The matter before city council: Application to Abandon a Public Right-of-Way

  • In 2003 two parcels of land were purchased by the Applicant, separated by a 5′ area that was identified on the Real Property Report as a “Platted Public Walkway”. This 5′ right-of-way is also clearly identified on the official Assessor’s Office maps and even on
  • The owner of those two parcels now wants the city, on behalf of the public, to vacate their interest in the Public Walkway so he can combine his two lots, and the walkway, into one.
  • We oppose this because together, the 5′ walkways form a useful grid for pedestrian circulation in a neighborhood of long, dead-end streets with no lateral access.
  • The City’s General Plan Document, specifically covering trails, discourages the abandonment of dedicated, unimproved public easements, or other reservations secured by the city, unless such action is in the public interest (Open Space Policy 6E), and encourages the use of unimproved rights-of-ways for walking (Land Use 8.1.4). Many other points in the General Plan support pedestrian circulation and the use of existing, walkable right-of-ways.  (See General Plan Summary)

Summary of the facts:

    • The original Temple Hills Subdivision Dedication filed in the 1920’s identified the network of 5′ walkways, as well as a neighborhood park (AssessorOverview).
    • None of the walkways appear to have been officially improved, but Aerial photos from the 40’s and 50’s clearly show they were used.
    • The walkway that is the subject of this abandonment appears to have been accepted by a city council resolution in 1945. The city attorney questions whether this was an official dedication, or just a public decoration of use and intent. (see Resolution 709, Appendix B). Either way, walkway received official attention and declaration.
    • Many LBHS alumni testify that the pathways were frequently used by them back when the walkways were all open.

Some of the walkways are still open and used today.

  • The Applicant already has a Revocable Encroachment Permit for his exclusive use of the walkway until such time as the city (public) needs it. Using the permit, the applicant has built retaining walls and a patio over the walkway.  (See Revocable Encroachment Permit 241)

Our Position:

  • No piecemeal abandonments should be allowed until a comprehensive plan for pedestrian circulation and public open space for this neighborhood is developed and approved
  • No action is necessary at this time. The applicant can use the land under the Revocable Encroachment Permit. The city has no liability on the land, as stated by the City Attorney in his letters of December 2011.  The applicant has use of the area and the city has no liability, thus there is no need for action at this time.

How can I help?

  • The City Council hearing will be sometime in late July or early August. May we send you a reminder? Please email us today so we can add you to the list.:
  • Let City Council know how important this is to all of us.
Steve Dicterow
Toni Iseman
Robert Whalen
Rob Zur Schmiede


Here is what we are asking our City Council for:

“We would like to take this opportunity to remind City Council about the need to find a good solution to improving pedestrian circulation and public open space in the Temple Hills Neighborhood.

We urge you not to abandon any land or walkways in Temple Hills until a complete plan for these needs is in place.”

Associated Documents on the Walkway Issue

Document Archive from THCA Newsletters