UT Reader Asks: Unwelcome on the Porch

by UrbanTurf Staff

image

In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a new resident in a Columbia Heights group house is wondering how to politely ask some unwanted loiterers to leave her porch.

My friends and I recently rented a group row house in Columbia Heights. The day we moved in, a couple guys were hanging out on the porch of the house, and they actually helped us move stuff and were very friendly and welcoming. But since then, this same pair of guys hangs out on our porch every morning, drinking. We don’t know where they live exactly or why they’ve chosen our porch as their morning watering hole, but they are clearly guys from the neighborhood. They don’t really bother us, they don’t make too much noise, and they don’t threaten us at all—although one of them sports an electronic tracking ankle bracelet, so evidently he’s on probation of some kind.

My roommates and I are wondering what to do about the situation. We fear that by telling them they can’t come around anymore, we’ll invite trouble. And since they don’t actually cause any trouble now, we also wonder if we should care at all.

What would UT readers suggest?

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/ut_reader_asks_unwelcome_on_the_porch/5771

11 Comments

  1. Melissa said at 12:28 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    A funny situation…for everyone except the residents.

    I would approach them (in a friendly way) and just kindly ask them to leave. They must realize, to some degree, that they are encroaching on your space.

  1. Tom A. said at 12:52 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    I’d be sure not to have a comfortable space for them to sit.  If they’re sitting on the concrete, I’d leave your dog out there for a while. smile

  1. george said at 12:52 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    helped u move stuff? they were probably scoping out your stuff. we shouldnt tolerate public drinking in columbia heights

  1. bd said at 1:12 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    Serious? Grow a set and tell them to get the hell off your porch.

    If you really need an explanation to make yourself feel more comfortable with your existence, here you go:

    1. Ask them to leave?  Asking is entirely inappropriate. Its your space, not theirs! If you ask them to leave, you might as well ask them each morning if it is okay for you to wear a pair of pants.

    2. Passive-aggressively move your porch furniture so that their time spent on your porch is more uncomfortable? Why not just buy them a gift-card to Frontgate so that they can decorate your porch as they like?

    3. Public drinking isn’t even the problem! It is someone else drinking on your porch, not providing beer to you, and without your invitation! Would it be a problem if you were drinking a beer on your porch? Hells no!

    They helped you move, awfully nice of them. But are they paying rent? Respect yourself, and respect them - tell them to leave.

  1. anon said at 1:21 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    They’ve chosen your private property because they can’t drink openly in public and they’ve scoped you out as a softie who will put up with it.  Open containers are still illegal in this context, but their actions are less likely to be conspicuous on private property than public.  And one public intoxication arrest is all it would take for your ankle braceleted friend to return to jail.

    Ask them politely to leave (why on eartrh did you accept their offer of help in the first place?).  Unless they wish to join your rental group house, they have no business hanging out in your non-public space.

    The alternative is to gate your street entry to prevent access.  I remember being surprised at how many of these I saw in hippy dippy Haight Ashbury, but it makes sense when a place is a magent for transients and party people who puke, relieve themselves, and leave trash where they please (sometimes all three).

  1. jag said at 1:36 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    WTF, what an absurd situation. I really don’t know what I’d do at this point…how did you not ask “can I help you?” and proceed to kick them off the very first time they were there? I guess that’s what I’d still do at this point, though obviously it’s now become a really funky situation. Just say “can you guys find somewhere else to drink? K. Thanks.” and give them a chance to move on. If they don’t, tell them your landlord has instructed you to start calling the police. If they still keep setting up camp on the property every day then start actually calling the police.

  1. anon said at 3:56 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    I’m with @jag—‘my [property management company] [landlord] [wife] etc left me an [e-mail] [note under my door] [text or voice message] saying they didn’t want people hanging on the stoop.  Could you guys move along somewhere else?’

    That ankle bracelet is your friend—they won’t make waves over this.

  1. Roy said at 5:45 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    Politely ask them to leave, but make sure you have a cell phone handy in case they become upset. In my neighborhood I just call the police. You can’t ask anyone to do anything. The police even told me to just always call them if there are any problems. Of course the speed of DC police can be iffy depending on the situation.

  1. S2hindc said at 5:47 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    How about calling police non-emergency and telling them (anonymously) that there are some guys drinking on the block and causing problems and that you are about to approach them and get all vigilante on them (even though you’re not). The pice will arrive quIckly - they’ll ask the loiterers for ID and when they don’t have ID that says they belong there, they’ll make sure they move along. And the guy with the ankle bracelet will go quietly, I’m sure.

  1. Ed said at 6:28 pm on Monday July 16, 2012:

    You probably realize by now having strangers help you move was a massive mistake and I hope a lesson was learned.  As a group (don’t do this solo) tell the drinkers on your porch “I am sorry guys but my landlord said he is going to call the police if you stay here so we need to have you go.  Sorry!”.  If they don’t go, call the police.  This is important because many people with ankle bracelets have committed violent crimes.  Keep calling the police if they keep showing up.

  1. janson said at 3:22 pm on Wednesday July 18, 2012:

    I love this post! A situation comedy of layers of additions to a community. You have arrivals in order of recent (renters) and less recent (advice givers) and even less recent (porch squatters)all trying to negotiate power and normative behaviors.  Personally, I find the advice so far mostly pretty bad. Who wants a rock in their window?

    These porch squatters are real people with real problems and real egos. Identify the concrete outcome that you want that they can identify with as reasonable so they don’t have to back down. Or give them an authentic sense that you have overwhelming power. Or never give them any boundaries and let them continue to seek them.

    I would sit down with them in the morning with a can of beer and ask them, smiling, how they got started with such a pleasant avocation. If they aren’t convivial, you can clearly say, I don’t want non-convivial people on my porch. That would be just. If they are convivial, you may just have made great new friends in your community. Create boundaries, be respectful, be prepared to show and use power in a way that they understand. Same rules everyplace. If you call the police, going around a direct interaction, you should expect the same from them.

    By the way, your behavior has been confusing for them. Why did you accept help? was it in exchange for letting them sit on the porch? Seems like a fair trade to me. Ask them to look out for scoundrels for you. ha ha

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.




 

Ed McAllister

W.C.&A.N. Miller Realtors

703.282.1197

Serving:

Friendship Heights

AU Park

Cleveland Park

Play to hear Ed in his own words

NEW!

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We’ve collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 'hoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾