A tree grows in Columbia Heights?

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the early commute to the Columbia Heights metro at the corner of 14th and Irving, dog owners in the Highland Park apartments are busy taking their dogs outside so they can take care of their business.

For those of you who are familiar with this stretch of sidewalk, there is very little green space and the sidewalks are particularly crowded in the morning with commuters going to the Metro or waiting for one of the many buses.

With so little green space, dogs pee on the large planters in front of the apartment building, leaving behind noticeable puddles of dog urine. For the dogs that do make it to the tree boxes, they are not the first for the ground is already fairly saturated by 8 am.

These dog owners are in no way breaking the law, unless they don’t pick up after their dogs. However, how much dog urine is just too much for such a public space?

Public green space in Columbia Heights is a rare commodity. The recent building boom has brought has brought a slew of new business and residents in the last 5 years, including Highland Park on Irving Street. While Highland Park lacks a street level courtyard, they advertise a rooftop terrace with a landscaped garden. If there is a green space available on the roof, are tenants allowed to use this space for their dogs? Dog owners who live in apartment buildings, what is your experience with access to green space?

This is in no way an attack on dog owners, but raises some issues about the impact of large apartment buildings on densely populated areas as well as urban doggy etiquette. To be good neighbors, should apartment buildings build their own private dog parks? This would be a considerate gesture to the surrounding community as well as a desired amenity for renters.

Or should it rest on the city to build such spaces? What about the dog owners themselves? If you plan to own a dog in a city, shouldn’t you at least consider taking your dog further then just the nearest tree box?

As it stands now, there is not enough green space on this small stretch of street to continue to satisfy dogs, commuters, and residents. And I have a feeling that the newly planted trees aren’t happy about the situation either.

Lynda Laughlin is a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. She holds a PhD in sociology and enjoys reading, writing, and researching issues related to families and communities, urban economics, and urban development. Lynda lives in Mt. Pleasant. Views expressed here are strictly her own.