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“For the past year we have had massive issues with folks dumping their trash and unbroken down boxes in our bins”

by Prince Of Petworth April 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm 31 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

We are located in a West End townhouse and share an alley with several other houses and apartment buildings. For the past year we have had massive issues with folks dumping their trash and unbroken down boxes in our bins. It’s come to the point where I’ve taken the addresses off the boxes and complained to their apartment buildings but most of the time it appears to be people who have moved out already.

Things hit a new low when someone left a BOX SPRING leaned up against our patio two weeks ago. Who does that? We have contacted the city, apparently someone came to inspect it but said it was no longer there and closed the case, even though we included thorough directions and a photo. We know the trash collectors won’t take it. It’s coming to the point where we may have to hire a junk removal service to pick it up but it would kill me to have to pay to remove someone else’s junk.

Has anyone dealt with this problem? It’s turning me into an insane person.”

  • anon

    No joke, one time someone left a huge sofa stacked with a love seat pressed up against our back gate so I could not get my car out till it was moved. You need to report it as illegal dumping through 311 and bulk trash removal will come get it. It may take a few weeks, but they will eventually.

    • MsSunshine

      If you report as illegal dumping, it takes weeks for them to investigate — and hopefully remove. However, if you report that you just need bulk trash removed, they come pretty quickly. It’s all in the wording, according to our ANC rep.

      • wdc

        But if you report it as if it were yours, you can get a ticket for illegally dumping it yourself before the assigned pick-up date.

  • ANC

    I have had bulk trash removal come and take away an old mattress. I had to buy a plastic wrapper for it, but it was a heck of a lot cheaper than a junk removal service. Call 311.

  • City of Power

    “Who does that?”

    Sorry, but you must be new here. In my 7 years in DC I have had stained mattresses, broke box springs, ripped and rotting sofas, smelly armchairs, random bags of trash, dirty diapers, bottles of urine, sheets of drywall, piles of bricks, 2x4s, a toilet, a television with no screen, old shoes, and part of a heavy-duty excavator dumped in and around my yard. But I feel your pain on the mattresses, which are as common during moving season as flowers in the spring. They will be dumped, they will rot, and 311 will ignore them for many moons.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Aaah, yes, mi basura es su basura.

      • textdoc

        Hahaha — very apt!

    • textdoc

      For what it’s worth… when I’ve reported abandoned mattresses/boxsprings in my alley (fortunately people seem to leave them at the rear of their _own_ building, rather than someone else’s), 311 _does_ get them disposed of.
      It seems to take 2-3 weeks, which is longer than I’d like, but eventually the items disappear in response to my placing a 311 request.

    • Arouet

      Honestly, the problem here (which may or may not be worth fixing) is the inequitable treatment of large buildings re: the municipal service of bulk trash removal. Just because the regulations say people in buildings with 4 or more units have to hire their own bulk removal firm doesn’t mean people are going to do that. Legal or not, if you’re not going to provide this service to everyone people will leave their bulk trash when they’re already skipping town/the area anyways.

      • textdoc

        Eh, we had a whole other thread on that topic.
        Like it or not, them’s the rules (regarding trash pickup, recycling pickup, and bulk trash collection).
        I think a lot of people don’t realize that building managers have to pay per collection when it comes to bulk items. (That’s how it seemed with some of the renters in my condo building.) Younger renters may be accustomed to just leaving unwanted things next to the dumpster at their college dorm, and not really thinking about what happens to it after that point.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I agree with this. Given that my baseline experience is “you have to call the Department of Public Works to get them to take the sofa away,” if I moved to some other place, I’d start by calling the DPW, and that would probably lead me to find out that city’s procedures, whatever they are. However, if somebody else is starting from the baseline experience of “everywhere I’ve ever lived, you just put it by the dumpster and it disappears,” I suspect that, “Does this new city have some sort of special procedure unlike everywhere else I’ve ever lived for dealing with this sort of thing?” is a question that few would think to ask.

  • Anon

    Why oh why would [you] brick up that window?!?

  • textdoc

    OP — If you have a fence/gate (which from the photo it appears that you do?), make sure to keep your trash/recycling bins inside the fence/gate except between the night before pickup and the evening of the pickup day.

    • TJ

      This! A critical step in discouraging others from using your space as a dumping ground is keeping it clean and clutter free. Putting the garbage cans inside the fence (and, if yours, not placing garbage bags on the ground next to the can) should help. Put up no dumping signs and every time something is dumped move it to the middle of the alley away from your property, or to the suspect apartment building. When we moved into our property near an alley exit nearly 20 years ago people used to dump all manner of items behind our house. It took time to retrain, but moving items away from our property immediately was the step that finally ended the dumping.

      • textdoc

        I was thinking not so much on the “retraining” side (though that’s worth trying) — more that if people can’t get access to your trash/recycling bins, they can’t dump anything in them.

  • Ladi

    Follow these steps:
    1. Download the “seeclickfix” app and make an account for DC. It’s the easiest way to put in a ticket with 311. For alleys you sometimes have to specify “rear” or “side” of the address.

    2. Install a camera.

    3. Put a sign in stating the fine for dumping (DC has one, I can’t remember the exact amount)

    4. Email DDOT and DCRA. Contact the apartment buildings. Create records of the dumping via photos etc and have them cited. The fines are substantial for commercial properties.

    5. Problem solved. The above steps are easier than they sound. You can have this problem wrapped up in a weekend forever.

  • Anon

    For years I’ve had this happen. I used to clean things up. But now after 15 years of dealing with other people’s laziness and disrespect for others property I’ve decided to join the ranks. The last few times I found trash on my alley propert, I simply thrown it into the middle of the alley. I know this my seem juvenile and wrong, but I sick and tied of cleaning up for someone else. If I were you I’d pitch that mattress and whatever else is there into the alley behind one of those apt buildings.

  • gonzodc

    I had someone dump a mattress against my back fence. I didnt notice it for awhile, but when I did, I requested bulk pickup and they took it away. In the meantime, the city issued a ticket with a $75 fine. I successfully appealed, with supporting documents on me requesting bulk pick up (reporting on there that I was dumped), which was two days before the ticket was issued. 311 is your friend.

  • Ally

    We’ve had MEDICAL WASTE (used diapers, syringes, etc) dumped behind our house twice. We’ve also had kids who had used the bathroom (yes, #2) behind our house and used their homework as toilet paper. We’re happy if we just get a mattress or a couch. In all seriousness (though all of the above really did happen), call city services and they’re great about picking up large crud that doesn’t belong to you — usually takes about a week but they’ll tell you the pickup day. As for deterrents, I wish I knew…this still happens to us in Hill East at least once or twice a year. A no-dumping sign (in our case, that would make for quite the pun) and cameras couldn’t hurt. Hang in there!

    • dcd

      Sound like you could use a little gentrification.
      Kidding . . . sorta.

      • Ally

        Ha! I know. Oddly enough, it got worse with the gentrification (I’ve lived in my neighborhood for over 10 years)…when the condo pop-ups started, we started to get more. But, yeah… I either need better gentrification…or some wet naps…or maybe both. We always seem to discover the gross stuff right before dinner too!

    • TJ

      Are diapers medical waste? I get that they aren’t sanitary and could be hazardous, but medical waste doesn’t quite seem right. (And I’ve had both diapers and uncontained human waste left behind my property as well, though the diapers typically were left by our professional but clueless and unsanitary neighbors).

  • 311isajoke

    All of you who say 311 responds within 2-3 weeks must live in Northwest! Meanwhile, over on the East side of town, we waited almost a year to have the trash illegally dumped against our fence removed. After several 311 attempts, and a few personal visits by our ANC rep, we gave up and did it ourselves.

    On a somewhat related note, someone tipped over a port-a-potty on the sidewalk. I called 311, who transferred me to 911, who transferred me to 311 (repeat x 3). Three days later, human waste was still dripping down the sidewalk and street. We used to live in NW and know this didn’t fly.

    • textdoc

      That’s terrible. :(
      As I was saying in the thread on gentrification, it’s frustrating that the city doesn’t provide decent services to all, and that shouldn’t be the case.

    • On Capital Heels

      It is these kind of entrenched inequalities that give rise to the very conditions that so-called “gentrifiers”* now bemoan.

      *despite that word

      • On Capital Heels

        *despise that word

        (Autocorrect always messes up my posts!)

  • Becka

    I’ve usually just called and requested bulk trash pickup and they’ll come within a week. I’ve never had a problem with being ticketed, as long as I placed a call to Bulk trash to come pick it up.

  • JakeOnDC

    Our property uses Junk in the Trunk.. paying them 75.00 for removal of trash left at our dumpster has helped us avoid a 500.00 citation from the city for illegal dumping.. They don’t care who’s property it is, if they see it they cite it..


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