Tree Box Litter Frustration


A reader writes:

“Can we cast some shame on the Parks and Recreation building on S Street for allowing their treebox and grounds to be littered with wine bottles, pizza boxes and beer cans for several weeks now? I have submitted a 311 service request and it has been over a week since they ‘acknowledged’ my complaint and reported it would be rectified within five days. It would take all of 10 minutes for someone to bring out a garbage bag and pick up the trash. Another example of the city employees who just don’t give a damn. Shouldn’t they be setting the example?”

Ed. Note: I don’t feel like it’s fair to blame the DPR employees – I mean it would be nice if someone there took the initiative but – Judge Not lest ye…


25 Comment

  • Building occupants are required to keep their sidewalks and treebox areas free of litter and overgrowth — for homeowners, it’s up to the curb; for businesses, it’s 18 inches beyond the curb.
    I don’t fault any individual DPR employees for not taking the initiative to collect the litter… but whoever runs the building (the D.C. Department of General Services?) is supposed to be maintaining the sidewalks/treebox areas.

  • Ally

    This sounds snarky but isn’t intended as such. Until they get their act together, can the OP just bring by a garbage bag and pick up the trash himself/herself? I did this along A St SE for a while until things got better.

    • I was wondering how long before someone suggested this.
      I admit the thought crossed my mind too… but 1) surely a D.C. government agency ought to be following D.C. regulations regarding litter and 2) it wouldn’t be just a one-off thing.
      I picked up litter on my (residential) block until I got tendinitis from repeated use of my “grabber” device. The litter is immensely frustrating because it never seems to end — maybe people are _slightly_ less likely to litter on a stretch that’s pristine vs. one that’s already litter-strewn, but it doesn’t stop a lot of others.

      • Oh come on. Just pick up the garbage. It sucks that people throw trash on the ground, its not your responsibility, but if you like things to be clean, the easiest thing to do is do it, rather than invest hours writing letters and making calls for something so trivially accomplished. Would you pick up trash just in front of your curb, or leave it for the next street sweeping?

        If your tendonitis is so painful, offer a kid in the neighborhood 5$ to clean it up.

        No amount of strongly worded memos and phone calls is going to stop trash from appearing in a city, sorry to burst the bubble.

        • Accountering

          Well, a strongly worded letter MAY just cause the manager of that rec center to put it on the schedule for Wednesday afternoon to spend 20 minutes cleaning up litter. At that point, you HAVE accomplished something, and litter would get cleaned up once a week or whatever.

        • The tendinitis stopped me from picking up litter for the entire block, but I still pick up litter in front of my house and 1-2 houses on either side.
          No way is a neighborhood kid going to take $5 to pick up litter for the entire block. When I used to do it, it could easily take an hour or more.
          You can’t stop litter from appearing… but if you’re a homeowner or business, you’re responsible for cleaning it up. DPR should be regularly picking up the litter out front, just like any business in that space is supposed to do.
          And +1 to what Accountering said.

        • there’s no need to be dismissive. it’s not like you’re offering to pick up the trash or money to neighborhood kids to do it. why not encourage the people who are willing to do something – even if it’s a strongly worded letter – rather than sneering at them?

      • Sounds like the problem is your method of litter pickup. Get rid of the grabber.

        • No grabber –> bending repeatedly to pick up litter on the entire block –> back pain. That’s why I purchased the grabber in the first place.

  • Don’t most rec facilities have at least a part time janitor? Someone must clean the buildings periodically right? I don;t tknow why they aren’t responsible for the grounds as well. Park View Rec center is also pretty filthy but I think they rely on twice yearly community clean up days. Trash is all over the playground, work out area etc and they never clean up which seems to be something that should happen at least every other day. And yes I pick up a lot of trash when I am out there too. I also wish DPR staff did more to keep teenagers from hanging on the play ground equipment or smoking weed in the workout area too. Not really what sure DPR staff do. A lot seem to be sitting around in the building.

  • I would send a pic to your council member, as this indeed looks very bad for the city to not follow their own policies.

    Litter in Columbia Heights (my area) is a huge peeve of mine, and my husband and I have taken it upon ourselves to help clean our side of the block. Someone has to take the initiative. Our building has also decided to start taking pictures of the extreme cases and send to our council member as just around the corner is the Metro, and that is cleaned by the city.

  • I Dont Get It

    They are not very good at snow removal on S St either. Not a good neighbor!

  • Note on Ed. Note……It would be nice if people would toss their own trash away. Lazy pieces of s…..

  • The bigger issue should really be why there is so much trash on the ground. There is no law against loitering, but there should be a law for littering (that is actually enforced!) I don’t understand why after every weekend or a nice afternoon, the sidewalks and parks in my CoHi neighborhood gets littered with bottles, junk food, and even chicken bones! Where is the education to respect the neighborhood you live in! How does a concerned citizen tell these hooligans to follow common courtesies without being assaulted? (yes, that has happened to me)

  • “Ed. Note: I don’t feel like it’s fair to blame the DPR employees – I mean it would be nice if someone there took the initiative but – Judge Not lest ye…”
    If I’m at the office, someone asks me to do something, and I ignore it, that’s isn’t me “failing to take the initiative” – it’s me failing to do my job. And I’m absolutely going to get judged for it.
    That said, OP – just pick up the bottles.

    • So if you’re at the office and your boss tells to to go outside and pick up garbage, you’re just going to go ahead and do it, no questions or complaints? Something tells me that might not be true. If it is, then good on you.

  • Are some of your really going to argue against picking up litter just for the sake of argument? That’s really sad.

    The city is terrible when it comes to litter. I rarely see a street sweeper in my neighborhood. I have submitted numerous 311 work requests, just to see them get closed without action. There is absolutely no accountability at DPW whatsoever.

    What are all my tax dollars being used for? More affordable housing??

  • DC should institute a container deposit law. It’s good for the environment, would contribute to recycling even more and I think that would take care of most of these littering problems. If someone could get 30 cents for those 3 bottles, I believe they would disappear rather quickly.

  • Trash and tree boxes are a HUGE peeve of mine and also the weeds and grass growing up in the cracks of the sidewalks and down the center medians. I logged in a street cleaning request twice (once for the median down Mass Ave between 13th and 14th and once for the center median down Mass Ave in front of the Naval Observatory) and low and behold…both were actually taken care of. I would encourage others to log in these types of requests. Neither of those locations are where I live but it just irked me and to me looked like third world country streets. I wish we could get all of the medians and sidewalks cleared of weeds around DuPont Circle too. online 311 request. It worked for my requests

  • It’s not widely known that, as another poster has stated here, the occupants of buildings are responsible for the treebox areas adjacent to their property:
    “Each owner, tenant, or lessee (or the agent of that person) who has control of or occupies any building that contains three (3) or fewer dwelling units within the District shall maintain in clean condition the public space between the curb line (or lateral lines of the roadway) and the property line of that building.”
    Yes, that’s you and me, and, in this case, DPR. I’d guess that they’re as unaware of this obligation as any resident, but with absolutely no excuse.

Comments are closed.