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“The car in this picture has been parked in this spot for 6 years”

by Prince Of Petworth April 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm 67 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

Hey! Can you park a car indefinitely on a DC street if you have the right permit? The car in this picture has been parked on P St., between 15th and 16th, for as long as I have lived in Logan Circle (six years). I’ve never seen it driven or in a different spot anywhere else on the steet. The one time I saw the car uncovered it was full of (what appeared to be) old junk – full on hoarder style. Its owner was looking for stuff in the backseat and started screaming at me incoherently as I did a double-take. Every time I walk by the car I’m curious about it and figured that PoPville may know the story…”

  • KenyonDweller

    Its tires would be flat if it were never driven. So, the owner either does drive it now and then or has a portable pump.

    • sproc

      This. Even if they start with a perfect seal, all rubber tires slowly rot, especially if they sit outdoors for years. Even if the owner pumped them up periodically, sitting for six years in the same place without rolling would have made them so out of round it’s doubtful they could still hold air.

      • Shaw

        The owner has an air pump – I’ve seen someone pumping the tires back up at night before. I think it only moves every two years to get a new inspection sticker, and they hold the spot with a different car until it gets back. It’s just an outdoor storage unit.

  • SilverSpringGal

    I’d scream at you too. Keep your peeping eyes out of my mobile home. :P

  • Jim
    • General Grant Circle

      Wow, it is scary to think how easy that was and how precise that is…big brother

    • Timebomb

      Yup, and not immediately nearby in Aug 2014, Apr 2014 (when that side of the road was cleared; maybe the streetview pic was on sweeping day), May 2012, and beyond (there are many pictures of this street on Google’s streetview history).

    • logandude

      Yeah, but it’s not there at all on that block in the Bing Maps streetside footage, taken on Oct. 9, 2014. So it does get moved.

  • textdoc

    As long as that side of the street has no requirement to move the car for street sweeping, and as long as no “EMERGENCY – NO PARKING” signs go up for moving vans, utility work, tree work, etc., the car can stay there indefinitely.

    • Timebomb

      As long as the registration is still renewed, which means an inspection needs to occur, which means it has to make it to the inspection station once every two years.

    • Timebomb

      Or, I suppose, the car is registered in some lax state and the ROSA registration is kept up to date…

    • textdoc

      Yes re. registration/inspection, but we’ve also heard on PoPville about a street-parked car that evaded this restriction by virtue of a car cover.

    • annonny

      Is it a DC urban legend that cars are supposed to be moved every 72 hours? I had understood there’s a risk of being ticketed when you park in an unzoned space for a long period of time (e.g., out of town), but maybe that’s because somebody once got towed from an “Emergency No Parking” area that popped up while they were away?

      • saf

        No, it used to be the law, but that was repealed long ago.

        • Repealed in 2003. I think there ought to be a law against “warehousing” cars on city streets, but there is none.

          • textdoc

            What length of time would you define as “warehousing” — where do you draw the line? A week? Two weeks? A month?
            The fact that so many (most?) residential streets have street sweeping means that — at least between March and the end of October — cars have to move at least once a week.

    • Shaw neighbor

      It can’t stay there indefinitely on that block- gay pride parade goes down that block each spring. Also, I lived there until very recently and don’t recall seeing this car.

  • CPT_Doom

    When I lived in Silver Spring, on the DC line at Eastern Ave (between Georgia and 16th ST, NW), I was told by the apartment managers that there was “overflow” parking along Eastern. Apparently Eastern Ave was laid out incorrectly and the border between DC and MD was along the MD curb, rather than in the middle of the street. So DC couldn’t put up any signs on MD land to limit parking and MD didn’t care how long people parked on DC pavement. I didn’t really believe them, until the day I was moving in and saw a Toyota Camry, on 4 flats, clearly covered in years of pollen, tree sap and leaves. The car was basically encased in the stuff, and it took DC another year to tow it away.

    • Anonymouse

      CPT–The DC border is 40 feet past the bordering streets (Western, Eastern, etc.). Not to state the obvious, but the property line follows the line of the boundary stones (you can see this clearly on Western just West of FH). This is why DDOT is responsible for plowing, maintenance, etc. We always joke with our friends that live on the MD side of Western (such that the District owns their front yards/stoops) that they should be paying partial DC taxes.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not sure that this is true. Long ago, I practiced criminal defense for a short while, and it was my understanding that the line ran down the middle of the street. If a DC cop arrested someone on the north side of Eastern Ave., you could get the charges thrown out because the arrest was in MD.

  • ZetteZelle

    You can’t get “the right permit” if your car can’t pass inspection, which would require a trip to the inspection station every other year.

    • Doc

      Just to be clear, DC no longer has recurring inspections, only emissions testing.

    • Duponter

      Yeah, I think that isn’t true. I just bought a car and my inspection sticker doesn’t expire for four years.

  • textdoc
  • jenster8dc

    I saw a woman turning from Van Ness onto Reno the over evening, and her car was FULL of what appeared to be magazines and newspapers. Like up to the top of the dash in the front, and to the windows in the back. Don’t know if it was the same car — didn’t notice the color.

  • DC4ever

    Chill. Stuff like this might be annoying but it also adds to the vibrancy and interest of the neighborhood. And it’s legal.

    • M

      Chill? Can’t ask a simple question about permits? Or say that you are curious about something’s backstory?

    • annonny

      Vibrancy? Hardly. It’s an eyesore.

      • FridayGirl

        Particularly in the Big Brother google maps image above. Is the car missing a window? Hahaha…

      • textdoc


    • TJ

      There isn’t much vibrant or interesting about the use of public space as long-term storage of a vehicle full of trash.

  • Shaw

    What’s interesting is that this year, that block seems to have had signs put up for street sweeping, and yet this car doesn’t get ticketed or towed, while other cars on that block and on adjacent blocks DO get ticketed and towed. I’m starting to wonder who the owner of the car knows to get special treatment like that. It’s been a month of street sweeping, and it hasn’t been towed once.

  • DC Resident

    I think DC should charge a couple hundred dollars for a RPP in congested areas instead of the nominal fee they charge currently. Parking in DuPont, Shaw, U Street, Adams Morgan is incredibly limited as it is. The city should make it costlier to own a car in these areas so people who don’t really need cars (people like this who leave them stationary most of the time) don’t have them taking up valuable parking. There is ample access to public transportation and if someone really needs the car for work they can pay the fee to get the pass. My two cents.

    • Rich

      Great idea. I like it more now that I don’t own a car, of course. The problem is that it could become as arbitrary as the crazy quilt of parking regulations which say more about the ability of local ANCs or neighborhood associations to make the lives of others miserable than anything else. Given that many people like on street parking, there would be plenty of opposition. DCers love intricate rules which result in a totem pole of street signs that no one can fully decode.

    • annonny

      Sure, that works well until Metro decides it’s closing the subway/bus/whatever public transport for the next 6 months. Then what?

      • Anonymous

        Then we understand how vitally important it is for metro to do whatever is necessary to fix the system and for us to properly fund our city’s transportation infrastructure. Seems like we Americans like to learn the hard way sometimes.
        But seriously, I think metro’s plan are irrelevant. Either you believe the fees should be determined by supply/demand or you don’t. Pick a side!

        • annonny

          I don’t think metro’s plans are irrelevant. If you want to encourage public transit use and discourage driving cars by jacking up parking fees, you need to have a reliable public transit system. We certainly don’t have that in DC now, and apparently will have an even less reliable one very soon.

          • BlueStreak

            I don’t even think this is to encourage public transit use. If anything, a long metro shutdown would likely make these spots more valuable and more in demand.
            Charging something closer to market value makes for more efficient use of the parking spaces. Because right now Residential Parking is essentially free. For instance, I have a spot behind my house, but a lot of time i park on the street because its’ easier than opening and closing my gate. This is a horrible use of resources. But having my backyard free for other stuff and not having to bother with the gate are worth more than $35 to me. If they started charging 50 bucks a month? My calculus would change and I imagine others’ would too.
            And we can find ways around the issue of it impacting the poor. Waivers, etc, so if you really need it you can spend time instead of money to get an extension. But the goal should be to have people really determine if they need the parking. Because then its a better system for people who really do need to drive.

          • annonny

            DC Resident’s justification for higher parking fees was that there “is ample access to public transportation.” Unfortunately, that is just not true anymore.
            And to your point about “find ways around the issue of it impacting the poor. Waivers, etc.” why would we do that when the most direct way to reduce the cost burden on poor households is to provide inexpensive, reliable transit options? Often waivers for low-income or other specialized situations are too complicated to be used (see EITC) and result in fraud (see handicapped parking).
            If you just want to reduce the number of cars using street parking, please say that’s your goal. I don’t see why it’s necessary, especially if it’s in reaction to this situation of a person using a car as a storage unit. DC residents pay plenty in property, income, and car registration taxes, so if you want to raise parking fees, I would hope you would propose offsetting the burden by lowering other those other charges.

      • Anon

        Or your job changes. It doesn’t matter if you live in a place with ample public transit if your office Is out in the ‘burbs (and nine times out of ten it will be).

      • Nic

        Then we all travel by bicycles!

    • Philippe Lecheval

      Seems like that would place an unfair burden on the poor. A couple hundred dollars might not be a lot of money to you, but it’s a whole lot of money to some.

      • Anon

        Yep. And it’s usually the poor who need cars the most.

      • marybindc

        Not hard to establish a low-income exemption.

      • Shawz

        Everything in the world is a “whole lot of money” to poor people. Should we charge money for food? Sure, $6 for organic milk isn’t a lot to you, but it’s a whole lot of money to some. How about heat? $100 a month isn’t bad for me, but it’s a big chunk of change for the working poor. Should gas be subsidized by the government? It’s not a problem for me if I have to pay $50 for a tank, but that can be the difference between getting to work or not for the poor.

        The fact that the poor don’t have money isn’t an argument for not having a market economy. If you want to alleviate resource scarcity for the poor, give them money (or vouchers) and let the market function optimally.

        • textdoc

          The “market economy” thing doesn’t apply to most public/government resources. And there are controls even for private (or quasi-private) entities like Pepco, DC Water, and Washington Gas — they aren’t free to set their rates at any old level they see fit

          • Shawz

            I’m not sure if that’s an argument or what, but it’s also certainly not an argument for de minimus pricing, which is what $35/year is. All utilities you mentioned (gas, water, power) are priced at a level that at least encourages people to look for ways to conserve and imposes a cost on waste. A reasonably-priced parking scheme (say, $500-$1000 per year, depending on the neighborhood density) would have the same salutary effect.

          • BigPuddin

            Man, yuppies will figure out just about any way to price poor people out of their neighborhoods.

    • JoDa

      There have been a lot of proposals like this floated. I would like to see the amount overall go up some ($35 is a joke…even $100 is low, but better), but what I *really* want to see is the RPP fee for multiple cars in a household go up. So, fine, the first car is $35 maybe still. But the second will set you back $150, third $250, etc. My neighbors (one elderly woman who doesn’t drive and her adult son) have *4* vehicles they park on the street (more on this in a second), and he carefully re-arranges them whenever he takes one out so that the remaining 3 take up the 4 spots (which also means that he pulls a car into the middle of the street and lets it sit there while he rearranges 2 other cars).
      Other thing I’d like to see is *huge* RPP fees if you have off-street parking. I walked through the alley one time and counted, and on one side of our street there are 19 off-street parking spaces. At the time I surveyed it, there were 4 cars parked back there, and the street was full. If you have off-street parking, it should cost you no less than $500/year if you want to park your car on the street for extended periods of time. I’ve been yelled at by neighbors for taking “their parking” when I get a rental car, despite the fact that they have 1 or 2 perfectly good off-street parking spots they refuse to use (and the suggestion of renting them causes massive pearl-clutching over “strangers” (who would probably be YOUR NEIGHBORS) “traipsing around my back yard”). The neighbors with 4 cars have 2 off street parking spots and use 0 of them, ever.

      • anon

        What about people who have adequate space for a car in their backyards but choose to use them for other things? Seems unfair to penalize their neighbors who have off-street parking but not penalize people who _could_ easily have it but don’t.

    • Duponter

      That seems really unfair considering how many of the people parking on those neighborhoods don’t even live there. I lived in Dupont for years and always struggled to find parking, but it was rarely ever because the parking was being only used by people who live there.

      I say if you support higher parking registration in places like Dupont, you also in turn then restrict the available parking to those paying that higher fee. Why should someone pay more to battle with people who aren’t paying anything?

    • DupontDC

      So punish people who really need a car (it would take me an hour and a half to take public transit each way) and pay for RPPs, rather than the people who contribute to a lot of the congestion? I’m looking at you Virginia and Maryland drivers who come into the city around 4-5pm and stay out for the night, taking away street parking from those of us that pay to have it.

  • there is a woman that (used to) live in that car.. i would see feet sticking out of a cracked open window every now and then when i lived on Church St and it would be parked there for months at a time

  • Churcher

    She parks on Church Street as well, for months at a time, and has been know to yell at people that walk by her car.

    • figby

      She is mentally ill and lives in that car. Woe betide the human who lifts the cover, as suggested above.

      • BigPuddin

        Why would you ever think it’s a good idea to lift the cover on someone else’s car?

        • DupontDC

          …if you’re parking enforcement or a law enforcement officer, obviously.

  • neighbor

    The vehicle formerly was parked on Church between 15/16 for several years. It was an older woman living in her car – late 50s likely – who would get food from the homeless soup kitchen at Foundry United Methodist Church in the mornings. She would read in her car but I haven’t seen her in many months. Presumably she is still nearby if her car is. The sheet covered her (and her car) and was pulled back enough to see the always-valid RPP and registration information.

  • LJ

    Oh my god, people – get a life!! This whole thread of extended conversation about some odd-but-harmless car with an odd-but-harmless owner seems like the kind of snooping and conniving you’d see in The Stepford Wives or one of those shows about nosey, bored people who get their kicks out of plotting and positing on the fate of some poor stranger that none of you know or understand! Seriously, this is not an issue or a problem, so who cares?? If it had to be ticketed or towed, it would have been. If it’s an “eyesore” that’s ruining your neighborhood, your snooty standards need to change. No need to go to Google Streetview to stalk every previous location of this freaking car. This is really one of the saddest “bored homeowner” threads I’ve ever seen on this site, and I’ve read some pretty pathetic ones. Go play with your kids or wait in line at the newest coffee shop or something!

    • jim_ed

      U Mad.

    • Philippe Lecheval

      This place has become the new home of neighborhood gossip, now that nobody actually interacts with their physical neighbors anymore, since they’re always nose down into their phones.


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