Trash, Recycling, Rodents

Trash and Rodents

Committee Co-Chair

Patrick Clawson

Our dense urban community is a wonderful place to live but we all need to take extra care to deal with rodents and trash --  two problems that are the inevitable by-product of busy streets and tight spaces that make it hard to dispose of trash properly. Our rodent problem is compounded by the open water and ground cover in the public spaces and lovely gardens we all enjoy.

DC has strict rules and vigorous education and compliance programs about rodents and trash. A summary of those rules is available here.[Note: It incorrectly says that trash and recycling containers are available free from the city: they now sell them, though there are proposals to change that.]

A gentle way to bring those rules to the attention of a neighbor is to use the CAG door hangers. Click Here to Download the Door Hanger. If you would like as many of these as you want, please call or write Patrick Clawson: 202-302-1722, or the CAG office.

The basic issues which come up repeatedly – and are the most common reasons for the stiff fines from DC inspectors – are:

  • Trash for collection must be stored in heavy-weight containers with lids and be in plastic bags inside those containers. Putting out plastic bags for trash collection is illegal because those bags are rodent feeding bins.
  • Trash containers for collection can be put out only the night before collection and must be removed the evening after collection. Any week there is a holiday, trash collection shifts to one day later, and so containers must be put out a day later. On non-collection days, trash containers cannot be stored on public space – that generally means the containers cannot be stored in front of a building, including not in stairwells.

We work closely with others in the community on rodent and trash issues:

  • The Business Improvement District (BID) spends a great deal of money on rodent abatement programs, which cover numerous alleyways serving businesses.
  • As part of the recent agreement on Georgetown University’s (GU) ten year plan, a community-GU partnership has implemented quite a number of initiatives about trash and rodents. This includes:

    GU daily patrols of West Georgetown to pickup street trash and bulk items.

    GU-employed students who patrol West Georgetown streets to identify and document residences with trash problems. If students live in a problem residence, they will be subject to a GU disciplinary process which can require community service, fines, and if problems persist, even stiffer penalties. This system began in January 2014. We look forward to learning from the GU patrols about non-student residences with trash problems. Information about all residences with trash problems will be shared with SWEEP. Of course, SWEEP cannot issue citations on the basis of what the GU patrols document, but the SWEEP inspectors can watch the residences they identify to see if DC citations are warranted

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