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“Curious who is responsible for new anti-homeless spikes in front of 7-11 at Vermont and L? The city or businesses?”

by Prince Of Petworth March 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm 52 Comments


Craig writes:

“Curious who is responsible for new anti-homeless spikes in front of 7-11 at Vermont and L? The city or businesses? These are on all the planters on L in front of the liquor store etc”

I’d guess the business. If so, anyone know the legality of it?


  • ace

    the legality? well here i am just another popviller, but I would wager a pretty good guess that there is nothing unlawful about the building owner installing these on their own planters….

    • crates

      it doesn’t look like there is anything in the municipal regulation that prohibits this. The planters may be designed to serve as seating, but there is nothing to prohibit deterring them from being used as seating:


    • DC Tone

      Legality? Yeah, they are called property rights.

    • “Anti-homeless spikes” is purposefully inflammatory language. The question is whether or not a business has the right to design what goes on the sidewalk space in front of their establishment.

      • danger dave

        +1 victoria

      • Erica Cooper

        +1 Victoria

      • James W.

        Without commenting on the legality, your “property rights” don’t encompass simply doing whatever you want cuz – hey, my property. There are zoning laws, building codes, public rights of way, safety standards, et cetera. I’m constantly gobsmacked by the sheer number of people who seem to think they have these unlimited “rights” that aren’t actually codified anywhere as actual rights.

        • Scoop

          Well, sure but I think you are further solidifying the property rights argument. Property rights are ‘negative rights’. Unless the govt tells the business they can’t they essentially can.

      • anon

        if by “purposefully inflammatory language” you mean “objective reality,” then yes, you’re right. never ceases to amaze me how ppl like you ignore/don’t care about the impact these devices have on this already stigmatized, low-resource group.

  • drago

    ummm hey yo…those have been there for years.

    • quincycyclist

      “ummm hey yo…those have been there for years.”

      They’re not there in the google street view picture from November 2016.

      • Anon

        For some, simply sitting down can drive a “sharp spike” sensation in their bum.

      • Shawn_USt

        +1 #factsmatter

    • mtp

      I walk by 10 times a week, they were not there Monday

    • Jen

      No they have been there for maybe 2 weeks. I walk by them everyday.

    • J

      They haven’t been there for years. I witnessed them being put in this week and there have been homeless people sitting there for years

  • kpDC

    I’ve never heard of anti-homeless spikes before. When I see things like this I always think they are intended to prohibit dogs from going to the bathroom in them? Maybe not.

    • jonah

      The spikes are intended to prohibit someone from sitting or lying down on the surface. They are called hostile architecture sometimes. They also may place non obtrusive pieces of metal on a bench or similar surface every few feet to prevent a skateboarder from riding on the edge of whatever it is. Usually they target a demographic the building doesn’t want around.

      • navyard

        I was just googling and I didn’t see “hostile” arch results, but did find “defensive” architecture results. It makes sense that the people creating, selling, and advertising them would name them something that is aimed at the people who would purchase these.

    • TJ

      Nothing to do with dogs. These are meant to keep people moving on, homeless or not.

    • retropean
  • textdoc

    I was looking this up (a less spiky version) several months ago and found that the actual term for this kind of thing is “loafer rail.”
    I don’t see that it’s “anti-homeless” per se. More like anti-loitering… or anti-sitting-down.

    • Hill Denizen

      Yes, but who is loitering around a 7-11?

      • ParkViewneighbor

        Chicken wing bones usually

      • textdoc

        I take it you haven’t been to Mount Pleasant?

      • Herbie

        Dude. Who loiters around a 7-11? Umm, a lot of unsavory characters. Are you new to urban living?

  • ontarioroader

    I’ve also see those marketed to building managers as being preventative measures to stop skateboarders from doing rail grinds.

    • navyard

      I’ve seen the round ones used to deter skateboarders, and I love the idea, but these just look ….aggressive. And dangerous. (yes, I’ve tripped over my own feet before and probably will again. I do not want a spike in the eye just because I’m clumsy)

      • navyard

        To clarify – I love the idea to deter skateboarders from grinding on marble and granite.

      • ah

        Yeah, they look far more dangerous than necessary to achieve the goal of preventing people from sitting, lying, rail grinding, whatever the merits of doing that are.

    • MadMax

      When was the last time you actually saw someone grinding rails in DC…?

      • FridayGirl

        Tbh, I saw someone doing it last weekend.
        But yes, I also agree with the above posters that the spikes are a little aggressive (and from what I’ve seen when they put up loitering spikes near the Reeves Center, they don’t really deter at all — people will just sit on the ground).

      • d

        All the time. Usually in parks.

        • FoggyBottom

          Second this. Freedom Plaza is notorious for this. I saw a couple of guys riding the edge of a loading dock ramp from a delivery truck–impressive skill if not for the utter lack of respect for the property of others–before venturing back into the park time and time again.

      • Reality

        ALL THE TIME!

  • Marty

    how about just anti-‘sitting on our property’ spikes. They probably don’t care if you are homeless or not, they’d just prefer you don’t hang out there.

    • Nancy

      I’d ask you to check out my comment below. A consideration of who else uses places to sit along a sidewalk.

      • Nancy

        Sorry – I meant this to go under the comment below, not here.

  • KPS

    What difference does it make? Anyone – business or private – has a right to stop people from using the outside of their establishment (or home, etc) as a hang-out. There are public parks for this.

    • Accountering

      If they own the land, and if their isn’t sort of public easement etc. So yes, it makes a difference as to whether or not they are legally allowed to do this.

    • TJ

      This likely is in public space and is being maintained by the adjacent property, so not sure about this notion that the business has some “right” to stop people from using public space in its vicinity.

    • FoggyBottom

      But no longer the MLK library . . .

    • Nancy

      I’d ask you to check out my comment below. A consideration of who else uses places to sit along a sidewalk.

  • Brett M

    DC can barely take care of its own property so I doubt it would install these on private property.

    And the spikes are probably as much “anti-homeless” as they are anti-smoker.

    • Bobby McBob

      I live 3 blocks north and come down here pretty frequently (more for the liquor store than the 7-11). There are usually between 1 and 3 homeless hanging here, panhandling. Never had a single problem with them or seen them be aggressive towards anyone, but they were very regularly there. Like, at least 90% of the time. The spikes are pretty clearly meant to deter them.

  • Anon

    They’re for the birds!

    • Ben

      Someone has to keep those murderous hawks in check!

    • Reality

      No they’re not.

  • soozles

    BB&T did the same thing on their window ledge by the Columbia Heights Metro stop a year or two ago.

  • John
  • Nancy

    I HATE things like this. I’m not a strong walker, and use a cane. But I need to stop and rest every hundred feet or so. I am often sitting for a few minutes at places like this.

    They may be put there to keep the homeless away, but things like this too often ruin my ability to walk down that block. I know I’m not the only one. I too often find myself sitting near elderly men/women and other semi-handicapped folks like myself. We’re part of the invisible people that folks don’t think about.


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