e., that doesn’t require driving across a sidewalk) though.

  • AT

    I called Washington Pizza last weekend as soon as I saw this to ask why they defaced the community’s mural. The owner is very nice, but very confused. He does indeed pay rent for this empty space where they park their cars. However – as someone else pointed out – there is no curb cut to allow him to park a car there legally, so they shouldn’t be parking there in the first place (side note: is parking really that big of a problem around there that they need their own parking lot? Just park on the street for Pete’s sake). He said that ever since the mural went up, he had been getting parking tickets to leaving his car there. When he told parking enforcement that it was his space, he says they told him “then you need a sign saying so.” And THAT is why he defaced the mural, because apparently he thought a small removalable sign (or maybe a sign on the Washington Pizza wall (?!) wasn’t good enough. I told him the community wants this mural restored, and maybe something could be worked out to care of his problems with parking.

    Last thought: I think what we really need is for Rib Pit and Washington Pizza to work with the city and neighobrhood to put outdoor tables in that empty space.

  • CB

    Having worked in a building with a mural on it- it is not owned by the building. It is owned by the artist and DC’s art something or other office. If you allow a mural on the side of the building you cannot deface it because you do not own it.


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