Dear PoPville – Update on Garbage/Recycling fines

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

Dear PoPville,

Our condo building just got hit with $1,200.00 in fines for having some recycling in the garbage dumpster and I remembered there was a story about this last year.

I’d love to see an update and learn if anyone has successfully dealt with the city and if so how – None of our alleged tickets were ever received – DPW just sent them to the address with no name or apartment number. We do in fact have (and pay for!) recycling bins. But short of chaining closed the dumpsters, there is no way to keep random people from throwing in whatever they want.

Has anyone been able to 1. Negotiate a lesser fine 2. End the abusive targeting of buildings in certain neighborhoods.

19 Comment

  • You have to appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings and go before an administrative law judg, who will hear your case. I’ve done that, and won, but I was in the right in my case (different scenario, but trash-related). Also, there’s a chance the inspector may not (be able to) show to the hearing, in which case it’s dismissed.

    Keep in mind that our nanny state prohibits you from commingling trash and recycling, and you’re responsible to keep your bins in compliance.

    For future reference, all this is on the back of the ticket.

  • We had the same stuff happen and they fined us for a neighbor that left a bag next to our trash on the ground. $150 fine. We tried to lock our dumpster and people just left things on the side instead of in the dumpsters. The city should chase bigger issues and DC has many bigger issues!

  • What on earth is meant by “abusive targeting of buildings in certain neighborhoods”?

    • It means you won’t ever see a ticket like this written in ward 8.

      • Sad but true. DC offers selective enforcement and won’t fix the real problems.

      • my guess is that the “targeted” areas are the same areas where the residents probably call and get full city service for trash removal, fixing lights, fixing pot holes, etc thus perhaps they also get tickets for broken rules..

    • My building btw Ust/Dupont neighborhood is apparently being stalked by a trash inspector. We can’t police passerby’s that toss things in our bin, we’re on a busy intersection. These tickets are killing us, especially since there seems to be no end in sight.

  • I don’t understand why DPW seems to target only condo buildings in the wealthier wards (I think Wards 2 and/or 3)?

    The people who live along my alley (in Ward 1) flagrantly violate the DPW rules for when trash and recycling bins are allowed to be out in the alley, and there never seems to be any enforcement.

    For what it’s worth, the Adams Morgan condo building I used to live in kept its trash and recycling containers behind a locked gate. I think the company the building used for trash and recycling pickup had a key to that gate… either that or the janitor would move the bins outside the locked gate on the morning for trash or recycling pickup.

    So I’m not sure that the OP should be rejecting “chaining closed the dumpsters” as a possible solution.

  • novadancer

    hmm, good to know. On more than one occasion our recycling has only been partially taken (items on the list per DPW, but that the recyclers seem to think are not). I then move those items to the trash the following week. I may need to stop this.

  • Does DC give itself fines when people put recyclables in its publish trash cans?

  • seattle fines private residents who discard recycling in their trash (ie, forced recycling).

    Count yourselves lucky.

  • On a different, but related note. What are the laws regarding leaving ones trash and recycling bins out for collection. My next door neighbor just leaves his out in front of his house all year long. Everyone else on the block will bring their bins out the night before collection and then roll them back up to their house or around to their back yards the next day. It’s inconsiderate that he thinks we want to all walk past his bins all the time. I have asked him if he wouldn’t mind moving them and even brought them around to the rear of his house for him before, buthe still won’t do anything about it. Is this a violation of some sort?

    • Yes, it’s a violation.

      To ensure your trash and recycling are collected, place trash and recycling containers out for collection no earlier than 6:30 pm the night before collection and no later than 6 am on your collection day. Residents are required to remove trash and recycling containers from public space by 8 pm on your collection day.

    • I beleive that it is illegal to leave your cans on public property (ie, alley or sidewalk) or someone else’s property. I don’t think there is a rule about where to keep the can on your property.

    • More, from :

      Sanitation Enforcement

      DPW emphasizes educating the public about proper sanitation practices, such as using trash cans rather than trash bags, using street litter cans and street recycling cans for pedestrian trash and recycling rather than littering, and keeping the sidewalk around your property clean. As the District’s population continues to swell, DPW makes a special effort to ensure new and long-time residents know their roles in keeping our city clean. When education does not work, SWEEP inspectors will issue tickets for violations such as using street litter cans for trash that should go in your own trash can, improperly posting signs in the public space, or having trash/recycling containers in public space before 6:30 pm the day before your collection day or after 8 pm on the collection day. Business property owners may be cited for not having licensed trash and recycling haulers or not having frequent enough solid waste collections.

  • My building on U St used to get a lot of tickets. We appealed and won (arguing that we couldn’t control random people throwing garbage into our dumpster). As a result, we did chain our dumpster and have not received any tickets since.

  • We used to rent an apartment from a condo building in Dupont and were also targeted for these we’re desperate-for-revenue BS tickets. As renters we didn’t have to pay the fines but the association did. I had the board president lecture me about how we’ve gotten $1000+ fines for having toothpaste boxes in the trash. Ridiculous! The only solution is to keep the dumpsters behind lock and key. The co-op I live in now just has an indoor trash room that the trash guys have access to so AFAIK we haven’t been fined. It’s the same BS as getting $50 tickets for keeping your old permit sticker on your car along with the new one or the million other stupid tickets this city issues to make up for irresponsible budgeting.

  • I still fail to understand why, if you contract with a private trash hauler to dispose of your trash, the City can ticket you for what you put in your cans. They have not stake in the game. Do they follow the trash trucks that pick up your trash to see where they take it? Seriously this is absurd. Moreover, they are only targeting condo buildings seemingly of more than 2 units (the threshold for having to contract out with non-city trash collectors). Single family homeowners get a free pass.

  • I was thrilled to read this post. No, I don’t want anyone to fined unfairly. I got ticketed 3 times by the trash police in Ward 5, in Rosedale, when I was fixing up my house there. I fought the fine when someone started dumping trash outside my fence and I won. I live in Ward 2 now which is totally rat infested and get tired of seeing neighbors leave piles of trash on the street. (I know this is not the same issue as mixing up your trash and recycling.) I complain to the city and beg them to come out but can’t get a response. I want DC to enforce the rules regarding properly disposing of trash because I’m so tired of the rats that have taken over my patio. Seems like the only way to get a handle on the out of control rodent population is to control the trash. Plus, fining people would a huge revenue source for the city – just like parking tickets – so I can’t believe
    DC hasn’t been even more aggressive about this!!

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