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The Great Trash Can War of 2013

by Prince Of Petworth — May 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm 57 Comments

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 10.07.10 AM
Photo by PoPville flickr user ewilfong

Dear PoPville,

These are all actual emails sent in the past few months. The only changes I have made are to delete names, addresses and other identifiers.

March 1, 2013, 11:20:34 PM

From: Neighbor 1

Hello to all –

I have purchased the condo parking space next to the church. (Neighbor) has purchased the space next to me. As existing contracts on condo units close, the additional five spaces will be assigned new residents and more cars will begin parking there.

I will be cleaning the spilled garbage and debris from the parking area next to my space and under the church stairs in the next week but would appreciate your removing any trash or recycling cans you might have in that area immediately. (I don’t think I saw many there this evening.)

Your trash and recycling cans must be placed in front of your homes on (Address) since I don’t believe trash collection will agree to collect it from the rear of your properties. It should not be placed in the alley either behind my house and the church or the condos.

I appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

Mar 2, 2013, at 3:13 PM

From Neighbor 2

DPW has been collecting from the rear of (address) since I moved in 10 years ago. Initially there was a problem with DPW trash collectors, but we met with reps from our city council member and DPW and got agreement that alley collection would be accepted.

I frequently have to move cans associated with our neighbors directly to the east, as they are blocking the alley, but have never complained, in the interest of being neighborly. However, in keeping with the thoughts of this email from (neighbor 1), perhaps their cans should be placed in front of their houses on (street), where they will not block the alley.

Continues after the jump.

On Mon April 8, 2013 at 2:07 AM

From Neighbor 1

To all – Today I learned that you are seeking some exception from DPW to place your trash and recycling receptacles in the alley instead of in front of your homes. I’m all for it as long as that place abuts your property and no one else’s property, and definitely not mine.

I have tried to work with you in many ways. I have cut back the wall on my property not once but twice to allow you easier access to your property. I have given you leeway to place your trash receptacles in front of my property while you sought a solution you found pleasing. I have picked up your litter and trash and moved your trash cans in order to access my property for a decade. When (Neighbor 2) decided he did not want one inch of a telephone pole on his property, I allowed it to be placed totally on my property. When people parked their cars on my property without permission, I sought out the owner(s) instead of having the cars towed away, and even then did not object when I was told that the illegally parked car would be moved, not then, but the next day.

You led me to believe you were looking for private collection. Now I learn that you had no intention of doing anything other than continue your entitlement approach to encroaching on others. Hundreds of households in DC place their trash in front of their homes. I really don’t understand why you should be the exception.

I will be filing an objection with DPW to your request. I will be contacting the DC City Council. I will be building the wall on my property back to its original position. I will be seeking legal council to learn what other options are available to me to stop any and all special exemption requests you make to the city.

I am truly sorry you forced me into this position. In 33 years, I have never encountered such privileged individuals as you.

On Mon, April 8, 2013 at 11:22 PM

From Neighbor 2


For the record, last night or early this morning, someone threw cafe au lait on the (color) mini, on my Prius, and on the car belonging to (Neighbors) at (address).

On Tue April 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM

From Neighbor 2


Further- Last night someone used soapy water to wash off the coffee from my car and the (color) mini. This was evidently done in the dark, as the cleaning was only partial.

On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM

From Neighbor 1

To all residents of (address)

I have asked repeatedly over several months that you adhere to DC regulations regarding placement of your trash in front of your house. Today I returned three of your cans after DPW picked up the trash. Your cans were placed on my private property and also DC public property, both of which are against regulation.

You have no property that abuts the alley and cannot place your cans there. I also own the parking place next to the church and you cannot place your cans there. Your options are placing your cans out front or arranging private or DPW collection from your own property.

I am now contacting DPW and asking that you be fined.

Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:14 at AM

From Neighbor 3


This is the first I have been made aware of this issue. After reading the tone of (neighbor 1’s) email, I would like to make everyone aware that my car,(expensive car) for reference, was vandalized while parked behind my house. Coffee was thrown on the car and left to sit while I was out of town which damaged the paint. I have a security camera that is focused specifically on my parking spot. I have reviewed the footage but since I only know what my immediate neighbors look like I cannot positively identify the assailant, yet. I will review the regulations and act accordingly. I’d also like to mention that my trash cans were stolen for over a month, and being kept in someone’s garage. I am not familiar with the specific DC code, but I am sure that theft continues to be illegal.

Note- the following email was sent to Neighbor 2, evidently in error.

Tue April 23, 2013 at 9:12 PM

From Neighbor 1

I won’t respond. I don’t know if his “easement” includes the right for him to put his trash cans on (address) and frankly, I don’t give a damn. Hope it doesn’t and he has to pay (Neighbor) $ to do so.

Thank god (Neighbor 2) is one of your peeps and not mine. There are too many ass-hole straight men as is.

  • Anonymous

    Come on…post the address!!!

  • Nice straight-baiting at the end.

  • Anonymous

    Cue skeptical third world kid…

  • pru

    I wish this came with a little map of the properties. It’s hard to follow.

    • Anonymous

      +1. My thoughts exactly.

    • ah

      Mine as well, although my operating assumption is that there’s a row of condos/townhouses with some parking spaces in back with alley access. Up until recently people were storing their supercans in that parking area and getting trash collection.

      Now neighbor 1 has purchased a space, and others have too, so the cans can’t simply be left in the parking area or near it and blocking it. Of course, some condos don’t “own” any parking spaces back there, so can’t store their cans on their own property.

  • Anonymous

    Real estate law often grandfathers in prior uses of property by neighbors if there is a precedent

    • ah

      Not often. It appears to have been done with permission, so in this case no adverse possession or easement would be created.

  • Anonymous

    So is the point to ask for suggestions on how to handle this situation or just get some omg can you believe this validation?

    • Anonymous

      The latter, almost certainly.

  • Anonymous

    At least let us know which ‘hood this is. Too funny!

    • “someone threw cafe au lait on the (color) mini, on my Prius”

      This should narrow it down. I live in Eckington, where this sentence would read:

      “bitch threw coffee on my ride”

      • Anonymous

        Hell, I live in one of the yuppiest parts of Capitol Hill and anything parked in the alley will be littered with Keystone Light cans by the morning.

      • AdMo


  • I’d see if any teens wanted to hang out in the alley if I lived there and started getting these emails. I’d probably supply the beverages & snacks just to get them there 🙂

  • Art D.

    More! More! I’m ranking this above the Cleveland Park Flower Thief, but below The Real Housewives of Benning Road

    • Anonymous

      Tell me more about the “Real Housewives of Benning Rd”.

  • j

    why in the world is this being posted here? sheesh.

    • Anonymous

      Ha, I know. I’m so bored at work this week I’ll read anything, but I can’t bring myself to get interested in long and petty bickering between neighbors over trash.

      • anon cv

        then you’re not as bored as some of us…

        • Anonymous

          Apparently I was boreder than I thought because I did end up skimming it later.

  • Anonymous

    “Someone threw a soy latte on my Beemer!”


  • Neighbor 4

    As the owner of (frigging awesome) car parked on (sketchy) block, I don’t appreciate having cheap coffee from (name of coffee shop) poured over my (frigging awesome) car. Please use freshly ground, fair-trade organic coffee.

    • Anonymous

      And make sure it’s gluten free!

  • I’d like to think neighbor #2 knew it was a coffee au lait because he rubbed his finger in it and tasted it while quietly mumbling “son of a … coffee au lait from a non-local roastery!”

    Also, I have developed the same impulse when someone throws the “entitled” accusation in DC arguments that I do when someone uses Hitler as a comparison online. That is, I instantly disregard your point and consider anything you say invalid. Entitlement has to be the most often and incorrectly used accusation leveled in this city, from just about every corner of the population.

    • wylie coyote

      The first paragraph above made me laugh so loud, I wonder if other people in my office heard it.

  • Anonymous

    Great, two childish, Type-A psychos. Nothing to see here – DC is full of them. These people all need to grow up and get a life.

    • Florista

      Agreed! The fact that someone even felt the need to post the whole scenario here certainly adds to my astonishment.

      • They submitted it for our entertainment, and I thank them!

        • Nothin’ like a public shaming for a reality check. 🙂

          • It would be much more shameful if the names weren’t redacted.

        • ah


  • My take is that Neighbor 1 has put up with a whole lot of stuff over the years and is sick and tired. And is finally taking a stand. Those folks that bought homes without back alley access (how is this possible?) need to deal with it and stop using Neighbor 1’s parking area as their dumpster space. Unless I’ve completely misunderstood what’s going on here, and that is entirely possible!

    • Billy

      It sounded to me as if Neighbor 1 could have moved in recently, in which case (s)he is trying to change the normal course of things. But there’s a lot here that is unclear.
      This is all relatively minor and unimportant stuff, but it is always surprising to me how rude/mean people can be to each other, especially people who have to share nearby space.

      • Nah, I think Neighbor #1 has been there for a while, but only recently bought a parking space on adjacent (?) land.

      • Anonymous

        Nah, Neighbor 1 says that’s s/he’s has been cleaning up messes in the alley for a decade without complaint.

        It sounds like Neighbor 1 recently bought a parking space in the alley that’s part of a new condo conversion. This happened to be the place where neighbors who don’t have alley access were keeping their garbage cans and also where people illegally parked. Now, those homeowners will need to keep their cans in the front of their houses and they are pissed off about it.

        This is what happens when density increases in the city. Old privileges go by the wayside.

    • I believe there are a number of rowhouses in D.C. that either don’t have back alley access or have back alleys that are too narrow for the trash trucks to go through. Those houses have to put their trash/recycling bins in front of their houses on collection day.

      • Anonymous

        I live in Capitol Hill and thought it was like this everywhere in the city!

  • I kinda sympathize with Neighbor #1. It sounds like he probably should’ve insisted that his neighbors place their trash cans in front of their houses a lot earlier, but instead he decided to “go along to get along.” He apparently decided he’d had enough between the second and third e-mails. I don’t think the words “entitlement” or “privileged” were appropriate, but other than that, I don’t see anything really objectionable in e-mail #3.

    The cafe au lait saga was too funny.

    • Anonymous

      I like Neighbor #1’s sense of humor!

  • anonnynonon

    This needs an oldschool DC response: destroy the trash cans if they are on your property or continually block the alley.

  • Alan

    Need to know where this is.

  • davester

    Neighbor 1 needs to put a end to this now. He has already allowed this to go on for 10 years (his words) if it get’s to the 15 year mark the other neighbors can came a easement. Neighbor 1 says he allowed it to happen but unless their is a written agreement with terms spelled out that is hearsay.

    Neighbor 1 send a cease and desist letter immediately claiming your property rights. Failure to do so could lead to use losing your property rights. Good Luck.

  • Anonymous

    I should write The Illegal Dumping War of 2013 that has been doing down in my neighborhood over the past few weeks, which involves neighbors dumping their loose trash bags and bulk items on the street corner in front of my house days before trash collection day. Rats would chew through bags causing trash to spread over the sidewalks. Used mattresses and sofas sat out for days in the rain. Passive aggressive notes were left, DPW tickets were issued, and now that neighbor just dumps their trash into the city trash can across the street.

    • Anonymous

      That actually is a legit problem (as opposed to some errant trash cans that need to be moved). We had a huge problem when our neighbors were kicked out of their rental next door and dumped literally everything they owned in the un-gated backyard. People came from all over to root through the bags and tore them open and flung things everywhere. It was a mound almost as high as the 6ft fence. It sat for weeks through rain and hot sun and nothing was done. I finally contacted our council member and it was cleaned up within a week.

      • Anonymous

        Once we figured out what neighbor was leaving their trash on the corner, we began picking their trash bags off the sidewalk and leaving them on the guilty party’s front stoop. That, plus passive aggressive notes, plus DPW citations (incorrectly issued to us since our house is on the corner where the trash was dumped!) seems to have solved the problem… for now.

        But now they seem to be dumping their personal trash in the city trash can. I just don’t understand how people just cannot deal with their own trash?! Is it really that hard to put your can out on the curb the night before collection day?

  • Maybe I lack reading comprehension skills, but can someone explain to me why people don’t want to place their trash in front of their houses if that is what the city requires? Is it because it looks ugly? Please explain. This is what I’m not understanding about this whole interaction.

    • Anonymous

      If I didn’t have alley access, the last thing I would want to do late at night/early in the morning is drag my butt around the block and into the alley to drop off my garbage and recycling. What a pain in the ass. Those cans would definitely be in front of my house so I can expend the least amount of effort as possible. Taking out the garbage is probably my 2nd least-favorite chore (after bathroom cleaning).

      I imagine people don’t want the cans out front because it ruins the curb appeal of their house and it encourages pedestrians to put more trash in their yard. Tough titties, IMO.

      • Anonymous

        And it takes up space that could be used to put a bench or a nice garden. It does make the neighborhood look trashy to have all the trash cans in the front yards.

        • Anonymous

          I heard there’s plenty of space in Bethesda, Fairfax, and Potomac for all those trash cans. And gardens, patios, and swimming pools. And rolling green lawns.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t know about Bethesda and Potomac, but I used to live in Fairfax County and it was ugly and way more overcrowded than DC. No green spaces, just concrete and pavement as far as the eye can see. I like that homeowners in DC take care of their teeny-tiny yards and make them look attractive to passerby. It’s one of the things that makes life in the city so much more pleasant than in the nearby suburbs.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, and people would leave their trash cans out all the time, the rats would chew holes through the plastic to get to the trash, and it would be strewn all around the development. I’m so glad I don’t live in Fairfax County anymore!

          • Anonymous

            You definitely won’t see swimming pools in Fairfax. Day laborers who clean swimming pools in places like Potomac, sure. But no one has the space or the money to have a pool in Fairfax. You’re thinking Loudon County.

        • ah

          And it’s also against some regulation to leave your cans in the front yard of a house (other than on pickup day and the night before). If there’s no way to get from the front yard to the backyard of your house, it is a hassle. That’s why there are alleys.

  • Anonymous

    The pedants strike again!

  • cardamom

    This is too, too funny! We just came from a house we are thinking of buying (after renting in DC for years) and low and behold, in the back alley, right next to the house we like – trash cans galore – blocking our parking/alley entrance! All from the condos that have been built on the adjacent street!
    I was just thinking what a frigging pain clearing up the trash and the cans would be if we got the house…and now I see what I have to do! Post to Popville:-) Of course, without redacting names and neighborhoods!

  • This is even funnier when you imagine Neighbor 1 as Milton from “Office Space.”


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