Quite a tiff on 16th Street. Less than a mile from the White House, the Republic of Congo purchased a stately mansion, restored it beautifully, and paved the lawn. An uproar ensued, and the public learned that the lawn surrounding the mansion is public space, regardless of the sturdy and decorative perimeter fence that encloses it.
The District of Columbia disclosed that the embassy had neither sought nor received a permit for its paving work, the Dupont Current reported on December 7, 2011. Protests followed from summer through fall.
Eventually, both the District of Columbia government, through its DCRA, and the federal government, through the Office of Foreign Missions at the State Department, ordered the embassy to remove the paving and install approved landscaping by December 17, 2011.
Public space surrounding embassies can easily complicate embassy construction or renovation. The same is true for curb cuts, which are rarely granted. Careful observation of federal and local law is required in order to achieve the desired objective. Cooperation with neighbors and their committees can be crucial. -- Clemens Kochinke, partner, Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, LLP, Washington, DC.