Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is It Legal to Park a Boat on a DC Street? A Dialog

The Second District Police (MPD 2D) maintains a listserv, not just for crime alerts, reports, and tips, but for questions from the public and answers from the police. In the case of the question about boat parking on DC streets, the first police officer to answer the question got it wrong, and was later corrected by a second police officer. 

The original question came from an ANC commissioner from Barnaby Woods, asking on behalf of a constituent:

Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:43 pm 
Subject: Boat parked on residential street - legal or illegal?

Hi there,

I received a complaint regarding a homeowner who has parked their boat on a residential street in front of their home. Is this legal?



Just nine minutes later police officer Marcello N. Muzzatti replied:

July 17 Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:52 pm
Re: Boat parked on residential street - legal or illegal?

If the trailer has a current DC tag and residential sticker if needed then it is legal.


Three days later a second police officer, David Baker, wrote in (at 4:07am) to disagree:

Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:07 am
Re: Boat parked on residential street - legal or illegal?

I was sent this question. It is not legal to park a boat on a DC public street. It is considered storage on public space. I see where someone wrote you could, as long as you had a valid residential parking permit for the trailer. DC does not consider a boat a vehicle in the city's definition. We all know you cannot pull the boat away from the curb or drive it on the road. ( I hope we never have a flood that big!) I hope this answers your question. You can send me a email with the address of where the boat is and I will let the folks know what the law is.


Two and a half hours later, Officer Muzzati got a chance to respond. Apparently, he was not convinced by Officer Baker's assessment of the situation.

Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:34 am
Re: [MPD-2d] Parking of Boats on Public Street

Well the boat is not a vehicle but the trailer is. The trailer must be inspected and have a valid tag on it.


Three minutes later, Officer Baker sent in the proof:

Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:47 am
Re: Parking of Boats on Public Street

Here is the law from the DCMR Title 18 Vehicles and Traffic. 2405.5 The following may not be parked on any public thoroughfare in front of, alongside, or in the rear of any private dwelling or apartment, house of worship, school playground, or hospital; provided, a vehicle may be parked in front of, alongside, or in the rear of such property while engaged in work at such place for which the vehicle is reasonably necessary:

(a) Any passenger vehicle with a seating capacity of more than fifteen (15) passengers.
(b) A BOAT***************** 
(c) A trailer, whether loaded or unloaded;
(d) Any vehicle longer than twenty-two feet (22 ft) or wider than 8 feet (8ft); or
(e) Any vehicle that has been designed or modified to haul trash, junk,or debris.

No vehicle described in 2405.5 (a) through (e) may be parked alongside or around any public park except in stands established in accordance with this chapter. (Vendors)   

*********The fine for parking one of the above is $ 1,000.00*********

[Note: The asterisks and the all-caps in (b) were in Officer Baker's reply.]


Later that afternoon, Officer Muzzatti conceded the main point but still wondered about that trailer sticker.

Re: Parking of Boats on Public Street
Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:59 pm

Well I stand corrected but then why do they ask if you want a residential sticker for the trailer if you can't park it on your street?


In response to which Officer Baker (at 4 am the following morning) patiently explained:

Re: Parking of Boats on Public Street 
Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:01 am

You cannot park a trailer on the street in DC unless you are doing work.


Later that morning Officer Baker followed up by going to the location of the parked boat to deliver a warning. This is the final message in the thread.

Re: Boat Parked on Public Street
Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:35 am

I stopped by this morning and looked at it. The trailer is not tagged that the boat is on. I left a copy of the laws in their door. I gave them 24 hours to move the boat. I will take action on Friday morning if the boat is still there. I like to educate people on the law and give them a chance to correct their mistake. They may not know the law.


Note: For improved readability there have been a few corrections of typos, punctuation, and grammar in the above messages, which are otherwise verbatim.

1 comment:

  1. Just to follow up on this story: Today, July 27, a citizen left this comment on the police listserv in reply to Officer Baker's action:

    "Kudos for issuing a warning, rather than a citation. The fine for this violation is a horrendous $1000. There's no justification for such a fierce punishment for a minor parking offense. Our District Council IMHO is milking this offense with a disproportionate fine in order to extract maximum revenue from unwary residents. I do hope the owner of the boat is suitably grateful for the warning."

    He added, "Laws get more respect from residents if they're enforced with reasonable judgment." (A fine sentiment, but I should point out the problem inherent in it: We residents do sometimes seem to have a hard time achieving consensus on what judgments are "reasonable.")