Comment of the Day: The Parking Spaces Out Front

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE PARKING SPACES OUT FRONT “So my friend’s neighbors on both sides and across the street have used pea gravel to make head-in parking spaces in front of the their houses in the Heights. In doing so they eliminated 2-3 parallel street parking spots in front of each house, as well as taking over what I assume is the city right of way. I assume this can’t be legal, but then this is Houston so who knows? Anyway these neighbors throw fits if anyone parks in their spaces. My friends like to have people over and now parking is a real challenge. I’ve been confronted by the neighbors before and have told them that these are not their spaces and they vehemently (violently) disagree. Am I right? Am I wrong? Should I just pretend they aren’t there and park behind them on the street like I would have had they not taken over those spaces? Is there anything that can be done?” [charlie, commenting on Where the Sidewalk Goes Private in Cinco Ranch] Illustration: Lulu

51 Comment

  • Interesting question. Also throw in the mix the Right of Egress and Ingress whereby one can’t block someone’s “legitimate” access to and from private property, i.e. driveway, whereas driveway can be a very loose term.

  • 1. Buy glow-in-the-dark spraypaint.
    2. Clearly mark out your parking spots in front of their house on the City’s easement.
    3. Let your neighbor know who is boss.
    4. ?????????
    5. Profit.

  • It is street parking. Go ahead and park there!

  • Move to Katy or quit whining…

  • You are correct, but good luck convincing your neighbors or getting the city to do anything about it. The rocks/boulders keeping people off the easement is illegal as well. Heights folks claim to love living in the ‘city’ but do stupid things like this because they are baffled by actually living in a city. “No way that ANYONE can park in front of MY house… that’s not what it’s like in the suburb I grew up in!

  • 1. Just park in the ROW as it existed before the driveway was installed. If the owner doesn’t like it, threaten to (or actually) call 311 and complain to the City.

    2. Call 311 for debris removal (like rocks) if people block parking by placing thing in the ROW.

    Some jackass actually installed speed bumps on Nolda Street (just east of TC Jester) in front of two 6-packs of town houses. I called 311 to complain. A City truck showed up and removed them before noon the very next day.

  • property lines are almost always 1-2 feet inside sidewalks or futher from the street or drainage culvert where no sidewalk is present. while homeowners are responsible to maintain “esplanade” space, they do not have exclusive rights to the property. Park where you like,everyone else does!

  • Here’s how you remedy this problem. Start with the camera in that cell phone in your pocket. Take photos of your neighbors’ improvised parking spaces — some with the spaces filled, some without — and upload to the city’s 311 webpage. I guarantee you that code enforcement will be out soon to take care of the problem. How do I know this? I work in the Third Ward across from a lot that was (note use of past tense) an illegal dump site. Once we began uploading photos of the trash, code enforcement came out, spoke to the lot owner, spoke to neighbors and, interestingly, the dumping ceased almost overnight.

  • Sounds like your neighbors are prime examples of the entitled dipsticks that come in after the property values go up and immediately begin trying to change the very things that made the property values go up in the first place. Above and beyond that, they and their cronies have no idea how to parallel park – the stupid stuff I see would get their tires slashed in Boston or SF. My current fave is the recent graduate next door’s boyfriend who insists on centering his truck between the driveways, thus taking up both of the two street spaces in front of my house. Apparently they don’t like to park in front of their own place because the trees in front drop little berries.

  • No brainer here, they are completely wrong and you are free to park on the street in front (not on their property or the public right of way). But keep in mind that this is a clear-cut case for politics instead of confrontation. Find out if most of the other neighbors agree with you, and if so, then confront the miscreants en mass. If they resist, sic the city on them to start issuing tickets.

  • I’d love to see CoH come out with a claw and a heavy trash truck to pull up those dumb and VERY illegal boulders. Idiot homeowners do that nonsense all over in the Rice Military area. I guess OP doesn’t like confrontation, I would already have blocked in my neighbor and then called HPD to come out and ‘splain to them why I was in the right. Funny thing is, if someone from the city got a bug up their rear they could go out and scrape up that pea gravel meanwhile the homeowner has ZERO recourse legally.

  • my fear with all the fashionable use of little rocks these days is relearning the lesson of Hurricane Alicia and gravel roofs

  • A lot of businesses in the inner city do that too, and put tow zone signs. Quite illegal and I like the idea of sending to the 311.

    If its outside of the sidewalk, without a driveway, it is public property. That means all of us have a right to park there.

  • So is there a limitation to how much of property’s street frontage can consist of driveways? Does it vary by usage, size, or building occupancy? I also wonder about this for commercial buildings have more than one driveway. Can they pave over the whole street frontage, making it a single large driveway?

  • What if his front yard was nothing but grass? Do you think you have the right to park on another man’s lawn? His lawn is his property whether it’s covered in grass or pea gravel. Parking on his property is trespassing.

  • So, I can call or upload photos to 311 and the jerks around the corner that built the gigantic house and put the gigantic boulders ( all in a row!) will have to remove said boulders? Oh, this makes me giddy with excitement!

  • Superdave, in residential areas, the city does not allow more than 20′ of continuous concrete culvert (the pipe under the driveway). They started cracking down on people paving or “rocking” over their whole 50′ ditches about 5 years ago. Commercial is similar but there are lots of exceptions.

    John, property lines (in the Heights at least) are like Marc said 1-2′ behind the sidewalk, so if the homeowner has grass between the sidewalk and the street, it’s not his property. It’s on the City’s property. YES you can just drive up on it and tear it up. It’s not his. It’s the city’s right of way.

  • I do not want people parking on the grassy strip of land that I maintain between the street and sidewalk. Many heights neighbors plant trees in this strip or other shrubbery to beautify the street and the front of their home. I have zero problem with people parking on my street in front of my house, but stay off the grass. Constant parking turns the grass into mud and looks terrible. Sorry, I don’t want the front of my house to be a nasty mud pit. I have too much pride in my home and neighborhood. So yes, instead of crepe mertle or bushes, I put rocks to maintain the character and greenery of the hood.

  • Also, there seems to be a misconception. Just because the grassy strip is public propery and does not belong to the homeowner, it is his responsibility to maintain it. Also, just because it is public does not give you the right to drive on it and “tear it up” just as you can’t drive on grass at memorial park or Herman park. For gods sake, keep ur parked car on the street and there are no problems.

  • I bought a house that already has one of these in front made of pavers and concrete to hold in the pavers. All the houses on my part of the block have them. When you have a party parking sux for sure. Turns out the city permits these nose in drives as you need approval before covering the ditches, culverts or whatever you call those things. So if you pay for a permit and the city approves it yes rightfully yours. But it is confusing. I am from Boston and parking is a very territorial thing. You are parking at your own risk if you have already been threatened. Good luck with that. Now having said that I much prefer a normal street with proper curbing. But that requires a petition and to get on a waiting list for the city to make a proper street… maybe a 5 year wait as it is not a city priority project. Just mixed on the whole thing because with these ditches our streets don’t flood.

  • Is it really worth aggravating your neighbor over? Jeez.

  • Yes, it’s worth it, I’d be really put off by his attitude. Don’t deal with him anymore at all, call 311 and stay on it, make COH deal with it.. remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so be persistent. Believe me nobody likes an entitled neighbor, don’t cede the high ground, but don’t let him get away with being a world class asshole.

  • Yeh @Mel it is worth it.

    Bottom line, the neighbor is a bully and needs to be put in his place.

  • I hate to defend these guys in any way as I think their actions are juvenile and ridiculous.
    I realize that boulders that line the street are illegal, but I can sympathize. Do you know how many ppl drive through my patch of grass btwn my ditch and the street? Heck, I’d be elated if ppl parked there but I get ppl doing 45 mph (mind you this street is not large enough to handle two cars side by side), right after a rain, in F250’s.
    This obviously tears up grass and leaves a muddy tire track.
    This infuriates me as I take care of my yard (as little as it is) and for someone to do this sucks. I get that its the city’s easement, however, it’s my responsibility to take care of it.
    I think this would all be solved if like any other major city, we actually have curbs that prevent this kind of thing. It is 2013. Curbs aren’t too much to ask for and they would stop idiots like your neighbors.

  • Sounds like the same ilk of Douche-Bag neighbors migrating into what once was Montrose.

  • I know the OP doesn’t want to give the address of the guy, but can someone google street view an example of this? I’m having a hard time visualizing what he’s talking about

  • DNAguy,I feel exactly the same way.

  • I say clean out your garage and park in it. That’s what it was built for. Keeps the riff raff from breaking into vehicles parked on the street. Or, if you don’t have a garage, park in your driveway. I’ve lived either in Montrose or the Heights for 30 years and I was always annoyed when neighbors parked their ratty cars or their friends’ cars in front of my house especially when they had an ample driveway – not for just an occassional visit,but daily as if THAT was their parking spot. Like many who’ve commented, I like to maintain my yard with landscaping and have sprinkler system installed in the City ROW, so driving on this could damage something I’m supposed to maintain. Whether your neighbors are self-absorb, bullies, entitled dipstickes, or any other adjectives used in this thread to describe them, maybe they prefer the convenience of having a parking spaced available for their guests in close proximity to their home – in their case, right in front. This doesn’t guarantee reserved spots, but maybe, just maybe they created a tidy solution to a parking need in areas like the Heights. But this brings me back to Charlie’s original problem – he can’t find a ‘convenient’ place to park in the street while visiting his friend who loved to have guests over. This is the nature of the neighborhoods like these. Some days, parking while visiting a friend may not be convenient.

  • here is an example in rice military that is slightly more complicated:
    here is the history:
    builder (sandcastle) put in culvert and gravel when building in the townhomes like 2 years ago, and residents and neighbors used these spots as head in parking.
    not long after, coh came along and made that side of feagan no parking (as part of trying to do something about parking issues in rice military and the problems with emergency vehicles not being able to get through on such narrow streets if people are parked on each side), but they were kind enough to terminate the no parking signs on either side of these head-in spots so that people could still use them.
    about a year later, some guy moves into the house next door and he complains to coh because his wife has trouble seeing down the street when shes pulling out of their driveway (the cars parked in the head-in spots make it hard to see). coh comes out and puts in new signs around the head in spots that say parallel parking only! so they are cool with the parking spots, but they want people to park sideways on them? crazy.
    its even more complicated by the fact that there’s a fire hydrant in the middle of it, so i think its illegal to be parking so close to it even if its parallel.

    This is a fairly typical example in the Heights (apologies to the homeowner–no idea whether they are offenders or properly permitted and allow all comers to use the space). I have an actual driveway and an extra pull-in space at my house. I have no idea when the extra space in the ROW was built. Parking isn’t an issue on my street, fortunately. From time to time, someone will park in the pull-in space, but it is pretty rare.

  • Wow, those don’t look deep enough to be head-in spaces. If I saw those, I would assume they were parallel, and park accordingly, except that the presence of the fire hydrant would be enough to deter me from parking there in the first place.

    Hey, there’s an idea. All of you people who think you own the street in front of your house can go buy one of those fake fire hydrants from SkyMall and put it in the city ROW in front of your house.

    I don’t mind people parking in front of my house. What I do mind is the asshat woman who works at a business around the corner who very carefully positions her SUV in the middle of the two-car space, so that no one else can park in front of or behind her. At least she picks a different household to annoy every day, so my turn is only once a week or so.

  • GoogleMaster, nobody thinks they “own the street in front of our house” and nobody has a problem with people parking on the STREET in front. However, responsible home owners do not want the strip of city land (ROW) in front of our house to be trashed by inconsiderate drivers to tear up the grass/bushes/trees that we are expected to maintain in front of our house. Stay on the street. The rocks are there to prevent parking on the publicly-owned privately-maintainted right of way.

  • There’s a real problem with folks parking/blocking the street on both sides of Oxford where it’s narrow between 6-1/2 & White Oak. Why they don’t they park on White Oak where it is wide? same walking distance to Onion Creek…etc

  • Adam #32, meet Ellie Mae #28, who says “…I was always annoyed when neighbors parked their ratty cars or their friends’ cars in front of my house…”

  • @googlemaster:
    “What I do mind is the asshat woman who works at a business around the corner who very carefully positions her SUV in the middle of the two-car space, so that no one else can park in front of or behind her. At least she picks a different household to annoy every day, so my turn is only once a week or so.”
    Recommendation: leave a nice note under her windshield explaining what she can do to be a good neighbor. Do this at least twice, but in a respectful manner.
    When she ignores it, use shoe polish on her windows to write in nice big letters “I suck at parking my car”. Please, only do this on windows, as it is non destructive, getting a point across is all well and good, but destruction of property is something else entirely.

  • This is a tricky issue, obviously. I live on Nicholson Street across from the hike & bike, and if people parked on the street without using the ROW, it would be very difficult to get around them (esp. big trucks). I don’t love it, but it’s just a fact of life. To me, the bigger issue is the city’s refusal to address the open drainage ditches and lack of curbs. When the city does so little to maintain and take care of the streets & associated drainage, it leaves the door open for developers and homeowners to create their own solutions.

  • @hooligan (#2): Here’s how you profit off the situation –

  • The worst offenders in this area are the people who park head-in and on the sidewalk. It’s not just a few people and they are not just a little bit on the sidewalk. Several long trucks regularly block it completely. I have used the 311 app to report this several times and I never saw any change. I see this mostly on Nicholson.

  • @Frank, just FYI, the police do routinely ticket people for parking across the sidewalk on Nicholson. Parking there can be a challenge–I am happy we have a two-car garage (which we actually use) plus a driveway slot for guests!

  • So, I just called 311 to ask them about the grassy right of way between Heights sidewalks and city streets. As I thought, I am completely within my right as the homeowner and maintainer of the ROW to place rocks, shrubs, or trees on the ROW to prevent people from parking on the ROW. Parking is confined to the street, not the grassy right of way in front of peoples homes.

  • This makes sense. Parking in the right of way is akin to parking with two wheels on the sidewalk.

    Only Houston can pull off playing host to a hilariously profitable energy industry whiteout being capable of installing and maintaining its basic urban infrastructure.

  • … “whithout being capable of installing and maintaining its basic urban infrastructure”

    it’s all about taxes – no body wants to pay them.


    I’m sure you could get a permit to pave your own curb if you really want it. Talk to your council member.


    A good example of the graveling in the Heights is the 600 block of E 8th 1/2 St (77007). There’s a fair amount of parallel parking that seems amicably shared. And one or two houses on the north side with noe-in parking for their entire lot. You can see both in use on google maps. Most of these homes were built in the last 10 years.

  • I accept that I don’t “own” the strip of land between the sidewalk and road but so long as I’m using my time and money to maintain it I will be parking there, not you. Once the city starts mowing and maintaining the land in front of my house I’ll let you park there.

  • I’m with Adam and Matt. Don’t be jerks, people. Park in the danged street or park somewhere else. Leave people’s yards alone.

  • So if people can be prevented from parking in the privately maintained portion of the city’s right of way, can they also be prevented from walking there if there is no sidewalk?

  • “I still don’t fully understand”. I was hoping this thread would clear this up but I see there is nowhere near a consensus here.
    Emotions aside (I see that is what’s driving a lot of assertions here), if a homeowner installs nose-in parking that extends near or over a covered up ditch with rocks or pea gravel, where can I legally park? Can I park nose-in onto their property/ROW or should I just parallel park on the street, thereby blocking the nose-in spaces?

  • my two cents — if the homeowner is going to park in the ROW, everyone should be able to. it’s not fair to make these private parking spaces for only the owner to use.
    on the other hand, if the owner wants to block it off and maintain nice grass or shrubs there, then no one should park there (including the homeowner).

  • tired of talking about the heights, this place sounds horrible. let’s keepstick to the ‘trose folks.

  • per bernard’s comment: that speed bump on nolda is totally needed. ppl speed down that road to bypass I-10 )esp when there is construction. It is narrow around tc jester, w/ driveways obstructed by parked cars,m and no sidewalks (for ppls walking dogs etc.). I think ppl have complained to the city but to no avail. how does someone trying to remedy the situation make them a jackass? ppl who live there favor them. ppl trying to cut through between durham and tc jester do not.

  • These spots are no legal. My friend works for the CoH permit department and they fight these illegal parking spots all the time. At any time the city can come in a remove them. If the city comes by the dig up the ditches (which they do from time to time) these spots can be removed/damaged as well as trees/strubs/plants being removed. And yes, they do NOT belong to the homeowner. These spots are owned by the city and not the homeowner. Do I park in them? No. But it does upset me when someone is parked in these spots and they block the sidewalk. That is also illegal. Some people might think it is stupid to complain, but when you take for example Halloween, many kids have to leave the safety of the sidewalk and go out into the street just to get back on the sidewalk. Think of the elderly and people with disabilities who also have to make a detour. I personally think these parking spots whould be removed and that the builders in the area must make driveways and parking garages/carports instead of these illegal parking spots. If they didn’t take up the entire lot with the homes they could do such a thing. I am sure this will upset some people, but it is just my $.02.

  • @Tex if it is illegal then why does the city offer a permit to fill in the ditches to be used for parking?
    Here is the city website:

    Here is the wording from the website:
    How do I get the ditch in front of my house covered?

    This is not a service the City provides. The property owner must obtain a permit from the Permit Office @ 1002 Washington Avenue. The property owner must purchase the culverts and hire a contractor to complete the work. For additional information, contact 832.394.8820 for residential property and 832.394.8810 for commercial property.