“What is the DC policy governing parallel parking in front of your own garage in an alley?”

by Prince Of Petworth — November 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm 29 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

“Dear PoPville,

What is the DC policy governing parallel parking in front of your own garage in an alley? I have a neighbor who claims she is inconvenienced by my (very occasional) parking in front of my garage, despite the fact that she is able to get her car in/out without much difficulty and my car does not block passing traffic (including garbage trucks). Curious what the official or unofficial policy is on this matter.”

  • Anon

    Parking in public alleys is illegal in DC.

  • gonzodc

    If you’re 100% on your property, cool. If you’re not 100% on your property, not cool.

    • textdoc

      That’s been my impression/interpretation.
      Nobody does this in my alley because there are very few garages, but I’ve seen it in a neighboring alley.

  • Brad

    I once got a ticket for doing this; I believe the cited reason was “blocking the alley.” To be fair, my garage is quite close to the alley and my car sticks out into it when I park there, which is why I don’t do it if there’s street parking anywhere nearby..

  • Anonymous

    It’s very very very simple and the others have covered it, but for emphasis: if you’re parked on your own property then you’re fine. If you’re parked in the public alley, that is illegal.

  • dat

    Your neighbor is right — you shouldn’t be parking there.

    DC 2405.3(e)
    No person shall park a motor vehicle or trailer, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading of passengers or freight in any of the following places: . . . ( e) In any public alley; provided, that parking shall be permitted in a public alley where authorized by a public space permit or where designated by posted sign. . .

  • Alex

    Curious what if you park in front of the curb cut for your own garage?

    • HIll Easter

      Of course the city could fine you for that. Do you think parking enforcement knows which garage is yours vs a neighbor? You’d get a ticket and have to fight it.

      • Alexander

        they can pull up the registration, which I assume has the address. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. A neighbor to my old apt building used to do this all the time and I never saw a ticket. It’s hard enough to get them to come tow a car blocking your driveway, I was wondering if they just never ticketed these vehicles unless asked to do so.

        • HIll Easter

          I sincerely doubt that DPW parking enforcement staff has access to the DMV’s database of car registration.

    • mmm

      you can’t park in a public alley– doesn’t matter what you are in front of.

      • Anon

        curb cuts in alleys aren’t a thing 😉

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think having a curb cut should also essentially grant you to a reserved parking spot on the street. I assume you will get ticketed if parking enforcement happens to come by.

    • If it’s a curb cut to a driveway, no one is allowed to park there. If in an alley, see other comments.

  • jsauri

    Agreed. You cannot park in public alleys. Your garage is your property. The alley is not.

  • dcd

    I’m fairly confident if OP was parked entirely on his/her own property, that’d have been in the initial post. So, what you were doing was likely not permitted. Also, “she is able to get her car in/out without much difficulty” is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t do it.

    • textdoc


  • U neighbor

    This is an issue that is best mitigated by building a positive relationship with, and exchanging phone numbers with, your neighbors (assuming you are both reasonable people). Sometimes I have to do the same thing, but I make sure to text my neighbor and let them know I’m nearby to move it if they have trouble getting around. If you don’t yet have their number, a big note on the windshield gets you halfway there.
    City typically only would get involved if called by a grumpy neighbor.

    • mp

      It’s also a fire hazard (re: fire truck access) so is actually a bigger issue than just making friends with your neighbor. Don’t park in the alley.

    • Anonymous

      No, this issue is best mitigated by not parking in the alley, because it’s illegal. Be nice to your neighbors and don’t do it.

  • ggdc

    There is a similar situation in my alley with two abutting buildings, so I can envision this scenario. We were able to work it out and I’m sure you can, too!

    My understanding is that you will get ticketed if the car is on the brick of the alley rather than entirely on the cement of the building driveway (in front of the garage door). However, regardless of legality, there are other things to consider as other commenters have said. Why aren’t you parking in your garage? Is it just because you don’t want to open the garage door? Or you have other stuff in there and your car won’t fit?

    It is hard to talk to neighbors about issues, so I don’t think that your neighbor is just making up their concerns. When you report that your neighbor can move their car “without much difficulty” – it does in fact imply some difficulty, like having to Austin Powers their car in and risk dents with less room to maneuver. It’s also possible that your car doesn’t block trash trucks when the truck is driving straight but may limit the turning range of the trucks if your parking area is near a corner. I’ve seen this in my alley when people (or contractors) park in front of their garages – trucks scraping along the adjacent retaining walls to wedge themselves into the alley from the street because they don’t have as much space to clear the corner.

    It sounds like maybe there is a “be right” approach to this issue and a “be kind” resolution. What harm would it cause you to only park there in emergencies or for quick pop in errands? We are living in a tough world right now, and I think the more we can do to be kind to each other in these small ways, the better!

    • dCPcA


      Why aren’t you parking in your garage – that seems like the solution here, no?

    • textdoc

      “Why aren’t you parking in your garage? Is it just because you don’t want to open the garage door? Or you have other stuff in there and your car won’t fit?”
      Not that this justifies the OP’s possibly illegal parking, but FWIW… Americans _do_ have a long tradition of — as some comedian put it — parking cars worth tens of thousands of dollars on their driveways or in the street, and filling their garages with worthless junk. 😉

    • textdoc

      “like having to Austin Powers their car in” — Thank you (especially on this dark day) for that reminder of one of the funniest scenes in the film. 🙂

  • ET

    Keep in mind that no one handing out thickets is going to know that you are parked in front of your own garage. For them that is a car parked where it shouldn’t be.

  • mtp_dwell

    Whether it’s illegal or not, why not just choose to be the friendly, considerate neighbor. The fact that you say your neighbor can “get her car in/out without much difficulty” is acknowledging that your parking in front of your garage is creating a difficulty for her. If you have a garage, why not park in it? MtP is a great neighborhood with friendly, considerate people and families. The only way to keep it that way is to be friendly and considerate to our neighbors in our individual actions.

  • nicer than you

    I can’t believe the people in this city- you have a driveway and a garage and you still have to occupy public space?
    The law should be that if you have space for a car and a registered vehicle, you must park ON your property – there’s plenty folk have no land. No parking space, and those of you with curb cuts to your drive and dull park on the street- how selfish do you need to be?

    • anon

      I have an off-street parking space, but I don’t park there because my alley has a rat problem that’s the result of my neighbors not storing their trash properly. When rats chew the cables under your car’s hood, the repair is expensive. (It happened to my car in a previous location.)
      Until there are no rats in my alley, I plan to continue parking on the street, and I have just as much right to do this as anyone else. (Especially my slack-ass neighbors who have actual backyards instead of parking pads, and who support the rat population by letting their trash cans overflow and allowing their yards to become overgrown.) If I had a garage, though, I’d park in it.

  • doggo

    so one night in Cleveland Park i park in front of my friends driveway which happens to be at the end of a dead end street, the next morning i wake up with a ticket for “driveway within 5 feet” do i have any shot at contesting this?


Subscribe to our mailing list