“DPW Notice of Violation” Unfairly Issued For Trash in Flowerboxes

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

A reader sent the following letter was sent Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans. I’m wondering if this has happened to anyone else? Did you receive a fine? Were you able to contest it? How did they know it was your trash? I’m also wondering if you agree with the letter writer that this is merely a way for the government to raise money? Or do you think it’s just a symptom of dysfunctional bureaucracy? Or is this legit?

I received a notice of violation from the DC DPW yesterday (03/23/11) with a Date of Service of 02/15/11. DPW has cited me for leaving the garbage by my flowerbox that they were scheduled to pick up that day. I would like to speak with someone regarding this issue, however, the notice states that I only have 14 days after the “Date of Service” to contest this citation, which would have been Feb 27th. A neighbor of mine had a similar experience as he too was presented with a notice past the grace period. In both cases, DPW held the notice until the grace period had expired before delivering it. My neighbor’s case is even more frustrating as it was someone else’s trash that was left in his flower box. Both of these instances make it very clear that DPW is treating these notices more as a source of revenue than a betterment for the city.

A few questions to consider:
– How does DPW identify/confirm that the trash is in fact the “Respondent’s”?
– How are DC residents supposed to defend themselves if DPW holds these notices beyond the grace period to contest them before delivering them?
– Why would a DC resident be held liable for trash that DPW was scheduled to pick up?
– If DPW is concerned with the cleanliness of DC’s flower boxes, why is it that the majority of them on my block are in deplorable condition (minus my own which I renovated with my own money)?
– Are we (DC citizens) responsible for ALL trash that ends up in our flower boxes? If so, where is this stated in DC law?
– I would also ask, why wouldn’t DPW remove the trash and then charge the owner rather than leaving it behind in hopes of collecting more fines due to either the negligence, or in mine and my neighbor’s case “not knowing it was a violation”?

I understand that the city’s budget is in bad shape and this might be a way to assist DC in recovering some of its budget; but as a longtime resident of DC, a homeowner, and taxpayer, I sometimes wonder what message DC tries to send to its law abiding citizens.

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