Last Friday, while walking east down Albemarle, I came across an unusual sight: Three or four DDOT vans and a police car all lined up in a row. There were men lining the entry sidewalk to 3010 Albemarle with a police officer on the south side of the street, and a group of men on the north side. I asked what was going on.
One fellow responded, “We are digging up his driveway.”
“Why?” I asked.
“He didn’t get a permit for the driveway,” was the answer. “It’s public space. He needed a permit.”
I remembered that ANC 3F had turned down the owner’s request for an extension of a curb cut to accommodate his double garage and driveway quite a few years ago. Then, about a year ago, I received a letter the owner had sent to surrounding neighbors. He asked us to sign a petition to help him get a permit to surface his driveway.
I wanted to get a clearer sense of why this happened. I emailed Mathew Marcou, acting associate director of DDOT’s Public Space Regulations Administration. His reply:
“DDOT mobilized this morning to remove the rebar from the unrestored and unpermitted excavation in public space in front of 3010 Albemarle St NW. This action was the result of the property owner excavating public space without a public space permit, his refusal to install a driveway design that complies with District standards, and his defiance of repeated notices to comply with District enforcement actions. We did not take this action precipitously nor without providing the property owner multiple opportunities over the course of several years to come into compliance.
“We plan to install sod at this location shortly.”
So the moral of the story: Make sure you get a permit before you mess with public space. If you don’t know where your property line ends and public space begins, look at your plat. This should be clearly delineated when you purchase a house.
This public space is technically DC parkland. For more information, see “The City Park Outside Your Front Door.”