Dear PoPville – Mattress Removal

“Dear PoPville,

Who is responsible for removing these disgusting mattresses from my alley, besides of course the contributor? The stack has been growing larger over the past month and sometimes they are even knocked over and block the entire road. I called 311 but no luck. Is there no bulk trash day in DC? I just moved here so I’m not sure.”

Hmm, that’s very strange – bulk pick up has worked very well for me in the past when I’ve encountered illegal dumping. Has anyone else had a problem with getting illegally dumped mattresses picked up by bulk pick up?

40 Comment

  • I took them forever, but eventually bulk pick up came and got them. I think it took long for us because the building they were by was private pick up.

  • OP, maybe contact your councilmember?

    I always find D.C. government agencies to be much more responsive when my councilmember contacts them on my behalf than they are when I contact them directly.

  • i think mattresses have to be wrapped now and you call for bulk pickup. our building has a contract handyman that we call and he takes care of it for a nominal fee.

    But the city trash removal will not pick that stuff up even if it sits out there for months and even if it is by the dumpster. special bulk removal must be arranged.

  • notlawd

    Does the same go for cardboard boxes? I have had those sit by trash cans for weeks/months as well. Is there a fee for the bulk pickup?

    • Recycling will take the cardboard, but only if it’s in the blue can. They won’t take it if it’s sitting in the street. I’ve found that if you can catch them when they’re picking up you can hand it to them.

      • My guys always take cardboard if it is flattened and stacked neatly next to the blue bin. I have done this many times, never had them leave anything behind.

        I guess it depends on the person.

        • Yeah, the recycling guys are great about picking up stuff that’s next to the bin. But I live in Capitol Hill where the bins are smaller and you can’t fit much in them. Yesterday I had a whole (soaking wet) box full of cans and bottles that wouldn’t fit in the bin and they even took that.

      • Technically, according to DC recycling rules, they’re supposed to pick up boxes if they’re holding overflow from the blue cans.

  • This is why, back in the day, people would drag them to an intersection, or leave tyhem in the streets. The city will pick them up way faster if they are at an intersection or a hazard to commuters. (not recommending this, FYI)

    This is the real reason we have a city council. The gaencies only work for the council anyway.

  • I feel like the quality of bulk collection has greatly declined since Gray’s been mayor (and/or since the online register for bulk collection opened?). This isn’t a joke. It used to take one phone call. Now it takes about six.

  • Lately I’ve been having problems getting ANY response from 311.

  • it’s happened twice in my alley in about 6 months. I reported it as illegal dumping and they were gone in probably 48 hours.

    • Second this. If you report it as illegal dumping, the city comes and picks it up so they can start the process of investigating who dumped the mattresses. The city now has an opportunity to fine someone, and given the huge portion of DC’s budget made up by fines, they take that seriously.

      Is it me, or does it all sound a bit counterintuitive? The average person is put off by doing the right thing since, as the OP experienced, bulk pickup is impossible to deal with and it takes forever to get them to agree to come and take something. It’s a little pathetic that the most efficient agencies in this city are those which handle illegal dumping and parking enforcement. You want to legally dispose of a mattress, it’ll take you six months. But outstay your meter or you two hour welcome in a zone by a couple minutes, and there’s that $30 ticket waiting for you every time.

  • Follow up with 311 using the reference number you received when you first called. Comparing notes with neighbors, I’ve also found 311 to be much more responsive if you call rather than submit a request online.

    • Didn’t even know you could submit on-line. The three times I have called they have taken action pretty quickly it seems.

      Someone recently left a bunch of carpet in the alley. Hadn’t really been thinking about it, but this post reminds me to call and have someone come get it!

  • That’s great. I wish they did that in my neighborhood. I’ve tried a few times to stack it, but they don’t touch it.

  • I always see signs that bulk trash is supposed to be removed by the owner. Usually the signs say to call Tenleytown Trash.

  • 1. Bulk pick up has workked for me successfully in the past. However, plan accordingly as you pick up date is typically a week out form your call.

    2. DC now requires that mattresses be wrapped in plastic due to bed bugs.

    3. this trash is Illegal Dumping and should be reoported as such.

    4. No Luch call your city councilmenber.

    • If it’s illegal dumping, they won’t require it be wrapped. I find the bulk guys and trash people in my area (Mt. P) very good and they’ve taken just about everything if it’s out there neatly.

      • I’m just curious: if one wanted to get rid of a mattress, and the city requires it to be wrapped in plastic, how would a regular homeowner do that? Do I buy 48 rolls of saran wrap and go crazy on that queen-size?
        Just asking.

  • We went through a phase where one of our neighbors kept dumping bulk items in our yard on the alley (we have one of those triangle lots and our neighbor has a garage next door). The items included furniture, carpet, even a toilet. I called 311 and they were pretty responsive. I tried to file a complaint with Public Works’ inspection office because it kept happening, but they were zero help. In fact, the secretary told me that *we* would be cited if we filed a complaint because the illegal items were on our property. Well, alrighty then.

    • Lou,
      That person was correct about you being cited. It has happened to me many times in the past when I had stuff dumped in front of my garage. Now, when I see anything dumped illegally in front of my garage I look for an address.

    • Dump them back into his yard. And put a camera facing onto his property.

      • Not everyone leaves their identity. We were seriously looking into a night security camera during this period. We finally figured out who it was because they moved and it hasn’t happened since they left. (knock on wood)

  • Public Works–even the DC “attorney general” (what a crock that new label is)–refuse to help when this stuff happens and you want some action. This is why budgets are blow–rather than go after the dysfunctional ghetto turds who create the problem. Hell even the city councilmembers (at least in this ward) are told hey there’s nothing we can do. The only reason we get any ear from the city is that we threaten to (1) involve the media or (2) become vigilantes and cause a violent confrontation with the offenders.

    Frankly I look at this as one more indication that Vincent Gray and Kwame Brown’s approach is to placate the knuckleheads when they should be protecting and vindicating the quality of life of taxpayers, property owners, productive citizens.

  • It is up to the property owner to schedule bulk pick-up by calling 311 or filling out the online form. It’s too expensive to run the bulk pick-up trucks all over town on the off chance that they’ll find something. If the owner has failed to schedule the bulk pick-up, then you can call 311 or fill out the online form to report illegal dumping.

  • Pick-up depends if you have private trash pick-up or the city. If you have to contract for your trash and recycling to be picked up because you live in a building with more than three units, then you need to schedule the bulk pick-up and/or recycling with your ocntractor. If the city picks up your trash and recycling you can call 311 or put in a service request online, but if the items are next to a dumpster (meaning, a private contractor picks up your trash) they are not responsible for picking it up.

  • I’ve reported mattresses in the past, only to receive a fine because someone dumped them on my property.

    Drag them to a playground and throw syringes on them.

  • i live in a corner rowhouse on an alley and we have huge dumping problems – mattresses, furniture, you name it. there’s a giant waterlogged mattress that’s been out there right now at least since last weekend.

    usually takes a week or two of each roommate making daily 311 calls before anything disappears.

  • Looks like a brothel is in your neighborhood. I am not kidding.

  • I’m the contributor. The mattress count just keeps growing so I’m just going to assume that the house has bed bugs and they are just gradually throwing out the mattresses because I can tell where they have been on the mattresses. I just wonder what the life span of a bed bug is in the outdoors, hopefully not long! Gives me the heebeejeebees just thinking about it. I guess I will contact my council member, blah.

    • Our neighbors dump their bed bug ridden mattresses in the alley all the time. (They’d dump them, but never properly treat for BBs, and then dump the next round of BB-infested mattresses.) We actually got BBs from them through our common wall — twice! I’ve learned a lot about BBs through this nightmare, including that they can live for 18 months without eating. Even outdoors, it is unlikely to get hot enough (they need for high temps to die, esp the eggs) or very prolonged sub-freezing temps. So stay away from those mattresses! And if you share a wall with those neighbors, approach them about treatment. Seriously. Good luck!

      • I should also add that it is worth paying for your neighbor’s BB treatment if that is what it takes. I wish we would have done that the first time and it would have ultimately saved us $$$ and a ton or work/anxiety. Good luck!

    • I live off this alley too — the 900 block of Quincy St NW. Just called 311 and was told it has been reported already, confirmation 274372. It has been assigned to supervisor Tony Duckett at DPW and is estimated to be picked up by the end of September. Ugh. Last night, I had to move it to get my car past it — was completely soaked and weighed a ton. Didn’t even think about the bed bug possibility and now have started feeling phantom bugs all over my body.

  • nothing more terrifiying than a bunch of dumped mattresses! talk about a vector of bedbug infestation! stay away! stay far away!

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