Block Party District

November 21, 2016



Like mambo sauce, DC loves a good block party. So much so that the you can find tips on throwing a good DC neighborhood block party in the Washington Post. Much like our beloved Smithsonian and many other DC attractions, DC neighborhood block parties have a legal definition which states “no admission or entrance fee.” Everyone is invited. Throwing Block parties in DC hasn’t always been a smooth process. Though, for the last few years since the D.C. Department of Transportation has taken over the process, it has seemingly improved. Some of the Ninja Team frequented the annual Capitol Hill Block Party this year and came back feeling tipsy with a glass full of ideas: What DC neighborhoods are hosting the most block parties? What barriers are there to throwing one? How efficient is DC at helping block party hosts? We pour’d (pun intended) over the data and have found some really interesting information.


First we look at the total number of public space permits for purposes of holding a block party (above) that were filed with the District Government from 2012 to 2016. From the bar graph on the left, we can see that there was a significant drop (100+) in block party applications filed in 2013 in comparison to 2012. That said, the table to the right shows us that it isn’t all that easy to get an issued permit for a block party in the District. For example, despite 150+ applications per year from 2012 to 2015, there’s never been more than 20 permits issued in calendar year. The caveat of course is that the category such as “assigned” may also mean a favorable outcome, however, we didn’t get too much from our reach out to the DC Department of Transportation and the metadata affiliated with the data set we used didn’t provide much help either. With a better idea of just how many applications were being filed per year, we set out to see where in DC are the block parties happening the most?

 Its also interesting to see that DC’s blocks do not party equally. For example, Ward 6 has consistently had at least double the amount of block party applications filed from 2012-15 in comparison to Ward 7 and Ward 8. Ward 2 blocks seem to see the least action of all DC’s wards as it is the only ward with single digit applications filed (for the last 3 years!). Thus, when it comes to DC’s Wards, like in many other areas, there is a disparity when it comes to block parties. Indeed, even if you combined the total block party applications filed in Wards 7 and 8 for each year from 2012-15, the total never exceeds the number of applications filed in Ward 6 for that respective year. We also wanted to see if there was a geographic disparity when it came to applications that were issued/assigned vs. rejected. There didn’t seem to be too much distinction in this area as you can see from the map.

Last but not least, the driving force and home to every block party: the neighborhood. We set out to see which DC neighborhoods are seeking to host the most block parties and do certain neighborhoods fare better when it comes to applications granted vs. rejected.  We were interested to see that even within the top five neighborhoods, only the top 3 neighborhoods consistently filed at least one block party application per year form 2012-15. It also appears the top neighborhoods do the best when it comes to applications granted. Three of the top five neighborhoods with applications filed also appear in the top 5 neighborhoods with most issued permits. Of course, this may be attributed to the fact that there is a greater quantity of applications filed in these neighborhoods and thus more room for permits being granted. Nonetheless, it may also mean because they host the most parties, they know the process well and know what needs to get done for purposes of the application being issued.




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