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“Looking for clarification as to what was actually violated?”

by Prince Of Petworth June 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm 42 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

I’m hoping someone out there can help us with this confusing issue we’ve been having with our trash cans. We received this violation in the mail today, and can’t make sense of it. Looking for clarification as to what was actually violated. If you read the code, rule 705.5 on waste regulation it doesn’t specify where trashcans may be left, only the appropriate times to have them out on the street. Also, what is the significance of the Respondent being military? My husband is military so this seems odd and important? The paragraph above the Inspector/Investigator’s signature asks to check off one of several options regarding the “Respondent” being military. The following option was checked “I am unable to determine whether the Respondent is in the military service of the United States”. Just confused why a citation about trash bins would involve military service.

BACKSTORY:

our trashcans remain in the alleyway behind our house (along with most on our street). Our ally empties out to two different streets, so on trash day, we take our containers out to the curb and place them with the other containers left on that street. Our’s are just one of multiple left on the corner. To put them in front of our house would involve about a two+ block walk out the alley, down the street, around the corner, and up our street. At 9+ months pregnant, I’m not about that and have chosen the shortest route. We’ve been dealing with a disgruntled member of that street who proceeds to leave notes and trash in our cans, as he/she has decided that only trash cans belonging to that street are allowed in the group. We have never blocked any driveway/car/ etc and aren’t the only ones who do this. We assume this person has called in this complaint. Any insight would be appreciated.”

  • OtisMyHome

    In Virginia, there are different service rules for members of the military (as in whether the person is considered “served” with a lawsuit or citation, and you can seek a default judgment). In general, it’s harder to serve military members – the idea being that they could be deployed so it’s not fair to serve them while they are overseas and then seek default judgment against them.

    I assume that’s the relevance here as well.

    • textdoc

      “the idea being that they could be deployed so it’s not fair to serve them while they are overseas and then seek default judgment against them” — Yeah, I’m assuming that’s what’s going on here too.

  • Anonymous

    If your cans are not removed from the place of collection (alley or sidewalk) within 24 hours of pickup, you will be ticketed. Also, if your trash it put out too early for collection (block alley/sidewalk access) or the lid is open (attracts vermin), you’ll get ticketed. I fully support DC doing this. I can’t speak to the military aspect though.

  • Duponter

    I totally empathize with your plight here, but what does the law actually say as to where one can put their trash cans for pickup?

    If the law is that you have to put your can in front of your house for pickup, that’s the rule. Though, considering how the city never seems to be able to put back a trash can in front of the house it belongs to (mine is often found halfway down the block), they have a lot of nerve….

    • textdoc

      “our trashcans remain in the alleyway behind our house (along with most on our street).” — OP, I’m assuming your alley is too narrow for alley-side trash collection, and that’s why your block has street-side collection instead?
      .
      Be aware that although many people in D.C. keep their trash/recycling bins in the alley 24/7, it’s against D.C. regulations to do so. (You’re supposed to pull them back onto your property, leaving them out only between 6:30 p.m. the night before pickup and 8 p.m. on the day of pickup.) It sounds like you haven’t been cited for that yet, but it’s something to be aware of for the future.

      • textdoc

        Oops — that was supposed to be a post unto itself, not a reply to Duponter.

      • Anonymous

        I moved to Park View about 12 years ago. A couple of years in I noticed that all of my neighbors left their cans in the alley so I started doing it. I got a ticket from DPW. I haven’t done it since. But 90% of the people in my alley leave their trash cans out all the time.

    • textdoc

      I would imagine that for street-side pickup, the can is supposed to be in front of the corresponding house — at least by custom, if not actually specified by DCMR. I imagine that this is where the OP is running afoul of whatever neighbor reported her household to DPW.

  • melissa

    You should contact your ANC representative. This is the kind of stuff they can help you out with. I am not sure the rules for trash, maybe it is similar to the rules for parking, which means it varies by neighborhood/street/ward?

    They cut you a break, I think, if your military spouse is deployed, FYI

    • jonah

      As an ANC Commissioner DPW has not been an easy agency for me work with. Every agency in the District has an ANC Liaison who we are suppose to initiate communication with. I have had several cases where I have never heard back from DPW until reaching out directly to Director Shorter and asking about the delay. I’d write your ANC Commissioner and your Councilmember’s Constituent Services staff on the same email in this case. If you are on Twitter their twitter account @dcdpw may also be able to point you to the right person within DPW.

  • textdoc

    “To put them in front of our house would involve about a two+ block walk out the alley, down the street, around the corner, and up our street.” That sounds like a major hassle; I empathize with your frustration.
    .
    Is there any room in front of your house (but not on public property) to stash the trash/recycling bins there — maybe under or next to a stoop?

    • Duponter

      See, this was my instinct. Is the decision to put them in the back is about aesthetics, which I get, and not because there’s nowhere to put them? In which case, well, that’s your unfortunate burden.

      • bruno

        You wanted to be a home owner. Ya gotta take responsibility.

        • IJM

          This is why I don’t live in a rowhouse.

          • Robert

            This is why I do not live in DC. (Hallo from Germany. You suck! But you knew that.)

            We know the can rules here, and enforcement is not racial. We all comply.

            P.S. Sweat your asses off. We will be in the Biergarten today.

  • navyard

    It’s really not fair to the people who live at the main collection area to have even more garbage piling up in front of their house simply because you don’t feel like doing what you’re supposed to do (although, being 9+ months pregnant, perhaps you could appeal to that person and let them know you’ll put your trash in the correct spot after you’ve given birth).
    People who don’t live with other people’s garbage piling up in front of their house just don’t understand what the stench, rat, roach, and general grossness factors are.

    • Anonymous

      It sounds like a bunch of people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. So why is this neighbor limiting his/her ire to only certain violators? The fair thing to do would be to ticket everyone who leaves trash cans at the end of the alley.

      • navyard

        Maybe they did all get tickets. Then again, maybe the ticket has nothing to do with it being at the side street, but simply the alley. The OP assumes she knows who called DPW, but we really don’t know that.

      • Anonymous

        How do you know these other neighbors didn’t get ticketed also?

  • Anon

    I think your trash has to be placed at your “point of collection,” which is described in 708.2. “708.2 The Department of Public Works shall properly inform the residents of the District where their authorized point of collection is. … If collection is not from an alley, the point of collection shall be on the public space immediately adjacent to the premises.

    I wonder if you can request a different point of collection from the Department of Public Works or if anyone has had success in doing that?

  • bruno

    Trash barrels dawdled too long on the street when they should have been on your property?

  • Kingman Park Res

    I literally just had a trash fine for different reasons. Try to find the inspector and contact them. Most of the time they are reasonable and can dismiss the fine if you explain the situation. If you fight it, you will still get a portion of the fine levied if they are at all right. In my case I was having construction done and received a fine for not properly disposing of items. The thing is, the trash was taken out of the house (where the previous owners left it) and then moved into the backyard for staging into a truck. At no point was the trash left out to rot. The inspector actually agreed with me that he could tell a work crew was there when he fined me, that upon inspecting the house several times afterwards it was always clean and there were no additional issues. I still had to pay a partial fine. The inspector told me in the future to just call him and talk it out. That he could dismiss the whole thing before it went before the administrative judge.

    • boybert

      What fine? The OP never mentions a fine, and the citation pictured shows a $0 fine.

      • Kingman Park Res

        You are right, I didn’t look close enough to see zero fine assessed. Although I would still recommend reaching out to the inspector just to figure out what is going on, they are pretty approachable!

  • Anonymous

    Your ticket says your trash can was out for collection at the wrong time or in the wrong place.
    From the DC DPW website under the “Residential Trash Collection:How You Can Help” heading:

    -Place trash and recycling containers out for collection after 6:30 pm the night before collection or before 6 am on collection day. Residents are required to remove trash and recycling containers from public space by 8 pm on your collection day.
    – Between collections, store trash and recycling containers ON YOUR OWN PROPERTY rather than in the alley or on the sidewalk. Otherwise, you may receive a solid waste ticket.

    It sounds like your trash can was on “public space” outside of the hours that it was permitted to be there for collection. So the problem may not be your decision to leave your trash in the public area where others are leaving their trash, it may be the failure to remove it from that space in a timely manner.
    The military thing is just to make sure that someone in the military is not given a warning or ticket at a time during which they are unable to take action to remedy the situation – for example, if the person is deployed away from their home.

    • Neighbor

      The ticket says the violation was at 2:21 pm on Tuesday. Tuesday was trash collection day because Monday was Memorial Day. So unless the city expects the OP to come home and take her trash cans back in by 2:21, she didn’t violate the rule that the citation says she violated.

      • Anonymous

        The violation says the cans were out for collection at the wrong time OR place. Assuming that the DPW person did not mistakenly ticket cans as if Monday was collection day – which some might say is not an unfathomable explanation – the ticket was written because the cans were left in the wrong place for collection. The complaining neighbor has succeeded in ruining everyone’s trash collection scheme.

        • Neighbor

          Read further. “Inspector Notes: Container found at wrong place.”

          • ms frizzle

            That’s…exactly what Anonymous is pointing out. You say Tuesday is trash collection day so she didn’t violate the rule, implying she didn’t violate the time rule. This is correct. Anonymous is pointing out that she instead violated the place rule – her cans were out at the right time but in the wrong place – or, to quote Anonymous, “the ticket was written because the cans were left in the wrong place for collection”

  • dcd

    “as he/she has decided that only trash cans belonging to that street are allowed in the group.”
    .
    Hmm – try as I might, I can’t think of a reason this is unreasonable.

  • AdMoKalTri

    Based on your ward/zip code, I’m guessing your trash collection days are Monday and Thursday. If this is true, this explains the violation entirely. The ticket was issued at 2:21pm on a Tuesday. Your trash cans should have already been moved back onto your property.

    • Neighbor

      See my comment above! Tuesday was a collection day. And violation doesn’t say “wrong time,” it specifically say “wrong place.”

      • Anonymous

        Maybe the complaining neighbor was not just tired of the OP’s trash being left in that spot but tried of everyone else’s trash being left there too. So after the dime was dropped to DPW the inspector wrote tickets for everyone who left a trash can there, not just the OP.

        • Neighbor

          That still doesn’t address the question of what rule was violated. The inspector cites Rule 21-705 (http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/RuleHome.aspx?RuleNumber=21-705), which doesn’t say anything about trash cans needing to be only in front of your own house. It just has time constraints. The fact that the citation is at 2:21 on a trash pickup day means that wasn’t violated either. So, back to the OP’s original question – what DC rule was violated here?

          • textdoc

            Yes, the regulations in 21-705 don’t specifically say where the trash can should be located. However, they say at 21-705.5(a) that containers should be placed “at the point of collection.” With regard to the term “point of collection,” 21-708.2 says:
            .
            “The Department of Public Works shall properly inform the residents of the District where their authorized point of collection is. If the collection is from an alley, the point of collection shall be on the portion of private property immediately adjacent to public space, except that when Supercans are collected from the alley, the point of collection shall be on the portion of the public space immediately adjacent to the private property line. If collection is not from an alley, the point of collection shall be on the public space immediately adjacent to the premises.”
            .
            Seems reasonably obvious that the containers corresponding to a given property/premises are supposed to be placed adjacent to that particular property/premises, not adjacent to someone else’s property/premises.

          • bez

            To reiterate other’s comments please be considerate of your neighbors before leaving garbage by there house….

  • Elkhaert

    I’d just leave the cans in the front of the house if you don’t want to cart them all the way around, so long as you have space between your house and the walk. There are some good options for partitions you can use so you won’t even really notice them. For example, suncast sells a folding partition:

    https://www.amazon.com/Suncast-FS4423-Outdoor-Screen-Enclosure/dp/B000ETMB5Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1496431124&sr=8-2&keywords=outdoor+screen+enclosure

    • textdoc

      I didn’t know such things existed — I’d seen only fancy-schmancy custom-made setups. Thanks for the link, Elkhaert!

    • navyard

      Those are quite nice. Thanks for the link! I also saw the ones that look like bushes. I might get a few myself!

  • Good luck

    The long and short of this issues is that your house has a specific pick-up spot which is either in the front of the house or the rear. In order to put your cans somewhere different (and not get tickets) you need to get approval from DPW.

    I moved into a group home on N. Capitol ST several years ago and I ran into similar issues. The first issue was that the house had no trash cans. They had been stolen from N. Cap several years earlier and all of the renters just put trash into other people’s cans. The first thing that I did was get trash cans.

    The second wrinkle is that DPW told me that my pick-up location was in the alley. Sometime in the past a neighbor had built a fence which made it impossible to take trash cans from my rear yard to the alley. Given that my house and the fence violator were rentals (and the landlords were unresponsive) the fences had to stay as they were. I had to call DPW multiple times to get my trash pick-up location changed. DPW eventually sent someone out to inspect my house and they determined that I needed pick-up on N. Cap. due to the fence location.

    This was great news and I thought that my trash issues were finally over. Well, it turns out that DPW doesn’t have a good method of telling the people picking up the trash cans if a route has changed. This meant that for months my trash would not get picked up and I had to call 311 for a skipped pick-up nearly every week. After several months the trash collectors realized that my pick-up location was on N. Cap and they started picking up my trash on the assigned date.

    It’s going to be a long road but if you want to do your trash pick-up on the street you need to start with DPW and make your case.

  • KBannon

    Live on Gales St. NE and received the same notice yesterday. We are diligent with bringing our cans in from the alley so we were confused that we received a warning when the cans were on our patio. Apparently, the previous owner had tagged the house number on a random garbage and recycling can rather than the cans registered to the house so we were being cited for the cans we didn’t know belonged to the house.

    We immediately called and spoke to the inspector yesterday and she said the city would remove the cans associated with our house that were in the alley.

  • Ronisgenius

    “Place trash and recycling containers out for collection no earlier than 6:30 pm the night before collection and no later than 6 am on your collection day. Residents are required to remove trash and recycling containers from public space by 8 pm on your collection day.”

    https://dpw.dc.gov/service/residential-trash-collection

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