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“Can CVS just claim part of the alley?”

by Prince Of Petworth April 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm 19 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

The 1418 P Street NW CVS behind my building set up a metal shipping container in the alley a couple of weeks ago. Over the past week it looks like they ran electricity to it. First, the container is partially obstructing a very busy alley behind Whole Foods; second there has been no permit displayed for the electrical work and it all looks very dicey. Can CVS just claim part of the alley? If not, who in the DC government should I contact to have the alley cleared? Also, is this some type of illegal structure or construction, since there is no permit? Also, I am not an electrician but some loose wire does not look like code—who should I contact about possibly illegal work?

I would not be surprised if some pop-up business did this, but a large corporation?

While we are at it, their garbage truck comes at 5am (on Saturdays, nonetheless!) and is quite noisy. Do noise regulations govern the hours their trash truck can come?”

  • Timebomb

    DCRA (The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) is probably where you want to start. I can’t remember if the alley itself is handled by DDoT or DPW, but they may also have beef.

  • Anony

    DC regulates trash collection from 7am-7pm

  • The law says no private company trash company can pick up from 9pm-7am. You can file a complaint here.


    • jonah

      I had some limited success getting DCRA to deal with trash truck noise. It requires you document every incident and submit a report each time. I reused the form and changed out time and location. They eventually picked a few random dates and charged the company for those violations. Be persistent.

  • neighbor

    Did you check the database to see if they have a public space permit?

  • atlascesar
  • Help

    The ‘Need ya help’ guy probably lives in there.

    • CVR

      He was going on about the house he was going to buy in Baltimore a while back to someone he was talking to on his cell phone so probably not…

      • Help

        I hope he’s able to close on the property soon.

    • LCinDC

      I think that’s where he stockpiles his “liquid gold” Tide.

  • MPLady

    DDOT issues the types of permits required for streets, such as construction dumpsters, temporary moving signs. I’m guessing they would do the same for alleyways.

  • oh well

    Matthew Marcou is the DDOT person responsible for public space permits.

    DCRA is the one that would probably deal with whether they needed an electrical permit.

    Both agencies are pretty hard to deal with so it would be good to loop your ANC commissioner and councilmember in on this but don’t expect that even they will be able to get anything done.

  • textdoc

    This thread deals with a similar situation — a dumpster occupying public space in an alley without having a permit to do so, and noise from garbage trucks in the early morning hours:
    This other thread is specific to the noise issue:

  • CS

    The OP didn’t mention whether they talked to the manager of the store to find out what’s going on, and also complain about the 5 AM trash pickup (and emphasize that there are residences being affected). At least with the later issue, the management may not even know that their trash haulers are coming at those hours. If the OP doesn’t get a satisfactory response, they could contact CVS regional and corporate management.

    • Northzax

      Talk to them? What is this, a community? Where’s the sport in that? Much more fun to just get them cited, right?

      • George said it first

        You know we’re living in a society!

        Really, really great stuff


      • Emily

        Not OP, but my willingness to talk out neighborhood disputes has lessened as I’ve learned that my attempt at a polite discussion may be met with insults or even threats. It’s just not worth the potential confrontation – particularly if the person is male and a lot bigger than me, which they usually are – if there’s an alternative. There is a lot of overlap between people who are law-breaking, irritating neighbors and people who respond to even minor criticism in unpleasant ways.

  • loganite

    OP here. Thank you everyone for the information–I wanted to consult the hive mind before taking a first step.
    – Debating talking to the CVS manager about 5am trash trucks, though in the past CVS has not been very responsive to neighbor complaints–but that does not mean one should not try.
    – About the new structure, my building may approach ANC as a first step to see what they know and get the facts. The noisy early trash trucks is a direct inconvenience that I feel comfortable discussing, whereas the container is an indirect inconvenience–it does not impact directly such that I can claim a personal issue–instead it may be a wrong taking of public space that should not be ignored if not properly permitted.

    And thanks to Popville for posting!

  • Grandpa of DC

    Call Consumer and Regulartory Affairs.


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