Monday, September 06, 2010

ticketing for leaving supercans, recycling bins, and cars in the alleys

From ANC 5C04 Commissioner John Salatti:

I just want to confirm some of the recent postings that have urged people not to leave supercans, recycling bins, or vehicles in the alley. Under DC law, all cans must be out of the public rights of way (alleys & sidewalks) by the evening of trash pick-up day. For most of Bloomingdale, pick-up day is Wednesday. So certainly by Thursday morning every can left in an alley is subject to a $75 ticket. DPW does not always enforce that law, but the inspectors have been doing so more regularly recently. Inspectors have told me that they tend to concentrate on alleys where the cans tend to be scattered about. Perhaps the city needs the revenue, perhaps the Dept. is trying to do its job to clean up the alleys (and prevent the cans from being used by drug dealers to stash drugs).

But whatever the reason, DPW has the right to ticket. So to avoid an unpleasant ticket, please remove your supercans and recycling bins from the alleys as soon as you can. And to be out of the public right of way in an alley means that the can must be behind a lamp post or telephone pole.

Someone asked how DPW knows who to ticket. The answer is that every can is embossed with a serial number and that number is assigned to a specific address. So the inspectors know exactly which owner to ticket.

And what goes for supercans and recycling bins goes double for vehicles. Any vehicle left in the alley is subject to ticketing from DPW Parking Enforcement and from police.


Anonymous said...

What is the best way to report repeat offenders to DPW? I have a rental next door to me and the tenants do not seem to feel the need to bring the cans and recycling in ever. It makes backing my car our very difficult and has been going on for more than a year. Suggestions? Thx.

Anonymous said...

You know.. you could always just tell them that their cans being left there make it very difficult to move your car around the alley and politely suggest that they move it into their property line. I mean, that might be a bit more productive then sic'ing DPW on them.

John said...

Blocking vehicles from getting into and out properties is one reason the city law requires cans to be out of the public right of way. If cans are blocking your ability to get into and out of your property, here are two suggestions.

First, using the address, we can look up the owner of the property and try to enlist that person or property management company to address the problem. I have seen that work in a number of instances. Contact me with the address and we can work on this together.

Second, you can call 311 and report the problem. Also, give the operator the serial numbers on the cans. If 311 doesn't seem to be helping, feel free to send me the address, the can numbers, and confirmation numbers from 311, and I'll see what I can get done.

John Salatti

Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale said...

See this response from the original poster on the unit block of W Street NW:

CORRECTION TO Salatti's not-asked-for comment:

To be out of the publc alley right of way means your cans and cars should not be on the alley pavement. So that means in the unit block alley of Adams and W Streets NW, if your car or can is on top of the new red faux brick paving surface, you are breaking the law.

Todd said...

Ok well I agree about not blocking that alleys, but let's also NOT create a neighborhood where we are all calling 311 to report each other to give people tickets they can't afford to pay. We are all extremely busy with our urban lives and just because I leave my supercan in the alley a day or two past pickup doesn't mean that I don't care about you or that I'm a thoughtless human being. The cars in the W street alley are there because my neighbor has a contractor working on his garage....because he always parked his cars in this garage, he doesn't have a on street parking permit. I allowed him to use my garage for a week or so, but now I need it and so I gave him my vistors parking pass. But of course someone reported him to the police who gave him a big fat ticket. How about a neighborly note that expresses your desire for a change in behavior-kind and clearly articulated? Let's not create a neighborhood full of ill will and bad feelings here ok? We have to live together.

recycling containers said...

Thanks for confirming the increased enforcement. There ought to be an electronic way to subscribe to pieces of information like this before they actually happen.

John said...

I think Todd has the right attitude. Our first effort should be to contact a neighbor if a problem arises. If the problem persists and the neighbor is not open to addressing the matter, then follow up with one of the options I laid out above. Sometimes people are unaware of their options. For instance, in the situation Todd describes, his neighbor may not have known that he could get a temporary parking pass for his construction crew or that a temporary pass for his own vehicle may have been an option, too.

As for Tim Sloan's comment trying to correct my posting, as I wrote him directly when he went off on me in an e-mail, what my original posting states is the accurate and legal truth. Although Tim and I would both prefer that supercans and recycling bins be placed in yards, I would be misleading neighbors if I said that any visible can near an alley is subject to a ticket.

I'll say it again: To be out of the public right of way in an alley means that the can must be behind a lamp post or telephone pole. In most cases, because people have garages or fences that come right to the edge of the public right of way where the lamp posts and the telephone poles are located, these neighbors must pull their cans into their yards fully out of the alley to avoid any possibility of a ticket. So Tim and I would agree that, in the alley between the unit blocks of W and Adams Streets, if a supercan is on the faux brick surface, it is in the public right of way. And in support of my original statement, in that alley the faux brick surface does not extend behind the telephone poles and the lamp posts.

But what Tim seems to want to ignore is that in some alleys and in some places in his alley, people have set their garages and fences back from the edge of the public right of way. So technically, if their cans are behind the light posts or telephone poles, they are not in the public right of way and they are not subject to a ticket. I have spoken with several DPW inspectors about this issue and they have been clear about what is and what is not the public right of way.

My job is not to make up rules or issue edicts to fit my or any one resident's whims. I'm here to just tell it to you straight.

And if anyone can manage to fit a car behind the poles and not be in the public right of way, invite me over. I'd like to see that. ;-)

John T. Salatti
Commissioner, ANC 5C04
(202) 986-2592

"Together, Building a Better Bloomingdale"

Jason on North Capitol said...

You learn something new every day. I'm really curious if DPW's serial number list is up to date. We've had Supercans and recycling containers stolen at least once every calendar year since 2004. We've reported it each time, and in nearly 34% of the instances have had replacements brought to us. I personally can't wait until we receive a ticket for someone else's negligence.

spunk said...

Yeah, my can got stolen too. No sign of a new one. Eff that serial number business.

John said...


If a can is stolen, you can get another one by reporting the stolen can to the police and getting a police report. Then you send the report in to DPW to get a new can (usually they require a $20 payment (as opposed to a $62 fee for just purchasing a new supercan). If you have gotten a can without having to pay any fee, good for you.

Once DPW is aware of the stolen can, they remove the can's serial number from your address. So if you reported the cans as stolen, Jason, you should not have an issue with a ticket if the person who stole the can leaves it in the public right of way. As for spunk, if you need a can because yours was stolen, report it and you can get a new one. If you have any trouble, let me know.


John T. Salatti
Commissioner, ANC 5C04
(202) 986-2592

"Together, Building a Better Bloomingdale"

Unknown said...

There are over 90 homes on the unit block alley of Adams and W Street NW and who knows how many rentals. I can't go door to door asking who's cars are in the alley. That could take awhile. And neither can the fire department.
The list serve is a great tool to communicate with neighbors i don't know. I posted to the list serve and called 311 the same night knowing it would be a week before an inspector from dpw came out (they told me that). No one likes a ticket and that is not my goal. But i see the word is out and on peoples mind. The system works (even before the trash inspector got here). tim sloan / 33 W

Anonymous said...

Love the assumptions that we HAVEN'T already complained to our neighbors about leaving their cans in the alley. DPW, here is come!