“I’m getting repeatedly fined for this. Is everyone on our block getting fined all the time? Any suggestions?”

Photo via SeeClickFix

“Dear PoPville,

I live on the 600 block of Florida NW and I’m getting repeatedly fined for this. I’ve called DPW several times and fought several fines already, admitting with explanation that after the new bins were delivered (and many old ones were not picked up) there is nowhere to place all of them. We share a pathway to the back of our rowhouse with several other rowhomes on Florida and cannot block it off, but we can’t put them on the sidewalk on Florida either. The fines I’ve fought have been dropped by DPW after the court official rules in our favor, but my requests that we be told where to place the bins are always ignored, as are my requests that DPW write a letter to our landlord ordering him to build a structure to house them that DPW would find acceptable.

I’m at wit’s end because I am constantly fighting these fines and I don’t have time to be filing paperwork with the DPW once every couple of weeks. Is anyone else having problems with this? Is everyone on our block getting fined all the time? Any suggestions?”

50 Comment

  • I don’t know the answer to your question, but I have a potential partial solution: Can I please have one or two of your old bins? DC never gave me any new ones, my old one was either stolen or taken by DC, and the City continues to refuse to deliver me a new one. I’d take one or two of your old ones in a heartbeat.

    • OP – As far as I’m concerned, you can take all of them. It’s getting to the point where I’d rather throw my trash in public cans than get fined $150 every month.

      • You can also get fined for throwing your trash in public cans — those are supposed to be for street trash, not household trash.

        • Well, if it’s less than what I get fined for the bins, then I guess I don’t care. Then I can admit with explanation for those fines as well, with a note to “see fines related to bin placement.”

          If there is one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that if you bother to respond to a fine, no one from the office that created the citation will follow up and it will just go away. But hey, as long as some brain dead mutant from the DPW is getting their 9-5 paycheck, everyone is happy!

          • I’ll stick up for you on this one because I used to leave my house-trash in the street bin in front of our row home (of course not to the point that the trashcan overflowed), because the bulldog dog across the ally kept getting off his chain and running after me every time I tried to put the trash in my bins. 311 and animal control wouldn’t do anything about it, I didn’t really have a choice. It’s not really your fault since no one’s helping you.

        • No you can’t. I have these POS neighbors who keep doing it every night. Who has that much trash I don’t understand. I have contacted 311 10 times even sending a video of them leaving their house and walking with their garbage bags to the always overflowing can and my request for intervention has always been denied on the grounds that no actual evidence links them to this. So I constantly get to stare at a nasty overflowing garbage across the street from my house.

        • Here’s a question. How about if my neighbors are leaving their household trash in my trashcan? Yes. They have a dumpster they can use. My trashcan happens to be more convenient, I suppose? I don’t really follow the logic of it. Regardless, there’s no “other people’s crap is in my trash” button on the 3-1-1 app, so I end up having to take it out of our bin, leave it on the sidewalk, and then post it as “Illegal dumping.” Any tips on how to stop this? I’ve already reached out for a new public trashcan a couple times to no avail.

          • Can you move your bin somewhere else that is not so convenient for them? Because apart from talking to them about it or placing a lock on your bin I doubt there’s much you can do. I highly doubt the city is going to get involved, even if it is technically illegal.

          • Put it on their fu**ing steps I say.

          • Return the trash to them. Dumped all over their steps/yard.

      • It’s the street trash that’s throwing their house trash in the public trash. One thing I never understood about poor neighborhoods, throwing away trash is free. Do you just enjoy living in filth?

  • OP, the situation isn’t entirely clear from your original post. I’m assuming that DPW is fining you for leaving your trash/recycling cans on public property (presumably the alley) rather than on your own property, but it’s not quite clear where the alley is in relation to your house, where your trash pickup usually is, etc.
    Are you leaving the trashcans in your side alley? Is your trash pickup normally from the front of your house, or the rear? Do you have a front yard/back yard/parking pad where the trash cans can go?

  • If you don’t end up giving them away, I learned that you need to submit a 311 request to have the old bins removed. I did this twice and both times the bins were picked up the following day.

    • I’ve submitted 4-5 requests now and they have not once been picked up from our alley. Anyone who needs bins feel free to take any and all of the old ones in the alley behind Taylor St NW between 7th and 8th. Entrance is near the 7th street side of Upshur just walk straight back near the end and there are 25 cans.

  • If you submit a 311 request, the old bins will be removed. That was in the flyer that was distributed with the new bins and the giant TAKE ME labels that they gave out.


    • Also, submit a 311 or seeclickfix request for container removal with the serial numbers of the containers you want removed.

    • Our TAKE ME labels all washed off in the rain after 3 months of not being picked up after repeated calls and emails to 311.

  • get a zipcar and take them to that department’s headquarters.

    Leave them on the front steps.

    Return the zipcar. $12 is cheaper than $150

  • You are supposed to store your bins on private property except when you put them out for collection(s). If you need old ones picked up, call 311. DPW can not order your landlord to build a structure since the bins should be on private property to begin with. Only your neighbors know if they too are getting fined, so you should ask them if you want to know.

  • Good luck getting anything accomplished with this city. The streetlight across from my home has been dead for months, but every time I request a repair, the issue is closed a few days later, with DDOT claiming that it was repaired long ago. It’s idiotic.

  • This happened to me too. I was finally able to get DC to collect the old cans, but it took awhile– 4 months I think. Here’s what I did: submitted 10 or so requests to DPW Contacted my councilmember. Contacted the Director of DPW. Wrote the Mayor’s Office. I had to contact the Director and the Mayor’s office multiple times because they didn’t reply at first. Then I filed new requests with DPW and copied the Director and the Mayor. Eventually someone collected the cans. Don’t give up, be expect the process to take at least a few months. It can be done. Good luck.

  • Eventually all our neighborhood’s bins started migrating to an empty lot that we’d then all call the city and schedule bin pickup on. After the second or third time of a group of us calling, eventually the bins were taken. The other option, find one of the trashy trucks driving around and pay the guy a couple of bucks to take them all. Also, fwiw, your fines are because a neighbor keeps calling. Usually the city doesn’t give a rats a^& about this stuff

    • Yeah, good point. Clearly someone on the 6th St. side, and I feel for them. But they need to understand that there is nothing else the Florida residents can do and it’s not helping anything.

      • Interesting that the city is very efficient in responding to a complaint where they can fine a person and make money, but totally disinterested in actually serving the citizens of this city. All about getting that revenue!

  • If you can, I think you can take all the old bins to the Ft Totten transfer station

  • For now, you should stack the old bins you don’t use inside one another and place a large note on them that they should be removed. That should give you some more room for the new bins and hopefully if DPW responds to your 3-1-1 request to pick up the old bins, they’ll know which ones to take.

    I’d also suggest spray painting over the house numbers on the old bins so they cannot be tied to your home.

    • YES – great idea!!!

      • Covering the numbers isn’t going to solve the problem if the OP’s neighbors keep calling DPW to complain about bins in the public space.
        Getting rid of the superfluous bins will help, but the OP and/or his/her landlord need to figure out a place to put the bins that’s not public space.

        • This is what I don’t understand – is there no non-public space to put the cans. In the pic, it looks like there is a private back yard/patio-type space in the bottom left corner of the pic. Why wouldn’t the cans go there? Or is that the alley and the rowhouses take up the entire lot line?

          • Yeah, and this is the most important question, which OP has not yet answered. My guess is there is very little private space in which to store the bins and/or it’s not very close to where they have to leave the bins out for trash pickup. I understand if people don’t want to use precious outdoor space to store trash cans, or if they don’t want to have to haul the bins down the alley and back every trash day, but that may be the only way to not get fined.

  • I may be ignorant about this, but is unclear how you as a renter are being fined. Seems like the fine should be tied to the property, unless they come to the door to find out who is actually living in the unit. Its one thing if you purposely do something to incur a fine – then your landlord has some right to reclaim the fine from you. But if you have no recourse, the fine should rest with the property owner and its their responsibility to find a solution.

    If this is just a fine your landlord is trying to pass on to you, I’d refuse to pay it and tell them they need to get their act together and handle the situation. I’m a property owner renting out a unit in the same area, and I accept that the trash receptacles are my responsibility. A small price to pay for raking in tons of rent $$.

    • Huh? It is the tenants responsibility to bring the cans in and out of the alley on trash day. You are a very generous landlord if you are doing this for your tenant.

      • Not putting them out weekly, but providing a space for them. I still don’t see how the city would find out who the renter is to fine them. Seems like the only names they would have to put on a fine would be the owners.

  • justinbc

    If you’re wondering if the rest of the people on your block are getting fined maybe try asking them rather than PoPville? I’m not even being snarky here, they might be able to give you tips on how they’ve handled the situation you’re all facing.

  • Are they fining you, or the property owner? If they are fining the property owner, let the landlord deal with it!

  • DC never came to pick up my bins. After several calls. Never came. I paid someone to haul them off and take them who knows where…. A trash dump I suppose.. Not sure if that’s legal, but I held up my end of the bargain, I stuck on the TAKE ME stickers yet take DC did not. So I’m really sorry they are taking your money now.

  • I have had a lot of luck with things of this nature by calling the constituent services person at my councilmember’s office, in my case Jim Graham.

  • If I owned that house I would lose my mind with all those rat incubators next to my wall.

  • As someone who lives in your neighborhood, I can say with 100% certainty that those bins are always in the way; in fact, much of the time they’re sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, which makes it impossible to pass. We all keep our bins on our property (on 6th St), even though we have no alley, so you all should be doing the same. It may not be convenient for you, but it is the law, and frankly, it’s only fair to those of us who have to look at it every day. Regarding pickup of the old cans, we called, tweeted and scheduled online pickups with 311 about a dozen times before they came and took them away. It’s all about persistence.

  • Given the size of the recycling bins in that pic, many of these looks like new cans. I used to own a house on that block of 6th and those cans were ALWAYS there. I’ll admit, I called a few times to complain. Each of those houses facing Florida Ave has space in the back to store their own cans, but, out of convenience, laziness, not-giving-a-damn??? who knows, they end up cluttering that alley all week long. It’s an eyesore and as was mentioned above, rat heaven. Sorry for the fines, but move your cans back to your property once they’ve been emptied. The rest of us do.

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