Dear PoPville – How Do We File A Complaint?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

Dear PoPville,

How does a neighbor or small group of neighbors go about filing a complaint regarding a local business located in that said community and get results?

There is a particular daytime business (not a restaurant or bar) that is often open early mornings 5-6am and many times doesn’t close up until 10 or 11pm at night -even on the weekends. The issue isn’t the hours of operation as much as the noise that is created at the odd hours by trucks, workers, and trash compactors. Are businesses subject to certain operating hours according to their nature and if so how can we find out what this place’s is?

The second problem with this place is the absurd amount of trash that it leaves on the premises on eventually blows into the neighborhood. This has been addressed before and a half-hearted effort has been made to clean it, but days later it is back to its original state of filth. The largest concern is a significant pile of rubbish accumulating behind the trash compactor which now attracts a a lot of rats.

I understand that any person who moved into the neighborhood should understand the designation of zones for commercial/residential and I fully respect that, but this is more of a struggle of how to live in harmony with a business that doesn’t seem to be operating with respect to the neighborhood and possibly in violation of the law (clearly with the trash portion).

Any advise on how to resolve this without direct contact with the company (since we’ve already attempted that with no success) would be appreciated.

15 Comment

  • Most of this (like many questions) can be answered by calling 311. Trash not properly secured in bins, etc- call 311 and DPW will ticket the business ($500 on first offense, I think).

  • If you’re getting no where with your ANC (who should be responsive. should), then I’d get DPW and any other agencies that enforce public health and safety on board.

    • You might also try going to your councilmember — in my experience, D.C. government agencies are more responsive when a councilmember contacts them on a constituent’s behalf than when that constituent contacts them directly.

  • Is there somewhere to check on a business’ allowed hours of operation?

    • you might check with DCRA. my hours of operation are listed on my home occupation permit, but i don’t know whether that info is available to the public and i don’t think it’s the same for a certificate of occupancy or basic business license. at least not the ones i’ve come across.

    • All businesses (aside from alcohol establishments) can operate 24/7. The business licenses and C of O don’t restrict it.

  • are you talking about the PanAm grocery store? If so I will gladly join your campaign to get them to clean up their act

    • That was the first place I thought of too! The trash there is unreal – though a lot of it seems to be on the property/in front of the row house-like building next door? Unclear in walking by if that is part of the same business, a separate business or a residence. I always feel so bad for The Pinch to have such an unthoughtful neighbor. I stopped going to PanAm (which I actually like as a shop) because they’re storefront was so awful. Thrilled to join in any action that could get them to clean up their act! I pick up trash whenever I walk around the neighborhood, but making headway here would require consistent effort.

  • Years ago we had a similar issue with the McDonalds on 17th and Jack Evans’ office was instrumental in achieving some resolutions between McD’s and the neighbors.

  • If only that local business served oysters, you would have all sorts of assistance in harassing them

  • this is OBVIOUSLY PanAm. they just need to move they are far to big to operate out of such a small space. They completely overflow on the streets, monopolize the entire sidewalk and encroach on the entire neighborhood.

  • OP, if you’re still around, can you give contact info?

  • Take a picture of their improperly stored trash. Email the picture, along with an email on his contribution to the rat problem to your council member, the head of DC Dept. of Housing and the head of DPW. You can also include your ANC Commissioner and your neighborhood listserve. Also, file a 311 complaint and include the reference number. Beyond fixing the trash issue this one time, you need DOH to actually shut them down for code violations (I believe they can do this for improperly stored trash). If they have a liquor license, you can also involve ABRA — you’ll need some ANC and Council help here.

    Good luck.

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