Dear PoP – Elimination of the “Green Team” in Wards 1, 2 and 4

Georgia Ave, NW on Saturday Feb. 12 in Parkview Ward 1

“Dear PoP,

I know that you have posted plenty on the issue of illegal dumping and trash removal in the past. My neighbors and I learned of some very sad news last night that affects us all. Funding for the District’s “Green Team” has been completely eliminated. This DPW team had been tasked with taking care of the following services in Wards 1, 2 and 4 for the past 4 + years:

• Trash Collection & Bulk Trash Removal• Street Cleaning• Beautification Services• Landscaping & Green Space Maintenance• Graffiti & Illegal Sign Removal• Snow Removal

The services that this team provided were invaluable to us as we battle illegal dumping in our alleys, and in making sure that our streets remain clean and safe. In addition, the loss of this team means the loss of meaningful jobs for those who really needed them to support their families as well as reach personal and professional life goals. This team and this service enriched us all. Over the past two weeks, my neighbors and I have encountered illegal dumping of items on an enormous scale in our alley.

Today a press conference was held to discuss this very unfortunate turn of events in our community. CM Graham has been instrumental in making this program work and the loss of finding is truly devastating. If at all possible, can you post this so that other residents can send a note to CM Graham or their own CM?

These city services are crucial to making our city a beautiful, livable place. We neighbors get together to pick up trash and follow the rules when putting out bulk items, but many, many people just do not care. Without the extra support of the city we face an uphill battle. The cost to the former Green Team members is even greater.

We know there are so many city issues out there that need to be addressed – crime, education, etc. But living in a clean environment is essential to making our lives healthy and safe.”

This is horrible news. You can find contact info for your Council Member (and at large members) here.

38 Comment

  • Remind me, how did Wards 1, 2, and 4 vote in the last election?

  • Clean up what you can and yell at (call police) those who you see dumping.

    Its your neighborhood…. your responsibility.

  • You all voted for Gray, now you have to live with it.

    Let’s face it: Fenty was an asshole for sure, but he got things done.

  • we should cut welfare to keep the streets clean. Then we would have to deal with families on the streets. Damn, there is no solution other than moving to arlington.

    • Yeah here’s a solution, you get off your fat rear end and take a little civic pride in your community where others have not, and help clean it up yourself!

    • These guys were on public assistance, were on drugs, trouble with the law and were out there doing better interaction with the community than DPW or the cops. Quality of life stuff, public safety, pride. These guys did it. Got NOTHING to do with what Ward you’re in, or moving to Arlington.

    • Here’s a thought: If you’re on welfare, a good job for you would be to get out there and clean up the trash that your fellow citizens have seen necessary to litter our streets with.

  • Actually, had the Grahamstander, who was the originator of the Green Teams, created dedicated funding for this instead of earmarks to nonprofits to pay for it, we may be able to keep the program, which does provide a good service. The Grahamstanders use of earmarks is finally staring to come back and bite him in the butt.

    • That’s absolutely correct… Graham (and a few others on the Council) made this an easy item to cut because this is funded via earmarks instead of encouraging the businesses in this area to form a BID.

      But certainly, even without a BID, these businesses need to proactively walk outside regularly and pick up the trash in front of their buildings. It sucks that many pedestrians drop trash all over the place, but if you have a stretch of sidewalk in front of your business (or home), you need to regularly pick up trash in front.

    • Dedicated funding is the definition of an earmark, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

    • there should be a columbia heights BID. or more localized BIDs to do this kind of work. can’t neighbors also organize more regularly to pick up trash?

  • Fenty was Mayor when the City was flush with cash. Gray is now Mayor with a city with negative cash. Hence cuts cuts cuts and more cuts. Now, will you see any cuts to tax breaks for developers? Probably not. Will you see any tax increases for those who can afford it to get revenues up again? Probably not. But you will see cuts to basic public services and to programs that really help people with limited or no resources. This is the trend nation wide. State governors and city mayors all doing the same crap, even Obama’s budget is in competition with the Reps in Congress to see who can cut more vital shit without having rich people contribute. Depressing ain’t it?

  • Who created the enormous budget hole DC finds itself in? DC is cutting every program it can, but it can’t cut enough to dig its way out of the hole. At what point are enough voters going to say they’d rather pay more taxes than see more things cut? It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

    I just find our whole moment right now pretty fake. We’re in the worst financial crisis in the history of man with the worst government deficits ever seen, and somehow we’re going to solve that problem with one-arm tied behind our backs. We’ll need to cut spending AND raise taxes if the problem’s really as big as they say. That’s how adults do it.

    • I’d rather pay more taxes. There, I said it. It’s the first time in my life I can afford to say it and I would much rather do my part to make sure we keep going forward than sit on the bench with a bunch of whiners while the city (and country) roll back down hill.

    • +100
      The flat tax rate for >$40K is silly. Tax me more.

    • Yeah, I don’t think they’re going to be able to close the shortfall with spending cuts alone – budgets the last two or three years have been balanced based almost entirely on cutting programs and depleting accounts. I think now’s the point they’re going to have to raise revenue. I think that would be preferable to cutting funding for schools (when reform is ongoing), job training, and these green programs.

      • I generally support higher taxes and I agree that only one bracket >$40,000 is ridiculous. But before I support tax increase in DC, right now, I would like to have a little more confidence that our Council wouldn’t just waste the new money anyways…

        • +100 (kinda) – I’d like to see what we already pay be used better. I’m tired of incentivizing people to have babies that they can’t afford since I have to work harder to support them!

  • Wait. What? Our trash isn’t going to be collected anymore? No more street cleaning?

    • No, this is just selective sidewalk cleanup in a few commercial districts of the District, that’s funded by earmarks instead of directly paid by the businesses through a BID like businesses elsewhere in the District do.

  • I thought the bag tax was supposed to solve this problem.

  • Maybe I am in the minority on this, but with the exception of Bulk Trash Removal and graffiti removal, I don’t see why business owners can’t be responsible for the other items on the list in the original post. Homeowners are responsible for taking care of all of those things for the areas in front and behind their properties. It is true that some people just don’t care, but is it the City’s responsibility to take up that slack? The City should still enforce the laws and go after illegal dumping and littering. But these businesses clearly have an interest in keeping their properties clean.

    • Yes, and the CVS near the Ga Ave metro needs to step up to the plate. This morning I noticed not only trash littering their sidewalks but also empty soda crate pieces that could have come from no where else but their store. Unacceptable.

  • Litter is one of my top problems with Columbia Heights (upper 14th street heights, whatever the hell you want to call it). Haven’t been personally impacted by crime, get along with all my neighbors, and finally getting some more cool places to eat/drink/shop, but the litter is simply out of control and frankly has been in the two years I’ve been living here. To me it is one of the most apparent, and unfortunate, differences between this neighborhood and others in the city. I would love for the city to pick up the slack on this, but if they’ve been funding these “green teams” for the past two years I sure haven’t noticed. And if they actually HAVE been out there doing a good job then now I’m partially terrified to think how the neighborhood will look now that they’ve been eliminated. I pick up trash on a regular basis all along my entire street (not just in front of my house), but am one of few that does. I think most people are just frustrated because the trash just keeps coming, as regular and predictable as the mail. It’s easy to say that homeowners and business owners should shoulder the burden (and I agree), but when you’ve picked up a bag full of shit for the hundredth time and come out to find it back again it’s easy to just say fuck it.

  • As much as I would love to see a BID in Columbia Heights, I think most people have no idea what a BID truly is. I have worked with several so here are some basics. The BID is organized by businesses. at least 51% have to agree to self tax themselves in addition to the high taxes they pay already in DC. Also, studies show that a BID needs to have revenue of around 1 million/year just to be operational to get anything done. BIDs are goverened by board of directors with PAID full time staff. I believe the original issues with Target when this was explored was the the property owner of DC usa (Grid maybe) is the key voter and was not interested in paying the self tax. So that leaves all the smaller businesses to come up with 51% (think about the businesses North14th, that would really be an imposition). Its very complicated. BIDs do great things but the most successful are flush with revenue (Downtown, Golden Triangle, G town). Not gonna happen on 14th with the current set up.
    Why doesn’t Graham get the folks in public housing to be on the greenteams?

    • Well, just enlarge the borders then. There is no reason not to have a combined U-Street Columbia Heights Bid. Adding in the retail from the two would defray the costs/per considerably.

      And the reason Target isn’t in the BID, is because the original “Grahamstanders” who floated the idea to Target were inflexible as to the terms. Target, while unwilling to set a fixed tax amount which would have been unfair to them (their per store revenue alone probably equals the combined revenue of all the rest of the businesses in Columbia Heights), they did agree to set aside a flat yearly donation to the BID if it was formed, indexed to inflation.

      But nooooo…the fresh out of MBA school goobers who were running DCUSA pouted and played hardball. Hence, no BID.

      I am sure if someone at the Deputy Mayor level or Council level approached Target and said “Hey, can you throw in 75K a year for a BID”, I am sure they would do it without delay.

  • I think that businesses should be required to pay a fee that goes toward some BID-like cleanup efforts.

  • The douche bag denizens of this city who wantly drop their trash should be the green team. It’s sad we even need such a thing. There is not a day that does not go by that I don’t see some ignorant moran dropping a candy wrapper or cleaning out their car be dumping a clamshell container of chicken wing bones on the curb. It really disgusts me.

    • FACT: its also people from Maryland. I have witnessed, on three separate occasions, drivers with MD tags throwing fast food bags out of the windows of their car while at stop lights in the city. And I just KNOW that they dont do that in MD – they have no respect for DC and no fear that they will be caught and face consequences for littering.

  • Does this mean that bulk removal of items is no longer available? There is a service where you call a number and a team comes to remove bulk items from alley-ways. Is this service no longer available? If not, I recommend the city consider running it as a fee for service. I’m sure their economy of scale could provide the service at a reasonable price.

  • You could expand the BID.THere was talk about including Mnt P and Adams Morgan into a CH BID. While bigger might bring more revenue it also create a lot more need. Trash and security alone for just U street after a crazy friday night could eat up a months worth of budget for clean up that should cover the entire BID. Again, the most successful ones cover areas that are generally blocks that are similar to one another (professional office, govt contractors, upscale retail etc). Its possible to create a BID that also taxes residents as well. Mount Vernon is that type of BID. I think each household pays an additional few hundred bucks a year that goes directly to that BID. I would be up for that but I am guessing that 500 units of public housing in CH would not. It really perplexing how challenging Columbia Heights when it comes to creating the right structure.
    Then you have useless organizations such as the Columbia Heights Development Corporation who will never want to lose any of their “power”. These are the same shortsighted folks who insisted on so much set aside retail in DC USA for small and local business…the ones least likely to have funds for start up costs. Not helping with the vacancy rate. But their great success story in the IHOP…sigh. Graham is an idiot and lets hope this is his last term or that we finally reach a tipping point of voters with real vision in the next election.

  • I have no compassion for the loss of this service. Mainly because if they kept this and eliminated the REIP program..I’d be irate. Anyhow peeps should pick up after themselves and a BID created. One of the reasons police should walk beats again is fines for littering-amoung numerous other things.

  • Litter is the easy part (I already pick up litter, garbage in the alley, even bag up feces, human and canine – it’s SO disgusting) but when couches, multiple mattresses, cribs and tires pile up, even concientious citizens can’t clean that up. I think the bulk pickup which must be personally scheduled with DPW is a regular service, not a part of a “Green Team” based on the annual DPW flyer I receive.

  • i’m not going to go to bat for anyone who can’t properly articulate the cause, or proofread the request for help.

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