Cool Way of Concealing Dumpsters, But Is It Legal?


Earlier in the week we noted the cool way Table was concealing their dumpsters at 903 N Street, NW. Thanks to a reader for sending a curious update from the Old City Green’s newsletter:

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) wants this removed because “it is a new structure in-front of an old building”. What do you think? There is a petition to keep it up at the restaurant, so stop by! (903 N St. NW)

38 Comment

  • It is concealing the TRASH! Gosh, DCRA!

  • While I think they did a great job with the structure, Sweet Mango created something with a similar effect but it was ugly and DCRA made them take it down. Part of the issue at Sweet Mango was that it blocked too much of the sidewalk, which this does not appear to do. I think whether they should be made to take it down (or at least get the proper permits) depends on a lot of factors — just because it’s nice looking, it shouldn’t necessarily be allowed.

  • austindc

    Just call it a large flower box.

  • I understand that in order to look like rules aren’t arbitrarily applied, DCRA has to enforce things across the board but sometimes it just looks picayune.

  • As a relative neighbor, I think this thing is ugly as sin. Good riddance to make it go.

    The problem with that location — the old “Space” — is that there is no rear alley access. But instead of putting the trash out front, I strongly believe Table should be required to have their staff move trash to the rear of the building by walking it around the block. Is it annoying? Sure. But they should have known this when they signed the lease.

    • I am not a neighbor – but I totally agree with you on this.
      If a residence tried to do this I’m pretty sure a large majority of PoPvillians would not support this.
      Can they not lease space down the alley for a dumpster? Or put the garbage in the back and at the end of the night roll it out for late night/early morning pick-up?

      • Wow, I feel like trying to force Table, a nice new restaurant in a developing neighborhood, to put their garbage in back, as opposed to in their creative new garbage-hiding-plant structure is among the most small-minded petty idea I’ve seen in awhile.

        • ah

          I feel like forcing my nice new neighbor to comply with the rules the rest of us have to follow is reasonable, even if they did a really nice job of dressing up their trashcans.

          • +1

            Rules are rules, fair is fair. That they did a nice job of it does not mean it is legal.

          • Yes, RULES ARE RULES, I had to obey a rule once so I’m going to put on a little nazi hat and march around making other people obey them too!

          • Simmer down Anonymous.

            If you had a neighbor (not a business) who left trash out, and then built a covering on the PUBLIC sidewalk to “hide” it, would you be ok with that? No, you wouldn’t.

            A business has to follow rules, whether it is a cool awesome new place you like or one you don’t.

            I hope you can learn to understand this concept.

          • haha, I understand the concept you’re promoting – I just recognize that it is silly and small-minded. On the otherhand, you apparently don’t have a theory of mind – and thus don’t understand that perhaps I’d have my own views on whether I’d like my neighbors to conceal their trash with a nice flower sculpture.

          • I understand you have your opinion, hence why you have replied to almost everyone that has disagreed with you with belittling insults.

            You also seem to lack an understanding of applying laws to all parties not exempting the ones you prefer from following the law.

            It is neither simple nor small-minded to ensure laws are applied to all.

    • Sherman,

      As a “relative neighbor”, what did you think of the even older space (i.e. the one prior to Table). Did you love it? Was it “ugly as sin”? Did you have anything to say about that?

      Doubt it.

      • I don’t quite follow your comment. The Space closed in late 2008 or early 2009 — I forget which. I went to an event or two there, but and found it fine. But I understand it had significant problems with the neighbors for lack of concern as to trash, noise, etc. The property then sat vacant for several years, caused in part by a landlord seeking a rent that was not in line with the neighborhood.

        Is Table, as an establishment, preferable to me than Space? Absolutely. Is it preferable to a vacant storefront? Absolutely times 100. I’m thrilled that this place has opened and adds to our community.

        But that is pretty much beside the point as to my comment. As one who frequently walks by, I don’t love that there is often a large amount of trash right on the front sidewalk, even if partially shielded from view by the new flower hut. Like all other establishments, I think they should have to use the alley for this purpose. They should have known this when they moved in that the lack of alley access would cause them the annoyance of moving trash to the rear — the broker had made this clear to others, at the very least. To the extent DCRA makes this happen, I’m a fan.

        • Yes, petty rules are more important to me than having a nice restaurant instead of vacant store front too! Hear hear!

          • You are suggesting that the options are either a) vacant store front or b) trash in the front. That is simply false. I think this is a great new business, I like their food, and I’m generally thrilled they moved in. I just expect them to play by the same rules as everyone else — i.e., no new structures in front and trash in the alley. I don’t see why we can’t have both a nice new restaurant and a sidewalk free of a trash dumpster.

        • Did the “broker make it clear”? Were you the broker? Do tell.

  • It is a great way to add some greenery. When this fills in, it will be quite pretty. I love it!

  • Table can’t have this living ‘green wall’, yet the obscene pop up on V between 10th and 11th is okay according to DCRA…yeah that makes sense

    • Exactly — just like DCRA got rid of the blighted status on a vacant building, now calling it occupied, because the owners have some water running in the house and have a radio turned on so they can say they have utilities and are living in it — the only residents are rats and birds and squirrels. Disgusting DCRA.

      • ah

        Ask for reinspection . . . it shouldn’t be that easy to escape vacant/blighted status. Those are just indicia of occupancy but proof otherwise should be enough.

        • They said it was there final decision. I’ve been fighting this battle for 4 years. The owners are using the “gentrification” card with one of DCRA’s employees and it is working.

  • Some people have way too much time on their hands….there are much bigger things to be worried about than what hides trash cans…smh!!

  • I thought this was just temporary during construction or something. If it is in fact meant to be permanent, they should get a permit. They’re essentially building an addition, and is this even sturdy enough to withstand wind gusts or a storm? That could be a fairly serious hazard, pretty or not.

  • Did DCRA cite a specific law or section of DC code that gives them the authority to order its removal? That would answer the question about whether its legal or not.

  • Table should just apply for a public space permit, get ANC support and be done with it. Easy. But yes, building a structure on public space without a permit is illegal.

    • “Easy.” LOL. You must be joking, right? You think that the ANC and the Public Space Committee are going to make this easy? No way.

  • The rats will be sorry to see it go – what’s a trashcan feast without a little side salad.

  • Simply awful, DCRA. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Depending on where the lot lines are, DCRA may also be citing DC code that states it is illegal to store trash or dumpsters in public space, which sidewalks and alleys are. Also, if this is structure that was built without permits, that would also be illegal.

    • Sidewalks and alleys are NOT by default public. But you are correct, it depends on where the lot lines are.

      So, it’s possible the concealed dumpster is in fact on private property (the use of which, of course, can also be regulated to a degree). That said, if it is a public space can Table have their planters (the small ones, not those for the dumpster) bounding off a ‘patio’ area? Do they have or need a permit for these or are they possible on their private property?

  • hehehehe. this is all pretty funny.

  • I live a block away, have dined here at least twice and love the place.

    That said, and this applies to a number of other local institutions, the time has passed for random dumpsters placed in open space. Commercial and multi-unit building garbage should have to be stored inside, in climate-controlled space, until the guys come to pick it up. Lots of big restaurants in big buildings do this, but so do little places that are space-constrained. Azi’s cafe keeps all of their trash inside and the garbage men come in to get it. Rogue 24 has no outside dumpster.

    There are also modern, contained trash-compacting dumpster systems available that all of the restaurants on a block could chip in for and rent an off-street parking space for. To not contain the impacts of your commercial garbage is to impose it on your neighbors, and that’s not cool.

    Restaurants in particular produce a lot of trash, which produce a lot of grossness and then – surprise! – rats and roaches. There are a number of neighborhood apartment buildings that have the same problem. No more dumpsters out in the open!

  • Am I reading this incorrectly? There doesn’t seem to be a problem with having a dumpster in that area. The problem seems to be the installations surrounding it.
    “it is a new structure in-front of an old building”.
    This seems like an invalid complaint as the old building is obviously renovated and the same can be said for the structure. It is simply renovating a space and possibly detering the spread of the smell due to the green items throughout it.
    If the argument is trash can vs black box that looks like it is made to be covered in plants then I’d take covered plants.

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