Dear PoP

Dear PoP,
I live on 13th Street, at the northern edge of Columbia Heights and Petworth.  I rent a small basement apartment.  In our alley, which is shared with 11th St (there is no 12th) there has been repeated dumping of material by a contractor doing work in our alley.  The latest included a series of mattress, tires, and a 15×10 huge piece of plywood (which looks exactly like the plywood that fronts up their garage, it is very clear that the mess comes from the house across the alley)

My trash can lies on the other side of the alley.  Periodically, because of the garbagemen or people using our trashcan for their own purposes, our trashcan ends up on other places in the alley.  I had a cardboard box that was tucked behind my can, and it had my address on it.  This blew over to the mess.

DPW came through the alley, saw the huge mess, saw the box with my name on it, and gave me a $1000 fine for illegal dumping (!).  I got a fine sheet with about 5-6 photographs attached. I have a hearing scheduled (sometime in the next 2-4 months, they said), but I’m not quite sure what to do to prove my innocence and make sure that I don’t get stuck with a ridiculous fine.

Could your readers give me some advice?  Should I try to contact Councilmember Graham? (I live just inside the boundaries of Ward 1).  I love DC, but this is the sort of thing that makes me want to move out.


Dear Frustrated,
Absolutely fight this.  It is absurd.  I have a friend who faced a similar circumstance and  fought it successfully.  I believe should the appropriate authorities know your story they will quickly drop the charges.  There is no harm in contacting Councilman Graham but I doubt it will be necessary.  So my advice is, appeal, appeal, appeal.

You guys have any other advice?

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