“So I’ve gone the direct route, the DCRA route, the earplug route (two different brands), the white noise machine route, and the drinking-too-much-whiskey route, which seems to have worked the best so far”

Photo by PoPville flickr user LaTur

Ed. Note: On twitter DCRA tweets this mornning “Can you please provide the address? I can report it to our Noise Inspector once I have that information. [address given] Thank you! I will report this to Inspector Williams now.”

“Dear PoPville,

There have been a lot of early-morning noise issues in the alley adjacent to my apartment building (near Scott Circle) in recent months. One (non-city) waste management company in particular has started showing up daily between 3 and 3:30 a.m. to empty several of the dumpsters. According to the DCRA site:

Trash collection by private haulers is prohibited between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am in residential, special purpose, or waterfront zones, or within 300 feet of any of these zones. These rules do not apply to Department of Public Works vehicles, only private trash collection companies.

According to the DC zoning map, we are in a special purpose zone. I’ve called the company directly three times and been told this “would not be a problem any more.” Not the case as of 3:12 a.m. this morning. I left a voicemail with the manager. We’ll see what happens. In addition to directly contacting the company, I’ve filed numerous complaints with DCRA to no avail, but I wasn’t really hopeful about any results from that route. There have been a couple of other companies breaking the ordinance here and there, but this company has been particularly egregious…and at god-awful early hours. I shrug off 6 a.m; 3 a.m. is major bummer.

There have also been what seem to be some construction contractors who show up around 4-4:30 every few days to load and unload heavy equipment. I know the ordinance also included “construction noise,” but I’m not quite sure what this entails. They sure are excessively loud (as metal ladders tend to be, I guess). And excessively early.

So I’ve gone the direct route, the DCRA route, the earplug route (two different brands), the white noise machine route, and the drinking-too-much-whiskey route, which seems to have worked the best so far. This is a city, but the noise ordinances are in place for a reason. So what’s the next step? Should I wait in the alley tomorrow morning at 3 with a cup of coffee for the driver, explain the ordinance, and tell him he doesn’t need to be such an overachiever…that he can get a few (FOUR!!) more hours of shut-eye? I’m getting pretty sleep deprived at this point.”

25 Comment

  • I would also be interested to know what construction noise entails. There are two commercial construction projects going on in the alley where we live, and although construction does not start before 7am, they will often move equipment into the alley before then. They also were moving things in and out of one of the buildings as late as 1am on Friday night and as early as 6am on Saturday morning (and likely in between, but the fan/white noise machine kept us asleep). We’ve also heard trucks backing into the alley as early as 4:30am, but think that we’re not in a zone where the noise ordinance applies.

    • We also have this issue (looking at you Adams Morgan Marriot and new condos on Champlain). However, I don’t think there’s anything that can be done. Best course of action would be to call 911 and get MPD out there.
      DC pols and DCRA are utterly in bed with developers. They are too addicted the campaign contributions and bursting tax coffers stemming from increased property values. The city government has zero incentive to go after the construction scofflaws.
      The weekend construction is the worst. Ugh.

      • They’re allowed to do construction on Saturdays. Sunday construction requires a special permit, though.

        • Is Sunday construction allowed? Guys are working on the condo building 7 days a week.

          • The regular permit is for Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to some defined end time. (I don’t remember what it is.) They can be OK’d for Sunday construction with some special additional permit. Look up the permits on PIVS to see what they have. If they don’t have a permit for Sunday construction, you can report them to DCRA.

    • saf

      I had this problem with the Safeway construction. I got the project manager’s cell phone number and called him every time his guys came on site before 7 AM.

      They would yell at me that they weren’t working, they were just waiting to work. And setting up, and idling trucks, and unloading loud stuff…

  • I have this same dumpster truck problem L and New Hampshire NW. 5 separate complaints filed with the city x 2 different companies in the last 9 months. I’ve taken every route above and am now working on the moving route. Because the lack of sleep is driving me over the edge.

  • I get the impression that DCRA sometimes has to be publicly embarrassed into doing its job. It shouldn’t be this way.

  • OP: Have you contacted the management company of the building where the dumpster is being picked up by the early bird? That might help.

    • OP here. That’s a good idea, although I’m not entirely sure who the dumpsters belong to, as they are kind of in a central location in the alley with a couple of buildings. I can look into that as a next step…that is, if this “Inspector Williams” doesn’t take care of business as promised.

    • I manage a building and I would consider this to be in my wheelhouse; there are a lot of trash services that would have a very easy time shrugging off complaints from a neighbor but there are a lot of trash services out there and if I was getting complaints about mine I’d find another.

  • Do you live in 1 scott circle? If so ask the building manager to replace the felt lining around the sliding windows (forget the actual name of this piece). They will do it as a matter of routine maintenance. Mine looked like they hadnt been replaced in decades and did wonders for noise control from the street once they were replaced.

  • This would drive me nuts! Have you tried your ANC Rep our Council Member? Also, surely there are other people in your building and adjacent buildings who are being woken up too. How about getting a petition going, or posting the info somewhere and encouraging other folks to call DCRA? Strength in numbers and all that. Good luck!

    • I spoke to my building management, and they seemed clueless. I’ll admit to being a fairly light sleeper, but to a reasonable degree. As in, there’s pretty much zero chance that I’m the only one being awoken by this. Time to start printing out flyers!

  • I know it’s a common name and all, but I’ll just point out that “Williams” is also the name of the parking enforcement officer who seems to be in many places at once. I wonder if Officer/ Inspector Williams is a real person, or just the one made up to deal with citizen complaints.

    • Accountering

      Officer Williams has ticketed me as well. Seems this guy is a real rockstar, a real go-getter if you will. 🙂

    • Nom de guerre for pretty much all city workers with public facing jobs.
      My guess is that they named him after Mayor Anthony Williams. I wonder if the current system of reporting was instituted under his regime?

      • Wait, are you joking, or is this a real, known thing? If the latter, I’m a little disappointed, because I thought I was terribly for clever spotting that.

  • Having the same issue over off of 11th St. with the Trash collection starting at 5 am! in the Alley between The Morrison Clark Inn and the N. St Village Bldg as well as the Eleven (1111 11th St. Condo’s) sounds like a demolition derby in the WEE Hours of the Morning! N. St Village has also had a recurring beeping sounds for almost a year that continues to keep residents of all condo’s next to it ( I am one) at all hours of night several times a week that they have yet to fix! It’s a joy.

  • Contact your ANC person…they should be able able to help.

  • I had a similar issue with Allied Waste picking up the dumpster at Giant in Columbia Heights at 4am for weeks. I eventually got it to stop but it was a pain but here is what I did

    1. write to [email protected] EVERY day they came and sent in the DCRA Trash Noise complaint form.
    2. CC everyone who can do anything on every email: head of DCRA, was Nicholas Majett but is someone new, Yvette Alexander ([email protected]) since she has or had oversight of that committee and include the committee clerk, and your Councilmember. I would include the DCRA forms, the more the better, in those emails.
    3. I would tweet at DCRA asking them when they will fix it
    4. I finally gave up and went out a took a video of the truck coming, the driver, license plate, and truck # and sent that to all of the people above in 2 and 3.

    After that I was contacted by people for DCRA who were taking Allied Waste to court/mediation and fining them. They oddly were only going after them for a handful of my complaints, not all of them, but notified me each time they won. Fines multiple for each violation so Allied quickly stopped after that. Good luck.

    • OP here. This is great! Thanks for the contact info. I’ll add a couple of your suggestions to my arsenal. I’ve also started calling the waste management company directly every morning. I only wish I could call them daily at 3:30 when I’m woken up, but unfortunately they don’t open until 7.

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