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Dear PoPville – How Do We Get this Car Towed?

by Prince Of Petworth July 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm 51 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

There has been an abandoned car parked continuously in the 1200 block of Monroe Street NW for nearly four months, and I’ve been unable to get it towed. It was first ticketed in March 2014, and it’s been ticketed every Monday (for street sweeping violations) since then. The tickets just continue to pile up on the windshield. I submitted a 311 request in April to get the car towed, and I contacted Jim Graham’s constituent services in May for help getting in touch with DPW– both times I received no response.

I don’t understand how an abandoned car can sit in the middle of Columbia Heights (where parking is already at a premium) for four months. Any idea how to finally get this abandoned car out of the neighborhood? Thanks for any help you can provide!”

  • Anonymous

    Just out of curiosity, have you picked up on any clues as to why it’s there? Is the registration expired? Does it appear to have been stolen and abandoned here?

    • OP

      I can’t figure it out. The registration appears to be up to date and it has DC tags. And there’s a Club on the steering wheel, so I assumed it wasn’t stolen and left there.

  • dat

    Is that a WRX?

  • Ward4Wonk

    Surprisingly, DPW has a few inspectors dedicated to dangerous or abandoned automobiles. I believe they have to observe the car over a period of 30-72 hours (to ensure it’s really abandoned), but they can do it within a few hours if it’s “dangerous’ – which means at least two flat tires and a broken window. No tags or registration stickers also help the cause.

    I have contact info for the OP if s/he would like it.

    • OP

      I’d definitely like contact info for someone at DPW if you have it! I’m at deeceeshan at gmail.

      • Ward4Wonk


  • Joe C

    If you decide you want to park a moving van there for some reason, you could get the signs from a police station for emergency no parking. If the car is still there after its been posted for the requisite time period, then call 311 and they’ll tow it. Probably just around the block, but it’s something and another ticket towards it getting seized for unpaid tickets.

    • nightborn

      Calling 311 won’t do a thing. From my experience when I was moving in Logan Circle, they will ticket but not tow it no matter how many times you call.

      • dc

        This. Don’t bother with getting signs and calling 311 or 91

  • Anonymous

    strongman competition

    • pattycakes

      Laffs +1

      • Anonymous

        Hahahahahahaha. I’m sure Magnus ver Magnusson will take care of it.

  • FD

    Let the air out of the tires, then file an online 311 request for an abandoned vehicle. You’ll need the make model and plate # for the request. Car will be towed in two days.

    • Anonymous

      This is a brilliant idea. This car just needs a little more help before it ends up in the pound.

  • Anonymous

    That department is a joke, there is a car in front of the Red Derby for the last 3 months and it’s been ticketed several time. This car has been reported and they said it is in compliance and nothing wrong with been there so long. Now they put a green sticker on the windshield and nothing happens. This city government is on vacation.

  • Anonymous

    maybe your neighbor is on a vacation … a permanent vacation. do you smell a rotting odor as well?

    • Anonymous

      That, or some poor Subaru-owning soul from the District is reading this article over dial-up in some god-forsaken part of the world on a TDY and losing their mind.

  • Anonymous

    How could it have so many tickets and not get a boot? I thought the threshold was two tix?

    • Anonymous

      its possible the tickets have been paid but the car has not been touched.

  • washington20009

    I reported an abandoned car in Kalorama Triangle using the 311 application for Android. It was tagged as abandoned within a few days (a notice sticker on the windshield advising that it will be towed), and then removed a week later.

    The application allows you to track progress and follow up if needed.

    • Mintwood

      Kalorama Triangle has a very different make up of residents than CoHi…

      • textdoc

        Agreed, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for the D.C. government being responsive to Kalorama residents and ignoring Columbia Heights ones.
        I know a big factor is that more well-to-do areas tend to have more people who are willing to be squeaky wheels… but it’s still frustrating that the city doesn’t provide services equally.

  • Anonymous

    The horrible truth is that DC repealed it’s abandoned auto law years ago. You can ONLY get a car towed if it is physically damaged or has flat tires or the plates are expired. Otherwise, it is there *forever*.
    I feel your frustration, though – I have two abandoned cars in front of my house that haven’t moved in months. Waiting eagerly for October and December, when the plates expire, respectively, to get them hauled away.

  • Anonymous

    We have the same problem in our neighborhood!!! The car has been parked since December. The car has Virginia tags and has no report of theft. Very interested in seeing how this is resolved.

    • More Is More

      I too had the same issue. A car (with VA tags) was pulled over for a traffic stop in which the driver was promptly arrested. The cops just locked the car up and left it there.

      The driver must have gotten quite a bit of time because two months later and the car is still sitting there. I filed an abandon vehicle request with 311 and while the car was ticketed, it was never towed. I finally complained at an ANC meeting and by the next week, the car was gone.

  • New DC

    Yeah. And you probably complain about how the schools aren’t good enough, that we shouldn’t have sewage backing up into our houses, that garbage cans don’t get picked up and rats abound, and that a number of our council members and mayor are either convicted/pleaded/under investigation felons. First world problems. You should really be more concerned about keeping people from putting an extra bedroom on the top of their 12-foot wide rowhouse and keeping those terrorist bicyclists off the road. Those are the real issues.

    • huh?

      Feel better?

    • Anonymous

      people keep saying “first world problems” like that actually means something.

      • Park

        Or like it’s unimaginable that someone who doesn’t live in the First World might get annoyed by having an abandoned car in front of their house. First World self-important douche-baggery.

      • Anon5

        I can’t stand it when people use the First, Second, Third-World analogy. It no longer makes sense.

        Before 1991, The First World was America and it’s NATO allies.
        The Second World was the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries
        The Third World was everyone else not affiliated with NATO or Warsaw Pact.

        People use ‘First World’ when they really mean ‘developed’ and Third World when they really mean ‘developing’, which seems silly considering the Second World no longer exists.

        SWEDEN is a third-world country.

        • Anonymous


  • Anon MPD

    Did you run the plate in the ticket database. The city loves revenue and so it will boot the car if it accumulates enough tickets. Then towing it after a certain amount of time. It is possible that the tickets are being paid, though unlikely.

    Here’s the DPW page on this issue. http://dpw.dc.gov/service/removal-abandoned-and-dangerous-vehicles

  • JC

    Couple years ago i reported an illegally-parked car that hadn’t moved in 2 months on my street through a link on the DC DMV site. They came out to investigate. Turns out it was my neighbors car who put a sign on it blasting “whoever it was who called in the car”. They didn’t tow, but the neighbor did move the car! Not sure if the link on the DMV site is one as the same as 311 but worth a try.

  • christopher

    Check on the DC website if the tickets are being paid. Maybe the owner is just paying them as they come in and not bothering to remove them from the car for whatever reason (extended travel, laziness, etc).

  • EnShaw

    Wow, I honestly thought I’ve seen cars towed on my block just for violating street cleaning- seriously like two every week.

  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)

    Please give me a call, I would be happy to help, as I am your local legislator. My number is 202-225-5311.

    • Mintwood


    • Accountering

      This is amazing. I lol’ed. I have called this guy twice already. Once to let him know I would not be coming back to OC until he apologized (fat chance) or got unelected (much more likely) and once to let his staff know that the trashcan on the corner was overflowing and to see if he could get someone to come pick it up.
      I think I will give him a call about this pressing issue.

      • Emilie504


    • accendo


  • The law was changed because too many cars disappeared when the owners were away on vacations or business trips. Yes, it’s become difficult to get a car tagged as “abandoned”, and if the registration and inspection are up to date, then there it sits. Here’s the current law:
    (1) “Abandoned vehicle” means 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 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.

    Conversely, there’s no law against “warehousing” a car on a city street. If a resident wants to leave a car parked on the street for months on end, well, there’s no law against that.

    — Jack

    • DCer

      So…you’re saying it should be set on fire?

  • MJ

    So… why is it being ticketed? What’s the violation if the car’s tags and registration are still current?
    The owner is allowed to go on vacaton for a loong time and park it in front of your house. It’s a public street, not your driveway. Sure, it’s annoying as heck, but as long as his papers are in order he can park her scoobydoo as long as he wants!

    • textdoc

      It’s probably being ticketed for violating street-sweeping restrictions.

      • MJ

        Thanks! I was curious.

        • Anonymous

          It actually said that in the original post.

  • Anonymous

    First time I left my car on the street sweeping side, it got ticketed AND towed. And the next block has no sweeping restrictions so it is not packed like columbia heights. How the hell does this car stay here for months but mine gets towed on my first offense?!

    • sarah

      ha – seriously. i’ve been towed twice for forgetting to move my car during streetsweeping, and this guy just gets away with it week after week!

  • Anonymous

    Don’t brother contacting Graham anymore. Since losing the primary he is useless to his constituents. Try Grosso or another at large council member.


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