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Dear PoP – DPW Troubles

Trash Truck Decorations, originally uploaded by Karol A.

“My 4 roommates and I are relatively new to the area (1 year in Columbia Heights, 2 years in the Columbia Heights/Petworth area) and we have run into a bit of a hurdle that we are hoping others in the area might be able to help us with. We live on the 2800 block of Sherman Avenue and have now gone about 4 months of battling with the Department of Public Works. It is important to note here that we are the only house on the block that receives trash/recycling pick up from the city. Every Tuesday/Friday morning, with the exception of maybe 4 times, DPW has skipped our block for trash and/or recycling. When we come home to find the trash/recycling still there, we call the number they provided to complain, they give us a confirmation number, and they tell us to leave it out it will be picked up in the next 48 hours. They never come. We call again, and they tell us they will make a note for our trash/recycling to be picked up for the next scheduled day. As you might imagine, when they do not come several times in a row, our trash and recycling gets very backed up. We are often reduced to piling it all into the car and driving it around to find a dumpster (recycling included). This has become a weekly ritual and our neighbors have grown so angry at the trash/recycling being left out that they have called the inspector on us and have contacted our own landlord who is now threatening to fine us. Of course, we wish they would have come to us so we could explain the situation before contacting our landlord, but obviously this has escalated and we are lost as to how we can remedy this situation. Anyone else ever have this problem? Any advice on how to deal with our neighbors who have yet to approach us about this issue?”

Wow, that is unbelievably frustrating. First and foremost you should contact your Councilmember (Graham). One thing that made Fenty such a successful Councilmember was his attention to constituent services. Other Councilmembers recognize how important responsiveness to these issues have become. I was also look into your ANC representative, they too can be helpful in resolving city service issues.

As far as approaching neighbors, I think it would be perfectly fair to knock on their doors at a reasonable hour and explain to them the situation. I think if you are respectful and apologetic they will be very understanding. You can also tell them the steps you have already taken as well as the steps you will take (ie contacting the Councilmember). Has anyone else encountered a situation like this? How was it resolved? Any other suggestions?

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