“Bogus ticket from DPW”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Claire Uziel

“I just got a ticket from DPW for putting out my trash bins on the wrong day.

The trash bins go in the alley, so they’re not in anyone’s way, and for as long as I can remember everyone in the alley has had bins out seven days a week. The DPW photo of my bins even shows the alley full of other bins. So I would contend that if I got a ticket they should have ticketed everyone, and further, if they wanted to start enforcing this rule after so many years of nonenforcement they should have sent out notices.

I think I have a strong case for desuetude (laws made unenforceable due to a long habit of nonenforcement). Does anyone have any experiences fighting tickets like these?”

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34 Comment

  • i hope DPW visits my ally next.

  • What neighborhood did this happen in? Now I’m concerned about my trash bins.

  • My experience with the trash-day rules is that they aren’t enforced voluntarily, but rather upon a 311 request by a neighbor.
    .
    I’ve been very tempted to call this in on neighbors who were otherwise particularly disrespectful about how they left their cans, or other trash (e.g. furniture for weeks on the curb), around the public spaces that I work to keep looking nice. Speaking only for myself.

  • Coming from someone who always has their bins in the garage, and constantly has to get out of the car to move other people’s bins that are always in the middle of the alley, I am very happy to hear they’re ticketing for this. What’s the number I can call to get them to come ticket down my alley!?

  • On a slightly unrelated note, we noticed a brand new DC DPW trash can appeared on our back parking pad the other day. (Ours is pretty beat up). They don’t just give you a new one, do they? I was under the impression we had to buy a new one if we wanted it. We don’t want to get cited for having it out there, but we don’t think it belongs to us either….

    • houseintherear

      Report to 311 by phone or app, put a note on it saying “Reported for Pickup.”

    • Theoretically, there is a process by which the sanitation crews can report crappy bins. If they are cracked, missing handles/wheels, etc. it makes it harder for them to do their job. If your crew did report this, and somebody actually followed up and issued you a brand new trash can gratis, chalk it up to the system working for once! You may only get one of those in your DC lifetime ….

      • I seriously doubt that anything near this proactive happens in D.C. government. And if it does, I doubt it would be in the trash-pickup sector.

    • Anon, I would contact DPW about this. It wouldn’t surprise me AT ALL if it were a new bin that a neighbor of yours ordered and paid for… only for DPW to deliver it to the wrong parking pad.

  • I hope DPW visits my alley too. Nearly half the alley just leaves their cans in public space, some not even up against their property lines. Makes it a PITA to drive through.

  • I’m currently fighting a ticket so unsure if I’ll be successful (I’ve heard others have had moderate success).

    Our trash can was put out a Thursday night for Friday morning pick up (the usual). Trash was never collected and I, along with most houses on my street, did not bring full trash back up to our porches. And of course, I got a ticket.

    Hopefully you can fight yours to success.

    • While still in violation of the rules, you at least seem to have a legitimate reason for leaving your cans out beyond trash day. I don’t think OP can claim that. Did those other houses on your street get similar tickets?

  • houseintherear

    Please come to Bloomingdale, DPW. You’ll make a killing.

    • +1

      I had some luck with DPW enforcing trash cans just left on the sidewalk/treeboxes all week, but no luck really yet with the alleys.

      • houseintherear

        :-/ I have one neighbor who has had theirs out for literally four years, directly in front of my carriage house front door… talked to them about it many times, as have other neighbors. It’s probably time to start reporting them daily until something changes. (A DPW supervisor once told me to report every day at the same time via the app.)

  • I Dont Get It

    Considering that many folks on my block put out trash last night forgetting that Monday was a holiday, I hope DPW doesn’t get suddenly motivated today.

  • Can they ticket the trash collectors who block our alley with empty cans after picking up the trash?

    • This is a problem that I’ve had temporarily solved with a Tweet to DPW. One tweet may get you a few weeks of a passable alley after pick up. Chances are you’ll have to Tweet again a few weeks later. Provide a photo and the specific location.

  • Take your trash can out of the alley when it’s not trash day. And pay your ticket.

    It drives me crazy that I constantly have to navigate around neighbors’ trash cans because they are too lazy to bring their cans back into their yard/past their fence like the rest of us.

  • I just received a similar citation (near 14th ST). I had received one a year ago and protested it. I had to go and meet with a Magistrate in an official hearing (under oath, on the record) with the officer who gave me the ticket. I explained to the Magistrate that there was no place for me to store the cans in my patio area without blocking my tenant’s access to her basement rental or preventing me from using my parking spot. (It is a common practice for years in my neighborhood to leave cans right outside your garage/patio door). The Magistrate dismissed the fine and asked me to work with the Officer in trying to resolve such issues. The Magistrate was very nice about it.

    • This is ridiculous. It’s your responsibility for you to find a place to store your trash cans, on your property.

      • +1 to “It’s your responsibility for you to find a place to store your trash cans, on your property.”

      • It’s a stupid rule. There is no harm in keeping it neatly right outside my door when the alley is large and it causes no problems. Plus it is pretty much standard protocol in our neighborhood. Apparently the Magistrate agreed. Maybe the city should be focusing instead on important issues.

  • “I think I have a strong case for desuetude (laws made unenforceable due to a long habit of nonenforcement).”
    .
    Good luck with that. Kind of a rule against perpetuities for the criminal code? Reminiscent of Will Hunting arguing English common law in his defense to an assault charge.
    .
    Seriously, think through that position. Are you sure it’s good policy, overall? Would anyone care to list the laws in DC that would be rendered unenforceable by this principle? I’ll start: littering, jaywalking, speeding . . . and while theft would theoretically still be a crime, theft of packages delivered by Amazon has just become legal.

    • Sounds like you have a neighbor who is sick of everyone leaving their cans in the alley. They probably put in enough 311 requests to get DPW inspectors out. Most likely everyone that had a traceable trash can got a ticket.

      Not a bogus ticket. Pay your fine and bring your cans in.

  • “The trash bins go in the alley, so they’re not in anyone’s way, and for as long as I can remember everyone in the alley has had bins out seven days a week. The DPW photo of my bins even shows the alley full of other bins. So I would contend that if I got a ticket they should have ticketed everyone, and further, if they wanted to start enforcing this rule after so many years of nonenforcement they should have sent out notices.”
    .
    OP, it’s true that DPW hardly ever enforces this rule unless a neighbor complains via 311. And yes, it would be helpful if they sent out notices educating people about this (and also to inform them that they’re responsible for keeping their treebox areas mowed and free of litter).
    .
    However, just because you weren’t aware of the regulation doesn’t mean that DPW isn’t allowed to enforce it or that the ticket is “bogus.” If I were you, I would plead ignorance, thank them for alerting you, and say you won’t do it again.
    .
    And for all you know, DPW may well have issued tickets to every in-violation household on your alley, so I don’t think that’s an advisable course of argument.

  • What neighborhood do you live in? I received a similar warning in Kingman Park and was surprised as everyone else in our alley has left cans out for 2+ years. They’re tidy and all against the fence line, but on the alley side.

  • I got a retaliatory ticket after complaining about a worthless inspector who wasn’t doing his job. I requested a hearing. Of course, he didn’t show up, and it was dismissed.

    But…since I complained about tenants leaving trash and recycling bins on public space in the alley, I’ll remind you of what your mother said when you told her “everybody does it”. But perhaps you and your alleymates could discuss it after you beat the ticket.

  • I have been ticketed twice for trash-related crimes on Harvard Street NW. Once because I left my cans in the alley after pickup day. The second time for having garbage bags of leaves in my yard waiting to be put in the compost pile! I appealed the second time and didn’t get any relief. The reason given was that the inspector had no way to know what was in the bags (even though my yard is wide open — no fence) and that it’s done to control rats. This probably doesn’t help you, but provides evidence that they do ticket for these things, albeit sporadically.

  • We got one a few years ago. Same situation, with cans in the alley for years without problems. Ours were directly behind our property, not blocking alley traffic or neighbor’s access. Talking to others on the block, one other neighbor was ticketed, but none of the dozens of others were. The consensus seemed to be it was maybe our curse for the neighborhood getting safer.

    We sent a bogus appeal back, also about non-enforcement, not expecting to win. We got a notice back that the appeal was received and giving DPW 14 days to respond, then notice that the case was being dropped due to non-response by DPW.

    Will that work for you? No idea, but it can’t hurt.

  • How do they track a can to your specific home? Is it via the serial number on the bin or the common spray painted house numbers on the bins? My block got all new cans a few years ago and I imagine a lot of bins got mixed around before people labelled their bins. I know at least one of our new cans disappeared before in the few weeks between receipt and when we spray painted our number on it.

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